The Week in Mobile: July 30 – August 5, 2017

Apple accidentally confirms new iPhone design, Google’s Nearby Connections API available, Lyft teams up with Amtrak 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.

iPhone Leak Confirms Long Rumored Features

Last week, Apple spilled the beans about the upcoming iPhone by what appears to be an accident. It seems the company inadvertently pushed out details about the new iPhone 8 through a firmware release for the HomePod, the company’s upcoming smart speaker also set to debut later this year. Developers noticed iPhone references, and dug through the code for hints to the new iPhone’s design and features. According to the leak, the new smartphone will ditch a physical home button in favor of a digital one that appears on the screen. Although, they did not find any evidence the iPhone would employ a fingerprint sensor under the display as has been rumored. Developers also claim that the device will boast a nearly all-screen design and vastly improved resolution, alongside new facial recognition and detection, and a tap to wake feature.

Google Announces General Availability of Nearby Connections API

Google’s Nearby Connections technology is now available to all Android developers. That means third party developers can build offline capabilities such as media sharing and gaming directly into their apps. The technology utilizes a combination of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE and Classic Bluetooth to create connections between nearby devices. Google first revealed Nearby Connections in 2015 as a way to transform user’s smartphones for second screen experiences in conjunction with smart TV apps. However, at its I/O developer conference earlier this year, the company announced that the API would be getting a revamp to allow it to sync with more devices in new ways. Eventually, Google says Nearby Connections will be able to connect with other home technologies to start playing ambient music or adjust the temperature of a room when you walk in. The API functions in all Android devices running Google Play service 11.0 and higher.

Lyft Partners with Amtrak to Help Train Passengers Book a Ride To & From Home

Lyft announced a new partnership with Amtrak that will make it easier for passengers to hail a ride to and from train stations. The integration will feature the ability to order a Lyft car through Amtrak’s mobile app. Ride-hailing services like Lyft (and rival Uber) have been focused on finding new ways to help travelers and commuters navigate to and from public transportation hubs after pushing for access at airports. The new deal with Amtrak is Lyft’s third major partnership announcement over the last couple weeks, as the company revealed integrations with major brands Disney and Taco Bell last month. To sweeten the pot on its Amtrak integration, Lyft is offering a $5 off credit for new users for their first four rides.

Google Tests New Ad Blocker in Preview Version of Chrome App

Google has debuted a new, built-in ad blocker in a pre-release version of the Chrome app. This special build of the mobile browser is called Canary, and is used to test features before they make their way to the actual Chrome app. The latest version of Chrome Canary contains a new setting in the menu that gives users the ability to block ads that Google considers intrusive. The tech giant is said to be in talks with admakers about what exactly falls under that definition, but is expected to include pop-up, autoplay and prestitial ads (the latter are those that show up in front of intended content). The ad blocker is available to the public through the Chrome Canary download and is expected to launch on the consumer Chrome app sometime next year.

Google Adopts “Made for India” Initiative to Support Local App Developers

Google announced a “Made for India” initiative designed to promote apps that are optimized for the Indian market in the Google Play Store. The announcement was made at the first ever Google Play App Excellence Summit in India, which brought together over 700 Indian app and game developers. The company is looking to reward those that are building high quality apps specifically for an Indian audience by making those apps easier to discover on the Google Play Store. Apps that qualify will be showcased in a special section of the Play Store. The move makes sense for Google, as more than one billion Google Play apps are installed by people in India each month. To make the “Made for India” section of Google Play, developers need to demonstrate certain characteristics, including innovation, reduction of data and battery drain and optimizations for Internet connectivity.