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The Week in Mobile: March 22-28, 2015

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Facebook Messenger adds commerce-friendly features, Microsoft expands deal with Samsung, Twitter chases video and more

Each week we round up the top news stories, think pieces and other content that centers on the fast-paced, quickly changing world of mobile technology. We tell you which companies are employing clever mobile strategies, illuminate new ways of thinking about mobile and offer a peek at meaningful trends in the industry. This content is designed to inspire you and your company to take advantage of the many benefits mobile can offer.

Facebook Plans to Make Messenger Commerce-Friendly with Addition of New Features
At its annual F8 developers’ conference, Facebook announced plans to add a myriad of features to its Messenger app in order to increase user engagement and position the app as a tool for commerce. New features will allow users to book reservations and track online orders. Down the road, executives hope to add shopping functionality that will extend the length of time each user spends within the app. With more than 40 other apps now connected to Messenger, the app is now far more than just a chat program. It is hoping to become a new platform for e-commerce companies to vie for users’ mindshare and dollars.

Report Says Companies are Struggling to Keep Mobile Apps Update
A recent Forrester survey of “e-business professionals,” those who develop apps for marketing or customer-facing reasons, reports that only 25 percent of companies believe they update their apps frequently enough to keep pace with customer demands. The other 75 percent of e-business professionals find the speed at which apps require updating to be too demanding to keep up with. According to the report, operating system upgrades, special mobile features and supporting multiple mobile platforms make it difficult to update apps as often as they should be enhanced. Because of this lag, e-business professionals are often unable to fix bugs or react to updates in a timely fashion. The main reason? They lack the necessaryresources and build infrastructure to stay ahead of the curve.

Microsoft Expands Deal with Samsung to Take on Google
Last month Microsoft struck a deal with Samsung that ensured the company’s apps come pre-installed on Samsung’s flagship smartphones. A recent expansion of the partnership will increase the number of Samsung mobile devices that come with Microsoft apps pre-installed. Many of the Microsoft apps involved in the deal serve as replacements for Google apps, which are pre-installed on Samsung’s Android devices. Thankfully though, Samsung has made it easier for users to delete preinstalled apps, which means users will ultimately decide which apps they use for basic functions like calendar or email.

Twitter Tests Autoplay and Launches Livestream Video App
Twitter is testing autoplay videos on its iOS app in preparation for video rollout across platforms. That means select users will see videos automatically playing in their Twitter feed. The pilot is part of a two-part test to see if users are more likely to watch videos if they begin playing automatically instead of requiring users to tap to play. But that’s not all Twitter is doing with video. Last week, Twitter launched Periscope, an app that allows you to stream live videos and play those streams back later. Inspired by the recent success of live stream video app Meerkat, which also allows users to stream videos live, Periscope features a more inviting interface than its competitor and allows users to replay the streams.

New Google Keep Features Allows Simple App to Take on Bigger Tasks
Google added several features to its Google Keep app, which will allow the note-taking platform to take on bigger tasks. New functionality allows users to add labels, set recurring reminders and export work to Google Docs. Meant first and foremost as a simple note-taking tool, Google Keep’s new features allow users to begin managing larger projects within the app by improving organization and reminder functionality and, perhaps most importantly, allowing users to move work into Google Docs when projects become too large for Keep.

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