Published On: Wed, Dec 16th, 2020

This Week in Apps: Apple scolds adtech, Facebook strike with antitrust suits, Twitter buys Squad

Welcome behind to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch array that recaps a latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and a altogether app economy.

The app attention is as prohibited as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in tellurian consumer spend in 2019. Not including third-party Chinese app stores, iOS and Android users downloaded 130 billion apps in 2020. Consumer spend also strike a record $112 billion opposite iOS and Android alone. In 2019, people spent 3 hours and 40 mins per day regulating apps, rivaling TV. Due to COVID-19, time spent in apps jumped 25% year-over-year on Android.

Apps aren’t usually a approach to pass idle hours — they’re also a large business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x aloft than those though a mobile focus.

Apple defends a consumer remoteness moves

Image Credits: Apple

Apple SVP Craig Federighi took aim during a adtech attention in a debate to European lawmakers this week, where he downplayed and discharged a attention recoil opposite a stirring app tracking changes as “outlandish” and even “false.” He pronounced that online tracking is privacy’s biggest plea and that Apple’s stirring App Tracking Transparency (ATT) is a front-line of defense.

“The mass centralization of information puts remoteness during risk — no matter who’s collecting it and what their intentions competence be,” Federighi said, reiterating that Apple directed to have as small information on a business as possible.

This has been a company’s line to date, and it’s not indispensably a whole truth. Apple has so distant characterized a preference to concede consumers to opt-out of being tracked as one that’s usually focused on consumer privacy. It positions Apple as consumers’ savior and a usually one fighting for a privacy. But a changes are also an instance of Apple leveraging a height power, potentially in an anticompetitive way, to give itself a chair during a list of a multi-billion-dollar marketplace currently dominated by a competitors Google and Facebook.

In this case, Apple is inserting itself in a universe of mobile promotion by forcing a change from IDFA to a possess SKAdNetwork, that boundary a individualized information advertisers can access. This is good for consumers who don’t wish to be targeted and tracked usually since they’re regulating an app. Publishers, however, have argued they won’t be means to assign as most for ads where users opted out of tracking. This could have a snowball outcome of spiteful ad-supported businesses over a tech giants like Facebook.

Meanwhile, Apple does get to collect a lot of consumer information that it uses to personalize ads. Its possess App Store and Apple News apps personalize ads unless consumers opt out in their iPhone’s Settings (and not by a frightful pop-up warning like third-party apps have to display). Apple says what it does in terms of personalization doesn’t count as “tracking” since it doesn’t share a information with others or follow business around websites and apps.

But as Apple moves into a possess services businesses, a volume of information that can be used to personalize a possess ads grows. Today, Apple’s ad targeting complement includes users in segments formed on a music, books, TV shows and apps they download, as good as in-app purchases and subscriptions. It also marks users as they hunt a app hunt with keywords and daub to examination App Store stories, and marks plcae if accede has been postulated to Apple News or a App Store.

Apple takes aim during adtech violence over iOS app tracking change

In associated news, Facebook-owned WhatsApp criticized Apple’s stirring remoteness tag mandate this week, observant that a labels are anti-competitive since they won’t request to first-party apps, like iMessage, that come pre-installed on iPhones. WhatsApp also argued that they don’t concede companies to share adequate sum about a measures they’re holding to strengthen consumer data.

Apple responded by observant labels for a possess apps will be on a website for those apps not distributed by a App Store.

Facebook antitrust lawsuits

Image Credits: TechCrunch

Forty-eight attorneys ubiquitous opposite 46 states, a domain of Guam and a District of Columbia have filed an antitrust lawsuit that accuses Facebook of suppressing a foe by monopolistic business practices. The states are seeking a justice to curb Facebook from creation serve acquisitions in additional of $10 million though notifying a plaintiffs, and is seeking for additional relief, including “the divestiture or restructuring of illegally acquired companies, or stream Facebook resources or business lines.”

The FTC also voted to pursue a possess antitrust fit opposite Facebook during a sovereign level.

While a lawsuits are most incomparable than an app story alone, they do have a intensity to impact a app ecosystem if a plaintiffs prevail, as they ask for a acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, and maybe others, to be retroactively judged to be bootleg and divested. This would concede for increasing foe among a amicable app market, where Facebook leverages a energy to contend a widespread position. For instance, Facebook usually integrated a messaging height with Instagram’s, definition users can now summary friends opposite dual of a largest amicable platforms around usually one app — possibly Messenger or Instagram. WhatsApp could be integrated in a future, as well.

