Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.
This week.. Over 50 million watched the Olympics on Snapchat, Pokemon Go boosting other apps’ revenue, Samsung processes 100 million mobile payments and much more.
Almost 50m people watched Olympics coverage on Snapchat over the course of the Rio 2016 Games, thanks to broadcasters including NBC and the BBC partnering with the app in an effort to reach millennial users.
Almost one in three of Snapchat’s daily users viewed Olympics coverage within the app’s Live Stories feature, suggesting that the platform could challenge social networks like Facebook and Twitter when it comes to covering live events with global interest.
While Pokémon Go is definitely the primary benefactor of its own success, that doesn’t mean it’s hurting its competition in the mobile gaming space. New data from mobile commerce provider DOCOMO Digital has found that in fact, the Google Play Store’s top four grossing apps have seen a 10 percent increase in overall revenue from their games in Europe since the debut of Pokémon Go.
Niantic claims the crown of highest earner, of course, and initially did cause a bit of a dip in spend among the completion. But spending quickly returned to pre-Pokémon levels – and then leapt ahead, rising higher than they had been before the game’s launch.
The Niantic competitors DOCOMO Digital looked at for the snapshot included King, the firm behind Candy Crush, and Supercell, as well as Peak Games and Google. Across the board, developers saw lift, and the takeaway is that games like Pokémon Go which convince users to spend results in a net positive effect on user attitude towards spending in general.
While it’s expected mobile payments won’t become mainstream before the end of the decade, Samsung has just announced a major milestone.
Samsung Pay, the company’s mobile payments platform, has surpassed “nearly 100 million unique transactions in seven countries” within its first year of availability. The company went on to declare Samsung Pay “the most widely accepted mobile payment system.”
The platform is currently available in Spain, China, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, U.S, Porto Rico and Brazil. The company did not reveal how much money it has processed.
NuTonomy’s self-driving taxis, said to be the first in the world, have today begun picking up passengers as part of a public trial in Singapore. The rides – in modified Renault Zoe and Mitsubishi i-MiEV electrics – will be confined within the One North business district and passengers must be invited to use the service.
Throughout the trial, the company will collect and evaluate data related to software system performance, vehicle routing efficiency, the vehicle booking process, and the overall passenger experience. This data will allow it to refine everything in preparation for the commercial launch in 2018.
Brazil and Mexico account for most mobile app sessions in Latin America, according to data for the year leading up to June 2016.
According to mobile analytics and advertising firm Flurry, 34% of app sessions on its platform in Latin America between June 2015 and June 2016 occurred in Brazil, notably more than any other country in the region. Mexico ranked second, with about one in five app sessions, for a total of 55% of app sessions in Latin America’s two largest markets.
In third place, Argentina was home to just 8% of mobile app sessions.
Facebook’s new teen-targeted app is drawing privacy concerns.
The app, dubbed Lifestage, was built for high-schoolers to share videos and connect locally, but it lacks privacy settings, requests personal information and makes all content public.
Lifestage comes with this disclaimer in the Apple App Store:
“Please note: Everything you post in Lifestage is always public and viewable by everyone, inside and outside your school. There is no way to limit the audience of your videos. We can’t confirm that people who claim to go to a certain school actually go to that school. All videos you upload to your profile are fully public content.”
Sprint and T-Mobile US are introducing “all you can eat” internet plans, and as you might expect, someone at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco is horrified. Somebody always is.
The EFF tut-tutted at dirt-poor Indian farmers getting Ceefax pages on their mobiles for free – and the Indians obligingly banned it. The EFF tut-tutted at Netflix peering directly with big ISPs to remove stutter from its movie streams, a much more efficient delivery arrangement that actually saved Netflix some money. The EFF tut-tutted at T‑Mobile US for working with video providers so videos wouldn’t count against your bandwidth cap. But the Binge On deal proved so popular with customers, the EFF looked silly, and even sillier after Google joined Binge On.
NFC payment rings first sported by Olympian athletes in Rio are now available for pre-order to the general public.
Given to 45 ‘Team Visa’ Olympic hopefuls, the rings feature Visa token technology, a design from McLear & Co. that includes a secure microchip made by Gemalto, with an embedded NFC-enabled antenna.
The waterproof rings do not require use of a battery or recharging and will retail for £39.99 from the site of manufacturer NFCRing.
Google Search removes ‘mobile-friendly’ label, will start negatively ranking mobile interstitials in 2017
Google today announced two updates to mobile search results: an aesthetic one rolling out now and an algorithmic one coming next year. The former consists of removing the “mobile-friendly” label in search results and the latter will punish mobile sites that use interstitials. The goal is to “make finding content easier for users,” though as always, the company didn’t share exactly how much of an impact users and webmasters can expect.
In November 2014, Google started labeling sites as “mobile-friendly” to denote which pages are optimized for phones. In February 2015, Google announced plans to roll out mobile ranking changes in April 2015, and then in March 2016, it promised to start ranking “mobile-friendly” sites even higher in May.
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd plans to launch a program to sell refurbished used versions of its premium smartphones as early as next year, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
The South Korean technology firm is looking for ways to sustain earnings momentum after reviving its mobile profits by restructuring its product line-up. As growth in the global smartphone market hits a plateau, Samsung wants to maximize its cost efficiency and keep operating margins above 10 percent.
The world’s top smartphone maker will refurbish high-end phones returned to the company by users who signed up for one-year upgrade programs in markets such as South Korea and the United States.
Visa Incorporated has announced plan to launch a mobile payments solution, mVisa in Nigeria. The company said that it was in advanced discussions with leading Nigerian banks, and expects to roll the solution out with banking partners to Nigerian consumers before the end of 2016.
mVisa is an innovative mobile payments solution that allows consumers to pay for goods by scanning a QR code on a smart phone or entering a merchant number into their feature phones. Payment goes straight from the consumer’s Visa account into the merchant’s account and provides real-time notification to both parties.
mVisa is completely interoperable, meaning that the consumer and the merchant do not need to be customers of the same bank. It can also be used to enable consumers who use different mobile phones and services to interact. This brings a versatile and secure mobile money solution, powered by Visa, to consumers everywhere.