The Week in Mobile: November 11-16, 2018

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Samsung’s foldable Galaxy F could cost $1,770, Apple says exploding iPhone ‘definitely not expected behavior’, Google’s ‘Night Sight’ garners praise & more

Each week we round up the top news stories, think pieces and other content about 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.

Samsung’s Foldable Smartphone is Called the Galaxy F and May Cost $1,770

One week after Samsung finally unveiled its foldable smartphone to the world, a potential name, release date and price has emerged. According to a report, the device will be called (drum roll please) the Galaxy F. The device is expected to receive an official reveal in March of next year, and could command a price as high as $1,770.

The Verge’s Vlad Savov (@vladsavov) reports: “Yonhap’s information suggests Samsung hasn’t settled on the final price yet, though we already know from Samsung chief DJ Koh that the company plans to ship a million foldable devices in 2019.”

Samsung is also expected to launch its next flagship Galaxy S phone in February, which is rumored to support 5G wireless networks.

Apple’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

From sliding stock prices to exploding devices, it has been a rough week for Apple. This week, a user reported his iPhone X caught fire immediately after upgrading to iOS 12.1 — to which Apple responded by stating “that’s definitely not expected behavior.”

But spontaneous combustion and meme-worthy tweets were just the tip of the iceberg. Apple is also facing issues with iOS locking scores of users out of their devices “for security reasons.” Despite the wave of lockouts, Apple has not reported any issues with Apple ID as of yet.

Forbes’ Kelly Gordon (@GordonKelly) asks: “In absence of this, the question becomes whether this was a mass iOS software failure or a genuine security crisis. After all, a large hack would require many users to reset their Apple IDs ‘for security reasons’.”

On a positive note for Apple, the company was granted a patent this week for an Apple Watch band equipped with cameras. The advanced dual-lens cameras would capture photo data and stitch together an image of the user for video apps such as FaceTime. Whether Apple can bring this feature to life remains unknown, but at least we can rest easy with the knowledge that exploding iPhones are not expected behavior.

Google’s ‘Night Sight’ Equips Pixel Cameras with Night Vision

Google is rolling out a powerful new camera mode to Pixel devices this week. Dubbed Night Sight, the feature is being hailed as a gamechanger for taking photos at (you guessed it) night time. Google has once again flexed its computational photography and machine learning chops for improved photos, now even in ultra dim light. Most impressively, Night Sight works on the main and selfie cameras of all three generations of Pixel phones, and require zero additional hardware such as a tripod or flash.

The Verge’s Vlad Savov (@vladsavov) writes: “Night Sight is momentous because it’s a software change that delivers a leap in performance that previously only new hardware could bring.”

Google has now released Night Sight within a camera app update for all Pixel devices.

Smart Home Wars: Google Takes on Amazon With New Home Features

Nighttime photography wasn’t all Google had on display this week. From recommended recipes to Ninja Turtle alarms, the company showed off a number of new smart-home features for Google Assistant. The highlight was a “reply back functionality to broadcast” that allows users to communicate between smart home devices and smartphones. For example, a family member at the store could use their mobile device to contact a home speaker and ask for a grocery list. The user could then receive a voice reply and text notification with the transcribed response.

Amazon may have a headstart in the smart home game with Echo and Alex, but Engadget’s Nicole Lee (@nicole) explains: “Google, however, has countered in recent years with its own line of Echo rivals, partnerships with several third-party manufacturers and, most importantly, the increasingly-intelligent Google Assistant.”

Other new integrations include more kid-friendly content such as read-along stories from the likes of Nickelodeon and Disney.

Spotify, Facebook and Volkswagen Launch New Apps and Features

Several prominent mobile developers debuted some noteworthy apps and features this week. First, Spotify has now introduced an Apple Watch app for its popular music streaming platform. So far, functionality is limited to playlist selection, track skipping and other basics, but the company promised offline music and podcasts in the near future.

Next, to combat the likes of TikTok, Facebook has launched its own short-form video app for lip-syncing called Lasso. The social media giant is hoping to capture some of the magic that helped it port Stories to Instagram and beat Snapchat at its own game. Lasso is now available for U.S. download on both iOS and Android.

Finally, Volkswagen has expanded its partnership with Apple to allow users to lock or unlock their vehicle with Siri Shortcuts. Through the VW Car-Net app, users can also ask Siri to enable alarms, check estimate mileage with the fuel or the charge left in their vehicle.

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