The Week in Mobile: August 26-September 2, 2017

iPhone 8 to be introduced next week, Google and Apple go toe-to-toe for AR, Alexa and Cortana are new BFFs 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. This content is designed to inspire you and your company to take advantage of the many benefits mobile can offer.

Apple To Debut the iPhone 8 on September 12th

Apple will unveil the next iPhone on September 12th after months of rumors and leaks. According to a new report, the company is slated to announce three new devices, including the much anticipated iPhone 8, which boasts an edge-to-edge display and new facial recognition technology (not to mention up to a $1000 price tag). The other two devices are believed to be upgrades to last year’s iPhone 7 models. The announcement of a major September product event is consistent with the usual timeline for a new iPhone release, and has eased fears that the iPhone 8 would be delayed following rumors of development setbacks earlier this year.

Google & Apple Square Off Over AR

Not to be outdone by Apple, whose upcoming iOS 11 plans to bring augmented reality to the masses, Google has announced its own AR app development platform. Last week, Google made a preview version of the ARCore SDK available to developers. It will allow Android developers to build their own AR apps with features such as motion tracking, environmental understanding, light estimation and more. If the teaser video is any indication, ARCore seems like a direct response to Apple’s soon-to-be-released ARKit.

Meanwhile, major brands gathered at Apple headquarters last week to show off the apps they’ve created with ARKit. Companies like Ikea, The Food Network, AMC and Giphy demonstrated some use cases—such as adding virtual furniture to your living room—and also debuted new applications like dodging virtual zombies in The Walking Dead AR game or raising a virtual caterpillar from the popular children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Apple’s ARKit will become available with the release of iOS 11 in September, while Google’s ARCore is now available to developers in preview form with an official release to coming this winter.

Amazon’s Alexa & Microsoft’s Cortana Will Soon Talk to Each Other

Tech giants have been doing everything they can to make their voice assistants more widely available — including partnering with their rivals. Amazon and Microsoft announced that their AI-powered helpers will soon be able to communicate with each other. By the end of the year, Alexa will be able to access Cortana and vice versa by voice command. The companies have been working together behind the scenes for more than a year and say the move is designed to improve the voice assistants’ functionality across apps and devices. For example, Cortana has enhanced integration with the popular Microsoft-owned email and calendar app Outlook, which means Alexa users will have better access to Outlook functionality through Cortana.

The move may put some pressure on other tech companies entering the AI assistant space, but Google has its own strategy for improving accessibility to its voice assistant. The company recently announced that it will allow third-party hardware makers to integrate Google Assistant into their products. This means you may soon be able to control compatible appliances like washers, dryers and vacuum with the “Ok Google…” command. Amazon already allows third-party hardware to embed Alexa, but both Google and Apple (which intends to release a new smart speaker called the Homepod later this year) have the advantage of baking their AI assistants into their mobile platforms.

Nearly 200,000 Apps At Risk When Apple Drops 32-Bit Support

Apple has been encouraging developers to update their 32-bit apps since 64-bit processing was introduced with the iPhone 5s in 2013. It started warning users earlier this year via in-app messages that 32-bit apps would cease to work with iOS 11. However, there are still roughly 187,000 32-bit apps in the App Store. Once iOS 11 hits, the days will be numbered for these apps, which comprise nearly 8% of the entire App Store and most of which are games. To find out if you have any 32-bit apps on your phone, open Settings>General>About>Applications, and you will see a list of installed 32-bit apps.

FitBit Looks to Regain Wearables Throne with Ionic Smartwatch

Looking to reclaim its place at the top of the wearables market, device maker FitBit has debuted a new flagship product. The Ionic smartwatch is the most feature-laden device that FitBit has ever made, supporting fitness and sleep tracking, location services, contactless payments, music streaming and more. FitBit says the device is also water resistant up to 50 meters and can be powered for up to 4 days from one battery charge. The device will be available for $299.95 compared to the current Apple Watch, which starts at $269. Pre-orders for Ionic begin today.

Apple & Accenture Aim to Build Better Enterprise Apps

Apple has added Accenture to its enterprise partner portfolio, which already includes IBM, SAP and Cisco. With the deal, Accenture hopes to leverage Apple’s iOS expertise to help businesses create better digital experiences for their customers. Meanwhile, Apple hopes Accenture’s expertise will help companies digest their legacy business data and shake up outdated workflows. For example, projects could include connecting machines in an assembly line to monitor their performance via iPhone or iPad, or using ARKit to build apps that can walk technicians through the repair process. The partnership will initially begin in San Francisco with plans for global expansion.