Published On: Sat, Feb 6th, 2021

This Week in Apps: Warnings over remoteness changes, Parler CEO fired, Clubhouse goes mainstream

Welcome behind to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series 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 proceed 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. In 2020, investors poured $73 billion in collateral into mobile companies — a figure that’s adult 27% year-over-year.

This week, we’re holding a demeanour during Clubhouse’s dermatitis impulse — or moments, to be fair. Also, a App Store’s manners were updated, Parler’s CEO was dismissed and other companies began lifting their possess red flags about Apple’s remoteness changes.

This Week in Apps will shortly be a newsletter! Sign adult here:

Clubhouse goes mainstream

Image Credits: Freepik / Kristina Astakhova (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

The invite-only audio height has been on a roll, and has already hosted large names in tech, media and entertainment, including Drake, Estelle, Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart, Jared Leto, Ashton Kutcher, and others in a Silicon Valley tech scene. But this week was a dermatitis if there ever was one, when on Monday, Tesla and SpaceX owners Elon Musk showed adult on Clubhouse, commanding a app’s extent of 5,000 people in a singular room. With others incompetent to get in, fans livestreamed a eventuality to other platforms like YouTube, live-tweeted, and set adult dermatitis bedrooms for a overflow. Musk was after assimilated by “Vlad The Stock Impaler,” aka Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev, who of march talked about a GameStop tale — and was afterwards interviewed by Musk himself.

Then on Thursday, Clubhouse saw nonetheless another famous guest: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who accidentally went by “Zuck23” when he assimilated “The Good Time Show” speak uncover on a app, as Musk had finished before him.

The format of a amicable media network authorised a execs to informally residence a far-reaching assembly of listeners with whatever they wish to speak about — in Musk’s case, that was space travel, crypto, AI and vaccines, among other things. Zuckerberg, meanwhile, used a time to speak about AR/VR and a destiny in business and remote work. (If we suspicion Zoom meetings were bad…).

(And who knows, maybe he wanted give a app a try for other reasons, too.)

There is something unsettling about this whole arrangement, of course. Soft-balled questions lobbed during billionaires, reporters blocked from rooms, and so on — all on an app financed by a VC firm, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), that’s pronounced to be meddlesome in slicing out a media middleman, to “go direct” instead. (Not coincidentally, a room mouth-watering a large name guest was co-hosted by a16z’s Andreessen and a new GP, Sriram Krishnan, who is described as carrying an “optimistic” opinion — maybe a profitable commodity when many of a media does not.)

Regardless of a machinations behind a scenes that done it happen, it’s tough to omit an app where a biggest names in tech uncover adult to usually discuss — or even speak one another.

Where is all this going?, is a current doubt to be raised. Some have described Clubhouse as a late-night speak uncover equivalent. A place where interviews aren’t about seeking a tough questions, though rather about whatever a guest came there to contend or promote. And that’s fine, of march — as prolonged as everybody understands that when large names arrive, they might do so with an agenda, even when it seems they’re usually there for fun.

In any event, Clubhouse valid this week it’s no longer a buzzy newcomer. For now, during least, it’s decidedly in a game.

Companies (besides Facebook) advise investors about Apple’s remoteness changes

So far, it might have seemed as if a usually dual businesses holding genuine emanate with Apple’s remoteness changes, including a entrance changes to IDFA, were Facebook and Google. Facebook took out full-page ads and weighed lawsuits. Google behind iOS app updates while it figured out remoteness labels. But as other companies reported their fourth-quarter earnings, IDFA impacts were also commanding their list of concerns.

In Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel’s prepared remarks, he alerted investors to a intensity intrusion to Snap’s ad business, observant that a remoteness changes “will benefaction another risk of interruption” to promotion demand. He remarkable that it was dubious what a long-term consequences of those changes might be, too. Unity, meanwhile, trustworthy a array to it: IDFA changes would revoke a income by about 3%, or $30 million, in 2021.

Image Credits: Facebook

It might be that no one unequivocally knows how deleterious a IDFA refurbish will be until it rolls out. These are usually estimates formed on tests and assumptions about user behavior. Plus, there are reports poking holes in Facebook’s claims, that had pronounced that tiny businesses would humour a 60% cut in revenues. Those are certainly overstated, Harvard Business Review wrote, observant Facebook had cherry-picked and amplified a numbers.

