Nostalgia Overload With Facebook’s Newest Feature

Facebook is reportedly testing a standalone app for phone calls

Facebook-call

Facebook may be trying to take over your phone app.

The social network is testing a voice-calling app that can screen your calls and show you information about who is calling, according to an image obtained by Android Police.

The app, called “Phone,” will display information about those who call you —presumably based on their Facebook profiles — and automatically block calls that come from numbers that have been previously identified as spam, according to the description in the screenshot. Facebook is known to test new features with small groups of users first, but the leaked image suggests the testing for this app may be limited to internal tests at the moment as it has an “FB-Only” note.

A Facebook spokesperson told Mashable “we are always testing things,” but declined to comment specifically on the Phone app.

nexus2cee_screenshot_2015-03-20-14-28-432_thumb1

This isn’t the first time Facebook has experimented with voice calling. The company introduced voice calls to Messenger a few years ago and has been testing the feature on the Android version of WhatsApp, both of which rely on either a Wi-Fi or a data connection.

It’s not clear whether the Phone app would be an expansion of these existing voice-calling features or a standalone service, but the description suggests it would work for all voice calls, not just those made over a Wi-Fi or data connection.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

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Save Your Time With 10 Underused Google Features

Here are ten time-saving features in Google products we shouldn’t do without.

A Checklist of Google Tasks

Google Tasks

Google Tasks has often brought me back when my brain had gone for a walk. It could be one of the more underused tools to create actionable tasks from your emails.

Matt Cutts, the well-known Google engineer thinks so. He uses Google Tasks to manage his to-do list and supercharges it with extensions like New Tab to Tasks and Better Google Tasks. The latter gives the utilitarian Google Tasks a more pleasing face. You can also try out Improvements for Google Tasks which gives you labels and keywords to highlight the important stuff in your task list.

As long as it is around, you can also use these five methods to use Google Tasks on your desktop.

Remember the Video Meeting

Add a link to a Google+ Hangout to any Calendar event in one click. It’s a little setting that saves a mail or two. Often, I have sent a separate mail to tell someone about a Google Hangouts meeting. Or the video meeting has slipped my mind till the last instant (an emergency if you have to declutter the room viewable by the web cam).

Add Video Call to Google Calendar

Set up a future Hangout in three simple steps:

  • Go to Google Calendar. Click Create.
  • Enter the details for your event.
  • Click Add video call. With all information in place, click Save.

Others can also add a video meeting to an event if the calendar is shared between the participant.

Inbox Zero with Archive & Quick links

I think we worry too much about Inbox Zero. Gmail has two handy (and often underused) features that can shovel all messages behind the curtain while not losing track of them.

The Archive button on top banishes all emails from your sight while keeping them intact in the All Mail folder. But how do you keep track of the important ones you need to come back for later?

Quick Links is the little hero in Gmail Labs. Quick Links helps you save any messages you want to read for later.

Quick Links from Gmail Labs

Enable Quick Links from Gmail Labs. If you don’t see it on the left sidebar, click on the three little dots (Gadgets). Open any email you want to read for later. Next, click Add Quick Link in the bottom left of the screen. Give a descriptive name in the box that pops up with the link to the email.

Gmail Quick Links

Now, you can recall that email from anywhere in your inbox with just a click. How difficult is Inbox Zero with Archive, Labels, Quick Links, and the powerful Gmail Search at your beck and call?

Read Email Faster with Gmail Auto Advance

There’s no running count of how many times the Gmail Labs “Undo” feature has saved my bacon. This feature is a face-saver. There’s also an Auto-Advance Lab feature which is a time saver. It’s recommended for people with hefty inboxes.

Gmail’s behavior is to return you back to the inbox whenever you delete, archive, or mute a conversation. Enabling Auto-Advance takes you straight to the next (or previous) email whenever you delete or archive a message. The little seconds saved do add up when you wading through hundreds of messages.

Gmail Auto-Advance

Enable it from Gmail Labs (Gear icon > Settings > Labs). Definitely enable it if you are on an inbox springcleaning spree.

Don’t Mind the Dots

You didn’t get the email ID you wanted and had to tweak it with a dot or two. Try spelling that out over the phone with a lot of background noise. Gmail aliases nix that annoyance and prevent misdirected emails.

If your email address is janedoe.work@gmail.com, that’s the same as janedoework@gmail.com.

Go with the latter when giving it to someone over the phone. The “dot-less” version of your email ID makes it easy for everyone.

