The Week in Mobile: March 12 – 18, 2017


What iOS 11 means for outdated apps, Microsoft’s Playable App Ads, Google introduces first incubator apps and more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.

What iOS 11 Means for Outdated Apps

Apple is dropping the hammer on outdated apps with 32-bit software. Many believe that iOS 11 will likely only support 64-bit processors, and according to recent research from Sensor Tower, this means approximately 187,000 apps in Apple’s app store won’t function for users running the new OS. But this purge has been a long time coming, with Apple beginning the process with the launch of the iPhone 5S in 2013. Since then, Apple has warned developers that 32-bit apps won’t be supported in the future.

Microsoft Announces Playable App Ads

Microsoft is making it easier for developers to show off their apps and for users to make more informed decisions before installing. Last week, the company unveiled Playable Ads for Windows 10, which allows users to stream app store apps or games for up to three minutes without downloading anything. That means users can tinker around in the app without restrictions prior to purchasing. The concept is similar to Google’s Instant Apps for Android, which launched in January. For now, Playable Ads is in limited preview.

Google Introduces First Apps from Area 120 Incubator

In April 2016, Google announced its Area 120 Startup Incubator, an initiative that allows Google employees to collaborate on new and innovative ideas outside of daily tasks. Last week, the company introduced Uptime, the first app to come from that incubator — it’s a video messaging app that allows users to share and watch YouTube videos with their friends. For now, Uptime is only available on iOS, but could expand to other platforms if it proves to be a success. Shortly after launching Uptime, Google unveiled Supersonic, the first Android app to come out of Area 120. Supersonic is a messaging app (yes, another one) that allows users to dictate a message, which gets transcribed to text and emojis. Users can also send audio messages to friends or join chat rooms to meet new users.

Visa’s First Attempt at a Wearable

Visa dreamed up a new way to make contactless payments with the company’s first attempt at a wearable device. Cardholders could soon be able to make payments with Visa sunglasses, which are NFC-enabled thanks to a small chip located discretely on the arm of the glasses. While some are skeptical of the concept, Visa says it’s just the beginning for payment-enabled wearables.

Meanwhile, Google and Levi’s announced pricing for their denim smart jacket, which will be available for purchase this fall. The Project Jacquard powered jacket will cost approximately $350, and promises users the ability to control their smartphone through the garment. Those willing to dole out the cash will be able to perform a number of functions such as pausing music with the tap of a wrist or making a phone call with a double tap.

Lowe’s Looks to AR and VR to Aid Home Improvement

Lowe’s is turning to augmented and virtual reality to make home improvement projects easier — from locating the necessary equipment in store to tackling the project at home. The company announced a new in-store navigation app powered by Google’s Project Tango. Customers can borrow one of the store’s Lenovo Phab 2 Pro tablets to launch the app and use it to locate specific items quickly. Additionally, Lowe’s is testing a Holoroom How-To program, which teaches users various home improvement projects using the HTC Vive. For example, a customer can learn step-by-step how to tile a shower, going through the motions in virtual reality, before they go home and try it for themselves. For now, Holoroom How-To is only available at the company’s Framingham, Massachusetts location, but is expected to begin testing in three additional locations in the coming weeks.

McDonald’s Mobile Ordering

McDonald’s is bringing its mobile ordering app to select locations in Washington and California, which means users will be able to place orders in advance, check in and pay via the app once they’ve arrived at the restaurant and pick items up at the counter, drive-thru or curbside. Using geofencing, the app tracks how close customers are to the restaurant so food can be prepared fresh and delivered on time. The fast food chain originally announced its mobile ordering app in late 2016, introducing it to just a handful of markets including Australia, Canada, France and the UK. This most recent expansion marks the app’s debut in the US.