This Week in Apps: iOS 15 public beta arrives, Android App Bundles to replace APKs, app consumer spend hits new record – 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 financial system.

The app business continues to develop, with a file 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in world client spend in 2020. Customers final yr additionally spent 3.5 trillion minutes utilizing apps on Android gadgets alone. And within the U.S., app utilization surged forward of the time spent watching dwell TV. Presently, the typical American watches 3.7 hours of dwell TV per day, however now spends 4 hours per day on their cellular gadgets.

Apps aren’t only a strategy to go idle hours — they’re additionally a giant enterprise. In 2019, mobile-first firms had a mixed $544 billion valuation, 6.5x larger than these with no cellular focus. In 2020, buyers poured $73 billion in capital into cellular firms — a determine that’s up 27% year-over-year

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Android App Bundles are actually going to be required

This week Google introduced it can require new apps to be printed utilizing the Android App Bundle as of August 2021. The corporate first launched the Android App Bundle commonplace, which replaces the APK, in Could 2018 as a part of its fashionable improvement push. Since then, the vast majority of the highest 1,000 apps and video games have converted to AABs together with these from firms like Adobe, Duolingo. Gameloft, Netflix, reBus, Wet, and Twitter. Immediately, there are over 1 million apps utilizing AAB in manufacturing.

AABs clear up some issues with the growing older APK commonplace, notably round bigger apps and video games. With AABs, builders don’t must create an APK that comprises all the things for each sort of Android system. They provide a strategy to shortly and extra effectively obtain the belongings wanted for a selected system, they usually achieve this in a method that focuses on getting the person or participant to the app or recreation’s content material as quick as potential.

However not everybody agrees the change is for the higher. Those that make the most of APK Internet hosting websites like APKMirror or APKPure to obtain and share apps fear that the shift to AAB is a strategy to power customers to make use of the Play Retailer as an alternative of alternate options. In the meantime, Epic Video games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney — who’s taking over tech giants over their alleged app retailer monopolies with each lawsuits and lobbying — identified that the transfer away from the extra open APK commonplace is about locking customers into Google Play.

Client Spending on apps hits file $64.9B within the first half of the yr

Client spending in cellular apps hit a file $64.9 billion in the course of the first half of 2021, in accordance with preliminary information from app retailer intelligence agency Sensor Tower. This determine represents a 24.8% enhance in spending seen throughout each the App Retailer and Google Play, in contrast with the year-ago interval. However whereas business consultants imagine the accelerated shift to cellular fueled by the pandemic is a development that can proceed, it’s value noting that — regardless of the brand new file — the expansion charge for client spending has barely slowed, and the obtain development slowed extra dramatically.

From the primary half of 2019 to the primary half of 2020, client spending on cellular apps grew 28.4% from $40.5 billion to $52 billion, for comparability — slower than the 24.8% seen within the present interval.

Platforms: Apple

✨ Apple launched the general public betas of iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and watchOS 8. Though builders already had entry to early builds, this week was the primary time the general public may get their arms on Apple’s newest software program earlier than its official launch this fall. One of many largest adjustments in iOS 15 is the addition of “Focus” modes that give customers extra management over when and who can trouble them with calls, texts and notifications throughout completely different contexts — like work, driving, sleeping, and extra. Customers can even achieve entry to SharePlay interactivity on FaceTime, iMessage enhancements, the flexibility to FaceTime with Android pals through net hyperlinks, spatial audio, Reside Textual content (which unlocks data out of your images), app privateness reviews, and upgrades to most of Apple’s core apps, and extra.

Platforms: Google

✨Google is implementing stronger safety measures on Google Play developer accounts in an try and crack down on spam and different malicious apps. Beforehand, the corporate required solely an electronic mail and cellphone quantity to create a Google Play developer account. Now it would require an account sort (private or group), a contact identify and bodily tackle, and it’ll require builders to confirm their electronic mail and cellphone quantity. Google says the adjustments will enable it to raised talk with builders and can assist to “ensure that each account is created by an actual particular person with actual contact particulars.” It’s additionally now mandating that customers of Google Play Console check in utilizing Google’s 2-Step Verification.

