Welcome again to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the most recent in mobile OS news, mobile functions and the general app financial system.
The app business continues to develop, with a record 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in international shopper spend in 2020. Customers final yr additionally spent 3.5 trillion minutes utilizing apps on Android units alone. And within the U.S., app utilization surged forward of the time spent watching reside TV. Presently, the common American watches 3.7 hours of reside TV per day, however now spends 4 hours per day on their mobile units.
Apps aren’t only a method to go idle hours — they’re additionally a giant enterprise. In 2019, mobile-first corporations had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x larger than these with out a mobile focus. In 2020, traders poured $73 billion in capital into mobile corporations — a determine that’s up 27% yr over yr.
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Google Play updates its policies
Did you hear the one about Google Play banning sugar daddy courting apps? Google this week up to date its terms to clarify that apps the place customers supply intercourse acts in change for cash, or “sugar courting,” as the new terms state, are not allowed as of September 1, 2021.
Extra attention-grabbing, maybe, to the bigger group of legit Android builders is that this week’s unveiling of the UI for the upcoming Google Play safety section and the accompanying app labels. The labels will perform because the Android counterpart to the app “nutrition labels” the Apple App Store lately launched. Google is giving builders loads of time to get used to the concept of elevated transparency and disclosure, by providing an in depth timeline of when it expects builders to have their privateness label submissions prepared. By April 2022, all builders might want to declare particular information and have a privateness coverage.
Builders should confide in customers whether or not their app makes use of security practices like information encryption, whether or not it follows Google Play’s Households coverage for apps aimed toward youngsters, whether or not customers have a selection in information sharing, whether or not the app’s security part had been verified by a 3rd celebration, and if the app allowed customers to request information deletion on the time of uninstalling, amongst different issues.
Apps that don’t disclose received’t be capable of listing or replace till the issues are fastened.
The security part wasn’t the one Google Play coverage news to be introduced this week.
Google additionally reminded developers that it was making a technical change to how promoting IDs work. Now, when customers decide out of interest-based promoting or advertisements personalization, their advertising ID is eliminated and changed with a string of zeros. The change, nevertheless, is a phased rollout, affecting apps working on Android 12 units beginning late 2021 and increasing to all apps working on units that assist Google Play in early 2022.
Google additionally stated it can take a look at a new feature that notifies builders and advert/analytics service suppliers of consumer opt-out preferences and is prohibiting linking persistent device identifiers to non-public and delicate consumer information or resettable device identifiers. Youngsters apps will even not be capable of transmit an advert ID.
One other policy update includes a plan to shut dormant accounts. Google says if the account is inactive or deserted after a yr, it will likely be closed. It will embody accounts the place the developer has by no means uploaded an app or accessed Google Play Console in a yr.
Apple tries to repair the Safari mess
In response to suggestions and complaints, Apple is clearly attempting to repair among the points that arose from this modification. It re-added a Share button to the tab bar and put extra controls below that menu. There’s additionally as soon as once more a reload button within the tab bar subsequent to the area title, although it’s a bit smaller, and a Reader Mode button will seem within the tab bar when Reader is out there
On iPad, Safari additionally reverted again to the normal separate row of tabs, as a substitute of the new compact expertise.
Elon Musk sides with Epic Video games
Elon Musk sided with Fortnite maker Epic Video games within the Apple App Store antitrust lawsuit, because the Tesla CEO tweeted on Friday that Apple’s App Store charges have been “a de facto international tax on the Web.” The lawsuit alleges Apple is abusing its platform power with the way it commissions apps and in-app purchases on its App Store platform — charges that add as much as huge numbers for a sport like Fortnite, which arguably doesn’t want an App Store for discovery, advertising, funds and distribution. However there’s no different method to promote to iOS customers at present. On Android, apps can at the least be sideloaded. It’s not at present clear why Musk has determined to take a stand on the problem, as none of his corporations’ apps are dramatically impacted by Apple’s charges at current.
