Instagram restricts teenagers’ accounts, Elon Musk criticizes App Retailer charges, Google Play’s new insurance policies – TechCrunch

Welcome again to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch collection that recaps the newest in cell OS information, cell functions and the general app economic system.

The app business continues to develop, with a file 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in world shopper spend in 2020. Shoppers final 12 months additionally spent 3.5 trillion minutes utilizing apps on Android gadgets alone. And within the U.S., app utilization surged forward of the time spent watching reside TV. At the moment, the common American watches 3.7 hours of reside TV per day, however now spends 4 hours per day on their cell gadgets.

Apps aren’t only a option to move idle hours — they’re additionally a giant enterprise. In 2019, mobile-first corporations had a mixed $544 billion valuation, 6.5x increased than these with out a cell focus. In 2020, traders poured $73 billion in capital into cell corporations — a determine that’s up 27% 12 months over 12 months.

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Google Play updates its insurance policies

Did you hear the one about Google Play banning sugar daddy relationship apps? Google this week up to date its phrases to make clear that apps the place customers provide intercourse acts in change for cash, or “sugar relationship,” as the brand new phrases state, are not allowed as of September 1, 2021.

Extra fascinating, maybe, to the bigger group of reputable Android builders is that this week’s unveiling of the UI for the upcoming Google Play security part and the accompanying app labels. The labels will perform because the Android counterpart to the app “vitamin labels” the Apple App Retailer not too long ago launched. Google is giving builders loads of time to get used to the concept of elevated transparency and disclosure, by providing an in depth timeline of when it expects builders to have their privateness label submissions prepared. By April 2022, all builders might want to declare particular data and have a privateness coverage.

Builders must speak in confidence to customers whether or not their app makes use of safety practices like information encryption, whether or not it follows Google Play’s Households coverage for apps geared toward children, whether or not customers have a selection in information sharing, whether or not the app’s security part had been verified by a 3rd occasion, and if the app allowed customers to request information deletion on the time of uninstalling, amongst different issues.

Apps that don’t disclose gained’t be capable of listing or replace till the issues are fastened.

The protection part wasn’t the one Google Play coverage information to be introduced this week.

Google additionally reminded builders that it was making a technical change to how promoting IDs work. Now, when customers choose out of interest-based promoting or adverts personalization, their promoting ID is eliminated and changed with a string of zeros. The change, nonetheless, is a phased rollout, affecting apps working on Android 12 gadgets beginning late 2021 and increasing to all apps working on gadgets that help Google Play in early 2022.

Google additionally stated it would check a brand new function that notifies builders and advert/analytics service suppliers of consumer opt-out preferences and is prohibiting linking persistent gadget identifiers to non-public and delicate consumer information or resettable gadget identifiers. Children apps may also not be capable of transmit an advert ID.

One other coverage replace features a plan to shut dormant accounts. Google says if the account is inactive or deserted after a 12 months, will probably be closed. It will embody accounts the place the developer has by no means uploaded an app or accessed Google Play Console in a 12 months.

Instruments to construct accessible experiences may also be locked down, as Google is including new necessities on how AccessibilityService API and IsAccessibilityTool can be utilized.

Apple tries to repair the Safari mess

In response to suggestions and complaints, Apple is clearly making an attempt to repair among the points that arose from this modification. It re-added a Share button to the tab bar and put further controls underneath that menu. There’s additionally as soon as once more a reload button within the tab bar subsequent to the area title, although it’s a bit smaller, and a Reader Mode button will seem within the tab bar when Reader is out there

On iPad, Safari additionally reverted again to the normal separate row of tabs, as a substitute of the brand new compact expertise.

Elon Musk sides with Epic Video games

Elon Musk sided with Fortnite maker Epic Video games within the Apple App Retailer antitrust lawsuit, because the Tesla CEO tweeted on Friday that Apple’s App Retailer charges had been “a de facto world tax on the Web.” The lawsuit alleges Apple is abusing its platform energy with the way it commissions apps and in-app purchases on its App Retailer platform — charges that add as much as massive numbers for a sport like Fortnite, which arguably doesn’t want an App Retailer for discovery, advertising, funds and distribution. However there’s no different option to promote to iOS customers at this time. On Android, apps can not less than be sideloaded. It’s not at the moment clear why Musk has determined to take a stand on the problem, as none of his corporations’ apps are dramatically impacted by Apple’s charges at current.

