The Week in Mobile: February 21-27, 2016


Next-gen phones, accessories announced at MWC, Apple shipped estimated 11.6M watches in 2015, MasterCard rolls out selfie authentication 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.

Next-Gen Smartphones and Connected Devices Take Center Stage at Mobile World Congress

Last week, mobile innovators from around the globe gathered in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress 2016 to show off their new toys. As with previous years, a number of big name companies—including Sony, HTC and Samsung—announced new smartphone generations. But, perhaps most exciting this year, were the myriad announcements of IoT and connected devices. In case you missed it, here’s a roundup of some of the biggest announcements made at MWC this year:

  • Sony Unveils Xperia X-series Smartphones and Smart Accessories—Sony’s announced its next generation of Xperia smartphones, which will feature vastly improved battery life thanks to a new partnership with Qnovo technology. Additionally, Sony introduced several connected accessories, including the Xperia Ear (a bluetooth enable earpiece assistant), the Xperia Eye (a 360 degree camera), the Xperia Projector (a touch-enabled projected display) and the Xperia Agent (a voice- and gesture- enabled assistant similar to the Amazon Echo).
  • LG Introduces G5 Phone, 360-Degree Camera, VR Headset and Rolling Bot—LG unveiled its G5 phone, which features a modular design with plug-and-play attachments and two cameras for a 135-degree ultra wide shot. The company also announced a 360-degree camera accessory, a standalone VR headset and a Rolling Bot, which rolls around on two wheels and takes commands via wifi and bluetooth.
  • Samsung Officially Announces Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge Smartphones—Samsung announced the upcoming release of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, which features a similar design to its predecessor, but comes with improved internal systems.

Samsung Demonstrates VR Headset During MWC Press Event

Virtual reality also garnered a great deal of attention at this year’s Mobile World Congress. During Samsung’s Unpacked press conference, the company demonstrated the power of its VR headset by introducing the new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge in virtual reality. Five thousand audience members strapped on VR goggles and watched a virtual unboxing of the new devices. In conjunction with Samsung’s demonstration, Facebook announced a new “social VR” team, responsible for digging into VR’s potential beyond games.

What’s more, news leaked that HTC’s VR device, Vive, will be available for consumer purchase in April for $799. Meanwhile, Sony announced a special press event in March, featuring demos of the PlayStation VR.

Apple Ships an Estimated 11.6 Million Apple Watches in 2015

According to IDC, Apple shipped 11.6 million Apple Watches within its first nine months on the market. That means Apple now accounts for 14.9 percent of wearable marketshare, putting the company in third place behind Xiaomi (15.4 percent marketshare) and Fitbit (26.9 percent marketshare). Although Apple has quickly claimed its space in the category, the company is far behind market leader Fitbit, which reportedly made 21 million shipments in 2015. To put things into perspective, a total of 78.1 million wearable devices were shipped worldwide in 2015—that’s a 172 percent increase from 2014.

With the significant uptick in shipments, smartwatches have finally begun to outpace their classic counterpart. Notably, Q4 of 2015 marks the first time that smartwatch shipments surpassed Swiss watch shipments.

MasterCard to Rollout Selfie Payment Authentication

Over the next 12 months, MasterCard plans to rollout facial payment authentication to its mobile app users. In other words, you’ll soon be able to authorize payments by taking a selfie within the MasterCard app. The company began testing the “selfie pay” technology about a year ago and is finally ready to open it up to a larger audience. Next on the horizon? MasterCard says it’s testing heartbeat authentication in which a sensor reads a user’s electrical signals in order to confirm identity.

Google Promotes AMP Websites in Mobile Search Results

Following the release of Google’s Accelerated Mobile Page project, the company will now highlight AMP websites in mobile search results. Similar to Facebook’s Instant Articles, AMP-enable web pages load almost instantaneously. That’s a major improvement over the typical lag time associated with mobile web browsing. Google’s decision to highlight AMP pages in mobile searches should come as no surprise. The company has been committed to making the mobile web a viable search engine for some time now. The move echoes previous decisions to restructure Google’s mobile search engine so that mobile friendly websites rank higher in results.


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