This Week in Apps is back! the weekly TechCrunch seriesThis article summarizes the most recent news about mobile OS news, mobile apps, and the overall app economy.
Global app spending reached $65 billionIn the first half 2022, the amount was only slightly higher than the $64.4 billion recorded in the same period 2021. This is due to hypergrowth caused in part by the pandemic. Overall, however, the app economy continues to grow. a recordAccording to the The, the 2021 data shows that there were over a billion downloads and $2.5 billion in consumer spending on both the iOS and Google Play Stores. latest year-end reports. Last year, $133 billion was spent globally on iOS and Google Play. Consumers downloaded 143.6 billion apps.
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It’s a Twitter dumpster fire and I can’t look away
Where do I even begin? This week Twitter became one of the most chaotic, most disastrous social networks in history — and arguably, also the most interesting, in a sort of rubbernecking kind of way. Nearly every minute saw something new, either on the platform or within the company.
In just a handful of days since Musk’s takeover, Twitter has seen the following:
- The launchThis is Twitter Blue(11/9) Followed by a pause(11/10), followed closely by its disappearanceFrom the app completely (11/11).
- Widespread impersonation of high-profile accounts, including Musk’s own, by Verified users — includingYou almost! immediatelyAfter the new subscription was launched, the $8/month TwitterBlue Verified users went live.
- The launchFor high-profile accounts, follow by their Official badges (11/8) disappearance(11/9) followed closely by their return (11/11).
- Elon Musk’s reveal of his plan to have Twitter enter the payments business.
- Additional departures of key executives, including its chairman, most senior cybersecurity staffer Lea Kissner (11/10), chief privacy officer Damien Kieran (11/10), chief compliance officer Marianne Fogarty (11/10) Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth (11/10) — the latter who has been one of the last remaining sane voices at the company amid the upheaval.
- Musk held a call with advertisers(11/9) did not offer any solid assurancesAll would be well.
- After this call, the call’s host and head of ad sales Robin Wheeler, quit. Later, she tweeted “I’m still here” after being persuaded by MuskStay (11/10).
- After the departure of key executives in trust, safety and data governance, security has been compromised. the FTC issued a rare warningTo Twitter (11/10). The agency said had been “tracking the developments at Twitter with deep concern,” and that “no CEO or company is above the law.”After being found to have misappropriated user data, Twitter was placed under an FTC consent orders in 2011. The FTC consent order stipulates that all new product rollouts must undergo security reviews. It also dictates what Twitter can do with data. The number of rapid changes, eliminations of departments, departures of key personnel and fast launches and shutdowns of new products are now raising questions as to whether or not Twitter has managed to remain compliant with the FTC’s decree.
- The European Union’s lead regulator then came after Twitter, Setting up a meeting next week to discuss concerns, including the data protection officer’s departure and whether Twitter’s main establishment for GDPR purposes is still located in Ireland.
- Musk addressedEmployees at an all-hands meeting (11/10). They warned that Twitter could have a net negative cash flow in the billions by 2023.
Musk was correct to change the way Twitter was run. The company was losing money and was failing to grow its userbase. Coming in with fresh ideas and swapping out the executive team isn’t that unusual in a takeover, nor are widespread layoffs when a company is in financial trouble. You can also expect new product development. Twitter Blue has been redesigned. which has so far failed to attract subscribersThis makes sense.
But it’s not the What that’s the issue here, really — it’s the How. Musk clearly did not consider the consequences of his changes, and he fired people who could have provided more insight. His decision to immediately cut Twitter staff (after) weird ideas about code reviews, apparently), meant he missed the opportunity to actually listen to current staff who could explain what Twitter has tried, what’s failed and why they’re doing the things they are. Even if Musk disagreed with Twitter’s current direction, those understandings could be used to better inform his future decisions.
Instead, he’s approached Twitter as a toy to be played with, saying even “Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months.” And it already has.
It lived up to its promise. The first project Twitter launched saw it reinvent the wheel.
Musk believed that a blue Verified badge was a status symbol and that it would be worth the price of one. What he didn’t understand (unlike most of Twitter’s user base), is that Verification is actually a service the platform provides its community, not just an ego-pleasing checkmark. In fact, many of those with the original badge don’t see it as a status symbol, and wouldn’t pay for the “honor” of having one. Instead, the original blue badge was a way to quickly see that someone is who they claim to be or that they’re a trusted source of news and information.
