All posts in “Mobile”

Android users can now donate to charities through the Google Play Store

The Google Play Store is receiving an update today that will allow customers to make charitable donations to nonprofits from their Android device. While it may seem odd to to be rallying for support for charities within the same marketplace where users download apps and games, it’s not uncommon. Apple for years has collected donations for the American Red Cross in the wake of natural disaster like the California wildfires hurricanes, for example.

Google’s implementation, however, isn’t a launch tied to a single event. And it’s rolling out support for several charities, not just the Red Cross.

Users in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Germany, Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Taiwan and Indonesia will soon see the option to make a donation to a number of organizations, including also charity:water, Doctors Without Borders USA, Girls Who code, International Rescue Committee, Room to Red, Save the Children, UNICEF, World Food Program USA, and World Wildlife Fund US, in addition to the American Red Cross.

To access the feature Android users canb head to play.google.com/donate to read about the organizations or to make a donation using the payment card they have on file for the Play Store. Google says 100 percent of the contributions users make go directly to the nonprofits – it’s not taking a cut.

To be clear, this is about the Play Store itself collecting charitable donations, not allowing Android app developers to do so.

The feature’s launch has been timed with the holiday season, which often inspires charitable giving. It’s also a sort of belated nod to Giving Week 2018, the movement which encourages people to volunteer, fundraise and donate to worthy causes.  (Giving Week this year wrapped on December 5).

The donations feature may offer a different selection of nonprofits in the future, we understand, though Google is not announcing any planned additions at this time.

Google says the feature will begin to roll out to Android users in the supported markets over the next few days.

Report: Apple’s news and magazine subscription service to launch in early 2019

Bloomberg today updated its earlier reporting on Apple’s plans for a news and magazine subscription service. Earlier this year, the outlet had said Apple would relaunch the digital newsstand business Texture, which it acquired this spring, as part of the Apple News app. Now, Bloomberg confirms the launch time frame could be “as soon as this spring.” It also detailed some of the industry reaction, which is cautious at best.

Apple is said to be courting paywalled newspapers like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times to join Texture, and is working on a new design for the magazine content. Instead of trying to mimic what a magazine looks like in print, as it does today, Apple is making the content look more like typical online news articles, Bloomberg said.

The report also noted publishers were proceeding with trepidation, in many cases. Because Apple is offering a lower pricing – $9.99 per month for all-you-can-eat news and magazine content, similar to the Netflix model – publishers are worried Apple’s service will eat into their revenues. This $10 price point, after all, is cheaper than a subscription to a single publication – like The NYT’s digital subscription – in some cases

Instead, publishers prefer a platform that lets them build their own paywalls right into Apple’s app.

But Apple’s counterpoint during negotiations has been that the subscriber growth it could bring would make up for the lost revenues from publishers’ own subscription businesses, the report also said. The company compared its potential to that of Apple Music, which is nearing 60 million users, according to the latest from Billboard.

Texture today offers access to over 200 magazines, including Vanity Fair, EW, GQ, Vogue, Forbes, Time, People, Rolling Stone, Cosmopolitan, Sports Illustrated, and many others, including Bloomberg Businessweek.

Nielsen: the second screen is booming as 45% often or always use devices while watching TV

Americans are regularly checking a second screen while watching TV, according to a new report from Nielsen which examined the media consumption habits of U.S. adults in the second quarter of 2018. Today, 28 percent of adults say they “sometimes” use a digital device, like a phone or tablet, when watching TV. A much larger 45 percent report they use a second screen “very often” or “always.”

The figures go to show how addicted U.S. consumers are to their smartphones – we don’t even put them down when tuning in to a favorite show or to watch a movie.

In fact, very few people – only 12 percent – reported they “never” use another device while watching TV.

Of course, there are other reasons why some people want to actively use their smartphone while watching television, beyond the need to scroll through Instagram during the commercial breaks.

Sometimes, people may want to actively engage with other fans or participate in an online conversation if they’re watching a TV program or other event live. For instance, they may want to tweet out their support for their team during a football game, or may want to react in real-time to a shocking turn of events on “Game of Thrones.”

Nielsen’s report noted this, as well. It said digital devices have actually impacted how we consume and interact with media today. That is, we’re using the second screen to augment the overall TV viewing experience, not detract from it.

In fact, most of the activities that take place on our devices while watching TV are related to the content.

For example, 71 percent said they use their device to look up something related to the TV content, while 41 percent said they text, email or message someone about the content. 35 percent said they shop for a product or service being advertised and 28 percent write or read social media posts about the content they’re viewing.

15 percent even use the device to direct them to a new program – meaning, they’ve tuned to different content after seeing something posted online.

Digital devices aren’t the only ways people simultaneous consume media. Surprisingly, a small handful of people listen to audio while watching TV, the report also found.

But this is a much smaller group, for obvious reasons – it can be difficult to process two different sources of information at the same time. Still, 6 percent said they often watch and listen to different content simultaneously – which is arguably an impressive, if very odd, skill to possess. But over half said they would never use TV and audio at the same time.

The report also looked at how people consume media – which hasn’t changed as much as you would think, despite the increased use of digital devices.

Instead, “prime time” is still a popular time of time for watching TV, including live and time-shifted programming as well as TV-connected devices like media players and game consoles.

In Q2 2018, U.S. adults spent 38 out of a possible 60 minutes on media consumption from 9 PM to 10 PM, including live and time-shifted TV, TV-connected devices, radio and digital devices (computer, smartphone, tablet).

9 PM was also the peak TV hour, with over half of consumers watching linear TV or interacting with TV connected devices like game consoles or streaming content through Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast or Fire TV.

