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Will WeChat Become One of the Prominent Figure of Instant Messaging Apps in 2016?

WeChat

If you have never heard of it, WeChat is a Chinese mobile text and voice message app service. It was developed by Tencent, and first released of January of 2011. Recently, the app has grown into an unexpected level.

With more than 1 billion accounts and over 600 million active monthly users (including 70 million outside of China), the chatting app is available on virtually every type of phone and mobile device. However, what really sets WeChat apart from other social media, messaging, or network apps is the wide variety of things a user can do via WeChat.

With WeChat, users can text, voice message, broadcast (one-to-many) message, video conference, play video games, edit photos, share photos and videos, share locations, share contacts, integrate with other social networks including Facebook, provide users with machine translation services, share music, make payments and transfer money with the WeChat Payment service including peer-to-peer transfers and bill payments with one click, and, in cities throughout China, book doctor’s appointments, get feeds from traffic cameras, book local and long-distance transportation, book cabs, get updates on air quality, buy clothes, buy movie tickets, pay traffic tickets, order food from local vendors, check the news, contact the police, and more.

Frankly, this approach is not new. Facebook is, for instance, constantly adding on services and capabilities, but WeChat is still leaving the rest of the social world behind in what it can do for its users. Moreover, the businesses outside of Asia are finally starting to take notice.

The problems that come up with brands trying to use WeChat to spread their message. There are two options for building a brand on the social network: a subscription account and a service account, each one with restrictions on how often messages can be pushed out and how often followers can be contacted. This aspect can make communication and breaking through the social media noise difficult for brands, making the build-up of a large follower base on the network very important.

Advertising on WeChat is also limited. Where Facebook makes almost all its revenue from ads, WeChat’s ad revenue is only 15% of its total income (it makes most of its money off of payments for its many, many services) so it is less desperate to get advertisers to pony up the dough needed to be seen, though when they do, WeChat is capable of allowing advertisers to target customers via the usual demographic lines of age, sex, location, and type of mobile device.

So, like many things happening in China right now, brands looking to expand onto WeChat would be better off making a long-term commitment to the growing social giant than a slapdash effort to brand and run. There are 600 million potential customers, if brands want to reach them, they better be ready to put in the effort.

Chrome For Android Will Load Pages Without Images During Slow Connection

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The new update from Google Chrome offers you to load requested pages without images.

Currently, the update only applies to users in India and Indonesia, but Google says it will be rolling out the new feature in more countries soon.

Google has updated its Chrome Android app for users in India and Indonesia experiencing slow load times, making it possible for pages to load without images when a low bandwidth is detected.

“There’s a new way to load pages more quickly with Chrome’s Data Saver,” said the official statement on the Chrome Google+ page. “The Chrome Android app loads websites without the images first, saving you 70% data.”

While the feature launch is currently rolling out only in India and Indonesia, Google says it will be released in more countries soon. Here’s a picture of the feature in action:

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WhatsApp Blocks Any Links Containing Word ‘Telegram’

WhatsApp

It looks like WhatsApp begins to start a “blocking war” against its competitor, Telegram.

The messaging giant WhatsApp is apparently blocking links containing the word “telegram,” which happens to be the name of a competing messenger service, “Telegram”. The issue only appears on WhatsApp’s Android app and not the iOS app. While Telegram is a competitor to WhatsApp, the former is dwarfed by the latter. In May, Telegram claimed 62 million monthly active users, while WhatsApp claimed 900 million monthly active users in September.

Though not nearly as big as WhatsApp, Telegram has a large user base and previously attracted millions of users when WhatsApp experienced a major service outage. Though both apps offer similar messaging features, Telegram claims its service is more secure. Telegram also offers public channels, which have come under some scrutiny in recent weeks. The app blocked 78 ISIS-related channels last month.

Telegram’s CEO Pavel Durov noted in a tweet that roughly 80% of its users are on Android, providing a possible explanation as to why WhatsApp would only block links on that platform.

