Android 13 arrives, apps plan for midterms, Amazon copies TikTok – TechCrunch

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Welcome again to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the most recent in cell OS information, cell functions and the general app financial system.

World app spending reached $65 billion within the first half of 2022, up solely barely from the $64.4 billion throughout the identical interval in 2021, as hypergrowth fueled by the pandemic has slowed. However total, the app financial system is continuous to develop, having produced a record variety of downloads and shopper spending throughout each the iOS and Google Play shops mixed in 2021, in keeping with the latest year-end reports. World spending throughout iOS and Google Play final 12 months was $133 billion, and customers downloaded 143.6 billion apps.

This Week in Apps gives a method to sustain with this fast-moving trade in a single place with the most recent from the world of apps, together with information, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and far more.

Would you like This Week in Apps in your inbox each Saturday? Enroll right here: techcrunch.com/newsletters

Android 13 arrives

Picture Credit: Google

Large information for Android customers this week as Google rolled out the new version of its cell working system, Android 13, initially to all Pixel gadgets, following the beta launch a month in the past. The OS will attain different non-Pixel Android gadgets someday later this 12 months, together with Samsung Galaxy, Asus, HMD (Nokia telephones), iQOO, Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Sharp, Sony, Tecno, vivo, Xiaomi and others.

As cell platforms have standardized, the most recent efforts from each Google and Apple have been centered on personalization parts. 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 machine to match their background. With the most recent replace, they will now additionally match their non-Google apps to their chosen theme and shade schemes. This can be a a lot less complicated and extra elegant resolution than the icon customization on iOS at the moment, the place apps like Brass, Themify, Aesthetic, Colour Widgets and lots of others need to leverage a mix of configuration profiles and shortcuts to do the identical.

In one other personalization transfer, Android 13 permits customers to set the languages used for various apps — helpful for many who communicate a number of languages.

Other improvements include the power to copy content (e.g. URLs, photographs, movies, textual content) between Android gadgets, higher multitasking options on tablets, an expanded bedtime mode with dimmed wallpaper and a darkish theme, HDR video help on third-party digital camera apps, BLE Audio, Spatial Audio on supported headphones, an upgraded media participant widget that showcases album art work and features a dancing playback bar and more. On the privateness aspect, there are adjustments to permissions that permit customers to extra narrowly choose pictures and movies to be shared with third-party apps and the OS now prevents undesirable entry to your clipboard.

One other huge good thing about the upgraded cell OS for finish customers is that they will extra simply block apps from annoying them with notifications. Now, apps customers obtain will need explicit permission to send notifications, quite than being allowed to ship notifications by default. This transformation sees Android lastly catching up with iOS, which has supplied the sort of setting for years. (Many, many years.)

The Android supply has additionally been pushed to the Android Open Source Project (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 position within the Android ecosystem and its future plans. You possibly can learn that here.

TechCrunch’s new spy ware lookup device

This week, TechCrunch launched a new product in service to its readers who’re involved about safety dangers associated to cell spy ware.

The spyware lookup tool can verify to see if an Android machine is likely one of the a whole bunch of hundreds that’s been hacked by considered one of a number of spy ware apps, together with TheTruthSpy — the topic of a months-long investigation into consumer-grade spy ware apps. The apps are put in by somebody with bodily entry to your cell machine and are designed to remain hidden from house screens. They offer the attacker the power to see the sufferer’s telephone information in actual time, together with calls, messages, contacts, location information, photographs and extra.

The brand new lookup device will verify towards the leaked record of distinctive machine identifiers, like IMEI numbers and promoting IDs, and is out there freed from cost to anybody who needs to make sure their telephone has not been compromised.

TikTok caught keylogging?

