Welcome again to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch collection that recaps the newest in cellular OS information, cellular purposes and the general app economic 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 economic system is constant to develop, having produced a file variety of downloads and client spending throughout each the iOS and Google Play shops mixed in 2021, in accordance with the newest 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 gives a strategy to sustain with this fast-moving trade in a single place with the newest from the world of apps, together with information, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and way more.

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Android 13 arrives

Picture Credit: Google

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 units, following the beta launch a month in the past. The OS will attain different non-Pixel Android units 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 newest efforts from each Google and Apple have been centered 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 might theme their gadget to match their background. With the newest replace, they’ll now additionally match their non-Google apps to their chosen theme and coloration schemes. It is a a lot less complicated and extra elegant answer than the icon customization on iOS as we speak, the place apps like Brass, Themify, Aesthetic, Coloration Widgets and plenty of others should leverage a mixture of configuration profiles and shortcuts to do the identical.

In one other personalization transfer, Android 13 permits customers to set the languages used for completely different apps — helpful for those that communicate a number of languages.

Different enhancements embody the flexibility to copy content material (e.g. URLs, images, movies, textual content) between Android units, higher multitasking options on tablets, an expanded bedtime mode with dimmed wallpaper and a darkish theme, HDR video help on third-party digicam 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 facet, 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 massive 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 want specific permission to ship notifications, fairly than being allowed to ship notifications by default. This modification sees Android lastly catching up with iOS, which has provided this kind of setting for years. (Many, many years.)

The Android supply has additionally been pushed to the Android Open Supply Mission (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 function 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 gadget is without doubt one of 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 gadget and are designed to remain hidden from house screens. They offer the attacker the flexibility to see the sufferer’s cellphone knowledge in actual time, together with calls, messages, contacts, location knowledge, images and extra.

The brand new lookup software will test in opposition to the leaked listing of distinctive gadget identifiers, like IMEI numbers and promoting IDs, and is obtainable freed from cost to anybody who desires to make sure their cellphone has not been compromised.

TikTok caught keylogging?

A 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 may enable it to observe all keyboard inputs and faucets that occurred on third-party web sites that have been rendered contained in the app. Concerningly, this data might embody customers’ passwords or fee card data 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 verify the information was collected, transferred or decide the way it could also be used. Customers must be conscious, nonetheless, and decide to open hyperlinks exterior of the TikTok app to be protected.

TikTok refuted the claims saying the JavaScript code is simply used for debugging, troubleshooting and efficiency monitoring — like checking to see how shortly a web page loaded or if it crashed. The corporate additionally pointed to a number of different causes as to why the report’s claims have been overblown. The researcher additionally accused Meta of modifying third-party websites loaded of their in-app browsers, which has since led Eire’s Information Safety Fee, the lead knowledge safety regulator for Meta and TikTok below the GDPR in Europe, to request a gathering with the tech big to debate.

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, known as “Encourage,” seems within the backside nav bar of the Amazon app.

Picture Credit: Watchful by way of The Wall Road Journal

Amazon, in fact, has no real interest in competing as a brand new social or leisure expertise with different massive tech corporations. Nevertheless it does copycat the newest, hottest codecs when it builds out new purchasing options. In years previous, that’s seen the corporate cloning different social apps like Pinterest or Instagram or steaming dwell purchasing movies. Now that TikTok’s feed is the go-to, Amazon has adopted it as nicely.

For now, the Encourage feed is being examined and isn’t publicly accessible to all customers.

Apple Updates

  • 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 digicam upgrades and a sooner chip. Apple has not made a proper announcement of the occasion at the moment.
  • Apple’s iOS 16 beta 5 added a nifty characteristic to once more present the battery proportion 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 enhance in Ghana and Turkey. 

Augmented Actuality

Snap and HBO partnership for House of the Dragon

Picture Credit: Snap

  • 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 position 10 dinosaurs within the person’s setting. 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.

Picture Credit: NBCUniversal Media

Social Networking

  • ⭐️ Twitter, Meta and TikTok all outlined their insurance policies associated to their plans on dealing with the 2022 U.S. midterm elections. Twitter mentioned it’s rolling out redesigned tweet labels and “prebunks” on deceptive content material. TikTok is providing state-by-state data in an Elections Middle and can label and fact-check movies. Fb mentioned it would 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. knowledge has been tasked with the monitoring, however provided no specifics as to how it will likely be executed or who will get to see the outcomes.
  • A brand new Pew Analysis research 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 research to now 32% as we speak.
  • 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 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 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 Sequence B led by DST this previous spring, The Info reported.
  • Timbaland and Swizz Beatz sued TikTok rival Triller saying they’re owed $28 million+. The swimsuit 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 star.

