The Week in Mobile: January 8-14, 2017


The iPhone turns 10, Android Wear 2.0 to arrive next month, Google’s Tango powers AR museum exploration 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.

Apple iPhone Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Last week, Apple’s iPhone celebrated its 10th birthday. While day-of celebrations by Apple were a modest remembrance of what it took to bring the first iPhone to fruition, it has been hinted that the next iteration will come with a few surprises. Rumors (still) suggest that the iPhone 8 will bring a significant redesign, with the potential for curved edges and the removal of the home button. Of course, Apple won’t confirm or deny these rumors. We’ll have to wait until the device releases later this year to find out.

Meanwhile, Apple is also rumored to be working with optics company Carl Zeiss on AR glasses. It remains unclear what the glasses are intended for or when we might see a formal announcement made.

Android Wear 2.0 to Arrive Next Month

The second iteration of Google’s smartwatch OS is set to launch in early February. Android Wear 2.0 will feature access to the Google Play store, so users can install apps right from their watchface. What’s more, the updated OS will come with Android Play, a full QWERTY keyboard, one-touch smart replies for responding to incoming text messages and more. It’s also possible that Wear 2.0 will come with support for Google Assistant.

Tango Powers AR Museum Exploration

Google is partnering with museums around the world to offer a richer, more immersive experience for visitors. Leveraging Google’s AR platform, Tango, museums are able to give visitors a deeper dive into exhibits. For example, a visitor could peek beneath a mummy’s bandages using AR or further explore the limestone reliefs from Mesopotamia. The program is kicking off at the Detroit Institute of Arts, where museum guests will be able to explore exhibits more fully using a Tango-enabled Lenovo Phab 2 Pro.

WeChat Launches “Mini Programs”

Last week, WeChat launched Mini Programs, a new feature that allows users to access app-like experiences without downloading or installing the corresponding app. The feature is similar to Google’s Instant Apps, which was introduced at Google’s I/O conference, but has yet to be released. It appears that WeChat has beat Google to the punch. For now, WeChat’s “Mini Programs” include a photo editing app, a productivity app, a flight search app and a recipe app. That means WeChat users can click a link to access in-app content from any of these supporting apps, without making a trip to the app store.

Wells Fargo to Roll Out Cardless ATMs

In another move supporting the digital wallet trend, Wells Fargo is rolling out cardless ATMs, replacing the old system with an eight-digit access code that users can request through the Wells Fargo mobile app. Wells Fargo says it will update all of its 13,000 ATMs by this spring, so that customers can access their accounts using just their smartphone access code and regular pin number. Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase have introduced similar features, but have yet to roll their programs out nationwide.

Walmart Testing New Scan and Go App

Walmart is testing a new app for Android, called Scan & Go, that could help shoppers avoid long checkout lines. Scan & Go allows users to scan the barcode of each product they add to their shopping cart as they navigate through the store. When done shopping, users can pay their bill through the app and show greeters the receipt as they exit the store. While the solution might not be as high tech as the Amazon Go store, it does hope to speed up your shopping trip. For now, Scan & Go is only available in one location. However, the app will likely roll out to additional locations in the coming months.

Uber Adds Calendar Integration

Uber is streamlining the riding experience with a new update that allows users to sync their calendar with Uber’s app. In granting Uber access to your personal calendar, the app is able to automatically populate with locations or people that you are scheduled to see. That means users won’t have to fumble around for addresses, and can quickly hail a ride to their next meeting location. The feature was originally introduced in November 2016, but is now available to users nationwide.