Different Platform Information (Apple & Google)

Apple introduced plans to finish help for quite a few SiriKit intents and instructions, together with those who might influence main apps — like ride-sharing app Uber. In whole, there are over 20 SiriKit intent domains that might be deprecated and not supported in new and present OS releases, Apple says.

Apple tweaked the controversial iOS 15 Safari adjustments within the newest betas (iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, beta 4). The brand new Safari design had moved the tab bar (URL bar) to the underside of the display screen — a reasonably radical change for one of many iPhone’s most used apps. It was meant to make the controls simpler to succeed in however critics stated that the change made different usually used options — just like the reload button or Reader Mode — more durable to seek out and use, impacting the general usability of the browser itself.

Google this week launched model 1.0 of Jetpack Compose, Android’s new, native UI toolkit geared toward serving to builders construct higher apps quicker. The instrument had been in beta since March. The brand new manufacturing launch is constructed to combine with the Jetpack libraries builders already use, and affords an implementation of Materials Design parts and theming. New options embody Compose Preview and Deploy Preview, which require Android Studio Arctic Fox, which can be out now in a secure launch.

Google additionally introduced the supply of the CarHardwareManager API by way of the Android for Automobiles App Library as a part of Jetpack.


Twitter launched a U.S. e-commerce pilot check that can assist decide the present urge for food for on-line buying on its platform. The check permits manufacturers and companies to function a “Store Module” with numerous merchandise on the market on the high of their Skilled Profile, a business-friendly model of a profile web page with help for issues like an deal with, hours, telephone quantity and extra. Customers can click on on the Store Module to go to a retail web site and transact. Early testers embody Sport Cease and Arden Cove. The function itself is considerably naked bones for now, because it’s actually simply a picture that launches an in-app browser. That’s not sufficient to essentially compete with one thing like Instagram Store or Shopify’s Store and the built-in, native checkout expertise these sorts of app affords.


Fintech large Robinhood raised $2.1 billion in its IPO this week. The IPO valued the buying and selling app at $31.8 billion, making it bigger that conventional rivals like Charles Schwab, regardless that the providing priced on the backside of its vary. The inventory dropped 8% throughout its first day’s buying and selling, nonetheless. Robinhood now has 21.3 million MAUs.

PayPal throughout its second-quarter earnings name introduced its new “tremendous app” is now code-complete and able to roll out. The app will function early direct deposit, examine cashing, excessive yield financial savings, budgeting instruments, improved invoice pay, crypto help, subscription administration, purchase now, pay later performance, cell commerce, and person-to-person messaging options. The latter hadn’t but been introduced and would enable customers to talk exterior of the funds course of.

Code present in Apple’s Pockets app signifies that iOS 15 would require customers to confirm their identities by taking a selfie after they add their driver’s license or different state identification card to the iPhone.


Instagram introduced a collection of serious adjustments to the way it handles the accounts of youthful teenagers. The corporate says it would now default customers to non-public accounts at sign-up in the event that they’re underneath the age of 16  — or underneath 18 in sure locales, together with within the EU. It would additionally push present customers underneath 16 to change their account to non-public in the event that they haven’t already finished so. As well as, Instagram is rolling out new expertise geared toward decreasing undesirable contact from adults — like those that have already been blocked or reported by different teenagers — and it’ll change how advertisers can attain its teenage viewers. The adjustments give the corporate a option to argue to regulators that it’s able to self-policing because it makes an attempt to roll out a model of Instagram to youthful customers underneath the age of 13.

Twitter rolls out an replace to its reside audio platform, Twitter Areas, that can make it simpler to share the audio room with others. Customers will be capable of compose a tweet proper from the Area that hyperlinks to the room and consists of any accompanying hashtags. iOS customers additionally acquired new visitor administration controls for hosts.

