Welcome again to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the most recent in cellular OS information, cellular purposes and the general app financial system.
The app trade continues to develop, with a record 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in international consumer spend in 2020. Consumers 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 stay TV. Currently, the typical American watches 3.7 hours of stay TV per day, however now spends 4 hours per day on their cellular units.
Apps aren’t only a manner to cross idle hours — they’re additionally a giant enterprise. In 2019, mobile-first firms had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x increased than these and not using a cellular focus. In 2020, traders poured $73 billion in capital into cellular firms — a determine that’s up 27% year-over-year
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- Android App Bundles are actually going to be required
- Consumer Spending on apps hits record $64.9B within the first half of the yr
- Platforms: Apple
- Platforms: Google
- Augmented Reality
- Streaming & Entertainment
- Health & Fitness
- Security & Privacy
Android App Bundles are actually going to be required
This week Google announced it can require new apps to be revealed utilizing the Android App Bundle as of August 2021. The firm first launched the Android App Bundle commonplace, which replaces the APK, in May 2018 as a part of its fashionable growth push. Since then, nearly all of the highest 1,000 apps and video games have converted to AABs together with these from firms like Adobe, Duolingo. Gameloft, Netflix, reBus, Rainy, and Twitter. Today, there are over 1 million apps utilizing AAB in manufacturing.
AABs remedy some issues with the growing old APK commonplace, notably round bigger apps and video games. With AABs, builders don’t have to create an APK that accommodates the whole lot for each sort of Android gadget. They provide a manner to rapidly and extra effectively obtain the property wanted for a selected gadget, they usually achieve this in a manner that focuses on getting the person or participant to the app or sport’s content material as quick as potential.
But not everybody agrees the change is for the higher. Those who make the most of APK Hosting websites like APKMirror or APKPure to obtain and share apps fear that the shift to AAB is a manner to pressure customers to use the Play Store as an alternative of options. Meanwhile, Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney — who’s taking over tech giants over their alleged app retailer monopolies with each lawsuits and lobbying — identified that the transfer away from the extra open APK commonplace is about locking customers into Google Play.
Consumer Spending on apps hits record $64.9B within the first half of the yr
Consumer spending in cellular apps hit a record $64.9 billion throughout the first half of 2021, in accordance to preliminary knowledge from app retailer intelligence agency Sensor Tower. This determine represents a 24.8% improve in spending seen throughout each the App Store and Google Play, in contrast with the year-ago interval. But whereas trade specialists imagine the accelerated shift to cellular fueled by the pandemic is a pattern that may proceed, it’s value noting that — regardless of the new record — the expansion price for consumer spending has barely slowed, and the obtain development slowed extra dramatically.
From the primary half of 2019 to the primary half of 2020, consumer spending on cellular apps grew 28.4% from $40.5 billion to $52 billion, for comparability — slower than the 24.8% seen within the present interval.
✨ Apple launched the public betas of iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and watchOS 8. Although builders already had entry to early builds, this week was the primary time the public may get their palms on Apple’s newest software program earlier than its official launch this fall. One of the most important modifications in iOS 15 is the addition of “Focus” modes that give customers extra management over when and who can trouble them with calls, texts and notifications throughout completely different contexts — like work, driving, sleeping, and extra. Users can even acquire entry to SharePlay interactivity on FaceTime, iMessage enhancements, the flexibility to FaceTime with Android pals by way of internet hyperlinks, spatial audio, Live Text (which unlocks information out of your pictures), app privateness studies, and upgrades to most of Apple’s core apps, and extra.
✨Google is implementing stronger safety measures on Google Play developer accounts in an try to crack down on spam and different malicious apps. Previously, the corporate required solely an electronic mail and telephone quantity to create a Google Play developer account. Now it will require an account sort (private or group), a contact identify and bodily handle, and it’ll require builders to confirm their electronic mail and telephone quantity. Google says the modifications will enable it to higher talk with builders and can assist to “make sure that every account is created by a real person with real contact details.” It’s additionally now mandating that customers of Google Play Console sign up utilizing Google’s 2-Step Verification.