Samsung and Google previewed their wearable platform forward of the following Galaxy Watch launch. The 2 firms agreed to accomplice on wearables so as to higher compete towards Apple Watch. At Cellular World Congress, Samsung confirmed off the primary system to characteristic the One UI Watch person expertise and the brand new unified platform inbuilt partnership with Google.


Instagram provides a brand new characteristic that can enable companies within the U.S. to designate themselves as being Black-owned companies utilizing badges that seem on their profiles and on their product purchasing pages. It could even be highlighted in locations just like the Store tab, to assist extra potential clients uncover the enterprise.

Walmart partnered with cellular couponing app Ibotta on a multi-year deal that can supply cash-back rewards to Walmart clients that will probably be utilized on to clients’ Walmart accounts, the place they can be utilized for future purchases. The gives will probably be made accessible on and contained in the Walmart cellular app.

Following Apple and Google’s lead, Shopify dropped App Retailer commissions. Nevertheless, it’s dropping its minimize to 0% for the primary million, after which will solely take a 15% fee on “marginal” income above that $1 million. The change may enhance stress on different app shops to make additional changes to their fashions sooner or later.

Augmented Actuality

Rakuten Viber has partnered with Snap to carry augmented actuality Lenses from Snapchat to its personal Viber calling and messaging app. The over 30 Lenses will probably be constructed utilizing Snap’s inventive instruments, together with Bitmoji, Digital camera Equipment, and Artistic Equipment and can supply AR-enabled messaging and images to Viber’s customers. The deal is one other instance of how Snap is rising its licensing enterprise for its AR and artistic instruments alongside the event of its personal social app.

Google’s Arts & Tradition app created a brand new characteristic known as Artwork Filter that enables everybody to study important items of artwork from all over the world and put themselves inside well-known work utilizing AR. Google talked this week about its work with MediaPipe to make the most of their face mesh and 3D face remodel tech to create customized results for every of the artifacts chosen.


Venmo launched a brand new characteristic that enables customers so as to add a “good and companies” tag to funds despatched to non-public accounts to distinguish them from private transactions. The system is supposed to guard consumers and sellers, Venmo says. Patrons on these transactions will probably be eligible for Venmo’s Buy Safety Program, however sellers are unable with the brand new charges related to the change as Venmo will now deduct 1.9% of the transaction plus 10 cents from the cash despatched to the vendor.

Intuit-owned finance and budgeting app Mint added the flexibility to trace cryptocurrency investments throughout a lot of supported exchanges, together with Binance, BlockFi, Coinbase/Coinbase Professional, Gemini, Kraken, PayPal, and Robinhood. Consequently, the app shot to No. 12 general on the U.S. App Retailer on Wednesday and have become the No. 1 app within the Finance class, although it has since dropped in rating.


TikTok is increasing its max video size to three minutes, up from 60 seconds, after testing this characteristic publicly for a lot of months with a choose group of creators. The characteristic will enable for extra long-form video content material, doubtlessly making TikTok much more of a menace to YouTube.

Pinterest bans weight reduction advertisements on its platform, turning into the primary main social platform to take this type of motion. The corporate says social media performs a task in selling dangerous magnificence requirements, and advertisements that glorify weight reduction contribute to an increase in disordered consuming behaviors quite than wholesome habits.

Instagram is growing its personal model of Twitter’s Tremendous Observe with “Unique Tales.” Instagram confirmed that the screenshots of an “Unique Tales” characteristic lately circulated throughout social media are from an inside prototype that’s now in improvement, however not but being publicly examined. The characteristic would enable creators to supply Tales that solely members (probably paying subscribers) would have the ability to see. These would seem on their profile in numerous colours and would show a message that their Story was just for members when others tried to view them. They may be saved as Highlights, and may’t be screenshot, in accordance with the leaks.

TikTok’s newest transparency report revealed the corporate eliminated 11,149,514 accounts in Q1 2021 for violating neighborhood pointers or phrases of service, which is fewer than 1% of complete accounts. Of these removals, 7,263,952 have been accounts belonging to youngsters beneath 13.