A new privacy analysis 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 permit 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 info might embody customers’ passwords or fee card info after they’re shopping for one thing promoted on TikTok. The researcher couldn’t show that TikTok was really doing something malicious with the entry — that’s, he couldn’t verify the information was collected, transferred or decide the way it could also be used. Customers ought to be conscious, nevertheless, and choose 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 rapidly 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 information safety regulator for Meta and TikTok beneath the GDPR in Europe, to request a gathering with the tech large to debate.

Amazon will get TikTok-ified

It’s official, the TikTok vertical video feed format is now the cell app consumer interface to knock off for those who’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 through The Wall Avenue Journal

Amazon, in fact, has little interest in competing as a brand new social or leisure expertise with different huge tech firms. But it surely does copycat the most recent, hottest codecs when it builds out new buying options. In years previous, that’s seen the corporate cloning different social apps like Pinterest or Instagram or steaming reside buying 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 digital camera 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 again show the battery percentage within the standing bar on iPhone after being eliminated for notched fashions when the iPhone X debuted.
  • Apple famous prices of apps and IAPs will increase in Ghana and Turkey. 

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 need to attempt to discover dinosaurs round them. The app is utilizing Niantic’s new Lightship ARDK to position 10 dinosaurs within the consumer’s atmosphere. 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 said it’s rolling out redesigned tweet labels and “prebunks” on deceptive content material. TikTok is providing state-by-state info in an Elections Center and can label and fact-check movies. Facebook said it is going to disable new political advertisements per week earlier than the midterms.
  • Oracle is now monitoring TikTok’s algorithms and moderation system — for no matter that’s price. TikTok confirmed its new cloud host for U.S. information has been tasked with the monitoring, however supplied no specifics as to how it will likely be accomplished or who will get to see the outcomes.
  • A brand new Pew Research study discovered that 67% of U.S. teenagers use TikTok, with 16% of all teenagers saying they use it nearly always. The variety of teenagers utilizing Fb plummeted from 71% within the 2014-2015 research to now 32% at the moment.
  • Snapchat has been busy. It lately rolled out parental controls and expanded its premium offering, Snapchat+, to India. The Snapchat+ service has grown to over 1 million subscribers and added new features, together with precedence Story replies to prime creators and celebs.
  • TikTok rolled out its own text-to-image AI generator that lets customers enter their very own prompts to create pictures to make use of as video backgrounds. It additionally tested a new search feature that highlighted matching key phrases in feedback that hyperlink to the search time period in addition to a method to share TikTok Stories to Facebook 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 Information reported.
  • Timbaland and Swizz Beatz sued TikTok rival Triller saying they’re owed $28 million+. The swimsuit follows Triller’s acquisition of the reside music sequence Verzuz.
  • YouTube Shorts, the video app’s TikTok rival, added watermarks to downloads to discourage customers from cross-posting their movies.
  • Celeb connections app Cameo added a new feature, Cameo Stay, that enables a consumer and 9 pals to have interaction in a 10-minute name with a celeb.

Pictures

  • Pixelmator Photograph, 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 sources at Snap amid financial issues.
3 teens with a drone

Picture Credit: Snap

Messaging

  • Messenger began testing end-to-end encryption for particular person Messenger chats. The information was introduced after it was revealed Meta turned over private messages to help within the prosecution of a Nebraska teen’s abortion.
  • Telegram’s founder slammed Apple for delaying a serious replace to the messaging app, saying it had been caught in evaluate for 2 weeks with no explanations.
  • WhatsApp now allows 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 also introduced a new privacy option that enables folks 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 permit customers to go away teams privately with out sending out a notification.
  • WhatsApp additionally launched its native Windows app out of beta. The app now works with out requiring customers to hyperlink a telephone. The same Mac app is underway.
  • Fb and Instagram added a new “Add Yours” sticker to Reels that lets folks begin developments others can add to with their very own content material; the development can have its personal touchdown web page within the app.
  • Google kicked off a public marketing campaign, “Get the Message,” designed to pressure Apple to adopt messaging standard 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 different than it’s at the moment.
Google RCS campaign

