The Week in Mobile: January 28-February 3, 2018

Android deletes 700,000 ‘bad’ apps from Play Store, Apple to focus on performance for iOS 12, Google Flights can now predict delays 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 Removed Over 700,000 Harmful Apps From Play Store in 2017

Google’s big push to eliminate malicious apps from the Android Play Store is paying off. The company announced last week that it removed more than 700,000 bad apps last year — a 70% increase from 2016. Google attributed the success to new machine learning models designed to detect abusive apps, which rolled out last year as part of its Google Play Protect initiative. The company claims the technology also allowed them take action against harmful apps more quickly than in previous years. Copycat apps (those which resemble popular user favorites) continue to be a problem, but Google said its system is getting better at detecting those too. Google Play Protect also allows users to manually screen for potentially malicious software via the updates setting. Those efforts have helped the company remove tens of thousands of apps that contained inappropriate content from deceptive developers.

Apple Reportedly Prioritizing Reliability and Performance in iOS 12

In light of recent news around slowing older iPhones, Apple will reportedly focus efforts on improving reliability and performance over new features for the next iteration of its iOS software. According to a new report, the company plans to debut a re-designed home screen, improvements to core apps like Mail and new updates to camera functionality with iOS 12. Apple is said to also be introducing new updates to its ARKit platform and health apps, and still plans to consolidate iOS and Mac apps into a unified format with its next major software release. Apple traditionally releases a new version of iOS every year, and we will likely see the first preview of the new software at its annual WWDC event in June.

Google Flights May Alert Users to Potential Delays Before Airlines

Google Flights’ artificial intelligence can now notify users of potential flight delays before airlines. The company has rolled out new features that allows users to search their flight number, or the route and airline to receive instant updates on their plane’s status. Using a combination of machine learning algorithms and historical flight data, Google will alert travelers if it’s 80% confident there will be a delay. This means you could receive a flight delay update from Google faster than the actual airline you booked with, although it’s a prediction versus an actual confirmation. Either way, the new feature could put weary travelers at peace about making a tight connection, or at least give them a heads up about a likely imminent travel setback. Google Flights now also shares more ticket information such as whether your booking provides overhead space or the ability to choose your seat.

Samsung Dethrones Intel as World’s Largest Chipmaker

Samsung now reigns supreme as the world’s largest chipmaker. Last week, the company unseated Intel’s 25-year run as the world’s biggest seller of chipsets by disclosing $69 billion in grossed total revenue. In comparison, Intel posted a personal record $62.8 billion in revenue, but it obviously wasn’t enough to keep up with Samsung’s blazing pace. The growth highlights Samsung’s focus (and success) around the rapidly expanding mobile chip market. Intel still supplies 90% of the chips used in computers, but is now playing catchup when it comes to the mobile game. For this year, Samsung said it plans to focus chipset efforts on emerging services such as the Cloud, artificial intelligence and automotive opportunities.

Instagram Could Add Live Video Chat to Direct Messages

Instagram may soon be getting a live video option for its Direct Message chat feature. According to a new report, leaked screenshots of an unreleased version of Instagram for iOS show a new video icon located within the direct messages navigation bar. The feature has yet to be confirmed by Instagram, or its parent company Facebook. The purpose of the alleged feature isn’t immediately obvious, as Facebook Messenger already has its own live chat service. However, with the emergence of Instagram as one of the most popular social media apps today, Facebook could boast potential deeper interactions for that highly engaged audience.

Apple Enables Advanced Mobile Location for Emergency Calls with iOS 11.3

After some initial hesitation, Apple will now enable an iPhone feature that automatically shares the user’s location with rescuers when placing an emergency call. The feature utilizes Advanced Mobile Location (AML) to instantly provide responders with the user’s location during an urgent call. The technology can shave off the time it takes emergency services to respond, and help ensure they arrive at the most accurate location possible. Not every country supports the solution yet, but experts say iOS adoption should help speed up that process (Android enabled the feature in 2016). The European Emergency Number Association (EENA) predicts it could save over 7,500 lives and €95 billion over 10 years. The feature does not require any additional downloads or opt-in by the user and will go live officially with Apple’s iOS 11.3 update.