Save Tabs for Later

Too many tabs are resource hogs and add to the clutter. They are also a worry if you have to close them without losing their whereabouts. Tab management extensions like Layout Manager address this problem. But then here’s a simpler workaround that doesn’t involve bloating your Chrome with another extension. The secret lies in the humble bookmarks folder.

Add a new bookmarks folder to your bookmarks (either the bookmarks bar or the menu). I named mine “All Saved Tabs”.

When you want to save all your open tabs for later, right-click on any tab in your browser and select Bookmark All Tabs… You can also use the shortcut — Ctrl-Shift-D.

Bookmark All Tabs

Select the created bookmark folder as the location. Give your tab group a specific name — this creates a new folder within your “All Saved Tabs” folder. You can save your tabs with the same method in Firefox.

To restore your tabs, simply right-click on the group (folder) that you want to restore and click on “Open All Bookmarks.” This workaround is also helpful if you sync your bookmarks across devices.

Auto-generate Passwords in Chrome

Auto-generate passwords in Chrome

There are many ways to set up secure passwords. Throw this experimental Chrome feature into the mix for some quick sign-ups. The Lastpass “competitor” saw light of day back in 2012 and it’s still not certain as a permanent fixture. Dive into Chrome’s secret settings and enable it for some quick and secure passwords. The random method is no different than the one created by apps like LastPass.

It’s a simple and just has three steps.

  1. Launch Google Chrome. Type about:flags in the Omnibox. Note: about:flags or chrome://flags is a URL in Chrome that reveals hidden settings and allows you to try new features in Chrome while they are experimental.
  2. Scroll down the list till you find the field Enable password generation. Click the drop down menu and select Enabled.Enable Chrome Password
  3. Relaunch the Chrome browser. Every time you register for a new account, you should see a key icon on the password field. Clicking the icon creates an automatic password. You can also save the password in Chrome.

Delegate Your Email

You wouldn’t trust your Gmail to someone else. I hear that having a real-life Jeeves is a luxury, but a virtual assistant can be a huge time saver. In the collaborative economy, any help is welcome to manage your inbox overload. If you are concerned about security, setting up a second email identity to handle specific emails could be useful. Permissions can be revoked anytime.

Gmail allows you to delegate your email and calendar tasks to ten people. Google Apps users can specify 25 users. Google shows you the steps to set up email delegation and the restrictions that are in place. A similar approach works for Google Calendar.

Precise Selections with Caret Browsing

Maybe you are a keyboard ninja. Or just don’t want to rely on the mouse too much. Turn on Caret Browsing which is an advanced accessibility feature in Chrome. The caret is a moveable cursor to select text. Use the arrow keys to move through webpage just like a word processing document.

To activate Caret Browsing install this accessibility extension. Toggle it on and off with F7. Use arrow keys to move through the page. Press Shift + arrows to select text. Open URLs with the Enter key when the caret is on the links.

Caret Browsing

With practice, text selection is more precise if you do a lot of copy and paste. I am not a virtuoso on a laptop track pad, so I turn it on for better productivity on small screens.

Your Own Google-Powered Search Engine

A custom search engine is a sniper rifle. A custom search engine that targets a bunch of your favorite sites is like a multi-barrel rocket launcher. Google Custom Search can be created for your own blog or bookmarked as a public URL. CSE comes in two flavors – paid and free with limitations. The free version limits you to 100 search results, but for individual needs it should be enough.

Google Custom Search

Create a simpler free version that has a public URL. Save it as a bookmark and share it with others on your team. A custom search engine is a timesaving shortcut when you search a few select sites regularly. Searching by recent date and relevancy helps narrow down to the topics you are looking for.

How to Geek has an in-depth tutorial that shows you the simple in’s and out’s.

The Seconds Add Up

The “underused” bit is relative. But often, shiny new apps sidetrack our attention while the solution could be hidden in plain sight. Even a little setting change to increase the number of search results to 100 per page ends up saving time. The best productivity tool is the one that just works for you. Do these work well enough?

Tell us about the tip or feature that changed how you negotiate your life with Google tools. Which is the Google service that you would love to know more about?

By Saikat Basu

Twitch: Loads of personal data at risk

amazon, gaming, passwords, compromised, twitch, hack, hacker

Popular video game streaming service Twitch on Monday issued a notice on its blog stating that there may have recently been unauthorized access to some user account information.

The company has reset all passwords and stream keys in addition to disconnecting accounts from Twitter and YouTube. Because of this, all users will need to create a new password the next time they log into Twitch. The Amazon-owned company said it’s also a good idea for users to change their passwords at any other site in which they use the same or even a similar password.

