The Week in Mobile: December 9-14, 2018

Chinese court bans sales of older iPhones, Google adds long-awaited iOS app features, Snapchat and Adidas drop augmented reality shoes & more

Each week we round up the top news stories, think pieces and other content about 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.

Apple and Qualcomm Go to War Over iPhone Patents in China

The battle between Apple and Qualcomm is getting nasty after a Chinese court granted a preliminary injunction banning sales of older iPhone models for patent violations. According to a new report, Qualcomm has now asked the courts in China to issue injunctions banning sales of Apple’s newest lineup of iPhones. For its part, Apple has ignored calls to cease iPhone sales, claiming the ban only applies to devices running iOS 11 and earlier (new iPhones run iOS 12).

These developments have all the makings of a prolonged legal battle between the former partners. Apple ditched Qualcomm’s modem chips in favor of Intel this past year, and now the company is looking into producing its own cellular modems in-house. The latest aggressions from Qualcomm have been seen as a more to add pressure to Apple and push them toward settlement talks.

Google Brings Lens and Personalized Maps Suggestions to iOS Users

This week, Google rolled out several long-awaited features for iPhone users. First, the search giant introduced a more personalized Google Maps with new features to designed to help users learn what’s happening around them. TechCrunch explains these appear under the “For You” tab within the iOS app and provide suggestions for local events and promotions, places to visit and dining recommendations, among others. The new features are launching on iOS across 40+ countries and an additional 130 countries on Android.

Next up, Google has now also added Lens to its iOS search app. This means those with an iPhone will no longer need to open the Google Photos app to utilize the artificial intelligence-based feature. Engadget reports that iOS user can simply tap the lens icon in the Google search bar to open their device camera to identify nearby objects using Lens.

Users Can Try on Adidas Sneakers in Augmented Reality With Snapchat Lens

Ever wanted to see what online shoes look like on your feet before buying? Now you can. Adidas is teaming up with Snapchat to offer an augmented reality-powered preview of its latest Ultraboost running shoes. Sneaker aficionados can skip the lines and use Snapchat lens to get a glimpse of how the shoes look on them before they become available on December 15.

Engadget’s AJ Dellinger (@ajdell) writes: “To see how your feet look clad in the kicks, fire up Snapchat and browse the lenses until you see the Adidas logo. You’ll get to watch a brief unboxing before being presented with the option to learn more about the shoes or try them on.”

Instagram Introduces Walkie-Talkie-Style Voice Messages

Instagram has now launched its own voice messaging feature. This allows users to record short walkie-talkie-style messages that appear in the feed as an audio waveform. These voice recordings can be up one-minute long and do not automatically disappear after being heard.

TechCrunch’s Josh Constine (@joshconstine) writes: “Hands-free Direct messaging could make Instagram a more appealing chat app for drivers, people on the move with their hands full or users in the developing world who want a more intimate connection without having to pay for the data for long audio or video calls.”
Facebook has taken a more serious interest in the voice market in recent years, including its recently launched Aloha voice controls system and Portal video chat screen. Instagram’s new foray into voice chat could open the door for a potential integration with those platforms in the future.

China Introduces Video Game Ethics Committee to Combat Addiction

As mobile games continue to grow in popularity, China has formed a video game ethics committee to curb issues such as addiction. The country’s Online Game Ethics Committee screens games to make sure they are “healthy and beneficial” and also address “social concerns” around inappropriate content and addiction.
That body has now frozen approvals for new games. While they have already looked at 20 titles, the committee rejected nearly half of those and demanded major changes be made to others.

Engadget’s Jon Fingas (@jonfingas) writes the pause may extend through February: “Developers were already waiting months for approvals before the freeze — soon, they’ll have another oversight body potentially dictating the content of their games.”

Large Majority of Americans Use Their Mobile Device While Watching TV

New research shows that nearly three-quarters of Americans use their mobile device regularly while watching TV. According to Nielsen, 45% of U.S. adults say they use a second screen “very often” or “always” while viewing shows or movies. Meanwhile, only 12% report that they “never” use another device. While it appears that our crippling smartphone addiction is worsening, there could be other reasons for the second screen.

TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez (@sarahintampa) writes: “Sometimes, people may want to actively engage with other fans or participate in an online conversation if they’re watching a TV program or other event live.”

That could mean taking to social media to showcase their support for their favorite sports team or reacting to a plot twist during their favorite show. With these findings, it is clear there is a huge mobile development opportunity when it comes to second screen experiences.