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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 newest 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 client 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 12 months was $133 billion, and customers downloaded 143.6 billion apps.

This Week in Apps provides a technique to sustain with this fast-moving trade in a single place with the newest from the world of apps, together with information, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and way more.

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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 most important tech corporations attempt to determine the best way to 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, nonetheless, 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 picture or 10-second video at a random time each day, which is then shared with buddies in a brand new part labeled “Now” within the app’s major navigation — fairly a outstanding 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 now have seen some indicators in current 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 buddies on its app, for instance by asking for entry to customers’ deal with 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 individuals they know have been discovering their TikTok accounts because of what appears to be based on deal with book-based telephone quantity matching, as nicely. (And so they’re not all comfortable 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 needs customers’ pal graphs. It needs to be a social community, too.

This cause is easy. Youthful, Gen Z customers are adopting new on-line behaviors in terms 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 buddies 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 will additionally stop TikTok from creating options that cater to real-world buddies sooner or later, which may make its app extra complete than the video timewaster it’s at present.

iOS 16 adoption is quicker than iOS 15

Picture Credit: Mixpanel

In line with information from Mixpanel (through iMore), there’s higher client 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. Nevertheless, each updates had trailed iOS 14, which reached 9.22% of customers its first day. Nevertheless, iOS 14 was a significant client 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 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 at the moment; 10.26% of customers are on an excellent older OS.

Social media cos get grilled by the Senate

Homeland Security social media hearing

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

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 could 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 reviews that TikTok U.S. consumer information was accessed by staff in China.

The businesses have 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, nonetheless, mentioned it it has 2,200 individuals 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 individuals 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 onerous on its relationship with the Chinese language authorities. COO Vanessa Pappas denied the reporting from BuzzFeed about worker entry to consumer information and dodged different questions — together with one about what number of of its staff have been members of the Chinese language Communist Celebration. She also said TikTok was not collecting U.S. users’ biometric data, despite the fact that the corporate had quietly up to date its privateness coverage final 12 months to permit it to take action.

Adobe’s large wager on Figma

Adobe’s beautiful $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 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 most recent 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 photographs, 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 information from different Apple units (e.g. Apple Health+ will present your exercise metrics on-screen).
  • iPadOS 15.7, macOS Monterey 12.6 and macOS Massive Sur 11.7, were released as nicely.
  • 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 per 30 days for climate and forecast information to registered Apple Developer Program members earlier than pricing kicks in.
  • Apple told developers this week they might quickly be capable to purchase new Search Advert spots on the App Retailer. The corporate invited builders to a session to be taught extra concerning the advert slots, which must be dwell by the vacation season.

Platforms: Google

  • Google began rolling out Play Retailer critiques tailor-made to your gadget — a characteristic it first introduced in August 2021.
  • Google mentioned it could make the newly approved emojis out there to Android customers by the tip of the 12 months, after the Unicode Consortium printed the Unicode 15.0 normal 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 out there.
  • Walmart introduced new virtual try-on technology, which makes use of prospects’ personal photographs to mannequin the clothes throughout a variety of manufacturers. The brand new characteristic, “Be Your Personal Mannequin,” expands on the prevailing choice to select from one in every of greater than 100 current fashions of various heights, sizes and pores and skin tones. Initially, customers will be capable to take their photographs 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 through textual content, audio and video chats. The characteristic additionally provides classes and admin-only chats, as nicely.
  • 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, 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, “Items,” that provides creators a brand new technique to generate income by means of Reels.
  • French social app Yubo mentioned it’s going to start to verify all users’ ages using facial recognition technology. The startup is utilizing Yoti’s age estimation know-how, which makes use of the telephone 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 have been youthful, like 13 or 14 years previous.

Picture Credit: Yubo

  • Discord launched a brand new Discussion board Channels characteristic to assist server homeowners higher arrange conversations. The characteristic entails 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 Net began to roll out to all users worldwide, after preliminary exams as a Snapchat+ characteristic. The net 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.

