The Week in Mobile: July 22-27, 2018

World Cup scores record downloads, the final preview version of Android P, Nick taps augmented reality for ‘second screen’ experience 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.

World Cup Scores Record App Downloads and Consumer Spend in Q2

Mobile app downloads and revenue continue to break records, and the second quarter of 2018 was no exception. According to a new report, this year’s FIFA World Cup helped to cultivate some of the largest year-over-year app growth in recent memory. Last quarter, there were over 28.4 billion new app downloads worldwide across iOS and Google Play, up 15 percent year-over-year. Consumer spend grew as well, reaching $18.5 billion for 20 percent year-over-year growth: the most money spent in apps ever in a quarter. The report shows that with an assist from the World Cup, sports apps were the largest driver of global iOS downloads.

Google Drops Final Preview Version of Android P Ahead of Release

Google made the final preview version of Android P available before its official release later this summer. The latest version includes “final system behaviors,” which means that new features such as Google’s gesture-based navigation should appear as they will in the formal release (barring any major bugs). The upcoming mobile OS features several functional and visual updates, and coincides with a brand new redesign across major apps like Google Photos, Google Maps and Gmail. The changes showcase a minimalist design with rectangular corners and nearly all-white color palette. There is still no official name for Android P yet, which is set to release sometime next month.

Good News for Mobile Developers: AI Tools Are Coming

Artificial intelligence continues to be a promising trend for mobile. This week, two new announcements promise to make it easier for developers to incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning into their apps. The first, from Boston-based Fritz, is an end-to-end solution for adding machine learning models that can run natively across both iOS and Android devices. The company explains that differing approaches to AI by Apple and Google have left developers with suboptimal tools. Fritz aims to simplify things for developers with a collection of standard, free-to-use models and tutorials.

The second announcement was the release of a new AI benchmark app for Android. ETH Zurich says its new app will help researchers, chipmakers, developers and consumers understand how mobile AI is performing, in order to improve it. AI Benchmark can assess performance on tasks such as image classification, face recognition and photo enhancements. It’s now available for download from Google Play.

New Lineup of iPhones May No Longer ‘Fast Charge’ With Third-Party Cables

There are plenty of reasons for users to be excited about the upcoming lineup of iPhones, but this may not be one of them. According to a new leak, Apple is allegedly set to make fast charging incompatible with all existing third-party chargers by adding ‘USB Type-C Authentication’ (C-AUTH) support to new iPhone specifications. While this new authentication will improve security, it also means that Apple could restrict fast chargers of 18 watts or more down to 5 watts of performance. The report indicates Apple will likely include an 18-watt fast charger for the first-time, but that replacement fast chargers may be pricey.

Another leak predicts that the less expensive 6.1-inch LCD iPhone may be delayed by a month, while the pricier OLED phones will be released per the norm in September. And, in other Apple news, the company added five new companies to its Apple Business Chat platform: Dish, Aramark, Four Seasons, Harry & David and American Express.

Nickelodeon Implements Augmented Reality so Kids Can Interact with Their Favorite Shows

Popular children’s network Nickelodeon upgraded its ’Screens Up’ app with new augmented reality features this week. The updates allow kids to interact with AR content on their mobile device—such as mobile polls, memes and games—while watching their favorite Nick shows. The company has also announced a new virtual reality experience based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot that now airs on the network. Nick isn’t the only television company leveraging mobile AR and VR to capture audience’s attention, but it’s certainly got a leg-up with the latest version of its app.