Published On: Sun, Jul 26th, 2020

This Week in Apps: Apple argues for commissions, ‘Find My’ NDA, Alexa to open apps

Welcome behind to This Week in Apps, a TechCrunch series* that recaps a latest OS news, a applications they support and a income that flows by it all.

The app attention is as prohibited as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019. People are now spending 3 hours and 40 mins per day regulating apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t usually a proceed to pass idle hours — they’re a vast business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a total $544 billion valuation, 6.5x aloft than those though a mobile focus.

In this series, we assistance we keep adult with a latest news from a universe of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

* This Week in Apps was formerly accessible usually to Extra Crunch subscribers. We’re now creation these reports accessible to all TechCrunch readers.  

Let’s dive in.


Top Story: Apple doubles down on a right to take a 30% cut

app store idol 2

Image Credits: TechCrunch

Ahead of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s testimony before Congress, Apple on Thursday again took to a press to quarrel behind opposite claims of anti-competitive practices on a App Store.

Last month, a association minute a formula of a consecrated investigate that showed how Apple wasn’t receiving a cut of income on a infancy of App Store exchange — $519 billion in commerce. This time, Apple is touting a formula of another investigate by a same researcher organisation that is meant to denote how Apple’s App Store elect rate is identical to those of other app stores and digital calm marketplaces.

The investigate exhaustingly compares a App Store’s 30% elect to all other forms of storefronts, online and off. This includes other app stores, diversion stores, e-commerce marketplaces, digital platforms and even brick-and-mortar retail. Apple’s end is that it’s not doing anything opposite from a others, so what’s a vast deal?

Of course, this misses a point. The antitrust issues surrounding Apple’s App Store are not about either Apple is charging more than other digital marketplaces. It’s about either that elect structure is opposition competition, given Apple’s size, resources and power.

As indie developer Brent Simmons (of NetNewsWire) put it this week, a cut boundary developers’ ability to sinecure and keep talent.

To an app on a App Store it competence meant being means to reduce prices — or sinecure a engineer or a integrate youth developers. It competence be a disproportion between abandoning an app and removing into a usually turn where a app thrives.

Quality costs money, and profitability is usually elementary arithmetic: anything that affects income — such as Apple’s cut — goes into that equation.

To put it in petrify terms: a disproportion between 30% and something reasonable like 10% would substantially have meant some of my friends would still have their jobs during Omni, and Omni would have some-more resources to persevere to making, testing, and ancillary their apps.

Apple’s opening of ‘Find My’ to third-parties isn’t as good as it seems

5 find my

Image Credits: Apple

Apple announced during WWDC 2020 that third-party developers, like Tile, would be means to daub into Apple’s “Find My” record height to locate mislaid equipment and gadgets that aren’t done by Apple. The pierce was meant to negate Tile’s ongoing complaints and testimony to U.S. antitrust investigators that Apple adored a first-party services during a responsibility of competitors’ businesses.

Tile was quite endangered over Apple’s skeleton to announce a proceed competitor, AirTags, that would be authorised to precedence a “Find My” record during a deeper level. The pierce could potentially have wiped out Tile’s business with a improved product — during slightest from a consumer standpoint.

The Washington Post reported this week that Apple’s opening of “Find My” is not a olive bend it seems, however. The announcement acquired a 50-page confidentially agreement that all developers would have to sign, that indicates there are a lot of restrictions on how this formation works. For instance, Apple business regulating “Find My” to locate a device will be barred from regulating competing services simultaneously, a request said. This is an surprising limitation — and one that makers of Bluetooth inclination and intelligent home products don’t have to determine to for their possess products.

Amazon turns Alexa into a mobile app launcher

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

How mostly do we consider Amazon kicks itself over a smartphone failures? Given that a association hasn’t been means to contest directly on mobile, it’s anticipating another angle by proceed of Alexa. Amazon this week announced a brood of new developer collection for a Alexa practical assistant, including one that will concede a digital supporter to launch iOS and Android apps regulating voice commands.

For example, you’d be means to contend things like, “Alexa, start recording a TikTok,” or “Alexa, ask Twitter to hunt for #BLM.”

