iOS 16 takes off, TikTok clones BeReal, social cos go to Congress • TechCrunch

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Welcome again to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the most recent in cellular OS information, cellular functions and the general app financial 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 financial system is constant to develop, having produced a record variety of downloads and shopper spending throughout each the iOS and Google Play shops mixed in 2021, based on the latest year-end reports. International spending throughout iOS and Google Play final yr was $133 billion, and shoppers downloaded 143.6 billion apps.

This Week in Apps presents a solution 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 far more.

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It’s time to BeReal…on TikTok

Picture Credit: TikTok

We count on to see this type of copy-and-pasting from Meta — and even Snap and YouTube lately — as the key tech corporations attempt to determine how you 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 fairly shameless BeReal clone in its app, which it calls “TikTok Now.”

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

The addition initially looks as if 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 we’ve got seen some indicators in latest months that TikTok’s ambitions are geared toward taking over each areas. The corporate has been pushing extra options designed to attach its customers with their real-life pals on its app, for instance by asking for entry to customers’ handle books, and even swapping out its Discover tab for a Friends tab. Plus, as you browse your For You feed, you’ll additionally see suggestions of individuals to observe. Some customers report that folks they know have been discovering their TikTok accounts because of what appears to be based on handle book-based cellphone quantity matching, as effectively. (They usually’re not all joyful about it.)

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

This cause is straightforward. Youthful, Gen Z customers are adopting new on-line behaviors relating to social networking. They’re transferring away from older social networks, like Fb, and have even begun to search out Instagram more and more crowded and annoying with its Reels focus. Gen Z as a substitute is utilizing video networking on apps like Yubo, and checking in on shut pals by way 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, doubtlessly impacting the time they need to spend on TikTok — which hurts its personal enterprise. It might additionally stop TikTok from creating options that cater to real-world pals sooner or later, which may make its app extra complete than the video timewaster it’s right now.

iOS 16 adoption is quicker than iOS 15

Picture Credit: Mixpanel

In line with knowledge from Mixpanel (by way of iMore), there’s better shopper demand for iOS 16 in contrast with the discharge of iOS 15 final yr. 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 Residence Display widgets for the primary time. Whereas iOS 16 brings one other widget format — Lock Display widgets — different options, like Reside 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 at the moment; 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: Picture by Alex Wong/Getty Pictures / Getty Pictures

The social app makers had 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 yr, this time across the corporations had been testifying earlier than the Senate Homeland Safety Committee about what dangers they could pose to nationwide safety. For Meta, the listening to was a much-needed reprieve as lots of the senators had their eyes on TikTok as a substitute — particularly after stories that TikTok U.S. consumer knowledge was accessed by staff in China.

The businesses had been requested to reveal the variety of full-time staff 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 lots of the 40,000 folks it reportedly had on belief and security had been centered on non-U.S. customers and non-English language difficulty, and the corporate didn’t reply.

TikTok, in the meantime, was pressed onerous on its relationship with the Chinese language authorities. COO Vanessa Pappas denied the reporting from BuzzFeed about worker entry to consumer knowledge and dodged different questions — together with one about what number of of its staff had been members of the Chinese language Communist Occasion. She also said TikTok was not collecting U.S. users’ biometric data, regardless that the corporate had quietly up to date its privateness coverage final yr to permit it to take action.

Adobe’s massive guess on Figma

Adobe’s gorgeous $20 billion acquisition of digital design firm Figma this week was a giant guess that takes out one in all its largest rivals, even when it meant paying twice as a lot as Figma’s most up-to-date non-public valuation. What does this imply for the corporate going ahead, and what different design startups might 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 newest model of Apple’s new cellular working system arrived right on time, permitting customers to make the most of upgrades like Lock Display 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 Medicines app.
  • Apple’s tvOS 16, in the meantime, introduced extra under-the-hood enhancements, like help for Nintendo Swap controllers, HDR10+ and the flexibility for TV apps to leverage knowledge from different Apple units (e.g. Apple Health+ will present your exercise metrics on-screen).
  • iPadOS 15.7, macOS Monterey 12.6 and macOS Large Sur 11.7, were released as effectively.
  • WeatherKit subscriptions launched alongside iOS 16. The service is supposed to switch the climate service from Apple-acquired Darkish Sky, which is shutting down. WeatherKit delivers as much as 500,000 API calls per thirty days for climate and forecast knowledge to registered Apple Developer Program members earlier than pricing kicks in.
  • Apple told developers this week they’d quickly be capable of purchase new Search Advert spots on the App Retailer. The corporate invited builders to a session to be taught extra in regards to the advert slots, which ought to be dwell by the vacation season.

