Instagram restricts teenagers’ accounts, Elon Musk criticizes App Store charges, Google Play’s new policies


Welcome again to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the newest in cellular OS information, cellular functions and the general app economic system.

The app trade continues to develop, with a record 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in world shopper 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 common 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 method to go idle hours — they’re additionally a giant enterprise. In 2019, mobile-first corporations had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x larger than these with out a cellular focus. In 2020, traders poured $73 billion in capital into cellular corporations — a determine that’s up 27% yr over yr.

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Google Play updates its policies

Did you hear the one about Google Play banning sugar daddy courting apps? Google this week up to date its terms to clarify that apps the place customers supply intercourse acts in alternate for cash, or “sugar dating,” as the new terms state, are not allowed as of September 1, 2021.

More attention-grabbing, maybe, to the bigger group of reliable Android builders is that this week’s unveiling of the UI for the upcoming Google Play safety section and the accompanying app labels. The labels will operate because the Android counterpart to the app “nutrition labels” the Apple App Store lately launched. Google is giving builders loads of time to get used to the concept of elevated transparency and disclosure, by providing an in depth timeline of when it expects builders to have their privateness label submissions prepared. By April 2022, all builders might want to declare particular information and have a privateness coverage.

Developers should confide in customers whether or not their app makes use of safety practices like knowledge encryption, whether or not it follows Google Play’s Families coverage for apps geared toward youngsters, whether or not customers have a alternative in knowledge sharing, whether or not the app’s security part had been verified by a 3rd occasion, and if the app allowed customers to request knowledge deletion on the time of uninstalling, amongst different issues.

Apps that don’t disclose received’t have the ability to listing or replace till the issues are mounted.

The security part wasn’t the one Google Play coverage information to be introduced this week.

Google additionally reminded developers that it was making a technical change to how promoting IDs work. Now, when customers choose out of interest-based promoting or advertisements personalization, their advertising ID is eliminated and changed with a string of zeros. The change, nonetheless, is a phased rollout, affecting apps operating on Android 12 units beginning late 2021 and increasing to all apps operating on units that help Google Play in early 2022.

Google additionally stated it’s going to take a look at a new characteristic that notifies builders and advert/analytics service suppliers of consumer opt-out preferences and is prohibiting linking persistent device identifiers to non-public and delicate consumer knowledge or resettable machine identifiers. Kids apps can even not have the ability to transmit an advert ID.

Another policy update includes a plan to shut dormant accounts. Google says if the account is inactive or deserted after a yr, will probably be closed. This will embrace accounts the place the developer has by no means uploaded an app or accessed Google Play Console in a yr.

Tools to construct accessible experiences can even be locked down, as Google is including new necessities on how AccessibilityService API and IsAccessibilityTool can be utilized.

Apple tries to repair the Safari mess

In response to suggestions and complaints, Apple is clearly making an attempt to repair a number of the points that arose from this alteration. It re-added a Share button to the tab bar and put extra controls below that menu. There’s additionally as soon as once more a reload button within the tab bar subsequent to the area title, although it’s a bit smaller, and a Reader Mode button will seem within the tab bar when Reader is on the market

On iPad, Safari additionally reverted again to the standard separate row of tabs, as a substitute of the new compact expertise.

Elon Musk sides with Epic Games

Elon Musk sided with Fortnite maker Epic Games within the Apple App Store antitrust lawsuit, because the Tesla CEO tweeted on Friday that Apple’s App Store charges have been “a de facto global tax on the Internet.” The lawsuit alleges Apple is abusing its platform energy with the way it commissions apps and in-app purchases on its App Store platform — charges that add as much as large numbers for a recreation like Fortnite, which arguably doesn’t want an App Store for discovery, advertising and marketing, funds and distribution. But there’s no different method to promote to iOS customers as we speak. On Android, apps can a minimum of be sideloaded. It’s not presently clear why Musk has determined to take a stand on the difficulty, as none of his corporations’ apps are dramatically impacted by Apple’s charges at current.