It’s misleading how many developers would adopt usually a feature, outward of those that already offer one of a some-more renouned Alexa skills. After all, Siri and Google Assistant can already launch and control your apps.

While Amazon is expected anticipating that restraining Alexa to a universe of mobile apps could give it some movement in terms of building an app ecosystem of a own, consumers so distant have seemed to mostly cite regulating Alexa for first-party activities, like personification music, listening to news, determining a intelligent home, seeking pointless questions, creation lists, environment reminders and more.

The move, however, might spirit that Amazon is meditative about building out a mobile app ecosystem for a Alexa inclination with a screen, like stirring versions of a Echo Show, for example.

Apple releases beta 3 builds of iOS 14, iPadOS 14

Testers this week perceived their third set of iOS 14 developer betas, as a module moves closer to a tumble launch date. Beyond a common bug fixes and opening improvements, usually tiny changes were speckled this time around. This includes a new Music app icon, widget and a ability to share song to Snapchat; a new widget from a Clock app; a new pop-up when organizing a home shade that explains how to censor pages; a new pop-up when we use widgets for a initial time; an updated pattern for Memoji masks; and more.

Facebook takes on Zoom with a latest Messenger Rooms update

Image Credits: Facebook

Facebook this week announced a new underline that it hopes will give it a improved shot during severe Zoom’s prevalence on web conferencing that came about due to a pandemic. The association upgraded a Messenger Rooms organisation calls height to support a ability to live promote calls to platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitch — a pierce that effectively total Facebook’s live-streaming capabilities with organisation video chat. Facebook incited around a underline in a comparatively brief time, given it has usually been a matter of months given Zoom has unequivocally taken off. That indicates Facebook understands a hazard of online plead and socializing exiting a platform.

The idea with a new further is to make it easier to promote to amicable platforms, to inspire users to return. Even if they arrive in sequence to promote to competitors’ sites, like YouTube, a association understands that adding Facebook to a list of destinations will boost a outlay of live broadcasts on a possess platform.

In addition, Facebook also this week announced that Messenger now lets we secure your chats with Touch ID or Face ID on iOS. Why don’t some-more apps offer this feature?

TikTok unveils a $200M account to behind U.S. creators, as it scrambles for a “Plan B”

LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 01: A ubiquitous perspective of a atmosphere during a TikTok US launch jubilee during NeueHouse Hollywood on Aug 1, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

As a U.S. supervision weighs a anathema on a Chinese-headquartered app over remoteness concerns, a association announced skeleton to sinecure 10,000 employees opposite a U.S. over a subsequent 3 years and launched a $200 million account to deposit in new creators. The new account is directed during assisting tip creators in a U.S. addition their earnings, and potentially find a subsequent vast TikTok star in a process. The height will start usurpation applications from U.S.-based creators starting subsequent month and will afterwards discharge a collateral over a entrance year.

Meanwhile, TikTok primogenitor association ByteDance continues to plead a operation of other options to keep a renouned and essential app alive in a U.S. The latest, according to The Information, is one that would have a tiny organisation of a company’s U.S. investors fasten army to buy a infancy interest in TikTok.

The U.S supervision — and quite a Trump administration — continues to be doubtful about TikTok’s China ties. This week, a U.S. House voted to anathema sovereign employees from regulating a app on government-issued devices. The opinion upheld 336-71, as partial of a package of bipartisan amendments to a National Defense Authorization Act.

Robinhood ends devise for a U.K. launch

Image Credits: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg around Getty Images

Mobile investing app Robinhood pronounced this week it would not be rising in a U.K., as planned. The association pronounced it was now going to reason off on a tellurian enlargement skeleton to instead concentration a efforts in a home market, a U.S. The association had already perceived over 250,000 sign-ups on a U.K. waitlist, that it says will now be deleted in line with internal remoteness laws. The association pronounced it will send 10 U.K. employees to a U.S., though others will be let go.

The app has been some-more recently confronting critique in a U.S. for how it lures in young, fresh traders who afterwards buy and sell some of a riskiest financial products on a marketplace — during rates aloft than other sell brokerage firms. With a hip and childish pattern and amicable app-like features, such as confetti and emoji, Robinhood can make investing feel some-more like a game, The NYT reported in a new feature. But a existence is that these fresh users are holding some-more suppositional risks, infrequently with harmful results. One Robinhood user killed himself after saying his change dump to disastrous $730,000 — a figure that was higher, in part, due to some of his deficient trades.

