Welcome again to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch collection that recaps the most recent in cellular OS information, cellular purposes and the general app financial system.
International app spending reached $65 billion within the first half of 2022, up solely barely from the $64.4 billion throughout the identical interval in 2021, as hypergrowth fueled by the pandemic has slowed. However general, the app financial system is continuous to develop, having produced a file variety of downloads and shopper spending throughout each the iOS and Google Play shops mixed in 2021, based on the most recent year-end experiences. International spending throughout iOS and Google Play final 12 months was $133 billion, and shoppers downloaded 143.6 billion apps.
This Week in Apps provides a strategy to sustain with this fast-moving business in a single place with the most recent from the world of apps, together with information, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and rather more.
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Android 13 arrives
Huge information for Android customers this week as Google rolled out the brand new model of its cellular working system, Android 13, initially to all Pixel gadgets, following the beta launch a month in the past. The OS will attain different non-Pixel Android gadgets someday later this 12 months, together with Samsung Galaxy, Asus, HMD (Nokia telephones), iQOO, Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Sharp, Sony, Tecno, vivo, Xiaomi and others.
As cellular platforms have standardized, the most recent efforts from each Google and Apple have been targeted on personalization components. In iOS 16, this now features a customizable Lock Display with widgets, whereas Android is doubling down on its Materials You UI. With the prior model of Android, customers may theme their machine to match their background. With the most recent replace, they’ll now additionally match their non-Google apps to their chosen theme and colour schemes. It is a a lot less complicated and extra elegant answer than the icon customization on iOS at this time, the place apps like Brass, Themify, Aesthetic, Colour Widgets and lots of others should leverage a mix of configuration profiles and shortcuts to do the identical.
In one other personalization transfer, Android 13 permits customers to set the languages used for various apps — helpful for individuals who converse a number of languages.
Different enhancements embody the flexibility to repeat content material (e.g. URLs, images, movies, textual content) between Android gadgets, higher multitasking options on tablets, an expanded bedtime mode with dimmed wallpaper and a darkish theme, HDR video assist on third-party digital camera apps, BLE Audio, Spatial Audio on supported headphones, an upgraded media participant widget that showcases album art work and features a dancing playback bar and extra. On the privateness aspect, there are modifications to permissions that permit customers to extra narrowly choose photographs and movies to be shared with third-party apps and the OS now prevents undesirable entry to your clipboard.
One other massive advantage of the upgraded cellular OS for finish customers is that they’ll extra simply block apps from annoying them with notifications. Now, apps customers obtain will want specific permission to ship notifications, fairly than being allowed to ship notifications by default. This alteration sees Android lastly catching up with iOS, which has provided any such setting for years. (Many, many years.)
The Android supply has additionally been pushed to the Android Open Supply Challenge (AOSP).
This week TechCrunch’s Frederic Lardinois additionally sat down with James Ward, Google’s product supervisor for Kotlin, to speak in regards to the language’s position within the Android ecosystem and its future plans. You’ll be able to learn that right here.
TechCrunch’s new spyware and adware lookup software
This week, TechCrunch launched a brand new product in service to its readers who’re involved about safety dangers associated to cellular spyware and adware.
The spyware and adware lookup software can test to see if an Android machine is among the a whole lot of hundreds that’s been hacked by one in all a number of spyware and adware apps, together with TheTruthSpy — the topic of a months-long investigation into consumer-grade spyware and adware apps. The apps are put in by somebody with bodily entry to your cellular machine and are designed to remain hidden from house screens. They offer the attacker the flexibility to see the sufferer’s cellphone information in actual time, together with calls, messages, contacts, location information, images and extra.
The brand new lookup software will test in opposition to the leaked record of distinctive machine identifiers, like IMEI numbers and promoting IDs, and is accessible freed from cost to anybody who needs to make sure their cellphone has not been compromised.
TikTok caught keylogging?
A brand new privateness evaluation warns that TikTok’s in-app browser could also be engaged in keylogging. Analysis by developer Felix Krause discovered that the TikTok iOS app was injecting code that will permit it to observe all keyboard inputs and faucets that happened on third-party web sites that had been rendered contained in the app. Concerningly, this data may embody customers’ passwords or fee card data once they’re shopping for one thing promoted on TikTok. The researcher couldn’t show that TikTok was truly doing something malicious with the entry — that’s, he couldn’t affirm the information was collected, transferred or decide the way it could also be used. Customers must be conscious, nevertheless, and choose to open hyperlinks exterior of the TikTok app to be secure.