Picture Credit: Google

Streaming & Leisure

  • HBO Max rolled out new mobile (and desktop) apps, promising an improved consumer expertise with options like SharePlay help, a shuffle button for cell, 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, permit it to show these reveals into Apple TV+ packages additional down the highway.
  • Spotify started selling live concert tickets directly to fans in a brand new Tickets website. 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 searching for on the time. It’s additionally been testing the power to record reactions to podcasts.
  • An evaluation of Spotify utilization by Sensor Tower showed how engaging the app is in contrast with its competitors; 10% of its cell app customers interact with the app every day, greater than the 4% who interact with YouTube Music or 1% who interact with Pandora. (Apple Music was not included.)

Picture Credit: Sensor Tower

  • Google Meet introduced a brand new characteristic that enables customers to observe YouTube or stream Spotify collectively.
  • Apple-owned Shazam celebrated its twentieth anniversary with a curated playlist of essentially the most Shazamed songs of yearly. The app now has 225 million 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 may not offer offline viewing, in keeping with findings within the app’s code.
  • Plex introduced a brand new social expertise in its streaming apps known as Uncover Collectively, which incorporates the power so as to add pals and see what they’re watching, bookmarking and the way they’re ranking reveals and films.

Picture Credit: Plex

Gaming

  • Netflix’s video games have seen 23.3 million downloads and common 1.7 million every day energetic customers, per Apptopia data. This represents less than 1% of Netflix’s 221 million subscribers.
  • Google began testing a way to permit customers to launch video games from its cloud gaming service Stadia, in addition to from Xbox Cloud Gaming and Amazon’s Luna immediately from its Google Search outcomes.
  • Fortnite maker Epic Video games’ appeals case towards Apple is set to be heard beginning on October 21. The sport maker needs to have the ability to promote video games exterior the App Retailer and use its personal fee programs.
  • Roblox’s earnings report revealed shifting demographics for video games. The quickest rising group was folks ages 17-24. The corporate mentioned male 17- to 24-year-olds would develop into the largest tracked class when it comes to customers and engagement hours within the U.S. and Canada over the following couple of months.

Relationship

  • Bumble reported Q2 2022 earnings with income up 18% YoY to $220.5 million, above estimates, however the next 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 developing a new “communities” offering it’s calling “Hive,” which can embody help for options like group chat, polls and video calls.

Well being & Health

  • Fitbit to finish Mac and PC syncing on October 13, 2022 and will instead move file transfers to its smartphone app and native music and playlists over to Pandora and Deezer.
  • Meditation and wellness app Calm laid off 20% of staff, or 90 folks out of round 400. The corporate had been valued at $2 billion in 2020.
  • A Mozilla study discovered that 18 out of 25 prime reproductive apps and wearables, like Clue, Flo, Glow and Eve, didn’t have sturdy privateness protections. Most didn’t say if they’d share information with legislation enforcement, both.

Journey & Transportation

  • Lyft Media is a new business unit designed to consolidate Lyft’s advert choices, which can give attention to showing more ads in cars, on the Lyft cell app and at bike-sharing stations.
  • Uber sunset 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 technology which incorporates an algorithm that appears at indicators, just like the historical past of constructive opinions, how lengthy the consumer has been on the platform, the size of the journey, the gap to the itemizing and weekday versus weekend reserving. Potential rule-breakers will likely be prevented from reserving a whole property, and can as an alternative direct them to outcomes the place they will lease a room the place hosts are bodily current.

Utilities & Productiveness

  • Meta launched the Duet Show app which permits Portal homeowners to show their good display gadgets (Portal Plus Gen 2 and Meta Portal Go) right into a second display for his or her Mac and PC. The corporate mentioned it might additionally launch the Meta Portal Companion app on Mac for Meta Portal touch-based gadgets (Meta Portal Go, Meta Portal Plus, Meta Portal and Meta Portal Mini) to permit for screen-sharing on video calls. Meta is said to be phasing out its shopper Portal gadgets.