Other Platform News (Apple & Google)

Apple announced plans to end support for a number of SiriPackage intents and instructions, together with those who might impression main apps — like ride-sharing app Uber. In whole, there are over 20 SiriPackage intent domains that might be deprecated and not supported in new and current OS releases, Apple says.

Apple tweaked the controversial iOS 15 Safari adjustments within the latest betas (iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, beta 4). The new Safari design had moved the tab bar (URL bar) to the underside of the display — a reasonably radical change for one of many iPhone’s most used apps. It was meant to make the controls simpler to succeed in however critics stated that the change made different usually used options — just like the reload button or Reader Mode — more durable to search out and use, impacting the general usability of the browser itself.

Google this week launched model 1.0 of Jetpack Compose, Android’s new, native UI toolkit geared toward serving to builders construct higher apps quicker. The device had been in beta since March. The new manufacturing launch is constructed to combine with the Jetpack libraries builders already use, and gives an implementation of Material Design parts and theming. New features include Compose Preview and Deploy Preview, which require Android Studio Arctic Fox, which can be out now in a secure launch.

Google additionally announced the provision of the AutomotiveHardwareManager API by way of the Android for Cars App Library as a part of Jetpack.

E-commerce

Twitter launched a U.S. e-commerce pilot test that can assist decide the present urge for food for on-line procuring on its platform. The take a look at permits manufacturers and companies to characteristic a “Shop Module” with numerous merchandise on the market on the prime of their Professional Profile, a business-friendly model of a profile web page with help for issues like an handle, hours, telephone quantity and extra. Users can click on on the Shop Module to go to a retail web site and transact. Early testers embrace Game Stop and Arden Cove. The characteristic itself is considerably naked bones for now, because it’s actually simply a picture that launches an in-app browser. That’s not sufficient to essentially compete with one thing like Instagram Shop or Shopify’s Shop and the built-in, native checkout expertise these sorts of app gives.

Fintech

Fintech large Robinhood raised $2.1 billion in its IPO this week. The IPO valued the buying and selling app at $31.8 billion, making it bigger that conventional rivals like Charles Schwab, although the providing priced on the backside of its vary. The inventory dropped 8% throughout its first day’s buying and selling, nonetheless. Robinhood now has 21.3 million MAUs.

PayPal throughout its second-quarter earnings name announced its new “super app” is now code-complete and able to roll out. The app will characteristic early direct deposit, verify cashing, excessive yield financial savings, budgeting instruments, improved invoice pay, crypto help, subscription administration, buy now, pay later performance, cellular commerce, and person-to-person messaging options. The latter hadn’t but been introduced and would permit customers to speak exterior of the funds course of.

Code present in Apple’s Wallet app signifies that iOS 15 will require users to confirm their identities by taking a selfie after they add their driver’s license or different state identification card to the iPhone.

Social

Instagram announced a sequence of serious adjustments to the way it handles the accounts of youthful teenagers. The firm says it’s going to now default customers to personal accounts at sign-up in the event that they’re below the age of 16  — or below 18 in sure locales, together with within the EU. It can even push current customers below 16 to change their account to personal in the event that they haven’t already executed so. In addition, Instagram is rolling out new expertise geared toward lowering undesirable contact from adults — like those that have already been blocked or reported by different teenagers — and it’ll change how advertisers can attain its teenage viewers. The adjustments give the corporate a method to argue to regulators that it’s able to self-policing because it makes an attempt to roll out a model of Instagram to youthful customers below the age of 13.

Twitter rolls out an update to its stay audio platform, Twitter Spaces, that can make it simpler to share the audio room with others. Users will have the ability to compose a tweet proper from the Space that hyperlinks to the room and consists of any accompanying hashtags. iOS customers additionally obtained new visitor administration controls for hosts.

Snapchat resolved an outage that was stopping folks from logging in on Thursday. Unlike different app blips, which repair themselves usually with out customers’ consciousness, Snap informed customers to manually replace their app if the problems continued.

