The Week in Mobile: February 4-10, 2018

iPad dominates the tablet market, AR-enabled news stories are now upon us, Samsung teases Lilac Purple Galaxy S9 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.

The iPad Outsold Samsung and Amazon Tablets Combined in 2017

The iPad’s grip over the tablet market continued last year, as Apple sold more tablets than competitors Samsung and Amazon combined. According to a new report, Apple moved 43.8 million iPads as the company achieved a staggering 26.8 percent share of the tablet market in 2017. That means that one out of every four tablets sold last year was an iPad. By comparison, Samsung shipped 24.9 million tablets, while Amazon sold 16.7 million devices. Apple’s red hot pace is unlikely to slow down this year, as the company is expected to launch a new iPad Pro with features mirroring that of last year’s iPhone X release. The new device is said to feature a nearly bezel-less design, Apple’s patented Face ID tech and the removal of the physical home button. It is unclear when Apple plans to officially reveal its new lineup of tablets, but if tradition holds, it will likely be at the company’s annual WWDC event in June.

The New York Times Unveils its First Augmented Reality News Story

The future of mobile news is upon us, as last week the New York Times debuted its first ever augmented reality-enabled article on iOS. The story featured top athletes from the upcoming Winter Olympics, and allows the user to “place” them in the room to view their technique from every angle. The experience allows readers to get up-close and personal with the Olympians, while learning facts about their performance and form. While this was a first for the world’s most popular newspaper, The New York Times says it’s currently planning out its AR editorial calendar to bring more virtual experiences to readers. In order to view this one, users will need the latest version of the NYT iOS app, the latest version of iOS 11, and an iPhone SE, iPhone 6S (or newer), or a fifth-generation iPad or newer.

Leaked Photos Show Samsung’s Galaxy S9 in Stunning Lilac Purple

Rose gold is so 2015. New leaked photos of the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus show off what might be the next big smartphone color trend: Lilac Purple. Aside from the bold new color, the photos also provide our first glimpse at the smartphone’s redesigned fingerprint sensor. Last year’s Galaxy model saw the fingerprint sensor placed in an awkward spot on the back of the phone, which many users found clumsy and unintuitive. The new fingerprint sensor appears to be located directly below the camera, of which the Plus version of the phone appears to have two.

Samsung has been working hard across devices to improve its camera experience, also announcing last week new image sensors and software that will bring portrait mode to cheaper smartphones. The tech that creates the blurry backdrop for mobile portraits (commonly referred to as the “bokeh” effect) has long been reserved for flagship devices, but soon Samsung said mid-tier and even some entry-level smartphones may have this capability. Samsung is officially set to unveil its next lineup of Galaxy devices at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 25th.

Nearly Two-Years-Old, Nougat is The Most Used Version of Android

While Google may have moved on to the latest version of Android called Oreo, the rest of the world is still playing catch-up. According to an update from the company, Nougat is the most used version of Android at the moment, with 28.5 percent of devices running the software that was released in 2016. The second most used version of Android is 2015’s Marshmallow, which sits at 28.1 percent usage. The latest version,  Oreo, has a disappointing 1.1 percent adoption and is only the sixth most popular version available to users. The news highlights a major problem for Google when it comes to its users having access to the latest version of its mobile OS. By comparison, nearly two-thirds of iPhone users are now running Apple’s latest software: iOS 11.

Google Aims to Make Third-Party App Photos Better with Pixel Visual Core

Google is now bringing the powerful software that allows for stunning photos on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL camera to apps like Snapchat, Whatsapp and Instagram. The company’s Pixel Visual Core processor and HDR+ technology located in the camera app allow users of the two smartphones to take high quality photos even in extremely poor light. It leverages machine learning and computational photography to make photos more picturesque. And now, Google has provided an update that will bring HDR+ processing to third-party apps, meaning your Snaps and Instagram posts on Pixel smartphones will also now benefit from this feature. The update enabling Pixel Visual Core for third-party apps is now available.

You Can Now Have Chef Gordon Ramsay Insult Your Cooking with a new Amazon Skill

Think you’ve got the culinary prowess to take on famous chef Gordon Ramsay’s most bombastic critiques? Well now you can (sort-of) with a new skill for Amazon Alexa. Have your your kitchen talents critiqued by saying, “Alexa, ask Gordon Ramsay what he thinks about my food.” The virtual assistant will then bring in Gordon Ramsay to lay waste to your culinary dreams with one of his famous profanity-laced tirades (randomly chosen). You can even let the skill know what you cooked, although it doesn’t appear to have critiques for specific foods yet. For the faint-of-heart, Chef Ramsay won’t always insult you, and will sprinkle in some compliments every now then. There also appear to be Easter Egg phrases hidden within to correlate with holidays. If you think you’re up to the challenge, the Chef Ramsay skill is now available for all Alexa-enabled devices.