Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the theinformationsuperhighway series that rounds up the latest operating system news, the apps they support, and the money that goes through it all.
The app industry is hotter than ever, with a record 204 billion downloads and $ 120 billion in consumer spending in 2019. People now spend three hours and 40 minutes a day using apps, which rivals television. Apps aren't just a way of spending idle time – they're big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had an overall valuation of $ 544 billion, 6.5 times higher than non-mobile companies.
In this series we will help you stay up to date with the latest news from the world of apps, which are delivered weekly.
How iOS 14 and Apple's other new plans will affect apps
At Apple's hardware event this week, the company announced a new Apple Watch Series 6, an Apple Watch SE, an eighth-generation iPad and a new iPad Air.
The bigger news for app makers, however, was the surprise release of iOS 14. Typically, developers get a much longer heads-up and at least have the updated version of their developer tools long before the actual iOS launch day. This year, however, Apple shocked app developers with an announcement during its live event that the new software platforms iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7 and tvOS 14 would arrive in less than 24 hours.
The move was a blow from Apple at a time when the developer community was already being disregarded by Apple's tougher stance on the use of in-app purchases and the rise in capricious app rejections, not to mention the language Apple uses theirs Posts described the success of the iPhone in Apple's lawsuit against Epic Games.
But now iOS 14 is here, and with it comes a radical change in the way apps are presented and used on iPhone.
App clips enable users to launch "mini-app" experiences when a full app download is not required, such as B. if you have to pay at a parking meter with a native app. Widgets allow developers to increase their presence on the home screen and potentially make them more important to their most loyal users. On the other hand, rarely used apps can now be abandoned in the new app library.
Any app that doesn't get a start screen either as an app icon or as a widget in the new version of iOS can soon find that its MAUs and DAUs decrease after users upgrade to iOS 14.
Descending into the App Library is like being stuck in a folder on the back screen – out of sight and forgotten. App developers who suspect they didn't make the big iOS redesign need to be clever with push notifications to revive their relationship with users. But that is also a fine line. If there are too many notifications or if they are sending low-value notifications, users turn to other iOS tools – for example, the option to simply mute or turn off notifications for the app in question. And then the app is really forgotten with no visibility or connectivity.
Apple also challenged the entire fitness app industry with the launch of a Fitness + subscription service. Wall Street investors weren't too concerned about the long-term potential impact on top brands like Peloton and Fitbit. However, these companies are not necessarily representative of the smaller fitness app maker. For $ 10 a month or just $ 80 a year, Apple is offering some kind of home gym membership with extensive integrations with the Apple Watch. Fitness + provides workouts and instructions for music that can be used on all Apple devices. Since these are Apple training sessions, the training sessions are also correctly synchronized with the Apple Watch to enable various training metrics such as B. accurately record calories burned, pace or distance.
The service is also bundled in the top category in Apple's new Apple One subscription. This could appeal to Apple's current subscribers looking to save money by paying for an all-in-one service instead of individual apps. And what could a fitness app maker do to compete with it? Or a music app? Third parties usually don't get the chance to bundle themselves into a high-quality package along with other top apps from unrelated industries unless the company runs those deals itself – as Spotify once did with Hulu.
Given that Apple is still being investigated for antitrust issues, it's pretty brave to launch such a bundle deal while hiring its competitors – rivals who have no other way of reaching iPhone audiences outside of the App Store .
Another new Apple service is getting the attention of family tracking apps. Although apps like Life360 have become an indispensable tool in the era of helicopter parents, Apple's new family setup aims to transform the kid-tracking industry through a different tactic: it's meant for families who don't have an iPhone yet to buy. Instead, Apple will attract new customers by making its Apple Watch – and especially the cheaper Apple Watch SE – the first Apple device for kids.
Children can use the most important features of the Apple Watch such as emergency SOS, cards, Siri, alarms, Memoji, Apple Pay and more, while parents can restrict who the child can call or send text messages. Until the child upgrades to iPhone and the wider world of apps that comes with it, families may not see a need for a third-party alternative for family safety. This means that kid trackers have to expand their offerings with functions that Apple does not offer, as Life360 does with its driving functions, such as: B. Crash detection or weekly driver reports.
Ongoing chaos around the TikTok ban
The TikTok ban is not easy. Like much of the executive's activities emanating from the current administration, a full order is given, but the details need to be worked out in an instant, creating chaos.
In the case of the TikTok deal and the potential US ban on the app, we learned earlier this week that China would rather ban TikTok than force it to sell, and that neither Oracle nor Microsoft would take over TikTok's US business. Microsoft reportedly upset TikTok owner ByteDance by calling the app a security risk and was banned from business. Later in the week, Oracle released a press release saying it was the technology partner for TikTok, and Walmart separately stated it was still involved.
Oh, and it appears that Instagram founder and former CEO Kevin Systrom was approached for the job of TikTok CEO. Mr.
What's happening now? The US government and ByteDance continue to negotiate on certain terms. Most recently, the US wants Oracle to agree to review the TikTok source code for Backdoors and ByteDance to create a new organization for its US operations with a US government-approved board and a licensing agreement for the TikTok -Complete algorithms. As theinformationsuperhighway reported, these terms raise the question of how TikTok can potentially further refine its algorithms in real time without having access to US TikTok user data, or when it needs to rebuild its infrastructure on Oracle, separate from a core product, that is being developed elsewhere. However, ByteDance has reportedly agreed to the government's terms and is also planning to go public for TikTok's global business.
