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The Week in Mobile: November 29-December 5, 2015

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Mobile plays a major role in holiday sales, Google announces object identification API, Uber launches Ride Request button for developers 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.

Thanksgiving Weekend Sees Record Sales from Mobile Devices

Mobile played an instrumental role in the $11 billion of online sales made from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday. According to Adobe Digital Index, 37 percent of online sales were made from a mobile device on Thanksgiving, 33 percent on Black Friday and 28 percent on Cyber Monday. Each metric represents a significant increase from previous years. Additionally, a new study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau found that half of all adult shoppers conduct product research on a mobile device while shopping in physical stores. Smartphones have quickly become a primary shopping device for both purchases and product research, which means retailers need to have well built mobile sites and apps in order to remain relevant.

Wondering which platform saw the most online shopping traffic? Over Thanksgiving weekend, 78.3 percent of US online mobile orders were made on Apple’s iOS. That’s 360 percent more than were made on Android.

Google Announces New Object Identification API

Google released its Cloud Vision service, which allows developers to use Google’s “machine learning” to identify inanimate objects, faces and even emotions displayed in images. This means developers can incorporate image recognition functionality into apps, robots and drones. In a sense, the technology allows apps and devices to “see” and understand human attributes. With the ability to recognize objects and perform sentiment analysis, developers will be able to take intuitive experiences to a whole new level.

Uber Launches Ride Request Button for Developers

Uber launched its new Ride Request Button, which will allow developers to more easily add a Ride Request Button to their apps. The button deep-links directly to Uber’s app and is capable of passing along key information that could speed up ride requests, including pickup location, destination and desired service. Uber will pay US developers $5 for every first-time customer referred by a Ride Request Button. And with an updated API that is easier to use than the version Uber originally launched in August, the company hopes developers will be more likely to integrate Uber services into their apps. If the strategy is successful, Uber will be able to build its user base.

Snapchat Adds Deep-linking Functionality for Publishers

Uber isn’t the only tech giant rolling out new deep-linking functionality. Last week, Snapchat announced that it will allow its publishing partners, including CNN, Vice, ESPN and People Magazine, to use deep-links to their Snapchat content. These links will direct users to specific pieces of the publisher’s content within the Snapchat app. This will allow publishers to better measure engagement by tracking the number and type of users clicking on these links. More importantly, the new functionality suggests that Snapchat is opening up what has historically been a closed platform.

Star Wars Promotes Movie with Virtual Reality and Samsung Introduces New Way to Surf the Web

The Star Wars marketing team has combined forces with Google to create the first official virtual reality Star Wars experience just in time to promote the upcoming release of “The Force Awakens”. Available now via the official Star Wars app, “Jakku Spy” is the first installment in what creators have suggested will become a Star Wars virtual reality universe.

In other VR news, Samsung released a new virtual reality browser called Samsung Internet for Gear VR. Samsung S6 smartphones and the Samsung Note 4 or 5 paired with the Samsung Gear VR will support this new virtual reality browsing experience. Users will be able to view HTML5 videos, 3D streaming and 360-degree content on the web. Additionally, users will be able to interact with content through voice input and Gaze Mode keyboard capabilities.

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