Trump and Parler reportedly mentioned a deal that may transfer the majority of Trump’s social media presence to the right-wing Twitter different, in accordance with New York Journal. The deal would have seen Trump taking 40% of Parler’s revenues had it gone by way of. Parler was okay with the rev share, however wouldn’t ban Trump’s critics from the app, which scuttled the deal, the report stated.

Instagram is testing a characteristic that may enable anybody to have the ability to share a hyperlink immediately of their Tales by way of a linking sticker, which might work the identical method the swipe-up hyperlinks presently do. The corporate stated the take a look at is seeking to perceive how many individuals would use hyperlinks, if accessible.

Twitter provided customers an opportunity to obtain one in every of seven free NFTs this week, which have been minted on Rarible in editions of 20, making for 140 NFTs (get it?) in complete. The NFTs have been provided to those that replied to a publish from the corporate’s principal Twitter account, and will sign Twitter’s plans to spend money on making NFTs extra part of its platform sooner or later.


AT&T joined T-Cellular in switching its clients to make use of the Android Messages app as their default cellular messages app for each SMS and RCS companies, making Verizon the one U.S. service that has not made a partnership take care of Google. RCS has numerous benefits over SMS, together with no character limits, the flexibility to ship bigger recordsdata, typing indicators, higher group chat, Wi-Fi help and end-to-end encryption for one-on-one group chats. This makes it a extra compelling different to Apple’s iMessage, nevertheless it requires service adoption.

Audio chat involves the office as Slack this week launched a brand new audio software known as Slack Huddles that enables customers to have real-time conversations with colleagues in Slack’s app as an alternative of typing. The corporate additionally provided extra particulars about an upcoming characteristic that enables customers to depart video messages and it confirmed off an upgraded worker listing. The video messages software is being piloted whereas the listing is presently accessible to a restricted variety of Business + and Enterprise Grid clients.

The U.Okay. issued steering to messaging apps working within the nation to not use end-to-end encryption on youngsters’s accounts, asking firms to think about the dangers that e2e poses to youthful customers, because it makes it tougher to determine unlawful and dangerous content material that takes place on non-public channels. A authorities spokesperson confused that there’s a strategy to implement robust encryption in a method that’s per public security. Privateness activists disagree with this stance.


Telegram rolled out group video calls to its cellular and desktop apps after initially promising the characteristic was coming again in April 2020. The corporate says group video calls are restricted to as much as 30 individuals nevertheless it plans to extend that restrict sooner or later.

WhatsApp is testing a redesigned voice message characteristic that can present brief waveforms when the person is recording the message. After recording, the person can cease and take heed to their message earlier than sending it, too.


Relationship app Bumble is planning to open its first cafe in New York later this month. The launch was initially deliberate for 2019, however was delayed because of the pandemic. The brand new venue, Bumble Brew, is being enabled by a partnership between the courting app maker and Italian restaurant Pasquale Jones. Decked out in Bumble’s yellow, the brand new cafe will open subsequent to the restaurant, to supply a spot for daters to fulfill for both espresso, cocktails or a meal.

Streaming & Entertainment

Netflix customers on Android gadgets will now have the ability to begin streaming titles which have solely partially downloaded, which may assist in the state of affairs the place you’ve forgotten to obtain your favourite reveals earlier than boarding a aircraft. Earlier than, till the obtain accomplished, you couldn’t watch any portion of the video in any respect.

Chinese language TikTok rival Kuaishou and Tencent acquired the short-form rights to the upcoming Tokyo and 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics from state broadcaster CCTV. This makes the app the primary short-form and livestreaming platform globally to grow to be an official broadcaster of the Olympics.

Amazon Music Limitless is giving subscribers as much as six months of Disney+ without cost (or three for current subscribers). Disney’s isn’t the primary to bundle a streaming take care of music. Hulu and Spotify had as soon as achieved the identical.

Spotify launched its Spotify Viewers Community advert market to advertisers and Megaphone publishers in Australia, Canada and the U.Okay., following its U.S. launch in February. {The marketplace} lets advertisers purchase audio advertisements on and off the Spotify platform.


