Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.
This week.. 11k bots now on Facebook, Chinese smart phone brands are dying out, Cape Town introduce fines by SMS… and much more.
More than 11,000 “chatbots” are built atop Facebook Messenger, and over 23,000 developers have signed up for the platform’s bot engine.
“We’re looking forward to building a future of amazing Messenger experiences powered by the community of developers, businesses and people who use Messenger every day,” Facebook’s VP of messaging products David Marcus said in a post on Thursday announcing the figures.
Facebook debuted Messenger chatbots, stripped down apps, at the company’s annual F8 conference for developers nearly three months ago. The platform is powered largely by Facebook’s Applied Machine Learning team and Wit.ai, a startup the social media giant acquired last year.
Just Eat, the food delivery giant of Europe, has announced plans to introduce self-driving delivery robots to London streets in the coming months.
Just Eat is teaming up with Starship Technologies, an Estonia-based startup created by Skype’s cofounders, to launch a trial with a handful of restaurants that will see some customers’ food delivered by a mini six-wheeled robot. The trial is expected to kick off within the next few months, and a few details of how the order and delivery process will work has been revealed.
It’s expected that the robots will travel up to a mile initially, though there is potential to expand that up to three miles if trials go well. The little machines drive completely autonomously, though they are monitored remotely by human operators, and are replete with 9 cameras, ultrasonic sensors with a 360-degree field of vision, and a 30cm braking distance.
China loves its smartphones; that’s as true as it ever was. But as smartphone penetration reaches higher levels and the market cools off some, we’re starting to see some winners – Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi – emerge. And as those companies grab up more and more market share, the number of losers stacking up in the dead pool is growing, too.
In fact according to Peng Zhen, a senior engineer at the China Academy of Telecommunication Research, more than 30 percent of China’s domestic smartphone brands bit the dust between 2014 and the end of 2015. In 2014, Peng says, China had 445 different domestic smartphone makers operating. By the end of 2015, that number had dropped to 309, meaning that 136 different Chinese smartphone brands died over the course of 2015.
Granted, it’s not the most cutting edge new feature for iOS 10, but it’s an important one, nonetheless. Apple issued a release this morning announcing that the company is teaming with Donate Life America to bring organ donation to its mobile operating system.
When iOS 10 rolls out this fall, it will include an option that makes it possible for users to become organ, eye and tissue donors “with just a few taps.” Those who register through the baked-in Health app will be added to the National Donate Life Registry. The app will also point interested parties to additional information.
Great news, everyone. The City of Cape Town is trying to make SMS technology relevant again.
The City’s Safety and Security mayoral representative JP Smith has today announced that Cape Town motorists will soon be able to pay road fines using “smart SMS technology”.
“The City of Cape Town’s Traffic Service is adding another technological advancement to its arsenal with the roll-out of smart SMS technology that will allow motorists to pay fines via their cellphones, tablets or personal computers,” he says in a statement.
Smith also states that users will be sent SMSes of pending fines, negating the need for South Africa’s tardy and often unreliable postal system.
While the smartphone market may be slowing down, it is still registering growth, unlike the tablet market, which seems to be in a perpetual decline without any signs of revival any time soon. According to the latest data from market research and analysis company,
International Data Corporation (IDC), the tablet market shrunk by over thirteen percent in the year-ending quarter compared to the same period in 2014, thereby capping an entire year of decline in the tablet market for the very first time since the category went mainstream earlier this millennium.
Kenya’s biggest telecoms company Safaricom is joining up with a local software firm to launch a ride-hailing company to take on Uber [UBER.UL] as it seeks new sources of revenue, its chief executive said.
Safaricom, which is 40 percent owned by Britain’s Vodafone, and Nairobi-based software developer Craft Silicon will launch the app called Littlecabs in the next three weeks, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore told Reuters in an interview.
“It is effectively a rival for Uber,” he said. “It is a local competitor which will be cheaper and better for the local community.”
In an attempt to avoid the dreaded buffering symbol in regions where mobile internet access is spotty or prohibitively expensive, Facebook is about to start testing a new video download feature for a group of users in India. As TechCrunch reports today, those users will be able to sync videos while on WiFi and download them to watch in the Facebook app later.
While Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have been vocal about getting as many people online as possible, the offline feature is more than just a win for users in regions with little to no cellular coverage –- Facebook is also calling it a success for publishers and producers that might be feeling slighted by the latest changes to the News Feed algorithm.
Mobile Marketing Magazine
Mobile internet access has enormous potential to boost income and socioeconomic opportunities in developing markets, but failing to make it accessible to disadvantaged groups could further embed and deepen inequalities. That’s the key finding of a report published today by Vodafone confirmed.
The report, Towards a More Equal World: The Mobile Internet Revolution, looks at how the shift to smartphones and data services in emerging markets represents a turning point. The specific opportunities of mobile internet access for disadvantaged groups are identified and policy steps governments can take to address inequalities are recommended.