Google’s Ingress to exit beta December 14

Ingress

Image via Google

Google’s Niantic Labs announced a series of fresh developments today surrounding their geo-location augmented reality game, Ingress, including the news that the game will not only exit beta on December 14, but that Google has officially dropped the invitation code requirement, making the game available now to all Android users. (more…)

Google’s Ingress turns cities into virtual scavenger hunts

Image via Google

Image via Google

They Live meets scavenger hunt.

That’s the best way I can describe Google’s augmented reality game, Ingress, an app that will have you running around your city in search of energy portals that could mean the difference between human enlightenment and the human race becoming slaves to some mysterious new force in the universe. (more…)

Google Play will now offer digital textbooks for purchase or rent

Google-Play-650

In Google’s recent Android and Chrome event in San Francisco, Google announced the upcoming launch of a textbook portion to the Google Play store. This update will allow college students to purchase or rent digital versions of textbooks for up to 80 percent off their normally high retail prices. This move is obviously a positive one, as textbooks are easily one of the most expensive parts of a student’s education (aside from tuition itself).

This announcement follows Google’s reveal of Google Play for Education in May, which will work to bring Chrome and Android apps to schools.

(more…)

Safari declines in mobile browser usage, others gain traction

browser-share-mobile_610x347 With over 60 percent of usage, Safari is the most widely used mobile web browser application by a longshot. However, a report from CNET shows that Apple browser may be losing a bit of steam. The browser dipped from 60 percent usage to 58 percent from May to June. (more…)

Digg Is After Google Reader’s Power Users

digg_650

Photo via Flickr / biggraham

When Google announced that Google Reader was shutting down on July 1 , there was a race to find a suitable replacement. While a number of alternatives have popped up the latest to vie for the crown is Digg. (more…)

Google closes on deal for Waze

Waze logoGoogle has acquired crowd-sourced mapping application, Waze, as announced from the company’s official blog.

It was long rumored that both Facebook and Apple have shown interest in acquiring the Israel based startup, but have been beat out by Google. While acquisition price is still up in the air, it has been speculated at 1 billion to 1.3 billion dollars.

The Waze product development team will still operate separately in Israel for the time being and plans on using each mapping application complementary to each other. Google also plans on focusing on the Waze community who is seen as the “DNA of [the] app”.

“The Waze community and its dedicated team have created a great source of timely road corrections and updates,” said Google’s Brian McClendon, Vice President of Geo, in a statement. ”We welcome them to Google and look forward to working with them in our ongoing effort to make a comprehensive, accurate and useful map of the world.”

According to AppData, Waze is currently the #2 of top free navigation app for iOS. With Google Maps” at number one of top free navigation apps, Google has taken a significant stronghold of the navigation app landscape.

Inside Social Apps profile: DeNA’s Doug Scott

Doug Scott headshotEditor’s Note: Doug Scott is vice president of marketing and revenue at Japanese mobile-social gaming company DeNA. For a taste of what will be discussed at the “Platform Opportunities for Social Apps” session at Inside Network’s Inside Social Apps conference June 6 to 7, Doug answered a couple questions regarding the prospects of current mobile app platforms.

Inside Mobile Apps: Now that Google I/O just concluded, where do you see the Android platform for mobile development in the future?

Doug Scott: We have found Android to be a great development platform for several years now but the announcements at Google I/O take it to another level. By focusing on features to enhance gameplay and support game developers further, I look at this as a watershed moment for mobile gaming. This will certainly encourage more game developers to embrace Android and will allow developers of platforms such as Mobage to focus on even deeper, richer tools and communities for developers on top of these features. It is a testament to the power of gaming as the most engaging activity on these platforms.

IMA: Is there a difference between the iOS and Android platforms in terms of monetization for DeNA?

Scott: There can be differences between the platforms depending on the product but we have found that it’s possible to monetize extremely well on both Android and iOS. Without question, great businesses can be built on both platforms.

Hangouts review

hangoutsHangouts is an Android and iOS app from Google. It’s now available on Google Play and the App Store and carries no additional in-app purchases.

