Published On: Sun, Jan 17th, 2021

This Week in Apps: Parler deplatformed, alt apps rise, looking behind during 2020 trends

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 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in tellurian consumer spend in 2020.

Consumers final year also spent 3.5 trillion mins regulating apps on Android inclination alone. And in a U.S., app use surged forward of a time spent examination live TV. Currently, a normal American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day, though now spends 4 hours per day on their mobile devices.

Apps aren’t usually a approach to pass idle hours — they’re also a large business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a total $544 billion valuation, 6.5x aloft than those though a mobile focus. In 2020, investors poured $73 billion in collateral into mobile companies — a figure that’s adult 27% year-over-year.

The worried gets deplatformed

Last weekend, Google and Apple private Parler from their particular app stores, a latter after initial giving a app 24 hours to come adult with a new mediation plan to residence a threats of assault and bootleg activity holding place on a app in a arise of a Capitol riot. When Parler unsuccessful to take adequate measures, a app was pulled down.

What happened thereafter was unprecedented. All of Parler’s record backend services providers pulled support for Parler, too, including Amazon AWS (which has led to a lawsuit), Stripe and even Okta, that Parler was usually regulating as a giveaway trial. Other vendors also refused to do business with a app, potentially finale a ability to work for good.

Parler is strictly offline after AWS suspension

But nonetheless Parler is down, a information lives on. Several efforts have been done to repository Parler information for posterity — and for tipping off a FBI. Gizmodo done a map regulating a GPS information of 70,000 Parler posts. Another effort, Y’all Qaeda, is also regulating plcae information to map videos from Parler to locations around a Capitol building.

These visualizations are probable given a information itself was quick archived by internet archivist @donk_enby before Parler was taken down, and given Parler stored abounding metadata with any user’s post. That means any user’s accurate plcae was accessible when they uploaded their photos and videos to a app.

It’s a bullion cave for investigators and a serve denote of a payoff these rioters believed they had to equivocate charge or a border to that they were peaceful to chuck their life divided for their means — a feign existence embellished for them by Trump, his allies and other outlets that steady a “big lie” until they truly believed usually a series could save a democracy.

The deplatforming of President Trump

The pierce to flog Parler offline followed a broader deplatforming of Trump, who’s indicted of inciting a violence, in partial by his refusal to concur and his continued lies about a “rigged election.” As a result, Trump has been deplatformed opposite amicable platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitch, YouTube, Reddit, Discord and Snapchat, while e-commerce height Shopify kicked out Trump merch shops and PayPal refused to routine exchange for some groups of Trump supporters.

Alternative amicable apps post gains following Capitol riot

Parler was a many high-profile app used by a Capitol rioters, though others found themselves compromised by a same crowd. Walkie-talkie app Zello, for instance, was used by some insurrectionists during a Jan 6 demonstration to communicate. Telegram, meanwhile, recently had to retard dozens of hardcore hatred channels that were melancholy violence, including those led by Nazis (which were reported for years with no movement by a company, some claim).

Now, many in a radical right are relocating to new platforms outward of a mainstream. Immediately following a Capitol riot, MeWe, CloutHub and other privacy-focused rivals to large tech began commanding a app stores, alongside a privacy-focused messengers Signal and Telegram. YouTube choice Rumble also gained belligerent due to new events. Right-wingers even incorrectly downloaded a wrong “Parlor” app and a internal journal app they suspicion was a uncensored amicable network Gab. (They’re not always a brightest bulbs.)

Following riots, choice amicable apps and private messengers tip a app stores

This could shortly infer to be another formidable conditions for a platforms to address, as we already came opposite rarely concerning posts distributed on MeWe, that had used impassioned hatred debate or threatened violence. MeWe claims it moderates a content, though a new expansion to now 15 million users might be creation that formidable — generally given it’s inheriting a former Parler users, including a radical far-right. The association has not been means to scrupulously assuage a content, that might make it a successive to be gone.

