Millennials Represent the Largest Number of Smartphone Users

Millennials have more smartphones than any other age group in the U.S., currently at 85 percent. Statistics show that nearly 43 percent of these users opt for iPhones while 52 percent prefer Android devices. The choice to use Android is based on cost rather than software or hardware. Millennials spend 37 hours per month on their phones, most commonly engaged with social networking, entertainment and messaging. Users 25 to 44 use the most apps, an important statistic for developers. Continue reading Millennials Represent the Largest Number of Smartphone Users

Onscreen Text Messages Appear in Chinese Movie Theaters

Select movie theaters in Chinese cities have begun experimenting with “bullet screens” (or “danmu”) — a new model in which audience members can comment on the film via text messages and have their impressions projected directly onto the screen. The experience is targeting young viewers who often have difficulty being away from their tablets and mobile phones. The experiment currently involves theaters in major cities including Beijing and Shanghai, in addition to smaller cities such as Hangzhou. Continue reading Onscreen Text Messages Appear in Chinese Movie Theaters

Snapchat Mobile App Plans to Add News Content and Sell Ads

Snapchat, the mobile app that creates vanishing messages and currently touts 27 million users, may soon become a service for distributing television and movie clips, news videos and articles, and advertisements. According to people familiar with the matter, the startup has met with advertisers and media companies in recent weeks about a service to launch in November called Snapchat Discovery. At least a dozen newspapers, magazines and TV networks have reportedly discussed providing content. Continue reading Snapchat Mobile App Plans to Add News Content and Sell Ads

Google Planning to Offer Accounts to a Younger Demographic

In what could potentially become a controversial move, Google has plans to offer accounts to children under the age of 13 for the first time. Google services such as Gmail and YouTube do not currently offer accounts to kids (although kids can log on anonymously or pose as adults). Now Google is planning a new approach that encourages parents to open accounts for their children, and in the process control how they use Google services and the information that is collected about their kids. Continue reading Google Planning to Offer Accounts to a Younger Demographic

Encrypted Communication Tools Seeking Mainstream Users

Apps and other products that enable encrypted communication are on the rise. Even tech giants like Google and Yahoo have promised to give encrypted sites a higher ranking in search results and to start encrypting emails. However, the creators of encryption apps, such as ProtonMail or Bleep, are still looking for mainstream users, not just gadget enthusiasts or security-conscious professionals. These companies are targeting mainstream users concerned about their privacy. Continue reading Encrypted Communication Tools Seeking Mainstream Users

Bleep: BitTorrent Develops Secure Calling and Messaging App

San Francisco’s BitTorrent is leveraging its expertise in online file sharing tech to develop Bleep, an encrypted snoop-proof chat app. None of the texts or calls are stored, and only the two computers are involved in the communication. While the NSA could potentially monitor the interactions, the job becomes much more difficult with the new app. Not only does Bleep encrypt its traffic and encourage users to keep their identities secret, but it also uses no central server. Continue reading Bleep: BitTorrent Develops Secure Calling and Messaging App

Instagram Quietly Unveils One-Tap Messaging App Called Bolt

Introduced by Facebook’s Instagram, Bolt is a one-tap messaging app for iOS and Android that is similar to the popular Taptalk app. Bolt is currently available in New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa, with plans to launch in additional regions soon. The app allows users to send an image or video that disappears once it is viewed. Unlike Snapchat and Facebook’s Slingshot, Bolt only allows users to send messages to one person at a time, rejecting mass messages. Continue reading Instagram Quietly Unveils One-Tap Messaging App Called Bolt

Intel Enters the Mobile App Business with Avatar Messages

Last week, chipmaker Intel introduced its own mobile app called “Pocket Avatars.” Unlike most of Intel’s functional software, Pocket Avatars is purely recreational. The app uses a smartphone’s camera and microphone to record the user’s voice and facial movements. Then the app translates those signals into a talking, animated avatar message that users can send to their friends. The free app is available for iPhones and Android smartphones. Continue reading Intel Enters the Mobile App Business with Avatar Messages

Facebook Takes on Snapchat with Slingshot Messaging App

Facebook launched its new Slingshot messaging app for both iPhone and Android this week. The app has been described as similar to Snapchat, although it has one significant difference. In order to see what others have sent you, you need to send a photo or video in response. The free app is meant to feel more like a game that involves active engagement than a traditional social messaging tool, based on the inability of users to watch so-called “shots” passively. Continue reading Facebook Takes on Snapchat with Slingshot Messaging App

China’s Alibaba Group Launches U.S. Shopping Site 11 Main

The largest e-commerce company in China, Alibaba Group Holding, has launched a U.S. shopping website as it plans to go public in what is expected to be one of the largest IPOs in history. The new site, 11 Main hosts over 1,000 merchants in categories such as clothing, jewelry and interior goods. The site is currently available to users who sign up and receive an email invitation. Alibaba has invested in a range of U.S. companies over the past year, including e-commere and mobile messaging. Continue reading China’s Alibaba Group Launches U.S. Shopping Site 11 Main

Snapchat Agrees to Settle with FTC Over Deceptive Marketing

The Federal Trade Commission recently charged Snapchat of deceiving users about the privacy of their personal data and their image and video messages. Under the terms of a new settlement with the FTC, Snapchat will be required to implement a privacy program that will be independently monitored for the next 20 years. If Snapchat violates the agreement, the company may be subject to fines. Snapchat has reportedly resolved most of the privacy issues over the past year. Continue reading Snapchat Agrees to Settle with FTC Over Deceptive Marketing

Facebook Acquires Fitness App, Could Develop Wearable Tech

Facebook recently purchased ProtoGeo Oy, the maker of a fitness-tracking smartphone app called Moves. The app, which already has been downloaded more than 4 four million times on iPhone and Android, uses data from the phone’s accelerometer to automatically record the user’s walking, cycling, and running activity, and displays statistics on distance and calories burned. The acquisition could be Facebook’s first step into eventually developing wearable smartwatches. Continue reading Facebook Acquires Fitness App, Could Develop Wearable Tech

Facebook Splitting Instant Messaging Feature to Separate App

Facebook is beginning to split some of its features into separate apps, starting with extracting instant messaging from its mobile app. If users want to chat with each other through Facebook, they will have to download Facebook’s separate Messenger app. Facebook recently notified users of the change, and will be rolling it out over the next few weeks. This signals a change for the social giant, and critics suggest this sacrifice in user engagement could make Facebook lose users. Continue reading Facebook Splitting Instant Messaging Feature to Separate App

Twitter Acquires Gnip, Could Provide More Data to Advertisers

Twitter has agreed to purchase data partner Gnip, in a move that could lead to an expanded role by Twitter in analyzing tweets for businesses that are seeking new insights from social media. While financial terms of the deal have yet to be released, Gnip has reportedly raised $6.6 million in funding. Twitter also announced that it has hired Daniel Graf as its new product chief. Graf, an expert in mobile apps, most recently served as a director at Google where he oversaw Google Maps. Continue reading Twitter Acquires Gnip, Could Provide More Data to Advertisers

Facebook Could Expand into E-Money Mobile-Payments System

Facebook is preparing to provide remittances and electronic money in an effort to extend non-ad revenue. The company applied for an e-money license in Ireland that would allow users to store and exchange money through its social network. Facebook would generate revenue by charging commission for each transaction. At least three London startups — TransferWise, Moni Technologies and Azimo — have discussed potential partnerships with Facebook regarding financial services. Continue reading Facebook Could Expand into E-Money Mobile-Payments System

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