Monday, September 19, 2022
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iOS 16 takes off, TikTok clones BeReal, social cos go to Congress • TechCrunch


Welcome again to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch sequence that recaps the most recent in cellular OS information, cellular functions 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 decreased. However general, the app economic system is constant to develop, having produced a document variety of downloads and shopper spending throughout each the iOS and Google Play shops mixed in 2021, in keeping with the newest year-end experiences. International spending throughout iOS and Google Play final 12 months was $133 billion, and customers downloaded 143.6 billion apps.

This Week in Apps affords a option 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.

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It’s time to BeReal…on TikTok

Picture Credit: TikTok

We count on to see this kind of copy-and-pasting from Meta — and even Snap and YouTube lately — as the key tech corporations strive to determine how one can compete with TikTok’s short-form video. However sometimes, it’s TikTok that’s being copied from, not the one doing the copying. That modified this week, nevertheless, when the corporate introduced it was launching a reasonably shameless BeReal clone in its app, which it calls “TikTok Now.”

Much like the recent Gen Z app BeReal, TikTok Now will immediate its U.S. customers to take a back and front digital camera picture or 10-second video at a random time daily, which is then shared with mates in a brand new part labeled “Now” within the app’s foremost navigation — fairly a outstanding place for an unoriginal characteristic.

The addition initially looks like an odd one for TikTok, given its major focus is on video leisure, not friendship-focused social networking, which is what BeReal’s all about. However now we have seen some indicators in latest months that TikTok’s ambitions are aimed toward taking over each areas. The corporate has been pushing extra options designed to attach its customers with their real-life mates on its app, for instance by asking for entry to customers’ tackle books, and even swapping out its Uncover tab for a Pals tab. Plus, as you browse your For You feed, you’ll additionally see suggestions of individuals to observe. Some customers report that individuals they know have been discovering their TikTok accounts because of what seems to be primarily based on tackle book-based telephone quantity matching, as properly. (And so they’re not all pleased about it.)

In the meantime, TikTok hasn’t been completely clear about what it’s as much as right here, however this BeReal clone makes it much more apparent: it needs customers’ good friend graphs. It needs to be a social community, too.

This purpose is straightforward. Youthful, Gen Z customers are adopting new on-line behaviors on the subject of social networking. They’re shifting away from older social networks, like Fb, and have even begun to seek out Instagram more and more crowded and annoying with its Reels focus. Gen Z as an alternative is utilizing video networking on apps like Yubo, and checking in on shut mates by means of apps like BeReal. If TikTok doesn’t transfer into these areas, too, then this in-demand demographic will proceed to participate in these new networking experiences in different apps, probably impacting the time they should spend on TikTok — which hurts its personal enterprise. It could additionally forestall TikTok from creating options that cater to real-world mates sooner or later, which might make its app extra complete than the video timewaster it’s as we speak.

iOS 16 adoption is quicker than iOS 15

Picture Credit: Mixpanel

Based on information from Mixpanel (through iMore), there’s better shopper demand for iOS 16 in contrast with the discharge of iOS 15 final 12 months. After the primary 24 hours, iOS 16 had been downloaded by 6.71% of customers, versus 6.48% of customers who downloaded iOS 15. Nonetheless, each updates had trailed iOS 14, which reached 9.22% of customers its first day. Nonetheless, iOS 14 was a significant shopper replace, because it launched House Display screen widgets for the primary time. Whereas iOS 16 brings one other widget format — Lock Display screen widgets — different options, like Dwell Actions, are nonetheless to come back.

As of Friday, Mixpanel notes iOS 16 has 16.76% adoption, however 72.98% of customers are nonetheless on iOS 15 right now; 10.26% of customers are on a fair older OS.

Social media cos get grilled by the Senate

Homeland Security social media hearing

Picture Credit: Photograph by Alex Wong/Getty Photos / Getty Photos

The social app makers have been hauled into Congress for an additional listening to this week. After having to reply for his or her lack of minor protections of their apps final 12 months, this time across the corporations have been testifying earlier than the Senate Homeland Safety Committee about what dangers they might pose to nationwide safety. For Meta, the listening to was a much-needed reprieve as most of the senators had their eyes on TikTok as an alternative — particularly after experiences that TikTok U.S. person information was accessed by workers in China.