Nevertheless, Facebook is already contrast ways to inspire users to accept a tracking. The association on Monday began display some users prompts that explained because it wants to lane and asked users to opt in so Facebook can “provide a improved ads experience.” Users could daub “allow” or “don’t allow” in response to a prompt.

Apple updates a App Store Rules

Apple pronounced these were assuage changes — usually clarifications and tweaks that had been underneath proceed for some time. For example, a new App Store Guidelines now embody instructions about how developers should exercise a new App Tracking Transparency rules. Another territory sum how developers can now record an interest on an app examination rejection.

Other changes are some-more semantic in inlet — changing person-to-person practice to “services” to enlarge a scope, for example, or to explain how gaming companies can offer a singular subscription that works opposite a accumulation of standalone apps.

To see what indeed changed, go here.

Parler CEO fired

Parler — a app criminialized from a App Store, Google Play, Amazon AWS, regulating Okta, etc., etc. — dismissed a CEO, John Matze, this week after struggling to move a app behind online. According to reports from NPR and others, a banishment was due to his feud with regressive donor Rebekah Mercer, who controls Parler’s board. Matze argued a app would need to moment down on domestic terrorism and groups that stimulate assault in sequence to succeed, he says, though claims he was met with silence. Parler, meanwhile, pronounced those statements were misleading.

After Parler’s fast deplatforming following a events during a Capitol, other choice amicable networks climbed adult a charts to take a place. But these apps have not proven themselves to have many staying power. Instead, a tip charts are once again filled with a usual: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, etc.

Maybe it’s indeed no fun yelling about a universe when no one is around to plea we or quarrel back?

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

Apps with gain news

  • Snap beats with income of $911 million in Q4, adult 62% YoY, contra $857.4 million expected. Snap’s DAU’s climbed 22% YoY to 265M. But batch forsaken over a diseased Q1 forecast.
  • PayPal reported stronger-than-expected, pandemic-fueled earnings with EPS adult 25.58% YoY to $1.08, violence a theory of $1.00. Revenue was $6.12 billion adult 23.28% YoY year, that kick a theory of $6.09 billion. The association combined 16 million net new accounts, bringing a sum to 277 million.
  • Related, Venmo’s TPV grew 60% year over year to $47 billion, and a patron bottom grew 32%, finale usually bashful of 70 million accounts. The association expects a revenues will proceed $900 million in 2021.
  • Spotify reports income enlargement of 17% YoY to €2.17 billion; 345M MAUs, adult 27% YoY; and paid subs to 155 million, adult by 24%.

Platforms: Apple

  • The iOS 14.5 beta arrives with a array of critical new features, including many notably, ATT and a ability to clear your iPhone when wearing a mask, as prolonged as you’re also wearing an Apple Watch. Other changes embody worldwide dual-SIM 5G support, AirPlay 2 support for Apple Fitness+, support for PlayStation 5 DualSense and Xbox Series X controllers, support for T-Mobile’s standalone 5G network, a new Siri underline for job puncture services, a toggle to invalidate puncture warning sounds, emoji hunt for iPad, and other tiny changes in a Reminders, News and Podcasts apps, and more.

  • Code in a iOS 14.5 beta also suggests new financial features like Apple Card Family for multiuser accounts and a new horizon FinHealth that gives programmed suggestions to urge your finances.
  • Apple rolls out new and updated pattern resources for building apps opposite a platforms, including iOS 14 and iPad OS 14, tvOS 14 and macOS Bir Sur. On mobile, a new pattern resources for Sketch have been rebuilt to support tone variables, and embody countless teenager improvements and bug fixes.
  • Apple’s services saw a poignant outage this week that impacted, among other things, a App Store, heading to vacant pages, damaged hunt formula and more.

Apple Music, Books, iTunes, App Store and some-more are experiencing outages

  • Certain U.S. states will concede casino, sports and lottery games from Mar 1, 2021. Google already announced a change to Play Store policies, to concede these. In Apple’s updated App Store Guidelines, out this week, it also combined “gambling” as one of a app categories that had to be submitted by a authorised entity — an denote that it was opening a doors, too.
  • App Store enlargement strike a six-month high in Jan 2021, Morgan Stanley said, citing Sensor Tower information that indicated App Store net income grew 35% YoY in a month. In Japan and Germany, enlargement reached 60% and in a U.S. it was 42% YoY, due to pestilence impacts.
  • Some users are observant third-party apps have been crashing after syncing an iPad or iPhone with an M1 Mac.

