The Week in Mobile: July 31 – August 6, 2016


Apple announces new App Store records, Google expands AMP project, BBC to broadcast select Olympic events in VR 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.

BBC to Broadcast Olympic Events in VR

Just in time for the 2016 Rio Olympics, BBC launched a new app for iOS and Android that supports 360-degree video footage. The app will feature VR video content for the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as select live events. While not every athletic event will be available in 360-degrees, BBC aims to create around 100 hours of fully-immersive footage. To get the full 360-degree experience, users will need a Cardboard headset or Samsung Gear VR.

And, if you don’t have a VR headset, you’ve got lots of other app options to keep up with events and medal counts.

Google Expands its Accelerated Mobile Pages Project

Google is expanding its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project to all mobile search results. That means mobile-friendly, quick-loading AMP pages will be distributed across search results rather than only appearing in the top results carousel. Users will be able to view articles from AMP publishers by clicking on a special blue link in the search results. The expansion is currently only available as a developer preview, but is expected to roll out to the general public later this year.

Devs Have Raked in More than $50 Billion from Apple’s App Store

Amidst the nervous clamour about app sales slowing, July marked Apple’s best month ever for monthly App Store billings and the highest amount ever paid to developers. The company has officially paid out over $50 billion to its developer ecosystem. According to Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, in-app subscriptions played a major role in hitting this milestone and should continue to drive revenue as the App Store puts greater emphasis on subscriptions in the future.

It’s also likely that Pokemon Go has had something to do with last month’s record. According to App Annie, the wildly popular AR game has been installed more than 100 million times. And the app continues to bring in over $10 million in daily revenue.

Microsoft to Roll Out Anniversary Update for Windows 10 Mobile

Microsoft is rolling out its Windows 10 Anniversary update for mobile on August 9th. The release follows shortly after Microsoft delivered similar Anniversary updates for its PCs and tablets. The company’s mobile update brings several new features including a panorama option for the Camera app, an improved lock screen, tweaks to the settings app and beyond.

Elsewhere, Microsoft unveiled five new bots for Skype, bringing the platform a step closer to competing with Facebook Messenger. The new arrivals are from Skyscanner, Hipmunk, StubHub, IFTTT and Spock.

Next Iteration of Gear VR Headset

Last week, Samsung introduced the fourth iteration of its Gear VR headset, which will be available in stores on August 19. The new model features a wider field of vision and design improvements that make the headset more comfortable. What’s more, the fourth edition expands compatibility to a wider array of smartphones, including Samsung’s new Note7.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to make VR accessible to a wider audience (specifically the Chinese market), Xiaomi announced the Mi VR Play, a smartphone powered headset. The device is currently in beta, with more than a million users registered to give it a try. It’s unclear when the Mi VR Play will be available to the general public or how much it will cost, but the beta device is available to testers for just $0.15.

“Order-Ahead Apps” Surge in Popularity

According to a recent BI Intelligence report, restaurant order-ahead app downloads grew at an annualized rate of 35 percent between H1 2014 and H1 2016, with popular chain apps like Starbucks and Chick-fil-A leading the pack. The growth in downloads is good news for technology-oriented restaurants, as the mobile apps have proven to boost sales. Taco Bell reports 30 percent higher average order totals on mobile than in-store. Meanwhile, 10 percent of all transactions made in high-volume Starbucks locations comes from mobile pre-orders. That said, there’s still room for growth, with estimates that mobile order-ahead will be a $38 billion category by 2020.