The Week in Mobile: July 15-20, 2018

App Store revenue nearly double that of Google Play, EU hits Google with record antitrust fine over Android, Nerf upgrades to augmented reality 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 — all to inspire you and your company to take advantage of the many benefits mobile can offer.

Apple Generated Nearly Double the App Revenue as Google in First Half of 2018

When it comes to app revenue, Apple continues to have the upper hand over the competition. According to a new report, the App Store nearly doubled the revenue of the Google Play Store in the first half of this year, and did so with about half the total downloads. That amounts to $22.6 billion in worldwide gross app revenue for the App Store versus $11.8 billion for Google Play. Apple outpacing Google this way is nothing new, but the figures do indicate that total consumer spend on apps is up this year.

The mid-year mobile reports aren’t all roses for Apple though, as the company reportedly sold fewer than one million iPhones in India so far this year. Historically, Apple has had trouble moving devices in India, but these figures are particularly bleak for a country with the third largest market in the world for smartphones. Apple has made an aggressive push there with new manufacturing sites for the iPhone 6S and SE to avoid high import tariffs, and despite poor sales, the company said its revenue from India continues to grow.

European Union Slaps Google With Record Fine for Android Antitrust Violations

European authorities fined Google a record $5.1 billion this week for breaking antitrust laws. Regulators claim that Google abused the dominance of its Android mobile OS in three distinct ways. These violations include: bundling its search engine and Chrome apps into the operating system, blocking phone makers from selling devices with forked versions of Android and making payments to large manufacturers and mobile network operators, so they exclusively bundle Google Search apps on their devices. The EU claims these practices used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of Google Search. Google now has 90 days to end the practices in the EU, although the company has stated it will appeal the decision.

Samsung Foldable Smartphone

At last, the foldable smartphone screen might be just on the horizon. According to a new report, Samsung is said to be working on a foldable device that could be introduced as early as next year. The smartphone is said to sport a bendable 7-inch screen that folds up like a wallet, and feature a second display on the outside for when the device is “closed.” The report claims the phone could cost a whopping $1,500, and will be targeted toward hardcore tech enthusiasts, like gamers.

Apple Launches Third iOS 12 Public Beta

Apple has now made the third version of its iOS 12 beta to the public. This means that anyone (not just those in the registered developer program) can now get their hands on a development build of Apple’s next mobile OS. The main focus of iOS 12 is all about performance improvement, and older devices in particular will see speedier reactions when launching apps, bringing-up the camera and entering text. Other features include new ways for users to manage the time spent on apps, as well as new developer tools with ARKit 2.0 and options for Siri.

Uber Rolls Out New Tools to Better Connect Drivers and Passengers

Uber is launching a swathe of new features designed to make it easier to hail a ride. Crowded or nighttime situations can make it difficult for both drivers and passengers to identify each other. To solve the problem, Uber is introducing Spotlight. This new tool sends a specific color (such as yellow or pink) to a rider’s screen, so people can hold their device up to signal their driver. Uber has also introduced new and pre-canned messaging options so users can quickly update their driver on their status. Finally, the company is testing a new project called Shadow Maps in dozens of U.S. cities to improve issues around GPS accuracy. The Spotlight update is now available for users everywhere.

Nerf Leverages Mobile AR for New Laser Tag Kit

Nerf has upgraded its classic game with some new augmented reality tech. The company has launched a new lineup of toys called Nerf Laser Ops Pro, which enhances laser tag at home by allowing participants to connect their smartphones to the game. Once connected via Bluetooth, the device acts as a game hub to help players track down their enemies, acquire power-ups and record their in-game stats. There is even a single-player mode that attaches the user’s smartphone to the gun for an immersive target shooting experience. Nerf Laser Ops Pro is just another example of how AR experiences continue to grow in popularity, and is now available in stores.