Platforms: Google

  • Huawei’s HarmonyOS is being pitched as an strange in-house creation, though Ars Technica took a low dive and found it was unequivocally just an Android fork.
  • “Millions” of Ford vehicles will use Google’s Android OS to energy their infotainment systems, starting in 2023.

Ford vehicles will be powered by Google’s Android handling system

  • Google is pronounced to be exploring a possess choice to Apple’s new anti-tracking feature, that might seem counterintuitive, as Google is in a ads business. But according to a news from Bloomberg, a association is looking into a resolution that’s “less stringent” than Apple’s. That could yield some pushback in terms of environment an attention standard.


  • YouTube launches Clips, a short-form video feature that lets users shave 5 to 60 seconds of a video and share with others, identical to Twitch’s clips feature. The underline is in singular alpha testing.
  • Epic Games is warning Australia’s marketplace regulator to take movement opposite Apple for regulating a marketplace energy to force developers to compensate a 30% elect on paid apps and IAP. Epic is suing Apple in a country, though wants a regulator to step in now.
  • In a U.S., a decider orders a 7-hour deposition from Tim Cook in a Epic vs. Apple lawsuit.
  • Google hasn’t killed diversion streaming use Stadia yet, though it did announce this week it’s stepping divided from first-party games. The association also announced a Stadia Games and Entertainment conduct Jade Raymond was withdrawal a company, while a existent staff would be changed to other projects.
  • Amazon Luna’s diversion streaming use expands to some-more Android devices, including Pixel 3, 3XL, 3a, 3a XL; Samsung S9, S9+, Note 9. The use was already accessible on new Pixel, Samsung and OnePlus devices, among others.

Augmented Reality

  • Color of Change launches The Pedestal Project, an AR knowledge on Instagram that allows users to place statues of secular probity leaders on a dull pedestals where combine leaders once stood (or anywhere else). At launch, there are 3 featured leaders included: Rep. John Lewis, Alicia Garza and Chelsea Miller.
  • TikTok partners with WPP to give WPP agencies entrance to ad products and APIs that are still in development, including new AR formats.

Security Privacy

  • YouTube adds a App Store remoteness label, detailing a information it uses to lane users. This includes your earthy address, email address, phone number, user and device ID, as good as information related to we for third-party promotion and for app functionality, product personalization and more.


  • Venmo is branch into a financial super app with additions that embody crypto, budgeting, saving and selling with Honey — all of that are designed for this year.
  • Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev has been asked to testify before a House Financial Services Committee on Feb 18, over a GameStop debacle. The app still hasn’t recovered a repute — Play Store reviews have left behind down to 1.0 stars, even after a purge.
  • Reddit has a best-ever month in terms of installs, thanks to a “meme stocks” frenzy driven by users of a r/wallstreetbets forum. The app gained 6.6 million downloads in Jan 2021, adult 43% month-over-month, flourishing a sum installs to date to 122.5 million opposite iOS and Android.
  • Cash App also this week had to hindrance shopping meme stocks like GameStop, AMC, and Nokia after being told by a clearing attorney of increasing collateral requirements.
  • Robinhood raises another $2.4 billion from shareholders after a $1 billion lift from investors to assistance it float out a meme batch trade frenzy.
  • Joompay, a European opposition to Venmo and TransferWise, has now launched in a market after receiving a Luxembourg Electronic Money Institution (EMI) license.

Social Photos

Image Credits: Snap

  • Snapchat’s TikTok opposition “Spotlight” now has 100 million MAUs, a association pronounced during earnings, and is receiving an normal of 175,000 video submissions per day. But Snap is heavily fueling this enlargement by profitable out over $1 million per day to a top-performing videos — everybody wants to be TikTok, it seems.
  • TikTok says it will now downrank “unsubstantiated” claims that fact checkers can’t verify. The app will also place a warning ensign surmount these videos and daunt users from pity them with pop-up messages.
  • TikTok owners ByteDance sues Tencent over purported corner practices. The fit claims that Tencent’s WeChat and QQ messaging services won’t concede links to Douyin, a Chinese chronicle of TikTok.
  • Instagram confirms it’s building a “Vertical Stories” feed that will concede users to flip by users’ stories vertically, identical to TikTok.
  • IRL, an events website and mobile app, has surfaced 10 million monthly users as it revamps itself into a amicable network for events, now including user profiles, organisation events, and chat.