Google has a possess ‘Onavo’

Image Credits: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg around Getty Images

Google currently already allows Android app developers to collect use information from inclination where their app is installed, so it comes as no warn that Google was doing this itself, too. The Information suggested Google’s module that allows it to entrance use information on any device that has a Google apps pre-installed. Similar to Facebook’s Onavo, a information wasn’t usually used to make improvements to Android, though was also used as a rival advantage.

According to a report, Google had used a information to uncover how Google’s possess services compared to rivals. This is what Facebook had used Onavo for, too — even leveraging those learnings to surprise a merger strategy. APIs aren’t a usually proceed vast tech companies collect information on smartphone user habits. App comprehension firms like App Annie and Sensor Tower yield identical information to customers, performed by a series of apps that downplay their loyal purpose, though unequivocally offer as information collection machines.

Data collection like this has been underway for years, though with a antitrust investigations now underway, a time might have come for regulators to indeed do something about it.

Funding and MA

  • Fintech startup Meemo came out of secrecy and launched a amicable financial app with $10 million in seed funding. Investors including Saama Capital, Greycroft, Monashees and Sierra Ventures led a turn with additional appearance from Amit Singhal, Hans Tung and several former colleagues from Google and Snap.
  • Swiss keyboard startup Typewise raises $1 million seed turn to build a “privacy-safe” subsequent word prophecy engine that works wholly offline. The turn consists of $700,000 from some-more than a dozen internal business angels; and $340,000 around a Swiss supervision by a resource same to a investigate grant.
  • China’s Missfresh raises $495 million for a e-grocery app with low WeChat integrations. The turn was led by state-backed China International Capital Corporation. Other investors enclosed ICBC International Securities, Tencent, Abu Dhabi Capital Group, Tiger Global and a account managed by a supervision of Changshu county, home to Missfresh’s easterly China headquarters
  • Levitate raises $6 million for a “keep-in-touch” email selling solution for tiny business that works opposite web and mobile. Investors embody Tippet Venture Partners, Durham, North Carolina-based Bull City Venture Partners and angel financier Peter Gassner, a co-founder and CEO of Veeva Systems and financier in Zoom



Image Credits: Dilims

This beautifully designed indie iOS app called Dilims lets we arrangement opposite time zones on one screen, and even name them with aliases or perspective them as a widget. The elementary single-purpose application is useful for anyone who has to work with teams or clients opposite time zones, and wants an easier proceed to see what time it is and where. For $2, that’s kind of a steal, too.

Dark Noise 2

Image Credits: Dark Noise

If we like to play ambient sound to assistance we focus, nap or usually relax, you’ll wish to check out Dark Noise 2. This ambient sound app for iOS usually got a vast update, that adds new sounds, new icons and introduces iCloud syncing. Plus, it now allows we to emanate your possess tradition brew of ambient sounds so we can chill to a sounds of sleet during a beach, for example, or whatever else we wish to blend. The app is $5.99 on a App Store. 

Further Reading (and Listening)

  • Apple Kills IDFA: How Will a Fallout Really Affect Marketers?: Dig into a implications of a IDFA changes in a latest part of a Mobile Presence podcast, in a contention with Shamanth Rao, maestro expansion marketer and CEO of RocketShip HQ, a full-service mobile user merger agency.
  • What Ever Happened to Digital Contact Tracing?: Lawfare takes a demeanour during how a contact-tracing app landscape is moulding up, given a disappearance of hit tracing apps from a headlines. Though Apple and Google’s API was meant to inspire any nation to build their possess apps, a U.S. has instead taken a patchwork proceed due to a fractured response to COVID-19. Today, there are a handful states with their possess apps, and usually some that devise to use Apple and Google’s technology. Many states have no skeleton for an app during all, branch instead to human-led agreement tracing efforts.
  • Designed for iPad: What creates a good iPad app today? These things, says LookUp Design in a courteous post.

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