The Week in Mobile: November 12-18, 2017

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New reports detail Apple’s future iPhone plans, Google previews TensorFlow Lite, mobile shopping to conquer Black Friday 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.

Reports: Apple to Release Trio of New iPhones Next Year, Rear-Facing 3-D Sensor in 2019

The iPhone X just launched a couple of weeks ago, so naturally rumors are starting to emerge about future versions of the smartphone. Two separate reports have surfaced detailing what the next two years may hold for Apple’s flagship device. The first comes from highly regarded KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who claims that next year Apple will release three new iPhones: 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch models with OLED displays, and a 6.1-inch model with an LCD display. He believes all three models will sport the all-screen, minimal bezel design and TrueDepth camera technology seen on the iPhone X, and also noted that the lower-resolution LCD display version would be a budget alternative to the OLED-equipped devices.  

Apple is also reportedly working on new rear-facing 3-D sensor technology for the 2019 iPhone. The new sensors would be different from those currently used on the front of the iPhone X, and aim to improve the augmented reality experiences that developers can create. According to the report, Apple is courting suppliers for the proposed design, which will utilize lasers to establish a depth map. Developers are already using the iPhone X front camera and Apple’s new ARKit to capture and render 3D face images for new apps. It’s unknown if Apple will actually get the rear-facing technology done by 2019, but it fits with the company’s goals to provide more AR-focused mobile capabilities.

Google Releases Developer Preview of TensorFlow Lite

Google has released a preview version of its mobile machine learning technology called TensorFlow Lite. The open source software was designed to be lightweight enough to run machine learning algorithms on mobile devices that simply weren’t possible previously. The innovative new platform leverages existing smartphone hardware (like popular Snapdragon processors) to perform AI programs without needing to connect to the Cloud. The new technology brings the power of machine learning to cheaper and more disposable devices, dodging the security pitfalls associated with AI programs tied to the Cloud. The TensorFlow Lite preview is now available for download by both Android and iOS app developers.

Black Friday Could Be Biggest Mobile Shopping Day in U.S. History

Black Friday – and the mega-deals it brings – are a tradition for many, but this year many consumers are expected to shop for gifts in a non-traditional way. A new report predicts the coming Black Friday will be the biggest mobile shopping day in U.S. history so far. Holiday shopping done through mobile apps is set to grow 45 percent as revenue is expected to set a new record this season. The report also predicts that shoppers will spend more than 6 million hours browsing and purchasing on the top 5 digital-first apps (such as Amazon, Wish and Etsy) alone. The data comes from Android apps installed on mobile devices used in the U.S., and does not field the same kind of transparency when it comes to iOS apps and smartphones. The new estimations coincide with an earlier forecast claiming mobile purchases will overtake desktop when it comes to holiday shopping for the first time this year.

Facebook to Eliminate Developer Features Like App Invites, Streamline “Stories”

Facebook has announced that app invites and other developer-friendly integrations will be phased out over the coming months. The social network released a list of features to be shut down by February 6, 2018, which includes: the Native Like Button, App Links Host, Comment Mirroring, Send Button, Sharing Insights and the Follow Button products. Facebook said the features were going away to make room for new products aimed at the developer community, but did not specify what those will be.

The company is also eliminating some repetition and streamlining its features by merging Stories into one across its apps. Messenger Day was the former name of the stories option on the social network’s standalone chat app, but now Facebook has married the platforms with one, unified photo and video sharing feature. These posts will now appear under the “Stories” branding in both apps, as well as be synced together to inform the user whether or not they’ve already watched on one app versus the other. Facebook hasn’t provided numbers for how many people are using Stories, but previously announced that Messenger Day had more than 70 million users.

Pinterest Adds New Photo Searching and QR Code Features

Pinterest has launched a couple of new features that will make photo discovery more intuitive on its platform. The first is called Lens Your Look, which allows users to pair a photo with a search term to generate relevant hits. For example, taking a picture of your denim jacket with the search term “autumn fashion” will generate hundreds or thousands of outfit photos to check out. Pinterest has also added Pincodes, its take on scannable QR codes. When users come across a Pincode in a physical shop, they can scan the colorful dots using Pinterest Lens to access specific boards – such as a collection of holiday gift ideas under $100. The new features are primarily aimed at those who use Pinterest for fashion, which turns out to be a major portion of its user-base: 16 billion out of the 100 billion pins on the site are related to fashion. Both Lens Your Look and Pincodes are now available for use on Pinterest.

Apple Wants Us To Forget About Computers With Latest iPad Ad

In a new ad, Apple wants to convince users that there is no such thing as a computer anymore. The quirky video takes us through the day of a girl who uses her iPad Pro for everything. At school, she whips out the device to FaceTime a friend, finish homework, take a photo of a bug and even doodle. As she progresses through her day, the iPad is continuously used for various activities, such as reading a comic book on the bus. By the end, a neighbor quaintly asks what she is doing on her computer, to which she simply replies: “What is a computer?” It’s a clever story that demonstrates Apple’s imagination around a post-PC world (even if the company previously claimed that the iPad Pro was a computer). Whether consumers will latch onto tablets as a permanent PC replacement remains to be seen, but it’s an interesting proposition.

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  1. Yes, I personally believe that this AI technology and the VR changed the definition of gaming and the visual treat to human eyes. And now this new Tablets and Gadgets comes with new features and lots of upgrades they might be so good with new tech but honestly I believe its hard to forget a computer in my point of view for the upcoming few years. Maybe for a period of 5-10 years, we can expect things differently and strange. Really a great article

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