Welcome again to This Week in Apps, the weekly Thealike sequence that recaps the most recent in cellular OS information, cellular functions 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 total, the app financial system is continuous to develop, having produced a document variety of downloads and shopper spending throughout each the iOS and Google Play shops mixed in 2021, based on the most recent year-end reports. International spending throughout iOS and Google Play final 12 months was $133 billion, and customers downloaded 143.6 billion apps.
This Week in Apps gives a technique 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 way more.
Would you like This Week in Apps in your inbox each Saturday? Enroll right here: techcrunch.com/newsletters
Android 13 arrives
Massive 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 parts. In iOS 16, this now features a customizable Lock Display screen with widgets, whereas Android is doubling down on its Materials You UI. With the prior model of Android, customers may theme their system 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 resolution than the icon customization on iOS in the present day, the place apps like Brass, Themify, Aesthetic, Coloration Widgets and plenty of others must 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 communicate a number of languages.
Other improvements include the flexibility to copy content (e.g. URLs, photographs, movies, textual content) between Android gadgets, higher multitasking options on tablets, an expanded bedtime mode with dimmed wallpaper and a darkish theme, HDR video help 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 more. On the privateness aspect, there are adjustments to permissions that enable customers to extra narrowly choose photos and movies to be shared with third-party apps and the OS now prevents undesirable entry to your clipboard.
One other huge good thing about 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 need explicit permission to send notifications, slightly than being allowed to ship notifications by default. This modification sees Android lastly catching up with iOS, which has supplied this sort of setting for years. (Many, many years.)
The Android supply has additionally been pushed to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).
This week Thealike’s Frederic Lardinois additionally sat down with James Ward, Google’s product supervisor for Kotlin, to speak concerning the language’s function within the Android ecosystem and its future plans. You may learn that right here.
Thealike’s new adware lookup software
This week, Thealike launched a brand new product in service to its readers who’re involved about safety dangers associated to cellular adware.
The adware lookup software can verify to see if an Android system is among the tons of of 1000’s that’s been hacked by one in every of a number of adware apps, together with TheTruthSpy — the topic of a months-long investigation into consumer-grade adware apps. The apps are put in by somebody with bodily entry to your cellular system and are designed to remain hidden from residence screens. They provide the attacker the flexibility to see the sufferer’s telephone information in actual time, together with calls, messages, contacts, location information, photographs and extra.
The brand new lookup software will verify towards the leaked record of distinctive system identifiers, like IMEI numbers and promoting IDs, and is offered freed from cost to anybody who needs to make sure their telephone 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 might enable it to watch all keyboard inputs and faucets that occurred on third-party web sites that have been rendered contained in the app. Concerningly, this info may embody customers’ passwords or fee card info after they’re shopping for one thing promoted on TikTok. The researcher couldn’t show that TikTok was really 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 needs to be conscious, nonetheless, and decide 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 consumer interface to knock off when 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, in fact, has no real interest in competing as a brand new social or leisure expertise with different huge tech corporations. However 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 stay 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 predicted to unveil its iPhone 14 line that includes digital camera upgrades and a quicker chip. Apple has not made a proper announcement of the occasion presently.
- Apple’s iOS 16 beta 5 added a nifty function 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 prices of apps and IAPs will increase 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 must attempt to discover dinosaurs round them. The app is utilizing Niantic’s new Lightship ARDK to put 10 dinosaurs within the consumer’s setting. The know-how 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 said it’s rolling out redesigned tweet labels and “prebunks” on deceptive content material. TikTok is providing state-by-state info in an Elections Middle and can label and fact-check movies. Fb mentioned it’s going to disable new political advertisements every week earlier than the midterms.
- Oracle is now monitoring TikTok’s algorithms and moderation system — for no matter that’s value. TikTok confirmed its new cloud host for U.S. information has been tasked with the monitoring, however supplied no specifics as to how will probably be carried out or who will get to see the outcomes.
- A brand new Pew Research study discovered that 67% of U.S. teenagers use TikTok, with 16% of all teenagers saying they use it nearly always. The variety of teenagers utilizing Fb plummeted from 71% within the 2014-2015 research to now 32% in the present day.
