Welcome to “The Week in Technology“, where we recap some of the most interesting technology and mobile stories from the past week.

This week, we’ll cover the launches of Instagram Direct and free Spotify on mobile devices, the rumor that Nokia is building an Android phone, and whether we can use our cell phones in the skies.

Instagram Launches Instagram Direct

Yesterday Instagram introduced Instagram Direct, a way for users who follow each other to share photos, videos and messages directly with one another. Clickz has a great summary of how it works and how Gap leveraged the feature for customer engagement shortly after launch. And you can check out the video about it here:

 

The move toward private messaging on Instagram makes sense, but it enters the crowded market that includes Twitter, WhatsApp, Kik, and many more. And this basically signals that Facebook‘s pursuit of Snapchat is long gone.

Is Nokia making an Android phone?

What kind of shenanigans is going on at Nokiasoft? The Verge reported that Nokia has been building an Android phone, codenamed “Normandy”, despite Microsoft‘s impending purchase of its handset business.

The phone is designed as a low-cost device and leverages the stock, fully-customizable version of Android, similar to how Amazon uses the operating system for their Kindles. No one is sure whether this phone will make it to the market before the Microsoft purchase becomes official, but it’s hard to imagine that the folks in Redmond will support this phone moving forward.

Email in the Air

There’s a new debate in Washington and it doesn’t have to do with the budget or ObamaCare – the federal government is considering allowing air travelers to use their cells phones on flights.

The idea was proposed last month by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler. The details are still being worked out, but as of now it seems like air travelers may be able to send emails and texts but phone calls will be banned. Good thing, as the voice of chatty Cathy in the row behind me can definitely ruin a flight.

Spotify Introduces Free Mobile Service

In a long-awaited move, Spotify announced that it will allow all users to listen to music for free on their mobile devices. Until now, Spotify users were only allowed to listen for free on laptops and desktops, and had to pay $10 a month to listen on mobile devices.

Spotify looks to grow its user base of over 24 million as well as increase the potential revenue from advertising. The move comes in light of increased competition from Pandora and Rdio as well as streaming music newcomers Google All Access and Apple iTunes Radio.

Have you read other interesting mobile and technology stories this week that are worth mentioning? Feel free to add them in the comments.

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