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The Week in Mobile: August 21-27, 2016

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Nougat graduates from beta, Microsoft’s mobile push continues, Google Daydream release nearing 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.

Android Nougat Now GA

The latest version of Android, Nougat, is officially out of beta and available to the general public. But, for the time being, the new OS is only available on Nexus devices, the Pixel C tablet and the General Mobile 4G. All other Android users — with devices from Samsung, Sony, HTC and LG — are at the mercy of their manufactures and carriers who must issue and approve the update before it can be pushed out. It’s a system that has notoriously slowed the adoption of new Android versions.

Meanwhile, Google announced that the OS will operate on a new regularly scheduled maintenance cycle. It appears updates will now be pushed out on a quarterly basis, though Google has yet to confirm the exact timeline.

Microsoft: New Acquisition, App and Partnership

Having conceded the mobile OS war, Microsoft is moving full steam ahead with its mobile flanking strategy. The company announced its latest mobile acquisition, productivity app Genee, which automates meeting scheduling. Microsoft has yet to announce how the technology will be used, but It’s likely the capabilities will be integrated into Outlook. Meanwhile, Microsoft has a new enterprise app in the works called Project Sonoma. The app, which is currently being tested by select users, allows shift workers to manager their schedules, swap shifts with coworkers and chat with fellow employees. It is unclear if or when Project Sonoma will be released to the general public.

Finally, Microsoft has partnered with Lenovo to ensure that Microsoft Office, OneDrive and Skype come preloaded on select Lenovo Android devices. Microsoft has made similar deals with companies like Samsung, Xiaomi and LG to bring its apps to Android.

Google’s Daydream Could Hit Stores Sooner than Expected

Reports suggest that Google’s Daydream VR platform is right around the corner. The device is expected to launch in the “coming weeks”. In the meantime, Google is negotiating partnerships to encourage companies to develop VR content, though it’s unclear whether this content will be exclusive to Google’s new device. When Daydream does officially launch, there will be numerous apps available for download, including YouTube, Hulu, HBO, NBA and MLB. And Google is attempting to make it easier to navigate between apps in VR by providing a remote control with every device.

Facebook Launches New App for Teens

Facebook introduced a new app called Lifestage, which allows high schoolers to share videos with fellow classmates. The app was created specifically for teenages, by a teenager. In fact, Lifestage will only be available to a school’s population once 20 students at that location have created profiles. The goal of the app is to allow teens to get to know their classmates by sharing videos that express “likes” and “dislikes”. The move may be a tactic to help Facebook compete with Snapchat, which has been a long-time favorite for young users.

Delta’s App Features Baggage Tracking Notifications

Earlier this year, Delta launched a $50 million initiative to update its baggage tracking system. Now, more than 344 airports are equipped with Radio Frequency Identification chip technology, which allows customers to track bags using the Delta app. Users can opt into notifications that update customers on the location of their luggage. What’s more RFID allows Delta employees to more easily access bag information without having to scan barcodes. The technology has resulted in a decrease of mishandled baggage reports. In June 2016, there were 2.82 mishandling reports per 1,000 customers. That’s down from the 3.47 reports per 1,000 customer in June 2015. And even when things do go amiss, customers can check in on their lost items from their mobile device.

Android Pay Launches Loyalty Program, Starting with Walgreens

Last week, Google announced that Walgreens will be the first retailer to integrate its loyalty program into Android Pay. That means users will be able to access their rewards points from their mobile device at checkout. The functionality was anticipated given Apple Pay has supported loyalty programs since November of 2015. For now, the functionality is only supported by Walgreens, but it’s likely we’ll see a number of integrations popping up for Android Pay over the next few months.

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  1. The release of Android Nougat is great news indeed. With Android Nougat, Google improved upon Doze mode by putting your device in an even lower power usage mode while on the go.

    However, some of those who have upgraded to Android Nougat have voiced concerns over battery life.

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