Twitch said it would reach out directly to impacted users with additional details. In one such e-mail obtained by Venture Beat, Twitch said credentials that may have been affected include usernames, e-mail addresses, passwords (which were cryptographically protected), the last IP address a user logged in from and any optional information that a user may have provided.

The latter includes first and last name, phone number, physical address and date of birth. Worse yet, limited credit card information (card type, truncated card number and expiration date) may also have been compromised. Twitch said it does not store or process full credit or debit card information so at least the card number is safe (but not much else it seems).

In addition to creating a new password, applicable users will need to reconnect their accounts with Twitter and YouTube. Twitch isn’t saying much more about the attack as of this writing but we’ll keep our ears open for any additional information on the matter.

Locate your phone on Android Wear

google, android, android device manager, android wear, find my phone

Google is always looking at ways to expand upon the functionality in Android Wear, which explains why the company has recently launched a new feature that will help you locate your phone in the event that it goes missing.

The functionality is provided through the Android Device Manager, which helps users secure and also locate their smartphones. Previously, users would have to use a computer or another smartphone to access the find my phone feature, but an update to Android Wear is making the whole process much easier.

By saying “Ok, Google. Start. Find my phone” to your Android Wear device, or by tapping on the Find My Phone option in the launcher, your phone will begin ringing at full volume. As it will begin ringing even if your phone is set to silent mode, you’ll be able to locate it if you’re reasonably close by.

Google says that the feature will be rolling out to all Android Wear devices over the next few weeks, and it won’t require you to download an app or enable anything in the settings menu.

Unfortunately Google hasn’t been able to harness Bluetooth signal strength to pinpoint the location of your phone without ringing it. Having a virtual radar on your wrist would be cool, but for now we’ll have to make do with Google’s audio-based find my phone solution.

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How to Get 60 Leads in 24 Hours With a Landing Page and a LinkedIn Group

How to Get 60 Leads in 24 Hours With a Landing Page and a LinkedIn Group

A few weeks ago a startup asked me to figure out the cheapest and most sustainable way for them to get 25 qualified leads to try their product. Like most startups they did not have a big budget for marketing experiments and needed to bootstrap to get some initial customers in the door.

24 hours later I generated 60 qualified leads for them using nothing but a simple landing page and a LinkedIn group. This process was so successful that they decided to repeat the experiment again.

I’ve done this many times and it works like a charm every time. Here is a step by step of how I did it.

Step 1: Nail Down Your Target Audience

There are billions of articles and books on the importance of defining your target market. I’m not going to give you a lecture on how to define your target market. I will say that for this technique which I’m about to outline you have to know exactly what type of people you want as leads.

In my situation above it was CIOs of enterprise on-demand companies. Some examples would be CIOs at Verizon, Comcast, Merry Maids, Home Depot, Geek Squad, etc.

In your case it’s whoever you think your customer is. Not too long ago I wrote an article titled ‘How I Sold My App to 10 People Before I Wrote a Line of Code and Then Launched It’.

In the article I share how I pitched my app idea to tons of different types of people to see who would actually pay for it. The goal was to get 10 people to pay me money before I start work on it. I ended up getting those 10 people to pay me and that’s how I knew who my target market really was before I started building the app.

That’s just one way to do it. There are millions of other ways to do this, which I will not delve into now. So as mentioned: know who your target market is.

As I said my target market for this example above was CIOs of on-demand enterprise companies.

Step 2: Largest LinkedIn or FB Group for Your Target Market

You need to find the largest and most active group there is on LinkedIn or Facebook for your target market. Notice the underline on ‘most active’. There are tons of groups which consist of a bunch of robots. You need to find the biggest and most active group for your target market.

In my case CIOs usually hang out on LinkedIn (not FB). So I did a few searches and found this group:

The CIO Network group on LinkedIn is 140,000+ members strong and extremely active. Taking a look at their discussions I knew this was the one to go after. Here are some of the discussions and frequency of posting:

Another thing to look for is any promotional materials being advertised in the group. After all you will be marketing to this group so you want to know how people do this. In my case I found some updates which looked like promotions:

Become a member of the group and test it out. Post some updates yourself, get a feel of the discussions which are added and how people respond to them. Get familiar with the group overall. Make sure this group has the types of people you want to have as leads.

Step 3: Write a Killer Piece of Content for This Group

Now find an old piece of content written by yourself or your team or write a new piece of content. This content must really engage the people in your target group. I’m talking about something that stirs folks up, gets them to reply and upvote and read at least 80% of what you’ve written.

