Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.
This week.. Google is testing a data-friendly version of search, chatbots are helping UK students choose courses, Indian Government asks 21 mobile phone makers to share security information, BBVA surpasses three million Spanish mobile customers and much more.
Google might soon release a data-friendly version of its search app for mobile.
That’s because the company is currently piloting such an app in Indonesia, as the eagle-eyed team at Android Police first spotted.
“Search Lite” — which TechCrunch understands is not the name of the app, but it is certainly an accurate description of it — is essentially a modified version of the Google search app that’s optimized for those using poor quality connections, with limited mobile data allocations, or in possession of a smartphone with little internal memory.
Leeds Beckett University has launched a chatbot to help prospective students find the right course.
It follows the publication of A-level results in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Using Facebook Messenger’s chatbot technology, students would be able to “assess their suitability” for different courses, the university said.
But if they would prefer to speak to a human, “phone lines will continue to be open throughout the clearing process”.
The university’s head of digital experience and engagement, Dougal Scaife, said: “We know that our prospective students already use lots of messaging software for communicating with their friends, such as Snapchat, WhatsApp, as well as texting, so developing a chatbot was a natural evolution in order to engage with our prospective students in a medium that is ubiquitous, familiar, and comfortable for them.”
Data privacy: Government sends notice to 21 mobile phone makers, asks them to share security information
New Delhi: In a bid to ensure the privacy of users’ data, the Centre has sent notices to all smartphone makers including a majority of Chinese manufacturers, asking them to provide the framework as well as the procedures they follow for data security.
As per the reports of PTI, non-Chinese phone makers such as Apple, Samsung, BlackBerry and Indian players are also among the companies that have been sent notice by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
“21 phone makers, including leading Chinese brands Vivo, Oppo, Xiaomi and Gionee, have been asked to give “detailed, structured written response” on how they secure data and ensure its safety and security,” a government order said.
BBVA has announced that more than three million of its customers in Spain interact with the bank via their mobile phones.
The bank has seen a 30% rise in the number of mobile users since December 2016 and experienced a 135% increase in mobile-banking interactions compared with last year.
In May 2016, there were 23.8 million interactions over smartphones; in May 2017, BBVA reported that figure had surpassed 56 million.
Gonzalo Rodriguez, head of digital transformation at BBVA Spain, revealed that the key to the increased use of digital channels was due to the constant updating of its mobile channels to continue to offer products and services that were relevant for its customers.
“This development never stops and our customers’ new needs oblige us to continue working on new functionalities.”
Tencent Holdings Ltd, China’s biggest gaming and social media firm by revenue, trumped forecasts to post its best-ever quarterly results, driven by higher income from smartphone games, payments and online advertising.
Looking ahead, Tencent said it plans to increase investment in payment services, cloud services and artificial intelligence, an area in which it is making inroads despite being a latecomer.
“We will be persistent but patient with our AI investment, because we believe it is a long-term initiative and we do not necessarily require our research to generate revenue directly in the short term,” said Tencent President Martin Lau.
In June 2017, the new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Scott Gottlieb pre-announced his agency’s Digital Health Innovation Action Plan that indicates notable shifts in the agency’s approach to digital health technologies. This plan is an important step in FDA regulation of this area, a process that began in 2011 with a draft guidance, followed by significant congressional actions.
The new changes should not be surprising, given critiques published by Gottlieb prior to re-joining the FDA. In 2014, he wrote that smartphones are “purposely dumbed down” due to the “risk of unwieldy FDA regulation,” and in 2015, he argued that what most considered the FDA’s “light touch” on digital health was still too heavy-handed. The new plan signals two major shifts: first, a shift from premarket to postmarket review by the FDA; and second, a shift from oversight by the FDA to oversight by independent, nongovernment certifiers.
These changes may be bellwethers for how a Trump-era FDA approaches areas far beyond digital health.
A recent report by Return Path, a specialist in email deliverability, analyzed more than 27bn email opens between May 2016 and April 2017 while 55% of emails analyzed during the study period were opened on a mobile device. This is an increase from 29% identified in a similar study in 2012. Additionally, almost 80% of mobile email opens occur on iOS, quadruple the number of mobile opens on Android devices.
“In just five years, we’ve seen dramatic shifts in the email space – and there’s no doubt that more changes are coming,” said Tom Sather, senior director of research at Return Path.
“Knowing how, when, and where your emails are being opened – and how those things have changed over time – can help to inform critical decisions about the direction of your email program,” he added.
The US’ mobile data market had a storming second quarter, with average data consumption in the country on track to cross 6GB per month by the end of 2017, a move which could make it the global leader.
Chetan Sharma Consulting’s latest US Mobile Market update noted it took around 17 years to hit the 1GB mark, but going from 5GB to 6GB a month took just four months.
The US is in third place globally, behind Finland and South Korea, in terms of GB consumed per subscriber per month, and first among countries with a population of more than 60 million.
Given the unlimited availability of data service across all operators, the US could surpass Korea in usage this year, the study observed.
In another milestone, mobile data revenues eclipsed the 80 per cent mark for the first time in Q2 and the US is the first country after Japan where this has happened.
Among the Supreme Court’s many upcoming cases is Carpenter v. United States, which will settle the question of whether your location and movements, as determined by the ordinary interactions of your phone with the network, are protected by the Fourth Amendment. Dozens of companies, advocates, experts and interested parties just weighed in ahead of the hearing.
The issue, briefly summarized: Timothy Carpenter was convicted partly by the use of 127 days (and 12,898 individual location points) of cell site location information (CSLI) acquired by police from telecoms without a warrant. The argument that this information was protected, and that its collection constituted unreasonable search and seizure, failed to convince the Appeals court.
Just as a refresher, here’s that Fourth Amendment…
To see where British fast-fashion retailer Asos is spending the most of its resources, download its mobile app.
Built in-house, the app has 10 million downloads according to the company, and it’s also the focus of the retailer’s latest technology investments, coming from its 900-person tech team, which Asos plans to grow by another 200 next year. The app is home to features like AI-driven product search, mobile payments and a fit analytics function, all meant to put some muscle behind the often finicky mobile shopping experience.
Most recently, Asos rolled out a visual search tool to U.K. iPhone app users that lets shoppers take a photo of a product they like in-app, and it pulls similar items from a pool of 85,000 product images. The feature will be introduced to Android and international markets next, including the U.S., wear Asos has invested $40 million in building out a distribution center.
“Our number one priority is: We need to build experiences that capitalize on mobile,” said Rich Jones, Asos’s head of product and UX. “We’re designing experiences that are essentially right for the customers’ devices because their entire lives are here. How do we make sure our experience matches that?”