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The Week in Mobile: August 16-22, 2015

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M is for Marshmallow, Google improves location services, Apple TV to run iOS 9 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 Dubs Next Version of Android OS “Marshmallow”

Google’s next Android update, scheduled to launch in the fall, has officially been named “Marshmallow”. Key new features include a revamped mobile payments service and updates for Google Now with the addition of Now On Tap, which provides users with information based on location, time of day, etc.

In addition to naming the new OS, Google announced the final preview for select devices. The Developer Preview 3 of Android Marshmallow features better error reporting and enhancements to the Fingerprint API among other updates. Google Play is now accepting apps for Android Marshmallow and developers can officially download the Android 6.0 SDK.

Google Refines Location Services in Search and Maps

In other Google news, the company has updated search and Maps to support Open Location Codes, which means it’s now easier to find or pinpoint specific locations even if they don’t have a street address. OLCs, also referred to as plus codes, are short location identifiers that work with latitude and longitude coordinates that can be encoded or decoded offline. OLS code in Google search and Maps will improve navigation in areas with a high population density, low data accuracy or no address system.

New Apple TV Expected to Run iOS 9 and Have a Dedicated App Store

The new Apple TV is expected to launch in September, according to a report from 9to5Mac. The new model will run a TV-optimized version of iOS 9 on an iOS core. Reports also indicate that the new model will integrate with Siri and pair with iOS 9’s Proactive function, which means you may be able to use the new intuitive assistant to search for shows, movies, or games across apps and services. Apple will also release a full SDK for Apple TV app development, which will likely be available on an Apple TV App Store. While Apple is focusing on video apps right now, it’s likely the SDK will allow for the development of a wide range of apps down the road.

Watch Wars: Samsung Announces Gear S2

Samsung announced the Samsung Gear S2, a new smartwatch that will look nothing like its predecessor, the Gear S. The Gear S2 is smaller with a round casting and comes loaded with a number of apps including a weather app, time zone app and a stopwatch app. It’s likely that Samsung is hoping the new design and features will help the device compete with smartwatch frontrunner, the Apple Watch. Samsung will release more information about the device in September, but, in the meantime, the company shared a teaser video.

Android One Vies for Growing Markets of Africa and India

Android One, an initiative launched by Google last year that aims to standardize low-cost smartphones in developing markets, is expanding into six countries in Africa. A new Android One smartphone built by Hong Kong manufacturer Infinix will be available along with a free software update for the Android 5.1 device in these six countries. Google is also working on expanding its offline functionality for YouTube to Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Egypt.

Android One’s expansion into Africa follows shortly after Google relaunched the program in India to better cater to price expectations. Prior to the much-needed reboot, there were reports of Android One smartphone shortages in India and the devices were seen as too expensive for the price-sensitive region. Now, Google is focusing on keeping devices between $30 and $50 to establish a foothold the growing market, where mobile app usage has grown by at least 131 percent, outpacing the global growth rate.

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