Welcome back to This Week in Apps,that recaps the latest mobile O.S. news, mobile applications, and the overall app economy. The app industry continues to grow, with 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in global consumer spending in 2020. Consumers last year also 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone. And in the U.S., app usage surged ahead of the time spent watching live T.V. Currently, the average American 3.7 hours of live T.V. per day but now spends four hours on their mobile devices.
Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re also a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a$544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus. In 2020, investors $73 billion in capital into mobile companies — a figure up 27% year-over-year.
This week, we’re looking at the Apple-Epic Trial, Apple’s App Store advertising expansion, App Tracking Transparency opt-in rates, TikTok’s new SDKs for third-party apps, Google’s plans for its take on privacy labels, and more.
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Apple-Epic Trial kicks off.
This was the first week ofagainst Apple over App Store fees, and already it’s yielding some exciting content — mainly thanks to the internal Apple emails that have become part of the Trial’s exhibits. So far, we’ve learned how Apple thought about App Store fees in the past, have gotten a peek inside internal conversations, known of special deals it cut for Hulu, and how it felt about punishing Netflix for ditching IAP, among other things.
Here are some of the highlights you may have missed.
- A decade ago, Apple’s App Store head Phil Schiller, previously Apple’s marketing chief, . In an email to Eddy Cue, he suggested that once the App Store reached $1 billion in profitability, Apple should cut its fees to 20-25%.
- Despite having said he’s fighting for all developers, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney in court admitted for a lower commission if Apple had offered one.
- Apple is Ned Barnes, which said the App Store had operating margins of almost 78% in 2019. Barnes said he had access to P&L estimates for the fiscal year 2020 and statements from 2013-15, which aided his calculations. Apple rebutted that it doesn’t allocate costs for the App Store, so any documents discussing it wouldn’t have included expenses.
- Apple’s App Store VP Matt Fischer was where an employee said Fischer felt strongly about not featuring competitor apps on the App Store. Fischer said the employee who wrote the email was “very misinformed,” Apple had promoted competitors long before he joined the team in 2010.
App Store rejections
- Apple said from 2017-2019. Despite the many rejections, less than 1% of developers appeal to Apple’s decision. Most of the decisions about sacrifices are still upheld.
- 2017: 5.177 million submissions, 1.69 million rejections (33%)
- 2018: 4.79 million submissions, 1.7 million rejections (35%)
- 2019: 4.8 million submissions, 1.74 million rejections (36%)
- Apple offered Hulu and others special deals that . In a 2018 email, an Apple exec confirmed Hulu was one of the allowed developers given access to the subscription cancel/refund API, which they had been using since 2015 to support instant upgrades using a two-family setup before subscription upgrade/downgrade capabilities were built.
- Emails revealed Apple not to drop support for IAPs and questioned whether it should take punitive measures when Netflix’s tests were underway.
- Apple emails internal conflict over the launch of App Store ads before launch, saying that ads would be at odds with Apple’s statements that it makes products without monetizing users.
- Fischer ” by the payment update that kicked off Epic’s battle with the App Store, noting that the developer and Apple had previously had a good relationship. He recalled dropping everything to promote Fortnite’s Travis Scott concert on the App Store, which he described as a “really cool concept.”
- Fortnite in 2018 and 2019. It will make $5.1 billion in 2020.
- Fortnite through Nvidia’s cloud streaming service, GeForce NOW.
- It was revealed that beyond the 70/30 split to compensate for cross-play. Apple argues it’s being singled out over the 30% cut when Epic paid more to Sony but didn’t go after the console maker with the same complaint.
- Apple and Epic had that offered Fortnite Crew, Apple Music, and Apple TV+ a $20/mo package. Each subscription revenue cut would have been based on whether the user signed up through Apple or Fortnite.
Google to add a “Safety” section on Google Play in 2022
Months after Apple’s App Store; Google says its mobile app marketplace, Google Play, will follow suit… sort of. The company this week to introduce a new “safety” section in Google Play, rolling out in Q2 2022, which will require app developers to share what sort of data their apps collect, how it’s stored, and how it’s used.
But where Apple’s labels focus on what data is being collected for tracking purposes and what’s linked to the end-user, Google’s additions seem to be more about whether or not you can trust the data being collected is being handled responsibly by allowing the developer to showcase if they follow best practices around data security. It also gives the developer a way to make a case for why it collects data on the listing page itself. And Google says developers can showcase if their labels have been independently verified.
TikTok Login and more integrations are coming to third-party apps.
TikTok is expanding its integrations with third-party apps. The company announced the launch of two new SDKs, the TikTok Login Kit, and Sound Kit, that will allow apps on mobile, web, and consoles to authenticate users via their TikTok credentials, build experiences that leverage users’ TikTok videos, and share music and sound back to TikTok from their apps. The Login Kit allows an app’s users to sign in quickly using their TikTok login credentials, similar to other social logins offered by Facebook or Snap. Once signed in, users can access their TikTok videos in the third-party app, potentially fueling entire new app ecosystems with TikTok content. Meanwhile, the Sounds Kit will let app users share their sounds or music back to TikTok as sounds.