Now with over 10M monthly users, IRL turns a events website into a amicable network

  • Instagram bans around 400 accounts related to hacker forum OGUsers, where members buy and sell stolen amicable media accounts. The hackers used SIM-swapping attacks, nuisance and coercion to take over a accounts of  “OG” Instagram users who have desired brief usernames or those with singular words. Twitter and TikTok also took movement to aim OGUsers members, a companies confirmed.

  • Instagram adds “Recently Deleted,” a new underline that lets we examination and redeem deleted content. The association says it combined protections to stop hackers from accessing your comment to strech these items. Deleted stories that are not in your repository will stay in a folder for adult to 24 hours. Everything else will be automatically deleted 30 days later.
  • Triller ditches a skeleton to do a Super Bowl ad and will now horde a fan competition instead. The app has struggled to benefaction a plea to TikTok in a U.S. market.
  • Daily Twitter use remained unchanging notwithstanding Trump ban, according to information from Apptopia.

Image Credits: Apptopia

Communication and Messaging

  • Element, a customer for sovereign discuss custom Matrix, was private from a Play Store this week, for violent content. But Google done a mistake. This was a third-party client, not a content’s host. And it had already private a content, formed on a possess rules. For those unfamiliar, Element is an open network that offers both unencrypted open chatrooms as good as E2EE content. Eventually, a developer got a call from a Google VP who helped a app get reinstated. But a situation, that resulted in 24 hours of downtime, lifted a doubt of how good app stores are prepared to assuage issues that stand adult in decentralized platforms and services.
  • Clubhouse CEO Paul Davison confirmed a association will deliver a subscription apparatus that will concede creators to make income from their rooms.
  • Telegram, benefitting from a change to private messaging and a WhatsApp backlash, became a most-downloaded app altogether in Jan 2021, opposite both app stores and on Google Play. On a App Store, it was No. 4 and TikTok was No. 1.

Image Credits: Sensor Tower

Streaming Services and Media

  • Apple-owned Shazam adds iOS 14 widgets for a initial time, permitting we to fast ID any strain that’s personification and see your history.
  • Spotify adds new playlists, podcasts and takeovers for Black History Month, and creates a new “Black History Is Now” heart in a app.
  • The U.S. chronicle of a Discovery+ mobile app gets some-more first-month downloads (3.3 million) than HBO Max did (3.1 million), Apptopia found. But it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, as existent HBO NOW users were upgraded to Max.

Health Fitness

  • The Google Fit app on Pixel inclination is removing an update that will concede your phone’s camera to magnitude beat and respirating rates.

Google to offer heart and respiratory rate measurements regulating usually your smartphone’s camera


  • Microsoft rebrands a request scanner app Office Lens to Microsoft Lens and adds new features, including Image to Text, an Immersive Reader, a QR Code Scanner and a ability to indicate adult to 100 pages. Lens also now integrates with Teams, so users can record brief videos to be sent by Team chats. Uh, TikTok’s about documents, we guess?

Government Policy

  • Myanmar’s troops supervision orders telecoms to retard Facebook until Feb 7, following coup. The government, that seized energy following an election, pronounced a amicable network is contributing to instability in a country.

Myanmar troops supervision orders telecom networks to temporarily retard Facebook

  • TikTok will recheck a age of each user in Italy, following an puncture sequence from a GPDP released after a Jan 22 genocide of a 10-year-old lady who attempted a “blackout challenge” she saw on a app. On Feb 9, each user will have to go by a TikTok age-gate again.
  • Uber buys ethanol smoothness use Drizly for $1.1 billion. Drizly’s website and app let users sequence ethanol in markets opposite a U.S. though is mostly hampered by internal booze laws. Gross bookings were adult 300% YoY, forward of a deal.
  • Vivino, a booze recommendation and marketplace app, raises $155 million Series D led by Sweden’s Kinnevik. The app now has 50 million users and information set of 1.5 billion photos of booze labels.