FTC seeks to mangle adult Facebook, alleging bootleg monopoly

Twitter buys Squad

Image Credits: Twitter

Twitter on Friday announced a merger of a screen-sharing amicable app Squad. The startup’s co-founders, CEO Esther Crawford and CTO Ethan Sutin, along with a rest of Squad’s organisation will be fasten Twitter’s design, engineering and product departments. The Squad app, that had heavily relied on Snap’s Snap Kit developer tools, will close down.

Twitter might be shuttering Periscope as well, formula reveals, that leaves some wondering what Twitter’s skeleton are in terms of streamlining a services. The association has some-more recently been experimenting with a possess chronicle of Stories, aka Fleets, and an audio-based networking product for organisation conversations.

Twitter app formula indicates that live video broadcasting app Periscope might get close down

Platforms: Apple

  • Reminder: Apple’s App Store Holiday shutdown is coming. The App Store will not accept new apps and app updates from Dec 23-27 (Pacific Time) for a annual holiday break.
  • Reminder: App remoteness questions requirement starts Dec 8.
  • The iOS 14.3 Release Candidate arrives, adding support for a new ProRAW print format on iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, a new Apple TV+ add-on that creates it easier to find Apple’s Originals, readies a height for Fitness+, and creates a change to bypass rising a Shortcuts app when regulating tradition app icons, among other things.
  • Apple Watch Family Setup arrives in Canada on Dec 14.
  • Apple Fitness+ launches Dec 14.

Apple Fitness+ launches on Dec 14

Platforms: Google

Image Credits: Google

  • Google is operative on an desirous plan to urge GPS correctness in apps. In unenlightened civic areas, it’s mostly tough to get an accurate GPS reading — heading to issues like wrong-side-of-the-street and even wrong-city-block errors, that severely impact ridesharing and navigation apps. Google’s new resolution uses 3D mapping-aided corrections, comprised of 3D building models, tender GPS measurements and appurtenance learning. Its Pixel Feature Drop in Dec adds these corrections to Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a (5G), that Google says will revoke wrong-side-of-street occurrences by approximately 75%. Other Android phones (Android 8+) have chronicle 1 implemented in a FLP (Fused Location Provider API), that reduces those occurrences by around 50%. Version 2 will be accessible to a whole Android ecosystem (Android 8 or later) in early 2021.
  • Google Play Pass arrives in 7 new countries, including pivotal Latin American markets. The subscription-based apps and games use came to Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Russia and Saudi Arabia. This brings a sum series of markets where a use is live to 42.
  • Google’s Pixel Feature Drop adds Adaptive Sound, Hold for Me (where Google Assistant waits on reason for you), Extreme Battery Saver Mode, shade pity on Duo calls and more.


Image Credits: Microsoft

  • Microsoft confirms a Xbox cloud gaming use will launch on iOS in 2021. However, a association will lane around a App Store manners by bringing a use to a iPhone and iPad in a web browser. This cuts Apple out of any revenues a diversion use can generate. Amazon’s Luna and Google’s Stadia are also formulation to use a web browser on iOS to equivocate a App Store. 
  • Google’s cloud gaming use Stadia is rolling out YouTube live streaming, permitting gamers to share their gameplay to YouTube. 
  • Apple asks for Epic Games’ Fortnite lawsuit in Australia to be thrown out since Epic had betrothed to settle disputes and lawsuit in a U.S. District Court for a Northern District of California.

Xbox cloud gaming entrance to iOS and PC in open 2021

Government and policy

  • The U.S. National Weather Service usually saw a record year of weather-related disasters like a busiest Atlantic whirly deteriorate on record and California’s wildfires. Now a organisation says it’s regulating out of Internet bandwidth and will need to throttle a volume of data a clients and users can access. The pierce would impact continue consumers who get their continue from apps on their smartphones, as most of a forecasts and alerts they accept are formed on Weather Service outlay and data.
  • California’s CA Notify contact-tracing app for COVID-19 now reaches a full state. The app uses Apple and Google’s bearing presentation API.
  • Cydia files anti-competition lawsuit opposite Apple. Third-party App Store builder Cydia, home to jailbreak apps that mostly combined functionality over what Apple available by a terms, is suing Apple for regulating anticompetitive means to destroy a opposition app store. There are good examples of how denying third-party app stores a home on iOS might have been anticompetitive, though Cydia’s lawsuit might not be it. The store in a early days distributed pirated apps, not usually those that fell outward Apple’s rules.

