The Week in Mobile: September 18-24, 2016


Google to unveil new smartphones, Yelp releases Fusion API, Oracle joins chatbot scramble 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.

Google to Unveil New Smartphone in October

Google is expected to introduce its new smartphone line during the company’s press event in San Francisco on October 4. This time around, it’s unclear whether or not the new devices will be a part of the Nexus brand. A video teaser and new “madeby” Google website suggest the company may release something under its own brand name. What’s more, HTC is expected to unveil two new smartphones during the event. While we don’t know much about the event, the additional fanfare around Google’s announcement could indicate that the company is finally taking its smartphone sales seriously.

Google’s Allo Now Available

Google’s iMessage challenger Allo, originally unveiled at Google’s I/O conference in May, is now available for download in the Google Play store. Allo comes with a number of bells and whistles — allowing users to draw on images and apply effects to messages — but it also sports several powerful features including AI-powered response suggestions and integration with Google Assistant. Users can leverage the AI suggestions for faster, more efficient typing, and engage with the assistant chatbot either one-on-one for search or by calling on it to interject information within existing conversations.

Additionally, Google’s travel app is now available for iOS and Android. Google Trips allows users to create personalized travel guides and plan vacations with data from Google Maps and search. The app also pulls information from Gmail, so reservation information automatically populates and is organized into upcoming trips.

Yelp Releases Fusion API

As part of its new developer program, Yelp released its Fusion API, which unlocks access to richer local content, advanced searching, 24-hour content caching and more. Ultimately, the Fusion API is part of a larger effort to collaborate with developers and bring Yelp data and functionality into other apps. According to Yelp, the company’s original API received more than 2 billion requests in the last 30 days.

More Bets on Bots

During Oracle’s OpenWorld conference last week, the company introduced a new chatbot platform for building and running bots. Although the software is being trumpeted as enterprise application software, bots built using the platform will be compatible with Facebook Messenger, Slack and Kik.

Meanwhile, Google announced the acquisition of API.AI, which provides tools to help developers create bots. API.AI’s stack of APIs helps devs incorporate speech recognition, intent recognition and context management into their interactions. According to Google, over 60,000 developers have already leveraged API.AI for bot development projects.

Mobile Web Browsers to Bring More Video

Recent updates to Apple and Google’s mobile web browsers allow websites to automatically play video content when a user navigates to their page. This could mean more video views and new advertising opportunities for marketers on the mobile web. The update shouldn’t be all that foreign to users, given Facebook’s heavy use of video autoplay videos since that app’s rollout last year.

Sony Introduces AnywhereVR

Leading up to Sony’s global launch of the PlayStation VR headset on October 13, the company introduced AnywhereVR — an immersive experience for the PS VR that brings your smartphone into virtual reality. Perhaps proof that the industry is still figuring out VR use cases – PS VR users will be able to project their smartphone screen inside AnywhereVR’s environment. That means users will be able to send text messages, play games and use apps in virtual reality. AnywhereVR is set to launch in Japan before rolling out to additional markets.