The Week in Mobile: September 20-26, 2015


Apple falls victim to first malware attack, top ad-blocking iOS app removed from App Store, Starbucks rolls out mobile ordering nationwide 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.

Apple Falls Victim to First Malware Attack on App Store

Apple has a lot on its plate with the recent release of iOS 9 and watchOS 2 and the upcoming launch of a number of new devices. And in the midst of all the mayhem, Apple fell victim to its first major malware attack on its App Store, which compromised hundreds of iOS apps from China. Impacted apps were infected with code capable of stealing passwords and other information from iOS devices. The breach is a big deal for Apple, as the company prides itself on its tight security and faces some serious competition in the Chinese market. Apple has removed affected apps from the App Store and is working with developers to ensure they’re using the correct version of Xcode to rebuild their apps.

Top Ad-Blocking iPhone App Removed from App Store

Since the launch of iOS 9, content blocking apps have quickly climbed to the top of the App Store charts. But Peace, which ranked number one among these newly supported ad-blocking apps, has been removed from the App Store by its developer, Marco Arment. In a blog post, Arment explains that he doesn’t feel good about the software because it hurts “many who don’t deserve the hit.” Arment’s recent change of heart mirrors recent debates about the technology, which weigh the benefits of faster loading mobile web pages with the damage done to many websites that rely on advertising revenue.

Starbucks Rolls Out Mobile Ordering Nationwide

Starbucks officially rolled out mobile ordering nationwide following several months of testing in key markets. That means all company-owned US locations will allow customers to order drinks or food from the Starbucks app. That’s great news if you’re looking for a quick caffeine fix because Starbucks mobile ordering will allow you to skip the line entirely and will even give you an ETA for when your drink will be ready for pickup. With 16 million active users already on Starbucks’ iOS and Android apps, it’s likely the nationwide rollout will boost app usage even further and encourage enrollment in the company’s loyalty program and use of mobile payments.

Disrupt Hackathon Unveils New SMS Trend

Last week, TechCrunch hosted its annual Disrupt SF Hackathon. Among a number of eye-catching innovations, a new trend was revealed—SMS functionality built with app APIs in order to engage users quickly, easily and without using data plans. Described as a “gateway” to app usage, SMS functionality linked to mobile apps could be the ideal way to communicate with smartphone users who may be hesitant to download your app. Presented during the Hackathon, one team tapped into the functionality by building a prototype for Walmart in which users can text “hi” to a specified phone number and then inquire about the location and availability of products.

Ford Announces Updates to Sync AppLink and Apple Accelerates Automotive Initiative

Last week, Ford announced an update to Sync AppLink, a developer platform that allows smartphone apps to connect with compatible Ford vehicles. The update will allow apps to send in-vehicle notifications to the car’s audio system and displays. Additionally, the update will allow apps to use the car’s built-in microphones to receive voice controls. Although Ford will be able to restrict the frequency of alerts, the update is hugely important for developers who will now be able to better communicate and engage with users and access vehicle sensors.

In other news automotive news, Apple is accelerating its efforts to build its first electric car. The company is aiming to ship the Apple-branded car in 2019 and project leaders have been given permission to triple the 600-person development team. Whether or not Apple will actually be able to deliver on the project ship date is up for debate, but it’s clear that the company is committed to the project.