Snapchat resolved an outage that was stopping individuals from logging in on Thursday. In contrast to different app blips, which repair themselves usually with out customers’ consciousness, Snap instructed customers to manually replace their app if the problems continued.

Snapchat additionally this week added a “My Locations” function to Snap Map, which permits customers to log their favourite spots, share them with buddies and discover suggestions. The function helps over 30 million companies and permits Snap to distinguish its map from a utility like Google Maps or Apple Maps, as a result of it’s about private suggestions from individuals you understand and belief: your mates.

Instagram added help for 60-second movies to its TikTok clone, Reels. Beforehand, solely Reels of as much as 30 seconds had been supported. Sixty seconds is in keeping with different platforms like YouTube Shorts and Snapchat’s Highlight. However TikTok is now inching into YouTube territory, because it not too long ago expanded to help three-minute movies.

TikTok expanded its LIVE platform with an enormous lineup of latest options together with the power to go reside with others, host Q&As, use moderators and improved key phrase filters, and extra. For viewers, TikTok is including new discovery and viewing instruments, together with picture-in-picture mode and methods to leap to LIVE streams from the For You and Following feeds. Some markets, together with the U.S. already had entry to LIVE Occasions, however the function is now increasing. In the meantime, the co-host function at the moment helps going reside with one different creator, however TikTok says it’s now testing a number of hosts.

Discord launched a brand new function, Threads, which can make it simpler to learn via longer conversations on busy servers. Now, any server with “Neighborhood” options enabled will be capable of rework their messages into threaded conversations throughout cell and desktop. The threads might be designated by their very own topic title and will be created by deciding on a brand new hashtag image that seems within the menu when hovering over messages or by urgent the + signal within the chat bar.

Pinterest shares dropped by greater than 12% after the corporate reported its second-quarter earnings on Thursday. Regardless of beating on estimates with income of $613.2 million and earnings per share of 25 cents, traders had been upset by the miss on consumer progress. The corporate reported month-to-month lively consumer progress of simply 9% to succeed in 454 million, when analysts had been anticipating 482 million. Pinterest blamed COVID impacts for the slowdown. The information follows Pinterest’s launch of latest instruments for creators to monetize their content material, with Concepts Pins — the not too long ago launched video-first format that lets creators exhibit their work. Now, creators could make their pins “shoppable” and take commissions on these purchases.


WhatsApp is testing help for increased picture add high quality on iOS gadgets. The function was found on WhatsApp’s TestFlight model for iOS however shouldn’t be but public and affords three choices: auto, very best quality or information saver.

Streaming & Leisure

Spotify’s Clubhouse clone, Greenroom, is off to a gradual begin. The app has solely been downloaded 140,000+ occasions on iOS and 100,000+ on Android, together with installs from its earlier life as Locker Room, an app that Spotify acquired to maneuver into reside audio. In the meantime, Spotify has 365 million month-to-month lively customers on its flagship streaming app.

Spotify additionally reported its Q2 earnings this week, the place it posted a $23.6 million loss and failed to succeed in its forecast for whole MAUs, regardless of rising MAUs 22% YOY to 365 million. It now has 165 million paying subscribers, which is up 20% YOY.

In a change to its app, Spotify added an attention-grabbing “What’s New” feed that provides personalised updates about new releases and new podcast episodes. The function is out there via a notification bell icon and makes use of a blue dot to point when there’s one thing new to see. Dots like this are a psychological hacks popularized by social apps like Fb and Instagram to addict customers, which might influence consumer engagement time on Spotify’s app.

Apple’s GarageBand app for iOS and iPadOS now enables you to remix tracks from high artists and producers like Dua Lipa and Woman Gaga. There are additionally new Producer Packs with beats, loops and devices created for GarageBand by high producers, together with Boys Noize, Mark Lettieri, Oak Felder, Soulection, Take A Daytrip, Tom Misch and TRAKGIRL.

