The Week in Mobile: May 21-27, 2016

Global smartphone sales rise, Apple angers Chinese social networks, mobile eye exams and more

Each week we round up the top news stories, think pieces and other content that center 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 offers.

Google Reveals Additional Developer Tools for Android O

At Google I/O last week, the tech giant released its second developer preview for upcoming mobile operating system codenamed “Android O.” In addition to new user features confirmed at the annual conference, Google has also announced a number of useful new developer tools now available to beta testers. According to a company blog post, Android O is introducing two new features within the Google Play Console to making managing app subscriptions easier. Subscription dashboard allows developers to view information like subscribers and cancellations, and provides tools for monitoring revenue data and top performing products. While a new feature available in June called Account Hold will do a better job of withholding premium content if the user’s payment is declined.

Apple and Samsung Lose Market Share as Global Smartphone Sales Increase

Worldwide smartphone sales increased by nine percent in the first quarter of this year, but it wasn’t Apple or Samsung fueling the new growth. While the two companies still reign as the industry’s top mobile providers, a new report indicates their grasp on the global market share is under attack by Chinese smartphone makers. According to the report, Chinese companies Huawei, Oppo and Vivo each saw double-digit growth and accounted for nearly a quarter of the 380 million smartphones sold around the world. Those figures were driven primarily by success at home. Apple’s smartphone sales were flat over the first quarter, but Samsung saw its number of shipments drop by around 2.5 million units. The success of the Chinese brands also means that Google’s Android operating system continues to widen its lead over Apple iOS in the global markets.

New Apple Tip Policy Causes Upset in Chinese Market

Apple has angered Chinese app makers following a new policy that will see tips and donations treated as in-app purchases. Apple said that features that allow users to send money to others were in violation of App Store rules, and that they need to either disable those functions or give the iPhone maker a 30 percent cut on all monetary transfers – just as they do with games, music and videos. Developers that do not comply will see their products removed from the App Store. In China, users often send money to content creators as way of praising and supporting their work, and popular messaging apps such as WeChat provide these tip or donation features to strengthen their ecosystem. The Chinese developers argue that they provide the tipping services for free, so Apple shouldn’t be attempting to take a cut.

Warby Parker Rolls Out Mobile Eye Exams

Last week, Warby Parker introduced a new app called Prescription Check, which allows users to skip a trip to the eye doctor and renew their prescription from home instead. If your prescription has expired, all you need is an iPhone and a computer to see if your vision has changed. The Prescription Check app prompts users to visit, and pairs with the user’s iPhone. From there, the app will provide instructions and the test will run on your computer. The resulting test is then sent to an eye-doctor, who either renews the user’s prescription or sends a referral if vision has changed. The process takes up-to 24 hours, but is all done from the comfort of home.

MLB Unveils New At Bat VR App

The MLB is introducing a new way to watch your favorite baseball teams this season. The At Bat VR app for Android phones and Google’s Daydream platform will be available for download on June 1, which is exciting news for those seeking a more immersive and informative viewing experience. While the game itself won’t be filmed in VR, the app gives the viewer a 360-degree view of each pitch, tracking trajectory. Users can also see the speed of each pitch and background on the player. Meanwhile, TV coverage is projected alongside these stats. The At Bat VR app is available to anyone with an MLB streaming package.

Gatwick Airport to Launch AR Powered Navigation System

The second largest airport in the UK is turning to augmented reality to help travelers navigate through terminals more easily. Gatwick announced last week that it installed 2,000 bluetooth beacons throughout the airport, which means travelers can use the Gatwick app to figure out where they are located in relation to their gate. Eventually, the airport will roll out an AR-powered navigation system to give users turn-by-turn directions. These beacons will also be used to help airport personnel manage congested areas, give airlines the ability to notify passengers when they’re running late and allow airport storefronts to market to nearby travelers.