Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the theinformationsuperhighway series, which rounds up the latest operating system news, the applications 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.
Two big stories dominated the news this week: Apple Fight for a sale with Fortnite manufacturer Epic Games and TikTok's negotiations with leading US technology companies. In the earlier story, Microsoft unexpectedly came to the aid of Epic Games in court.
Meanwhile, TikTok deal talks are happening quickly as both Oracle and Microsoft names have become top contenders. But this week we also saw Walmart join the talks. Yes, Walmart!
One has to wonder if the TikTok that emerges from such an acquisition will even be the TikTok that people enjoy using today, what with all of these new corporate synergies that come into play.
Apple is getting petty in the battle with Epic Games
Sorry Apple, but this doesn't look good.
On Friday, the $ 2 trillion company took its battle with Fortnite maker Epic Games to a whole new level. Just as Fortnite for iOS and Mac was officially banned from issuing updates to its apps, Apple featured Fortnite's top competitor PUBG Mobile in an editorial story on the Today tab in the App Store. Apple's Twitter account on the App Store was also released about the new era of PUBG Mobile.
This is not a coincidence, but a conscious decision by Apple to demonstrate its market power. That means: if you don't want to abide by our rules, that's fine. Instead, we only give business to your competitor. The provision in the App Store leads to downloads for an app, with the help of which an app can find new users and reconnect with existing ones.
Apple made its point, but it sure was an ugly way of doing it.
Surprisingly, Microsoft sponsored Epic Games this week. Microsoft GM on the experience of game developer Kevin Gammill sent a letter to the court saying that Apple's attempt to cut ties with Epic would harm game developers. Microsoft uses Epic's Unreal Engine for its own title "Forza Street". However, the company knows the damage Apple can do to the gaming industry if Epic can no longer work on Unreal Engine by deactivating its Apple developer account.
If there's a battle between the games industry and Apple, Microsoft will likely take the game developer side these days. After all, Microsoft is in the gaming business and its own cloud gaming service xCloud has been banned from the App Store, as has Google's Stadia. Apple's decision not to allow cloud gaming is anti-consumer and quite unpopular.
The judge in the Apple v Epic case earlier this week gave Epic Games an injunction against Apple, however, to prevent Apple from taking revenge on Epic Games by blocking the company's Unreal Engine. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers also fined Apple for moving, saying Epic and Apple were free to argue against each other, but "their argument should not cause chaos to bystanders."
It becomes pretty clear that Apple's way of running the App Store is not just a set of rules, but also a way for Apple to control other companies and even limit their growth. Apple's ban on cloud games appears to be a way for Apple to protect its own gaming business at the expense of competitors. In the meantime, a patent announces that Apple is working on its own cloud gaming system. Yikes
Unfortunately, in battles of this size, we don't exactly have a hero left to lean on. Epic Games is not an indie outsider being knocked down by the big guy. It's the big guy. Microsoft is fine too. And when Facebook complains that Apple wouldn't let its gaming app in the store, or when it declines the Facebook app to let users know about Apple's 30% cut, it's easy enough to shrug it off twitch and move on. Oh poor Facebook is not a feeling people can feel these days.
However, it's important to remember that Apple does the smaller ones to these big people too. We already saw that at the base camp Hey Debakel. More recently, Apple rejected the free, open source WordPress app from the App Store because Apple's in-app purchase system was not added and some web views of the app could lead to information about WordPress' pricing plans.
Find out why @ WordPressiOS updates weren't there. We have been banned from the App Store. In order to be able to send updates and bug fixes again, we had to commit to support in-app purchases for .com plans. I know why this is problematic, open to suggestions. Allow other IAP? New name?
– Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt) August 21, 2020
The problem has been fixed and Apple even apologized, but it's clear that something is very, very broken in the App Store. And the ultimate loser is the consumer.
In Steve Jobs' time, GV General Partner was M.G. Siegler recently pointed out in a blog post that Apple believed in its App Store and payment systems would win on their own, not because they were forced. In Jobs' own words: “Our philosophy is simple: If Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 percent share. If the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher retains 100 percent and Apple earns nothing. "
How times have changed
TikTok approaches US deal and loses CEO
TikTok is busy. On Monday, the world's largest app sued the US government over Trump's executive order, claiming it was enacted without evidence and due process. Meanwhile, Vietnamese tech company VNG was suing TikTok over music licensing issues, and the UK began preparing state restrictions on TikTok's activities. TikTok is also still trying to work out a deal that will allow its app to return to India.
