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The Week in Mobile: October 22-28, 2017

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App revenue and downloads hit record level, Apple stores to stock iPhone X for launch, Google’s Pixel 2 has screen and availability issues 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.

Worldwide App Revenue and Downloads Grow for New Record

Global app downloads and revenue were at a record high last quarter, according to a new report. There were almost 26 billion new downloads from either Apple’s App Store or Google Play in Q3, as worldwide revenue from apps soared to nearly $17 billion. The growth was fueled by emerging markets in South Asia countries like India, where the number of downloads doubled in just a year. Google continues to edge out Apple in global downloads, but it’s iOS that holds the top spot for revenue growth (for now). Apple recently revamped the App Store with the release of iOS 11, which debuted “App of the Day” and “Game of the Day” as new strategy to promote app discovery. And it’s apparently been working, as apps featured have received a 1,747 percent increase in downloads on average. Games that were featured saw a 792 percent boost.

The iPhone X Will be Available to Buy at Apple Stores

Despite rumors of production glitches and limited supply, Apple said its retail stores will stock the iPhone X on launch day. The company did not say how many devices will be available per location, but advised fans “to arrive early” if they want to get their hands on one. This undoubtedly means the return of buyers camping overnight for the new iPhone, and the high probability that many will go home empty-handed. The announcement comes on the heels of a new report claiming the company eased specifications for FaceID technology in order to help suppliers build more units, more quickly. Apple responded that the “quality and accuracy of Face ID haven’t changed,” explaining there is still only a one in a million chance a random person could unlock your phone using the technology. The iPhone X is slated to launch this Friday, November 3.

Google Pixel 2 Off to a Rocky Start with Burn-in Screen Issues, Limited Availability

While the Google Pixel 2 XL is barely two weeks old, some users are already reporting burn-in issues on the device’s OLED screen. Google said it is investigating the report, which claims that UI elements (such as the taskbar) remain faintly visible even after switching screens. Burn-in issues after a short time of use are generally rare, but have a tendency to compound over time. The problems only seem to be affecting the larger, LG-manufactured version of the smartphone at the moment.

But it’s not the only troubling Pixel 2 news that Google is now dealing with. According to a new report, some buyers who expected to receive their white version of the Pixel 2 this week have now received emails stating their order has been delayed for up to a month. Google faced the same issue last year when it debuted the first Pixel phone, and unless customers are willing to switch to the black model, they’ll now have to wait.

Now Available: Android Oreo 8.1 Developer Preview

Google has released a developer preview for its first major update to Android Oreo, which features a first look at Pixel Visual Core for third-party apps. Baked into Android Oreo 8.1 is this new feature that will (in theory) allow developers to deliver the Pixel 2’s HDR+ photography on any app. The search giant said this technology is the “first custom-designed co-processor for image processing and machine learning on consumer products.” It was previously only available on Google’s own camera software, but developers can now get their first crack at writing support for their own apps. Developers who are enrolled in the Android Beta Program can now download the Android 8.1 preview.

Amazon’s Appstore Refresh and Focus on Coins

Following Google Play and iOS App Store updates, Amazon gave its own Appstore app a facelift last week. The updated Appstore features a visual redesign that doubles down on Amazon’s virtual currency platform, Amazon Coins. Intended as an alternative payment for apps and in-app purchases, the currency offers consumers discounts for higher amounts purchased, and gives developers a way to up user engagement. However, the platform has received a lukewarm reception since its launch in 2013. The new layout places more emphasis on ways for consumers to earn Coins through in-app activities, along with a new section to manage and update installed apps. The new version of the Appstore app is available for Amazon Fire TV, Fire tablet and Android devices.

‘Pay with Google’ Aims to Streamline Mobile Checkout for Consumers & Retailers

Google is expanding its mobile payments capability beyond Android Pay in a bid to make mobile checkout easier for both retailers and consumers. Powered by the Google Payment API (first announced at I/O this May), the new “Pay with Google” option allows users to pay on mobile with any card on file with their Google account. Merchants will need to use the API in order for the feature to work. Supported services at launch include apps and mobile sites on Chrome for food and travel services like Doordash, Instacart and Kayak, with more partners and browsers to come.

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