Samsung and Google previewed their wearable platform forward of the subsequent Galaxy Watch launch. The two firms agreed to accomplice on wearables so as to higher compete in opposition to Apple Watch. At Mobile World Congress, Samsung showed off the primary gadget to function the One UI Watch person expertise and the new unified platform in-built partnership with Google.
Instagram adds a new feature that may enable companies within the U.S. to designate themselves as being Black-owned companies utilizing badges that seem on their profiles and on their product purchasing pages. It may additionally be highlighted in locations just like the Shop tab, to assist extra potential prospects uncover the enterprise.
Walmart partnered with cellular couponing app Ibotta on a multi-year deal that may provide cash-back rewards to Walmart prospects that might be utilized immediately to prospects’ Walmart accounts, the place they can be utilized for future purchases. The affords might be made obtainable on Walmart.com and contained in the Walmart cellular app.
Following Apple and Google’s lead, Shopify dropped App Store commissions. However, it’s dropping its lower to 0% for the primary million, after which will solely take a 15% fee on “marginal” income above that $1 million. The change may improve stress on different app shops to make additional changes to their fashions sooner or later.
Rakuten Viber has partnered with Snap to deliver augmented actuality Lenses from Snapchat to its personal Viber calling and messaging app. The over 30 Lenses might be constructed utilizing Snap’s inventive instruments, together with Bitmoji, Camera Kit, and Creative Kit and can provide AR-enabled messaging and pictures to Viber’s customers. The deal is one other instance of how Snap is rising its licensing enterprise for its AR and inventive instruments alongside the event of its personal social app.
Google’s Arts & Culture app created a new function referred to as Art Filter that enables everybody to study important items of artwork from world wide and put themselves inside well-known work utilizing AR. Google talked this week about its work with MediaPipe to make the most of their face mesh and 3D face remodel tech to create customized results for every of the artifacts chosen.
Venmo launched a new function that enables customers to add a “good and services” tag to funds despatched to private accounts to differentiate them from private transactions. The system is supposed to defend consumers and sellers, Venmo says. Buyers on these transactions might be eligible for Venmo’s Purchase Protection Program, however sellers are unable with the new fees related to the change as Venmo will now deduct 1.9% of the transaction plus 10 cents from the cash despatched to the vendor.
Intuit-owned finance and budgeting app Mint added the ability to monitor cryptocurrency investments throughout quite a lot of supported exchanges, together with Binance, BlockFi, Coinbase/Coinbase Pro, Gemini, Kraken, PayPal, and Robinhood. As a outcome, the app shot to No. 12 total on the U.S. App Store on Wednesday and have become the No. 1 app within the Finance class, although it has since dropped in rating.
TikTok is expanding its max video length to 3 minutes, up from 60 seconds, after testing this function publicly for a lot of months with a choose group of creators. The function will enable for extra long-form video content material, probably making TikTok much more of a menace to YouTube.
Pinterest bans weight loss ads on its platform, turning into the primary main social platform to take this form of motion. The firm says social media performs a job in selling dangerous magnificence requirements, and adverts that glorify weight reduction contribute to an increase in disordered consuming behaviors quite than wholesome habits.
Instagram is developing its own version of Twitter’s Super Follow with “Exclusive Stories.” Instagram confirmed that the screenshots of an “Exclusive Stories” function not too long ago circulated throughout social media are from an inner prototype that’s now in growth, however not but being publicly examined. The function would enable creators to provide Stories that solely members (possible paying subscribers) would find a way to see. These would seem on their profile in numerous colours and would show a message that their Story was just for members when others tried to view them. They may be saved as Highlights, and may’t be screenshot, in accordance to the leaks.
TikTok’s newest transparency report revealed the corporate eliminated 11,149,514 accounts in Q1 2021 for violating group pointers or phrases of service, which is fewer than 1% of complete accounts. Of these removals, 7,263,952 had been accounts belonging to youngsters below 13.