The businesses have been requested to reveal the variety of full-time workers they’ve on their belief and security groups, however all besides Twitter refused to reply. Twitter, nevertheless, mentioned it it has 2,200 folks engaged on belief and security throughout its platform, although it wasn’t clear if some did different work. Meta was requested how most of the 40,000 folks it reportedly had on belief and security have been centered on non-U.S. customers and non-English language concern, and the corporate didn’t reply.

TikTok, in the meantime, was pressed arduous on its relationship with the Chinese language authorities. COO Vanessa Pappas denied the reporting from BuzzFeed about worker entry to person information and dodged different questions — together with one about what number of of its workers have been members of the Chinese language Communist Occasion. She additionally mentioned TikTok was not amassing U.S. customers’ biometric information, although the corporate had quietly up to date its privateness coverage final 12 months to permit it to take action.

Adobe’s huge wager on Figma

Adobe’s gorgeous $20 billion acquisition of digital design firm Figma this week was an enormous wager that takes out one in every of its largest rivals, even when it meant paying twice as a lot as Figma’s most up-to-date personal valuation. What does this imply for the corporate going ahead, and what different design startups could possibly be subsequent? TechCrunch+ has the solutions.

This Week in Apps readers can take 15% off an annual move to TechCrunch+ with the code “TWIA.” 

Platforms: Apple

iOS 16

Picture Credit: Apple

  • iOS 16 debuted. The most recent model of Apple’s new cellular working system arrived proper on time, permitting customers to make the most of upgrades like Lock Display screen widgets, Focus filters, the flexibility to edit and unsend iMessage textual content, background cutout for images, safety and privateness enhancements, updates to Apple’s first-party apps and extra.
  • Apple additionally up to date its different OSes, together with the discharge of watchOS 9, which brings new watch faces, an improved Exercise app, sleep phases, an AFib Historical past characteristic, redesigned Compass app and new Drugs app.
  • Apple’s tvOS 16, in the meantime, introduced extra under-the-hood enhancements, like assist for Nintendo Swap controllers, HDR10+ and the flexibility for TV apps to leverage information from different Apple gadgets (e.g. Apple Health+ will present your exercise metrics on-screen).
  • iPadOS 15.7, macOS Monterey 12.6 and macOS Massive Sur 11.7, have been launched as properly.
  • WeatherKit subscriptions launched alongside iOS 16. The service is supposed to exchange the climate service from Apple-acquired Darkish Sky, which is shutting down. WeatherKit delivers as much as 500,000 API calls monthly for climate and forecast information to registered Apple Developer Program members earlier than pricing kicks in.
  • Apple informed builders this week they might quickly be capable of purchase new Search Advert spots on the App Retailer. The corporate invited builders to a session to study extra concerning the advert slots, which must be stay by the vacation season.

Platforms: Google

  • Google started rolling out Play Retailer opinions tailor-made to your gadget — a characteristic it first introduced in August 2021.
  • Google mentioned it might make the newly permitted emojis obtainable to Android customers by the top of the 12 months, after the Unicode Consortium printed the Unicode 15.0 customary on Tuesday with 31 new emojis. The additions embody a pushing hand, a shaking face (or I’m SHOOK), a moose, a goose, the long-awaited pink coronary heart and a Wi-Fi/wi-fi signal.

Commerce

  • Grocery store chain Wegmans mentioned it’ll shut down its in-store scan-and-go app on Sunday, September 18, 2022, stating that it skilled too many losses from the SCAN program to proceed making the cellular app obtainable.
  • Walmart launched new digital try-on expertise, which makes use of prospects’ personal images to mannequin the clothes throughout a spread of manufacturers. The brand new characteristic, “Be Your Personal Mannequin,” expands on the prevailing possibility to select from one in every of greater than 100 present fashions of various heights, sizes and pores and skin tones. Initially, customers will be capable of take their images with the Walmart iOS app to just about strive on garments from Walmart.com.

Picture Credit: Walmart

Fintech

  • Coinbase up to date its app to permit U.S. customers to see a scorecard that evaluates members of Congress on crypto coverage points and pushes them to register to vote and find political occasions.
  • It was additionally merge week for Ethereum! Right here’s what comes subsequent.