Snapchat additionally this week added a “My Places” feature to Snap Map, which permits customers to log their favourite spots, share them with pals and discover suggestions. The characteristic helps over 30 million companies and permits Snap to distinguish its map from a utility like Google Maps or Apple Maps, as a result of it’s about private suggestions from folks and belief: your pals.

Instagram added support for 60-second movies to its TikTok clone, Reels. Previously, solely Reels of as much as 30 seconds have been supported. Sixty seconds is according to different platforms like YouTube Shorts and Snapchat’s Spotlight. But TikTok is now inching into YouTube territory, because it lately expanded to help three-minute movies.

TikTok expanded its LIVE platform with an enormous lineup of new options together with the flexibility to go stay with others, host Q&As, use moderators and improved key phrase filters, and extra. For viewers, TikTok is including new discovery and viewing instruments, together with picture-in-picture mode and methods to leap to LIVE streams from the For You and Following feeds. Some markets, together with the U.S. already had entry to LIVE Events, however the characteristic is now increasing. Meanwhile, the co-host characteristic presently helps going stay with one different creator, however TikTok says it’s now testing a number of hosts.

Discord launched a new feature, Threads, which can make it simpler to learn via longer conversations on busy servers. Now, any server with “Community” options enabled will have the ability to remodel their messages into threaded conversations throughout cellular and desktop. The threads might be designated by their very own topic title and could be created by choosing a new hashtag image that seems within the menu when hovering over messages or by urgent the + signal within the chat bar.

Pinterest shares dropped by greater than 12% after the corporate reported its second-quarter earnings on Thursday. Despite beating on estimates with income of $613.2 million and earnings per share of 25 cents, traders have been upset by the miss on consumer development. The firm reported month-to-month lively consumer development of simply 9% to succeed in 454 million, when analysts have been anticipating 482 million. Pinterest blamed COVID impacts for the slowdown. The information follows Pinterest’s launch of new tools for creators to monetize their content, with Ideas Pins — the lately launched video-first format that lets creators exhibit their work. Now, creators could make their pins “shoppable” and take commissions on these purchases.

Messaging

WhatsApp is testing support for larger picture add high quality on iOS units. The characteristic was found on WhatsApp’s TestFlight model for iOS however shouldn’t be but public and gives three choices: auto, highest quality or knowledge saver.

Streaming & Entertainment

Spotify’s Clubhouse clone, Greenroom, is off to a sluggish begin. The app has only been downloaded 140,000+ occasions on iOS and 100,000+ on Android, together with installs from its earlier life as Locker Room, an app that Spotify acquired to maneuver into stay audio. Meanwhile, Spotify has 365 million month-to-month lively customers on its flagship streaming app.

Spotify additionally reported its Q2 earnings this week, the place it posted a $23.6 million loss and failed to succeed in its forecast for whole MAUs, regardless of rising MAUs 22% YOY to 365 million. It now has 165 million paying subscribers, which is up 20% YOY.

In a change to its app, Spotify added an attention-grabbing “What’s New” feed that gives customized updates about new releases and new podcast episodes. The characteristic is on the market via a notification bell icon and makes use of a blue dot to point when there’s one thing new to see. Dots like this are a psychological hacks popularized by social apps like Facebook and Instagram to addict customers, which might impression consumer engagement time on Spotify’s app.

Apple’s GarageBand app for iOS and iPadOS now lets you remix tracks from prime artists and producers like Dua Lipa and Lady Gaga. There are additionally new Producer Packs with beats, loops and devices created for GarageBand by prime producers, together with Boys Noize, Mark Lettieri, Oak Felder, Soulection, Take A Daytrip, Tom Misch and TRAKGIRL.