Amazon will get TikTok-ified
It’s official, the TikTok vertical video feed format is now the cellular app person interface to knock off should you’re constructing a brand new social expertise. How do we all know? As a result of this week, Amazon of all locations, was discovered to be testing its personal TikTok clone. The feed, referred to as “Encourage,” seems within the backside nav bar of the Amazon app.
Amazon, after all, has little interest in competing as a brand new social or leisure expertise with different massive tech corporations. Nevertheless it does copycat the most recent, hottest codecs when it builds out new buying options. In years previous, that’s seen the corporate cloning different social apps like Pinterest or Instagram or steaming dwell buying movies. Now that TikTok’s feed is the go-to, Amazon has adopted it as effectively.
For now, the Encourage feed is being examined and isn’t publicly obtainable to all customers.
- Apple’s subsequent iPhone occasion will reportedly be held on September 7, per a Bloomberg report. The corporate is anticipated to unveil its iPhone 14 line that includes digital camera upgrades and a sooner chip. Apple has not made a proper announcement of the occasion presently.
- Apple’s iOS 16 beta 5 added a nifty characteristic to once more present the battery share within the standing bar on iPhone after being eliminated for notched fashions when the iPhone X debuted.
- Apple famous costs of apps and IAPs will improve in Ghana and Turkey.
- Snap and HBO Max partnered on a brand new AR expertise for HBO’s “Home of the Dragon” premiere, which features a new selfie and worldview Lens in Snapchat’s app, in addition to new Landmarker Lenses. Customers can immerse themselves within the fantasy world by turning themselves into dragons or watching them fly round you, amongst different issues.
- Common Studios launched the Dinotracker AR app (iOS/Android) constructed by Set off XR and Niantic Labs to advertise the brand new film, “Jurassic World Dominion.” Customers should attempt to discover dinosaurs round them. The app is utilizing Niantic’s new Lightship ARDK to put 10 dinosaurs within the person’s surroundings. The expertise options embody semantic understanding, environmental consciousness, walkable planes, occlusion and hand-tracking, amongst others. Different companions embody LG Uplus, Qualcomm and KOCCA in Korea.
- ⭐️ Twitter, Meta and TikTok all outlined their insurance policies associated to their plans on dealing with the 2022 U.S. midterm elections. Twitter stated it’s rolling out redesigned tweet labels and “prebunks” on deceptive content material. TikTok is providing state-by-state data in an Elections Heart and can label and fact-check movies. Fb stated it would disable new political adverts every week earlier than the midterms.
- Oracle is now monitoring TikTok’s algorithms and moderation system — for no matter that’s price. TikTok confirmed its new cloud host for U.S. information has been tasked with the monitoring, however provided no specifics as to how it will likely be achieved or who will get to see the outcomes.
- A brand new Pew Analysis examine discovered that 67% of U.S. teenagers use TikTok, with 16% of all teenagers saying they use it virtually consistently. The variety of teenagers utilizing Fb plummeted from 71% within the 2014-2015 examine to now 32% at this time.
- Snapchat has been busy. It lately rolled out parental controls and expanded its premium providing, Snapchat+, to India. The Snapchat+ service has grown to over 1 million subscribers and added new options, together with precedence Story replies to high creators and celebs.
- TikTok rolled out its personal text-to-image AI generator that lets customers enter their very own prompts to create photographs to make use of as video backgrounds. It additionally examined a brand new search characteristic that highlighted matching key phrases in feedback that hyperlink to the search time period in addition to a strategy to share TikTok Tales to Fb and Instagram.
- BeReal’s No. 1 app now has 7.9 million DAUs, up from 2 million in January and 10,000 in March 2021. The corporate raised a $600 million Collection B led by DST this previous spring, The Data reported.
- Timbaland and Swizz Beatz sued TikTok rival Triller saying they’re owed $28 million+. The go well with follows Triller’s acquisition of the dwell music collection Verzuz.