Platforms: Google

  • Google began rolling out Play Retailer opinions tailor-made to your gadget — a characteristic it first introduced in August 2021.
  • Google mentioned it will make the newly approved emojis accessible to Android customers by the top of the yr, after the Unicode Consortium printed the Unicode 15.0 customary on Tuesday with 31 new emojis. The additions include 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 will 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 accessible.
  • Walmart introduced new virtual try-on technology, which makes use of prospects’ personal images to mannequin the clothes throughout a variety of manufacturers. The brand new characteristic, “Be Your Personal Mannequin,” expands on the present possibility to select from one in all 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 nearly attempt on garments from Walmart.com.

Picture Credit: Walmart

Fintech

  • Coinbase updated 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 next.

Social

Picture Credit: Meta

  • Fb introduced Community Chats, a brand new characteristic that connects Fb Teams in Messenger by way of textual content, audio and video chats. The characteristic additionally presents classes and admin-only chats, as effectively.
  • 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 had been discovered to be recycled from different platforms.
  • Twitter shareholders voted to approve Elon Musk’s proposed $44 billion buyout of the platform, at the same time as Musk tries to cancel the deal. The vote was held on the identical day that former Twitter safety lead Peiter Zatko testified before Congress about his whistleblower report documenting the safety and privateness lapses on the firm.
  • Instagram began internally testing a tipping feature, “Presents,” that provides creators a brand new solution to earn cash by way of Reels.
  • French social app Yubo mentioned it’ll start to verify all users’ ages using facial recognition technology. The startup is utilizing Yoti’s age estimation expertise, which makes use of the cellphone digital camera to take a photograph and a brief video of the consumer’s face, verifying ages with 98.9% accuracy. The corporate has 60 million customers and had initially started verifying ages of those that mentioned they had been youthful, like 13 or 14 years previous.

Picture Credit: Yubo

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

Photographs

Picture Credit: Google

  • Google Photographs redesigned its Memories feature with vertical swiping, extra video and different artistic instruments. The service will routinely choose and trim the perfect 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 software, the flexibility to share Reminiscences with pals and extra.
  • Apple updated its iOS 16 net web page to notice that the iCloud Shared Picture Library characteristic is just not coming till “later this yr,” as a substitute of launching with iOS 16 on Monday, September 12.

Messaging

  • WhatsApp is making motion pictures, Variety reported. The messaging app owned by Meta is introducing its first unique 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 will now permit prospects to add livestreaming combined with chat of their apps with a few strains of code, by way of a brand new product known as Sendbird Reside.

Streaming & Leisure

  • Twitter began 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 personalised hubs known as “Stations” that group collectively content material by matter, like information, music, sports activities and extra.
  • TikTok competitor YouTube Shorts launched a new feature 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, by way of a customized playlist, “Sounds on Shorts.”
  • Spotify and Wattpad struck a deal to launch a series of exclusive podcasts in Indonesia and the Philippines to carry widespread net novels to life, together with “My Ice Lady,” 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 Reside streaming platform is just not going effectively. The corporate this week had to cancel a performance by Ghost, claiming the demand for the occasion had triggered technical difficulties. (One Twitter user noted that will not have really been the case, however reasonably 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, might quickly supply creators to earn funds and place adverts of their movies, The NYT learned. It expects to announce the modifications on Tuesday.
  • YouTube additionally this week launched a new feature that would allow creators to make new Shorts straight from their video’s feedback. The characteristic very a lot duplicates comparable 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 clarification of their very own.

Picture Credit: YouTube

  • Amazon introduced its dwell radio app Amp, a type of Spotify Reside or Clubhouse competitor, would gain a new creator fund that can assist reward creators who construct partaking exhibits and entice a loyal viewers. The corporate mentioned it allotted “tens of millions of {dollars}” for this fund, however declined to offer an actual determine. It mentioned payouts to creators would range.

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 by way of a SPAC in 2020.

