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The Week in Mobile: March 20-26, 2016

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Sony goes big into mobile gaming, Apple Pay to hit the mobile web, Apple announcement recap 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.

Sony Launches New Company Dedicated to Mobile Games

Sony announced plans to launch a new company, called ForwardWorks, which will create smartphone games based on PlayStation characters and IP. ForwardWorks will officially launch on April 1 (not an April fools day prank). The move is a signal that Sony is serious about mobile gaming, despite the shutdown of its PlayStation Mobile initiative last year.

The announcement of FowardWorks echoes that of Nintendo’s recent push into the mobile market. The company recently launched its first mobile game, Miitomo, in Japan. Within three days on the App Store, 1 million Miitomo accounts had been created. Miitomo is expected to hit US app stores in the coming months.

Apple Pay Goes After the Mobile Web

Apple reportedly plans to expand its mobile payment platform to include website purchasing. Similar to PayPal, the expansion will allow online shoppers to make purchases using Apple Pay, authenticating those payments via the Touch ID sensor on the user’s iPhone. Apple Pay’s move into retail websites is expected to take place before the 2016 holiday shopping season.

Meanwhile, Android Pay is launching across the pond. Google announced that its mobile payment service will debut in the UK within the next few months. Backed by several retail and banking partners, this will be Android Pay’s first release in Europe and its second foray outside the US.

Apple Unveils New Device Models and Releases iOS 9.3

As expected, Apple made a number of announcements last week at the company’s press event, introducing the 4-inch iPhone SE and a smaller 9.7-inch iPad Pro. The iPhone SE comes with an A9 processor and high resolution rear camera, similar to the iPhone 6S. The new device resembles the iPhone 5 in terms of size and design. Similarly, the new iPad Pro is a smaller version of its predecessor. Apple also announced lower prices for the Apple Watch and unveiled new wristbands for the device.

Additionally, Apple released tvOS 9.2, which allows users to dictate commands, and iOS 9.3, which comes with a number of updates such as Night Shift, CarPlay enhancements and new educational features.

Eric Schmidt Predicts Machine Learning is the Future

In a keynote speech at Google’s Cloud Computing Platform conference last week, Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, predicted that machine learning, crowdsourced data and cloud computing will drive “every succesful huge IPO win in 5 years”. Schmidt points to a shift in programming, made possible by machine learning, in which you no longer program devices, but, instead, teach them to learn and act accordingly. Platforms like Google Photos, which can scan images and recognize objects and even emotions, are at the heart of this movement.

Google Introduces New App Accessibility Scanner

Google introduced a new tool for Android developers that scans apps for accessibility issues. The tool tests each app screen to ensure buttons are easy to use, text is legible and so on. The Accessibility Scanner is particularly handy for developers who want to make sure that their apps are usable for users with visual or physical impairments. Developers can download the new tool for free on any Android device using Marshmallow.

Rumors Suggest Google is Developing a Keyboard for Apple’s iOS

Rumor has it that Google is creating a keyboard for Apple’s operating system. Similar to Android’s keyboard, Google’s keyboard for iOS uses gesture-based typing that suggests words based on a user’s finger movements. However, the third-party keyboard is unique in that it offers up buttons for web, image and gif searches. It’s a move that encourages users to increase mobile Google searches. It is unclear when Google’s keyboard for iOS will be released.

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