California’s CA Notify app to offer statewide bearing presentation regulating Apple and Google’s framework

Augmented reality

Image Credits: Instagram

  • Instagram partnered with museums in a U.S. and France, including a Smithsonian, Palace of Versailles and Le Grand Palais, to move AR versions of their exhibits to a camera’s AR effects lineup.
  • Snap partnered with a Los Angeles County Museum of Art on a multi-year protracted existence project, “LACMA x Snapchat: Monumental Perspectives.” The beginning will span internal artists selected by a museum to emanate site-specific monuments and murals that can be noticed in AR in a Snapchat app.

E-commerce food delivery

Image Credits: Instagram

  • Instagram launches selling in Reels, a TikTok rival. The underline is now one of many ways users can emporium around video, including by video in Feed, Stories, Live and IGTV. Facebook Pay powers checkout for many sellers, permitting Instagram to beget income by transaction fees.
  • WhatsApp adds carts to make selling easier. Facebook-owned WhatsApp combined a new selling underline that lets consumers buy mixed equipment from a business, and creates it easier for sellers to lane orders.
  • DoorDash shares popped 92% in their trade entrance to strech as high as $195.50 after raising $3.37 billion during a IPO.
  • E-commerce app Wish to cost IPO between $22-$24 per share during adult to $14 billion valuation.

Wish wants to be a Amazon for a rest of us; will sell investors buy it?


  • Robinhood is losing thousands of day traders to China-owned Webull, reports Bloomberg. Founded by Alibaba alum Wang Anquan, Webull has increasing brokerage clients by 10x in 2020 to strech some-more than 2 million by charity giveaway batch trades. Robinhood has 13 million, for comparison. Webull is approaching to lift a turn from private U.S. investors and enhance into roboadvisor services.


Image credits: Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for WIRED25

  • Vacation let app Airbnb began trade this week on open markets. After lifting a range, a association non-stop during $146 per share on Thursday, some-more than double a $68 IPO cost and valuing a association during over $100 billion. The batch sealed during scarcely $145.
  • China’s Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) announced it was banning 105 mobile apps for violating Chinese regulations. The infancy of a apps were finished by Chinese developers though a U.S.-based transport engagement and examination site Tripadvisor was also on a anathema list, causing a shares to drop. Tripadvisor works in partnership with Nasdaq-listed Chinese transport organisation (previously called Ctrip).

Airbnb’s first-day cocktail caps off a stellar week for tech IPOs

Social Photos

Image Credits: Twitter

  • Snap and Twitter worked together to make it probable for users to post their tweets to Snapchat by a native integration instead of screenshots. When Twitter users who are logged into Snapchat now share a chatter regulating a Snapchat idol from a share piece in Twitter, they’ll be means to share, conflict or criticism on a post, afterwards send it to a Snapchat crony or post to their Story. The underline is live on iOS with Android in a works.
  • Triller says it can strech 250 million users by partnerships with Samsung and others. The app, that hosted a Pay Per View fighting compare between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. this year, is formulation some-more events for 2021, including a unison with K-pop organisation Blackpink.
  • A second sovereign decider manners opposite a Trump administration’s TikTok ban, observant a supervision “likely exceeded IEEPA’s [the International Emergency Economic Powers Act] demonstrate stipulations as partial of an organisation movement that was erratic and capricious.”
  • Instagram partnered for a initial time with lyrics site Genius on “Lyric Reels,” a arrange of movement of Spotify’s “Behind a Lyrics” feature. The further will see artists mangle down their songs’ lyrics and meanings. Participants embody Megan Thee Stallion​, ​24kGoldn and ​Tate McRae.
  • Tinder creates it easier to news bad actors who use “unmatch” to censor from victims. Rival Bumble had usually finished a same. But in Tinder’s implementation, it’s usually creation it some-more apparent how to entrance a assistance support while Bumble had enclosed a symbol for stating users who had already unmatched you.
  • Google’s Photos can now sync your “Liked” images with Apple’s Photos use on iOS.