Gaming

Lucky Luna on Netflix

Picture Credit: Netflix

  • Snowman, the maker of widespread cellular video games like Alto’s Journey, Alto’s Odyssey, and Skate Metropolis, launched its latest new game exclusively with Netflix. The studio’s new vertical scrolling platformer, Fortunate Luna, involves iOS and Android units by way of Netflix Video games.
  • Tencent pulled in $2.6 billion in its online game phase through the first half of 2022, accounting for practically 10% of the U.S.’s $27 billion gaming app market. ByteDance was in second place at $1.3 billion.
  • Chinese language regulators approved paid 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 had been authorized, 69 had been for cellular video games. Different builders additionally acquired 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 new “anonymous mode” feature on iOS which supplies customers the choice to make use of the app with out their identify, e mail handle or technical identifiers related to their well being knowledge. The characteristic will come to Android subsequent month.

Utilities

Picture Credit: Opal

  • Opal, a “digital well-being assistant,” rolled out a rebuilt version 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 mother and father handle their kids’s display screen time, Opal is geared toward anybody who desires 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 Time API to offer stories on display screen time utilization and quickly block customers from their distracting apps.

Authorities & Coverage

  • An EU courtroom backed the European Fee’s resolution to fine Google over Android antitrust breaches, however lessened the superb 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 consumer consent when accumulating behavioral knowledge for exhibiting tailor-made adverts.
  • California handed a brand new legislation on Thursday, the California Age-Acceptable Design Code Act, that can make it the primary state to introduce laws geared toward defending the well-being, knowledge and privateness of youngsters utilizing on-line platforms. The legislation requires on-line platforms to “take into account the perfect curiosity of kid customers” and to default to privateness and security settings that “shield kids’s psychological and bodily well being and wellbeing,” a press release noted. It additionally prohibits corporations from utilizing a toddler’s private data, profiling kids by default, encouraging them to reveal private data or accumulating, retaining or promoting their geolocation knowledge, amongst different issues.

Safety & Privateness

  • Apple released 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 security and privacy features, together with Lockdown Mode, Fast Safety Response, Security Test, Passkeys and modifications to repeat and paste permissions.
  • Uber is facing a cybersecurity incident involving a hacker who breached its inner community after utilizing social engineering methods to compromise an worker’s Slack account. Uber says there’s no evidence delicate data, like journey histories, was accessed.
  • A messaging app for fogeys and academics, 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 fake App Store 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 would possibly discover like a inexperienced obtain button, for example. If clicked, the web page might take customers to obtain malware.

🤝 In an enormous deal, Adobe introduced plans to accumulate UI design and prototyping software Figma for around $20 billion, half in money and half in inventory. Figma CEO Dylan Area will proceed to guide the corporate following the deal shut. The deal additionally consists of 6 million extra restricted inventory items granted to Figma’s CEO and staff that can vest over 4 years following the closing. Figma has round 4 million customers and had grown to grow to be a competitor to Adobe’s artistic instruments.

💰 Nigerian monetary administration app for retailers, Kippa, raised $8.4 million in seed funding from plenty of 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 increase thus far to €162 million. The app presents personalised 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 Series 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 yr.

📉 Basic Atlantic is buying out SoftBank’s entire 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 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 plenty of these new releases, together with these from main tech corporations and indie builders.

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

Get began with widgets

  • TechCrunch shared a round-up of over 25 apps which have added Lock Display widgets throughout classes like personalization, journey, work, cooking, climate and extra. Should you’re seeking to attempt quite a lot of widgets to determine which you want finest, this can be a good place to start out.

A number of extra favs

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

Picture Credit: ScreenKit

  • Apollo’s iOS 16-optimized app brings Reddit to your Lock Display 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 exhibits 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 grow to be the Dynamic Island.
  • Two apps, ShortFlow and LockFlow, permit customers to turn their Apple Shortcuts into Lock Display widgets.
  • Flighty’s journey app added a handful of new widgets, together with a Journey Countdown widget to make use of forward of your travels, in addition to a Reside 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, as it added over 100 Lock Screen widget variations and over 200 pre-made Lock Display themes that customers can coordinate with its present themes, wallpapers, icons, Residence Display widgets and extra.

Large corporations launch their widgets, too

Snapchat lock screen widgets for iOS 16

Picture Credit: Snap

  • Snapchat rolled out two Lock 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 introduced a set of iOS 16 Lock Display widgets, providing two to select from: “Birthdays at a Look” and “Prime Updates.”
  • Google launched its set of iOS 16 Lock Display 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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