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

    Welcome again to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechSwitch sequence that recaps the newest in cellular OS information, cellular purposes and the general app economic system.
    The app trade continues to develop, with a report 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in world client spend in 2020. Consumers final 12 months additionally spent 3.5 trillion minutes utilizing apps on Android units alone. And within the U.S., app utilization surged forward of the time spent watching stay TV. Currently, the typical American watches 3.7 hours of stay TV per day, however now spends 4 hours per day on their cellular units.
    Apps aren’t only a solution to cross idle hours — they’re additionally a giant enterprise. In 2019, mobile-first corporations 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 corporations — a determine that’s up 27% year-over-year.
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    Android App Bundles at the moment are going to be required
    This week Google introduced it is going to require new apps to be revealed utilizing the Android App Bundle as of August 2021. The firm first launched the Android App Bundle customary, which replaces the APK, in May 2018 as a part of its fashionable growth push. Since then, the vast majority of the highest 1,000 apps and video games have converted to AABs together with these from corporations like Adobe, Duolingo. Gameloft, Netflix, reBus, Rainy, and Twitter. Today, there are over 1 million apps utilizing AAB in manufacturing.
    AABs remedy some issues with the ageing APK customary, notably round bigger apps and video games. With AABs, builders don’t need to create an APK that incorporates all the pieces for each kind of Android machine. They provide a solution to rapidly and extra effectively obtain the belongings wanted for a selected machine, they usually accomplish that in a means that focuses on getting the person or participant to the app or sport’s content material as quick as attainable.
    But not everybody agrees the change is for the higher. Those who make the most of APK Hosting websites like APKMirror or APKPure to obtain and share apps fear that the shift to AAB is a solution to pressure customers to make use of the Play Store as an alternative of options. Meanwhile, Epic 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 customary is about locking customers into Google Play.

    This is without doubt one of the many causes we mustn’t settle for the argument: “If you don’t like iPhone’s restrictions, buy an Android phone”.
    Both corporations have run amok, trampling the rights of customers and builders alike. The distinction is simply that Apple’s a number of steps forward.
    — Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) June 30, 2021

    Consumer Spending on apps hits report $64.9B within the first half of the 12 months
    Consumer spending in cellular apps hit a report $64.9 billion in the course of the first half of 2021, based on preliminary knowledge from app retailer intelligence agency Sensor Tower. This determine represents a 24.8% improve in spending seen throughout each the App Store and Google Play, in contrast with the year-ago interval. But whereas trade specialists imagine the accelerated shift to cellular fueled by the pandemic is a pattern that may proceed, it’s price noting that — regardless of the brand new report — the expansion price for client spending has barely slowed, and the obtain progress 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. Although builders already had entry to early builds, this week was the primary time the general public may get their fingers on Apple’s newest software program earlier than its official launch this fall. One of the most important 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 totally different contexts — like work, driving, sleeping, and extra. Users can even acquire entry to SharePlay interactivity on FaceTime, iMessage enhancements, the power to FaceTime with Android mates through net hyperlinks, spatial audio, Live Text (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 to crack down on spam and different malicious apps. Previously, the corporate required solely an electronic mail and cellphone quantity to create a Google Play developer account. Now it is going to require an account kind (private or group), a contact title and bodily handle, and it’ll require builders to confirm their electronic mail and cellphone quantity. Google says the adjustments will permit it to higher talk with builders and can assist to “make sure that every account is created by a real person with real contact details.” It’s additionally now mandating that customers of Google Play Console register utilizing Google’s 2-Step Verification.
    Samsung and Google previewed their wearable platform forward of the following Galaxy Watch launch. The two corporations agreed to accomplice on wearables to be able to higher compete in opposition to Apple Watch. At Mobile World Congress, Samsung confirmed off the primary machine to characteristic the One UI Watch person expertise and the brand new unified platform in-built partnership with Google.
    Instagram provides a brand new characteristic that may permit companies within the U.S. to designate themselves as being Black-owned companies utilizing badges that seem on their profiles and on their product buying pages. It can also be highlighted in locations just like the Shop tab, to assist extra potential clients uncover the enterprise.
    Walmart partnered with cellular couponing app Ibotta on a multi-year deal that may provide cash-back rewards to Walmart clients that will likely be utilized on to clients’ Walmart accounts, the place they can be utilized for future purchases. The affords will likely be made out there on and contained in the Walmart cellular app.
    Following Apple and Google’s lead, Shopify dropped App Store commissions. However, it’s dropping its lower to 0% for the primary million, after which will solely take a 15% fee on “marginal” income above that $1 million. The change may improve strain on different app shops to make additional changes to their fashions sooner or later.
    Augmented Reality
    Rakuten Viber has partnered with Snap to deliver augmented actuality Lenses from Snapchat to its personal Viber calling and messaging app. The over 30 Lenses will likely be constructed utilizing Snap’s inventive instruments, together with Bitmoji, Camera Kit, and Creative Kit and can provide 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 & Culture app created a brand new characteristic referred to as Art Filter that permits everybody to study important items of artwork from around the globe 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 rework tech to create customized results for every of the artifacts chosen.
    Venmo launched a brand new characteristic that permits customers so as to add a “good and services” 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. Buyers on these transactions will likely be eligible for Venmo’s Purchase Protection 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 power to trace cryptocurrency investments throughout plenty of supported exchanges, together with Binance, BlockFi, Coinbase/Coinbase Pro, Gemini, Kraken, PayPal, and Robinhood. As a outcome, the app shot to No. 12 general on the U.S. App Store 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 3 minutes, up from 60 seconds, after testing this characteristic publicly for a lot of months with a choose group of creators. The characteristic will permit for extra long-form video content material, doubtlessly making TikTok much more of a menace to YouTube.
    Pinterest bans weight reduction adverts on its platform, changing into the primary main social platform to take this kind of motion. The firm says social media performs a task in selling dangerous magnificence requirements, and adverts that glorify weight reduction contribute to an increase in disordered consuming behaviors slightly than wholesome habits.
    Instagram is growing its personal model of Twitter’s Super Follow with “Exclusive Stories.” Instagram confirmed that the screenshots of an “Exclusive Stories” characteristic not too long ago circulated throughout social media are from an inner prototype that’s now in growth, however not but being publicly examined. The characteristic would permit creators to supply Stories that solely members (seemingly paying subscribers) would be capable of 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 is also saved as Highlights, and may’t be screenshot, based on the leaks.