Different Platform Information (Apple & Google)
Apple announced plans to end support for a number of SiriKit intents and instructions, together with people who might impression main apps — like ride-sharing app Uber. In complete, there are over 20 SiriKit intent domains that can be deprecated and not supported in new and current OS releases, Apple says.
Apple tweaked the controversial iOS 15 Safari adjustments within the latest betas (iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, beta 4). The new Safari design had moved the tab bar (URL bar) to the underside of the screen — a reasonably radical change for one of many iPhone’s most used apps. It was meant to make the controls simpler to succeed in however critics stated that the change made different usually used features — just like the reload button or Reader Mode — tougher to seek out and use, impacting the general usability of the browser itself.
Google this week launched version 1.0 of Jetpack Compose, Android’s new, native UI toolkit aimed toward serving to builders construct higher apps quicker. The software had been in beta since March. The new manufacturing launch is constructed to combine with the Jetpack libraries builders already use, and affords an implementation of Materials Design parts and theming. New features include Compose Preview and Deploy Preview, which require Android Studio Arctic Fox, which can also be out now in a steady launch.
Google additionally announced the provision of the CarHardwareManager API by way of the Android for Automobiles App Library as a part of Jetpack.
Twitter launched a U.S. e-commerce pilot test that may assist decide the present urge for food for online procuring on its platform. The take a look at permits manufacturers and companies to feature a “Store Module” with numerous merchandise on the market on the prime of their Skilled Profile, a business-friendly version of a profile web page with assist for issues like an tackle, hours, phone quantity and extra. Customers can click on the Store Module to go to a retail web site and transact. Early testers embody Sport Cease and Arden Cove. The feature itself is considerably naked bones for now, because it’s actually simply an image that launches an in-app browser. That’s not sufficient to actually compete with one thing like Instagram Store or Shopify’s Store and the built-in, native checkout expertise these kinds of app affords.
Fintech big Robinhood raised $2.1 billion in its IPO this week. The IPO valued the buying and selling app at $31.8 billion, making it bigger that conventional rivals like Charles Schwab, although the providing priced on the backside of its vary. The inventory dropped 8% throughout its first day’s buying and selling, nevertheless. Robinhood now has 21.3 million MAUs.
PayPal throughout its second-quarter earnings name announced its new “tremendous app” is now code-complete and able to roll out. The app will feature early direct deposit, test cashing, high yield financial savings, budgeting instruments, improved invoice pay, crypto assist, subscription administration, purchase now, pay later performance, mobile commerce, and person-to-person messaging features. The latter hadn’t but been introduced and would permit customers to speak exterior of the funds course of.
Code present in Apple’s Pockets app signifies that iOS 15 will require users to confirm their identities by taking a selfie after they add their driver’s license or different state identification card to the iPhone.
Instagram announced a collection of serious adjustments to the way it handles the accounts of youthful teenagers. The corporate says it can now default customers to personal accounts at sign-up in the event that they’re below the age of 16 — or below 18 in sure locales, together with within the EU. It's going to additionally push current customers below 16 to modify their account to personal in the event that they haven't already executed so. As well as, Instagram is rolling out new know-how aimed toward lowering undesirable contact from adults — like those that have already been blocked or reported by different teenagers — and it'll change how advertisers can attain its teenage viewers. The adjustments give the corporate a method to argue to regulators that it’s able to self-policing because it makes an attempt to roll out a version of Instagram to youthful customers below the age of 13.
Twitter rolls out an update to its reside audio platform, Twitter Areas, that may make it simpler to share the audio room with others. Customers will be capable of compose a tweet proper from the House that hyperlinks to the room and consists of any accompanying hashtags. iOS customers additionally obtained new visitor administration controls for hosts.
Snapchat resolved an outage that was stopping individuals from logging in on Thursday. Not like different app blips, which repair themselves usually with out customers’ consciousness, Snap instructed customers to manually replace their app if the problems continued.
