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The Week in Mobile: May 3-9, 2015

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Google works to attract Android devs, Pinterest releases API, Meerkat attempts a comeback 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.

Google Making Android App Dev More Appealing

Google is taking steps to make developing apps for Android more appealing. The company is expected to announce several changes to Google Play at its Google I/O developer conference for developers to explore, including new functionality that allows them to test different versions of their apps’ profile pages on the store. That means developers will have more visibility into what drives app downloads.

Additionally, Google is expected to debut Voice Access, which will allow developers to easily incorporate voice commands into their apps. With these updates and more expected to debut at the Google I/O Developer Event, it’s clear that the company is looking to boost its ecosystem by making Android app development just a little bit more enticing.

Pinterest Releases API for Developers

Pinterest announced the release of an API for developers, enabling them to build apps that use Pinterest data. The release comes long after companies such as Facebook and Twitter opened up their platforms to third-party developers. And Pinterest plans to take a slightly different approach: not everyone will have access to the API right away. For the time being, developers can sign up for access to the API and a select few will be granted permission based on their ability to bring new and innovative functionality to the Pinterest app. For example, an app for ordering groceries may be given early access to Pinterest’s API so that users can order ingredients for a recipe found on Pinterest.

Snapchat Adds Social to Discover in Hopes of Increasing Viewership

How do you revive a failed app functionality? Make it social. At least that seems to be Snapchat’s solution. In January, Snapchat launched Discover, a feature within the app that allows users to watch content from channels like CNN, Comedy Central and Food Network. Discover content viewership saw significant numbers during its first few days, however; it has dropped 30 to 50 percent since then.

Now, in an attempt to boost viewership, Snapchat has released an update that allows users to send clips from Discover to friends, which will include a “Sent via Discover” banner that links straight to Discover. It’s possible that this move toward interactive functionality and deeplinking may lead to further innovation, allowing users to do more than just watch or create.

Facebook Reports Over 1 Million Video Calls from Messenger in First Two Days Following Launch

Facebook reported that Messenger users made over 1 million video calls during the first two days after its launch. Released late last month, Messenger’s video calling functionality is currently available in 18 markets, including the UK, France, Greece, Mexico, Portugal and the United States. Additional markets are expected to join that list in the coming months.

The success of Messenger video calling follows the recent announcement that Messenger accounts for 10 percent of all VoIP calls worldwide. It seems Facebook is happy with its hotly debated decision to spin chat functionality off of the company’s main app. “If Messenger were still buried within the main app, video calling would be buried within that,” Messenger head of Product Stan Chudnovsky told Mashable.

Meerkat Plans its Comeback with New Features for iOS

Livestream video app Meerkat is making its comeback following Twitter’s launch of a competing app, Periscope, which, in many ways, has left Meerkat in its shadow. Meerkat’s latest update for iOS allows users to publish livestreams to Facebook, which means the app is no longer dependent on Twitter to attract users and can reach a larger audience across multiple networks. The new update also allows users to link the app with their phone contacts in order to find new livestreams. Additionally, Meerkat introduced two new features: a status-ranking functionality and a new way to react to livestreams with emojis.

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