2020 annual review

App Annie this week expelled a annual examination of a mobile app attention anticipating (as remarkable above) that mobile app downloads grew by 7% year-over-year to a record 218 billion in 2020. Consumer spending also grew by 20% to also strike a new miracle of $143 billion, led by markets that enclosed China, a United States, Japan, South Korea and a United Kingdom. Consumers spent 3.5 trillion mins on Android inclination in 2020. Meanwhile, U.S. users now spend some-more time in apps (four hours) than examination live TV (3.7 hours).

The full news examines other pivotal trends opposite social, gaming, finance, e-commerce, video and streaming, mobile food ordering, business apps, edtech and many more. We pulled out some highlights here, such as TikTok’s chart-topping year by downloads, a arise in livestreamed and amicable shopping, consumers spending 40% some-more time streaming on mobile YoY and other pivotal trends.

App stores saw record 218 billion downloads in 2020, consumer spend of $143 billion

Sensor Tower also expelled a possess annual report, that secretly explored a impact of COVID-19; a expansion in business apps, led by Zoom; mobile gaming; and a behind liberation of transport apps, among other things.

Samsung reveals a new flagships

Image Credits: Samsung

Though not “apps” news per se, it’s value creation note of what’s successive in a Android ecosystem of high-end devices. This week was Samsung’s Unpacked press event, where a association suggested a latest flagship inclination and other products. The large news was Samsung’s 3 new phones and their now reduce prices: a glass-backed Galaxy S21 ($799) and S21 Plus ($999), and a S21 Ultra ($1,199), that is S Pen compatible.

The now some-more streamlined camera systems are a pivotal underline of a new phones, and include:

  • S21 and S21 Plus: A 12-megapixel ultrawide, 12-megapixel far-reaching and 64-megapixel telephoto with 30x space zoom.
  • S21 Ultra: A 12-megapixel ultra-wide, 108-megapixel far-reaching and, for a initial time, a dual-telephoto lens complement with 3x and 10x visual zoom. The Ultra also improves low-light sharpened with a Bright Night sensor.

The inclination support UWB and there’s a furious AI-powered print underline that lets we daub to mislay people from a credentials of your photos. (How good it works is TBD). Other program imaging updates concede we to lift stills from 8K shooting, improved picture stabilization and a new “Vlogger view” for sharpened from front and behind cameras as a same time.

Also launched were Samsung’s AirPods rival, a Galaxy Buds Pro, and a Tile rival, a Galaxy SmartTag.

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro are a plain AirPods alternative


Platforms: Apple

  • Apple releases second iOS 14.2 developer beta. The refurbish brings improvements to a HomePod mini handoff knowledge and an refurbish to a Find My app to prepared it for ancillary third-party accessories.
  • Apple will shortly concede third-parties to join a Find My app forward of a AirTags launch. Tile had argued before regulators final year that Apple was giving itself first-party advantage with AirTags in Find My. Apple subsequently launched a Find My Accessory Program to start certifying third-party products. AirTags’ existence was also leaked again this week.
  • Apple is operative to move a Music and Podcasts apps to a Microsoft Store.
  • Apple might be operative on a podcast subscription service, per The Information.

Platforms: Google

  • Google appears to be operative on an app hibernation underline for Android 12. The underline would hibernate new apps to giveaway adult space.
  • Google pulls several personal loan apps from a Play Store in India. The association pronounced several of a apps had been targeting unprotected borrowers, afterwards abusing them and regulating other impassioned strategy when they couldn’t pay. Critics contend Google took too prolonged to respond to a outcry, that has already stirred suicides. Police have also solidified bank accounts holding $58 million for purported scams conducted by 30 apps, nothing of that had capitulation from India’s executive bank.