Musk, on the other hand, thinks “citizen journalists” and everyday folks (or as he likes to call them, “peasants“) deserve some sort of verification, too. Which is…well, okay, he’s free to have that opinion and test it out as a paid product after spending $44 billion on this thing, I guess. (We don’t have space to talk about his misunderstandings around citizen journalism right now!)
But it could have been implemented in a different way — perhaps as a verified badge of a different shade or symbol, or even just as a system that would boost Twitter Blue subscribers’ tweets and replies on the platform above the non-paying users. This is the core value Musk sees for Twitter Blue and believes it would be appealing to subscribers. Not to mention, such a system would make sense to test, given that it’s one that’s already been proven to work elsewhere. Paid elevation is a monetization lever other social networks utilize — like YouTubeAnd Instagram, where products like YouTube’s Super Chat and IG Badges allow people to have their posts highlighted above others.
Twitter’s twist could have been that paid elevation like this wouldn’t necessarily be about getting the attention of top creators, per se, but would gain subscribers entry into everyone’s Verified tab or at least bumped to the top of the “All” notifications tab. Or, a secondary filter on the Verified tab could allow people to toggle on or off the visibility of “official” accounts, addressing complaintsWhen checkmarks are on sale, the Verified tab will no longer be useful.
It would have been great to A/B-test with a small portion of the audience before diving in! But alas.
Rather than moving forward more thoughtfully, Musk simply trashed the existing Verification program — and without seemingly foreseeing the potential for widespread abuse. He then retroactively realized that identifying “Official” accounts had value for the wider community and for those who wanted a certain type of experience in the Verified tab itself.
His haphazard leadership caused new products to launch, be shut off, and then relaunched within hours and days. As a result, Twitter became a dumpster fire of sorts — and one that could have been avoided if Musk simply listened and learned before acting.
Google Play rolls out User Choice Billing more broadly, Epic Games’ Tim Sweeney trashes it as a ‘sham’
Google announced it’s expanding its user choice billing pilot, which allows Android app developers to use other payment systems besides Google’s own. The program will now be available in new markets including the U.S.A, Brazil, and South Africa. Bumble will also join Spotify as a pilot tester.
The company is the first announcedIt had planned to launch a third party billing option in March this year. Spotify was the first tester. Spotify is now available. says it will begin rolling out its implementation of this program with Google’s blessing.
Over the past year, the user choice billing program has been steadily growing. Google was the most visited website last month. invitedNon-game developers can apply for the user preference billing program in selected markets, including India and Australia, Indonesia, Japan, and the European Economic Area. The company also introducedSimilar policy was implemented for developers in EEA regions in July. However the new guidelines raised the commission discount from 3%To 4%For developers who opted in. With today’s expansion, user choice billing will be made available to 35 countries worldwide.
Google says it’s been working with Spotify to help develop the experience and now the streaming music service will begin to put the new features into action in supported markets. Google warns that the experience may change as the pilot test continues. Bumble is now joining Google to test user choice billing within its own app. Plans to roll out these options to users in selected countries in the coming months.
It’s not clear what sort of deal Spotify and Bumble have received as Spotify won’t say beyond noting it meets the company’s standards of fairness.
However, not all developers believe the deal to be a good deal.
Tim Sweeney of Epic Games, CEO, is suing Google as well as Apple for monopolistic practices. called the new system a sham as Google still takes 26% of the revenue — a reference to the 4% discountFor switching to another payment provider.
“This is Google’s dishonest attempt to thwart EU and Korean regulators by feigning compliance with their new rules for billing competition, while still collecting their monopoly rent and rendering competing payment services non-viable,” Sweeney wrote.
Mastodon and others benefit from Twitter chaos
Twitter drama has led to some users looking for an exit. Alternative social and microblogging platforms, such as Mastodon, have seen significant gains in recent times. The service’s founder and CEO recently announced Mastodon had topped 1 million monthly active usersSince October 27, more than half a billion users have joined the network.
App intelligence firm Sensor Tower notedMastodon received approximately 322,000 downloads from U.S. apps stores in the 12 day period following acquisition (October 27, through November 7, 2015). This is more that 100 times the 3,000 it received in the previous 12-day period. Globally, Mastodon saw a 657% increase in installs to 1,000,000 during the October 27-November 7, timeframe, compared to 15,000 the previous 12 days.
