The Week in Mobile: November 25-30, 2018

Black Friday mobile shopping gets even bigger, Google Fi to support iPhones and most Android devices, DriverSavers claims it can break into unlocked iPhones & more

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

Black Friday Shoppers Made Over a Third of Purchases on Smartphones

Black Friday shopping on mobile devices grew again in popularity this year as more than a third (33.5%) of online sales were completed on smartphones. According to a report, mobile shoppers generated $2.1 billion in mobile sales, a big jump from the previous record ($1.4 billion) set last year. The top shopping apps also won out big this week, adding half a million first-time users on Black Friday alone (up 16.3% from 2017).

Engadget’s Jon Fingas (@jonfingas) reports that Adobe attributes the uptick in part to improved mobile app experiences. He adds: “the phones themselves might provide more enjoyable shopping through larger screens — it doesn’t feel quite so much like you’re shopping through a porthole.”

Unsurprisingly, Amazon’s app was the most installed, followed by Walmart, Target and other popular brick-and-mortar retailers. However, when you look at online-only retailers, new faces such as Fashion Nova, Poshmark, and GOAT made the top ten in downloads.

Google Fi Smartphone Service Will Support iPhones and Most Android Devices

Project Fi has transformed into Google Fi and will support more mobile devices, including iPhones and most Android smartphones. Three years after its launch, Google is taking Fi to the next level by announcing support for Apple devices via the new Google Fi iOS app.

For the uninitiated, Google Fi is an MVNO, which stands for “mobile virtual network operator.” The Verge’s Dieter Bohn (@backlon) writes that means users actual service comes from larger carriers: “Fi uses T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular as its backbone. However, only a few phones (like the Pixels and others that Google sells) are able to dynamically switch between those carriers’ networks, and that doesn’t change today.”

Google is attempting to evolve Fi into a real mobile phone service, with the main draw being a simplified pricing model compared to other networks. According to the announcement, it will be $20 per phone line and $10 per gig of data used (capped at $60).

This Data Recovery Company Says it Can Break Into Locked iPhones

DriverSavers claims to offer the first consumer service that will unlock passcode protected iPhones and other devices. The data recovery company calls the service “Passcode Lockout Data Recovery” and targets everyday users rather than law enforcement. DriverSavers explains that the service, which it claims has a 100% success rate, requires proof of ownership prior to unlocking any devices.

The Verge’s Nick Statt (@nickstatt) writes: “In an email to The Verge, a DriveSavers spokesperson says the service costs $3,900 per device, but the company claims it will return your phone or tablet to you unlocked.”
The company did not reveal how they’re able to do it, and this claim itself contradicts promises from Apple around storage security. DriverSavers does not appear to use previously known security bypasses, so it may be possible they’ve created their own proprietary tool or software exploit.  

Apple Launches Coding Camps for Women-Founded Startups

Apple has launched a new app development program to better support female-identifying startup founders and their engineer teams. The company announced a new Entrepreneur Camp, which is a free two-week program that kicks off next January. During the camp, developers from women-founded startups will receive one-on-one coding guidance from Apple engineers and attend sessions on design, technology, and App Store marketing in order to cut down on overall development time.

TechCrunch’s Megan Rose Dickey (@meganrosedickey) writes: “For companies that are currently Android-only, Entrepreneur Camp could be an opportunity for them to learn more about Apple’s ecosystem and get support directly from the technology’s creators. For Apple, it’s an opportunity to increase both the quantity and quality of apps in its store.”

Apple said it will hold the camp on a quarterly basis, and select around 20 app companies for each round.

App Highlights From the Week

This week, developers showcased some innovative new apps worth mentioning. To kick things off there is Bitski, the first single sign-on platform for blockchain. The goal for the app is simple: make sign-in on blockchain apps as simple as Login with Facebook. Users can now download the beta version to authorize Bitski and gain permissions to access their ID, send money or receive items on supported blockchain apps.

Next up is a music app called Playlist, which puts a social spin on jamming to tunes by allowing users to listen with others in real time. Within the app, listeners can find others sharing their musical tastes for synchronized track streaming, collaborative playlists, and even group chats. Playlist is now available to download for free on iOS, while an Android version is still in the works.

Last, But Not Least

And, remember that you only have until December 31st to take advantage of Apple’s $29 iphone battery replacement program!


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