The tech world was abuzz this week, and it wasn't because one of Europe's biggest Mobile trade shows was being held. In fact, MWC 2021 probably had the least coverage in its history this year. Buckle up, because this is our Winners and Losers column of the week and it comes packed with some big announcements and some not so big.
As always, before I tackle the picks for winner and loser of the week, I'm going to give you a brush-up on some of the most interesting happenings of the past few days.
We know more about the new One UI Watch
I'll still address MWC 2021 in detail below, however, the show played host to a highly anticipated announcement for all wearable and Android ecosystem fans: Samsung finally offered more information about One UI Watch, the software for wearable devices that is the result of a collaboration with Google.
It was clear that Samsung will move away from Tizen, its own operating system for wearables, to invest in what it called "One UI Watch". Among the features of this software signed by the duo Google/Samsung, we have the installation of compatible applications between the mobile phone and smartwatch occurring automatically. What happens today with the iPhone and Apple Watch, for example.
The first wearable device to run on the new One UI Watch should be the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, which will be announced at Samsung's upcoming Unpacked event.
Goodbye APK! Welcome, AAB?
Starting in August, the Google Play Store will feature a new app submission policy. That's because developers will have to submit apps in the new Android App Bundle (AAB) format, as opposed to our good old APK (Android Package).
This news shook a bit the structures of the developer community, because the APK format is part of Android since its launch and is already present in the daily lives of people who use Google's operating system for some time. As an example, I can cite the tutorial on how to download the Google Camera on your phone, which shares the application package - or APK - on the APK Mirror platform.
The change was announced on the Android Developers blog, and reports that "starting in August 2021, Google Play will require new apps to be published in the Android App Bundle format." According to the publication, the new format brings benefits such as reduced download sizes - AAB is 15% smaller than APK -, which should impact the experience of people with the Android ecosystem, because it requires less mobile memory and promises faster installation times.
The company said that existing apps in the Android store will be able to keep the APK format, but anything submitted starting in August will have to use AAB. Google emphasizes that "there are already more than 1 million apps in production in this [new] package, including most of the top 1000 apps and games on Google Play, such as Adobe, Duolingo, Gameloft, Netflix, redBus, Riafy, and Twitter."
It's worth mentioning that the new rule comes shortly after Microsoft's announcement to bring Android apps to the new Windows 11 via Amazon's App Store which, without mystery, uses the APK format. Soon, this means that to be on more devices, developers will have to roll over to offer their apps in at least two formats.
5 years of security updates guaranteed by Samsung for...
Yes, Samsung made some noise this week! In addition to introducing the new One UI Watch, the South Korean giant announced that it has joined the "Android Enterprise Recommended" program. With this, some Galaxy phones from the manufacturer now receive 5 years of security updates. However, there's not much cause for celebration here, as only devices from the so-called "Enterprise Edition" are covered by the additional support.
In other words, only lines dedicated to professionals and businesses are covered by this warranty. This includes flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S20, Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy S21; intermediates like the Galaxy A52 and Galaxy A32; or "rugged" phones like the Galaxy XCover Pro.
In March this year, Samsung had already committed to shipping Android security updates for its devices for up to four years. In addition, the manufacturer also guarantees up to three major Android releases on its premium devices. In other words, Samsung is a mother to its fans!
NextPit now has a monthly mobile game review
The end of June marked a beginning here at NextPit. As regulars on the channel, you may have noticed that we've started a new series of game reviews for Android and iOS, right? For the first episode of this review series, my colleague Antoine Engels chose Unmaze, "an interactive novel that revisits the myth of the Minotaur and cleverly plays with light and shadow".
Besides the game's plot being full of moral questions and demanding quick decisions from who is playing, the gameplay explores the mobile phone's hardware in an almost unique way. If you don't know Unmaze yet, here is an invitation to read our review of the game of the month this Sunday morning!
Winner of the week: Apple's confidence in its new operating system
I confess that this week we had to find a winner among small highlights. However, my colleague Rubens Eishima raised an excellent point: the release of the public beta of iOS 15 earlier than promised (even if only for a few hours) shows Apple's confidence in its new operating system. And Rubens is right!
I'm testing the iOS 15 since the release of the developer beta and the system is really stable. Yesterday, I updated my iPhone 11 Pro Max to the latest version of the OS and it's almost unbelievable to realize how easy Apple is to control the operating system itself. Which is not the case, unfortunately, with the Android 12 beta, which I'm also testing on my Google Pixel 3, in which there are crashes and malfunctions of banking apps, for example.
What makes Apple's release a feat from my point of view is that the public beta, as the name already says, can be downloaded by anyone who has an iPhone present in the list of compatible devices that, astound, brings the iPhone 6s model, announced in 2015. Honestly, I would not recommend the same for those interested in using Android 12 in development stage. For that matter, neither would Google!
So, a software development company has to be pretty confident to do that, right?
Loser of the week: the lack of creativity at MWC 2021
When covering MWC 2021 on NextPit, my colleague Carsten Drees predicted: "this year's MWC will certainly be quieter than usual".
Barring a few exceptions, as in the case of Samsung and perhaps the participation of the irreverent Elon Musk, the Barcelona tech fair need not have happened from a journalistic perspective. First, this year's edition featured in-person events, but the vast majority of companies and guests opted for videoconferences or virtual events. These have become more and more common in these almost 16 months of the pandemic.
Our team decided not to attend the event in person, because although the new cases of infection by Sars-CoV-2 are under control in Europe, Barcelona is a tourist city and an event like the MWC brings together people from all over the world, so the risks of contamination are still high.
However, the GSMA announced that it expected to receive a total of up to 30,000 visitors at the show. Which we still don't know if it happened and, of course, the organization's decision to open the event to the public goes through a financial study about which I can't say now if it was worth it or not.
However, I can talk about the announcements we saw at the show this year and, as expected, they weren't many or loud. We no longer have the launch of big flagships as in the past, as Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, LG and company no longer use the fair for such. More than that, we already understand that it is possible to have an excellent virtual experience in big shows in 2021, but for that you need technical support and creative ideas. What in fact the GSMA has not been able to deliver for some time.
As Joey Tribbiani would say: MWC 2021was abysmal!... and frankly, while companies that organize large events continue to force the "return to normality", who loses are governments, companies, media and consumers. I wish that in 2022 we have more innovation in the area of large shows and fairs, and that virtual access is expanded and redefined.
And with the hope of a reinvention of the MWC and other fairs of the genre (yes, CES, I'm talking to you) I close another edition of the Winners and Losers column. Do you agree with the choices? Leave your opinion in the comments and have a great week!