Snapchat additionally this week added a “My Places” feature to Snap Map, which permits customers to log their favourite spots, share them with mates and discover suggestions. The feature helps over 30 million companies and permits Snap to distinguish its map from a utility like Google Maps or Apple Maps, as a result of it’s about private suggestions from individuals you understand and belief: your folks.
Instagram added support for 60-second movies to its TikTok clone, Reels. Beforehand, solely Reels of as much as 30 seconds have been supported. Sixty seconds is according to different platforms like YouTube Shorts and Snapchat’s Highlight. However TikTok is now inching into YouTube territory, because it lately expanded to assist three-minute movies.
TikTok expanded its LIVE platform with an enormous lineup of new features together with the power to go reside with others, host Q&As, use moderators and improved key phrase filters, and extra. For viewers, TikTok is including new discovery and viewing instruments, together with picture-in-picture mode and methods to leap to LIVE streams from the For You and Following feeds. Some markets, together with the U.S. already had entry to LIVE Occasions, however the feature is now increasing. In the meantime, the co-host feature at present helps going reside with one different creator, however TikTok says it’s now testing a number of hosts.
Discord launched a new feature, Threads, which can make it simpler to learn via longer conversations on busy servers. Now, any server with “Group” features enabled will be capable of rework their messages into threaded conversations throughout mobile and desktop. The threads can be designated by their very own topic title and will be created by deciding on a new hashtag image that seems within the menu when hovering over messages or by urgent the + signal within the chat bar.
Pinterest shares dropped by greater than 12% after the corporate reported its second-quarter earnings on Thursday. Regardless of beating on estimates with income of $613.2 million and earnings per share of 25 cents, traders have been upset by the miss on consumer progress. The corporate reported month-to-month lively consumer progress of simply 9% to succeed in 454 million, when analysts have been anticipating 482 million. Pinterest blamed COVID impacts for the slowdown. The news follows Pinterest’s launch of new tools for creators to monetize their content, with Concepts Pins — the lately launched video-first format that lets creators present off their work. Now, creators could make their pins “shoppable” and take commissions on these purchases.
WhatsApp is testing support for larger image add high quality on iOS units. The feature was found on WhatsApp’s TestFlight version for iOS however shouldn't be but public and affords three options: auto, best high quality or information saver.
Streaming & Leisure
Spotify’s Clubhouse clone, Greenroom, is off to a gradual begin. The app has only been downloaded 140,000+ occasions on iOS and 100,000+ on Android, together with installs from its earlier life as Locker Room, an app that Spotify acquired to maneuver into reside audio. In the meantime, Spotify has 365 million month-to-month lively customers on its flagship streaming app.
Spotify additionally reported its Q2 earnings this week, the place it posted a $23.6 million loss and failed to succeed in its forecast for complete MAUs, regardless of rising MAUs 22% YOY to 365 million. It now has 165 million paying subscribers, which is up 20% YOY.
In a change to its app, Spotify added an attention-grabbing “What’s New” feed that provides customized updates about new releases and new podcast episodes. The feature is out there via a notification bell icon and makes use of a blue dot to point when there’s one thing new to see. Dots like this are a psychological hacks popularized by social apps like Fb and Instagram to addict customers, which might impression consumer engagement time on Spotify’s app.
Apple’s GarageBand app for iOS and iPadOS now lets you remix tracks from prime artists and producers like Dua Lipa and Girl Gaga. There are additionally new Producer Packs with beats, loops and devices created for GarageBand by prime producers, together with Boys Noize, Mark Lettieri, Oak Felder, Soulection, Take A Daytrip, Tom Misch and TRAKGIRL.
Google TV’s mobile app was updated with new providers and customized suggestions, following final fall’s launch of the Google TV consumer expertise for Chromecast units. The app now sports activities 16:9 widescreen film and present posters, and added new suppliers Discovery+, Viki, Cartoon Community, PBS Youngsters, Boomerang, plus on-demand content material from reside TV providers, together with YouTube TV, Philo and fuboTV.