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This blocking decision follows a similar move by WhatsApp’s parent company, Facebook, which recently blocked links to Tsu.co, a social network that pays its users a percentage of ad revenue every time they post. Facebook accused Tsu.co of encouraging “spammy sharing,” hence why it blocked links. Links were blocked on Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Instagram, though not on WhatsApp.

The New, Facebook-Looking, LinkedIn App is Now Available for Android and iOS

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It looks like LinkedIn just gave its primary app a major revamp.

LinkedIn released a redesigned version of its main app in Tuesday. This new app makes the app look more like Facebook and other social media apps. Just like Facebook, LinkedIn’s new app is centered around a central feed, which shows you updates from people in your network and content they are sharing on LinkedIn. Again, similar to Facebook’s News Feed, the app filters which updates you’ll see based on what you’re most likely to be interested in. T3he company says the feature will get better over time as you use the app more.

The home feed is structured a lot like LinkedIn’s recently-revamped Pulse app so you may also see posts from people in your extended network and articles that are popular among people with similar jobs.

“The core for the mobile product, the spine of the app, has always been this feed,” said Jonathan Redfern, LinkedIn’s VP of Product. “We’ve moved from a feed that was a lot about your connections to a feed that’s more about the professional topics and interests you choose to follow.”

Outside of the feed, there’s a “My Network” section, which serves up suggested people you may know, as well as cards with bite-sized updates about your connected friends, such as work anniversaries and new jobs. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it’s similar to LinkedIn’s Connected app, which revolves around updates like these.

“The app is absolutely flavored with learnings and code from our different apps,” Redfern says, noting the parallels between both Pulse and Connected.

The updated app also includes the newly-refreshed messaging features and an overhauled search feature that LinkedIn says is 300% faster than the previous app. All of the new features are available now on iOS and Android.

Are You Ready For The New “Facebook Notify” App?

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So Facebook has released Notify, an app for reading customisable breaking news, info, and entertainment push notifications right on your lock screen in response to its filtered News Feed that was never very good at real-time news.

Notify lets you select from over 70 publishers and customise your alerts to only send you news about specific companies, cities, sports teams, music genres and more. Each is sent as a push notification and shown in the Notify app’s feed for 24 hours, and can be clicked through to read an associated link.

Today Notify becomes available on iOS in the US. It doesn’t offer the real-time discussion and independent voices of Twitter, but could provide an alternative for Twitter lurkers who just wanted real-time information and aren’t interested in building another audience to broadcast to.

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Though Notify won’t feature any ads for now, there are certainly opportunities to offer sponsored suggestions for accounts to follow. As long as Facebook can get enough of its 1.55 billion users on Notify to justify the work publishers are putting in to produce content there, it could create the real-time, urgent, high-signal information channel the News Feed could never be.

The New Sub-Topic Alerts

What’s really special about Notify is the granularity of alerts you can get. While general Twitter accounts feature a broad range of content that might not all be interesting to you, Notify lets you subscribe only to the very specific sub-topics that are relevant.

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That level of control is critical for an app built around push notifications because alerts about irrelevant sports teams, news, or entertainment would get extremely annoying. Most people would say they already get too many pushes.

How To Get Notified

When you first download Notify and log in with Facebook, the app will pull your Page Likes and follows to create a personalised set of recommendations to follow. This gives it a leg up over Twitter’s onboarding, which has to build your interest graph from scratch. To get you invested in the app, you’ll have to choose at least three channels to follow to get started.

Facebook has worked with 70 launch partners to create Notify stations, including The New York Times, CNN, Huffington Post, Vanity Fair, Techmeme, Fox Sports, Epicurious, Comedy Central, Fandango, BandsInTown and The Weather Channel. Many offer both general news stations and ones with options to follow specific sub-topics. Tapping a station lets you preview its content by showing the last 20 notifications it sent.

Publishers use a special interface to write notification text, select a link, and then publish or schedule their alerts. There’s also an API for programmatic distribution of weather forecasts, sports scores and other structured data. Working out these partnerships is what led to the leaks about Notify this summer from The Awl and Financial Times.