In my case I picked the following article:
A Letter to the CIO of a Services Enterprise from the COO

See how this article speaks directly at CIOs about something they are all facing today? This grabs them and pulls them in, exactly what I’m trying to achieve.

Not too long ago my friends from BuzzSumo wrote an article titled: ‘Why Content Goes Viral: What Analyzing 100 Million Articles Taught Us’ where they report on what types of titles get most social media shares and why. I suggest checking that article out as you come up with your title.

So in short you need to have a killer piece of content for your audience. Want examples? Go to BuzzSumo and type in the keyword for your target market, you’ll find the most shared pieces of content.

Got your piece of content written and published? Ok, let’s collect some leads!

Step 4: Create a PDF Whitepaper Out of Your Article

This step is pretty straight forward, create a downloadable PDF out of your article. Format it nicely with your company bio or info all the way at the end of the whitepaper.

I ended up turning the LinkedIn article into this PDF.

The PDF is pretty basic, see how there is some information about the company towards the end? That is really the only thing you need to add to it.

Take out any dates associated with the article. You do not want your readers to know that it was an old piece of content or written and published somewhere else.

Step 5: Create an Opt-in Landing Page for Your PDF Whitepaper

These are typically called squeeze pages, the idea is that you’re “squeezing’ an email out of your visitor in exchange for something in return. In my case I created a page which looked like this:

Check out the live page here.

The page showed the very beginning of the article and asked the visitor to put their email address in to get the full PDF of the whitepaper.

The idea is that you pull them in with the copy on the landing page and then try to get an email address out of them. So be very picky with the copy you have on this landing page.

There is an article out there titled: Proof of Heaven, Propaganda and Feeding Your Audience Exactly the Meal They Asked For by Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers which is a gold mine when writing copy for pages such as this one. Read it, it has awesome tips in it on how to make this copy as best as possible.

I know people are going to ask so I’ll just say it, I used Unbounce to make this page above. However I’m a huge supporter of LeadPages as well. Both are awesome products and you can make a page like the one I made above in 5 minutes with either product.

Step 6: Make Sure Your Landing Page Is Hooked to Your Email Provider

You want to collect an email address and make sure people who sign up get a nice email back with the PDF they want to read. So make sure to integrate with MailChimp or another email provider such as Aweber which will send out emails to your subscribers automatically. Here is what my auto email looked like:

Subject: A Letter to the CIO of a Services Enterprise from COO

Hi Jerry,

Thanks for downloading my letter titled “A Letter to the CIO of a Services Enterprise from COO”. To access the PDF just click on the link below.

[DOWNLOAD PDF] A Letter to the CIO of a Services Enterprise from COO <–

I hope you enjoy this content! I’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts on the 5 most important market dynamics for the technology leaders in 2015 I talk about in the letter.

Best,

Alex Beletsky
COO, Dispatch

http://dispatch.me

Just make sure this email is working well. Test your landing page out.

Step 7: Find the Owner of the Group and Ask for Promotion

Now you are ready to get traffic to your landing page from the group you identified. The idea is to get emails of leads who are interested in your content. Once they sign up to get the PDF you can follow up after and try to sell them (more on that later).

In my case I find the owner of the LinkedIn or Facebook group and reach out to them asking the following:

I’m a member of your LinkedIn group and recently came across one of your articles on your blog about the changing environment for CIOs. I really enjoyed the article.

I’m currently in process of writing a guest article for CIO.com and wanted to see if I could interview you for the article. Your group and company would get good exposure form it. I have another opportunity to publish a similar interview on CIO-Today.

Let me know if you’d be interested.

Cheers,

-Dmitry

In most cases the person responds and says “sure”. They have nothing to lose and a potential to gain some good exposure. After they respond with an email I end up writing this email:

Sound good, I’ll interview and promote you on these top three CIO sites. In return would you be able to promote a whitepaper for CIOs which I just wrote to your group? Just a quick update to the entire group. Here is the link:
http://try.dispatch.me/lettertocio/

Now I wait until the owner responds. The idea is that you scratch their back and they scratch yours. You interview them and promote the interview to three different sources which are well known. It can be three slightly different interviews.

Most of the time the owner of the biggest LinkedIn or Facebook group for your target demographic is some type of expert or at least well regarded in the field for what they do. So getting an interview published with them in a targeted publication should not be that hard.

In return ask for a direct email blast of the group but an update is also acceptable. Never hurts to ask for an direct email blast of course.

