The Week in Mobile: July 9-15, 2017

iOS 11 Beta 3 is out, Apple now accepts PayPal, Microsoft debuts AI app to assist the visually impaired 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.

Apple Releases Third Developer Preview for iOS 11

Developers can now get their hands on the third preview of Apple’s iOS 11. While the latest beta doesn’t feature any radical changes, there are some useful updates and tweaks. Most notably, there are some nifty improvements to the new iPad dock. With beta 3, users can now close apps on the iPad by swiping up, add apps to folders using the new dock and utilize some new multi-tasking refinements. There are several other minor upgrades including updates to the Notification Center, refinements for Multitasking and new Siri translations. Last week, Apple also released the second preview version of iOS 11 to the public. The official launch of iOS 11 will take place this fall.

New iPhone Could Ship Without Some Key Features

It is iPhone rumor season. The latest chatter is that Apple is supposedly facing a crunch to deliver some of its key new features. According to a new report, Apple engineers have been working tirelessly to iron out software problems that could result in release delays or even disabled features at launch. The issues apparently stem from kinks in the code that will enable new wireless charging and facial recognition features. This wouldn’t be the first time Apple released an iPhone before the software was perfected – last year, the company distributed the iPhone 7 Plus with Portrait Mode disabled, only activating the feature after the software was ready.

Ads Coming to Facebook Messenger

Facebook will begin pushing advertisements to users of its Messenger app. After seeing encouraging results in Australia and Thailand, the company will now expand the program so that companies can begin placing ads within Messenger worldwide. The ads will reportedly appear this month on a small percentage of home screens, where users navigate between conversation threads. Facebook previously allowed companies to share sponsored content and even message users directly through Messenger, but this marks the first time the company has placed ads within the app. The ads can’t be permanently disabled by the user, but you can click to hide or report individual ads.

Microsoft’s New AI App Helps the Blind

Microsoft has released a new app that utilizes Artificial Intelligence to aid the visually impaired. Seeing AI transforms the visual world into an audio experience by providing users with detailed narrations of what’s in front of them. Users simply point their phone’s camera at an object to hear an audio description. The app can recognize people and their emotions, scan words and documents as they come into view and even identify specific currency bills. The app is also able to process most of these functions on the device, which makes providing information quicker and more reliable when there is poor Internet connection. Currently, Seeing AI is available for free download on the iPhone.

Google Uses Machine Learning to Remove Harmful Apps

Google says it’s using a new form of machine learning to help sort useful apps from bad ones. The method is called Peer Grouping, and it works by comparing apps with similar purposes. For example, if out of several apps only one is asking for permission to use contacts, location or microphone—that will raise a red flag that notifies Google’s security team. Using this technique, Google is scanning apps en masse throughout the Play Store to identify bad eggs. It’s starting to pay dividends – according to the company, only one-third as many users have installed harmful apps last year compared to the one prior.

Apple Now Accepts PayPal

Apple has announced that PayPal will now be a payment option for Apple purchases. That means users can now add PayPal to their Apple ID to checkout from the App Store, iTunes, Apple Music or iBookstore. Prior to this partnership, users could only make purchases by connecting their bank account or using a credit/gift card. The new integration is mutually beneficial as it gives PayPal access to a major revenue stream, while providing Apple with another way for users to buy. The feature is now available in North America and a handful of other regions around the world.