Only 33% of app marketers use in-app messaging, but they get 3.5X higher retention

Mobile phone apps

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Only a third of app marketers are currently using in-app messaging. That could soon change, however, if the other two-thirds find out that apps that use in-app messaging tend to get 3.5 times better retention.

A 3.5-times better retention rate adds up to a 50 percent third-month retention of new users — solid numbers in the cutthroat and fast-moving app industry, where people will often install an app, only to use it once or twice and then delete it.

An example of an in-app message

Above: An example of an in-app message

Image Credit: Localytics

The data is from app analytics and marketing platform Localytics’ latest usage and engagement study. Localytics, which is embedded in 28,000 apps on more than 1.5 billion devices globally, offers both analytics as well as user engagement features for mobile developers. Bigger analytics platforms like Google Analytics and Flurry lead the market in installs, but Localytics achieved top qualitative scores from developers in VB’s mobile app analytics report, and was a best bet in our mobile marketing automation report.

The problem with in-app messages is often knowing just what to send, Localytics said.

“Many app owners wonder how to create content that isn’t viewed as spam and doesn’t detract from the user experience,” Localytics’ business analyst Dave Hoch said. “This may explain why only one third of app marketers are currently using in-app messaging as part of their mobile engagement strategy.”

Smart in-app messages that users don’t see as spammy are often triggered by user events, Hoch said. That means it’s not random, it’s not something that is simply indicative of a chatty app that really really wants to communicate to users, and it does fit into the flow of precisely what users are doing in the app.

In the example pictured to the right, for example, you might have just had a meal delivered, and now you’re being asked to rate the service.

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While average engagement with in-app messaging is only 28 percent, engagement with messages that are triggered by user actions achieve 56 percent engagement. And once users have started to engage with a triggered in-app message — for example, by tapping a choice or selecting an option — they’re 4 times more likely to convert than if they get an in-app message at the very start of an app session.

Localytics just studied in-app messaging in this particular study, but push messaging is also a popular form of engaging and re-engaging users. Push messaging, of course, does not require that users actually be in-app to receive the message, but will show up on lock screens and in iOS’ and Android’s notifications areas. Opt-ins to push messaging are down on both Android and iOS, said push notifications industry leader Urban Airship, but achieving that degree of trust from users helps you almost double user retention, according to data released today by another mobile marketing automation vendor, Kahuna.

App launches for apps that do and do not use in-app messaging

Above: App launches for apps that do and do not use in-app messaging

Image Credit: Localytics

Retention is one of mobile developers’ three core challenges. The first is user acquisition, followed by retention, and then monetization. (The bigger problem that precedes all of these, of course, is actually creating a great app in the first place.)

Interestingly, photography and sports apps see the greatest increase in lift in click-through rate. These apps have 19 percent and 14 percent increase in click-through rate when triggered by a user event, compared to an unsolicited and unprompted message.


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Hands-on with Apple Music: I’m impressed. Here’s why

Apple Music

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We’ll have separate reviews of the Beats1 radio streaming and iTunes Connect artist social networking services that complement the music-suggestion engine in Apple Music. –Ed.

The new Apple Music app, while not perfect, lives up to the hype, and may pose a serious problem to competing subscription music services like Spotify. It’s that good. Here’s why.

The new service, which launched in iOS 8.4 launched earlier today, adds some powerful music-suggestion features to the old Music app.

The suggestion engine in Apple Music uses much of the technology Apple got in its acquisition of Beats Music in 2014. But Apple takes advantage of existing iTunes user data in a way that makes it a far more capable of creating streams of music that the user will like.

I’ve been putting Apple Music through its paces, looking at the quality of the music suggestions, the app’s ease-of-use, the music organization and navigation features, and the overall user experience. And so far I’m impressed.

Downloading iOS 8.4 is relatively painless. You must be on at least a Wi-Fi network to do so, and it took my phone about 10 minutes to download the new system and restart.

You’ll notice that the Music app icon is no longer red — it’s now white with a blue-and-red music note symbol. After you hit the icon, the app asks you if you want to start your three-month trial subscription of Apple Music. You can opt out of the service before the end of the trial and never be charged.


You enter your iTunes password to get that going. The Terms of Service has added an Apple Music section and is now 73 pages long on my iPhone 6. We’ll be taking a spin through that later.

For you

Apple Music’s centerpiece is a suggestion function called For You. Its algorithms use your music preference data and your iTunes music history to present you with relevant music streams.

For You borrows a key feature from Beats Music to understand your music tastes. When you first start using Apple Music, you’re asked to tap a series of bubbles to indicate your music tastes. You’ll see bubbles for genres and then specific artists.