Image Credits: Sensor Tower

  • 48,000 mobile games were purged from a China App Store in Dec 2020, reports Sensor Tower. The games private in 2020 for not carrying acquired a correct Chinese gaming license, had generated scarcely $3 billion in lifetime revenue.
  • The tip grossing mobile diversion in Dec 2020 was Honor of Kings with $258 million in actor spending, adult 58% year-over-year, according to Sensor Tower. PUBG Mobile was No. 2. followed by Genshin Impact.
  • Among Us was a many downloaded mobile diversion in Dec 2020, per Apptopia. with an estimated 48 million new downloads in a month, many by Google Play.
  • Epic Games final Fortnite to be backed on a App Store, in a U.K. authorised filing. The diversion builder is intent in mixed lawsuits over a “Apple tax.”


  • Amazon’s Ring app unprotected users’ home addresses. Amazon says there’s no justification a confidence smirch had been exploited by anyone.

Amazon’s Ring Neighbors app unprotected users’ accurate locations and home addresses

  • New investigate sum how law enforcements gets into iOS and Android smartphones and cloud backups of their data.


  • Signal’s Brian Acton says new snub over WhatsApp’s terms are pushing installs of a private messaging app. Third-party information indicates Signal has around 20 million MAUs as of Dec 2020. The app also saw a swell due to a U.S. Capitol riots, with 7.5 million downloads from Jan 6-10.
  • Telegram user bottom in India was adult 110% in 2020. The app now has 115 million MAUs in India, that could concede it to improved contest with WhatsApp.
  • Privacy concerns are also pushing sign-ups for encrypted email providers, ProtonMail and Tutanota. The former reports a 3x arise in new weeks, while a latter pronounced use has doubled distance WhatsApp expelled a new TCs.
  • FTC staid with period-tracking app Flo for pity user health data with third-party analytics and offering services, when it had betrothed to keep information private. The app contingency now obtain user agree and will be theme to an eccentric examination of a practices.

Flo gets FTC slap for pity user information when it betrothed privacy

  • FTC staid with Ever, a builder of a print storage app that had pivoted to offering facial approval services. The association used a photos it collected to sight facial approval algorithms. It’s been sequence to undo that information and all face embeddings successive from photos though user consent.
  • Muslim request app Salaat First (Prayer Times) was found to be recording and offering user plcae info to a information broker. The organisation collecting a information had been related to a supply sequence that concerned a U.S. supervision executive who worked with ICE, Customs and Border Protection, and a FBI.
  • TikTok altered a remoteness settings and defaults for users underneath 18. Children 13-15 will have private accounts by default. Other restrictions request on facilities like commenting, Dueting, Stitching and some-more for all underneath 18. TikTok also partnered with Common Sense Networks to assistance it curate age-appropriate calm for users underneath 13.

Government Policy

  • Italy’s information insurance agency, a GPDP, pronounced it contacted a European Data Protection Board (EDPB) to lift concerns over WhatsApp’s requirement for users to accept a updated TCs to continue to use a service. The law requires that users are sensitive of any specific use of their information and given a choice as to either their information is processed. The new in-app presentation doesn’t make a changes transparent nor concede that option.

Confusion over WhatsApp’s new TCs triggers remoteness warning from Italy

  • Turkey starts an antitrust review into Facebook and WhatsApp. The review was stirred by WhatsApp’s new Terms of Service, effective Feb 8, that allows information pity with Facebook.
  • WhatsApp afterwards behind a TC changes, as a result.

Health Fitness

  • Google this week bound an emanate with a Android Exposure Notification System that’s used by COVID-19 tracking apps. The impacted apps took longer to bucket and lift out their bearing checks.


  • Amazon creates an credentials pull in India with JEE credentials app. The association launched Amazon Academy, a use that will assistance students in India ready for a Joint Entrance Examinations (JEE), a government-backed opening comment for acknowledgment into several engineering colleges.

