Mobile

By Jonathan Soble and Lindsay Whipp

OK, so you know selfies are a thing – who doesn’t? But what about encasing that selfie-taking mobile phone in a case shaped like a Chanel perfume bottle?

Meet the Smelfie (Perfume + Selfie) – a thing, apparently, among women in China. And it hasn’t escaped the notice of product designers at Sony. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

The start-ups that took on the taxi industry are eyeing a new target: public transport.

The past 24 hours have seen Uber, Lyft and Sidecar all launch a new twist on their popular ride-sharing model: carpooling. The three San Francisco companies are letting some customers opt to share a ride with a perfect stranger going along the same route at the same time, for up to half the price of a solo journey. Read more

Just four years old, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has shot up sales rankings to become the top smartphone seller in China, the world’s largest smartphone market, according to data by Canalys, the technology research company.

In a report released this week the company said Xiaomi’s shipments in China grew 240 percent year on year, to 15.1m in the second quarter, write Charles Clover. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

After the market closes on Tuesday, Apple releases its third quarter earnings for the three months to the end of June. Its stock price has risen by more than 20 per cent since it beat forecasts with its last quarterly numbers, taking it close to its-all time high. Can Apple repeat the trick in what are likely to be the last results before the next iPhones arrive, and push its stock to $100?

Here’s what Wall Street is looking for this quarter: Read more

Xiaomi’s latest flagship smartphone looks much like Apple’s rival handsets except for one crucial difference: the price – which is less than half that of the similarly metallic iPhone 5s from the US group.

The steel handset was unveiled in Beijing by chief executive Lei JunLei on Tuesday, with reports that the crowd murmured “iPhone” as it was unveiled. Hugo Barra, the Google executive who joined Xiaomi as global vice-president last year, was also at the event. Read more

Arm shares are being treated like royalty today, despite being disdained as commoners at the open. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Two experiments by Snapchat this week point the way towards the photo-sharing app’s first sources of income, almost nine months after it turned down Facebook’s $3bn acquisition offerRead more

Robert Cookson

Facebook has created a new “missed call” product for advertisers in India, marking the first time that the social network has designed a special ad format for a single country.

When a mobile phone user clicks on one of the ads, it calls the advertiser and immediately hangs up. The advertiser returns the call with pre-recorded entertainment content and a marketing message – enabling the consumer to avoid paying data charges.

Facebook’s creation of a special ad product in India, where the company has more than 100m users, is part of a broader push to develop customised solutions across emerging marketsRead more

goog3

Smart watches, TVs and cars featured prominently on Wednesday as Google laid out its plans for pushing its Android smartphone software into new fields. At its annual I/O developer event in San Francisco, “wearables” had pride of place, with news that the first smartwatches based on Android Wear are now on sale – before Apple unveils its much-anticipated iWatch. With Android TV and Android Auto, on the other hand, Google was playing catch up with Apple. The event pointed to how the battle for the next big tech markets beyond the smartphone will be fought. Richard Waters and Tim Bradshaw were at the Moscone Center for this round. 

Sarah Mishkin

What can a company that proposes using drones to deliver goods instantaneously do to impress?

Amazon tried hard with its Fire phone, the first smartphone ever from the e-commerce giant. It sort of succeeds, but the best thing about the phone is the vision of what it could become after a few rounds of refinements and tweaks. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

One of the dominant mantras in technology design these days is simplicity. From Apple’s Sir Jonathan Ive and his minimalist overhaul of iOS to the unbundling of Facebook’s “big blue app” into its smaller, faster components, smartphones are sweeping software to be ever simpler and sleeker.

For many people, most technology is still too complicated but those apps that do simplify tend to succeed. WhatsApp Messenger offers little more than basic text messaging, with none of the stickers or gimmicks of rival chat apps, and has amassed 500m users. Snapchat took out text altogether to allow people to communicate with just a photograph and three taps of the screen. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Apple’s annual developer conference saw chief executive Tim Cook and head of software engineering Craig Federighi dominate the stage. Apple showed off new operating systems, including iOS8 and the newly-minted OS X Yosemite, as well as HealthKit, its first foray into fitness tracking, and HomeKit, a connected home platform. Not to mention tools for developers and a new programming language called Swift. Tim Bradshaw, Richard Waters and Sarah Mishkin give the rundown and reaction from the Moscone Center in San Francisco. 

Samsung Electronics has replaced its head of mobile design just weeks after the launch of its latest flagship Galaxy S5 phone, which was praised in online reviews for its features but criticised for its design.

The South Korean company, however, called the move a routine reshuffle, and denied any link to the criticism. Chang Dong-hoon will retain a broader role overseeing design across the company, while Lee Min-hyouk – at 42, one of the youngest figures in Samsung’s senior ranks – has been promoted to head of the company’s mobile communications design team. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Snapchat’s best feature is not disappearing messages: it’s simplicity. Sending a picture message to a friend takes just five taps of a smartphone screen, including one to open the app. This immediacy is a big part of what makes the pictures feel more personal and fun than more traditional messaging apps.

Now, in the biggest changes the young start-up has yet made to its app, Snapchat is adding text messaging and video chat to the ephemeral photos that made it famous. Read more

Fridges that talk, watches that listen and thermostats that learn your secret domestic habits: these are some of the most visible examples of the so-called “internet of things” (or “IoT” for aficionados).

Cisco, the global computing hardware group, is a big supporter of IoT. It announced yesterday that it was increasing its investment in early-stage companies in the sector to $250m over two to three years, up from the $100m it announced in January. It also unveiled three minority investments: in the enterprise start-up accelerator Alchemist Accelerator, as well two IoT software start-ups, Ayla Networks and EvrythngRead more

Alibaba is taking a minority stake in China’s largest online video site, Youko Tudou, as it prepares for its own blockbuster initial public offering in the US.

Youko Tudou said on Monday that the Chinese e-commerce group, together with its founder Jack Ma’s Yunfeng Capital, would jointly invest $1.2bn in the video site.

Alibaba will hold 16.5 per cent stake in Youku after the deal, with Yunfeng holding 2 per cent. Read more

Sometimes it pays to be behind the times. Read more

While older industries still struggle with the digital transition, those one step ahead are toiling with the mobile one. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Uber, the ambitious start-up best known for delivering people, now wants to deliver anything that can fit in a rucksack. The private driver and taxi-hailing app will on Tuesday add cycle couriers to its New York fleet with what it calls Uber Rush. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Want to hear a Silicon Valley joke? Two geek billionaires walk into a coffee shop and nobody notices.

There’s no punchline. This actually happened a couple of weeks ago when I was in Mountain View and the co-founders of WhatsApp popped into their local for a brew. Despite being full of start-ups, nobody in the Red Rock Café seemed to recognise the pair who had just sold their app to Facebook for upwards of $16bn.

WhatsApp has almost 500m active users around the world but many in Silicon Valley’s elite only discovered the chat app when Mark Zuckerberg opened his chequebook. It’s entirely possible that, in the past year, more people here have tried Google Glass, the sci-fi headset that most outside Silicon Valley love to hate, than sent a message on WhatsApp. Read more