Google TV’s cell app was up to date with new providers and personalised suggestions, following final fall’s launch of the Google TV consumer expertise for Chromecast gadgets. The app now sports activities 16:9 widescreen film and present posters, and added new suppliers Discovery+, Viki, Cartoon Community, PBS Children, Boomerang, plus on-demand content material from reside TV providers, together with YouTube TV, Philo and fuboTV.


Epic Video games introduced that Fortnite will host one other in-game occasion it’s calling the “Rift Tour,” which kicks off Friday, August 6 and runs via Sunday, August 8. What it hasn’t but stated is what the Rift Tour is, past a “musical journey into magical new realities” that can function a “record-breaking celebrity.”

Well being & Health

Fb’s Oculus division is exploring an integration of Oculus Exercises with Apple’s Well being app, based on the app’s code. An integration would enable customers to retailer their exercise information in Well being.


Utilization of cell video conferencing apps like Zoom grew by 150% within the first half of 2021, based on a report from Sensor Tower. Zoom, Microsoft Groups and Google Meet noticed a surge in utilization, collectively climbing to just about 21x increased than in H1 2019, the agency discovered.

Google Voice’s app was up to date with just a few refinements, together with a option to see the rationale for a missed name or dropped name, and a straightforward option to redial. iOS customers can now present their Google Voice quantity as their caller ID after they get a calling via a forwarding quantity. One other change will enable customers to delete a number of SMS messages directly.


Language studying app Duolingo raised $521 million in its U.S. IPO, priced above the marketed vary. The corporate priced 5.1 million shared at $102, after first advertising them at $95 to $100.


Amazon this week rolled out an replace to its Alexa iOS app that enables customers so as to add an Alexa widget to their iOS homescreen. The widget enables you to faucet on a button to talk to the digital assistant and concern instructions. Be careful Siri! (Ha, simply kidding.)

Google Maps additionally up to date its iOS app this week so as to add help for a homescreen widget. There are two totally different widgets sizes to select from — one that provides data like climate and site visitors, whereas one other is extra of a shortcut to close by locations like gasoline stations, eating places, work and residential.

Google is engaged on a”Change to Android” app for iOS customers that can copy over information and apps from an iPhone to carry them to a brand new Android gadget. Apple already affords an analogous app, known as “Transfer to iOS” for Android customers.


Parking app utilization has popped to pre-pandemic ranges, Apptopia reported. Apps on this area assist customers discover availability in heaps and garages close by and facilitate funds. Shopping time in apps was up 57% YOY in July, and general parking app utilization is now 6.2% above Jan. 2020 pre-pandemic ranges.

Moovit built-in Lime’s electrical scooters, bikes and mopeds into its transit-planning app that’s reside in 117 cities throughout 20 international locations and continents, together with the USA, South America, Australia and Europe.

Authorities & Coverage

Tencent’s WeChat suspended new consumer registrations in China to adjust to “related legal guidelines and laws.” The transfer comes amid a broad crackdown on tech corporations by Chinese language regulators, associated to information assortment and different dangerous practices.

Lately, China ordered Tencent and 13 different builders to repair issues associated to pop-ups inside their apps, as a part of the tech crackdown. The regulator additionally stated it might tighten controls on deceptive and specific content material used for advertising, and issued fines for offensive content material to Tencent, Kuaishou and Alibaba.

Safety & Privateness

Apple launched patches for iOS, iPadOS and macOS to handle a zero-day vulnerability that had been exploited within the wild. Apple stated the exploit might exploit the vulnerability often called CVE-2021-30807 to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges on a weak and unpatched gadget.

Google Play Shield failed an Android safety check, based on a report from Bleeping Pc. The cell menace safety resolution ranked final out of 15 Android safety apps examined over a span of six months, between January to June 2021.

💰 Product insights and analytics startup Pendo raised $150 million at a $2.6 billion valuation, forward of its anticipated IPO. The spherical was led by B Capital, the agency from Fb co-founder Eduardo Saverin, and included new investor Silver Lake Waterman, alongside present backers. Pendo’s platform helps corporations collect information on how clients use their apps, together with purchasers like Okta, Toast and others.