If it’s an email blast you’ll need to do more copy editing to make sure the email speaks to your recipients. Come back to that article ‘Proof of Heaven, Propaganda and Feeding Your Audience Exactly the Meal They Asked For’ by Joanna Wiebe, it will help you craft this email.

A very good friend of my Dan Fagella built his entire business to $40K/month in 2 years just by following this very same approach:

  1. Find an expert in the field
  2. Interview them
  3. Promote them and ask to be promoted in return

Here is an article titled How I grew my Startup to $40K Using Emails and Good Content detailing the complete procedure and how you go about accomplishing this.

Remember to make sure the group owner promotes the landing page you created.

Step 8: Watch the Leads Roll In and Follow Up

That is it really. You get a few interviews published with the group owner on hot publications. The group owner gets some exposure. In return the group owner promotes your landing page, the group members see it, click it and subscribe to read the PDF. Your job now is to:

  • Count the number of total leads you got
  • Follow up with the leads within 2-5 days of them singing up to get your PDF

Unbounce or whatever service you use keeps tracks of the leads. You can integrate it with Salesforce if you like.

You have about 5 days until your leads become completely cold and forget all about you. So you want to follow up and ask how they liked your PDF within 5 days.

Also remember it takes about 5 follow ups to close a deal. A very good friend Saph runs a site helping people write better email copy, I suggest you take a look at this section on sales follow up emails to make sure you’re effectively following up.

My sales follow up email looked like this:

Hi (First Name),

(Insert Your Name) here from (Company Name). Alex mentioned that you just expressed interest in his ‘Letter to the CIO of a Services Enterprise from the COO.’ I wanted to follow up and make sure you received the PDF in the email OK.

I was just checking out your profile and saw that (Insert personal bit here)

(Insert question about the personal bit above)

We’d love to learn more about you and your work at (Insert Their Company Name)

Looking forward to connecting.

-(Your Name)

Conclusion

That is it! Give it a try. I’d love to hear your feedback and comments as you get going with this approach.

If you want to get some quick qualified leads you do not need fancy ad campaigns and you most certainly do not need to spend a lot of money. A targeted piece of content toward a popular and targeted LinkedIn of Facebook group will do wonders in terms of generating leads.

Reddit now lets you embed comments on other websites

Reddit stickers

Reddit can be a goldmine of memes and grassroots news, so the platform is today making it easier to share comments on on other sites with embeddable comments.

Rather than copy, pasting and formatting text, you can now embed a small window into your blog or website to link towards comments.

To generate the necessary code simply click on a comment’s permalink page, then select ‘embed’ to generate the code you need to copy. You also have the option to include parent comments.

Reddit says the embeds will display any edits to the original posts however, so if you want to share something potentially time sensitive or that’s likely to be deleted, you’re still better off copying the text or just capturing a screengrab.

Still, it’s a nifty feature that’s sure to come in handy next time you need to link to cute animals or a clever comment.

[Image credit: Eva Blue, Flickr]

Amazon ‘Unlocked’ Will Give Away Paid Apps For Free

Amazon has been working hard to build up the popularity of its Android-based Appstore with consumers and developers — borrowing from the well-thumbed Amazon playbook of deep discounts to drive usage. Now, a new feature it wants to launch looks like it could be its biggest disruptive storefront promotion yet. The company has been working on a new section called “Unlocked” that will offer users a whole range of paid apps, along with those that utilize in-app purchases, free of charge.

Think of it as Amazon Prime for apps.

“Introducing Amazon Unlocked for Apps & Games,” the company notes in one promotional spot. “Paid apps and in-app purchasing now completely FREE from Amazon.”

amazon unlocked appsApp developers whose apps are highlighted in the deck include biggies like Sega America, whose Sonic Dash game features prominently in the presentation; as well as notable independents like UsTwo, whose Monument Valley game is also flagged as an “Unlocked” app.

Other non-gaming apps listed in the deck include OfficeSuite 8 + PDF Converter — one of the more popular apps for reading and editing Microsoft Office apps on Android devices; and Ultimate Guitar Tabs & Chords.

The first of these is a free app with in-app purchases, while the latter is a paid app with additional items that can be purchased in the app. Under the Unlocked promotion, everything in and around these apps would be free.

Details such as when Unlocked is expected to launch, or the full list of actual participating apps, is not noted in the presentation. We’ve reached out to Amazon spokespeople for comment and will update when and if they respond. Developers we have contacted have told us they are under NDA and cannot discuss anything.

