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The Week in Mobile: January 22-28, 2017

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Apple announces App Store updates, watchOS 3.2 brings Siri support, Target rolls out mobile 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.

Apple Announces App Store Updates

Apple is updating the App Store to make the review process easier for both end-users and developers. To kick things off, Apple is introducing an API that allows developers to add star rating functionality directly into their apps. That means users don’t have to enter the app store in order to leave a review. Additionally, Apple will limit the number of times an app can ask users for a review to just three times per year. Users will also have the ability to turn review requests off.

Finally, Apple will now let developers respond directly to user comments and reviews in the app store. This feature has been available to Android developers in the Google Play store for some time now. The move allows developers to address questions and complaints directly.

Apple WatchOS 3.2 Brings Siri Support

The Apple Watch OS 3.2 beta is now available for testing, and brings with it a number of new features including Siri support for third-party apps. That means users will be able to use SIri on their smartwatch to do things like call an Uber or send a chat message. However, Siri won’t initially be available to all third-party apps — just messaging, payment, ride-booking, workout and calling apps. Additionally, watchOS 3.2 will bring new features like Theater Mode and message effects.

Meanwhile, the release of Android Wear 2.0 is right around the corner, expected to launch on February 9. The update brings improved support for iPhone users with Android Wear devices by allowing developers to create standalone apps. Previously, Android Wear interaction with iOS was limited to features Google distributed through their Android Wear iOS app. Additionally, Android Wear 2.0 will come with revamped notifications and an automatic activity tracker.

Google’s First Instant Apps Are Being Tested

Nearly a year ago, Google introduced Instant Apps, a new way to access app content almost instantaneously and without having to download anything from the app store — just by clicking a URL. Now, the first Instant Apps are undergoing limited testing. This first round includes Instant Apps from BuzzFeed, Wish, Periscope and Viki. In the coming months, the full SDK for Instant Apps will be available on Android. In preparation, developers can check out build guidelines here.

Google Now Accepting Daydream Apps from All Developers

Google’s mobile VR platform, Daydream, is now open to all developers. When the platform first launched to consumers in November 2016, app development was limited to a select set of partners. But now, Google is allowing all developers to submit Daydream apps as long as they follow platform requirements — a set of guidelines to ensure user comfort during the VR experience.

As developers gain access to Daydream, which was originally unveiled at Google I/O in 2016, the next I/O conference is right around the corner. The event will be held from May 17-19 in Mountain View, CA.

Target to Roll Out In-App Mobile Payments

Target is next in line to roll out its own mobile payment system, following similar announcements from competitors Walmart and Kohl’s in 2016. It is unclear exactly what Target’s payment solution will look like, but reports suggest that the feature will be built on top of Target’s existing mobile app and could incorporate features from the store’s coupon app, Cartwheel. Although Target currently allows customers to make Apple Pay purchases when shopping in-app, the company has yet to accept Apple Pay for in-store purchases even though the platform is growing in popularity.

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