We know that Apple's iTunes Store and Google's Play Store are the dominant forces in digital offerings, but how are Microsoft doing in this front? The OS giant have unveiled that they're close to 100,000 apps, something they expressed at their BUILD 2013 conference this week.
Microsoft are hoping to break through 100,000 apps on the Windows Store sometime next month, and by the beginning of 2014 they hope to have around 175,000 apps available. Microsoft have told Engadget that "hundreds of millions" of apps have been downloaded, but no exact number was provided.
I'm a huge fan of Google Now, using it on the daily, but the app has just been updated with some fresh features. Google have introduced a live TV feature and Google Offers to Google Now.
The TV cards work with Internet-connected TV's, where they'll display more information about what is currently playing on your TV. Users need to connect their Android-powered device to the same network that the TV is on, and then tap "Listen for a TV Show" in Google Now. This feature will show things like factoids about the show and profiles of the actors within the show.
The second feature Google Now received was Google Offers, which will keep track of your saved offers. If you're near a store where you've got an offer available, the Offers Card will pop up with a notification alerting you of the nearby savings to be had.
Security firm Lookout have a new report which is pretty damning for US-based Android users, where they report that over one million Americans have download adware-infected Android applications, most of them without even knowing so.
Worse than that, is that 6.5% of free applications on the Google Play Store are infected with adware in some form. Lookout have noted that the most prevalent app-based mobile threat in the world today is adware, as it can take user privacy away and take things like personal information such as e-mail, location data and address lists, all without proper notification and modifying phone settings without users' consent.
Adware is a grey area of the market to explain, as there's no defined set of rules of what adware is exactly. What Lookout did instead, was provide some guidelines that they use to differentiate an innocent ad from an adware one. Lookout classify an app that is infected with adware if it displays advertising that's outside of the normal experience, if it contains unusual indentifiable information, or if it performs unexpected actions as a response to ad clicks.
Microsoft has announced a discount to its Windows Phone developer program. Microsoft is offering developers a discount on the fee normally paid to join the developer program. Instead of the yearly $99 fee, Microsoft is currently offering it for just $19. In the blog post detailing the discount, Microsoft also provided some interesting statistics regarding the Windows Phone platform.
These numbers are, of course, the good numbers as Microsoft would be unlikely to report the bad numbers. One of the most interesting and often tracked numbers is how many apps the platform has. In the blog post, Microsoft reported that the total number of apps on the Windows Platform is 160,000. Furthermore, Microsoft said that those apps drive 200 million app downloads each month.
For comparison, iOS has surpassed the 50 billion download mark. Windows 8 has around 100,000 apps available in its app store. Windows Phone also experienced the greatest year-over-year increase in marketshare, doubling its market penetration. To read the whole blog post, head over to Microsoft's site.
Instagram CEO: Windows Phone and BlackBerry app not coming 'anytime soon', Google Glass app sometime after that
It looks as though it could still be a long time before Instagram finds its way onto the Windows Phone and BlackBerry platforms. This fact comes courtesy of Instagram's CEO, who noted during an interview that Google Glass is towards the bottom of their list for new platforms. This is because Instagram considers where its users are and where the growth is.
Shortly after explaining that a Glass app is towards the bottom of their list, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom warned that BlackBerry and Windows Phone apps may not be coming anytime soon. "I'm just saying that in order of priority, the way we evaluate where to expand to is really simply where our users are, and where the growth is," the executive explained. "It took us a very long time to get to Android."
We're actually quite surprised that Instagram hasn't brought an app to the other mobile platforms as of yet. Instagram is owned by Facebook, a massive company that could easily afford to port the application to the other platforms. If you're planning on using Instagram on Google Glass just be warned that it could be a very long time until an app is released for the platform.
When Square launched a few years ago, they changed the mobile payments market overnight with their little white plastic device that you to plug in your smartphone or tablet. Now Square is setting its sights on the online marketplace as well and is attempting to compete with Etsy, Amazon, and eBay by launching its own online marketplace called Square Market.
While the step from a mobile payment gateway to a online marketplace may seem a bit odd to some, this is actually part of Square's push for the company to deliver a product that answers each aspect of online commerce. At the moment, the company has a mobile wallet for consumers, a payment app for businesses, a $300 stand that turns your iPad into a point-of-sale system and it even has a project in the works that will compete with PayPal known as Square Cash.
"Creating an online marketplace is our next step in making commerce easy for everyone," said Ajit Varma, Square's director of discovery, in a statement. "The idea behind Square Market is to make local businesses accessible to Square users nationwide. Creating a storefront on Square Market is free, and sellers can manage list items, add product photos, manage inventory and create an online profile for their businesses that the company hopes will essentially eliminate the need for sellers to have standalone websites."
The online storefront itself is free, but transactions aren't. Square will take a 2.75 percent cut of revenue off each item sold, which is much less than what Amazon or eBay charges. It is even less than the $0.20 Etsy charges to list an item.
