The Week in Mobile: December 11-17, 2016


Google Home gets smarter, Microsoft and Google advance IoT platforms, Uber goes Rogue One 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.

Google Home Gets Smarter

Google is giving third-party developers access to Google Assistant in order to increase the number of tasks the Home device can perform. That means users will soon be able to engage with services created by NBC News, Buzzfeed, Quora and Todoist. For now, only a select set of partners can develop “actions” for Home, but interested developers can start requesting access. What’s more, Google says it will eventually allow devs to integrate with its AI assistant on Allo and Pixel Phones, too.

In other Google news, the company announced updates to Google Drive that allow users to transfer their data from iOS to Android. The new feature could encourage iOS users to try out a new Android device, given it removes a lot of the hassle from the equation.

Google Launches Android Things Platform

In an attempt to make it easier for developers to create IoT devices, Google is launching Android Things. It’s a platform that opens up Android APIs and cloud-based services, so developers can more easily deliver updates and incorporate voice commands for their smart devices. The platform includes access to Brillo, Android’s IoT OS, Android Studio, the Android SDK, Google Play services and Google Cloud. Down the road, the platform may also grant access to Google Assistant, so IoT device developers could include support for Google’s AI assistant.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s assistant, Cortana, could be coming to a fridge (or a thermostat, or a wearable) near you in 2017. The company introduced an IoT Core version of Windows 10, which would bring Cortana to IoT devices with a screen next spring.

Uber Cross-Promotes Disney’s Star Wars Rogue One

Just in time for the premiere of Rogue One, Uber teamed up with Disney on an app update that allows riders to opt in for a Star Wars riding experience. The feature replaces Uber cars with starships in the app’s map screen and unlocks exclusive video content only accessible during the trip. The collaboration is part of a bigger push in which Uber is creating more engaging app experiences for users while they ride.

Nintendo’s Super Mario Run App Now Available on iOS

Nintendo’s much anticipated Super Mario Run app for iOS is finally here. The release marks Nintendo’s first full fledged push into mobile gaming following the launch of social app Miitomo and partially-owned Pokemon Go earlier this year. Expect to see additional mobile games coming from Nintendo down the road as the company shifts its focus away from the Wii console.

Dunkin Donuts Makes Pick-Ups More Convenient

Following Dunkin Donuts’ launch of mobile ordering earlier this year, the company is now testing curbside pickup for an even more convenient customer experience. Dunkin Donuts app users in Natick, Massachusetts can now place a mobile order and select to pick their beverage up curbside. According to the company, it’s an affordable way to bring drive-thru convenience to stores that weren’t built for it. Should the trial-run prove successful, Dunkin Donuts says it will expand to a handful of additional restaurants before rolling the functionality out nationally.

Apple Introduces iOS Support App

Apple’s new iOS support app made its debut in the US App Store. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Apple Support, which was leaked in 2015 and subsequently rolled out in other markets. But, this is the first time US users are able to access the app, which offers information on registered Apple devices, tutorials, guides and answers to common questions. It’s likely that the new support app will replace Apple’s Tips app, which performs a similar function, but has flown under the radar since its release.