The Week in Mobile: October 28-November 2, 2018

Highlights from Apple’s last hardware event of the year, Android Pie adoption less than 0.1%, and Google Home adds ambience when you read some Disney books aloud & 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.

Highlights From Apple’s October Hardware Event

Just a month since the last Apple hardware event, the company is back to debut a couple more products before the end of the year. This time, Apple took over Brooklyn to reveal a new Retina MacBook Air and updated Mac Mini, but the star of the show was the new line of iPad Pros.

These new tablets sport a full-screen design with flat edges and rounded corners, Face ID support, and more. The 3.5mm headphone jack has been removed and Apple also replaced the iPad’s Lightning connector with a new USB-C port, which means it can now charge other devices. The new iPad Pro 11-inch starts at $799, while the 12.9-inch starts at $999.

This week, Apple also rolled out iOS 12.1, watchOS 5.1, tvOS 12.1 and macOS 10.14.1 to the public. This includes an update to the Shortcuts app on iOS and features a new weather integration, new measurement conversions, and improved iCloud sharing.

iPhone Users are Holding onto Their Devices Longer

According to a new report, iPhone upgrades are becoming less frequent. Mobile trade-in company Hyla Mobile claims the average iPhone user now waits nearly three years to upgrade.

9to5Mac’s Ben Lovejoy (@benlovejoy) writes: “Two factors are believed responsible for the lengthier wait between iPhone upgrades. First, and most obviously, pricier phones. Second, the separation of phone costs from cell plans.”

Apple has increased prices for Premium devices over recent years, with the highest-end iPhones now costing $1,000+. The cheaper iPhone XR, which starts at $750, may prompt more users to upgrade this year. But so far, analysts disagree on the success of opening week sales. In a concerning move for investors, Apple announced Thursday that it will no longer disclose how many iPhones it sells each quarter.

Less Than 0.1% of Users Have Updated to Android Pie

Google still has yet to solve its Android update adoption issue. Some four months after the release of Android Pie, less than 0.1% of users have upgraded to the latest version. In fact, VentureBeat calls out that prior release Android Oreo is oddly still growing in user adoption (from 19.2% last month to 21.5%) and is now the second most used version behind the two-year-old Nougat.

Put another way, BGR’s Zach Epstein (@zacharye) writes: “More Android devices are running Android Gingerbread from 2010 — seven years ago — than Android Pie from 2018. That’s absolutely insane.”

By comparison, at least 60% of iPhones are running iOS 12 since Apple released it over a month ago. Google launched a potential fix to Android fragmentation last year called Project Treble, but improvements are still needed to catch Apple.

Double Trouble: Bug Adds Second Notch to Google Pixel 3 XL

Over the past two years, no smartphone manufacturer has embraced the smartphone notch quite like Google. That said, what is happening this week for some Pixel 3 XL phones is too much notch even for Google. Some users report a humorous new bug has added an additional notch to their device.

TechCrunch’s Brian Heater (@bheater) jests: “The Pixel 3 XL has a notch so nice, Google’s delivering it twice. A number of owners have reported an admittedly hilarious bug that’s causing the massive handset to double up on the notch, with a second cutout appearing on the side of the device.”

Google told Android Police that the company is aware of the issue and that a fix should be “coming soon.”

Google Home Adds Music and Effects to Story Time

Google Assistant has teamed up with Disney to bring story time alive in new ways. While Assistant learned how to tell stories earlier this year, now Google Home will help jazz up your own storytelling with cued music and sounds effects for some Disney-branded Little Golden Books.

A simple “Hey Google, let’s read along with Disney” starts the experience. 9to5Google’s Kyle Bradshaw (@SkylledDev) then explains: “Google Home will listen as you read the story, changing the music with each scene and interjecting appropriate sound effects. If you pause while reading, the music will continue to play, preserving the atmosphere. Most impressively, the feature knows where you are in the book, even if you skip ahead to your child’s favorite parts of the story.”

Classic books such as Peter Pan, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, The Three Little Pigs and Mickey Mouse can now be read. Some new favorite like Moana, Toy Story 3, Coco and Jack Jack Attack are also available.