Social

Picture Credit: Meta

  • Fb launched Neighborhood Chats, a brand new characteristic that connects Fb Teams in Messenger through textual content, audio and video chats. The characteristic additionally affords classes and admin-only chats, as properly.
  • Inside Meta analysis, reported by The WSJ, indicated that Instagram customers are spending 17.6 million hours per day on Reels, far in need of the 197.8 million hours per day spent on TikTok. As well as, one-third of Reels have been discovered to be recycled from different platforms.
  • Twitter shareholders voted to approve Elon Musk’s proposed $44 billion buyout of the platform, whilst Musk tries to cancel the deal. The vote was held on the identical day that former Twitter safety lead Peiter Zatko testified earlier than Congress about his whistleblower report documenting the safety and privateness lapses on the firm.
  • Instagram started internally testing a tipping characteristic, “Presents,” that offers creators a brand new option to generate profits by means of Reels.
  • French social app Yubo mentioned it’ll start to confirm all customers’ ages utilizing facial recognition expertise. The startup is utilizing Yoti’s age estimation expertise, which makes use of the telephone digital camera to take a photograph and a brief video of the person’s face, verifying ages with 98.9% accuracy. The corporate has 60 million customers and had initially began verifying ages of those that mentioned they have been youthful, like 13 or 14 years outdated.

Picture Credit: Yubo

  • Discord launched a brand new Discussion board Channels characteristic to assist server house owners higher manage conversations. The characteristic includes sub-channels that can be utilized to department off conversations about specific matters or to keep away from having to create one other channel for centered conversations.
  • Snapchat for Internet started to roll out to all customers worldwide, after preliminary assessments as a Snapchat+ characteristic. The online model permits customers to ship messages and snaps, chat through video and voice, and entry the cellular app’s messaging options, like chat reactions. It additionally contains greater than 10 Lenses for video calls.

Images

Picture Credit: Google

  • Google Images redesigned its Reminiscences characteristic with vertical swiping, extra video and different inventive instruments. The service will routinely choose and trim one of the best snippets out of your longer movies utilizing machine studying as a part of its enhancements to Reminiscences and can add a brand new collage-making device, the flexibility to share Reminiscences with mates and extra.
  • Apple up to date its iOS 16 internet web page to notice that the iCloud Shared Photograph Library characteristic will not be coming till “later this 12 months,” as an alternative of launching with iOS 16 on Monday, September 12.

Messaging

  • WhatsApp is making motion pictures, Selection reported. The messaging app owned by Meta is introducing its first authentic movie this month, a mission that includes NBA All-Star MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo’s life story. WhatsApp plans to launch the movie on September 21 throughout its social media channels, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video. The story is definitely branded content material as it’ll talk how WhatsApp brings folks collectively.
  • Communications startup Sendbird introduced it might now permit prospects to add livestreaming mixed with chat of their apps with a few traces of code, through a brand new product referred to as Sendbird Dwell.

Streaming & Leisure

  • Twitter started rolling out podcasts in its redesigned Areas tab to all its Twitter Blue subscribers, after initially testing it with a subset of Twitter customers. The characteristic provides customized hubs referred to as “Stations” that group collectively content material by subject, like information, music, sports activities and extra.
  • TikTok competitor YouTube Shorts launched a brand new characteristic that extra carefully integrates the characteristic with YouTube Music. Now, customers can save songs they uncover in Shorts to take heed to later in YouTube Music, through a customized playlist, “Sounds on Shorts.”
  • Spotify and Wattpad struck a deal to launch a sequence of unique podcasts in Indonesia and the Philippines to carry in style internet novels to life, together with “My Ice Woman,” which has 22 million reads on Wattpad; “The 4 Dangerous Boys and Me,” which has 321 million reads; and “For Rent: A Rattling Good Kisser,” which has 42.1 million reads.
  • Spotify’s Dwell streaming platform will not be going properly. The corporate this week needed to cancel a efficiency by Ghost, claiming the demand for the occasion had precipitated technical difficulties. (One Twitter person famous that won’t have really been the case, however quite the entry password had leaked inflicting different customers to pop up rooms with individuals who hadn’t been invited, they mentioned.)
  • YouTube’s video platform, Shorts, could quickly provide creators to earn funds and place adverts of their movies, The NYT discovered. It expects to announce the adjustments on Tuesday.
  • YouTube additionally this week launched a brand new characteristic that might permit creators to make new Shorts instantly from their video’s feedback. The characteristic very a lot duplicates related performance on TikTok, the place creators can flip feedback into new movies permitting them to proceed the dialog or reply to customers’ feedback with a rebuttal or additional rationalization of their very own.