- YouTube Shorts, the video app’s TikTok rival, added watermarks to downloads to discourage customers from cross-posting their movies.
- Celeb connections app Cameo added a brand new characteristic, Cameo Stay, that permits a person and 9 buddies to interact in a 10-minute name with a celeb.
- Pixelmator Photograph, a photo-editing app from the corporate behind graphic design app Pixelmator Professional, is bringing its iOS app to the Mac. The corporate additionally stated it’s shifting to a subscription pricing mannequin to raised maintain its enterprise.
- Snapchat’s selfie-recording drone Pixy is already being killed off after simply launching in April. The drone challenge is a causality of re-prioritization of sources at Snap amid financial issues.
- Messenger started testing end-to-end encryption for particular person Messenger chats. The information was introduced after it was revealed Meta turned over personal messages to help within the prosecution of a Nebraska teen’s abortion.
- Telegram’s founder slammed Apple for delaying a serious replace to the messaging app, saying it had been caught in evaluate for 2 weeks with no explanations.
- WhatsApp now permits customers to delete a non-public or group chat message as much as two and half days after sending it. Earlier than, the restrict was 1 hour, 8 minutes, and 16 seconds. The app additionally launched a brand new privateness possibility that permits folks to make use of the app with out being seen on-line besides to chose contacts they select. It’s moreover testing screenshot blocking and can quickly permit customers to go away teams privately with out sending out a notification.
- WhatsApp additionally launched its native Home windows app out of beta. The app now works with out requiring customers to hyperlink a cellphone. An identical Mac app is underway.
- Fb and Instagram added a brand new “Add Yours” sticker to Reels that lets folks begin traits others can add to with their very own content material; the pattern could have its personal touchdown web page within the app.
- Google kicked off a public marketing campaign, “Get the Message,” designed to stress Apple to undertake messaging customary RCS in its personal Messages app. The communication protocol would assist a greater messaging expertise between Android and iOS customers, however would additionally make iMessage a much less compelling various than it’s at this time.
Streaming & Leisure
- HBO Max rolled out new cellular (and desktop) apps, promising an improved person expertise with options like SharePlay assist, a shuffle button for cellular, a devoted house for downloads, pill assist in portrait and panorama modes, a greater display screen reader, cut up screens the place supported, improved navigation and general higher efficiency.
- Apple signed a first-look take care of Pulitizer Prize-winning Futuro Studios to convey extra unique podcast content material to its Podcasts app, and presumably, permit it to show these reveals into Apple TV+ applications additional down the highway.
- Spotify started promoting dwell live performance tickets on to followers in a brand new Tickets web site. The corporate beforehand solely labored with companions like Ticketmaster and Eventbrite. Spotify’s house display screen additionally gained new discovery feeds for music and podcasts. The separate feeds will direct customers to the kind of content material they’re searching for on the time. It’s additionally been testing the flexibility to file reactions to podcasts.
- An evaluation of Spotify utilization by Sensor Tower confirmed how participating the app is in contrast with its competitors; 10% of its cellular app customers interact with the app each day, greater than the 4% who interact with YouTube Music or 1% who interact with Pandora. (Apple Music was not included.)
- Google Meet launched a brand new characteristic that permits customers to observe YouTube or stream Spotify collectively.
- Apple-owned Shazam celebrated its twentieth anniversary with a curated playlist of probably the most Shazamed songs of yearly. The app now has 225 million world month-to-month customers, Apple additionally famous, and has surpassed 70 billion tune recognitions as of this week.
- Netflix’s upcoming ad-supported tier might not provide offline viewing, based on findings within the app’s code.
- Plex launched a brand new social expertise in its streaming apps referred to as Uncover Collectively, which incorporates the flexibility so as to add buddies and see what they’re watching, bookmarking and the way they’re score reveals and films.
- Netflix’s video games have seen 23.3 million downloads and common 1.7 million each day lively customers, per Apptopia information. This represents lower than 1% of Netflix’s 221 million subscribers.
- Google started testing a strategy to permit customers to launch video games from its cloud gaming service Stadia, in addition to from Xbox Cloud Gaming and Amazon’s Luna straight from its Google Search outcomes.
- Fortnite maker Epic Video games’ appeals case in opposition to Apple is ready to be heard beginning on October 21. The sport maker needs to have the ability to promote video games exterior the App Retailer and use its personal fee programs.