This morning, Twitch.tv is pushing out an update to their Android app that will finally allow users to log into their accounts which will give them much easier access to their personal favorite streams. Unfortunately, the list is still limited to the top 300 live streaming channels.
A search feature and a chat function are both still missing from the app, but community manager Jared Rea has mentioned that chat and search features for the app are in the works and will be released at some point in the future. While that sounds promising, you need to keep in mind that until three months ago, the app went an entire year without an update. However, the recent launch of the OUYA is being seen as "another incentive" to push development forward on the app.
Snapchat isn't just popular among teens and kids. According to Nielsen data, the app saw around eight million unique US users over the age of 18 during May. Furthermore, these weren't just one-off users. According to the same data, each user accessed the app an average of 34 times during the month of May, indicating that many users used the app more than once per day.
Of course, Snapchat won't share user numbers but instead prefers to share engagement numbers. On that front, Snapchat has seen the number of daily snaps go from around 60 million in February to around 200 million. Perhaps this wide popularity among both teens and adults explains why investors were willing to provide the company with $60 million and a valuation of $800 million, despite the company having no revenue.
This morning, Google launched its new Google+ photos app for the Chromebook Pixel. Some of you may remember seeing this back when the Pixel was first launched. The app integrates with your Google+ account and will automatically upload photos from any SD card plugged into the device. This is similar to how Google+'s app works on Android phones and tablets.
The new photo app allows users to upload photos at full resolution or at Google's de facto 2048px wide resolution. The app is available via the Chromebook Pixel owner's portal, and for the moment, only those with Chromebook pixels are allowed to play. Google did allude to the app becoming available on other devices in the future but did not specify timeline for when that would happen.
The app appears to provide a seamless way to browse the photos uploaded to your Google+ account and I am betting that the amazing screen on the Chromebook Pixel really shows off the photos like no other device before it. The app also offers up basic editing tools that work in conjunction with Google+'s built in image editing software.
Google are stepping in a new direction with their latest announcement, in that they're accepting submissions for their Google Play for Education platform which will provide education- and age-appropriate applications to schools.
Google Play for Education will fall under the Play Store, but will allow bulk purchasing and content curation for apps, books and movies for K-12 schools. If a developer has an age-appropriate application, they can now mark it for inclusion, which will see a third-party group of educators review it.
This third-party of educators will review each and every app, reviewing its subject, grade level and whether or not it meets a set of development guidelines that have been set in place for the education system. Part of these guidelines see that the app must not collect personally identifiable information or use student data for noneducational use.
Snapchat seems to be doing very well for itself. It has experienced massive growth and is a major player in the mobile app market, despite Facebook's attempt to kill the app with Poke. The app boats 200 million "snaps" daily, meaning it's pushing quite a bit of data. For right now, the app doesn't seem to have a way to make money, so seed funding is important.
The company has confirmed that it raised $60 million in funding and saw itself garner an $800 million pre-money valuation. If you'll recall, Facebook bought Instagram for not much more than that. The company has raised a total of around $75 million since it debuted back in September 2011.
In order to continue scaling while developing the Snapchat experience, we needed to build a bigger engineering team and figure out how to pay our server bills. Long story short -- we're committed to building a big company around an innovative and fun product.
Imgur has finally joined the mobile revolution by creating its first app. The Imgur app is available on Android and will make it easier for Imgur users to browse the site, upload new pictures, and share or comment on existing photos. A native app will be much better than a mobile site or third-party app.
Imgur is often used in conjunction with Reddit. The mobile app offers all of the same features and a very similar experience as the main website. "We wanted the app to work just like the main site. We've been working on this six months and collecting feedback," said Imgur founder and CEO Alan Schaaf.
Imgur also has an iPhone app in the works, though Apple has rejected the app on multiple occasions. The first time was for DMCA issues, however, Imgur noted they are DMCA compliant. Apple then rejected the app on the grounds that it was too easy to find adult content. Imgur has made it more difficult to find such content in hopes that this will get the app accepted.
Less than a month after China Mobile launched their Skype competitor, Jego, they've shut down registrations to it. China Mobile International, who is a global-focused China Mobile subsidiary, announced the closure of new account registrations for Jego.
They've also disabled Jego-to-Jego video and voice calls for customers who registered with a mainland China number and are located in mainland China. The company have posted up a message to the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store stating that new registrations for Jego have been suspended so that they can do "optimization" to the product and system, and will inform users of any changes.
Why the closure? Well, it could be because China Mobile have disabled Jego's new registrations because the service begun from its overseas subsidiary and not the mainland China company itself. This may have caused problems with regulations and the Chinese government on Internet-based telephone services in China.
I was a big Flipboard fan, that was however, until I found Feedly. But, it looks like Facebook are working on a new dedicated story browser which is going by the codename or "Reader", according to the Wall Street Journal.
There aren't many details on Reader just yet, but it is reportedly important enough that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is closely involved. The social network aren't talking about their plans, but there is more truth to this rumor than usual as the social network recently added hashtag support as a "first step" toward helping users track topics.