Early adopters of Login Kit include gaming clips appsand anti-anxiety app social app food reviews app dating and friend-making apps , , , , , and ; creator tool provider ; video game ; and forthcoming NFT platform . Sound Kit’s adopters include mobile multi-track recording studio ; music creation and collaboration suite ; hip hop music creation app ; and upcoming audio recording and remix app .
Apple expands App Store advertising.
As Apple cracks down on the ad tech industry’s ability to personalize ads using user data, it expands its advertising business with a new App Store ad slot. The ad will appear in the Suggested section at the top of the list of apps. The latest and more prominent ad placement is found on the App Store’s Search tab, seeing millions of visits from Apple device owners every month.
Like Apple’s existing Search results campaigns, there’s no minimum spend required for a Search tab campaign, as these ads are called. Apple says developers can spend as little or as much as they want, then start, stop, or adjust the campaign anytime. Ad pricing is based on a cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) model. Impressions are counted when at least 50% of the ad is visible for one second. The actual cost results from a second price auction, which calculates what the developer will pay based on the next closest bidder’s willingness.
✨ AlthoughiOS 14.5 users might be more willing to allow apps to track them than previously thought, that few are opting in. After upgrading to the new version of iOS, only 4% of U.S. iPhone users havU.S.abled app tracking. Worldwide, the number jumps to 12%.
Applea woman $1,116.32 after her 9-year-old son (with autism spectrum disorder) racked up charges on mobile games like Roblox and Coin Master. The son had memorized the mom’s Apple ID password, which he entered when asked to authorize the purchase. The son said he didn’t understand the games cost money. Apple had initially refused to refund the money, News’ Consumer Matters to step in and help.
AppleA.I.Samy Bengio, to work on Siri. He will lead a new A.I. research unit alonA.I.ide another ex-Googler, John Giannandrea, focused on making Siri more of a Google Assistant competitor.
Apple released iOS 14.5.1, whicha bug fix for App Tracking Transparency, which prevented some users from seeing the ATT prompts.
The Google Play Store in Indiaauto-renewals and free trials amid new on recurring transactions from India’s central bank and financial regulator, the Reserve Bank of India. In an email to developers, Google said the features would be paused while “ecosystem challenges are addressed.”
Some users aren’t happy with the recent Play Store redesign, makingto see a list of your recently updated apps or those you’re beta testing.
Snaplater this month, initially focusing on connecting A.R. Lens Creators with A.R. businesses and brands who want to run A.R. ads. It will then allow A.R.pand to support all Snap Creators by 2022. It also announced , including TikTok stars Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, Megan Thee Stallion, and others.
A California regulator asked top neo-banking app Chime to stop calling itself a “bank” in its website URLs and advertising. Chime updated its website to make it clear it’s not a bank. The app is not a bank — it offers front-end banking services to customers, but the accounts themselves are held with Chime’s banking partners, The Bancorp Bank and Stride Bank, both FDIC members. ‘Expect other neobanks to follow suit soon.
WhatsApp Pay ison iOS and Android. The P2P payments feature requires the user to have a Mastercard or Visa debit card in one of the following banks: Banco Does Brazil, Banco Inter, Bradesco, Itaú, Mercado Pago, Next, Nubank, Sicredi, or Woop Sacred. The feature is also living in India.
Twitter alsoto cut down on harmful tweets. The part, now globally available in English on mobile, shows a prompt asking users to reconsider their language when they are about to tweet something mean.
And Twitterthat lets you post bigger images on iOS and Android without cropping the images. (Busy week!)
Instagram isfor Stories and soon Reels. The sticker, which only works in English, can be customized with your preferred style, color, and text.
Most WhatsApp usersthe controversial privacy update, and Facebook said this week that the company continues to grow its user base. Facebook’s family of apps had 3.45 billion MAUs as of March 31, 2021, up from 3.3 billion on December 31 and 3.21 billion on September 30. The company for not accepting the new policy but will keep reminding them.
Facebook isits Nextdoor clone, Neighborhoods, across Canada and, soon, the U.S. Unlike with FaceU.S. Groups, Facebook users on Neighborhoods can create separate sub-profiles that include a custom bio and list of interests, which is included in a Neighborhoods Directory. Neighborhoods moderators who review posts and comments and can hide posts that violate guidelines.
A courtthat killed three young adults. The boys were using Snap’s controversial “speed filter” that shows your real-life speed when the 17-year-old driver accelerated the car to 123 MPH and then crashed into a tree. The parents sued Snap, saying it knowingly created a dangerous game in the app and bore some responsibility.
Facebook notes its Workplace business networking service, up 40% YoY. Customers now include Virgin Atlantic, Walmart, Telefónica, BT, Booking.com, Deliveroo, AstraZeneca, Starbucks, and Save the Children.
Facebook and Instagram’s prompt asks its users to opt into tracking on iOS 14. The pop-up says tracking enables personalized ads, supports businesses, and “helps keep Facebook free of charge.” x uses scare tactics that suggest that Facebook could start charging for its app if users didn’t agree to follow.