The alerts are delivered to a user’s lockscreen where they can be read without opening one’s phone. Tapping through opens a notification’s link, and you can also save it to read later. Inside the Notify app is a feed of the last 24 hours of your notifications, which you could use as a digest of what you care most about. There’s also a tab for parsing any notifications you’ve saved.

From the feed, you can easily swipe to manage what alerts you get from a station. If you want more, the + button reveals a way to browse categories of stations like sports or business news, or you can dig into a single source and see all the stations it offers.

For publishers, Notify creates a way for them to send push notifications without building and popularising their own app. Ideally it could help them grow their audience through Notify’s discovery features, or deepen their relationship with existing fans.

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At its best, Notify serves as an invisible app. You rarely need to open it. Instead you just consume the alerts on your lock screen and click through to view the related websites when necessary.

But at its worst, Notify could overwhelm users with Notifications, driving them to silence the alerts or delete the app.

“We know notifications are a highly sensitive distribution channel,” Notify’s Director of Media Partnerships Nick Grudin says. “If you get them right, they’re really awesome. If you get them wrong, they ‘re really annoying.”

To that end, Facebook is giving publishers detailed analytics regarding how many people receive, view, click through, share and, most important, unsubscribe from each notification. This way publishers know what content they should stop pushing because its driving away readers.

The problem is that if publishers aren’t careful, they won’t just burn their own subscribers, but Notify as a whole. People pissed off by the volume or quality of alerts they receive may just ditch the app entirely rather than modify their subscriptions.

That’s the strength of Twitter’s feed. Since not everything notifies you, you don’t have to be so stingy with the subscriptions. When asked if he thought of Notify as a Twitter replacement, Grudin told me “Definitely not a replacement. It’s just different. Different medium, different distribution channel. It’s a new way for people to receive information.”

Facebook’s had trouble popularising its standalone apps like Paper and Slingshot, and its last invasion of the lockscreen, Home, was a giant flop. But with a totally different value proposition — true real-time information — than Facebook itself, Notify could push people to stay connected to the news that matters most to them. The question is whether we want more notifications, even for things we care about.

The Reasons Why People Uninstall Their Apps (Infographic)

Getting new customers to download your app is only one part of making your app a globe conquering success. The really big apps specialise in longevity. If you want your app to become a global brand, it’s all about staying power.

That’s why doing your research into the reasons people get rid of apps is key to a deeper understanding of the motivation behind pressing the delete button. It’s a busy market place out there and it’s the fine margins that make all the difference. So, it really pays to know your stuff. Luckily for you, the detailed infographic featured below will show you the necessary information about the main reasons why people uninstall their apps. Whether you’re having a gaming, business or education app, there are very clear notions why apps rarely last longer than a few months. Avoid making these mistakes and you could transform your app from minor success into a textbook global business case study in no time.

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Click to Enlarge

Infographic credit: ITR.co.uk

SmartHalo: Turn Any Bicycle Into A Smart Bike

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Bike riders all over the world would love this.

The SmartHalo attaches to the handlebars of any normal bicycle and, once paired with your smartphone, acts as a visual navigation guide, complete with turn-by-turn signaling. Yes, there are a number of ways you can use your smartphone to navigate a bike trip now, but they mostly consist of checking your handset or smartwatch, both potentially dangerous activities while steering a bike down city streets.

What SmartHalo does is provide a dead simple green lighting prompt, connected via Bluetooth to the app on your smartphone, allowing you to keep the handset in your pocket as you follow the color-coded navigation guides on the device. Simply input your destination into the device’s associated app, and SmartHalo will take over from there.

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When you’re about to turn, the signal beams a white and green warning, and when you’ve traveled in the wrong direction you’ll get a red flashing prompt. Another lighting feature also notifies you when you get a phone call. In addition to serving as a visual guide, the device also connects with the smartphone app to provide biking statistics, including distance traveled, average speed and calories burned. Every time you’re away from your bike, you can still track its location on a map via the app. Plus, the weather-resistant device includes an alarm in case thieves attempt to remove it from your bike.