Algoriddim updates djay for iOS with subscription model

If you’ve been browsing the App Store for long enough, chances are you’ve seen djay at some point. Algoriddim, the company behind djay, currently has eight different apps in the App Store. Today, the company is releasing a brand new version that is going to replace all previous apps at once.

The reason why this new app is going to take center stage is because Algoriddim is switching to a freemium model. You can download the app for free on your iPhone and iPad, and you can buy a subscription to unlock all features on both platforms.

In other words, djay is following the subscription trend of the App Store. Previous independent apps, such as Ulysses, Bear and Carrot Weather have switched to subscriptions.

The app truly shines on the new iPad Pro. You can plug a display using a USB-C cable and project video loops on the display. You can also plug a supported MIDI controller directly to your iPad using USB-C.

Just like in the previous version, Spotify Premium users can access their Spotify library from the app. This turns your iPad into a comfortable device to set up cue points. You can load a song, scroll, find the right moment and put a cue point. Everything is synchronized with the Mac version of djay.

Subscriptions provide many advantages. Developers can expect predictable revenue and can release new updates more regularly — there’s no need to wait for 12 new features in order to package them all in a paid update.

Users can access apps on multiple platforms with a single subscription. They also always get the most recent version of the apps as they don’t have to consider upgrading to the next major version or keeping the previous version.

This model works quite well for very active users. For instance, I use Ulysses every day so it makes sense that I’d pay a few dollars per month for it. But some people may only use djay a few times a year. So you’ll have to consider whether subscribing is worth it for you.

Let’s look at this new version of djay more specifically. After a free trial of the pro version, you can access basic features for free forever. Those features include access to your iTunes and Spotify libraries, the basic two-deck screen, Automix AI and limited hardware controller support.

The pro version includes smart playlists, two-deck and four-deck screens, the ability to set cues, video mixing, better hardware support as well as a new looper feature. Interestingly, you can now download and play with all samples and loops in the integrated store — there’s no need to pay for additional content.

Existing apps are going to be unlisted from the store. Algoriddim will still release updates for the time being, but it’s clear that the new version represents the future of djay. Pro subscriptions cost $40 per year. Existing djay users will pay $10 for the first year.

Podcast industry aims to better track listeners through new analytics tech called RAD

Internet users are already being tracked to death, with ads that follow us around, search histories that are collected and stored, emails that report back to senders when they’ve been read, websites that know where you scrolled and what you clicked, and much more. So naturally, the growing podcast industry wanted to find a way to collect more data of its own, too.

Yes, that’s right. Podcasts will now track detailed user behavior, too.

Today, NPR announced RAD, a new, open sourced podcast analytics technology that was developed in partnership with nearly 30 companies from the podcasting industry. The technology aims to help publishers collect more comprehensive and standardized listening metrics from across platforms.

Specifically, the technology gives publishers – and therefore their advertisers, as well – access to a wide range of listener metrics including downloads, starts and stops, completed ad or credit listens, partial ad or credit listens, ad or credit skips and content quartiles, the RAD website explains.

However, the technology stops short of offering detailed user profiles, and cannot be used to re-target or track listeners, the site notes. It’s still anonymized, aggregated statistics.

It’s worth pointing out that RAD is not the first time podcasters have been able to track engagement. Major platforms, including Apple’s Podcast Analytics, today offer granular and anonymized data, including listens.

But NPR says that data requires “a great deal of manual analysis” as the stats aren’t standardized nor as complete as they could be. RAD is an attempt to change that, by offering a tracking mechanism everyone can use.

Already, RAD has a lot of support. In addition to being integrated into NPR’s own NPR One app, it has commitments from several others who will introduce the technology into their own products in 2019, including Acast, AdsWizz, ART19, Awesound, Blubrry Podcasting, Panoply, Omny Studio, Podtrac, PRI/PRX, RadioPublic, Triton Digital, and WideOrbit.

Other companies that supported RAD and participated in its development include Cadence13, Edison Research, ESPN, Google, iHeartMedia, Libsyn, The New York Times, New York Public Radio, and Wondery.

NPR says the NPR One app on Android supports RAD as of now, and its iOS app will do the same in 2019.

“Over the course of the past year, we have been refining these concepts and the technology in collaboration with some of the smartest people in podcasting from around the world,” said Joel Sucherman, Vice President, New Platform Partnerships at NPR, in an announcement. “We needed to take painstaking care to prove out our commitment to the privacy of listeners, while providing a standard that the industry could rally around in our collective efforts to continue to evolve the podcasting space,” he said.

To use RAD technology, publishers will mark within their audio files certain points – like quartiles or some time markers, interview spots, sponsorship messages or ads – with RAD tags and indicate an analytics URL. A mobile app is configured to read the RAD tags and then, when listeners hit that spot in the file, that information is sent to the URL in an anonymized format.

The end result is that podcasters know just what parts of the audio file their listeners heard, and is able to track this at scale across platforms. (RAD is offering both Android and iOS SDKs.)

While there’s value in podcast data that goes beyond the download, not all are sold on technology.

Most notably, the developer behind the popular iOS podcast player app Overcast, Marco Arment, today publicly stated his app will not support any listener-tracking specs.

“I understand why huge podcast companies want more listener data, but there are zero advantages for listeners or app-makers,” Arment wrote in a tweet. “Podcasters get enough data from your IP address when you download episodes,” he said.

The developer also pointed out this sort of data collection required more work on the podcasters’ part and could become a GDPR liability, as well.

In addition to NPR’s use of RAD today, Podtrac has also now launched a beta program to show RAD data, which is open to interested publishers.