Photographs

  • 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 shifting to a subscription pricing mannequin to higher 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.
3 teens with a drone

Picture Credit: Snap

Messaging

  • 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 evaluate for two 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 choice that permits 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 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. The same 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 development may have its personal touchdown web page within the app.
  • Google kicked off a public marketing campaign, “Get the Message,” designed to strain Apple to undertake messaging customary 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 as we speak.
Google RCS campaign

Picture Credit: Google

Streaming & Leisure

  • HBO Max rolled out new cellular (and desktop) apps, promising an improved person expertise with options like SharePlay help, a shuffle button for cellular, a devoted house for downloads, pill help in portrait and panorama modes, a greater display reader, break 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 authentic podcast content material to its Podcasts app, and probably, enable it to show these exhibits into Apple TV+ packages 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 additionally gained new discovery feeds for music and podcasts. The separate feeds will direct customers to the kind of content material they’re wanting 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 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.)

Picture Credit: Sensor Tower

  • Google Meet launched a brand new characteristic that permits customers to look at 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 track recognitions as of this week.
  • Netflix’s upcoming ad-supported tier could not supply offline viewing, in accordance with findings within the app’s code.
  • Plex launched a brand new social expertise in its streaming apps known as Uncover Collectively, which incorporates the flexibility so as to add buddies and see what they’re watching, bookmarking and the way they’re ranking exhibits and films.

Picture Credit: Plex

Gaming

  • Netflix’s video games have seen 23.3 million downloads and common 1.7 million day by day lively customers, per Apptopia knowledge. This represents lower than 1% of Netflix’s 221 million subscribers.
  • Google started testing a approach 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 in opposition to Apple is ready to be heard beginning on October 21. The sport maker desires 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 individuals ages 17-24. The corporate mentioned male 17- to 24-year-olds would develop into the most important tracked class by way of customers and engagement hours within the U.S. and Canada over the following couple of months.

Courting

  • 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 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 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 individuals out of round 400. The corporate had been valued at $2 billion in 2020.
  • A Mozilla research discovered that 18 out of 25 prime reproductive apps and wearables, like Clue, Flo, Glow and Eve, didn’t have sturdy privateness protections. Most didn’t say if they’d share knowledge with regulation enforcement, both.

Journey & Transportation

  • Lyft Media is a brand new enterprise 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 per thirty days 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 expertise which incorporates an algorithm that appears at indicators, just like the historical past of optimistic opinions, 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 will likely be prevented from reserving a complete property, and can as an alternative 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 house owners to show their good display units (Portal Plus Gen 2 and Meta Portal Go) right into a second display for their Mac and PC. The corporate mentioned it might additionally launch the Meta Portal Companion app on Mac for Meta Portal touch-based units (Meta Portal Go, Meta Portal Plus, Meta Portal and Meta Portal Mini) to permit for screen-sharing on video calls. Meta is alleged to be phasing out its client Portal units.

Adtech

  • (*13*)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. Presently, Apple’s advert income is round $4 billion.
  • A brand new report by FT famous many small companies reliant on personalised advertisements have in the reduction of on advertising efforts, partially on account 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 may see Apple taking a minimize of “boosted posts” by way of IAP and an ad-free Fb subscription.
  • TikTok rolled out new advert options as a part of its commerce advert suite known as “Purchasing Advertisements.” The corporate is at the moment 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 examine Apple and Google over potential violations of the nation’s in-app fee guidelines. The Korea Communications Fee (KCC) can also be investigating SK Group’s homegrown app retailer known as ONE Retailer. If the KCC discovers the businesses have violated the regulation, it would problem fines which may be as much as 2% of the corporate’s annual income.
  • The EU is set to make a ultimate determination associated to a privateness criticism concerning Instagram’s dealing with of kids’s knowledge 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 have been discovered to have misled shoppers about its location knowledge assortment.
  • China’s web regulator printed a listing of 30 algorithms utilized in common 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 may 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 mentioned it might proceed with its personal deal to amass 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 Cell, 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, centered on enterprise use, raised €24 million in Sequence 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 lately expanded its assets and help for postpartum healthcare.

🤝 DNSFilter acquired the iOS firewall app Guardian for an unknown sum with a view 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 data with third events, comparable to IP addresses and site knowledge, 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 periods 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 Sequence A funding to increase its suite of robots that bug-test cellular apps. The robots can run by custom-designed testing flows to faucet, swipe and rotate cellular units, and extra. The system integrates with customary dev instruments like Jira and gives shoppers with outcomes and experiences.

💰 Meme-based courting 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 individuals they like and as much as love memes offered to them. The latter will assist to tell match alternatives.

💰 Meta invested in Take App, a Singaporean startup based by former Fb engineering supervisor Youmin Ki. The app gives a straightforward approach for customers to arrange easy web sites for on-line orders, with a purchasing cart, funds and a direct connection to WhatsApp for managing and monitoring orders. The funding dimension was undisclosed however got here in by way of the corporate’s NPE Workforce, 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 engineering groups.

💰 Indian fintech app Jar raised $22.6 million in Sequence 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 to this point.

🤝 Simply Eat offered its 33% stake within the Latin American three way partnership iFood to Prosus for $1.8 billion. Prosus will now totally personal the Brazilian meals supply firm and app maker in consequence.

Alongside

Picture Credit: Alongside

A brand new video creation app known 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 known 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 development web page.

The app is at the moment 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.

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