The Week in Mobile: September 11-17, 2016


iOS 10 lands and expands, Apple Pay coming to the web, Messenger bots accept payments 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.

iOS 10 Momentum

After approximately four months in beta, iOS 10 is finally available to the general public, bringing with it a whole host of new features. While end-users may be most excited about the frills — like the fun new animations in iMessage and a new app store dedicated to messaging — the most notable updates are those that open up new functionality for app developers, including access to Siri and an updated notification interface. Since the launch of iOS 10, there have already been lots of app updates taking advantage of these features. For example, SignEasy now allows users to sign documents right from the lock screen and Whatsapp lets users compose messages and make calls with Siri commands. No doubt many more creative app updates will roll out over the next few months.

Within the first 24 hours of launching, approximately 15 percent of iOS users had upgraded to iOS 10. Just two days after the release, that number was at 21 percent — slightly exceeding the adoption rate of iOS 9 in 2015. What’s more, Sprint reported that pre-order sales for the iPhone 7 are up 375 percent compared to pre-order sales for the iPhone 6.

Apple Pay Coming to the Web this Week

Apple Pay web support is set to rollout this week alongside macOS Sierra. That means anyone using Apple Pay on their iPhone will also be able to make online purchases using their smartphone wallet. Several companies have already announced that they will support Apple Pay web payments once the solution is live. Early adopters include Time Inc., which will allow consumers to pay for magazine subscriptions using Apple Pay, and furniture and home decor retailer Wayfair.

Select Facebook Messenger Bots Now Accept Payments

Facebook Messenger now supports 30,000 bots, up from approximately 11,000 bots in July. As the platform continues to grow, Facebook is working on improvements to increase the usability and value the bots provide to users. For starters, the company announced that Messenger bots are now capable of accepting in-app payments. Though it’s currently only available as a closed beta (which developers can apply for) it’s likely that bot payments will be open to all devs in the coming months. Meanwhile, Facebook unveiled a new welcome screen for bots, which educates users on the functionality for each bot and provides easier access to associated business pages. The company has also updated its platform to make it easier for users to share bots.

In other Messenger news, Facebook announced that there are now 300 million users taking advantage of the app’s new audio and video calling functionality. To put things into perspective, that’s approximately the same number of users on Skype.

Google’s Cardboard Camera App Now on iOS

Google may have a new virtual reality platform in the works (more details about Daydream VR coming on October 4), but that doesn’t mean the company has forgotten about Cardboard. Just last week, Google rolled out an iOS version of its Cardboard Camera app, alongside feature updates for the Android app. That means iOS users are now able to create their own 360-degree VR images. What’s more, users on both iOS and Android are now able to share these images directly from the app.

Twitter Releases New Video Streaming Apps for Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV and Xbox One

Twitter released new video streaming apps for the Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV and the Xbox One — kicking off the launch by streaming the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills game last Thursday. These apps feature curated video footage from Vine and Periscope. What’s more, Twitter has partnered with the NFL, MLB, NBA, Pac-12, NHL, Cheddar and Bloomberg News, so that select video content from these brands will be available via Twitter’s new apps.

India Takes Driver’s Licenses to the Smartphone

Last year, the government of India released an app for storing official documents in the cloud. Since then, citizens have been encouraged to use the app, called Digilocker, to keep track of their voter ID, identification documents, college certificates and so on. But now, government officials are raising the bar. Digilocker users will soon be able to store a digital copy of their driver’s licence and vehicle registration on their smartphone, and government officials (including police officers) will recognize these virtual documents as official paperwork. Ultimately, this move allows India to cut back on administrative costs and streamline document checks.