The Week in Mobile: July 23-29, 2017

New developer previews for iOS 11 and Android O, GM fast tracks in-car app development, devs show off Apple’s ARKit functionality 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.

New Developer Previews for iOS 11 and Android O

Apple has released yet another developer preview for its new operating system coming later this year. iOS 11 developer beta 4 comes with another batch of new features including some additional options for opening app notifications from the lock screen with Touch ID authentication, as well as some redesigned icons and splashscreen pages for apps like Notes, Contacts and Photos. There are also some aesthetic changes with a bolder WiFi status bar and pull-to-refresh function for updating apps in the App Store.

Last week, Google also released its final developer preview for Android O. As a release candidate build, the version is lite on new features, but there were a couple new updates including notification channels, picture-in-picture video playback and an enhanced settings menu. Google says we can expect to see Android O later this summer.

New Navigation Experience Possible with Apple’s ARKit

Since it was announced at WWDC, ARKit has been one of the most highly anticipated features coming with the release of Apple’s new operating system. ARKit won’t be available until iOS 11 drops later this year, but that hasn’t stopped developers from showcasing some creative new use cases for it. For example, last week an iOS developer shared a video showing how ARKit can work with CoreLocation—another iOS tool that can determine your device’s geographic location—to change the way we navigate maps. The new feature lets you drop any location into the search bar, then opens your camera to provide guided arrows that lead you to your destination. Users can also look around with their camera to reveal major landmarks or locations in the area.

General Motors Fast-Tracks In-Car App Testing With New Developer Kit

General Motors is streamlining the process for building car apps with a new software development kit and testing program. Developers can now get their hands on an infotainment SDK and testing app called GM Dev Client. This unique kit makes it possible for developers to test apps in their cars during real world situations. Here’s how it works: once an app has been built and approved, GM will provide access to the testing client, where developers can provide the necessary vehicle information to download the app to their car’s dashboard. Once downloaded, developers can use the app and make updates to the code in real-time using a laptop. The Dev Client is available now, with GM announcing templates for programs such as media player or location services to come later this year.

Number of Daydream Compatible Phones to Double by End of Year

Google has promised that the number of smartphones on the market supporting Daydream VR will increase from 5 to 11 by the end of the year. Daydream VR is the company’s software platform that couples with the Daydream View headset to transform the user’s smartphone into a standalone virtual reality system. The user simply slots their phone within the headset to serve as the viewfinder for experiences and games. The end result is a setup that is more portable than industry rivals like Samsung’s Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive, which need to be tethered to a desktop.

Facebook Reportedly Working on Touch Screen-Enabled Smart Speaker

Facebook may soon have a rival to the Amazon Echo Show. The company is rumored to be working on its own 15-inch smart speaker with a touch screen. Sources say that the new device is being manufactured by a Chinese iPhone maker and will be equipped with an LG in-cell touch screen display alongside an magnesium-aluminum-alloy chassis. While there were no concrete details about how the speaker might work, it’s likely to integrate Facebook’s popular news feed and messaging service for use across the home. The device is reportedly already in pilot production with an anticipated release early next year.

Netflix Leads Mobile App Revenue Across Platforms

Netflix bested Wall Street’s new user predictions by more than two million subscribers last quarter, thanks in part to a surge of sign-ups on mobile. According to a new report, the streaming service’s revenue from the Apple Store and Google Play was higher than any other mobile app in Q2. Small screens aren’t dissuading users from signing-up and watching Netflix on their smartphones or tablets. Americans spent nearly 7.5 billion minutes watching Netflix on their mobile device last month, as more and more users begin watching videos on-the-go. Netflix began offering subscriptions through Apple Store and Google Play in 2015, and has finished in the top 2 for app store revenue for the last three quarters.

Whatsapp Surpasses One Billion Daily Active Users

Whatsapp now has more than one billion daily active users. According to Facebook, users of the popular messaging app are sending more than 55 billion messages, 4.5 billion photos and one billion videos per day. The impressive growth has been spurred in part by Whatsapp Status, the app’s take on Snapchat stories, which now boasts more than 250 million daily active users (by comparison, Snapchat only has 166 million users total). With Whatsapp, Facebook is beating Snapchat to the punch at selling a “stories” feature to overseas and emerging markets.