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The Week in Mobile: October 9-15, 2016

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Samsung continues to put out fires, Facebook launches Workplace, new iOS and Android betas 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.

Samsung Continues to Put Out Fires

By now, you’ve likely heard about the Galaxy Note 7 recall, as the devices have caught fire and caused plane delays as well as Jeep and garage fires. In response, Samsung has stopped production of the Galaxy Note 7 and has asked retailers to put sales on hold until the issue is resolved. The company is also offering Note 7 owners a $100 discount if they trade their recalled device in for another Galaxy phone. Meanwhile, Samsung expects to take a significant hit in earnings thanks to the recall. The company is now forecasting its Q3 profits at $4.6 billion — that’s cutting its original forecast by one-third.

Facebook Launches Workplace

After more than two years in development, Facebook released its enterprise collaboration platform, aptly named “Workplace”. The platform mirrors the Facebook newsfeed we’ve become accustomed to, but is populated with information and updates from coworkers rather than your personal network. Workplace will compete with solutions such as Slack and Microsoft’s Yammer.

Separately, the company launched a new standalone app called Facebook Events, which allows users to search for local happenings and integrate personal calendar information. With 650 million people already using Facebook’s event functionality in the main app, the company should be able to draw a significant crowd to its new dedicated version.

iOS 10.1 Public Beta and iOS 10.1 Beta 3 Now Available

As Apple’s iOS 10 adoption continues to increase — with 54 percent of devices running on the new OS just over a month after its initial release — the company is gearing up for its first major update. iOS 10.1 beta is now available to the general public and its iOS 10.1 beta 3 is now available to registered developers. The updated OS will feature improvements for motion handling, new auto-play message effects and more.

Android 7.1 Developer Preview and Public Beta

Following Google’s release of Nougat in August, the company announced that a developer preview and public beta of Android 7.1 is set to release this month. The update includes Night Light, a feature that adjusts screen brightness, support for Daydream VR and improvements to display responsiveness. What’s more, developers will be able to create app shortcuts.

Google Turns to Pixar and The Onion Writers to Improve AI

Google wants to foster an emotional connection between user and AI assistant, and it’s bringing in the experts to make that vision a reality. In order to compete with Amazon’s Alexa, which is known for its ability to engage in lengthy (and often amusing) conversations, Google is hiring writers from Pixar and The Onion to create content for Google Assistant. Ultimately, the goal is to improve the assistant’s tone and overall ability to hold a natural, human-like conversation.

VR Headsets Catching On Slowly

There’s been a lot of buzz about virtual reality lately, with major players in the tech space — including Google, Samsung and Sony — making major investments. However, a recent report conducted by Strategy Analytics projects that only 11.4 million Americans will own a VR device by the end of 2016. That’s just 6 percent of the population. Additionally, 93 percent of those who own a VR device will have a basic headset, such as Google’s Cardboard, while a mere 1 percent will purchase a high-end device, such as the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive. Still, there’s some good news for VR enthusiasts. Strategy Analytics predicts that 16 percent of Americans will own a VR headset by the end of 2017, with that percentage increasing to 27 percent by the end of 2018.

Drivers Opt for Mobile Navigation Over Built-In Systems

Mobile might just be the most convenient way to navigate. According to a recent report from J.D. Power and Associates, nearly two-thirds of drivers with built-in navigation systems opt to use their smartphone for directions either all of the time or on occasion. What’s more, over half of those with built-in navigation report never once using the technology and one-third say they tried built-in navigation, but gave up on it in less than two weeks opting to use a mobile device instead. The reason? Most frequently, users report frustration when inputting addresses. This indicates that platforms like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay could be a huge hit once more widely available.

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