Other Mastodon third-party clients also saw a boost, with Tootle growing from less that 1,000 installs to 19,000, and Tootle growing from 7,000 to 19,000, respectively, over the two periods.
But Mastodon isn’t the only network seeing an uptick in installs, as it turns out.
Tumblr’s U.S. installs grew 96% between 47,000 and 92,000, while global installs grew 77% from 170,000 – 301,000.
CounterSocial, an alternative social app, saw a 2,300% increase in installs to 24,000 in U.S. App Stores within 12 days of the acquisition. It also saw a global growth of 3,200% with 33,000 installs.
Data.ai, another app intelligence company, also sliced the data in an entirely new way. It examined various social apps’ worldwide download growth during a seven-day period following the acquisition (October 27 through November 2), then compared that with the prior seven-day period. Its data also confirmed that CounterSocial and Mastodon had made significant gains in terms global install growth between the two times. Mastodon’s installs jumped 2,200% and CounterSocial’s grew 1,200%.
Data.ai observed that other social apps saw bumps as well as direct Twitter alternatives. This included David’s Disposable (up 83%), nFollowers (up 50%), CocoFun (up 46%), Substack Reader (up 24%), Tribel (up 11%), Tumblr (up 7%) and Pinterest (up 2%).
Platforms from Apple
- Apple will launch its Emergency SOS Satellite in November. The service will see the tech giant paying $405 millionThe feature was enabled by U.S. companies, with the majority of the funds going to Globalstar.
- A change in the iOS 16.1.1 update will now restrict the “Everyone” option in AirDrop to 10 minutes on iPhones purchased in mainland China. Apple said it is improving the AirDrop experience by automatically reverting the receiving setting back to “Contacts Only” after 10 minutes to help mitigate unwanted file sharing.
- Apple rolled out the ability for users in Colorado to store their driver’s license or state ID in the Apple Wallet app.This feature is currently only available in select states, including Arizona and Maryland. However, Connecticut, Georgia and Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Utah have signed up for it.
- Apple releasedThe second betas are available for iOS 16.2, iPadOS 16.2, watchOS 9.2, tvOS 16.2 et al.
- Apple is reported to be working on a Custom Accessibility Mode for iOS 16.2, beta 2, codenamed Clarity that will make the iPhone and iPad’s interface more user-friendly for those who find it overly complicated today. This could be a great tool for a tech-unsavvy grandma (or grandpa) it seems.
- Apple is working on reportedly simplifying its voice assistant trigger from “Hey Siri” to just “Siri,” Bloomberg.
- Apple launched another week of its Ask Apple developer series, where developers can connect directly with Apple experts in one-on-one consultations and group Q&As. This new series will run across all time zones from November 14-18.
- Google now allows users to preview its newly redesignedGoogle Home app on Android and iOS.The new app lets users choose their favorite devices, run automation (coming), set up new triggers for routines, and much more.
- Google released the public beta of the new Android AutoUI, first revealed at Google I/O.Some of the notable changes made in this release include: the updated map is now closer to the driver in a new dashboard. The dashboard media cards has a completely new design and can grow and shrink dynamically. There is more Material You and modernized interface. Music and media recommendations from Google Assistant can also be accessed with a swipe on the dashboard mediacard.
- The world’s once-third-largest crypto exchange, FTX, was struggling to stay aliveAfter Binance’s bailout deal failed this week.Sam Bankman-Fried began to wind down trading firm Alameda Research. attemptingAfter the liquidity crunch at FTX, FTX International needed liquidity to raise funds. Those efforts didn’t pan out and on Friday, FTX announced it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. About 130 additional affiliated companies — including FTX US and Alameda Research — also began the bankruptcy process.
- Meta announced massive layoffs of 13% of its workforce, or 11,000 people, following Twitter’s layoffs of half its workforce, or 7,500 people after Elon Musk’s takeover. Meta employees will get 16 weeks of severance, plus two more weeks for each additional year of service, as well as six months of health coverage. Meta announced its first ever quarterly decline in June, and saw its revenue declineAgain in Q3.
- Reddit launched a “community muting” featureThis allows users to mute entire communities on the platform. After muting, posts from that specific community will be removed from the user’s notifications, Home feed and Popular feed. The new feature is launching on Reddit’s mobile apps over the next few weeks and will later expand to the desktop.