But the basics are outlined simply enough in the presentation, which uses the code names “Gretzky” and “Snuffy” to respectively describe the new feature and user flow around it.

(Why Gretzky and Snuffy? I don’t know but my guess is hockey — Wayne Gretzky and Carl “Snuffy” Liscombe being two of the greats of the game. And hockey is a pretty good metaphor for how quickly users shoot and bounce from one app to another.)

In a preamble to the presentation, the company sets out its objectives: the program needs to be clearly identifiable to users; the selected apps need to be obvious to users; and the apps are “conveyed as high value provided by Amazon.” There are also some interesting attempts at a less cluttered experience: “Customers should not feel overwhelmed by thousands of apps, but can get them if they need to,” the presentation notes. “Gretzky Gateway should operate primarily on algorithms rather than human touch.”

To that end, Unlocked will get promoted prominently in Amazon’s own flagship app, and there are plans to use social networks and other platforms to promote Unlocked. The new feature is there not just to drive more downloads from the Appstore, but also more downloads of the Amazon app, which users need in order to access the Unlocked selection of apps.

amazon unlocked social flow

Once users download the Amazon app, and then the Unlocked version of a selected app, they will be presented with further Unlocked branding each time that an in-app purchase has been waived, along with more options to share the experience with others. “Gretzky apps are easy to share and focus on app not Appstore when shared,” the company notes.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 16.08.21

For those browsing the Appstore in the Amazon app, they will have the option to filter searches to look only for Unlocked apps, or to see them in a mix with other offerings. As with other Amazon e-commerce experiences, users are given recommendations based on what they have downloaded already and other parameters.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 16.19.22

 The wider context of Unlocked is interesting on a couple of fronts.

The first is that this is one more example of how Amazon is turning to price-busting moves to boost activity on its platform.

Amazon is no stranger to offering deep discounts — or free items — to users to drive more business to its products and services, whether it’s on pricing for books, or shipping and video content through Prime, or enterprise services through AWS.

The move puts pressure on competitors that struggle to match the prices that Amazon offers — and Amazon wins by playing up the volume-based game of aggregating lots of revenues on thin margins, through economies of scale, and simply making their platform more sticky for users to come back for more.

The Appstore is no different. The company regularly offers a free daily app to users, and to mark the Amazon Appstore’s fourth birthday, the e-commerce giant is currently promoting a larger free bundle of 34 apps that usually cost between $0.99 and $9.95.

Some of its free moves have been controversial. As one outspoken developer pointed out back in 2011 when the Appstore first launched, for all the glory of 100k+ downloads, he didn’t see a penny of income from it. However, from what we understand this is not entirely true and there is some compensation in certain cases.

“How popular the game is changes how much compensation you get,” one person says. “Amazon uses these free deals to lure people who use Android onto their store, so are more than happy to pay for these deals.”

And if there are some who aren’t happy with “free” promotions, that hasn’t stopped the service from remaining a popular way to boost users. Indeed, another developer I spoke to about Unlocked was very clear to ask to remain anonymous. “I like the free app promotion and hope to be included one day,” he said.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 16.07.14That may be what Amazon may be trying to address here. You see, Unlocked has a bit of a twist to it: When developers leave the Unlocked program, the extras become paid again.

This effectively means that developers who get nothing to begin with as the barrier to entry is lowered for new downloads, can hope to convert those users to paying customers when the wall comes back up.

The other area where the Unlocked promotion is interesting is simply in terms of the effort that Amazon is making to boost the Appstore. The company today is approaching 400,000 apps in its catalogue, but this still pales when compared to the 1.2 million apiece on Google Play or Apple’s App Store.

Beyond the numbers game, the company has faced other hurdles for its app business. Sales of devices like its own Fire Phone have been low, and that is reportedly driving developers away from Amazon’s ecosystem.

And it has faced challenges as an alternative to Google Play for other Android owners, too. Last year, Google delisted Amazon’s flagship app from the Play store after Amazon quietly integrated its Appstore, and so now, those who want to access it directly from their devices have to navigate to a download from the web and then specifically tweak security settings in order to permit it to work.

Will Unlocked unlock an app store jackpot for Amazon? It’s anyone’s guess, but as the company continues to look for ways to be relevant in the mobile economy, it will be one more way to try in what is likely to be a much wider, longer-term strategy.

After all, as Mike George, Amazon’s VP of apps and games said back in February, “We have patience and we take a long view of all these things that we’re doing, and we really do start with our customers…And if we don’t get it the first time, we keep iterating and inventing until we do.”

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