Welcome back this week In Apps, the Extra Crunch series, which summarizes the latest operating system news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.
According to App Annie's recently published State of Mobile annual report, the app industry is hotter than ever with a record 204 billion downloads in 2019 and $ 120 billion in consumer spending in 2019. People are now spending 3 hours and 40 minutes a day on apps that compete with television. Apps aren't just a way to spend idle time – they're big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had an overall valuation of $ 544 billion, 6.5 times higher than companies with no mobile focus.
In this extra crunch series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps that are delivered weekly.
This week we're looking at YouTube TV's decision to share revenue with Apple, another mobile voting app with fatal errors, new Apple encoding and AR launches, Microsoft's Project xCloud game streaming service for iOS, and other notable app -News and trends, including WhatsApp's huge milestone of 2 billion users and more.
YouTube TV is resisting Apple's cut in-app subscription earnings
This week, YouTube customers have emailed their YouTube TV service via Apple's in-app purchases to let them know that this subscription offer will end on March 13, 2020. Current subscribers have automatically canceled their subscription on their billing date. After March 13, the letter said.
This is a pretty serious way for Google to end subscription sharing with Apple. Most companies that choose to subscribe to in-app subscriptions continue to honor those of existing subscribers – they simply stop selling to new customers. In the case of YouTube TV, the relationship with all customers on Apple devices is actually ended in the hope that they will return and log in again. This is quite a risk since YouTube TV is not the only streaming TV service and customers whose subscription is canceled can take this opportunity to look around. The timing is also poorly thought out since YouTube TV just added new submarines after Sony shutdown of PlayStation Vue – and now they're being kicked out.
This makes Google the youngest company to rebel against Apple's 30% cut in all in-app payments (which will drop to 15% in the second year). A growing number of app publishers are refusing to share a cut in their revenue with Apple – and even say that Apple's decision to charge this fee is anti-competitive. For example, Spotify believes that Apple's fee makes it more difficult to compete with Apple's integrated music service, and has repeatedly raised the issue with regulators. Netflix also stopped paying Apple tax over a year ago.
The Voatz mobile voting app, which was used by several countries, was filled with security gaps
Above: Voatz on The NYT
Last week we looked at how a smartphone app was designed to tabulate voices from meetings, which really screwed things up in Iowa. This week, MIT researchers took a look at the Vatz mobile voting app, which used votes for federal elections as part of various mobile voting pilot programs in parts of West Virginia, Oregon, Utah and Washington. The researchers found that the app was subject to security vulnerabilities that allowed attackers to monitor votes, or even change ballots or block them without users' knowledge. Attackers could also create a dirty paper path that makes reliable checking impossible – despite Voatz’s promise to use blockchain technology to increase security. A security expert who spoke to VICE called the app "sloppy" and full of "elementary" errors.
This latest news follows the mobile voting disaster in Iowa and is another blow to the promise of mobile voting in the United States.