The Week in Mobile: April 15-20, 2018

iOS app spending increases, Amazon makes its own lightweight web browser, Eminem creates an augmented reality app and more

Each week we round up the top news stories, think pieces and other content that centers on the fast-paced, quickly changing world of mobile technology. We tell you which companies are employing clever mobile strategies, illuminate new ways of thinking about mobile and offer a peek at meaningful trends in the industry — all to inspire you and your company to take advantage of the many benefits mobile can offer.

iPhone In-App Purchases Up 23% in 2017, Plus Concerns about Smartphone Addiction

Another week, another report about increased mobile app spending. According to Sensor Tower, iPhone users spent 23% more on in-app purchases or subscriptions in 2017 than the year before. Mobile games accounted for most of the increased revenue (62% of total spending). The next highest categories were entertainment and social networking, although lifestyle apps posted the most significant year-over-year growth thanks to new subscription models for dating apps like Tinder and Bumble. The report also notes that iOS app installs in the U.S. increased nearly 10%, as users downloaded an average of four more apps in 2017 compared to the year prior.

But those gains have a former Apple engineer worried. Tony Fadell, who who helped create the iPod and iPhone, penned an Op-Ed detailing his concerns around smartphone addiction. He likened digital consumption to a balanced diet. He claims that companies like Apple need to offer more features for users to monitor and even restrict their own behaviors. Apple has shown the capability to do so, announcing new options for parents to check-in on how much time their kids spend on mobile devices.

Amazon Creates a Lightweight, Mobile Web Browser for India

Amazon has quietly developed a new Android-based web browser app for users in India. Aptly named Internet, the new mobile browser is designed for emerging markets with limited access to high-speed networks. Running on Android 5.0 and higher, the app uses minimal storage and data, and features private tabs and a nifty homepage with general news and sports headlines. Amazon is the latest in a number of major tech companies to launch lightweight versions of their apps for developing markets. For more information on creating your own lightweight apps, check out our recent blog post on building apps for low connectivity.

Eminem Develops His Own Augmented Reality App for Concert-Goers

Eminem revolutionized hip-hop when he hit the scene at the turn of the century, and he may have just revolutionized the concert-viewing experience as well. The rap superstar debuted his own augmented reality app at Coachella last weekend called Eminem Augmented. The app utilizes geotags and time-stamps to provide an exclusive AR-concert experience that is only visible for fans within a few hundred yards of the show. At Coachella, fans were treated to an AR-version of the rapper, as well as special 3D images that coincide with famous Eminem lyrics. The rapper plans to take app on the road for his upcoming tour.

Grubhub Now Has a Venmo Integration for Splitting Food Orders

Venmo and Grubhub are teaming up for a new integration. Users can now utilize Venmo as a payment option within Grubhub to split the bill for food orders and more. Once users are ready to check-out, Grubhub lists Venmo as a potential payment option and takes users to the app if they click on it. Once users figure out their payment plan, they are then sent back to the Grubhub app. It’s an example of a smart integration that saves users the extra step of needing to open extra apps to pay back their friends or family. This integration will be rolled out to all users this week.

Meet Grasshopper: Google’s New App to Help Would-be Coders Learn Javascript

Google has launched a new learn-to-code mobile app for beginners. The app, Grasshopper, teaches users how to write Javascript through a series of short lessons on their iPhone or Android device. Those interested in learning to code can use Grasshopper to get a crash course on things like functions, variables, strings, etc. Then, they can test their newfound skills in the app’s online playground, which features a variety of educational puzzles and quizzes that can be completed to unlock achievements. The creators of the project say the goal is to give would-be coders a jump-start, so they can continue their education through online classes or bootcamps. Once grasshoppers have mastered the basics of Javascript, we hope they try their skill at building apps with our own Titanium!