The Week in Mobile: August 5-10, 2018

Android Pie is now served, iOS 12 beta confirms iPhone X ‘Plus’ rumors, Fortnite for Android to skip Google Play Store 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.

Look-out Apple (Pie): Android Pie has Officially Arrived

The days of an unnamed, unreleased ninth installment of Android are now behind us, as Google officially unveiled Android Pie this week. From a fresh look to gesture navigation, artificial intelligence upgrades, and digital wellbeing tools (in beta) — Android Pie is chock full of updates.

There are also some under-the-radar features receiving praise, such as adaptive battery management and adaptive screen brightness. The new battery options help users prolong duration by learning which apps are used most often, and then limiting background use from the rest. Meanwhile, new screen brightness features learn your preferences in different lighting scenarios to automatically adjust to new settings.

The latest version of Android is now available to download for Google’s Pixel devices, and will roll-out next to those who took part in the Android Beta program. Other device owners will need to wait until their manufacturers launch it, which should happen before the end of the year.

As Apple Ramps Up iOS 12 Public Beta Test Releases, Source Code Reveals iPhone Leaks

Summer is winding down, which means Apple is back to releasing weekly Public Beta builds for its upcoming version of iOS. The biggest news from this week’s iOS 12 Public Beta 5 is the leaked existence of an iPhone X ‘Plus’ model. Rumors of a plus-sized flagship device have been swirling for a while now, and new larger icons within the iOS 12 code confirm that we’ll see it released this year. Apple has said that iOS 12 will focus on performance updates, especially in older devices. However, there are still lots of new goodies in the way of ARKit 2.0, new photo-sharing options, additional Siri integrations, and various updates to the Apple ecosystem of apps. iOS 12 is expected to officially launch sometime in September.

‘Fortnite’ for Android Will Bypass the Google Play Store

The most popular game in the world will not be available for download from the Google Play Store. Epic, the developers of Fortnite: Battle Royal, have confirmed that they’re making an independent installer for the free-to-play game on Android. Unlike Apple (which already has a Fortnite app), Google has a method for installing third-party apps directly. This is commonly referred to as “side-loading.” That process isn’t overtly complex and will likely be made smoother by the studio’s proprietary installer.

Epic said it will forego Google Play due to the 30% transaction fee the company incurs from in-app purchases and the like. The move could have major implications for Android, as other developers could view Epic’s decision as a rallying cry to undercut Google Play and keep that money for themselves. Some in the industry are calling the coup a greedy move — claiming that it opens up users to all kinds of security risks — including people accidentally downloading fake or malicious Fortnite apps. The first to get their hands on Fortnite for Android will be Samsung Galaxy owners, as Samsung teased the game on the new Galaxy Note 9 (now available for pre-order) this week.

Facebook Releases its First Augmented Reality Games for Messenger

Facebook took yet another page out of Snapchat’s playbook this week, introducing its first augmented reality video chat games for Messenger. The company launched two new games called Don’t Smile and Asteroids Attacks, which can be played with up to six people. Don’t Smile is virtual take on a staring contest, using AR to transform the face of the first person to grin into a goofy smile. Meanwhile, Asteroids Attack sees users control a tiny ship with their face in order to dodge rocks and acquire laser beam power-ups. Facebook built the games using its proprietary AR Studio tool launched last year, and plans to release additional games called Beach Bump and Kitten Craze later this year.

Apple Pay Cash Secures Top Spot on Consumer Reports’ First Payment Service Test

Not all peer-to-peer mobile payment services are built equal. Consumer Reports conducted its first head-to-head test of payments services, and determined that Apple Pay Cash was its favorite option. The report touts Apple’s privacy policies and security features — which places limitations on the info it gathers from users and their payments — as the reason for its top ranking. Apple provides notifications to confirm every payment (so you don’t send money to someone by mistake), which was also billed as a highly important feature. Venmo, Square Cash and Facebook Messenger scored mostly average, with Zelle being the only major service tested to score low (due in part to unclear data policies). Consumer Reports noted that it did not have the opportunity to test the newly released Google Pay service before publishing their results.

SnapChat Update Leaked Some iOS App Source Code

Snap’s shrinking user growth isn’t the only setback the company has faced recently. The company confirmed this week that a May update for the iOS version of Snapchat revealed some of the app’s source code, which was then posted to GitHub for a short time. Snap was ultimately able to get the material removed, but not before some people had the opportunity to copy the repository. The company claims the leak did not compromise the app, but it could still lead to security vulnerabilities down the road. This is yet another reminder to be super careful when pushing out app updates.