- Instagram launched an in-app scheduling toolAll professional accounts. The tool allows creators and businesses to schedule posts in advance without having to use third-party apps or Creator Studio.
- Pinterest’s new collage-making app Shuffles is now available to the publicIn select marketsIt was originally an invite-only app that launched in the summer. Users can add photos and images from Pinterest boards to their collages. Shuffles grew in popularity with Gen Z users, who used the creative expression tool to make “aesthetic” collages, sometimes set to music and posted to TikTok, or shared privately with friends or the Shuffles community. Pinterest states that the app remains a test.
- Amazon Photos finally updated its Android appOne year after the iOS version was redesigned.The new design is more modern and places a greater emphasis on navigation, sharing, searching, etc. You can swipe up to access filters that allow you to filter photos by year, place, or object. Prime members have unlimited full-resolution photo storage and 5GB video storage.
- Popular third-party camera app Halide updated to version 2.10,The 2X zoom was available to iPhone 14 Pro users.Plus, updates to Depth mode, a 48/12MP quick switch and many more.
- Telegram added several new features, including Collectible Usersnames, secured on the TON BlockchainVoice-to-text video messages, new emoji packages, redesign night mode on iOS and Android, resizing text, topics in groups, and more. The company also threw shade at Apple for the update’s delay, writing it took two weeks for the update to be approved. Pavel Durov, founder added in a post, “Apple claims they review apps within 24 hours, but, in our experience, it takes at least 7-10 days for any meaningful product update to reach the App Store.”
- Signal launched a Stories featureAvailable for iOS and Android.The feature allows users to share Stories that expire after 24hrs, just like other social media apps. Users can choose who can see their Stories — which can be everyone in your phone’s contact list who uses Signal, anyone you’ve had a one-on-one conversation with in Signal or anyone whose message request you’ve accepted. Stories will soon be available for desktop users by the company.
Streaming & Entertainment
- Spotify’s Apple Watch app has been redesigned with more artwork, smooth animations, and many new features. It’s now easier to seeAnd select individual tracks and episodes from any playlist, podcast, artist or album directly on your watch, and you can swipe to “like” tracks and toggle shuffle mode “on” or “off ”Before you start playing. Podcast pages now have a new look. A blue dot will highlight new episodes.Subscribers who are paying can also be Now you can download your favorite songs, albums, and playlists right from the Watch app.Instead of using the app on your mobile device, you can use it as usual.
- All three major music labels — UMG, Sony and Warner — are asking TikTok to pay them a share of its ad revenues, hoping to reach a deal before their existing deals expire in the coming months, Bloomberg reported. This news comes at a terrible time TikTok, which is reported to be reducing its revenue projections,It has now predicted that 2022 will see a drop in its predictions to $10 billion from the $12-14.5 billion it had previously forecast. the FT said.
- After an advertising slump, TikTok also overhauled U.S operations, including moving GM Sandie Hawkins from TikTok Shop. per the FT.
- YouTube announcedIt has surpassed 80,000,000 YouTube Music and Premium subscribers around the world. including customers using free trials, representing a year-over-year increase of 30 million subscribers.
- YouTube launchedGlobal users get short-term TV cutsThis feature requires a smart TV that is at least 2019 and a newer gaming console, or a streaming device. The videos themselves can be found on the new Shorts shelf on the homepage of the YouTube app or on a creator’s channel page. It also added a “Live Q&A” featureLivestreams will make it easier for viewers and fans to interact.
- Disney said it now has 235.7 million global subscribers, above Netflix’s 223.1 million.Hulu accounted 47.2 million, Disney+ accounted for 164.2 million, and ESPN+ accounted for 24 million.
- Giphy launched its first connected TV appGIPHY Arts Roku The app brings short-form video content made by artists to the big screen in select markets.
- Nintendo and DeNA mobile games company are forming a joint venture company called Nintendo Systems that will aim to “strengthen the digitization of Nintendo’s business” and create “value-added services to further reinforce Nintendo’s relationship with customers,” Nintendo said. The two have worked together on a handful of titles, including Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Mario Kart Tour, Miitomo and Pokémon Masters.