Amazon creates credentials pull in India with JEE credentials app

  • PayPal acquired a 30% interest it didn’t already possess in China’s GoPay, creation it a initial unfamiliar organisation in China with full tenure of a payments business.
  • Therapy app Talkspace will go open by a $1.4 billion partnership with SPAC Hudson Executive Investment Corp.
  • Snap acquired plcae information startup StreetCred. The group will join a association and work on maps and location-related products for Snapchat.
  • BlaBla lifted $1.5 million for a language-learning app that teaches English regulating TikTok-like videos. The startup, a member in Y Combinator’s 2020 summer batch, had formerly practical to YC 7 times. Other investors embody Amino Capital, Starling Ventures and Wayra X.

YC-backed BlaBla raises $1.5M to learn English by brief videos

  • Poshmark, a online and mobile app for reselling clothing, IPO’d and sealed adult some-more than 140% on day one.
  • Dating app Bumble also filed to go public. The association claims 42 million MAUs, with 2.4 million profitable users by a initial 9 months of 2020. It mislaid $117 million on $417 million in income during that time.
  • Blog height Medium acquired Paris-based Glose, a mobile app that lets we buy and review books on mobile devices.
  • Indonesian investment app Ajaib raised $25 million Series A led by Horizons Venture and Alpha JWC. Inspired by Robinhood, a app offers low-fee batch trade and entrance to mutual funds.

Indonesian investment height Ajaib gets $25 million Series A led by Horizons Venture and Alpha JWC

  • Mailchimp acquired Chatitive, a B2B messaging startup that helps businesses strech business over calm messages.
  • Chinese aptness app Keep raised $360 million Series F led by SoftBank Vision Fund. The six-year-old startup that allows aptness influencers to horde live classes over video is now valued during $2 billion.
  • Google finalized Fitbit acquisition. Google reliable it will concede Fitbit users to continue to bond with third-party services and pronounced a health information will be kept apart and not used for ads.
  • On-demand U.K. supermarket Weezy raised $20 million Series A for a Postmates-like app that delivers groceries in as quick as 15 minutes, on average.


COVID has cancelled concerts, that compulsory Bandsintown to focus from assisting people find shows to attend to a new subscription use for live music. The association this week launched Bandsintown Plus, a $9.99 per month pass that gives users entrance to some-more than 25 concerts per month. The shows offering are disdainful to a platform, and not accessible on other sites like YouTube, Twitch, Apple Music or Spotify.

Piñata Farms

Image Credits: Piñata Farms

This new amicable video app lets we put anyone or anything into an existent video to make humorous video memes. The mechanism vision-powered app lets we do things like stand out a conduct from a photo, for example, or use thousands of in-app equipment to supplement to your existent video. The ensuing creations can be common in a app, secretly by messaging or out to other amicable platforms. Available on iOS only.

Capture App

Image Credits: Numbers Protocol

This new blockchain camera app, reviewed here on TechCrunch, uses tech commercialized by a Taiwan-based startup, Numbers Protocol. The app secures a metadata compared with photos we take on a blockchain, also permitting users to adjust remoteness settings if they don’t wish to share a accurate location. Any successive changes to a print are afterwards traced and recorded. Use cases for a record embody broadcasting (plus combating feign news), as good as a approach for photographers to assure their photos are attributed correctly. The app is accessible on a App Store and Google Play.

Numbers Protocol’s blockchain camera Capture App safeguards a firmness of photos

Marsbot for AirPods

Image Credits: Foursquare Labs, Inc.

A new examination from Foursquare Labs, Marsbot, offers an audio beam to your city. As we travel or bike around, a app gives we regulating explanation about a places around we regulating information from Foursquare, other calm providers and snippets from other app users. The app is also optimized for AirPods, creation it iOS-only.


Image Credits: Loupe

Loupe is a new app that modernizes sports label collecting. The app allows users to attend in daily box breaks, horde their possess livestreams with chats, collect alongside associate collectors and squeeze new sports label singles, packs and boxes when they strike a market, among other things. The app is accessible on iOS.


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