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The Week in Mobile: October 15-21, 2017

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Google Play Store adds “Try it Now” apps, Samsung and Google ink ARCore deal, Facebook monetizes Messenger games 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.

Google Adds New Improvements to Play Store

Google has announced a host of updates to the Google Play Store, including a new way for users to try mobile apps without the hassle of downloading. For select apps on Google Play Store, users can tap the “Try it Now” button to launch an app without installing it. The feature utilizes Android Instant Apps, which became available to all Android developers earlier this year. This technology allows developers to partition their apps into smaller chunks that can then run on the web via URL. Some apps that are already letting users try before downloading include BuzzFeed, NYTimes (Crossword), Hollar, Red Bull and Skyscanner.

Other changes to the Google Play Store include an updated Editor’s Choice section, a more robust mobile games tab with trailers and screenshots and a Google Play Security Reward program that will compensate those who find bugs in developers’ apps with $1000. The company also announced a major policy change for Android app subscriptions. Google will now follow Apple’s lead in lowering the fee developers are forced pay when it comes to mobile subscriptions. In order to encourage app developers to sell subscriptions via in-app purchases, Google is reducing the cost from 30 percent to 15 percent. But, developers will need to wait one year before the rate takes effect.

Samsung and Google Ink Deal to Bring ARCore to Galaxy Smartphones

Samsung and Google have launched a strategic partnership that will bring Google’s augmented reality platform to Galaxy smartphones. The move means that developers will be able to use Google’s ARCore framework to build apps for both current and future Samsung Galaxy devices. The platform was already going to be available for the Galaxy S8 and Note 8, but this new deal ensures developers’ ARCore investment will be compatible with all future Galaxy smartphones. The new partnership is certainly great news for ARCore, as Samsung sells more devices than any other smartphone company in the world. Google announced ARCore earlier this year to take on Apple’s ARKit.

Facebook to Monetize Messenger Games with In-App Purchases and Ads

Facebook is introducing a way for developers to make money on games designed for the Messenger app. The social media giant will now allow in-app purchases and monetized ads for Messenger games. After the release of its “Instant Games” feature last year, which utilizes HTML5 to run games like Pacman and Space Invaders, Facebook hopes this new move will drive more developers to build and release their games on the chat app. New interstitial and rewarded video ads will provide in-game goodies such as bonus lives for players who don’t opt out of watching. The ads are now appearing for select Messenger games on iOS and Android. However, only Android is testing in-app game purchases at this time. It’s unclear what kind of fee Facebook plans to charge for these in-app transactions.

Apple is Reportedly Selling More iPhone 7s than iPhone 8s

From crackling audio issues to swollen batteries, the launch of the iPhone 8 hasn’t gone smoothly for Apple. The news didn’t get better last week, as the company found out that customers may prefer to buy an older version of its smartphone. According to a new report, more people in the U.S. are buying the iPhone 7 than the iPhone 8. Apple has yet to release the sales figures for the new iPhone, but fans are quick to point out that the device did not sell out on release, as new iPhones typically do. There are myriad reasons why this may be, with critics speculating that at $150 more, the iPhone 8 just doesn’t offer enough new features to justify the price over its predecessor. It’s also believed that users might be holding out for the iPhone X. Either way, we’ll know soon as the iPhone X (which is expected to be extremely limited) begins pre-orders on October 27th.

Truffle Launches Integration with iMessage for Easier Food Recommendations

Users of the restaurant recommendation app Truffle can now share their finds with friends and family using iMessage. The new integration is now available via update, and will allow users to launch Truffle within iMessage to share a link to their favorite restaurant with contacts. Simply tap on the link to open the relevant page and get your contact’s recommendation. Truffle hopes to leverage more integrations such as dating and travel apps in the future. The app is currently only available on iOS, with no details on when an Android version may be coming.

Delta’s Mobile App Will Now Check You in Automatically

Delta Airlines has announced that its mobile app now supports automatic check-in. Customers who use the app will now be issued a boarding pass 24-hours prior to their flight’s departure, eliminating the need for flyers check-in at a kiosk or online. Delta isn’t the first carrier to sport this feature — Lufthansa has a similar check-in program, but it’s only available for flights within certain areas of Europe. For now, the feature is only available to iPhone users. There is no word on when Android may get the update.

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