🤝 Twitter “acqui-hired” the group from subscription information app, Transient, who will now be a part of Twitter’s group, which works on Twitter Areas and Discover. Transient had supplied a non-biased information app that allowed you to get each side of a narrative and all the mandatory details. Deal phrases weren’t disclosed.

💰 Supply app Gopuff confirmed its $1 billion fundraise at a $15 billion valuation, geared toward increasing its immediate supply service. TechCrunch beforehand reported the information when the Collection H was nonetheless being closed.

💰 Indian journey app Ixigo raised $53 million (Rs 395 crore), prepping the enterprise for a valuation of $750 million-$800 million for its upcoming IPO. The spherical was led by Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC.

💰 Cellular-first digital pockets Valora native to the Celo community raised $20 million in Collection A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), a Celo backer, to develop into a world gateway to crypto.

💰 Crypto pockets firm Eco, backed by a16z, raised $60 million in new funding led by Activant Capital and L Catterton. Eco affords a digital pockets with rewards and no charges, and has common deposits of round $6,000.

💰 Search API startup Algolia, which lets builders combine real-time search in apps or web sites, raised $150 million in Collection D funding, valuing the enterprise at $2.25 billion, post-money. The spherical was led by Lone Pine Capital. Algolia now has over 10,000 clients, together with Slack, Stripe, Medium, Zendesk and Lacoste.

💰 Mind Applied sciences raised $50+ million for Pure, a pure language search engine and tremendous app for iOS, which desires customers to cease switching between apps to order meals, groceries or buy groceries. Backers embody Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective, Goodwater Capital, Scott Cook dinner and WTT Funding.

💰 Messaging app Aspect, constructed on the decentralized Matrix protocol, raised $30 million in a Collection B spherical of funding. Traders embody open-source R&D lab Protocol Labs and Metaplanet. a fund from Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn, in addition to previous traders Automattic and Notion.

💰 Indonesia-based grocery app HappyFresh raised $65 million in Collection D funding in a spherical led by Naver Monetary Company and Gafina B.V. The app affords an Instacart-like grocery supply service for components of Asia, which at this time operates in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

💰 Indian D2C magnificence model MyGlamm, which sells merchandise via an app and web site, raised $71.3 million in Collection C financing, from Amazon, Ascent Capital and Wipro.


Picture Credit: Nanogram

Developer Kosta Eleftheriou might have taken on Apple in authorized battles and on Twitter, as he factors out the quite a few app scams on the App Retailer, however that hasn’t stopped him from constructing new apps.

This week, Eleftheriou launched Nanogram, a Telegram shopper app that works on the Apple Watch while not having an iPhone connection. Eleftheriou stated he was impressed to construct Nanogram as a result of he wished a Telegram app for his LTE Apple Watch and didn’t just like the official model that didn’t present “primary and dependable messaging performance.” So he constructed his personal app from scratch utilizing the Telegram SDK, which lets you ship, obtain and consider all of your messages and notifications proper out of your wrist — even for those who don’t have your telephone close by. The app additionally helps Eleftheriou’s FlickType Swipe Keyboard for quicker replies whereas on the go.

Eleftheriou notes the app doesn’t acquire any private info and requires an Apple Watch Collection 3 or later, working watchOS 7 or later.

Lightricks’ Videoleap for Android

Picture Credit: Lightricks

After seeing a 70% yearly enhance for its iOS model, Lightricks introduced its Videoleap app to the Google Play Retailer. The app has grown standard with on-line creators for providing skilled high quality modifying instruments on cell, together with these that allow you to apply creative results, combine movies with photos, add textual content and layer transformations and extra. The corporate says Videoleap customers at the moment are creating 35 million items of content material per 30 days, and 47% of customers are exporting their creations to TikTok in pursuit of monetizing their content material additional. The app, like others from Lightricks (which additionally makes FaceTune and others), monetizes by means of in-app subscriptions.

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