Adtech

  • Bloomberg reported Apple is contemplating rolling out advertisements to extra locations across iOS, including Maps (which was explored internally) and probably different apps like Books or Podcasts. At present, Apple’s advert income is round $4 billion.
  • A brand new report by FT famous many small companies reliant on personalised advertisements have reduce on advertising efforts, partially as a consequence 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 lower of “boosted posts” through IAP and an ad-free Fb subscription.
  • TikTok rolled out new ad solutions as a part of its commerce advert suite known as “Buying Advertisements.” The corporate is presently testing three codecs of Buying Advertisements, together with Video Buying Advertisements, Catalog Itemizing Advertisements and LIVE Buying Advertisements.

Authorities & Coverage

  • South Korean regulators have begun to investigate Apple and Google over possible 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 legislation, it is going to situation fines which could be as much as 2% of the corporate’s annual income.
  • The EU is set to make a final decision associated to a privateness grievance concerning Instagram’s dealing with of kids’s information 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 customers about its location information assortment.
  • China’s web regulator published a list of 30 algorithms utilized in fashionable apps together with WeChat, Taobao, Meituan and Douyin, which features a temporary description of their utilization.

Safety & Privateness

📉 Unity rejected a takeover offer from AppLovin that may have valued the corporate at $58.85 per share, an 18% premium over Unity’s inventory worth on the time. The deal would have been valued at $17.54 billion. Unity mentioned it might proceed with its personal deal to accumulate ironSource for $4.4 billion in inventory. Its shares dropped 7% after the board rejected the acquisition.

🤝 Unity introduced a deal to create a JV, Unity China, in partnership with Alibaba, China Cell, Oppo, and Douyin Group. The deal valued at $1 billion will permit Unity to develop 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 progress fairness agency Cipio Companions and Iconical.

💰 She Issues, a well being app for Black ladies, raised $1.5 million in pre-seed funding. The app lately expanded its sources and help for postpartum healthcare.

🤝 DNSFilter acquired the iOS firewall app Guardian for an unknown sum to be able to develop its web-based risk detection capabilities. Guardian was based in 2013 by Will Strafach, a safety researcher and former iPhone jailbreaker. Its iPhone app blocks apps from sharing customers’ private info with third events, comparable to IP addresses and site information, through the use of a VPN.

💰 FullStory raised $25 million in new funding from Permira to assist firms spot points of their web sites and apps. FullStory says it analyzed greater than 15 billion consumer classes 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 develop its suite of robots that bug-test cell apps. The robots can run via custom-designed testing flows to faucet, swipe and rotate cell gadgets, and extra. The system integrates with normal dev instruments like Jira and offers purchasers with outcomes and studies.

💰 Meme-based relationship 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 folks they like and as much as love memes introduced to them. The latter will assist to tell match picks.

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

💰 Indian fintech app Jar raised $22.6 million in Sequence B funding led by Tiger World. The app helps tens of millions of Indians save small quantities to spend money on digital gold and is planning to develop into insurance coverage, mutual funds and lending.

💰 Sofy, the maker of a testing platform for cell apps, closed on $7.75 million in seed funding led by Voyager Capital. The startup has raised a complete of $9.5 million thus far.

🤝 Simply Eat offered its 33% stake within the Latin American three way partnership iFood to Prosus for $1.8 billion. Prosus will now fully own the Brazilian food delivery company and app maker consequently.

Alongside

Picture Credit: Alongside

A brand new video creation app known as Along has launched into beta testing to supply a method 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 just like the “Add This” characteristic that Meta recently 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 presently in non-public, invite-only testing however TechCrunch readers can entry the app early right here: along.video/invite/techcrunch. (This isn’t an advert — simply an invitation!)

You possibly can learn extra in regards to the app here on TechCrunch.



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