The Week in Mobile: August 12-17, 2018

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The fall battle for smartphone dominance is on, Google tracks users even with location services switched off, Android Pie plagued by Quick Charge issue 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 — all to inspire you and your company to take advantage of the many benefits mobile can offer.

Ready? Fight! The iPhone X vs. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9

The battle for smartphone market dominance has already begun. Samsung was the first to make its new flagship design official, with a launch party in Brooklyn last week for its Galaxy Note 9. The new device packs a punch, offering users a whopping 512GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, figures that put many laptops to shame.

But the competition is about to get tougher: Apple is gearing up to announce its new iPhone lineup for the fall. Reports are swirling, including Apple Pencil support for the iPhone X Plus to new iPhones adopting a bezel-less design with Face ID unlock, but Apple may still have more secrets in store for its new phones. And don’t forget about Google, which may be flying under the radar for the upcoming release of its Google Pixel 3 lineup. The company has made Android Pie notch-friendly in order to stay on pace with the trend, and it appears its new flagship device will also follow suit.

Android Pie Shipped With Some Bugs as Go Edition Is Announced

If you haven’t updated your Google Pixel smartphone to Android Pie, you may want to hold off for a bit. The new version of Android’s operating system is off to a rocky start with numerous users reporting that the update has disabled Quick Charging. Google released a statement about the issue encouraging users to charge their device with the 18-watt rapid charger that comes in the box, but the company has not indicated when a proper fix will arrive.

Google has also announced that the “Go Edition” of Android Pie is coming this fall. It will feature all the goodies added in Pie — gesture navigation, adaptive brightness and various UI improvements, among others — but with a massive reduction in reserved storage (up to 500MB smaller than the Android Oreo Go Edition). Google hasn’t confirmed a launch date for Android Pie Go Edition.

Google Tracks User Whereabouts Even When Location History Is Disabled

The Android Pie issues weren’t the only hiccups for Google this week. A new report claims the company continues to track the whereabouts of users even when they have disabled location history. According to the report, Google collects user location data when the feature is off by storing a snapshot of where users are when opening the Maps app, recording the location of weather updates through Android, and even tracking searches that have nothing to do with users’ physical locations. The issue could affect up to two billion Android and Apple devices using Google services. Google has now updated its help page to reflect that it still tracks user location even when the setting is disabled.

A Literal Lock Box to Combat Kids’ Tech Additions?

A company called TechDen is thinking inside of the box in order to fight tech addiction. The company, currently seeking funding through KickStarter, aims to  helping kids develop healthy screen habits through both a time management app and a literal box that stores and charges devices. Called the Den, the smart box notifies parents through a companion app when devices are charging or in use. Parents can even use the app to lock devices inside the box, or designate windows when children are allowed to access their devices. TechDen is aiming to release the product before the end of year.

Apple Working on Multi-User Support for Siri, Improved Chips for Health Tracking

Aside from what’s on the horizon for the new lineup of iPhones, Apple is also working on some other cool new technologies. The company just authorized a patent that might be the framework for multi-user Siri support. This software would allow Siri to use voice matching to differentiate between users, and then perform specific tasks based on who is speaking. For example, the primary user could place restrictions on sensitive apps such as iMessages or calendar. It could also learn from each user’s speech patterns and habits to provide more customized assistance in the future.

A new report claims Apple is also working on a new health chip that would help process biometric data across all its devices. The company currently builds its own custom chips for the iPhone, and is said to also start designing its own processors for its Mac computers before 2020.

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