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The Week in Mobile: March 13-19, 2016

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Apple releases iOS 9.3 beta 7, Google enriches Play store for games, Amazon seeks patent for selfie payments 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.

iOS 9.3 Beta 7 Now Available

The seventh iteration of iOS 9.3 beta is now available for developers and public testers. The release includes several updates and new features, including Night Shift, which auto adjusts display temperature, CarPlay capabilities and improved 3D Touch options. The public release of iOS 9.3 is expected to roll out this week.

Apple is hosting their press event today at 10am PST. The company is expected to announce a new 4-inch iPhone and a new 9.7-inch iPad.

Apple Opens News App to Independent Publishers

Independent publishers are now able to share content on Apple’s iOS News App thanks to the release of a new web-based editing tool. Previously, publishers were required to partner with Apple in order to publish content for the app. Now the platform, which has 40 million users, is open to anyone. The announcement follows Facebook’s promise to open Instant Articles to all publishers in April.

Google Enriches Play Store for Games

Last week, Google made a number of exciting announcements for Android game developers. A new Google search feature called “Search Trial Run Ads” allows users to try games directly from their mobile web browser. Users who search for a game will be able to tap a “try now” button in order to launch a 10 minute demo. Additionally, Google launched a new section in its Play store called “indie corner;” featuring a frequently updated list of top indie games. And, finally, the company announced plans to release a new API that allows devs to incorporate video and live streaming into gaming apps.

Android N Brings Lots of Goodness

Earlier this month, Android announced the release of its Android N Developer Preview, boasting the arrival of improved notifications and split screen mode. Now that developers have had some time to dig into the preview, it’s clear that there’s a lot more to be excited about. The new OS gives more control over their experience with a System UI Tuner, which allows users to adjust a number of settings to their liking. For example, users will be able reorganize icons displayed on their status bar, calibrate display colors and more. Additionally, Android N comes with Night Mode, quick app switch for easy navigation between apps and more.

What’s more, Android N’s docs mention “freeform” mode, which would allow users to move and resize apps. For devices with a larger screen, this could open up a world of possibilities in terms of multitasking. Once the feature is available in Android N’s preview, developers will be able to set the minimum window size and position for apps.

Amazon Files Patent for Selfie Pay

Amazon recently filed a patent for selfie authentication for payments, which would allow users to authorize Amazon purchases by taking a picture of themselves using their smartphone. Several other companies, including MasterCard and USAA, have been testing their own facial authentication capabilities for over a year now. While these capabilities all look slightly different, the end result is the same—users are able to forgo passwords by authenticating purchases with a quick picture of themselves.

South by Southwest Interactive Releases Social App for VR

South by Southwest Interactive has launched a new social app for virtual reality called Splash. The iOS app aims to make recording and sharing 360-degree images and videos as easy as sending a Snapchat. Content shared on Splash can be watched on smartphones or VR headsets for an immersive social experience. The launch of Splash follows shortly after Oculus’ release of several new social VR features for the Samsung Gear VR gaming world.

Wikipedia Releases Updated iOS App to Boost Engagement

In a continued effort to boost usage beyond fact-checking, Wikipedia released an upgraded iOS app with new features for personalizing and discovering content. A new explore tab pulls trending and featured articles as well as content specifically geared toward individual users. Personalized content is determined by user location and previous reading habits. Additionally, the app is easier than ever to navigate with new support for 3D Touch.

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