Picture Credit: YouTube

  • Amazon introduced its stay radio app Amp, a kind of Spotify Dwell or Clubhouse competitor, would acquire a brand new creator fund that can assist reward creators who construct partaking reveals and entice a loyal viewers. The corporate mentioned it allotted “thousands and thousands of {dollars}” for this fund, however declined to supply a precise determine. It mentioned payouts to creators would differ.

Courting

  • Grindr appointed George Arison as CEO, beginning on October 19, forward of its deliberate SPAC merger. Arison had beforehand helped the auto market Shift go public through a SPAC in 2020.

Gaming

Lucky Luna on Netflix

Picture Credit: Netflix

  • Snowman, the maker of in style cellular video games like Alto’s Journey, Alto’s Odyssey, and Skate Metropolis, launched its newest new recreation completely with Netflix. The studio’s new vertical scrolling platformer, Fortunate Luna, involves iOS and Android gadgets by means of Netflix Video games.
  • Tencent pulled in $2.6 billion in its online game phase through the first half of 2022, accounting for almost 10% of the U.S.’s $27 billion gaming app market. ByteDance was in second place at $1.3 billion.
  • Chinese language regulators permitted paid video games from Tencent and NetEase for the primary time since July 2021, when it started a crackdown on the tech sector. Among the many 73 new publishing licenses that have been permitted, 69 have been for cellular video games. Different builders additionally obtained licenses, together with Zhong Qing Bao, Leiting, XD Inc. and CMGE Expertise Group.

Well being & Health

  • Following the overturn of Roe v Wade, the period-tracking app Flo launched a brand new “nameless mode” characteristic on iOS which supplies customers the choice to make use of the app with out their identify, e-mail tackle or technical identifiers related to their well being information. The characteristic will come to Android subsequent month.

Utilities

Picture Credit: Opal

  • Opal, a “digital well-being assistant,” rolled out a rebuilt model of its app designed to assist people higher monitor and handle their display screen time utilization. Whereas most display screen time apps are centered on serving to dad and mom handle their kids’s display screen time, Opal is aimed toward anybody who needs to create higher digital habits. The older model relied on a VPN to handle entry to sure apps, however the brand new Opal now makes use of Apple’s Display screen Time API to supply experiences on display screen time utilization and briefly block customers from their distracting apps.

Authorities & Coverage

  • An EU courtroom backed the European Fee’s determination to fantastic Google over Android antitrust breaches, however lessened the fantastic from €4.34 billion to €4.1 billion.
  • South Korea’s privateness regulator fined Google round $50 million and Meta $22 million for failing to acquire person consent when amassing behavioral information for exhibiting tailor-made adverts.
  • California handed a brand new regulation on Thursday, the California Age-Acceptable Design Code Act, that can make it the primary state to introduce laws aimed toward defending the well-being, information and privateness of youngsters utilizing on-line platforms. The regulation requires on-line platforms to “think about one of the best curiosity of kid customers” and to default to privateness and security settings that “defend kids’s psychological and bodily well being and wellbeing,” a press launch famous. It additionally prohibits corporations from utilizing a baby’s private data, profiling kids by default, encouraging them to reveal private data or amassing, retaining or promoting their geolocation information, amongst different issues.

Safety & Privateness

  • Apple launched a spherical of safety updates to patch zero-day flaws in iOS and macOS.
  • TechCrunch’s Zack Whittaker took a dive into iOS 16’s new safety and privateness options, together with Lockdown Mode, Fast Safety Response, Security Examine, Passkeys and adjustments to repeat and paste permissions.
  • Uber is dealing with a cybersecurity incident involving a hacker who breached its inside community after utilizing social engineering strategies to compromise an worker’s Slack account. Uber says there’s no proof delicate information, like journey histories, was accessed.
  • A messaging app for fogeys and lecturers, Seesaw, was compromised by hackers utilizing a credential stuffing method to ship out an express picture. The app has 10 million customers.
  • A brand new warning about pretend App Retailer pages goes round. The pages are designed to look very very similar to an App Retailer web page however have slight variations that savvy customers may discover like a inexperienced obtain button, for example. If clicked, the web page could take customers to obtain malware.

