The Week in Mobile: June 10-15, 2018

iOS 12 will overhaul notifications, Apple restricts third-party data sharing with new store rules, Uber delivers ‘Lite’ app for regions with poor connectivity 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 — all to inspire you and your company to take advantage of the many benefits mobile can offer.

Developers Make New Discoveries in iOS 12, Including Overhaul to Notifications

Apple’s WWDC developer conference has come and gone, but with a preview version of iOS 12 now out in the wild, developers continue to unearth new software discoveries. One notable finding is Apple’s fresh approach to notifications with iOS 12. Changes include notifications now grouped by app, easier controls to make updates appear silently, and the big one, the ability to directly manage settings from the notification itself.

There is also a major change for how developers will confirm push notifications moving forward. Previously, app makers could only confirm push notifications through a pop-up for the user. With iOS 12, the first update from a new app will always appear, and with it a new prompt to directly manage notification settings. With the changes, it’s clear that Apple has put more thought into the balance of what both developers and users want when it comes to notifications.

In addition to notification options, Apple is also launching a new Measure app in iOS 12 that utilizes augmented reality to size basically anything with just an iPhone. Measure transforms the iPhone’s viewfinder into an interactive tape measure, allowing users to trace objects to determine their length, width,  and height. These new features are expected to debut with the official launch of iOS 12 sometime this fall. In the meantime, Apple has also seeded the second developer beta for its upcoming iOS 11.4.1 update.

Apple Bans Developers from Sharing Information on Users’ iPhone Contacts

Apple quietly changed its App Store policies to prevent app developers from harvesting user data. The new rules now restrict apps from collecting an iPhone user’s data for marketing purposes, as well as prohibits the collection of data from their contacts. The move shuts down a loophole that has been used for years to access a user’s phone contacts, and then share or sell that information without the person’s consent. This data practice is the same that landed Facebook in hot water when third-party developers gave the information of millions of people to Cambridge Analytica. For its part, Facebook has also announced its own new rules to confirm user consent for ad targeting and other marketing practices. With the announcement of iOS 12 last week, Apple also debuted some new App Store rules around remote mirroring apps, cryptocurrency mining and free trials for paid apps.

Uber Launches ‘Lite’ Version of its app for the Developing World

Uber has now unveiled a lighter version of its app for regions with developing mobile networks. Simply named Uber Lite, the app launched this week in India with a (nearly unbelievable) download size of only 5 megabytes on Android. The company claims its 300-millisecond response time makes nabbing a ride quick, even for users attempting to hail a car on 2G networks. Uber Lite will also hide the map unless requested, optimizing it even further for poor connections and saving data for users’ plans.

The company claims it is also tinkering with plans for an offline mode, likely powered through some version of a peer-to-peer Bluetooth mesh network. Claiming that the next hundreds of millions of riders are going to come from outside the United States, Uber clearly sees the value in offering a version of its app that is optimized for developing nations. To learn more about how you can design your own ‘Lite’ apps for regions with poor networks and lower connectivity, check out this blog!

In-screen Fingerprint Sensors Arrive to the Masses with the Vivo X21 Smartphone

It’s been years since we first heard about an in-display fingerprint scanner, but finally, it will now ship in a mobile device from a major company. The Vivo X21 marks the first time this technology appears as a standard feature for a global smartphone release. Its sensor is completely invisible at first (thanks to the OLED screen), but the scanner area illuminates when someone picks up the device. Users can then simply press their finger over the highlighted area to unlock the phone. The implementation has received positive reviews from technologists eager to see an underneath the screen fingerprint sensor on an actual smartphone release, but how the scanner holds up over time as companies like Xiaomi and Huawei plan to release their own versions remains to be seen.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup Goes Mobile with Innovative New Features, Integrations and VR Experiences

With the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicking off this week, tech giants and app makers everywhere are rolling out new mobile features so users don’t miss a beat of the action. While Google has already announced new World Cup features on its Search, YouTube and Google News platforms, Apple is also stepping on to the pitch with several updates of its own. The new features include:

  • World Cup on Siri, so users can ask about scores, schedules, standings and more
  • World Cup featured apps on the App Store home and favorites pages
  • World Cup on Apple TV for following the action on FOX NOW (in the U.S)
  • Apple News, Music and Podcast updates with new World Cup content
  • Football (a.k.a Soccer in the U.S.) on iBooks with a revamped editorial section called “The Beautiful Game”

Sports networks like Fox Sports are also lacing up, providing a way for users to experience the World Cup through in virtual reality. Fox Sports VR is a free to download app for live VR broadcasts that allows users (with a cable subscription) to create their own VIP stadium suite and toggle between different camera positions to watch the World Cup like never before. It’s clear that when it comes to major events like the World Cup, companies are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to the user experience.