- Snapchat has been busy. It just 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 features, together with precedence Story replies to prime creators and celebs.
- TikTok rolled out its personal text-to-image AI generator that lets customers enter their very own prompts to create photos to make use of as video backgrounds. It additionally examined a brand new search function that highlighted matching key phrases in feedback that hyperlink to the search time period in addition to a technique 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 Information 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 stay music sequence 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 function, Cameo Stay, that enables a consumer and 9 mates to have interaction in a 10-minute name with a star.
- Pixelmator Picture, a photo-editing app from the corporate behind graphic design app Pixelmator Professional, is bringing its iOS app to the Mac. The corporate additionally mentioned it’s transferring 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 mission is a causality of re-prioritization of assets 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 assist within the prosecution of a Nebraska teen’s abortion.
- Telegram’s founder slammed Apple for delaying a significant replace to the messaging app, saying it had been caught in evaluation for 2 weeks with no explanations.
- WhatsApp now allows customers to delete a personal 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 choice that enables individuals 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 enable customers to depart teams privately with out sending out a notification.
- WhatsApp additionally launched its native Windows app out of beta. The app now works with out requiring customers to hyperlink a telephone. An analogous Mac app is underway.
- Fb and Instagram added a brand new “Add Yours” sticker to Reels that lets individuals begin traits others can add to with their very own content material; the pattern can 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 normal RCS in its personal Messages app. The communication protocol would help a greater messaging expertise between Android and iOS customers, however would additionally make iMessage a much less compelling various than it’s in the present day.
Streaming & Leisure
- HBO Max rolled out new cellular (and desktop) apps, promising an improved consumer expertise with options like SharePlay help, a shuffle button for cellular, a devoted residence for downloads, pill help in portrait and panorama modes, a greater display reader, cut up screens the place supported, improved navigation and total higher efficiency.
- Apple signed a first-look deal with Pulitizer Prize-winning Futuro Studios to convey extra unique podcast content material to its Podcasts app, and probably, enable it to show these exhibits into Apple TV+ applications additional down the street.
- Spotify started promoting stay live performance tickets on to followers in a brand new Tickets website. The corporate beforehand solely labored with companions like Ticketmaster and Eventbrite. Spotify’s residence display additionally gained new discovery feeds for music and podcasts. The separate feeds will direct customers to the kind of content material they’re in search of on the time. It’s additionally been testing the flexibility to document reactions to podcasts.
- An evaluation of Spotify utilization by Sensor Tower showed how engaging the app is in contrast with its competitors; 10% of its cellular app customers have interaction with the app day by day, greater than the 4% who have interaction with YouTube Music or 1% who have interaction with Pandora. (Apple Music was not included.)
- Google Meet launched a brand new function that enables customers to observe YouTube or stream Spotify collectively.
- Apple-owned Shazam celebrated its twentieth anniversary with a curated playlist of essentially the most Shazamed songs of yearly. The app now has 225 million international month-to-month customers, Apple additionally famous, and has surpassed 70 billion track recognitions as of this week.
- Netflix’s upcoming ad-supported tier could not supply 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 mates and see what they’re watching, bookmarking and the way they’re ranking exhibits and flicks.
- Netflix’s video games have seen 23.3 million downloads and common 1.7 million day by day energetic customers, per Apptopia information. This represents less than 1% of Netflix’s 221 million subscribers.
- Google began testing a way to permit customers to launch video games from its cloud gaming service Stadia, in addition to from Xbox Cloud Gaming and Amazon’s Luna immediately from its Google Search outcomes.
- Fortnite maker Epic Video games’ appeals case towards Apple is set 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 methods.
- Roblox’s earnings report revealed shifting demographics for video games. The quickest rising group was individuals ages 17-24. The corporate mentioned male 17- to 24-year-olds would develop into the largest tracked class by way of 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 web lack of $6.4 million versus $2.6 million estimated.
- As a part of the bigger revamp of its “Bumble BFF” friend-finding function, Bumble has additionally been growing a brand new “communities” providing it’s calling “Hive,” which can embody help for options like group chat, polls and video calls.
