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The Week in Mobile: January 31 – February 6, 2016

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Alphabet and Apple battle for most valuable company, Google Play boots ad blockers, WhatsApp surpasses 1 billion users 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 and Apple Neck and Neck for Most Valuable Company

Early last week, Alphabet announced $21.3 billion in revenue and earnings of $8.67 per share, making it the most valuable publicly-traded company in the world. With a market cap of $558 billion, Alphabet surpassed Apple…but not for long. Two days after taking the throne, Alphabet’s stock fell by 4.93 percent while Apple’s inched upward. The shift places Apple back on top with a $534.22 billion market cap.

Meanwhile, Facebook leapfrogged Exxon to become the fourth most valuable company. As of early last week, Facebook’s value was $323 billion. That means the top four slots are now dominated by technology giants — Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook.

Microsoft Acquires AI Startup, SwiftKey

Last week, Microsoft announced the acquisition of artificial intelligence company, Swiftkey, which creates predictive keyboards for mobile devices. The acquisition follows Microsoft’s recent purchase of several productivity apps, including Acompli, Sunrise and Wunderlist. Not only will the acquisition of Swiftkey help build upon Microsoft’s mobile productivity push, but it also adds another tool to their AI toolbox.

Google Blocks Content Blockers from its Store

Last week, Samsung announced a new Content Blocker extension API, which allows developers to create web apps capable of blocking ads and other content within their mobile web browser. The announcement led to a wave of new ad-blocking apps popping up in Google Play. However, many of those apps have since been removed and updates for ad-blocking apps are being declined. Among those removed from Google Play is Adblock Fast, which was the first ad blocker to launch using the Samsung API and rose to the top free productivity app. Ad giant Google claims Adblock Fast and similar third-party apps are in violation of the Android Developer Distribution Agreement.

Facebook’s New Patent Could Bring Ridesharing to its Flagship App

It looks like Facebook may venture into the mobile transportation game with a new patent that could bring ridesharing capabilities to event pages on the social network’s flagship app. It’s likely that the functionality will come in the form of a new “Going and driving” RSVP response, so that those driving to an event can extend ride invites to friends or other attendees, and those in need of a ride can make a request. Although the functionality is much like other taxi and ridesharing apps, Facebook has one key advantage — a vast user base already using the app to access event details.

Waze Releases Transport SDK

Waze, a navigation app with over 50 million users, released a new transport SDK, which allows invited third-party developers to integrate the platform’s navigation capabilities into their own apps. Partners, including Lyft, Genesis, Pulse, Babify and 99Taxis, will be able to access Waze ETA information, routing and turn-by-turn directions from within their own app. Waze says it will open the SDK to additional partners down the road.

WhatsApp Surpasses 1 Billion Active Users

Facebook owned messaging app, WhatsApp, surpassed 1 billion active users last week. In fact, its user base has more than doubled since Facebook acquired the app for $19 billion back in February 2014. WhatsApp boasts the world’s largest active user community, followed by Facebook-owned Messenger with 800 million active users and China’s WeChat with 650 million users.

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