Trump and Parler reportedly mentioned a deal that might transfer the majority of Trump’s social media presence to the right-wing Twitter different, in accordance to New York Magazine. The deal would have seen Trump taking 40% of Parler’s revenues had it gone via. Parler was okay with the rev share, however wouldn’t ban Trump’s critics from the app, which scuttled the deal, the report stated.
Instagram is testing a feature that might enable anybody to find a way to share a hyperlink immediately of their Stories via a linking sticker, which might work the identical manner the swipe-up hyperlinks presently do. The firm stated the check is wanting to perceive how many individuals would use hyperlinks, if obtainable.
Twitter supplied customers an opportunity to receive one of seven free NFTs this week, which had been minted on Rarible in editions of 20, making for 140 NFTs (get it?) in complete. The NFTs had been supplied to those that replied to a put up from the corporate’s important Twitter account, and will sign Twitter’s plans to put money into making NFTs extra part of its platform sooner or later.
AT&T joined T-Mobile in switching its customers to use the Android Messages app as their default cellular messages app for each SMS and RCS companies, making Verizon the one U.S. provider that has not made a partnership take care of Google. RCS has plenty of benefits over SMS, together with no character limits, the flexibility to ship bigger information, typing indicators, higher group chat, Wi-Fi help and end-to-end encryption for one-on-one group chats. This makes it a extra compelling different to Apple’s iMessage, nevertheless it requires provider adoption.
Audio chat comes to the office as Slack this week released a new audio tool called Slack Huddles that enables customers to have real-time conversations with colleagues in Slack’s app as an alternative of typing. The firm additionally supplied extra particulars about an upcoming function that enables customers to depart video messages and it confirmed off an upgraded worker listing. The video messages software is being piloted whereas the listing is presently obtainable to a restricted variety of Business + and Enterprise Grid prospects.
The U.Okay. issued guidance to messaging apps working within the nation to not use end-to-end encryption on youngsters’s accounts, asking firms to contemplate the dangers that e2e poses to youthful customers, because it makes it tougher to establish unlawful and dangerous content material that takes place on personal channels. A authorities spokesperson pressured that there’s a manner to implement robust encryption in a manner that’s in keeping with public security. Privacy activists disagree with this stance.
Telegram rolled out group video calls to its cellular and desktop apps after initially promising the function was coming again in April 2020. The firm says group video calls are restricted to up to 30 individuals nevertheless it plans to improve that restrict sooner or later.
WhatsApp is testing a redesigned voice message feature that may present quick waveforms when the person is recording the message. After recording, the person can cease and pay attention to their message earlier than sending it, too.
Dating app Bumble is planning to open its first cafe in New York later this month. The launch was initially deliberate for 2019, however was delayed due to the pandemic. The new venue, Bumble Brew, is being enabled by a partnership between the relationship app maker and Italian restaurant Pasquale Jones. Decked out in Bumble’s yellow, the new cafe will open subsequent to the restaurant, to provide a spot for daters to meet for both espresso, cocktails or a meal.
Streaming & Entertainment
Netflix customers on Android units will now be able to start streaming titles which have solely partially downloaded, which may assist in the state of affairs the place you’ve forgotten to obtain your favourite exhibits earlier than boarding a airplane. Before, till the obtain accomplished, you couldn’t watch any portion of the video in any respect.
Chinese TikTok rival Kuaishou and Tencent acquired the short-form rights to the upcoming Tokyo and 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics from state broadcaster CCTV. This makes the app the primary short-form and livestreaming platform globally to turn into an official broadcaster of the Olympics.
Amazon Music Unlimited is giving subscribers up to six months of Disney+ without spending a dime (or three for present subscribers). Disney’s isn’t the primary to bundle a streaming take care of music. Hulu and Spotify had as soon as accomplished the identical.
