The Week in Mobile: July 17-23, 2016


New iOS and Android betas, Google working on standalone VR headset, Facebook hones ad targeting for mobile apps 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 Releases iOS 10 Beta 3

Apple’s iOS 10 beta 3 is now available to developers. The release brings updates to the lock screen, Touch ID, Settings, Messages, Apple Music and more. While the adjustments are relatively minor, they improve the overall platform experience by adding refined touches — like the subtle buzz that lets users know their device has been successfully locked. The update also comes with a number of bug fixes.

Additionally, Apple released the third beta for watchOS, tvOS and macOS, bringing a redesigned interface to the Apple Watch, single sign-on to the Apple TV and Siri to the Macbook.

Google Releases Final Android N Developer Preview

Last week, Google released its final Android N developer preview, which offers up final system updates, an emulator for app testing, updated system behaviors and UI and bug fixes. Alongside the fifth and final preview, Google hosted an AMA on Reddit to answer developer questions and concerns. In case you missed it, you can find a roundup of takeaways from the AMA here.

The final release comes just five months after Google released the first Android N developer preview. Since then, the company has launched a new preview each month. Nougat is expected to release to the general public by the end of the summer.

Report Highlights iOS / Android Revenue Gap

According to a recent report from App Annie, iOS developers bring in twice as much money as Android developers. This is despite the fact that Google’s Android has more users, more apps and the Google Play Store saw twice as many app installs in Q2 2016. So what gives? There are a number of factors contributing to Android’s disparity between installs and revenue — piracy, unwillingness to pay for premium apps and an inability to sell apps in China (to name a few).

Facebook Hones Ad Targeting for Mobile Apps

Facebook rolled out a new mobile advertising feature for app developers called App Event Optimization, which allows developers to target users who are not only likely to install an app, but actually use it down the road. Ads are delivered to Facebook users based on their likelihood of performing specific in-app actions – like making a purchase. This allows developers to better target high-value users. To access App Event Optimization, install the Facebook SDK. The feature is also available in Power Editor and through Facebook’s API.

In other news, Facebook announced that Messenger hit one billion users, just five years after its launch. What’s more, Facebook said there are now 18,000 bots running on Messenger with 23,000 developers registered with Bot Engine. That means we can expect to see even more bots on the platform in the near future.

Yahoo Wants in on the Mobile Assistant Game

Last month, Yahoo launched bots for its news, weather and virtual pets services. Shortly thereafter, those bots were made available on Facebook M, along with Yahoo Finance. Now, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer says these releases will lead the company to compete with major personal assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Facebook M. Whether or not Yahoo will develop its own mobile assistant is up for debate, but it’s clear that the company is committed to expanding their bot efforts and pushing forward into the space, which Mayer believes is the key to search innovation.

Google to Reveal Standalone VR Headset

Reports suggest Google is working on a standalone VR headset. Unlike Google Cardboard (which is powered by a mobile device) or headsets like HTC Vive (which is powered by a PC), Google’s rumored solution will have everything it needs to run housed directly within the headset. That means users won’t be tied to a console when they use the device, opening up a new world of possibilities. For starters, a standalone device could advance movement tracking, as the capability wouldn’t be tethered to a specific area when gaming or exploring virtual landscapes.

Meanwhile, Google Glass is being used by Boeing’s technology department to build aircraft wire harnesses. While Glass hasn’t been the major consumer hit that a standalone VR headset would certainly be, the device is being used to improve workflow in manufacturing. In Boeing’s case, Google Glass allows employees to project assembly guides over the work they’re doing, making assembly faster and more accurate.

YouTube Streams National Conventions in VR

This year there’s a new way to watch the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. YouTube is livestreaming the events — which kicked off last week — on mobile, in 360 degrees and in virtual reality. YouTube is using Google’s Jump Cameras to capture 360-degree video footage, viewable in 3D with a Cardboard headset. While YouTube has streamed the National Conventions in previous years, this will be the company’s first time presenting the festivities in VR.