Microsoft’s Xbox division introduced the enlargement of its Designed for Xbox cellular gaming equipment to iOS alongside the launch of the Xbox Cloud Gaming beta turning into accessible to Xbox Sport Cross Final members on Home windows 10 PCs and Apple telephones and tablets through the net browser at

As a part of the equipment program enlargement, the Spine cellular controller joined the Designed for Xbox household with the Spine One for Xbox, which helps all iPhones operating iOS 13 or later. It additionally added OtterBox Energy Swap Controller Batteries, a battery pack suitable with Xbox consoles, Android and iPhone gadgets.

Well being & Health

Google introduced this week an replace to its Passes API which can enable builders to construct performance into their web sites and apps to export COVID-19 take a look at and vaccination data to a digital format that may be saved both within the Google Pay app or immediately on the customers homescreen as a shortcut. The API will solely be open to builders at healthcare organizations, authorities businesses, and different organizations licensed by public well being authorities, initially within the U.S.


App Annie spots indicators of a pandemic restoration in its Q2 2021 report, noting particularly a rebound in journey apps. The agency discovered that month-to-month hours spent in Journey and Navigations apps are on an upward development in markets just like the U.S. and the U.Okay., the place the rollout of vaccinations has been robust. South Korea is seeing a good higher restoration, as time spent in journey apps has surpassed pre-pandemic ranges. Journey apps in Brazil, France and India, nonetheless, haven’t but reached pre-pandemic ranges.


Alphabet’s Wing launched a free app within the U.S. known as OpenSky geared toward each industrial and leisure drone pilots. The app reveals pilots the place it’s okay to fly utilizing color-coded maps with greens, yellows and reds. It additionally permits pilots to submit requests to fly in managed airspaces and obtain close to real-time authorizations. This characteristic works in a whole bunch of airspaces. The app had beforehand been accessible in Australia solely.


Fb is launching an academic app known as Sabee in Nigeria, which is the primary of the corporate’s new efforts to extra immediately goal the nation, and ultimately, the African continent, with new cellular merchandise. The app is being printed by the corporate’s NPE Staff, an inside R&D incubator, which had centered on new social experiences till now.

Safety & Privateness

Twitter customers now have the choice to make use of safety keys as their solely type of two-factor authentication (2FA), which the corporate notes is the simplest strategy to preserve your Twitter account safe. Twitter has provided the choice to make use of safety keys as one in every of its 2FA choices since 2018. Nevertheless, this preliminary help solely labored for, not the cellular app, and required customers to have one other type of 2FA enabled, too.

💰 Tapcart, a “Shopify for cellular apps,” raises $50 million Sequence B led by Left Lane Capital. The corporate gives a drag-and-drop builder that enables anybody to create a cellular app for his or her current Shopify retailer and talk with clients through push. Shopify was among the many taking part buyers.

💰 BreezoMeter, an iPhone app that measures air high quality, raises a $30 million Sequence C led by Fortissimo Capital, bringing its complete increase thus far to $45 million. The corporate makes use of AI and machine studying to assemble and perceive information from a number of sources, together with greater than 47,000 sensors worldwide.

💰Istanbul-based Dream Video games raised $155 million Sequence at a $1 billion valuation in a spherical co-led by Index Ventures and Makers Fund. The cellular puzzle recreation developer is greatest identified for Royal Match, which has 6M MAUs and $20M/month in income.

💰Apple and Snap accomplice Jigspace, “the Canva for 3D,” raised $4.7 million Sequence A in a spherical led by Rampersand. The free JigSpace app lets anybody mix presets and templates of 3D-modeled objects to create their very own “Jigs” (fashions). The app has over Four million customers on the App Retailer.

💰South Korea edtech app maker Mathpresso raised $50 million in Sequence C funding from GGV Capital, Yellowdog, Goodwater Capital, and KDB. The service is utilized by over 9.8M customers

📈 Robinhood recordsdata for its IPO. Earlier within the week, Robinhood agreed to pay $70 million in fines and restitution as a part of its settlement with the Monetary Business Regulatory Authority over offering clients with “false or deceptive data. The SEC, nonetheless, remains to be investigating the buying and selling halt associated to GameStop and different meme shares. Robinhood has 18M accounts and $80B in belongings. It’s going to commerce beneath “HOOD” on the Nasdaq.