    TikTok’s newest transparency report revealed the corporate eliminated 11,149,514 accounts in Q1 2021 for violating group tips or phrases of service, which is fewer than 1% of complete accounts. Of these removals, 7,263,952 have been accounts belonging to youngsters below 13.
    Trump and Parler reportedly mentioned a deal that will transfer the majority of Trump’s social media presence to the right-wing Twitter different, based on New York Magazine. The deal would have seen Trump taking 40% of Parler’s revenues had it gone via. 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 will permit anybody to have the ability to share a hyperlink instantly of their Stories via a linking sticker, which might work the identical means the swipe-up hyperlinks at present do. The firm stated the check is trying to perceive how many individuals would use hyperlinks, if out there.
    Twitter supplied 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 supplied to those that replied to a submit from the corporate’s principal Twitter account, and will sign Twitter’s plans to put money into making NFTs extra part of its platform sooner or later.

    AT&T joined T-Mobile in switching its clients to make use of the Android Messages app as their default cellular messages app for each SMS and RCS providers, making Verizon the one U.S. service that has not made a partnership take care of Google. RCS has loads of benefits over SMS, together with no character limits, the power to ship bigger information, 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, however it requires service adoption.
    Audio chat involves the office as Slack this week launched a brand new audio software referred to as Slack Huddles that permits customers to have real-time conversations with colleagues in Slack’s app as an alternative of typing. The firm additionally supplied extra particulars about an upcoming characteristic that permits customers to go away video messages and it confirmed off an upgraded worker listing. The video messages software is being piloted whereas the listing is at present out there to a restricted variety of Business + and Enterprise Grid clients.
    The U.Ok. issued steering to messaging apps working within the nation to not use end-to-end encryption on youngsters’s accounts, asking corporations to contemplate the dangers that e2e poses to youthful customers, because it makes it tougher to establish unlawful and dangerous content material that takes place on non-public channels. A authorities spokesperson harassed that there’s a solution to implement sturdy encryption in a means that’s in keeping with public security. Privacy 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 firm says group video calls are restricted to as much as 30 folks however it plans to extend that restrict sooner or later.
    WhatsApp is testing a redesigned voice message characteristic that may 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.
    Dating 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 as a result of pandemic. The 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 satisfy for both espresso, cocktails or a meal.
    Streaming & Entertainment
    Netflix customers on Android units will now be capable of 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. Before, till the obtain accomplished, you couldn’t watch any portion of the video in any respect.
    Chinese 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 change into an official broadcaster of the Olympics.
    Amazon Music Unlimited is giving subscribers as much as six months of Disney+ at no 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 accomplished the identical.
    Spotify launched its Spotify Audience Network advert market to advertisers and Megaphone publishers in Australia, Canada and the U.Ok., following its U.S. launch in February. The market lets advertisers purchase audio adverts on and off the Spotify platform.

    Microsoft’s Xbox division introduced the growth of its Designed for Xbox cellular gaming equipment to iOS alongside the launch of the Xbox Cloud Gaming beta changing into out there to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members on Windows 10 PCs and Apple telephones and tablets through the online browser at
    As a part of the equipment program growth, the Backbone cellular controller joined the Designed for Xbox household with the Backbone One for Xbox, which helps all iPhones operating iOS 13 or later. It additionally added OtterBox Power Swap Controller Batteries, a battery pack suitable with Xbox consoles, Android and iPhone units.