Things got worse and worse on Thursday when Kevin Mayer, CEO of TikTok, stepped down. The former Disney manager had joined the social network a little over 100 days ago but said this was not the job he signed up for. His hiring now seems increasingly to be a path many had always suspected – a way for TikTok's Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to point out Americans in leadership positions at TikTok to reassure US regulators about their business.
Mayer was reportedly banned from negotiations to sell TikTok, which were instead led by ByteDance founder and CEO Zhang Yiming. Mayer is said to be leaving TikTok as part of a planned sale as his role would no longer exist. However, the CEO's sudden departure is bad for morale at a time when TikTok's very existence in the U.S. market remains in question.
In the meantime, the question of who is talking to TikTok would be easier to answer and who isn't. Only Apple announced that it wasn't interested. Microsoft and Oracle have partnered in the days since Trump's E.O. Oracle is reportedly nearing a $ 20 billion deal. But this week, Walmart also showed interest in TikTok, which partnered with Microsoft before attempting to team up with Alphabet and SoftBank first. Walmart … really. It envisions that it could sell to customers on the platform and expand its advertising business.
- Apple releases new betas. Apple's sixth developer betas for iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14 were rolled out this week, as were the latest public betas for iOS and iPadOS. The company typically releases its software updates in September, so they're nearing the final releases.
- Facebook and Instagram expand the shopping functions. Facebook launched a new "Shop" section on its app this week that aims to redirect Facebook users to the storefronts of sellers without leaving Facebook, much like Instagram. Instagram also began testing live shopping, which allows businesses to showcase content in live video. Dozens of live video shopping startups will be hit by the new competition.
- YouTube is testing the picture-in-picture mode on iOS. But will supporting the feature affect YouTube's ability to sell subscriptions to those who want access to background games?
- Will ever shut down the app after facial recognition technology is created using customer data. Cloud Photo Storage App Ever shuts down. The company was the subject of an NBC news report last year that it was found that Ever had used its customers' photos to develop facial recognition technology, which it flipped and put for sale through the Ever API for business customers including law enforcement and the United States had military. Unfortunately, this illegal business lives on and is renamed Paravision.
- Amazon launches a fitness band and app called Halo. The service is initially being sold for a six-month membership for $ 64.99. Oh, are we trusting Amazon with our health data now?
- Facebook warns that Apple's upcoming restrictions on ad tracking will severely affect app developers' ability to target ads. The company states that campaigns to install mobile apps without targeting and personalization resulted in 50% less revenue for publishers and expects the impact on the Audience Network to be even greater on iOS 14. Consumers who are tired of being followed all over the internet will be fine with this. Facebook will be fine too. Small startups that used targeted ads to save themselves having to pay tons more impressions to reach their desired audience.
- The Android security bug allows malicious apps to get user data. Google confirmed that the bug was fixed in March after a security researcher reported it.
- LaunchNotes raised $ 1.8 million Launch round to help companies better communicate their software updates. No more "bug fixes and performance improvements".
- Berlin-based Delivery Hero acquired InstaShop for $ 360 million. The latter is based in Dubai and has half a million users in five markets.
- Unity files are published. Rivaling Epic Games' Unreal Engine with its own Unity Game Engine, Unity claims its engine supports more than half of the top games on mobile, PC and consoles, and 53% of the top 1000 games on iOS and Android . Unsurprisingly, his numbers look strong.
Bingie helps you find new things to look at.
Bingie wants to turn friends' Netflix referrals into a more structured experience. With the app for streamer they can meet with friends to discuss, discover and exchange recommendations for different services. The app looks nice, but overlooks the fact that not all friend groups have common interests. It would be interesting to see how it expands to include other fans like TV Time deals in a later update. Bingie is free on iOS. Read the full review on theinformationsuperhighway.
Firefox Daylight for Android
Mozilla released Firefox 79 for Android, also known as Firefox Daylight, this week after more than a year of development. The new browser is faster and completely redesigned and offers a new user interface, Mozilla's GeckoView browser engine, extended tracking protection, a private mode (based on the Firefox Focus privacy browser), new bookmarking tools, support for add-ons and much more .
Flipboard goes into the video
The Flipboard news magazine app has been around for years, but the latest update brings a big change. With the app, users can now follow video content from hundreds of publishers including national / global news outlets, local news and (carefully screened) indie producers. Users can even create their own video-only collections to keep up with the latest news in the form of videos, or they can add video-only feeds to existing magazines. Publishers can also add videos to their static summaries called storyboards. Flipboard TV, as the new feature is called, was previously exclusive to Samsung. Now the ad-supported version is available to everyone.