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The Week in Mobile: February 12-18, 2017

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iPhone 8 rumors in full swing, Facebook smart TV app, Google rolls out TensorFlow 1.0 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.

iPhone 8 Rumor Mill Roundup

This year marks the iPhone’s 10th birthday and, in celebration, Apple is expected to release a revolutionary new device in the fall. While the company has been tight-lipped about what the device will look like and what changes are in store, there are a number of rumors flying around that suggest the hefty price may just be worth it. Here’s some of what experts are anticipating:

  • New Year, New Name – Rumor has it that the iPhone 8 may take on a different name this year. Reports suggest the new device could be called “iPhone X”, a nod to its 10th birthday.
  • Battery and Charging Changes – According to Kuo, the next iteration of the iPhone will boast a much larger battery — nearly 30 percent larger than the battery in the iPhone 7. The iPhone 8 is also expected to support wireless charging.
  • Bezel-less Display – Finally, reports state that the iPhone 8 will be the most compact iPhone yet, which will require Apple to dump the “icon” home button in favor of a “function area”.

Facebook Brings Newsfeed Videos to a TV Near You

Facebook plans to add a new app to its arsenal in the coming months — this time it’ll be a dedicated video app for the Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung smart TVs. The app will allow users to watch newsfeed videos and Facebook Live content on their TV. Facebook will also curate recommended video content based on user preferences.

Meanwhile, the company wants to make user-created videos better than ever before. Facebook is pushing for a licensing agreement that could allow users to incorporate clips of popular music into their homemade videos.

Google Rolls Out TensorFlow 1.0

Google released TensorFlow 1.0, an updated version of the company’s open source deep learning framework. TensorFlow 1.0 is officially production-ready with Python API stability. The framework is also faster thanks to XLA, which sets the stage for future performance improvements. And TensorFlow 1.0 is more flexible than the first iteration, introducing a high-level API with tf.layers, tf.metrics and tf.losses modules. For more information on what’s new, check out Google’s research blog here.

Apple Releases First ‘Planet of the Apps’ Trailer

Apple is finally giving us a glimpse into the company’s first-ever TV series — a reality show called ‘Planet of the Apps’ in which developers pitch their app idea and vie for funding. Apple released a trailer for the show, and announced that Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow, Will.i.am and Gary Vaynerchuk will serve as judges. The show will also prominently feature Lightspeed Venture, the venture capitalist firm that could invest in the winning app, and well-known tech companies such as Yelp and Uber, who will provide advice for show contestants. ‘Planet of the Apps’ will premiere on Apple Music in the coming months along with a standalone app that allows viewers to engage with the show.

Amazon Echo and Google Home Could Take Calls in the Near Future

According to recent reports, the Amazon Echo and Google Home may start accepting voice calls sometime this year. Both companies are allegedly considering the update, but have concerns about privacy and regulatory restrictions. While it’s unclear what Google’s vision for voice call will be, Amazon says it’s considering a number of call-related features including call forwarding, contact syncing and separate phone lines.

Jaguar Introduces In-Car Payment App

Jaguar Land Rover is partnering with Shell to speed up your next gas station pitstop. Last week, Jaguar introduced the first ever in-car payment app, which allows users to pay for their gas with the vehicle’s touchscreen navigation system. For now, the app is only available in the UK and to drivers of Jaguar’s 2018 F-PACE, XE and XF models. The platform is expected to roll out nationwide later this year. The company also says the app will support payment for additional establishments in the near future, including drive-through restaurants, toll roads and parking facilities.

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