- Roblox’s earnings report revealed shifting demographics for video games. The quickest rising group was folks ages 17-24. The corporate stated male 17- to 24-year-olds would change into the most important tracked class when it comes to customers and engagement hours within the U.S. and Canada over the subsequent couple of months.
- Bumble reported Q2 2022 earnings with income up 18% YoY to $220.5 million, above estimates, however a better internet lack of $6.4 million versus $2.6 million estimated.
- As a part of the bigger revamp of its “Bumble BFF” friend-finding characteristic, Bumble has additionally been creating a brand new “communities” providing it’s calling “Hive,” which can embody assist for options like group chat, polls and video calls.
Well being & Health
- Fitbit to finish Mac and PC syncing on October 13, 2022 and can as an alternative transfer file transfers to its smartphone app and native music and playlists over to Pandora and Deezer.
- Meditation and wellness app Calm laid off 20% of workers, or 90 folks out of round 400. The corporate had been valued at $2 billion in 2020.
- A Mozilla examine discovered that 18 out of 25 high reproductive apps and wearables, like Clue, Flo, Glow and Eve, didn’t have sturdy privateness protections. Most didn’t say if they’d share information with regulation enforcement, both.
Journey & Transportation
- Lyft Media is a brand new enterprise unit designed to consolidate Lyft’s advert choices, which can give attention to exhibiting extra adverts in vehicles, on the Lyft cellular app and at bike-sharing stations.
- Uber sundown its free loyalty program Uber Rewards in favor of subscription membership, Uber One. The membership prices 9.99 per thirty days or $99.99 per 12 months, and provides perks like 5% off sure rides or supply orders and limitless $0 supply charges on meals orders of over $15 and grocery orders of greater than $30.
- Airbnb launched anti-party expertise which incorporates an algorithm that appears at indicators, just like the historical past of optimistic evaluations, how lengthy the person has been on the platform, the size of the journey, the space to the itemizing and weekday versus weekend reserving. Potential rule-breakers shall be prevented from reserving a whole property, and can as an alternative direct them to outcomes the place they’ll hire a room the place hosts are bodily current.
Utilities & Productiveness
- Meta launched the Duet Show app which permits Portal homeowners to show their good display screen gadgets (Portal Plus Gen 2 and Meta Portal Go) right into a second display screen for his or her Mac and PC. The corporate stated it might additionally launch the Meta Portal Companion app on Mac for Meta Portal touch-based gadgets (Meta Portal Go, Meta Portal Plus, Meta Portal and Meta Portal Mini) to permit for screen-sharing on video calls. Meta is claimed to be phasing out its shopper Portal gadgets.
- Bloomberg reported Apple is contemplating rolling out adverts to extra locations throughout iOS, together with Maps (which was explored internally) and presumably different apps like Books or Podcasts. Presently, Apple’s advert income is round $4 billion.
- A brand new report by FT famous many small companies reliant on personalised adverts have in the reduction of on advertising and marketing efforts, partly as a result of Apple’s ATT modifications, as they now face rising buyer acquisition prices.
- The WSJ reported that earlier than launching ATT, Apple and Meta had engaged in discussions about revenue-sharing agreements, together with one that will see Apple taking a lower of “boosted posts” through IAP and an ad-free Fb subscription.
- TikTok rolled out new advert options as a part of its commerce advert suite referred to as “Buying Advertisements.” The corporate is presently testing three codecs of Buying Advertisements, together with Video Buying Advertisements, Catalog Itemizing Advertisements and LIVE Buying Advertisements.
Authorities & Coverage
- South Korean regulators have begun to analyze Apple and Google over doable violations of the nation’s in-app fee guidelines. The Korea Communications Fee (KCC) can be investigating SK Group’s homegrown app retailer referred to as ONE Retailer. If the KCC discovers the businesses have violated the regulation, it would problem fines which could be as much as 2% of the corporate’s annual income.
- The EU is ready to make a remaining choice associated to a privateness grievance concerning Instagram’s dealing with of youngsters’s information within the area. The choice is anticipated on the finish of August, with a tough deadline of the primary week of September.
