The Week in Mobile: June 25-July 1, 2017

iOS 11 public beta available, Facebook hits 2 billion users, payments within VR have arrived 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.

iOS 11 Public Beta Now Available

Users can now get their hands on a working version of Apple’s next mobile operating system. Last week, the company released a beta version of iOS 11 to users across the globe. While Apple unveiled the core improvements that users can expect to see with iOS 11 at WWDC (including several major changes to the iPad interface), here are some new updates that have come to light with the public beta release last week:

  • Apple is introducing some changes aimed at curbing excessive location tracking. A prominent blue status bar at the top of the screen will inform users when an app is actively using their location. Apple has also added a new permission option so users can allow apps to only utilize location services while the app is in use. Previously, users only had “Always” or “Never” as choices.
  • Augmented reality features are among the most anticipated for iOS 11. With the public beta, Apple has introduced some AR-like updates to its 3D map feature called Flyover, which allows users to explore select cities in 3D through a virtual reality experience. There’s much more to come with the release of ARkit on the horizon and recent news that that Apple has acquired eye-tracking tech company SensoMotoric Instruments.

Global App Market to Exceed $6 Trillion by 2021

The app economy is expected to be worth $6.3 trillion in the next four years as worldwide mobile usage continues to skyrocket. According to a new report from App Annie, the number of people using apps around the globe is also predicted to nearly double to a whopping 6.3 billion by 2021. That means a whole lot of time spent using apps: 3.5 trillion hours (or nearly 400 million years), according to the forecast. The findings from the report are based on revenues generated from app stores, as well as in-app purchases and advertising.

Facebook Hits Two Billion Monthly Users

Facebook has reached a major new milestone as the company announced it now has more than two billion monthly active users. The impressive figure means that more than 25 percent of the earth’s population is now on Facebook. The social media giant hit the one billion user mark just five years ago, and its continued growth has been spurred on by developing nations. Facebook has played its part to increase access by optimizing its mobile app to work well with poor connections and cheaper phones, and also with projects like bringing fiber internet to Africa. The company may have a more difficult time achieving its next milestone however, as more than 700 million potential users in China are unable to access Facebook due to a government ban.

Qualcomm to Introduce Fingerprint Scanners Located Beneath Phone Displays

Qualcomm says we can expect to see fingerprint sensors located underneath your smartphone’s touchscreen as early as next year. The company announced that it would start making fingerprint sensors that will work through glass, metal and even underwater available to phone makers later this year. The move supports the trend towards eliminating bezels and buttons to create edge-to-edge displays.

Payscout Brings Commerce to VR Experiences

Payment processor Payscout has debuted a new app that allows consumers to make payments within virtual reality experiences. With Payscout VR Commerce, users can register a digital wallet or link existing Visa checkout accounts to easily pay for products while browsing a VR store. Using the app, shoppers can select a merchant and launch an interactive store. Within that VR experience, they can take advantage of 360-video, plus other immersive features to look more closely at products and make a purchase. The app is already available for Google Cardboard within the Google Play Store, and Payscout says it’s working on a version for iOS and other platforms in the near future.