Epic Video games announced that Fortnite will host one other in-game occasion it’s calling the “Rift Tour,” which kicks off Friday, August 6 and runs via Sunday, August 8. What it hasn’t but stated is what the Rift Tour is, past a “musical journey into magical new realities” that may feature a “record-breaking celebrity.”
Well being & Health
Fb’s Oculus division is exploring an integration of Oculus Exercises with Apple’s Well being app, in keeping with the app’s code. An integration would permit customers to retailer their exercise information in Well being.
Utilization of mobile video conferencing apps like Zoom grew by 150% within the first half of 2021, in keeping with a report from Sensor Tower. Zoom, Microsoft Groups and Google Meet noticed a surge in utilization, collectively climbing to just about 21x larger than in H1 2019, the agency discovered.
Google Voice’s app was updated with a few refinements, together with a method to see the explanation for a missed name or dropped name, and a straightforward method to redial. iOS customers can now present their Google Voice quantity as their caller ID after they get a calling via a forwarding quantity. One other change will permit customers to delete a number of SMS messages without delay.
Language studying app Duolingo raised $521 million in its U.S. IPO, priced above the marketed vary. The corporate priced 5.1 million shared at $102, after first advertising them at $95 to $100.
Amazon this week rolled out an replace to its Alexa iOS app that permits customers to add an Alexa widget to their iOS homescreen. The widget enables you to faucet on a button to talk to the digital assistant and concern instructions. Be careful Siri! (Ha, simply kidding.)
Google Maps additionally up to date its iOS app this week to add support for a homescreen widget. There are two completely different widgets sizes to select from — one that offers information like climate and site visitors, whereas one other is extra of a shortcut to close by locations like gasoline stations, eating places, work and residential.
Google is working on a”Swap to Android” app for iOS customers that may copy over information and apps from an iPhone to convey them to a new Android device. Apple already affords an analogous app, known as “Transfer to iOS” for Android customers.
Parking app utilization has popped to pre-pandemic ranges, Apptopia reported. Apps on this area assist customers discover availability in heaps and garages close by and facilitate funds. Shopping time in apps was up 57% YOY in July, and general parking app utilization is now 6.2% above Jan. 2020 pre-pandemic ranges.
Moovit integrated Lime’s electrical scooters, bikes and mopeds into its transit-planning app that’s reside in 117 cities throughout 20 nations and continents, together with america, South America, Australia and Europe.
Authorities & Coverage
Tencent’s WeChat suspended new consumer registrations in China to adjust to “related legal guidelines and rules.” The transfer comes amid a broad crackdown on tech corporations by Chinese language regulators, associated to information assortment and different dangerous practices.
Lately, China ordered Tencent and 13 other developers to repair issues associated to pop-ups inside their apps, as a part of the tech crackdown. The regulator additionally stated it could tighten controls on deceptive and express content material used for advertising, and issued fines for offensive content material to Tencent, Kuaishou and Alibaba.
Safety & Privateness
Apple released patches for iOS, iPadOS and macOS to deal with a zero-day vulnerability that had been exploited within the wild. Apple stated the exploit might exploit the vulnerability referred to as CVE-2021-30807 to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges on a susceptible and unpatched device.
Google Play Shield failed an Android security take a look at, in keeping with a report from Bleeping Computer. The mobile menace protection resolution ranked final out of 15 Android security apps examined over a span of six months, between January to June 2021.
💰 Product insights and analytics startup Pendo raised $150 million at a $2.6 billion valuation, forward of its anticipated IPO. The spherical was led by B Capital, the agency from Fb co-founder Eduardo Saverin, and included new investor Silver Lake Waterman, alongside current backers. Pendo’s platform helps corporations collect information on how prospects use their apps, together with purchasers like Okta, Toast and others.
