The Week in Mobile: May 13-19, 2018

Apple’s App Store redesign boosts app discovery, Twitter will limit third-party access, malware reappears on Google Play Store despite crackdown 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.

Report: Apple’s App Store Redesign Boosted App Discovery

Apple’s goal to drive improved app discovery through its revamped App Store appears to be paying off. According to a new report, more apps have been discovered via browsing the App Store since the launch of the redesign last September. Downloads from browsing accounted for only 10% of downloads prior to that, but now they’ve grown to more than 15%. Despite the new growth, searching for apps by typing keywords still reigns supreme, accounting for 65% of all app downloads.

Twitter to Kill Important Access for Third-Party Apps

Twitter has never been a huge fan of third-party apps for tweets, but it has also never made moves to limit them—until now. Starting this summer, Twitter will restrict current developer access and replace it with a new system that is much more limited. The change won’t render third-party Twitter clients completely useless, but it will make the apps less effective to the chagrin of developers and users alike.

There are two key changes coming for these apps. First, new tweets will no longer stream into an app in real-time, requiring users to manually refresh timelines. Second, and more importantly, they will delay or even outright prevent push notifications in most instances. The changes are set to go live on August 16th, with Twitter providing a pay-to-play feature for developers who want access to the old system.

Malware Reappears on Google Play Store, Despite Recent Crackdown

Despite attempts to prevent malicious apps from hitting the Play Store in recent months, some malware is still finding a way to users’ devices. At least seven rogue apps that had been previously removed from Google Play reportedly reappeared with new names and a new publisher. These faux apps were disguised as productivity tools, but would push notifications for scam ads and websites if they remained on a device for more than four hours. The fact the same malware was able to return to the Play Store through a mere name and publisher change has some questioning the efficiency of Google’s new, stricter review process and policies. The seven malicious apps were removed, but Google has yet to comment on how they slipped through.

Android Striking Deals With Smartphone Partners for More Frequent Security Patches

Android devices may soon receive more frequent security patches. Google has announced that it’s making new deals with its smartphone manufacturing partners to roll out security updates on a more “regular” basis. However, the company did not specify which companies this will apply to or what those updates would look like. Reports indicate these requirements likely apply only to new devices set to launch with Oreo or later that utilize Google Play services (so that means nothing in China).

Google Launches its AI-powered News App for iOS

Google’s new artificial intelligence powered news app is now available on both Android and iOS. The revamped Google News app was announced at the company’s I/O developer conference last week, and had previously launched on Android. Starting this week though, the new AI-infused version now appears in the Apple App Store too. The new app utilizes machine learning algorithms to smartly sort continuously developing or breaking news into simple formats such as chronological timelines, local news aggregations and stories presented in an evolving sequence. Google has also added four distinct new sections to help users personalize their experience: “For You” aggregates your top five stories, “Headlines” pulls up the biggest stories by topic, “Favorites” allows you to star topics and outlets and “Newsstand” saves your subscription-based publications for quick and easy access.

HTC Says It’s Developing a ‘Blockchain Phone’

Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC says its working on a device designed around tech’s hottest buzzword: blockchain. The company announced earlier this week that its upcoming Exodus handset will support decentralized apps, blockchain security, and of course, cryptocurrencies. The Exodus will support cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum through a universal wallet, and HTC is reportedly even working to create a native blockchain network where Exodus users can trade cryptocurrencies among themselves. No pricing or launch date details have yet to be released.