The Week in Mobile: June 4-10, 2017

Apple unveils iOS 11 and drops 32-bit support, Amazon in the smartphone game again, Google combats incentivized reviews 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 and More from WWDC

Once again, Apple used the WWDC stage to reveal the latest version of its mobile operating system. iOS 11 won’t be available until September, but Apple walked through the most significant updates as well as a raft of other product news:

  • For developers, Apple unveiled a new set of APIs designed for augmented reality. The platform is called ARKit, and it includes new camera tools for motion tracking and spatial awareness.
  • With the new MusicKit, developers will soon have the ability to play full songs in their apps. The API will rely on Apple Music to add songs from users’ accounts or build entire playlists.
  • The company also debuted a new framework for incorporating machine learning into apps. Core ML will make it easier for developers to use machine learning models for insights like photo or voice recognition, and won’t require the cloud to process that data.
  • iOS 11 users will be able to send cash to contacts from within iMessage. The new feature works with Apple Pay, which will create a virtual wallet that can transfer funds to your bank account or be used in the App Store.
  • Apple unveiled its new Homepod speaker, the company’s answer to Amazon Echo and Google Home.
  • An overhaul of the App Store is on the horizon. The new design resembles that of Apple News and will feature new tabs for games and apps.
  • And finally, Apple introduced a new dock for its line of iPads, which allows users to drop their favorite apps in for quick access. The update makes the iPad noticeably more similar to a Mac, and also features new windows for working in multiple apps and new file management.

Apple Dropping 32-bit App Support with iOS 11

In addition to all the new features announced this past week for iOS 11, Apple is also indicating that the days of 32-bit processor support are numbered. According to a new report, Apple is said to be ending support for the iPhone 5 and 5C when the new operating system drops later this year. The news comes as some have noticed that apps optimized for 32-bit processors are no longer appearing in App Store search results. With the last iteration of iOS, users received a warning message about slower iPhone speeds when opening 32-bit apps. The company has been pushing developers to adopt 64-bit code since the more power processors were introduced in 2013, and now it seems it will soon be the only option.

Amazon Reportedly Working on New Smartphones

Amazon is said to be taking another stab at creating its own lineup of smartphones. The upcoming devices have been codenamed “Ice”, will run Android and support Google Mobile Services with full access to the Play Store. Amazon has not built a smartphone since discontinuing the ill-fated Fire phone, which suffered numerous problems and dismal sales. Some of those problems stemmed from a costly retail price and focus on the U.S. and other Western markets. This time around, the company is thought to be targeting emerging smartphone markets such as India, with a much lower $93 price tag. The device is not thought to support Alexa, but integration could come with a later update.

Google Goes After Incentivized Reviews and Installs with New Policy

Google has announced a new policy that will prohibit developers from manipulating app rankings in the Play Store. The company announced improvements to fight incentivized ratings, fake reviews and spam installs that artificially boost app placement within the store. Google attempted to clamp down on the issue last year by targeting third-party services that provide fraudulent reviews and installs, but some developers found another way to inflate their ratings by bribing users. The company says those attempts will now be detected and filtered, with repeat offenders facing expulsion from the Play Store altogether.

Airbnb Simplifies the Check-in Process

Figuring out how to check-in to you Airbnb can sometimes be a daunting task when it comes to finding the proper entrance or retrieving keys from lock boxes. In order to take the guesswork out of the process, Airbnb has announced that hosts will now be able to create step-by-step guides with text and photo instructions within the app to help with guest arrivals. Airbnb found that hosts were already sharing PDF documents with photo illustration and the like to help their guests check-in, but the new opt-in feature streamlines the process by creating uniformity for instructions across the platform and cutting down on the number of messages that need to be exchanged. The company says the new feature will launch in all markets sometime this month.