Vivino raises $155 million for booze recommendation and marketplace app

  • Mobile ad height and games publisher AppLovin acquires Berlin-based mobile ad detrimental association Adjust in what’s being reported as a $1 billion deal, though is reportedly less. The understanding comes during a time when a ad detrimental marketplace is being dramatically altered by Apple’s ATT. Mobile Dev Memo explains a understanding will give Applovin prominence into that games and pushing conversions for Adjust customers, to advantage a possess ad campaigns.
  • Latitude, a startup that uses AI to build storylines for games, raises $3.3 million in seed funding. Its initial pretension is AI Dungeon, an open-ended content journey game.
  • Chinese amicable gaming startup Guangzhou Quwan Network Technology raises $100 million Series B from Matrix Partners China and Orchid Asia Group Management. The association provides present voice messaging, amicable gaming, esports and diversion placement and operates voice discuss app TT Voice, that has over 100 million users.
  • Consumer trade app Flink, a arrange of Robinhood for a Mexican market, raises $12 million Series A led by Accel.
  • Commuting height Hip, that offers both an online dashboard and mobile app, raises $12 million led by NFX and Magenta Venture Partners. The app works with train and convey providers to devise routes for commuters and offers COVID-19 tracing services.
  • Bot MD, a Signapore-based app that offers doctors an AI chatbot for looking adult critical information, raises $5 million Series A led by Monk’s Hill Ventures. The supports will assistance a app to enhance elsewhere in a Asia-Pacific region, including Indonesia, a Philippines, Malaysia and India.

Bot MD, an AI-based chatbot for doctors, raises $5 million for enlargement into some-more Asian markets

  • Meditation and nap app Expectful raises $3 million in seed appropriation for a app directed during new mothers. The association skeleton to enhance a app to turn a broader wellness apparatus for hopeful, awaiting and new parents.

Expectful’s new arch executive gifted a mishap she usually lifted millions to solve

  • Brightwheel, an app that allows preschools, daycare providers and camps to promulgate with parents raises $55 million in a turn led by Addition, valuing a business during $600+ million. Laurene Powell Jobs’s Emerson Collective and Jeff Weiner’s Next Play Ventures also participated.
  • ELSA, a Google-backed denunciation training app co-founded in 2015 by Vietnamese businessman Vu Van and operative Xavier Anguera, raises $15 million a turn co-led by Vietnam Investments Group and SIG.
  • Financial super app Djamo gets Y Combinator subsidy for a resolution for consumers in Francophone Africa.

YC-backed Djamo is building a financial super app for consumers in Francophone Africa

  • Bumble IPO filing sets cost operation for adult to $1B. The dating app makers aims to sell 34.5 million shares during $28 to $30 apiece, valuing a business potentially during $6.46B.

Reese’s Book Club

Image Credits: Hello Sunshine Apps

Actress and writer Reese Witherspoon’s media association Hello Sunshine has launched an app for Reese’s Book Club — a book bar that focuses on different voices where women are a core of their stories. The book bar currently has scarcely 2 million Instagram supporters and 38 book picks that done The New York Times bestseller list. Its books have also been blending into film and TV projects, including Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere,” arriving Amazon array “Daisy Jones and a Six, Netflix’s “From Scratch,” and stirring film “Where a Crawdads Sing.”

The new app lets users keep lane of a new monthly picks, crop past selections, join village discussions with associate readers, hear from authors, contest for prizes and, soon, buy exclusives equipment that will assistance account The Readership, a pay-it-forward height directed during amplifying different voices and compelling literacy, that might embody efforts like installing book nooks in internal communities and ancillary indie booksellers.

The app is a giveaway download on the App Store and Google Play.

Carrot Weather

Image Credits: Carrot Weather

Everyone’s favorite snarky continue app perceived a vital renovate toward a finish of January, that includes a redesigned interface, new icons, collection to pattern a UI how we wish it (an “interface maker”), new “secret locations” (a fun Easter egg) and more. The app has also switched to a straight blueprint that fills a shade with information, that also includes intelligent cards that burble adult with continue info when it’s needed. Carrot Weather is also now a giveaway download with subscriptions, instead of a paid app.

About the Author