💰 Girls’s social networking app Peanut launches a microfund known as StartHER to start investing in early, pre-seed stage startups led by girls or different traditionally excluded teams.

🤝 Social media app LYKA, centered on Southeast Asia, inked a take care of music-streaming expertise firm Tuned World to combine an immersive music-streaming service immediately inside its app. The partnership will enable LYKA to offer on-demand streaming of music, video, and podcasts to the app’s customers.

📈 Chinese language m-commerce app Dingdong made a small achieve throughout this week’s IPO, with shares that closed at $23.52, up 2 cents from its supply worth, on its first day of buying and selling. The app permits clients to purchase contemporary produce, meat, seafood and different every day requirements.

💰 Vietnamese funding app Infina raised $2 million in seed funding for its Robinhood-like app launched in January 2021, which now has some 500,000 buying and selling accounts.

🤝 Gaming chat app Discord acquired AR startup Ubiquity6, which had raised $37.5 million in funding from prime buyers together with Benchmark, First Spherical, Kleiner Perkins and Google’s Gradient Ventures. The startup had lately deserted a few of its tasks, indicating it might have been struggling to seek out traction. Deal phrases weren’t disclosed.

📈 Edtech unicorn Duolingo filed to go public following 129% income development in 2020. The 400-person firm had $161.7 million in income in 2020 and had lately turned worthwhile.

💰 Household app Life360 introduced a $2.1 million funding spherical from celebs and influencers who will now assist to advise the corporate on new options and assist with product advertising. The spherical was led by Bryant Stibel, the agency co-founded by the late Kobe Bryant and enterprise accomplice Jeff Stibel. Different buyers included Vanessa Bryant, Joanna and Chip Gaines, Tony Hawk, Chris and Jada Paul, TikTok influencer Billy Perry, and Nicole and Michael Phelps. Life360 presently trades on the ASX.

💰Age of Studying, the creator of childhood schooling app ABCmouse, raised $300 million in a brand new spherical of funding led by TPG. The brand new funding greater than doubled the corporate’s valuation to $Three billion. The corporate says it can use the funds to speed up worldwide enlargement and the event of its subsequent technology of apps.

💰Train and company wellness app Gympass raised $220 million in Sequence E funding. The Brazil-based app noticed a file Four million month-to-month check-ins throughout its community of greater than 50,000 world companions in Could.

💰Digital greeting card app Givingli raised $Three million in seed funding in a spherical led by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six. The app goals to modernize the digital greeting card enterprise for Gen Z customers and monetizes by way of a $3.99 per 30 days premium subscription and present card gross sales. Snap additionally invested within the spherical after earlier partnering with the startup on a Snap Mini app.

💰Buzzer, a dwell sports activities app, raised $20 million in Sequence A funding from a lot of sports activities and leisure backers, together with Michael Jordan, Naomi Osaka, Patrick Mahomes and others.


Picture Credit: Brickit

The brand new Brickit cellular app is a Lego fan’s dream and a formidable use of laptop imaginative and prescient expertise. The app is in a position to shortly analyze a pile of Legos to determine which bricks you’ve gotten in your assortment. It then serves up some tasks the place you’ve gotten all, or at the very least most of, the bricks that you must construct. The method may be very quick, too — the app is sensible of a whole bunch of bricks in your pile inside simply seconds. Brickit doesn’t come from Lego immediately, nonetheless, which limits a few of its capabilities when it comes to integrating with Lego’s bigger library of directions. However, in time, it can probably generate some information on the Lego collections customers have at dwelling which may make it an attention-grabbing acquisition goal for Lego, along with the tech itself.

Three Weeks with iOS and iPadOS 15: Foundational Updates by Federico Viticci for iMore. An ideal in-depth assessment and evaluation of what’s new with Apple’s newest software program replace.




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