Spotify launched its Spotify Audience Network advert market to advertisers and Megaphone publishers in Australia, Canada and the U.Okay., following its U.S. launch in February. The market lets advertisers purchase audio adverts on and off the Spotify platform.
Microsoft’s Xbox division announced the enlargement of its Designed for Xbox cellular gaming equipment to iOS alongside the launch of the Xbox Cloud Gaming beta turning into obtainable to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members on Windows 10 PCs and Apple telephones and tablets by way of the online browser at xbox.com/play.
As a part of the equipment program enlargement, the Backbone cellular controller joined the Designed for Xbox household with the Backbone One for Xbox, which helps all iPhones operating iOS 13 or later. It additionally added OtterBox Power Swap Controller Batteries, a battery pack appropriate with Xbox consoles, Android and iPhone units.
Health & Fitness
Google announced this week an replace to its Passes API which can enable builders to construct performance into their web sites and apps to export COVID-19 check and vaccination data to a digital format that may be saved both within the Google Pay app or immediately on the customers homescreen as a shortcut. The API will solely be open to builders at healthcare organizations, authorities businesses, and different organizations licensed by public well being authorities, initially within the U.S.
App Annie spots indicators of a pandemic restoration in its Q2 2021 report, noting particularly a rebound in journey apps. The agency discovered that month-to-month hours spent in Travel and Navigations apps are on an upward pattern in markets just like the U.S. and the U.Okay., the place the rollout of vaccinations has been robust. South Korea is seeing an excellent higher restoration, as time spent in journey apps has surpassed pre-pandemic ranges. Travel apps in Brazil, France and India, nonetheless, haven’t but reached pre-pandemic ranges.
Alphabet’s Wing launched a free app within the U.S. referred to as OpenSky geared toward each business and leisure drone pilots. The app exhibits pilots the place it’s okay to fly utilizing color-coded maps with greens, yellows and reds. It additionally permits pilots to submit requests to fly in managed airspaces and obtain close to real-time authorizations. This function works in a whole lot of airspaces. The app had beforehand been obtainable in Australia solely.
Facebook is launching an academic app referred to as Sabee in Nigeria, which is the primary of the corporate’s new efforts to extra immediately goal the nation, and ultimately, the African continent, with new cellular merchandise. The app is being revealed by the corporate’s NPE Team, an inner R&D incubator, which had targeted on new social experiences till now.
Security & Privacy
Twitter users now have the option to use safety keys as their solely type of two-factor authentication (2FA), which the corporate notes is the best manner to maintain your Twitter account safe. Twitter has supplied the choice to use safety keys as one among its 2FA choices since 2018. However, this preliminary help solely labored for Twitter.com, not the cellular app, and required customers to have one other type of 2FA enabled, too.
💰 Tapcart, a “Shopify for mobile apps,” raises $50 million Series B led by Left Lane Capital. The firm affords a drag-and-drop builder that enables anybody to create a cellular app for his or her present Shopify retailer and talk with prospects by way of push. Shopify was among the many taking part traders.
💰 BreezoMeter, an iPhone app that measures air high quality, raises a $30 million Series C led by Fortissimo Capital, bringing its complete increase to date to $45 million. The firm makes use of AI and machine studying to collect and perceive knowledge from a number of sources, together with greater than 47,000 sensors worldwide.
💰Istanbul-based Dream Games raised $155 million Series at a $1 billion valuation in a spherical co-led by Index Ventures and Makers Fund. The cellular puzzle sport developer is finest recognized for Royal Match, which has 6M MAUs and $20M/month in income.
💰Apple and Snap accomplice Jigspace, “the Canva for 3D,” raised $4.7 million Series A in a spherical led by Rampersand. The free JigSpace app lets anybody mix presets and templates of 3D-modeled objects to create their very own “Jigs” (fashions). The app has over 4 million customers on the App Store.
