The Week in Mobile: September 16-21, 2018

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iOS 12 is out in the wild, Xiaomi debuts smartphone with in-display fingerprint sensor, Uber tests traffic estimates 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.

iOS 12 Has Arrived: Here’s Why You Should Upgrade Now

Apple has released the final version of iOS 12, and it’s already receiving praise. Aside from a couple of new features, the update focuses primarily on making older iPhones perform better. For example, users will see huge improvements when launching apps, triggering the camera and entering text. Apple also hasn’t dropped support for a single device with iOS 12, which means that the iPhone 5s (and beyond) receives Siri upgrades, ARKit 2.0, new iOS shortcuts and screen time options.

Pair those benefits with other lesser-known features such as a second Face ID unlock, new trackpad settings and password management options, and reviewers are actually encouraging users to update to iOS 12 now (as opposed to waiting out potential bugs). The source code has also revealed that a redesigned iPad Pro is coming this fall, which will ditch the home button for Face ID unlock and thinner bezels like Apple’s new iPhones. iOS 12 is now available for download through both iPhone device settings and iTunes.

With new iPhone XR, Apple admits 3D Touch is a Failure

In 2015, Apple called 3D Touch as the “next generation of multi-touch” technology. But with the launch of new iPhones last week, the company may be admitting the feature didn’t meet that promise. Apple has dropped the pressure-sensing technology entirely from its new entry-level iPhone XR, which is set to release next month. The decision shaves off some manufacturing costs that help to keep the price down on that device, which is set to be the iPhone of choice for casual or economical users. But while the iPhone XR cuts 3D Touch, it doesn’t skip other new or advanced features such as Face ID unlock. Apple has introduced Haptic Touch to fill in the gaps left by 3D Touch, but ultimately the company has sent a clear message that many iPhone users don’t want or need it.

Xiaomi Announces Smartphone with In-Display Fingerprint Sensor

Apple may have abandoned fingerprint verification in favor of facial recognition, but other device makers aren’t phased. This week, Xiaomi announced that the latest addition to its Mi 8 smartphone family has a built-in fingerprint sensor beneath the display. The Chinese company isn’t the first to package this new technology into a device this year (that honor goes to Vivo’s X21 phone) but it joins a growing chorus of manufacturers that now feature an in-display sensor. It’s an interesting development, especially as Apple goes all-in on its proprietary FaceID technology and removes fingerprint verification altogether. Given that Apple typically waits before incorporating new tech, it will be fascinating to see when (or even if) we’ll finally see an in-display fingerprint sensor on an iPhone.

Uber Hopes to Fuel Demand Beyond Rides With Traffic Estimates Feature

Uber is rolling out a new traffic condition feature it hopes will help users determine the best way to their destination, or at least not get pissed at their driver for long rides. The pilot program is now available to some Android and iOS users, and overlays colored traffic status on the route map before hailing a car. This feature leverages historic data from about 10 billion rides, alongside real-time driver data, to generate traffic estimates. Uber hopes these will tell users when to utilize one of its non-car options, such as new electric JUMP Bikes, scooters or even public transportation (through the app). The company aims to become a one-stop-shop for users to travel in either the cheapest, fastest or most comfortable way possible. It’s a lofty goal, but with new app updates and services beyond ride-hailing, the company is starting to make inroads.

New AR Feature Shows if Your Carry-on Bag Fits the Overhead Bin

Travel app Kayak has just released a new augmented reality feature that measures the size of users’ carry-on bag using just a smartphone. Now available on iOS, the Bag Measurement tool calculates luggage size through the camera, and then shows if it will fit in the overhead bin on the user’s airline of choice. It’s a simple, but nifty feature that can save travelers a major headache at the airport. The feature coincides with the release of the latest version of iOS, which means Kayak is one of the first to leverage Apple’s improved ARKit 2.0. The feature is now available, but only for those who have made the update to iOS 12.

Google Gives Up Control of AMP to Increase Support

The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project has been marred by controversy since its introduction. Most agree some framework is needed to handle the slow mobile page problem. But although well intentioned, the Google-backed AMP project has had several missteps. First, Google made search changes that basically mandated webpages comply with AMP standards or lose mobile ranking. Then, in order to make pages faster, Google began hosting AMP pages. That move effectively cut out the content owners, which left them understandably upset.

In order to mend the problems and prevent further issues, Google announced plans to form a new committee that will usher a new era of “open governance” for the mobile framework. The search giant hopes this move will attract support from other browsers like Apple, Mozilla and Firefox in order to make AMP a more standard format, which could be good for everyone. There is no word on when the committee will be formed, but Google explains the goal is to not have any company or stakeholder represent more than a third of the overall seats.

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