The Week in Mobile: June 17-22, 2018

Scam apps aimed at Android users, Google updates its data-saving app, latest iPhone and Pixel design leaks 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.

Simple, But Deceitful New Scam is Tricking Android Users into Downloading Bad Apps

Scammers have found a dishonest new tactic to trick users into downloading fake apps. Malicious app developers are exploiting the way app information is displayed when searching Google Play, setting their names as false download numbers to make the app look popular. In addition to this, they are also inputting phrases like “Legit Apps,” “Verified Applications,” and “Trusted Developers” in other places to boost the appeal of the app for those unfamiliar with Play Store’s search format. Malware researchers reportedly found hundreds of apps doing this, although most had no actual functionality and weren’t harmful. To avoid scams, be sure to check out the “additional information” page, read user reviews and understand Google’s Play Store format and policies.

Google’s Adds Several New Features to its Data-Saving App

Google’s has rolled out more features for its data-saving Android app. “Datally” launched last November to provide users in emerging markets a way to manage their data more effectively. Now, the app will allow users to set daily data usage limits, and a ‘guest mode’ for when friends borrow their smartphone. Other updates introduced include a map showing nearby WiFi networks, and a feature that highlights infrequently used apps that are still draining data in the background. Some of these features are baked into newer versions of Android already. The standalone Datally was designed with regions having limited network resources in mind.

Major Leaks Reveal Design Decisions for Next iPhone and Google Pixel Smartphone

Latest iPhone leaks claim that Apple might sacrifice quality for affordability with the next set of iPhones. A new industry report suggests that Apple may forego the top-notch OLED screens in favor of cheaper LCD displays for the next iPhone versions expected this September. The move would place Apple devices notably behind Android in terms of innovation (both Android and Apple flagship phones last year featured OLED screens). The move is likely related to the slower than expected adoption of Apple’s advanced (and very expensive) iPhone X release last year. While it seems like the shift to LCD screens might be a step back, it could also increase the attractiveness of Apple’s higher-end devices to users. The next set of iPhones are expected to be announced and released sometime this fall.

Meanwhile, another major smartphone leak has revealed the design of Google’s next flagship device, the Pixel 3 XL. Notably, it seems that Google has adopted the ‘notch’ design (which houses the camera and other user-facing hardware elements) popularized by Apple with the iPhone X. No word yet on the release date for the Pixel 3 XL.

Apple Fined $6.6 Million in Australia for Error 53 Debacle

Judgment day has finally come for Apple around their infamous Error 53 controversy. The software error renders devices unusable, and was first reported in 2016. It occurred when users replaced or fixed their display or Touch ID-enabled home buttons through an unlicensed third-party. When users attempted to contact Apple Australia’s customer service about the issue, they were told there were no refunds. That clearly didn’t sit well with the Australian government, who have issued a court-ordered fine to Apple to the tune of $6.6 million. Following the court’s ruling, Apple confirmed it would be modifying its policies and practices in order to comply with Australian Consumer Law.

Airbnb Chronicles its Mobile App Development Journey

In a series of five Medium posts, Airbnb explains their decision-making process for choosing a cross-platform app dev platform, the challenges they faced with having a cross-platform app dev team, the pros and cons of using the selected platform, and why they decided to sunset their use of React Native and reinvest their efforts back into native development. At the same time, Facebook announced this week that it will be rearchitecting React Native and will be addressing some of the issues faced by Airbnb.

SpeakSee Hopes to Make Group Conversations More Natural for a Deaf Person

An upcoming app is hoping to make group conversations for those hard of hearing a lot more natural. SpeakSee leverages speech recognition and the Internet of Things alongside special hardware to create a more seamless group chat experience. Here’s how it works: the user shares a set of clip-on microphones from a self-charging case to those participating in the conversation. The case then acts a transmitter for the mics, relaying their spoken words to the paired smartphone. That audio is then shipped to cloud for quick transcription, and ultimately appears as text on the deaf user’s device. The developers of the app are currently crowdfunding to help finish their project, so users eager to get their hands on SpeakSee may need to hold tight for a while.