Author: Gary Thayer, Editor

China mobile market cools, but Apple still hot

Although the global smartphone market grew 16 percent since the second quarter a year ago, the once red-hot China mobile market has cooled off a bit–along with the rest of China’s economy. This is bad news for China’s growing number of smartphone makers, who will need to look outside of China if they want to keep sales flowing. That’s the conclusion of UK-based mobile analyst firm Juniper Research, who estimates that in total, buyers around the world bought 338 million smartphones in the second quarter (Q2) of 2015, representing year-over-year growth of 16 percent. China mobile market sees emerging mobile powers Like general economic...

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OK Google voice dictation adds WhatsApp, Viber, more

If you’re already barking “Ok Google” at your phone to dictate your email, texts and Hangouts messages, then you’re on top of your game—Google’s official app just gained that feature in April. Starting today, you can show off even more by using Google voice dictation for other messaging apps including WhatsApp, WeChat, NextPlus, Telegram, and Viber. To use the Google voice dictation functionality, you’ll need to have an Android phone with the latest version of the Google app installed, as well as the latest version of one of those messaging apps. How to use Google voice dictation Just as you would...

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Apple Watch sales $1 billion, Apple revenues up 33%

How many people do you know yet with an Apple Watch? Probably not many. While Apple Watch sales have made the device Apple’s best-selling new product launch, sales are far from the high expectations that led up to the watch’s pre-order launch on April 10th and delayed in-store availability this month. Apple knows this, so the company didn’t exactly gloat about Apple Watch sales during its latest earnings call. CEO Tim Cook didn’t provide any specific Apple Watch sales numbers, but analysts have dissected some of the couched language to shed light on how well the Apple Watch has been selling. Although Apple has...

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Global SIM card offers mobile data at local rates

If you travel frequently, you no longer have to buy a different SIM card in every country you visit. France-based Transatel is now selling a global SIM card that promises you mobile web access anywhere in the US, India, and 15 other countries–from any of your devices with a SIM card slot. According to a European Commission-led survey of 28,000 European travelers, 28 percent admitted to habitually turning off their mobile phone once abroad, and 47 percent said they never use mobile Internet while traveling in other countries. Only 9 percent regularly read their emails while abroad. Global SIM card connects...

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Nielsen: mobile app usage time rises, but not app diversity

In just a few years, mobile apps have transformed from being a novelty to must-haves for smartphone users. But despite the increase in app usage and app choices, the number of apps used per user is staying the same, according to a recent report from Nielsen. The study found that on average, US smartphone users accessed 26.7 apps per month in the last quarter of 2014—a number that has remained relatively flat over the last two years. And if that weren’t bad enough news for app developers, over 70 percent of total app usage is coming from the top...

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Survey: small business mobile apps to double

These days, it seems like every major company has a mobile app–except for small businesses. But if small business mobile apps are the new best way to encourage and communicate with customers, what are so many businesses waiting for? Only about fifteen percent of small businesses in the United States have a mobile app, and only another 18 percent are considering developing one in 2015 or later, according to a survey of 350 small business owners or managers recently polled by Clutch, a provider of mobile app developer reviews worldwide. Even if those 18 percent all followed through on their app...

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Zappix promises better mobile customer service apps

Boston-based Zappix has launched a platform for quickly creating native Android and iPhone mobile customer service apps that improve upon traditional phone-based, interactive voice response (IVR) systems. The Zappix Visual-IVR suite  is a cloud-based, SaaS (Software as a Service) platform for web or mobile customer service apps. Zappix says the platform’s API suite is “design once and deploy everywhere”, and that customized apps can be deployed in a few days by even non-IT types. You can also deploy Zappix to supplement your current IVR or call center software with no changes needed, and the suite can also be quickly integrated with...

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SwiftKey for Android, iOS adds new features & languages

I’ve tried lots of keyboard apps, but my favorite is still SwiftKey, due to its stellar text prediction, well laid-out keyboard, swipe functionality, and support for two languages at once. While the latest version of SwiftKey for iOS adds some relatively minor new features, SwiftKey for Android now has a few major new features, including the new SwiftKey Hub (see photo), Dashlane password management, and adaptive layouts for speakers of Indian languages. SwiftKey for Android new features The new SwiftKey for Android now has a Hub that’s designed to be the home for all of the content and features you use...

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Google Maps app now tracks your next train or bus

Ever missed a bus? Subway? Yeah, us too. Luckily, Google is making it easier to track your transportation so you can worry less about missing your ride. The Google Maps app now arranges and summarizes relevant journeys, so you’ll know at a glance how long you’ll be waiting for that bus or train and what your other options are if you just miss it. The real-time transit info feature shows you live arrivals for buses, metros and subway systems—and even alerts you to cancelled routes. The Google Maps app has also added real-time transit info in two new countries and four new metro...

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Billy Ho: leading BlackBerry’s BES12 & multi-platform push

BlackBerry has faced a lot of challenges in recent years, but it’s always held the strong suit in enterprise services. The Toronto, Ontario area company continues to trump other multi-platform enterprise mobile management players, and claims to still serve as many customers as its top three competitors combined. Governments, especially, are still BlackBerry loyalists–with all of the G7 governments and 16 of the G20 governments using BlackBerry services such as BES12, the latest version of the BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) platform. But BlackBerry cannot afford to sit on its enterprise laurels, and nobody knows that better than EVP of Enterprise Engineering Billy...