    Health & Fitness
    Google introduced this week an replace to its Passes API which can permit builders to construct performance into their web sites and apps to export COVID-19 check and vaccination information to a digital format that may be saved both within the Google Pay app or instantly on the customers homescreen as a shortcut. The API will solely be open to builders at healthcare organizations, authorities businesses, and different organizations approved 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 Travel and Navigations apps are on an upward pattern in markets just like the U.S. and the U.Ok., the place the rollout of vaccinations has been sturdy. South Korea is seeing a fair higher restoration, as time spent in journey apps has surpassed pre-pandemic ranges. Travel 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. referred to as OpenSky geared toward each business 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 out there in Australia solely.
    Facebook is launching an academic app referred to as Sabee in Nigeria, which is the primary of the corporate’s new efforts to extra instantly goal the nation, and ultimately, the African continent, with new cellular merchandise. The app is being revealed by the corporate’s NPE Team, an inner R&D incubator, which had centered on new social experiences till now.

    Security & Privacy
    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 solution to maintain your Twitter account safe. Twitter has supplied the choice to make use of safety keys as one in every of its 2FA choices since 2018. However, 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 mobile apps,” raises $50 million Series B led by Left Lane Capital. The firm affords a drag-and-drop builder that permits 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 Series C led by Fortissimo Capital, bringing its complete increase to this point to $45 million. The firm makes use of AI and machine studying to collect and perceive knowledge from a number of sources, together with greater than 47,000 sensors worldwide.
    💰Istanbul-based Dream Games raised $155 million Series at a $1 billion valuation in a spherical co-led by Index Ventures and Makers Fund. The cellular puzzle sport 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 Series 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 4 million customers on the App Store.
    💰South Korea edtech app maker Mathpresso raised $50 million in Series C funding from GGV Capital, Yellowdog, Goodwater Capital, and KDB. The service is utilized by over 9.8M customers
    📈 Robinhood information 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 Financial Industry Regulatory Authority over offering clients with “false or misleading information. The SEC, however, is still investigating the trading halt related to GameStop and other meme stocks. Robinhood has 18M accounts and $80B in assets. It will trade under “HOOD” on the Nasdaq.
    💰 Women’s social networking app Peanut launches a microfund referred to 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 Global to combine an immersive music-streaming service instantly inside its app. The partnership will permit LYKA to supply on-demand streaming of music, video, and podcasts to the app’s customers.
    📈 Chinese m-commerce app Dingdong made a small acquire throughout this week’s IPO, with shares that closed at $23.52, up 2 cents from its provide worth, on its first day of buying and selling. The app permits clients to purchase contemporary produce, meat, seafood and different each 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 Round, Kleiner Perkins and Google’s Gradient Ventures. The startup had not too long ago 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 progress in 2020. The 400-person firm had $161.7 million in income in 2020 and had not too long ago turned worthwhile.
    💰 Family 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. Other buyers included Vanessa Bryant, Joanna and Chip Gaines, Tony Hawk, Chris and Jada Paul, TikTok influencer Billy Perry, and Nicole and Michael Phelps. Life360 at present trades on the ASX.
    💰Age of Learning, the creator of childhood training app ABCmouse, raised $300 million in a brand new spherical of funding led by TPG. The new funding greater than doubled the corporate’s valuation to $3 billion. The firm says it is going to use the funds to speed up worldwide growth and the event of its subsequent era of apps.
    💰Exercise and company wellness app Gympass raised $220 million in Series E funding. The Brazil-based app noticed a report 4 million month-to-month check-ins throughout its community of greater than 50,000 world companions in May.
    💰Digital greeting card app Givingli raised $3 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 via a $3.99 monthly premium subscription and reward card gross sales. Snap additionally invested within the spherical after earlier partnering with the startup on a Snap Mini app.
    💰Buzzer, a stay sports activities app, raised $20 million in Series A funding from plenty of sports activities and leisure backers, together with Michael Jordan, Naomi Osaka, Patrick Mahomes and others.

    Image Credits: Brickit
    The new Brickit cellular app is a Lego fan’s dream and a formidable use of pc imaginative and prescient expertise. The app is ready to rapidly analyze a pile of Legos to establish which bricks you might have in your assortment. It then serves up some tasks the place you might have all, or at the very least most of, the bricks you want to construct. The course of could 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 instantly, nonetheless, which limits a few of its capabilities when it comes to integrating with Lego’s bigger library of directions. But, in time, it is going to seemingly generate some knowledge 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 important in-depth overview and evaluation of what’s new with Apple’s newest software program replace.

    It actually is kind of unbelievable that ~30 days after a serious iOS launch 70% of customers have up to date. Apple’s multi-year push to get most customers on auto-update after which tightly managing the rollout is such a improbable factor for the platform. (chart by @alexdbauer)
    — David Barnard (@drbarnard) June 30, 2021

    This new app referred to as “Fave” simply launched — it’s principally a social community for fandoms.
    Currently, it’s just for Swifties.
    Turns out nobody remembered to say @​taylorswift. 🙈
    So I’m now Taylor Swift on a platform about Taylor Swift.
    — Noah Evans (@ThisIsNoahEvans) June 30, 2021


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