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The Week in Mobile: February 7-13, 2016

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Apple unveils new betas, Microsoft partners with manufacturers to pre-install Android apps, Quartz launches new take on the news app 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 Selling View-Master Virtual Reality Headset

View Master, the magical red toy of our youth, is keeping up with the times. Apple is now offering View-Master’s virtual reality headset, available for purchase on Apple’s online store for $30. Similar to Google’s Cardboard, the View-Master relies on a smartphone for the brains and display. It’s Apple’s first dabbling into the VR headset arena and should act as a decent competitor to Cardboard, as it is more durable for a similar price.

Meanwhile, information has leaked about Google’s next VR headset, which is expected to launch this year. Rumors suggest that the device will feature its own movement sensors and will come with its own software. The device will be Google’s first serious investment in a VR headset, competing with Samsung’s Gear VR.

New Beta Builds Available for OS X, iOS, tvOS and watchOS

Apple released new beta builds for Mac, iPhone, the Apple TV and the Apple Watch. Both the iOS 9.3 beta and the watchOS 2.2 beta bring a number of bug fixes plus a few new feature updates, including new map functionality for the Watch, which pulls up nearby businesses based on your location. The new tvOS 9.2 beta sees a host of new features, including support for Live Photos, a conference room display setting, app folders and the ability to dictate password and username for login. Meanwhile, updates for OS X bring iPhone supported features, like Live Photos and password protected Notes, to your laptop for a more cohesive cross-device experience.

Microsoft Partners with 74 Hardware Manufactures to Pre-Install its Apps

Last week, Microsoft announced partnerships with 74 hardware manufactures that will pre-install Microsoft apps on their Android devices. That means Microsoft apps — such as Word, Excel, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint and Skype — will be on a myriad Android devices, including the LG G Pad 2, Samsung Galaxy S6, Sony Xperia Z4 and more. It’s a move that supports Microsoft’s newfound commitment to opening its services to other operating systems.

Quartz Launches iOS News App with a Twist

Quartz launched a new take on the news app that delivers updates in the form of a conversation. There’s no homepage to scroll through headlines and you can’t navigate between the business section and the technology section as you would in the New York Times app or the Buzzfeed app. Instead, Quartz’s app sends news via a thread similar to a text message conversation. Users can respond for more information or ask for the next article. Many news outlets use popular messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, to deliver news, however; Quartz is the first major outlet to fully embrace a messaging format as its primary method for sharing news on mobile. It’s a move that plays off of the major success of messaging, which recently surpassed social network apps in terms of monthly active users.

The Accelerating App Economy: Projected $101B by 2020

According to App Annie, the app economy will reach $101 billion by 2020 thanks to an increase in app usage and steady smartphone adoption around the world. In 2016, app store downloads are estimated to increase to 147.3 billion. That’s a 33 percent increase from 2015. In terms of gross revenue on a global scale, app stores are expected to generate $51 billion in 2016 and over $101 billion by 2020.

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