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Finally, the device also automatically detects nightfall, at which point it turns on a front-mounted headlamp. When you stop the bike and dismount, the light turns itself off. With all that lighting up, it might seem like you’d need to recharge the device daily, but the creators of the SmartHalo claim that its battery will last up to three weeks.

SmartHalo, which will retail for $149, is available for $99 for early adopters via a Kickstarter campaign that has already reached $39,000 of its $50,000 goal. The device will be brought to you by May of 2016, assuming the goal is reached.

The New iOS Based Content Discovery App From Hootsuite

HootSuite

One of the big social media management platform, Hootsuite, has launched a new iOS app to help users discover and share more content easily on mobile devices.

The app, named “Suggestions for mobile”, makes it easier for Hootsuite users to discover, schedule and share various content from their smartphones. In fact, the app aims to take the guesswork out of deciding which content to share with followers by providing a curated list of timely articles and blog posts based on a users’ interest and expertise. Moreover, Hootsuite’s Suggestion for mobile app can also help users to have a better engagement with their current followers and build stronger relationships.

“The ability to share quality content with followers is critical to social success,” said Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite. “Customers often tell us that they want to share more on social media, but that it’s too time-consuming. Suggestions for mobile allows people to easily find and share content wherever they are and when it’s most convenient for them.”

With Suggestions, users can reduce the time it takes to discover and share content to social networks with a single swipe. Content scheduling can be done in advance too. It is important to note that Suggestions for mobile is also available as a Web feature in Publisher.

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“We use Suggestions to improve the heartbeat of our clients’ social media profiles and they are thrilled with the content they’re seeing. Not only are the suggested articles relevant to their industries, but they are also interesting and timely. We like Suggestions so much, we also use it for our own brand,” said Jonathan Goodman, president of Internet marketing agency, Halyard Consulting.

LinkedIn Job Search Is Available On Google Play

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Just last year LinkedIn launched its official Job Seeker app for iOS, now the company has revealed a similar app for Android.

The world of job seeking can be time consuming. From secretly stalking the open requirements page of your dream company to sending endless applications into the black hole of online job listings, your job search can quickly begin to feel like a job in and of itself.

Enter the brand new LinkedIn Job Search app for Android, a one-stop shop for Android users’ job seeking needs. The app brings all of the features iOS members have come to rely on with their app counterpart, but was built from the ground up specifically for the Android experience. The app features left and right hand navigation menus and an action bar at the top of all main pages so you’re never more than a tap away from discovering your next career move.

The LinkedIn Job Search app for Android provides users with the same features the iOS app offers, including customisable search and recommended jobs. That said, the app was created specifically for Android, as it features left and right-hand navigation menus and an action bar at the top of all main pages.

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According to LinkedIn’s announcement, more than 40%t of the social network’s members are already leveraging its Job Search Apps. The app is currently available in all English-speaking countries in the Google Play store.

“Having your job search at your fingertips can help the entire experience feel more manageable. Whether you’re on Team iOS or Android, let LinkedIn do the heavy lifting for you. We’re here to help you get hired.”

WhatsApp Has Garnered More Than 700 Million Active Users In 2015

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With no less than 700 million active users, WhatsApp has a little more than half as many users as Facebook.

Jan Koum, the CEO and cofounder of WhatsApp, has embraced the spirit of new year with a Facebook post, saying the user numbers of his chatting app. WhatsApp now has 700 million monthly active users, up from 600 million at the end of August.

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The overall number of users combine to send more than 30 billion daily messages. That’s more than four messages for every person on Earth. Facebook acquired the messaging app in February for a then shocking $16 billion (plus another $3 billion on stock incentives). Since then, the app has steadily added users, leading some to predict that it would top 1 billion faster than Facebook.

While it is relatively unknown in the US, WhatsApp is particularly large in Asia. The messaging service market in Asia is particularly competitive, attracting investments from other major tech companies. E-commerce giant Alibaba took a $215 million stake in Tango and Chinese conglomerate Tencent continuously grows WeChat. Monthly active users is the most popular metric used to analyze the size and often the success of tech companies.