Photographs

Picture Credit: Google

  • Google Photographs redesigned its Memories feature with vertical swiping, extra video and different inventive instruments. The service will robotically choose and trim the most effective 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 instrument, the flexibility to share Reminiscences with buddies and extra.
  • Apple updated its iOS 16 internet web page to notice that the iCloud Shared Photograph Library characteristic is just not coming till “later this 12 months,” as an alternative 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 undertaking 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’s going to talk how WhatsApp brings individuals collectively.
  • Communications startup Sendbird introduced it could now enable prospects to add livestreaming combined with chat of their apps with a few traces of code, through a brand new product referred to as Sendbird Dwell.

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 referred to 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 intently integrates the characteristic with YouTube Music. Now, customers can save songs they uncover in Shorts to hearken to later in YouTube Music, through 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 common internet novels to life, together with “My Ice Lady,” which has 22 million reads on Wattpad; “The 4 Unhealthy 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 is just not going nicely. 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 truly been the case, however relatively 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 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 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 dwell radio app Amp, a type of Spotify Dwell or Clubhouse competitor, would gain a new creator fund that may assist reward creators who construct partaking exhibits and appeal to a loyal viewers. The corporate mentioned it allotted “tens of millions of {dollars}” for this fund, however declined to supply an actual determine. It mentioned payouts to creators would fluctuate.

Relationship

  • 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 common 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 means of Netflix Video games.
  • Tencent pulled in $2.6 billion in its online game phase in the course of 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 have been accredited, 69 have been for cellular video games. Different builders additionally obtained licenses, together with Zhong Qing Bao, Leiting, XD Inc. and CMGE Know-how 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 title, e-mail deal with 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 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 youngsters’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 Time API to supply reviews 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 fine 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 consumer consent when amassing behavioral information for exhibiting tailor-made adverts.
  • California handed a brand new legislation on Thursday, the California Age-Applicable Design Code Act, that may make it the primary state to introduce laws aimed toward defending the well-being, information and privateness of youngsters utilizing on-line platforms. The legislation requires on-line platforms to “contemplate the most effective curiosity of kid customers” and to default to privateness and security settings that “defend youngsters’s psychological and bodily well being and wellbeing,” a press release noted. It additionally prohibits corporations from utilizing a baby’s private info, profiling youngsters by default, encouraging them to reveal private info or amassing, retaining or promoting their geolocation information, 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, Speedy Safety Response, Security Examine, Passkeys and modifications to repeat and paste permissions.
  • Uber is facing a cybersecurity incident involving a hacker who breached its inside community after utilizing social engineering methods to compromise an worker’s Slack account. Uber says there’s no evidence 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 fake App Store pages goes round. The pages are designed to look very very like an App Retailer web page however have slight variations that savvy customers would possibly discover like a inexperienced obtain button, as an illustration. If clicked, the web page could take customers to obtain malware.

🤝 In a large deal, Adobe introduced plans to accumulate UI design and prototyping instrument Figma for around $20 billion, half in money and half in inventory. Figma CEO Dylan Discipline will proceed to guide the corporate following the deal shut. The deal additionally contains 6 million extra restricted inventory models granted to Figma’s CEO and staff that may vest over 4 years following the closing. Figma has round 4 million customers and had grown to turn out to be a competitor to Adobe’s inventive instruments.

💰 Nigerian monetary administration app for retailers, Kippa, raised $8.4 million in seed funding from plenty of buyers, 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 complete increase thus far to €162 million. The app provides 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 12 months.

📉 Basic Atlantic is buying out SoftBank’s entire 15% stake within the Norwegian edtech sport 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 have 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 High Widgets, the generically named widget from a Chinese language tech firm that provides quite a lot of widget kinds, 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. For those who’re seeking to attempt quite a lot of widgets to determine which you want greatest, it is a good place to start out.

A number of 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 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 ft, miles or km, and little animal characters that play throughout the highest of the notch space that may turn out to be the Dynamic Island.
  • Two apps, ShortFlow and LockFlow, enable 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 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, as it added over 100 Lock Screen widget variations and over 200 pre-made Lock Display themes that customers can coordinate with its current themes, wallpapers, icons, Residence Display widgets and extra.

Massive 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 pal or group.
  • Fb introduced a set of iOS 16 Lock Display widgets, providing two to select from: “Birthdays at a Look” and “High 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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