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Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.

This week..  Snapchat has more active users than Twitter for the first time, Xiaomi snaps up hundreds of Microsoft patents, Saudi Arabia invests $3.5 Billion in Uber… and much more.

Snapchat Is Now More Popular Than Twitter


It’s finally happened: There are more people snapping than there are tweeting. According to a new report from Bloomberg, Snapchat has 150 million daily active users, compared to Twitter’s less than 140 million users. Ouch.

At a time when Twitter is struggling to convince advertisers that its service will make them money, Snapchat is raking in the cash as they have the hearts and minds of young people right at their fingertips.

Bloomberg reports: “Twitter has 310 million monthly active users, according to its most recent earnings report. The company doesn’t disclose how many of those people check in daily, but in the third quarter, it said about 44 percent of monthly users are active each day in the service’s top 20 markets.”

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Xiaomi buys Microsoft smartphone patents


Smartphone maker Xiaomi has bought the rights to hundreds of Microsoft’s smartphone inventions.

Experts say the patent deal paves the way for the Chinese firm to sell its handsets in Western markets.

Microsoft will benefit from the fact that some of its Android apps – including Office and Skype – will now be pre-installed on Xiaomi devices.

The announcement comes at a time when Xiaomi has been struggling to meet sales targets.

The Beijing-based company originally set itself a target of selling 100 million smartphones in 2015.

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Saudi Arabia just invested a historic amount of cash in Uber

Ars Technica

On Wednesday afternoon, Uber said that it had received a $3.5 billion investment from the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund. This is the biggest investment ever raised in a single round by a venture-backed company. In exchange, a managing director at the Saudi fund, Yasir Al Rumayyan, will take a seat on Uber’s board, according to The New York Times.

Uber has been a presence in Saudi Arabia since 2014, and it has grown rapidly from there. In the country, women aren’t allowed to drive, and their travel is often restricted without the permission of a male guardian.

To get around, women either hire private drivers or go through licensed taxi or limo companies to travel throughout the country’s major cities. Speaking to male strangers is also verboten, and according to Fast Company, Uber only works through those licensed limo companies that had been operating with the monarchy’s permission for years before Uber’s arrival. The company has said that approximately 80 percent of riders in Saudi Arabia are women.

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Facebook’s new DeepText AI categorizes everything you write

Tech Crunch

If Facebook knows what your status update is about, it can show it to people who care about that topic. If it understands the difference between “I just got out of the taxi” and “I need a ride” messages, it can ask if you want an Uber. If it detects that you’re trying to sell something in a status update, it can automatically format post with the price and item details. And if Facebook can determine what kinds of comments on celebrities’ posts are interesting and not just “OH MY GOSH I LOVE YOU”, it can surface ones you’ll actually want to read.

These are the big applications for Facebook’s newest artificial intelligence system called“DeepText”. 400,000 new stories and 125,000 comments on public posts are shared every minute on Facebook. DeepText will help Facebook analyze several thousand per second across 20 languages with near-human accuracy.

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Twitter’s retreat from ‘Buy’ buttons puts its payments partner Stripe in an awkward spot


In September, payments startup Stripe trumpeted a new product that would allow retailers to sell goods directly in social networking and content apps. The biggest partner app Stripe launched with was Twitter, whose ‘Buy’ buttons allowed users to buy items directly from a tweet.

But just a month later, Twitter disbanded the team working on ‘Buy’ buttons, as Recodereported on Thursday, and shifted its focus on commerce to other initiatives. The ‘Buy’ button technology still exists, and retailers can still use Stripe’s new product, Relay, to sell products on Twitter.

But the perception that Stripe’s biggest partner no longer considers it a priority doesn’t look good. You could imagine the challenge convincing potential retail partners that they should invest in a program whose biggest platform partner no longer appears to be interested.

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Is a $14,000 phone really the price of privacy?

The Register

A US$14,000 (£9,706, or A$19,352) Android phone has been launched pitching ‘military-grade encryption’ at privacy-conscious executives.

Little information can be found on the Solarin handset’s specific security chops other than it will use “chip-to-chip 256-bit AES encryption” for phone calls.

That technology is built by Bethesda, Maryland-headquartered Koolspan which produces theTrustChip processor. Inserted into the microSD slot, it works in combination with an app to provide what the company badges as FIPS 140-2 certified, end-to-end 256-bit AES encryption, insulated from the operating system and connected devices.

Solarin does not state if it uses the TrustChip, only labelling its technology as the same as that militaries use for the “strongest possible mobile privacy protection” that is “currently unavailable outside the agency world”.

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Most marketers miss mark with mobile messaging


Messaging is the most frequently used form of mobile communication among consumers today, but the majority of businesses fail to effectively use mobile messaging services to communicate with their customers, according to a new report from Forrester Research. The firm surveyed 1,943 U.S. smartphone users between October and December of last year to identify the messaging they consider to be the most effective and contextually relevant.

While 96 percent of U.S. smartphone owners receive some type of messaging-service notifications (excluding email), more than half of those surveyed opt-out of receiving alerts because they’re irrelevant or arrive too frequently, according to the report.

Only 23 percent of online businesses use push notifications for mobile message services to engage customers, Forrester found, and most don’t use real-time or contextual data to increase the relevancy of their messaging.

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Mary Meeker’s new internet report shows how China supersizes the web

Tech In Asia

Every summer, techies around the world look forward to the latest missive from KPCB analyst Mary Meeker. Her detailed 2016 Internet Trends Report, which dropped overnight, is worthseeing in full, but I’d like to focus on the China bits.

That’s because the report gives a great summary and overview of how China’s internet industry is so huge and so pervasive in everyday life – much more so than the US sector is for everyday Americans.

With 688 million internet users, 50.3 percent of China’s population is now online. Most of their time spent on the web is dominated by the nation’s three tech giants – Tencent, Alibaba, and Baidu.

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22 Per Cent of Smartphone Users Blocking Mobile Web Ads

Mobile Marketing Magazine

419m people – 22 per cent of the world’s 1.9bn smartphone users – are blocking ads on the mobile web, according to a report from PageFair.

Notably, that figure doesn’t include content blocking apps or in-app blockers, but PageFair believes that browsers account for the vast majority of mobile ad blocking.

Despite triggering the mobile ad blocker panic when they were introduced last year, the actual impact of iOS blocker apps like Crystal and Adblock Plus seems to be minimal. These apps total 4.5m downloads global, a small fraction of the browser blockers, and PageFair estimates that no more than two per cent of iOS users in the US have blocking apps installed.

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Report: Apple Pay faces technical issues and slow adoption outside the United States


Apple Pay has expanding gradually around the world, most recently to all five big banks in Canada. A new report from Reuters, however, details that the global rollout has not been short of issues for Apple, banks, and retailers alike. The report explains how data shows Apple Pay is popular with core Apple enthusiasts, but not with the general public. In 2015, Apple Pay usage totaled $10.9 billion, but the majority of that was in the United States.

One of the biggest issues with Apple Pay’s global rollout has been tech hiccups. For instance, in Australia at least one bank has been facing a handful of technical issues in accepting the payment methods. “Bendigo Bank is experiencing some unforeseen technical issues in accepting Apple Pay payments at selected merchant terminals,” a Bendigo Bank representative said.

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