Google’s new Hangouts app is the next evolution of their Talk app. When first downloading Hangouts, Google informs the user that this new program will replace Talk. Users who frequently use Talk may be a bit hesitant to make the switch, but once they download and start using Hangouts, it becomes obvious that it is more than just a new version of Talk. Instead, Hangouts combines the simplicity of Talk with the level of interaction Google has been growing within Google+ Hangouts.

When first opening Hangouts, users may be prompted to sign in if they are not already. Once they have logged on, users are greeted to a screen that shows off their most frequently contacted friends on Google+, along with their entire list of contacts (both from Google+ and imported from mobile devices). Users can interact with any of their contacts by pressing their name on the list, or by using the search bar. The search bar can find current contacts via name, email, or number, and can add new contacts in the same way. Users can also connect with entire circles at once, but are not able to edit circles directly from the Hangouts app.

hangouts1Once contacts and circles are selected, users are given two options: “Message” and “video call.” Messaging works just like Google Talk’s instant messaging. Two Google users can send text-based messages to each other over the Hangouts app and in a web browser. Communication between the app and browsers is nearly flawless. The only noticeable issue with messaging is how the emoticons in Hangouts will often not load for users in a web browser. Most users won’t find this to be a problem, but those who rely on heavy use of emoticons may be somewhat disappointed. (more…)

Google I/O: Here’s how to make money on Google Play; IAP revenues up 700 percent Y-o-Y

android-logo-250-250At a Google I/O session today covering monetization in Google Play, Ibrahim Elbouchikhi, Google Play product manager for commerce and monetization, revealed that in-app revenues increased 700 percent year-over-year from May 2012 to April 2013.

Elbouchikhi also says since launching the ability to monetize through subscriptions a year ago, revenue has doubled each quarter. He notes internet radio service Pandora as a perfect example of a top grossing app which monetizes its users via a subscription model.

Android for tablets is starting to show some growth now, Elbouchikhi reveals. In the past 12 months, Google was seeing a 1.7 times higher purchase rate of apps on tablets compared to apps on smartphones. “The additional cost of optimizing your apps for tablets is well worthwhile,” he says. Additionally, there’s a 2.2 times higher purchase rate on recent platform versions compared to prior ones. “Take advantage of the latest features, whether its Google+ sign-in or all the latest APIs released at I/O this week.” On top of all this growth, average revenue per user (ARPU) is 2.5 times greater year-over-year.

Below is a chart, showing that higher-rated apps in Google Play monetize better:App ratings monetization

Google hasn’t been slowing down at all when it comes to adding and optimizing forms of payment. In July 2012, Google introduced the Google Play gift cards at retail. Google also launched promotional campaigns for Google Play credit by partnering with pre-paid phone providers, offering a $50 Google Play credit if a user purchases a particular pre-paid phone, for example. Carrier billing, one of the most lucrative forms of monetization in various parts of the world, is now available to 50 percent of Google Play’s daily active users. Google also optimized the purchase flow, making it more contextual, faster and simpler. According to Elbouchikhi, Google has dropped latency by 35 percent when users make purchases. Looking forward, Elbouchikhi says Google will invest more in expanding Google Play gift cards to more markets as well as carrier billing. (more…)

Google discloses how search for Google Play works for the first time; 12 percent of DAU search for apps daily

google-play-logoAt Google I/O today in San Francisco, head of search and discovery for Google Play Ankit Jain detailed how developers can get their apps discovered through search and other mechanisms on the Google Play app store.

“We’ve never discussed our search for Google Play until today,” Jain said.

Jain first explained major install sources for apps including browsing discovery features and search queries. Some browsing discovery features were charts (Editors’ picks, top free apps, etc.), personalized recommendations (a feature announced at Google I/O 2012), and related/cross-sell (“users also viewed” and “users also installed”). Jain then detailed two kinds of search queries — categorical and navigational. Categorical queries are broad search terms such as “free games,” “train schedules,” and “multiplayer games,” while navigational queries are exact search terms like “Angry Birds,” Hotel Tonight,” and “Beautylish.”

“For the average app, search actually makes up the vast majority of installs,” he added.

To follow up his statement, Jain reveals some Google Play search data for the first time. He said 12 percent of daily active users (DAU) search for apps daily, 50 percent of DAU search for apps weekly and Google sees six million unique phrases searched monthly. (more…)

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