Well being & Health
- Fitbit to finish Mac and PC syncing on October 13, 2022 and will instead move 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 staff, or 90 individuals out of round 400. The corporate had been valued at $2 billion in 2020.
- A Mozilla study discovered that 18 out of 25 prime reproductive apps and wearables, like Clue, Flo, Glow and Eve, didn’t have robust privateness protections. Most didn’t say if they might share information with legislation enforcement, both.
Journey & Transportation
- Lyft Media is a new business unit designed to consolidate Lyft’s advert choices, which is able to give attention to displaying extra advertisements in automobiles, 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 monthly or $99.99 per 12 months, and gives 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 know-how which incorporates an algorithm that appears at alerts, just like the historical past of optimistic opinions, how lengthy the consumer has been on the platform, the size of the journey, the space to the itemizing and weekday versus weekend reserving. Potential rule-breakers will likely be prevented from reserving a whole property, and can as a substitute direct them to outcomes the place they’ll lease 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 gadgets (Portal Plus Gen 2 and Meta Portal Go) right into a second display for his or her Mac and PC. The corporate mentioned 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 said to be phasing out its shopper Portal gadgets.
- Bloomberg reported Apple is contemplating rolling out advertisements to extra locations throughout iOS, together with Maps (which was explored internally) and probably different apps like Books or Podcasts. At present, Apple’s advert income is round $4 billion.
- A brand new report by FT famous many small companies reliant on personalised advertisements have reduce on advertising efforts, partially because of Apple’s ATT adjustments, 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 might 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 “Purchasing Advertisements.” The corporate is at present testing three codecs of Purchasing Advertisements, together with Video Purchasing Advertisements, Catalog Itemizing Advertisements and LIVE Purchasing Advertisements.
Authorities & Coverage
- South Korean regulators have begun to research Apple and Google over doable violations of the nation’s in-app fee guidelines. The Korea Communications Fee (KCC) can also be investigating SK Group’s homegrown app retailer referred to as ONE Retailer. If the KCC discovers the businesses have violated the legislation, it’s going to challenge fines which might be as much as 2% of the corporate’s annual income.
- The EU is about to make a remaining determination associated to a privateness grievance relating to Instagram’s dealing with of kids’s information within the area. The choice is predicted 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 have been discovered to have misled customers about its location information assortment.
- China’s web regulator published a list of 30 algorithms utilized in well-liked apps together with WeChat, Taobao, Meituan and Douyin, which features a transient description of their utilization.
Safety & Privateness
📉 Unity rejected a takeover supply from AppLovin that might have valued the corporate at $58.85 per share, an 18% premium over Unity’s inventory worth on the time. The deal would have been valued at $17.54 billion. Unity mentioned 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 enable 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 development fairness agency Cipio Companions and Iconical.
💰 She Issues, a well being app for Black girls, raised $1.5 million in pre-seed funding. The app just lately expanded its assets and help for postpartum healthcare.
🤝 DNSFilter acquired the iOS firewall app Guardian for an unknown sum as a way to increase its web-based risk 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 info with third events, reminiscent of IP addresses and placement information, by utilizing 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 consumer periods in 2021, together with practically 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 way of custom-designed testing flows to faucet, swipe and rotate cellular gadgets, and extra. The system integrates with normal dev instruments like Jira and offers shoppers with outcomes and experiences.
💰 Meme-based courting app Schmooze just 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 individuals they like and as much as love memes offered to them. The latter will assist to tell match choices.
💰 Meta invested in Take App, a Singaporean startup based by former Fb engineering supervisor Youmin Ki. The app gives a straightforward method 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 Group, which had beforehand developed social apps and extra just 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 engineering groups.
💰 Indian fintech app Jar raised $22.6 million in Collection B funding led by Tiger International. The app helps tens of millions 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 so 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 consequently.
A brand new video creation app referred to as Along has launched into beta testing to supply a technique 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 just like the “Add This” function that Meta just 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 at present in personal, invite-only testing however Thealike readers can entry the app early right here: along.video/invite/techcrunch. (This isn’t an advert — simply an invitation!)
You may learn extra concerning the app right here on Thealike.