Tinder creates it easier to news bad actors regulating ‘unmatch’ to censor from victims

Streaming entertainment

  • Netflix’s StreamFest, a giveaway hearing weekend in India, increased installs by 200% week-over-week, reaching approximately 3.6 million tellurian installs, reports Sensor Tower.
  • Stitcher, recently acquired by SiriusXM, revamped a app for a initial time in years. The new chronicle offers a dedicated “My Podcasts” tab, improved hunt filters, outcome sorting, user-curated groups of shows and more.
  • HBO Max is fastest-growing SVOD in U.S. According to Apptopia, a app strike a lifetime high for daily downloads 3 days after a debut, during 225,000. Since a May launch, DAUs have grown 242%.
  • Spotify had to reset an undisclosed series of user passwords after a program disadvantage unprotected private comment information to a business partners, including things like “email address, your elite arrangement name, password, gender, and date of birth.”

Spotify resets passwords after a confidence bug unprotected users’ private comment information

Health fitness

  • Nike Run Club app adds home shade widgets for iOS 14+. The widgets can uncover your Run Level, post-run swell and make it easier to start your subsequent run.


  • Google Drive users on iOS and Android will be means to see and re-run desktop and mobile searches; perspective and name intelligent selections as they type, including suggestions for people, past searches, keywords and recently accessed files. 

Image Credits: Calm

  • Meditation app Calm raises $75 million some-more during $2 billion valuation, in a turn led by before financier Lightspeed Venture Partners.
  • Twitter buys video app Squad. (see above) 
  • AI financial partner Cleo raises $44 million Series B, led by EQT Ventures. The app and chatbot directed during Gen Z connects to bank accounts to give active recommendation and timely nudges.
  • Mexican challenger banking app albo raises $45 million to enhance into lending and word products.
  • Sweden’s MTG acquires mobile racing diversion studio Hutch Games, formed in London, for adult to $375 million. The studio produces titles like Rebel Racing, F1 Manager and Top Drives.

MTG acquires mobile racing diversion studio Hutch Games for adult to $375 million

  • Seattle’s Freespira raises $10 million for a healing device for panic attacks PTSD that worked with a connected app and exclusive software.
  • Banking app for teenagers GoHenry raises $40 million to build out a business in a U.S. and U.K.
  • Retail faithfulness app Fetch Rewards raises $80 million Series C led by Iconiq Growth. The app offers rewards to users who indicate their profits after shopping.
  • Pear Therapeutics raises $80 million in a turn led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2. The association creates medication apps directed during treating piece use disorders, schizophrenia and mixed sclerosis. The FDA has already authorized a treatments for piece abuse, opioid use and insomnia.
  • Reface raises $5.5 million in seed appropriation led by a16z for a viral face-swapping video app.

GoHenry, a pre-paid label and financial app for 6-18 year olds, raises $40M

Google Health Studies

Image Credits: Google

Google takes on Apple’s Research app with an choice for Android users. The new Google Health Studies app will work in partnership with heading investigate institutions, that will bond with investigate participants by a app. The initial investigate is timely, as it focuses on respiratory illnesses, including a influenza and COVID-19. The investigate will use federated training and analytics — a remoteness record that keeps a person’s information stored on a device.

Google Look to Speak

Google launched an accessibility-focused app, Look to Speak, that lets people use their eyes to name pre-written phrases for their phone to contend out loud. To use a app, people have to demeanour left, right or adult to name what they wish to contend from a word list and navigate a app. Look to Speak can also be personalized by vouchsafing users revise a difference and phrases they wish to contend and adjust a gawk settings to their needs.

Retro Widget

Image Credits: Retro Widget 2

Gaming around a home shade widget? The fun Retro Widget 2 ($1.99) has been updated to move a classical Snake II diversion from aged Nokia handsets to a iPhone’s home screen. The app includes 5 mazes and 9 levels and lets we play Snake II regulating a 1, 3, 7 and 9 keys.


Barter is an app designed for app developers alone. From a builder of a HomePass and HomeCam apps, Barter offers a approach for app developers to perspective their app sales in a widget on iOS 14+ devices. The app includes no analytics or tracking over what Apple builds in to strengthen developer data. In a future, Pearce says he’ll enhance a app to be means to uncover things like downloaded units, by product and more. The stream chronicle was an MVP to see if Apple would concede a app to pass App Review. Since it passed, it will shortly be upgraded.

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