You tap on a bubble once to “like” the genre or artist, tap twice to indicate you “love” it, or press and hold for 3 seconds to indicate you don’t want to hear the genre or artist. This step takes a while, but it’s important because it will help dictate the music the service plays for you, and all of the suggestions it makes to you in the app.

I started out by removing all the genres I don’t like (country, gospel, blues, etc.) and then began tapping on the ones I like (indie, experimental, metal, etc.).


Finally, I double-tapped indie rock and metal to indicate that I love those genres. You have to indicate that you like or love at least three genres and artists before you can move on (before you do, the Done button at the top right is grayed out).

I then went through the same process with the artists it showed me, pressing down hard on the Coldplay bubble, tapping AC/DC once, and R.E.M twice. And then I was done.


I’m impressed with the suggestions the app showed me. It represented the genres and artists that I told it liked, with special attention given to those I loved.

IMG_1888 IMG_1885IMG_1899

One of the most interesting parts of the suggestions are the curated playlists created by editors at Apple. For me, Apple Music suggested playlists called “When Pop Met Punk” and “Sunset Strip Hair Metal,” both of which I am likely to listen to.


If you tap on any of the tracks in the playlist, you’ll see the record it comes from, along with a pleasing visual presentation.


From any LP page, you can tap the three little dots at the bottom right to bring up this options page, from which you can start a radio stream or playlist based on the artist, add the album to your collection, or share the music with friends.


The “deep cuts” playlists show you lesser-known music from artists that you (and your existing iTunes music) have indicated you like.

IMG_1903 IMG_1904

It’ll also suggest whole albums by artists it knows you like. I had mixed results here because Apple Music served me up a couple of albums that I already own — like this Adam and the Ants LP. It should have known that by scanning my collection.


The app served up some things I hadn’t heard, like this Johnny Mathis record. I listened to some of it, and I liked it.


It also offered to “introduce” me to an experimental rock band called Battles, who I already like.


I wondered how Apple Music could have suggested so much stuff that was up my alley based only on the bubbles I chose. Then I remembered that the suggestion engine also takes into account my recent iTunes music purchases as well as the tunes I’ve played recently. That answers this question, but the service should have known that I already know all about Battles and don’t need to be “introduced” to them.

You can add your own art to your playlists. For You can also surface playlists from top artists, top songs, and top videos.


This is the part of the app where Apple shows you the latest chart-topping singles and records. The section is organized in sections for popular LPs (Hot Albums), recent releases, top-rated songs, and new releases. You’ll also find top songs from Apple’s Connect artist social network.

IMG_1893 IMG_1892 IMG_1891


In a music world as stratified (by taste) as it is today, will anybody really use this feature? Will some users think, “Gee, I really want to discover the most corporate, mainstream music available, and stream it”?

Apple makes some headway in remedying this issue by breaking down music in the section into finely sliced genres and subgenres. I still doubt that I would come looking here for new music.


But I might be interested in suggestions from in-the-know editors from publications like Mojo, Pitchfork, and Rolling Stone. These publications specialize in music from a genres I like (indie, rock, metal, etc.). Apple Music uses other subject matter experts to suggest music from other genres. I found some interesting music in these playlists in the Grand Ole Opry section.

IMG_1909 IMG_1913IMG_1914

Other playlists are created around life situations, or life events like “breakups.” 

IMG_1915 IMG_1916

My Music

The My Music section does roughly the same things as the old iOS Music app, with some better presentation on the artist pages.

Here’s where you can view the music already in your collection and create new playlists. The songs can come from both your own downloads collection and from Apple’s catalog of streaming tracks. You can save any of this music in playlists for offline listening.

A new toggle switch at the top of the screen allows you to view songs from your library or from your playlists.

IMG_1874 IMG_1875 IMG_1876


Apple’s download music business has been suffering as consumers download fewer songs from iTunes and listen to more streaming music from services like Spotify and Google Play Music. Apple would prefer to retain some of those would-be defectors with its own streaming service.

Services like Spotify allow listeners to create their own music streams, with varying amounts of control over the specific songs that are played. Most have both a free tier and a premium package, with ads paying for the free ones (and which typically offer listeners less control over song choices).

After using Apple Music for a while, it’s clear that the company’s betting on your existing iTunes membership, your credit card on file, and most important, your music history. It’s that last thing that makes the Apple Music so good at matching music with user tastes. For millions of consumers, Apple simply has more information about their music tastes — and not just in a broad sense. It knows every track you’ve ever bought on iTunes and leverages that information to create enjoyable streams for you.

So if you and iTunes already have “history,” you may experience a moment using Apple Music in which you think “this thing really understands what I like.”