This would make sense, if in the near future they do release a mobile reading app, hashtags are a perfect way to let users track important and current topics.
Big brother is watching you - Heard, a new iOS app that lets you record what you heard five minutes ago
Heard is a new iOS app that constantly records audio, allowing you to take snippets out of what you truly think is important - anything else you need, you can just ask the NSA anyway.
When Heard is opened, it will begin recording anything and everything that your iPhone's microphone hears. Instead of creating one super large audoi file, Heard records into a constantly rotating buffer. If something happens that you want to record, then you would open Heard and tap a single button, recording it.
If you don't do anything, the buffer is erased and that audio just disappears (or does it). Heard will continue to record audio even if the application is running in the background, displaying a huge "RECORDING" banner at the top of your screen - you know, in case you forgot it was recording. Heard clips can be named, tagged, e-mailed or shared through Facebook.
Instagram has shared some statistics about its new videos feature that launched on Thursday. The company notes that they saw five million video uploads in the first 24 hours of the new feature being available. This number surprises me in a few different ways. For one, it shows that Instagram's new video service is viable. At the same time, the number seems lower than I would have thought.
I know at least one of my friends experienced issues with the new feature, sitting for hours waiting for his creative video to process. Other details regarding the new service include that during the Miami Heat championship, users were uploading 40 hours of video every moment.
Watching all of the videos posted during the first eight hours would take a year to do. Whether or not video for Instagram will be able to take down competing Vine remains to be seen. Opinions on the new service have been mixed, with some liking it and some arguing that 15 seconds is too long for a video.
If you were looking to port your popular app or game to BlackBerry 10, you still can, but BlackBerry will no longer provide you a reward for doing so. BlackBerry has announced the ending of its Port-a-Thon event, a program that paid out rewards to developers for porting their game or app to BB10.
BlackBerry says that the interest in the program was far beyond what they expected. BlackBerry says they paid out over $4 million in developer rewards. This works out to around 40,000 apps for their money, as developers were paid $100 per app that was approved for the BlackBerry World app store.
BlackBerry has promised more developer events later this year, the first of which will focus on making successful games.
Not too long ago, we announced that Rovio had opened a publishing studio to help new game studios get started. Rovio Stars' first game to be published is Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage. From the trailer, it appears to include aspects of Cut the Rope and Slice It! Take a look for yourself:
The game is available for $0.99 on the iPhone and $2.99 on the iPad. It looks like it could be a fun game, though I haven't yet gotten a chance to try it out for myself. One of the best parts of the game is that it features a variety of different puzzles through featuring different obstacles.
Messaging platform WhatsApp has seen massive user growth over the past four years, with a large portion of the growth coming in the last year or two. WhatsApp has announced that they are now seeing more than 250 million active users, or a quarter of the total users on Facebook.
Back in December, Twitter announced that they had surpassed 200 million active users, making it possible that WhatsApp is now ahead of the micro-blogging site. Telecom companies are likely unhappy with the growth that WhatsApp has seen as they are currently making huge profits from text messaging.
Whether WhatsApp will be able to continue this rate of growth remains to be seen.
Facebook announces Videos for Instagram for iOS and Android, includes revolutionary video stabilization
At this morning's press event held by Facebook, the company announced that Instagram is getting a video sharing feature similar to its image sharing service. Instagram cofounder Kevin Systrom took the stage to show off the company's new feature and spent about 20 minutes talking about the Instagram Video's new features.
Since Instagram was released, the service has seen more than 16 billion photos shared from a community of over 130 million active users. At the moment, images shared on Instagram see an average of one billion likes daily. Instagram attributes this success to the inherent human want to create and store memories. Realizing this, the company knew that the next step was to include video in their memory sharing service.
The new video feature will allow users to create and share 15 second video clips similar to how Twitter's Vine app handles things. The similarities end there though as Instagram has enabled users to chain together clips to form a longer more informative video. Additionally, in true Instagram form, users can customize each clip or video with its own filter. The company says that it developed 13 new custom filters just for video to allow users to create a more beautiful memory.
Crittercism has just launched their new Fathom Mobile Command Center, which can help companies in many ways. With the growing digital lifestyles that not only consumers live in, but businesses have to build to sustain those consumers, the behind-the-scenes app development and maintenance headaches also grow.
This is where Crittercism is here to help with their new platform that will improve companies' mobile app strategy for the long-term. Fathom is the first solution that is capable of monitoring and reporting how third-party services and network conditions affect the performance of iOS and Android. In order to help companies manage the performance of their iOS- or Android-based apps, Fathom provides powerful tools that allow these companies to not only understand, but address these performance issues within any consumer, business-to-business or employee-facing application.
Crittercism's new Fathom Mobile Command Center will show each factor affecting app performance for each individual app session where an issue is encountered. This provides, as you can imagine, a huge understanding to mobile teams and developers who are looking to improve to overall app experience - be it consumers, or business partners, or both. Mobile teams can then use Fathom to monitor app performance in real-time, which is a nice touch.