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Udacity’s free mobile dev courses add Android degree program

If you want to learn the essentials of Android or iOS app development but don’t have thousands of dollars to spend, there’s a new “Nanodegree” iOS and Android developer degree program that won’t break your bank account–each costs just $200. The programs are offered by online education portal Udacity, and require a commitment of six to nine months at a minimum 10 hours per week. The Android degree program is the latest from Udacity, which created the program with Google. In less than a year since Udacity’s Nanodegree program started, it has grown to include iOS development, web development, data analytics, and...

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Kony mobile apps gain Citrix, Crittercism integration

Silicon Valley based mobile enterprise software specialist Kony recently announced two new product integrations. Firstly, the Kony mobile application development platform now includes mobile application performance management (APM) features from Crittercism. Also, the company’s Kony Apps for vertical markets are now verified by Citrix and readily integrated for use with Citrix’s XenMobile enterprise mobility management software. Crittercism’s mobile analytics platform provides a real-time view of app performance, offering not only crash reports and diagnostics, but real-time views for mobile transactions, APIs, handled exceptions and app analytics, such as usage, device, OS and carrier or network metrics. For its Crittercism...

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Android grabs lead in mobile ad revenue, but iOS users love ads

For the first time ever, Android has passed Apple iOS in mobile ad revenue, holding a 45.8% share of total revenue generated, according to a new report. But iPhone and iPad users are still more likely to click ads to buy or learn more about products. The findings cover the first quarter (Q1) of 2015 and are highlighted in the latest quarterly “State of Mobile Advertising” report from mobile ad platform provider Opera Mediaworks, a subsidiary of the mobile browser company Opera Software. The report covers results from over 850 million users, over 18,000 websites and mobile apps, and...

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Apple outs new 15″ Retina MacBook Pro

Just a few weeks ahead of revealing the next Mac OS features at its annual conference, Apple has unveiled an updated 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display and a 27-inch iMac with a “5K” display. The updated 15-incher follows a new 12-inch Retina MacBook, 13-inch MacBook Pro 2015, and updated MacBook Air that Apple revealed earlier this spring. The Retina MacBook Pro 2015 sports a new “Force Touch” trackpad, faster flash storage, longer battery life and faster AMD discrete graphics. Apple’s new $1,999 27-inch iMac features a 14.7 million pixel Retina 5K display, quad-core processors and AMD graphics. 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro 2015 specs The...

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Kumu iPhone fitness app wants to be your personal coach

There’s a sea of mobile fitness apps out there, but Kumu’s iPhone fitness app is already at full sail after launching just this month. It helps that Kumu was quickly chosen by Apple as a featured app in its App Store, and was also featured in “Men’s Fitness” magazine as “The Next Best Fitness App”. A different kind of iPhone fitness app So what’s the big deal about Kumu? The app is not just another iPhone fitness app that tracks you. Sure, it does that, but also delivers a real-life “Wellness Coach” to advise and motivate you. While the app is free, the coaching service costs $20 for...

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FileMaker 14 for mobile & web launches on 30th birthday

Apple subsidiary FileMaker is marking its 30th birthday this month with FileMaker 14, the newest release of its database and application development platform for iPad, iPhone, Windows, Mac, and all mobile web browsers. FileMaker was born 30 years ago as Nutshell, a DOS-based database program from Nashoba Systems, a tiny startup outside of Boston. Apple’s Claris subsidiary acquired FileMaker in 1988, and ten years later, changed the company name from Claris to FileMaker. You don’t have to have database development experience to use FileMaker, which has pre-existing templates that you can modify to fit your exact needs. New and updated features in FileMaker 14 include: An updated (version 14)...

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MyScript sketches handwriting apps for iOS, Android

You might know about MyScript from their enterprise handwriting apps for Windows tablets, but now the company is targeting mobile keyboard-averse consumers with a new iOS app for iPhone and iPad users and a beta app for Android users. MyScript Stylus for iOS and Android offer an alternative to typing on your device’s cramped onscreen keypad or your add-on keyboard accessory. The two handwriting apps feature an interactive panel that lets you write in handwritten print and cursive text using a stylus or your fingertip. The apps have an auto scrolling input panel that lets you write in any application including...

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BlackBerry completes WatchDox acquisition

BlackBerry’s recent WatchDox acquisition is already a wrap. BlackBerry announced in April that it was acquiring the Israel-based data security company, which offers cross-platform, secure file-sync-and-share services. Although terms of the WatchDox acquisition were not revealed, sources say the deal was around US $100 million. Because WatchDox’s main product works on any device or platform, it will be another key notch in BlackBerry’s expanding belt of cross-platform services. WatchDox secures shared files on both mobile and desktop devices, and allows an approved user or administrator to revoke access to or delete files remotely. It also prevents access to files that could...

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Mobile customer service builds or breaks app & brand loyalty

Mobile shopping is growing at a rapid pace, but not every app gives shoppers what they are looking for, and fickle customers will easily abandon a brand based on a perception of poor service. A recent study on mobile shopping and mobile customer service shows that consumers want convenience, but feel mobile apps are failing them when they need help.“Even though retailers have started investing in mobile apps, shoppers are often left wanting more,” says John Hibel, Director of Marketing at Contact Solutions, which conducted the study. “When they are forced to switch channels to get the assistance they need,...

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New carrier Defense Mobile targets military members, vets

If you or an immediate family member is a US veteran or on active duty, there’s now a wireless carrier offering low-cost wireless service and mobile apps just for you. Defense Mobile has partnered with AT&T, Sprint and Verizon to offer nationwide no-contract plans for calling, texting, and 4G LTE wireless data. The Connecticut based company says it’s also close to enlisting T-Mobile as well. With a current promotion of 25% off all plans for the first three months, the plans start at just $22.50 (normally $30). For that, you get 300 minutes, 300 texts, and 300MB of 4G...

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