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YouTube for Android and iOS now supports 60fps video

youtube logo

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YouTube today announced videos can now be viewed at 60 frames per second (fps) on Android and iOS. This change is being made server-side, meaning you don’t need to update your app to see the higher-quality videos.

On October 29, YouTube quietly turned on 60fps support for videos uploaded on that date and later, but only on the desktop site, which requires using YouTube’s HTML5 player (the site ditched Flash for HTML5 by default in January). Clips uploaded before that date remain at 30fps, while new videos shot at 60fps play back at their proper framerate.

To be clear, 60fps support on Android and iOS is just for videos, not livestreams. YouTube’s desktop site added support for 60fps livestreams in May but Google has yet to talk about the same support coming to mobile.

If you haven’t seen these higher-quality videos yet, check out the example YouTube points to above. Below, we opened up this video on YouTube for Android to show you the new 60fps options.


60fps is great for fast-action videos, but it’s particularly awesome for video games. Today’s update is part of an ongoing war YouTube has started waging against Twitch, the current live-streaming king in gaming and e-sports.

Amazon bought Twitch for $970 million in August, following months of rumors that Google would snatch it up. With that failure in its hindsight, Google is now aiming to launch a new YouTube Gaming app this summer.

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With Beats 1, Apple censored the s*** out of a great idea


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Apple Music! Radio on the Internet! Phone updates!

Apple unveiled new stuff today, so the Internet has been a predictably annoying place to be.

The big thing was Apple Music, yet another entry into the subscription music streaming field that Tidal has spent the past few months dominating like an unstoppable money-making force. Just kidding.

But tucked inside this big, complicated new service is Beats 1 — a live, 24-hour radio station broadcasting from New York City, Los Angeles, and London. Live broadcasting is an interesting foray for Apple, and they built it the same way they build most things — by paying out the nose for the best people. That means shows hosted by a bunch of famous musicians and regular programming from some of radio’s biggest names.

So how is it?

It started off charmingly shaky. Those who instantly updated to iOS 8.4 were treated to Zane Lowe, Beats 1’s flagship DJ, quietly sound-checking while Brian Eno’s masterful Ambient 1: Music for Airports played in the background.

Then, right at 9 a.m. PST, Lowe began:

“Alright man, we’ve got to kick this whole thing off at some point. We’ve spent the last 3 months trying to build this radio station, and we now can build no more. We must launch.”

After a brief introduction, the inaugural broadcast was a single from Spring King, a little-known band from the UK.

“That’s exactly the kind of story, the kind of record we need to kick this whole thing off with,” Lowe explained. “Because, man, it’s not about fanfare — that’s fireworks and a hangover the next day. It’s about quality and consistency. We’re Beats 1. We’re worldwide and from now on, we’re always on.”

Not a bad introduction!

Here’s a playlist (from, uh, Spotify) that will catch you up on the first hour or so.

Most of Beats 1’s much-ballyhooed programming like exclusive interviews and performances won’t begin until tomorrow, but I spent a few hours listening in and I was pleasantly surprised.

Here are some pros and cons:


Zane Lowe — Back in February, BBC Radio 1 lost its beloved leader. Lowe’s eponymous show was a launchpad for artists on the fringe, in-depth artist interviews, and blockbuster world premieres. Whatever Lowe is getting paid, it’s probably not enough. Even if the other 22 hours of programming is pure static, there will (hopefully) be an army of devotees tuning in to hear what Zane is excited about.

Recommendations are garbage Some of my idiot friends maintain that a program can curate music as well as a DJ. It cannot. I don’t doubt that I will be wrong someday, but nothing today holds up. Pandora is garbage; a feedback loop for unadventurous listeners. Spotify, which I love dearly, offers recommendations that are thin, repetitive, and boring. Nobody can challenge your ears and deepen your tastes like a great DJ. That’s why Apple bought the best in the world.

Death to Clear Channel — One of the most exciting thing about Beats 1, from my vantage, is the idea of a real live radio station with a huge audience that isn’t part of Clear Channel’s comprehensively evil empire. Clear Channel is, without question, the reason that radio spent two decades becoming the audio equivalent of a mall food court. Their iHeartDisease rebrand was 50% a push to stay relevant in the digital age and 50% a Blackwater-style switcheroo.

Live radio is fun  Anybody that’s ever been on a long drive — overnight or in the middle of nowhere — knows the small comfort of a DJ or host reading the weather, traffic, and some headlines. There’s a human connection that a Pandora station will never, ever be able to match. It feels good knowing that Zane Lowe or St. Vincent or Drake is in the studio, digging in crates typing away, trying to find something great to show you.