Google TV’s cellular app was updated with new companies and customized suggestions, following final fall’s launch of the Google TV consumer expertise for Chromecast units. The app now sports activities 16:9 widescreen film and present posters, and added new suppliers Discovery+, Viki, Cartoon Network, PBS Kids, Boomerang, plus on-demand content material from stay TV companies, together with YouTube TV, Philo and fuboTV.

Gaming

Epic Games announced that Fortnite will host one other in-game occasion it’s calling the “Rift Tour,” which kicks off Friday, August 6 and runs via Sunday, August 8. What it hasn’t but stated is what the Rift Tour is, past a “musical journey into magical new realities” that can characteristic a “record-breaking superstar.”

Health & Fitness

Facebook’s Oculus division is exploring an integration of Oculus Workouts with Apple’s Health app, based on the app’s code. An integration would permit customers to retailer their exercise knowledge in Health.

Productivity

Usage of cellular video conferencing apps like Zoom grew by 150% within the first half of 2021, based on a report from Sensor Tower. Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet noticed a surge in utilization, collectively climbing to just about 21x larger than in H1 2019, the agency discovered.

Google Voice’s app was updated with a few refinements, together with a method to see the explanation for a missed name or dropped name, and a straightforward method to redial. iOS customers can now present their Google Voice quantity as their caller ID after they get a calling via a forwarding quantity. Another change will permit customers to delete a number of SMS messages without delay.

Edtech

Language studying app Duolingo raised $521 million in its U.S. IPO, priced above the marketed vary. The firm priced 5.1 million shared at $102, after first advertising and marketing them at $95 to $100.

Utilities

Amazon this week rolled out an replace to its Alexa iOS app that permits customers to add an Alexa widget to their iOS homescreen. The widget permits you to faucet on a button to talk to the digital assistant and concern instructions. Watch out Siri! (Ha, simply kidding.)

Google Maps additionally up to date its iOS app this week to add support for a homescreen widget. There are two completely different widgets sizes to select from — one that offers information like climate and site visitors, whereas one other is extra of a shortcut to close by locations like fuel stations, eating places, work and residential.

Google is engaged on a”Switch to Android” app for iOS customers that can copy over knowledge and apps from an iPhone to carry them to a new Android machine. Apple already gives an analogous app, known as “Move to iOS” for Android customers.

Transportation

Parking app utilization has popped to pre-pandemic ranges, Apptopia reported. Apps on this area assist customers discover availability in tons and garages close by and facilitate funds. Browsing time in apps was up 57% YOY in July, and general parking app utilization is now 6.2% above Jan. 2020 pre-pandemic ranges.

Moovit integrated Lime’s electrical scooters, bikes and mopeds into its transit-planning app that’s stay in 117 cities throughout 20 nations and continents, together with the United States, South America, Australia and Europe.

Government & Policy

Tencent’s WeChat suspended new consumer registrations in China to adjust to “relevant laws and regulations.” The transfer comes amid a broad crackdown on tech corporations by Chinese regulators, associated to knowledge assortment and different dangerous practices.

Recently, China ordered Tencent and 13 other developers to repair issues associated to pop-ups inside their apps, as a part of the tech crackdown. The regulator additionally stated it could tighten controls on deceptive and express content material used for advertising and marketing, and issued fines for offensive content material to Tencent, Kuaishou and Alibaba.

Security & Privacy

Apple released patches for iOS, iPadOS and macOS to handle a zero-day vulnerability that had been exploited within the wild. Apple stated the exploit might exploit the vulnerability generally known as CVE-2021-30807 to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges on a susceptible and unpatched machine.

Google Play Protect failed an Android safety take a look at, based on a report from Bleeping Computer. The cellular menace safety answer ranked final out of 15 Android safety apps examined over a span of six months, between January to June 2021.

💰 Product insights and analytics startup Pendo raised $150 million at a $2.6 billion valuation, forward of its anticipated IPO. The spherical was led by B Capital, the agency from Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, and included new investor Silver Lake Waterman, alongside current backers. Pendo’s platform helps corporations collect knowledge on how prospects use their apps, together with shoppers like Okta, Toast and others.