💰South Korea edtech app maker Mathpresso raised $50 million in Series C funding from GGV Capital, Yellowdog, Goodwater Capital, and KDB. The service is utilized by over 9.8M customers
📈 Robinhood files for its IPO. Earlier within the week, Robinhood agreed to pay $70 million in fines and restitution as a part of its settlement with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority over offering prospects with “false or misleading information. The SEC, however, is still investigating the trading halt related to GameStop and other meme stocks. Robinhood has 18M accounts and $80B in assets. It will trade under “HOOD” on the Nasdaq.
💰 Women’s social networking app Peanut launches a microfund referred to as StartHER to start investing in early, pre-seed stage startups led by ladies or different traditionally excluded teams.
🤝 Social media app LYKA, targeted on Southeast Asia, inked a deal with music-streaming know-how firm Tuned Global to combine an immersive music-streaming service immediately inside its app. The partnership will enable LYKA to present on-demand streaming of music, video, and podcasts to the app’s customers.
📈 Chinese m-commerce app Dingdong made a small gain during this week’s IPO, with shares that closed at $23.52, up 2 cents from its provide worth, on its first day of buying and selling. The app permits prospects to purchase recent produce, meat, seafood and different every day requirements.
💰 Vietnamese funding app Infina raised $2 million in seed funding for its Robinhood-like app launched in January 2021, which now has some 500,000 buying and selling accounts.
🤝 Gaming chat app Discord acquired AR startup Ubiquity6, which had raised $37.5 million in funding from prime traders together with Benchmark, First Round, Kleiner Perkins and Google’s Gradient Ventures. The startup had not too long ago deserted a few of its tasks, indicating it could have been struggling to discover traction. Deal phrases weren’t disclosed.
💰 Family app Life360 introduced a $2.1 million investment round from celebs and influencers who will now assist to advise the corporate on new options and assist with product advertising. The spherical was led by Bryant Stibel, the agency co-founded by the late Kobe Bryant and enterprise accomplice Jeff Stibel. Other traders included Vanessa Bryant, Joanna and Chip Gaines, Tony Hawk, Chris and Jada Paul, TikTok influencer Billy Perry, and Nicole and Michael Phelps. Life360 presently trades on the ASX.
💰Age of Learning, the creator of childhood training app ABCmouse, (*15*) in a new spherical of funding led by TPG. The new funding greater than doubled the corporate’s valuation to $3 billion. The firm says it can use the funds to speed up worldwide enlargement and the event of its subsequent technology of apps.
💰Exercise and company wellness app Gympass raised $220 million in Series E funding. The Brazil-based app noticed a record 4 million month-to-month check-ins throughout its community of greater than 50,000 international companions in May.
💰Digital greeting card app Givingli raised $3 million in seed funding in a spherical led by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six. The app goals to modernize the digital greeting card enterprise for Gen Z customers and monetizes via a $3.99 per 30 days premium subscription and reward card gross sales. Snap additionally invested within the spherical after earlier partnering with the startup on a Snap Mini app.
💰Buzzer, a stay sports activities app, raised $20 million in Series A funding from quite a lot of sports activities and leisure backers, together with Michael Jordan, Naomi Osaka, Patrick Mahomes and others.
The new Brickit cellular app is a Lego fan’s dream and a powerful use of pc imaginative and prescient know-how. The app is able to quickly analyze a pile of Legos to establish which bricks you’ve gotten in your assortment. It then serves up some tasks the place you’ve gotten all, or not less than most of, the bricks you want to construct. The course of may be very quick, too — the app is smart of a whole lot of bricks in your pile inside simply seconds. Brickit doesn’t come from Lego immediately, nonetheless, which limits a few of its capabilities by way of integrating with Lego’s bigger library of directions. But, in time, it can possible generate some knowledge on the Lego collections customers have at residence which may make it an attention-grabbing acquisition goal for Lego, as well as to the tech itself.
Three Weeks with iOS and iPadOS 15: Foundational Updates by Federico Viticci for iMore. An ideal in-depth evaluate and evaluation of what’s new with Apple’s newest software program replace.