🤝 Twitter “acqui-hired” the workforce from subscription news app, Temporary, who will now be a part of Twitter’s Expertise.org group, which works on Twitter Areas and Discover. Temporary had provided a non-biased news app that allowed you to get each side of a narrative and all the required info. Deal phrases weren’t disclosed.
💰 Supply app Gopuff confirmed its $1 billion fundraise at a $15 billion valuation, aimed toward increasing its instantaneous supply service. TechCrunch beforehand reported the news when the Sequence H was nonetheless being closed.
💰 Indian journey app Ixigo raised $53 million (Rs 395 crore), prepping the enterprise for a valuation of $750 million-$800 million for its upcoming IPO. The spherical was led by Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC.
💰 Cell-first digital pockets Valora native to the Celo network raised $20 million in Sequence A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), a Celo backer, to turn into a world gateway to crypto.
💰 Crypto pockets firm Eco, backed by a16z, raised $60 million in new funding led by Activant Capital and L Catterton. Eco affords a digital pockets with rewards and no charges, and has common deposits of round $6,000.
💰 Search API startup Algolia, which lets builders combine real-time search in apps or web sites, raised $150 million in Sequence D funding, valuing the enterprise at $2.25 billion, post-money. The spherical was led by Lone Pine Capital. Algolia now has over 10,000 prospects, together with Slack, Stripe, Medium, Zendesk and Lacoste.
💰 Mind Applied sciences raised $50+ million for Pure, a pure language search engine and tremendous app for iOS, which needs customers to cease switching between apps to order meals, groceries or buy groceries. Backers embody Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective, Goodwater Capital, Scott Prepare dinner and WTT Funding.
💰 Messaging app Aspect, constructed on the decentralized Matrix protocol, raised $30 million in a Sequence B spherical of funding. Traders embody open-source R&D lab Protocol Labs and Metaplanet. a fund from Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn, in addition to previous traders Automattic and Notion.
💰 Indonesia-based grocery app HappyFresh raised $65 million in Sequence D funding in a spherical led by Naver Monetary Company and Gafina B.V. The app affords an Instacart-like grocery supply service for elements of Asia, which at present operates in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
💰 Indian D2C magnificence model MyGlamm, which sells merchandise via an app and web site, raised $71.3 million in Sequence C financing, from Amazon, Ascent Capital and Wipro.
Developer Kosta Eleftheriou might have taken on Apple in authorized battles and on Twitter, as he factors out the quite a few app scams on the App Store, however that hasn’t stopped him from constructing new apps.
This week, Eleftheriou launched Nanogram, a Telegram consumer app that works on the Apple Watch without having an iPhone connection. Eleftheriou stated he was impressed to construct Nanogram as a result of he needed a Telegram app for his LTE Apple Watch and didn’t just like the official version that didn’t present “primary and dependable messaging performance.” So he constructed his personal app from scratch utilizing the Telegram SDK, which lets you ship, obtain and look at all of your messages and notifications proper out of your wrist — even when you don’t have your phone close by. The app additionally helps Eleftheriou’s FlickType Swipe Keyboard for quicker replies whereas on the go.
Eleftheriou notes the app doesn’t gather any private data and requires an Apple Watch Sequence 3 or later, working watchOS 7 or later.
Lightricks’ Videoleap for Android
After seeing a 70% yearly enhance for its iOS version, Lightricks introduced its Videoleap app to the Google Play Store. The app has grown in style with online creators for providing skilled high quality modifying instruments on mobile, together with these that allow you to apply creative results, combine movies with photos, add textual content and layer transformations and extra. The corporate says Videoleap customers are actually creating 35 million items of content material per 30 days, and 47% of customers are exporting their creations to TikTok in pursuit of monetizing their content material additional. The app, like others from Lightricks (which additionally makes FaceTune and others), monetizes by the use of in-app subscriptions.
Source : TechCrunch