On Friday, the trading division announced how it intends to enforce a shutdown, stating that both TikTok and WeChat, the other Chinese app affected by the ban, will no longer sell in US app stores as of September 20 TikTok is getting an expansion that will allow it to work until November 12th, when the parties try to work out the complicated deal. This deadline means the app will continue to work through the US elections, depending on how the terms are now worded. However, these can change at any time as this potential ban has so far progressed chaotically.
Although Instagram is one of TikTok's main competitors, it has spoken out against the ban that TikTok recently copied with its own feature, Reels. Instagram head Adam Mosseri said a U.S. ban on the app would be bad for the broader Internet, including companies like Facebook and Instagram. Vanessa Pappas, TikTok's interim CEO, then publicly asked him for help with his litigation.
We agree that this type of ban would be bad for the industry. We invite Facebook and Instagram to publicly join our challenge and support our litigation. This is a moment to put our competition aside and focus on core principles such as freedom of expression and due process.
– Vanessa Pappas (@v_ness) September 18, 2020
By the time you read this, several more updates on the TikTok deal may have been released. Stay tuned.
- The US government is reviewing Epic and Riot Games' contracts with Tencent. First TikTok and WeChat, then the whole list of Chinese investments in technology? The TikTok-Oracle partnership isn't even complete yet, but the US government is moving on to its next goals. The U.S. Foreign Investment Committee (CFIUS) has now sent letters to Epic, Riot, and other gambling companies inquiring about how they handle U.S. user's personal information because of their ties to Tencent in China. The Chinese giant has made over 300 investments, including in many of the world's leading gaming companies. (Jenny Leonard, Saleha Mohsin and David McLaughlin / Bloomberg)
- Google bans stalkerware from the Play Store. Apps that allow a user to track a person's location, movement, phone calls, or messages, and record the activities of other apps – a category commonly known as "stalkerware" – are marketed to those who track fraudulent spouses or their children want to spy on. Google has hosted hundreds of these apps so far. This week, the company updated its Developer Program Policy to require apps of this type to inform or obtain consent from the end user and display a permanent notification that their actions are being tracked. The updated policy also added other new restrictions, including misrepresentation and gambling. (Catalin Cimpanu / ZDNet)
- Tinder is restarting Swipe NightTinder claims the pandemic didn't affect business much. However, the company is working on adding video dating and is preparing another series of video series in its app – indications that Tinder's main focus these days isn't on helping users make real connections. (Tinder)
- Google has banned India's Paytm from the Play Store for gambling violations. Paytm is India's most valuable startup, claiming over 50 million MAUs. The app, a rival to Google Play, was removed from the Play Store in India this week. Paytm is alleged to have repeatedly violated the Play Store's guidelines on gambling. The app had recently launched Paytm Cricket League, which Google believed to violate the newly updated guidelines for gambling apps. The app returned to the store in a few hours. (Manish Singh / theinformationsuperhighway)
- YouTube launches a TikTok rival, Shorts. YouTube launched a new short video experience this week called YouTube Shorts. This feature will allow users initially in India to upload short videos 15 seconds or less in length using a new set of creation tools, including a multi-segment camera, similar to TikTok, speed control, a timer and a countdown function. The videos can also be set to music as YouTube has access to a large collection of songs that are said to keep growing over time. (Sarah Perez / theinformationsuperhighway)
- Apple calls Epic Games a bully in the latest court record. Apple attacked the game maker, saying Epic is following a "strategy of forcing platforms for its own benefit". Pot, kettle hit. (Stephen Warwick / iMore)
- Facebook Messenger adds "Watch Together". Facebook is joining the co-viewing trend with the introduction of a new feature that allows up to eight friends to view video together on a Messenger video call or up to 50 in the Messenger room using Facebook Watch integrations. (Sarah Perez / theinformationsuperhighway)
- Travel apps sent in the summer spend 30% on consumers. Despite the pandemic, global consumer spending on travel apps suggests that travel apps rose 30% in the summer months compared to the previous three months. Still, those previous months were at the height of the lockdown when almost no one went anywhere. This may not be as rosy a picture of recovery as you think. (Lexi Sydow / App Annie)
- Triller uses the TikTok drama for influencers on board. At theinformationsuperhighway Disrupt, Triller CEO Mike Lu spoke about the latest high profile additions, including influencers and public figures like TikTok star Charli D & # 39; Amelio and Family, Addison Rae and even Trump. (Sarah Perez / theinformationsuperhighway)
- The iOS 14 error is resetting Mail and Safari as the default apps. A mistake you say Okay, I believe you. (Chance Miller / 9to5Mac)
- Addicted to Loss: How Casino-Like Apps Drained Millions of People, by Cyrus Farivar, NBC News. The story deals with the casino app industry, which is almost entirely unregulated. The story features interviews with 21 people who loved these apps and lost significant sums of money.
- In-App Purchase Rules, by Marco Arment, Marco.org. In a blog post, Arment highlights how confused Apple's IAP rules have become by listing all of the exceptions Apple has worked out for itself over the years to justify its right to collect from all IAPs.
The Twitter app ($ 4.99) recently launched by Aviary is ready for iOS 14 and includes widgets for the home screen as well as support for multiple columns on the iPad.
A simple app is # 1 in the (non-game) app store because iOS users were clearly ready for widgets. The Color Widgets app lets you choose a color, font, and theme for a simple widget that shows the date, day of the week, time, and battery level. Isn't that pretty?