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

This week..  Instagram experiments with a standalone messaging apps, Pinterest integrates deeper with Facebook, Google makes a play for mobile Internet market in India and much more…

Instagram experiments with a standalone messaging app


It happened to Facebook, and now it’s happening to Instagram. Today, the Zuckerberg empire is launching a standalone messaging app for Instagram called Direct. As The Verge reports, it’s technically a test and will only be available in six markets — Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey and Uruguay.

Like Messenger, the Direct app effectively cuts the Instagram experience in half; your Inbox lives in Direct, while the regular feed remains in the Instagram app. If you want to keep tabs on both, you’ll have to shuffle back and forth. It sounds like both apps will have a built-in camera, however.

The idea, of course, is to get more people using Instagram’s private messaging features. Direct first launched in 2013 as a way to selectively share photos and videos with friends. It was perfectly functional, but felt out of place alongside Instagram’s traditional feed.

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Pinterest integrates deeper with Facebook with a new bot and messenger extension

Tech Crunch

As Pinterest looks to further expand beyond just the audience you’d expect to use it, it’s going to have to start chasing down users and meet them on different territories — and that includes messaging apps.

So today Pinterest is launching a pair of updates that is going to help it tap into that audience of people that are sharing content on Facebook Messenger. People might already be copying links to Pinterest and pasting them in Messenger, but the company is looking to make that a little more seamless to get to the point where you can go into Messenger and be able to regularly interact with Pinterest.

The bot works as you’d expect — you open up a chat with the Pinterest bot and type in an idea you’re interested in, like food or clothing.

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Google makes a big play for mobile Internet market in India

Telecom TV

Google was still on the paddle steamer out of Mountain View when the technology fast boat to China left from the Embarcadero in San Francisco. As a result it got to the party late and has failed to capitalise on the growth of the Internet in China – and that is a source of continuing corporate chagrin for Google.

However, once bitten, twice shy, and the company is determined not to make the same mistake with its latest target for major expansion – India. Each and every week, one million new Indian subscribers are getting online for the very first time, the vast majority gaining access through smartphone wireless technology. India has a population of 1.4 billion (and rising) and so far less than 30 per cent is either online or has access to wireless broadband.

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Finns burn through mobile data

Tech Radar

If you ever see a Finn staring at his mobile phone, chances are that he’s watching a video.  According to figures from GlobalData, users in Finland churn their way through 13.3GB per SIM every month, nearly six times the European average and more than 18 times the data usage of Slovakia, the least data driven country.

The figures are slightly misleading, however. Some countries, such as France and the UK have low monthly mobile data figures because of the large numbers of low data-intensive M2M cards that are bringing down the average. In the UK, for example, average monthly mobile data usage is 1.98GB, but smartphones use up to 2.6GB and connected data devices 2.8GB; only the 291MB of the M2M brings down the average.

Users from all countries are increasingly turning to data, often driven by high usage of video. A survey last month from OpenWave Mobility found that the high volumes of HD video was not only adding to the data being used but was causing operators to struggle to cope.

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M1 to assess use of 4.5G mobile network for drones

ZD Net

M1 has completed trials involving the use of its 4.5G “heterogeneous network” (HetNet) to control drone operations and is embarking on further research on the traffic management of such devices.

The Singapore telco had worked with Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to conduct the trials, tapping its network to provide “command, control, and communication capabilities required for safe and efficient drone operations”.

The specially designed drone, or unmanned aircraft system (UAS). was put together by the Air Traffic Management Research Institute (ATMRI), a research centre jointly established by NTU and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS). The drone then was flown around M1’s office building as well as two fields located in the western part of the island.

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Joining the dots around the consumer: The future of mobile location data

The Drum

In the last few months, The Drum has been on a journey with Verve in the back of a London cab exploring the ins and outs of location data. In the final episode of Everything You Need to Know (EYNTK) About Location-Based Advertising, Ian James, general manager international at Verve, explores the future of mobile location data intelligence.

Over the course of the series, James has explained how data derived directly from the device opens up a whole world of new opportunities for marketers – enabling them to target consumers based on individual preferences, demographics and their real-world purchase behaviours.

But what does the future hold? In this episode James gives the example of younger generations, such as Generation Z who have never lived without a mobile device, and how brands now need to go beyond using traditional loyalty programs to match their expectations.

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Mobile money holds the key to financial inclusion


Following the meteoric rise of Bitcoin, which recently skyrocketed in value past $11,000, it’s clear that advancements in the fintech industry are changing the monetary landscape as we know it. Whether through a cryptocurrency or other emerging technology, such as mobile money and blockchain, physical cash is being replaced by digital alternatives. From Sweden’s mobile payments network leading to only 1% of all national transactions now using cash, to the Chinese utilising QR codes for money transfers and their homeless requesting donations via digital wallets; it’s clear that we could transform into a cashless society someday.

With that in mind, it may seem surprising that the nations where the biggest and fastest changes are occurring can be found in the developing world. As mobile devices become increasingly accessible and affordable, mobile money, which lets a user pay for items by simply sending a text, has taken off dramatically. In fact, the country with the largest mobile money spend in the world during Q2 2017 was Kenya – reaching Ksh692 billion (over £5BN).

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Apple shares facial recognition data with apps, sparking privacy worries

Mobile Marketer

The Washington Post offers a cautionary, consumer-oriented perspective about facial recognition technology that mobile marketers should consider when incorporating Face ID into their apps. Apple is putting the new technology into the hands of a mass audience — as the company did with personal computers, graphic user interfaces controlled by a mouse, digital music distribution, smartphones and voice-activated digital assistants, among its long list of innovations.

As the newspaper points out, facial recognition has potential negative consequences like the invasion of privacy, constant surveillance and the potential for machines to make snap judgments about a person’s mood, gender, race and sexuality.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had reservations about starting an App Store because of worries about policing the behavior of third-party app developers.

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11 sizzling start-ups from São Paulo to watch in 2018

Silicon Republic

São Paulo is Latin America’s Silicon Valley and its broad variety of start-ups prove that. Featuring in Deloitte’s recent index of fintech hubs, the Brazilian city of São Paulo is going through a start-up boom.

The same report said that in terms of fintech alone, Brazil has more fintech start-ups than any other country in Latin America. With the largest economy by GDP in Latin America and the southern hemisphere, São Paulo is also the largest city in the Americas and Earth’s 12th-largest city by population.

Construct is a communications platform for teams working on complex construction projects. It provides all the structure and organisation for managers who need to streamline conversations in a project environment. Founded in 2014 by Drew Beaurline and Patrick Albert, Construct has raised $636,000 in funding to date.

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China’s phone market is now dominated by five companies, none of which is Samsung

The Verge

China is the most unique smartphone market in the world: a phone maker can be a global sales leader without ever treading beyond Chinese borders, and small upstart challengers can suddenly explode in popularity from out of nowhere. The latter aspect is becoming harder now, however, as the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel shows that China’s top five phone vendors are becoming a more solid and dominant group.

Kantar reports that, for the calendar quarter ending in October, the top five of Huawei, Xiaomi, Apple, Vivo, and Oppo accounted for 91 percent of the overall market. That’s up from 79 percent a year earlier, extending a lead that now sees companies like ZTE, Meizu, and Lenovo struggling to find a foothold in their home country. Global smartphone leader Samsung is now at a 2.2 percent share in China and deteriorating, according to Kantar’s Dominic Sunnebo.

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