🤝 In an enormous deal, Adobe introduced plans to accumulate UI design and prototyping device Figma for round $20 billion, half in money and half in inventory. Figma CEO Dylan Discipline will proceed to steer the corporate following the deal shut. The deal additionally contains 6 million further restricted inventory items granted to Figma’s CEO and workers that can vest over 4 years following the closing. Figma has round 4 million customers and had grown to turn into a competitor to Adobe’s inventive instruments.

💰 Nigerian monetary administration app for retailers, Kippa, raised $8.4 million in seed funding from various traders, together with Goodwater Capital, TEN13 VC, Rocketship VC, Saison Capital, Crestone VC, VentureSouq, Horizon Companions and Vibe Capital. The bookkeeping app helps small and medium companies in sub-Saharan Africa and counts greater than 500,000 retailers on its platform.

💰 Denmark-based podcast subscription service Podimo raised €58.6 million (~$58.4 million) led by 83North, Highland and Saban, bringing its whole elevate so far to €162 million. The app affords customized suggestions, full-length movies, a skip intro characteristic and extra to customers in Denmark, Germany, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland and Latin America.

💰 A cellular financial institution for migrants, Majority, closed on $37.5 million in Sequence B funding, $30 million of which is in fairness financing led by Valar Ventures and others. That is the third enterprise spherical for the startup in simply over a 12 months.

📉 Basic Atlantic is shopping for out SoftBank’s total 15% stake within the Norwegian edtech recreation platform, Kahoot. SoftBank, which had invested $215 million into the corporate, is exiting at a loss as 15% of Kahoot’s present market cap (10.415 billion Norwegian Krone) is round $152 million (1,562,250,000 NOK).

iOS 16 Lock Display screen widgets

array of smartphones

Picture Credit: Google

This week, everybody was rolling out their iOS 16-optimized apps. TechCrunch took a take a look at various these new releases, together with these from main tech corporations and indie builders.

The massive winner of the Lock Display screen widget race was Prime Widgets, the generically named widget from a Chinese language tech firm that gives a wide range of widget kinds, together with informational dashboards and even animations for the Lock Display screen, interesting to a youthful, Gen Z crowd. Following the discharge of iOS 16, Prime Widgets gained 1.3 million downloads in simply two days’ time.

Get began with widgets

  • TechCrunch shared a round-up of over 25 apps which have added Lock Display screen widgets throughout classes like personalization, journey, work, cooking, climate and extra. When you’re seeking to strive a wide range of widgets to determine which you want greatest, this can be a good place to start out.

Just a few extra favs

TechCrunch additionally highlighted just a few widget makers individually, as they launched, from smaller corporations outdoors of Massive Tech. These included:

Picture Credit: ScreenKit

  • Apollo’s iOS 16-optimized app brings Reddit to your Lock Display screen with widgets for Trending posts, fast entry to a favourite subreddit and updates on issues like upvotes, feedback, karma and extra. It additionally included enjoyable little options, like a widget that reveals how far you’ve scrolled Reddit by toes, miles or km, and little animal characters that play throughout the highest of the notch space that can turn into the Dynamic Island.
  • Two apps, ShortFlow and LockFlow, permit customers to flip their Apple Shortcuts into Lock Display screen widgets.
  • Flighty’s journey app added a handful of latest widgets, together with a Journey Countdown widget to make use of forward of your travels, in addition to a Dwell Flight Standing widget and an In-Flight Progress Bar.
  • ScreenKit’s app, in the meantime, is an efficient instance of how personalization utilities are embracing the Lock Display screen, because it added over 100 Lock Display screen widget variations and over 200 pre-made Lock Display screen themes that customers can coordinate with its present themes, wallpapers, icons, House Display screen widgets and extra.

Massive corporations launch their widgets, too

Snapchat lock screen widgets for iOS 16

Picture Credit: Snap

  • Snapchat rolled out two Lock Display screen Widgets with its iOS 16 replace. One is a small sq. widget that opens on to the Snapchat digital camera. The second is an oblong widget that opens to a dialog with a good friend or group.
  • Fb launched a set of iOS 16 Lock Display screen widgets, providing two to select from: “Birthdays at a Look” and “Prime Updates.”
  • Google launched its set of iOS 16 Lock Display screen widgets, however didn’t have them prepared for launch day, sadly. The approaching widgets embody these for Search, Maps, Gmail, Chrome, Drive and Information. We nonetheless want Google Calendar!



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