The Week in Mobile: September 23-29, 2018

Android turns 10 years old, driverless vehicles are key to future of mobile, Snapchat and Amazon debut social commerce feature 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 — all to inspire you and your company to take advantage of the many benefits mobile can offer.

Happy Birthday, Android! The Mobile OS Celebrates its 10 Year Anniversary

This week marks a decade since Google debuted Android to the world. Since then, the mobile OS has grown from a buggy iPhone alternative for nerds to the most widely used smartphone software. Despite those early challenges, Android now powers around 2.3 billion mobile devices around the globe. That means 88% of all smartphones run Android, with no signs that trend will slow. So, what can we expect for the next 10 years of Android? Google is pushing to bake artificial intelligence functionality throughout their mobile OS. The company is also aiming to pave the way in augmented reality with tools like Google Lens, as well as revolutionize texting with its Chat app. Android has evolved considerably since 2008, and only time will tell what the next ten years may bring.

Autonomous Vehicles Will Change the Mobile App Game

While the mobile economy continues to grow, users are now nearly maxed on the time they can devote to apps. According to a new report, overall app session activity grew only 6% last year — down from the 11% growth recorded in 2016. But TechCrunch explains driverless cars could be key to reversing this trend. As the race toward autonomous vehicles heats up, mobile companies should also gear-up for users to have even more time for apps. A recent survey estimates that a driverless future would free up some 1.9 trillion minutes for passengers by 2030 — roughly a third of which could be spent on communication or online shopping apps. We still have a long way to go until autonomous vehicles are the norm, but it’s not too soon for mobile developers to consider how they’ll change user habits.

Apple’s New iPhones: Survey Says…

It’s been over a week since Apple revealed its new trio of iPhones, and some interesting reports are starting to emerge. First, the iPhone XS Max has outsold its smaller counterpart (the iPhone XS) by three to four times as much during its debut weekend. Experts aren’t surprised, as the more advanced iPhone XS Max represents more bang for consumers’ buck, while priced at only $100 more. But from there, things turned decidedly negative for Apple this week.

New findings suggest the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max have less battery life than last year’s iPhone X. That is an embarrassing development for Apple, which touted improved battery performance for new devices at its hardware event. There are also issues with charging speeds, as tests reveal the two devices take more than three full hours to charge with the base adapter. By comparison, Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and Galaxy Note 9 both charge in under two hours. It will be interesting to see how things continue to unfold for Apple as we await the release of its budget smartphone this October: the iPhone XR.

Snapchat Teams With Amazon for Social Commerce Feature

Snapchat and Amazon are joining forces for a social commerce feature that lets users take a photo of an object to buy it. Some users can now pull-up the Snapchat camera to scan a physical product or barcode to bring-up an Amazon window for that product. With a couple more taps, users are sent to Amazon’s app or mobile website to buy the item. It’s unclear if Snapchat will get a portion of the purchase revenue from Amazon. Facing mounting pressure from competitors like Instagram, Snapchat has looked to add more functionality to its camera. This includes a Shazam integration for identifying songs, as well as the introduction of face lenses and augmented reality games. The Amazon feature is now slowly rolling out to users in the U.S.

Google Maps Introduces Group Planning for Simplified Event Coordination

Google Maps is introducing a new feature that will make it easier to coordinate group events. First announced at Google’s I/O developer event, Group Planning allows users to add several locations to a shortlist on Google Maps. Once satisfied, users can then share that list through messaging services, or invite their friends or family to vote on the choices within Maps itself. The feature is a practical way to avoid the deluge of links sent back-and-forth between when trying to meet up with people somewhere. The feature is now rolling out to both Android and iOS users.

Apple Partners With Salesforce to Deliver Siri to Enterprise Customers

Apple is deepening its mobile enterprise efforts with a major new partnership with Salesforce. With this new alliance comes a redesigned version of the Salesforce app on iOS, which will include key iOS features such as Face ID, Business Chat and Siri Shortcuts for office use. The two companies will also work together on a Salesforce Mobile SDK optimized for Apple’s Swift coding language. That will also integrate with the Salesforce Lightning Platform for mobile development, which hosts around five million devs. Apple has pursued the enterprise segment aggressively since 2014, also announcing deals with IBM, Cisco, SAP and others over the years. The new mobile SDK is set to launch by the end of 2018, with the revamped Salesforce app coming in 2019.