🤝 Twitter “acqui-hired” the staff from subscription information app, Brief, who will now be part of Twitter’s Experience.org group, which works on Twitter Spaces and Explore. Brief had supplied a non-biased information app that allowed you to get each side of a narrative and all the mandatory info. Deal phrases weren’t disclosed.

💰 Delivery app Gopuff confirmed its $1 billion fundraise at a $15 billion valuation, geared toward increasing its instantaneous supply service. TechCrunch beforehand reported the information when the Series H was nonetheless being closed.

💰 Indian journey app Ixigo raised $53 million (Rs 395 crore), prepping the enterprise for a valuation of $750 million-$800 million for its upcoming IPO. The spherical was led by Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC.

💰 Mobile-first digital pockets Valora native to the Celo community raised $20 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), a Celo backer, to turn into a worldwide gateway to crypto.

💰 Crypto pockets firm Eco, backed by a16z, raised $60 million in new funding led by Activant Capital and L Catterton. Eco gives a digital pockets with rewards and no charges, and has common deposits of round $6,000.

💰 Search API startup Algolia, which lets builders combine real-time search in apps or web sites, raised $150 million in Series D funding, valuing the enterprise at $2.25 billion, post-money. The spherical was led by Lone Pine Capital. Algolia now has over 10,000 prospects, together with Slack, Stripe, Medium, Zendesk and Lacoste.

💰 Brain Technologies raised $50+ million for Natural, a pure language search engine and tremendous app for iOS, which needs customers to cease switching between apps to order meals, groceries or buy groceries. Backers embrace Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective, Goodwater Capital, Scott Cook and WTT Investment.

💰 Messaging app Element, constructed on the decentralized Matrix protocol, raised $30 million in a Series B spherical of funding. Investors embrace open-source R&D lab Protocol Labs and Metaplanet. a fund from Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn, in addition to previous traders Automattic and Notion.

💰 Indonesia-based grocery app HappyFresh raised $65 million in Series D funding in a spherical led by Naver Financial Corporation and Gafina B.V. The app gives an Instacart-like grocery supply service for elements of Asia, which as we speak operates in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

💰 Indian D2C magnificence model MyGlamm, which sells merchandise via an app and web site, raised $71.3 million in Series C financing, from Amazon, Ascent Capital and Wipro.

Nanogram

Image Credits: Nanogram

Developer Kosta Eleftheriou could have taken on Apple in authorized battles and on Twitter, as he factors out the quite a few app scams on the App Store, however that hasn’t stopped him from constructing new apps.

This week, Eleftheriou launched Nanogram, a Telegram consumer app that works on the Apple Watch with no need an iPhone connection. Eleftheriou stated he was impressed to construct Nanogram as a result of he wished a Telegram app for his LTE Apple Watch and didn’t just like the official model that didn’t present “basic and reliable messaging functionality.” So he constructed his personal app from scratch utilizing the Telegram SDK, which lets you ship, obtain and examine all of your messages and notifications proper out of your wrist — even in the event you don’t have your telephone close by. The app additionally helps Eleftheriou’s FlickType Swipe Keyboard for quicker replies whereas on the go.

Eleftheriou notes the app doesn’t gather any private data and requires an Apple Watch Series 3 or later, operating watchOS 7 or later.

Lightricks’ Videoleap for Android

Image Credits: Lightricks

After seeing a 70% yearly improve for its iOS model, Lightricks introduced its Videoleap app to the Google Play Store. The app has grown in style with on-line creators for providing skilled high quality enhancing instruments on cellular, together with these that allow you to apply creative results, combine movies with photos, add textual content and layer transformations and extra. The firm says Videoleap customers are actually creating 35 million items of content material per 30 days, and 47% of customers are exporting their creations to TikTok in pursuit of monetizing their content material additional. The app, like others from Lightricks (which additionally makes FaceTune and others), monetizes by the use of in-app subscriptions.





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