- Netflix is bringing back the “Stranger Things: Puzzle Tales” game with new gameplay based on the content from Season 4The show. The app was originally released in 2021 but was removed from the App Store and Play Store in August after Netflix acquired the game’s publisher for $72 million.
- MottoGrindr founder Joel Simkhai created a new app, ”, for gay and queer hookups, and casual dating.Alex Hostetler and Alex Hostetler were launched in New York City.
Travel & Transportation
- Airbnb said it will refine its search to show users’ charges inclusive of fees — like cleaning fees. The company will roll out this feature through a toggle next month and will also Instead of focusing on the nightly price, prioritize the total cost of your trip. The move comes as Airbnb customers are growing increasingly angry about hosts’ excessive cleaning fees, particularly when they’re being asked to do much of the cleaning themselves. But the company doesn’t have a policy on what hosts can ask — just a suggestion for them to be reasonable.
Security & Privacy
- New research suggests that Apple is the most popular smartphone in the world. collecting data about iPhone app usageEven if the iPhone Analytics setting is set to off, it will still work. When off, the message says it will “disable the sharing of Device Analytics altogether.” However, two app developers and security researchers found that the setting had no impact on Apple’s own data collection in its apps — including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple TV, Book and Stocks. The App Store actually collected data about everything users did, including what you searched for, what you tapped on and how long you looked at an application.
- Western security advisors are warning delegates to the COP27 climate summit not to download Egypt’s climate summit Android app,They claim that this could be used to spy emails, text messages, and voice conversations. according to Politico.
💰PhotoRoom, a Paris-based app for photo editing, raised $19 million in Series A fundingBalderton Capital was the lead investor in its app, which allows users to quickly remove the background and photos of objects from photos to make e-commerce listings more professional. The app currently has 7 million MAUs, and plans to add generative AI.
💰Mem, an app that uses AI for organizing notes, raised $23.5 millionThe startup was valued at $110million in funding led the OpenAI Startup Fund. The app’s workflow revolves around search and a chronological timeline, and lets users attach topic tags, tag other users and add recurring reminders to notes. Mem is available for desktop and mobile. It has raised $29million to date.
💰BrightCanary is based in Seattle raised $4 million in seed funding led by Trilogy Equity Partners for its app that helps parents track their children’s activity on services like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok.
💰 Travel app Hopper raised $96 millionCapital One will follow-up investment bringing the company’s total raise to $740 million. Capital One led Hopper’s Series F and will now work with the company to create new travel products aimed at Capital One customers.
🤝Unity, a game engine maker, and ironSource, an adtech firm completed their merger in a $4.4 billion all-stock deal. Unity’s stock is down around 75% and ironSource’s stock is down ~50% year-to-date. Both Unity and ironSource were impacted by Apple’s ATT and believed pooling their resources could help them address their declines. Unity earlier rejectedAppLovin has an offer
💰African super app Yassir raised $150 million in Series B fundingIts platform offers ride-hailing, food delivery and payment. The funding was led by Mary Meeker’s Bond. Since its 2017 founding, Yassir raised $193.25 Million.
💰 Car rental app Kyte raised $60 million in Series B funding, InterAlpen Partners leads the initiative. The company has access to a few thousand cars in 14 cities and is currently looking to expand. To date, the startup has raised $300 million in equity and debt.
TechCrunch’s Aisha Malik this week reviewed the launch of PineappleA new iOS app, ”, that offers Gen Z users a new professional network platform.This app relies on visual stories. The app allows users to create profiles that are a cross between LinkedIn and Instagram and showcase the user’s experience, projects and more using visuals. Users can also join Communities to connect with other members around topics and engage in thread conversations called “Jams.”
Pineapple feels TikTok inspired with a main For You section of page where users can keep up with their friends. The app has raised $1.1 million in a pre-seed round, which included investors like F7 Ventures, 500 Global, Bradley Horowitz (VP of product at Google) and Julie Zhou (former VP of design at Facebook).
Though not yet launched to the public, Apple’s new whiteboarding app, Freefrom, is now available in the iOS 16.2 and macOS 13.1 betas. TechCrunch’s Ivan Mehta took the app for a spin this week, testing out its ability to use multiple media formats — like text, images, videos, notes, docs and more — all in one space and collaborate with others. The app won’t replace Figma but it could be useful in everyday design tasks like event planning and home redesigns, journaling and making charts.
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