The programming St. Vincent’s show sounds incredibly promising, as does Josh Homme’s. Rounding out a schedule with programs hosted by Elton John, Drake, Disclosure and Pharrell sounds appealing.


There are ads. Ugh.

It shouldn’t be so hidden — While some have praised Apple Music’s integration with iTunes, Beats 1 is buried inside the app under the generic “Radio” label alongside dozens of disparate stations. Despite being staffed and programmed by some of the most revered names in music, it’s jammed inside of a clunky app next to a handful of workout mixes, oldies, sports, and the like. Beats 1 deserves better placement — it’s good enough to stand alone.

Zero integration with the rest of the app — If you like a song you hear, you can’t “star,” “fave,” or “like.” You can’t do anything, except write it down. Why?

It’s still censored — I really dislike that all of this is getting filtered through Apple’s bullshit PG cheesecloth. Dr. Dre, for example, sounded absolutely terrible. It undercuts the impact of playing a song off The Chronic (an Apple Music exclusive) when you lop off half the lyrics. These “clean versions” taint the entire product and make it feel like a 24-hour Apple Store playlist.

I’m paying $9.99 a month. I have no children. Why is access to unedited product out of the question?

Most of the “real” programming will begin tomorrow — starting, bizarrely, with an interview from Eminem.

I can’t wait to hear the clean version.

OS X 10.10.4 adds ‘network reliability,’ photo library and app improvements

OS X Yosemite

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Apple on Friday morning released the latest version of its Yosemite desktop OS, 10.10.4.

As Andrew Cunningham over at Ars Technica points out, the update is the third and final one for OS 10.10. The previous update, 10.10.3, came roughly three months ago.

The chief upgrade in the release is the replacement of the discoveryd DNS service, which was causing connectivity problems for some users. Apple said the fix will add “network reliability” to some systems. The DNS new service is called mDNSresponder, and is said to be more stable. The discoveryd service was introduced with OS Yosemite.

Among the many bug fixes in the new release, the Migration Assistant gets some usability improvements, some trouble connecting external monitors is remedied, and a bug that was preventing outgoing mail messages from sending gets zapped.

Finally, the Cloud Photo Library and the Photos app also get some performance improvements with the new release.


Mark Zuckerberg explains why Facebook is investing in artificial intelligence and virtual reality

Facebook cofounder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg during a town hall question-and-answer session on May 14.

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Facebook cofounder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg today fielded questions from users of the major social network, and one of them, Jenni Moore of Ireland, asked him about his “view on the world” in 10 years’ time. He took the question as an opportunity to talk about some of the biggest initiatives the company will working on. One of those initiatives is artificial intelligence research.

Here’s how Zuckerberg put that effort in context in today’s online question-and-answer session:

Second, we’re working on AI because we think more intelligent services will be much more useful for you to use. For example, if we had computers that could understand the meaning of the posts in News Feed and show you more things you’re interested in, that would be pretty amazing. Similarly, if we could build computers that could understand what’s in an image and could tell a blind person who otherwise couldn’t see that image, that would be pretty amazing as well. This is all within our reach and I hope we can deliver it in the next 10 years.

Research and development has been a high priority for Facebook as of late, and the company has been hiring more and more researchers to work on AI. At the helm of the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research unit is Yann LeCun, a luminary in a trendy type of AI known as deep learning. He and his colleagues are rapidly developing technologies to analyze videos, answer questions, and identify objects and people in images, and even generate image samples. And the team is continually bringing on new talent, too.

Other major tech companies, like Google and Microsoft, have also been doing more with deep learning in the past few years as well. But Facebook is moving especially quickly to become an AI powerhouse.

The two other major initiatives he called out were virtual reality and Here’s how he couched those:

First, we’re working on spreading internet access around the world through This is the most basic tool people need to get the benefits of the internet — jobs, education, communication, etc. Today, almost 2/3 of the world has no internet access. In the next 10 years, has the potential to help connect hundreds of millions or billions of people who do not have access to the internet today.

As a side point, research has found that for every 10 people who gain access to the internet, about 1 person is raised out of poverty. So if we can connect the 4 billion people in the world who are unconnected, we can potentially raise 400 million people out of poverty. That’s perhaps one of the greatest things we can do in the world.

Third, we’re working on VR because I think it’s the next major computing and communication platform after phones. In the future we’ll probably still carry phones in our pockets, but I think we’ll also have glasses on our faces that can help us out throughout the day and give us the ability to share our experiences with those we love in completely immersive and new ways that aren’t possible today.

Read Zuckerberg’s other interesting answers to user questions here.

VB’s research team is studying mobile user acquisition… Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.