- Google was fined A$60 million (round $42.7 million USD) in Australia over Android settings it had utilized round 5 years in the past which had been discovered to have misled shoppers about its location information assortment.
- China’s web regulator printed a listing of 30 algorithms utilized in fashionable apps together with WeChat, Taobao, Meituan and Douyin, which features a transient description of their utilization.
Safety & Privateness
📉 Unity rejected a takeover provide from AppLovin that will have valued the corporate at $58.85 per share, an 18% premium over Unity’s inventory value on the time. The deal would have been valued at $17.54 billion. Unity stated it might proceed with its personal deal to accumulate ironSource for $4.4 billion in inventory. Its shares dropped 7% after the board rejected the acquisition.
🤝 Unity introduced a deal to create a JV, Unity China, in partnership with Alibaba, China Cellular, Oppo, and Douyin Group. The deal valued at $1 billion will permit Unity to increase into the world’s largest video games market.
💰 European encrypted messaging app Wire, targeted on enterprise use, raised €24 million in Collection C funding led by progress fairness agency Cipio Companions and Iconical.
💰 She Issues, a well being app for Black ladies, raised $1.5 million in pre-seed funding. The app lately expanded its sources and assist for postpartum healthcare.
🤝 DNSFilter acquired the iOS firewall app Guardian for an unknown sum to be able to increase its web-based menace detection capabilities. Guardian was based in 2013 by Will Strafach, a safety researcher and former iPhone jailbreaker. Its iPhone app blocks apps from sharing customers’ private data with third events, resembling IP addresses and site information, through the use of a VPN.
💰 FullStory raised $25 million in new funding from Permira to assist corporations spot points of their web sites and apps. FullStory says it analyzed greater than 15 billion person classes in 2021, together with almost 1 trillion clicks, textual content highlights and scrolls.
💰 Infrastructure-as-a-service platform maker Mobot raised $12.5 million in Collection A funding to increase its suite of robots that bug-test cellular apps. The robots can run by means of custom-designed testing flows to faucet, swipe and rotate cellular gadgets, and extra. The system integrates with customary dev instruments like Jira and gives purchasers with outcomes and experiences.
💰 Meme-based relationship app Schmooze lately raised $3.2 million in seed funding led by Inventus Capital and Silicon Valley Quad. The app lets customers swipe left or proper on folks they like and as much as love memes offered to them. The latter will assist to tell match picks.
💰 Meta invested in Take App, a Singaporean startup based by former Fb engineering supervisor Youmin Ki. The app provides a simple approach for customers to arrange easy web sites for on-line orders, with a buying cart, funds and a direct connection to WhatsApp for managing and monitoring orders. The funding measurement was undisclosed however got here in through the corporate’s NPE Staff, which had beforehand developed social apps and extra lately shifted to investments.
💰 New York-based household journaling app Qeepsake has raised $2 million in seed funding led by LaunchCapital. The corporate, which has 700,000 registered customers, plans to put money into its advertising and marketing and engineering groups.
💰 Indian fintech app Jar raised $22.6 million in Collection B funding led by Tiger International. The app helps hundreds of thousands of Indians save small quantities to put money into digital gold and is planning to increase into insurance coverage, mutual funds and lending.
💰 Sofy, the maker of a testing platform for cellular apps, closed on $7.75 million in seed funding led by Voyager Capital. The startup has raised a complete of $9.5 million thus far.
🤝 Simply Eat bought its 33% stake within the Latin American three way partnership iFood to Prosus for $1.8 billion. Prosus will now absolutely personal the Brazilian meals supply firm and app maker because of this.
A brand new video creation app referred to as Alongside has launched into beta testing to supply a strategy to create “infinite-length” collaboration movies with a number of creators. The app introduces an idea referred to as “tapes” which begins with one creator’s video that others can then add their very own clips to, which the unique creator approves. The concept is much like the “Add This” characteristic that Meta lately rolled out to its short-form video providing, Reels. Besides in Alongside’s case, customers are collaborating on a video “tape,” curated by the unique poster, not merely contributing to a pattern web page.
The app is presently in personal, invite-only testing however TechCrunch readers can entry the app early right here: alongside.video/invite/techcrunch. (This isn’t an advert — simply an invitation!)
You’ll be able to learn extra in regards to the app right here on TechCrunch.