The Week in Mobile: July 3-8, 2016


iOS 10 Beta 2 lands, Pokemon GO tops the App Store, Google expands image recognition, RIP Blackberry Classic, 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.

Pokemon GO Goes Live

After a beta release back in May, Nintendo’s eagerly awaited AR game is now available on iOS and Andriod. Using a smartphone camera and GPS, Pokemon Go takes the catchable characters beyond the screen, making Pikachu and Charizard accessible everywhere the user goes, from work to the gym and beyond. The app quickly shot to the top of the App Store charts, with players making lots of in-app purchases as well. There’s also talk of a wearable in the works that will complement the game. The device will cost $35 and is expected to be available later this month.

Separately, during the game maker’s annual shareholder meeting, it was revealed that its own “smart device” controllers may eventually be on the market for tablets, phones and TV boxes. While the news hasn’t been confirmed, the move could bring more control to users’ action gaming experiences.

Developers Get Access to iOS 10 Beta 2

For registered iOS developers, the second beta of iOS 10 with a host of new updates is now available to download. The first beta version came out in June during WWDC. For the average Apple user looking to play around with new features, it’ll be awhile before the release of the latest iOS version, which is expected in the fall. When it does arrive, iOS 10 will bring with it several new features—among them, a new look for the lock screen and for popular apps like News and Music; an updated way to interact with widgets on the home screen; and the addition of an iMessage app store, which will let app usage happen without leaving the chat screen.

Google Makes Image-Recognition Moves

Moonstocks, a French company whose image recognition work is more than two years in the making, was acquired by Google last week. While the specific uses for the technology haven’t been revealed yet, speculation is that Moonstocks could aid the company’s AI work and improve the experience of the Google Now assistant. This approach to image recognition may sound familiar to “Firefly,” a feature of the Amazon Fire phone that debuted in 2014 to identify everything from food to TV episodes. As for those who are currently subscribing to Moonstocks, which got its start as technology for recognizing images on a user’s device screen, the tool will be available to them until their subscription expires.

Android Malware Attack

A Beijing company called Yingmob that specializes in otherwise legitimate advertising analytics is the culprit behind a malware attack on 10+ million Android users. The malware named HummingBad was first identified by Check Point and detailed on the cybersecurity company’s blog. From there, the infected device count grew. Both Check Point and Google, which has been blocking users from adding apps with the malicious software to their devices, have both been monitoring the threat. HummingBad is most prominent in China and India, followed by Turkey, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Saving Snapchats

The company known for its gone-in-a-flash photo-sharing app has taken steps to make its “Stories” a lot more permanent. The upcoming feature is called Memories and will allow users to turn saved single-photo and video snaps into multi-photo and video Stories that go beyond the currently allotted 24-hour availability. For those worried about privacy, the company has an answer: the update will come with the option to mark any snap as private, keeping those from being saved to Memories.

“Now on Tap” Adds Text Translation, Discovery and Visual Search

The context-aware, in-app search tool from Google just got a lot more helpful. “Now On Tap” lets users hold down their home button to pull up additional details about whatever happens to be on their device’s screen. The company has now added translation functionality for websites, apps and PDFs in seven languages, including English, French, Italian and Spanish. Two other features also just arrived: a “Discovery” tool aimed at offering users additional content related to what they’re viewing, and visual search, which pulls up information on everything from in-store barcodes to popular landmarks.

Facebook Video Goes Offline in India

In an effort to amp up its video offerings, the latest move from Facebook is a pilot program in India that allows users to download videos to view when Internet access is scarce. With 130 million of India’s 1.25 billion residents on Facebook, the move represents another step in Zuckerberg’s efforts to increase usage throughout the country. It’s also an effort to level the playing field with the likes of YouTube, which already provides offline video viewing in the country.

Bye Bye Blackberry Classic

It’s the end of an era. The Blackberry Classic, which debuted back in 2014, will no longer be made. The BlackBerry 10-based keyboard phone didn’t bring in the fans the company had hoped for, and the company instead has pivoted to offer an Android-powered phone called The Priv, complete with that familiar physical keyboard. Three additional Android Blackberries could also be released this year and next. Blackberry’s announcement comes the same week that the US Senate finally dumped the devices.