Signaland disabled its ad account to run an ad campaign that showed the amount of data Instagram and Facebook collected on users. Facebook responded that this campaign was a marketing “stunt,” and Signal never tried to run the ads. It also claimed that Signal was showing off screenshots when its account was disabled briefly in March for an unrelated issue. If Signal’s being dishonest here, that’s not a good look for an app asking consumers to trust them.
On Messenger, the thD.M.sap-to-record featureusers to hold the button to record the message. It also introduced a swipe to archive in Messenger and a new Archived Chats folder on mobile.
Streaming & Entertainment
Is Clubhouse’s hype wearing off? App downloads, down from February’s 9.6 million. To combat the decline, Clubhouse this week and its “pilot season” of new shows it’s considering funding through its accelerator.
YouTube’s TikTok rival “Shorts” isU.S. and will replacU.S.e “Explore” tab on the app’s home screen.
Soundcloud partners with Triller on an integration that willinto the short-form video app. Soundcloud has offered curated programs to other platforms, including SiriusXM, Dash Radio, and Australia’s Southern Cross Austereo.
Amazon says its free, ad-supported streaming service IMDb T.V. willlater this summer.
Sensor Tower reports that Twitch’s mobile app hits 22 million global installs in the first quarter of 2021, up 62% YoY. The appended 2020 with 80.6 million installs, up 134% from 34.5 million for 2019.
PUBG Mobileas Battleground Mobile. The mobile game was initially banned in the country alongside 200 other apps with links to China. South Korean developer Krafton didn’t say if it had talked to India’s government or received permission but will launch new restrictions to protect minors and their privacy.
Health & Fitness
The Facebook appin India and announced a $10 million grant to support emergency response efforts in the country.
Tinder says it’s” which combines the real-time push notifications from Swipe Surge with the on-profile icebreakers from Swipe Night. Vibes will present users with questions ranging from personality traits to pop culture. People’s answers will be displayed on their profiles for 72 hours.
Tinder parent Match Groupbetter-than-expected earnings for its first quarter and an upbeat revenue outlook, saying it’s seeing a more robust recovery in areas with higher vaccination rates.
Government & Policy
China said 33 apps, including map navigation software from Baidu and Tencent,. The app developers were given ten working days to fix issues or be subject to penalties.
? Music-making app Rapchatin funding co-led by Sony Music Entertainment and NYC VC firm Adjacent. The company has around 7 million registered users; 250,000 songs have been created from a catalog of about 100,000 beats by 500,000 MAUs.
? Brazil fintech alt. bank, which offers a mobile banking app and debit card,in Series A funding led by Union Square Ventures. The app has been downloaded nearly 1 million times but doesn’t disclose its many active users.
? Finnish mobile games company Supercellto fellow Finnish games company Metascore, the maker of the popular title Merge Mansion, which has 800,000 daily players.
? Cosmetic treatment review website and app RealSelfYNS Group, a portfolio of websites that will give RealSelf a more international footprint.
? Fortnite maker Epic Games acquired the artist community ArtStation, where many artists upload work made with Epic’s Unreal Engine. The company immediately dropped commissions on sales from 30% to 12% — clea, aiming a point about a fair commission structure amid its Trial with Apple over App Store fees.
? Sonyan investment and partnership with Discord to bring the chat app to PlayStation. The investment amount was not disclosed but gave Sony a minority stake. The news follows reports that Discord walked away from a $10 billion acquisition offer from Microsoft.
? Zyngamobile ad and monetization firm Chartboost for $250 million. The deal brings mobile game marketing, advertising, and monetization in-house when Apple’s privacy push makes targeting mobile ads more difficult.
? Performance marketplace Perform, which offers technology to online and mobile marketers to help scale customer acquisitions,by U.S. equity firm BeriU.S. Capital.
? Virtual chronic condition care app Vida Healthin Series D funding from General Atlantic, Centene, and AXA Venture Partners. The company connects users with a personal health coach who guides them through programs for various chronic conditions, including diabetes management, weight loss, and mental health support.
? Connectcamfrom Insight Partners, O.G. Tech, and others. O.G. is a smartphone app that helps employers manage remote, deskless workers.
? Edtech website and app maker KahootClever, a startup that built a single sign-on portal for digital learning classrooms used by 65% of U.S. K-12 schools. ThU.S.al values Clever between $435 million and $500 million.
? Avatar app Geniesin Series B funding led by Mary Meeker’s firm Bond. The app, whicusers build their digital personas, is n andw expanding into NFTs.
? Canadian fintech WealthsimpleCAD 750 million (~$610 million) at a post-money valuation of CAD 5 billion (~$4 billion). Meritech and Greylock led the round.
News in Bullets
But we wish they’d double down on a newsreels feature — a TikTok for news videos. This mobile news application lets you set your language and locale, then read throucustomized news summariesyou. Right now, it presents a robotic narration of headlines overtop video news footage that you then swipe through or double-tap to like, as you would on TikTok. This could be even more useful if the app would partner with news publishers already producing quality video content and make those the central focus of the video feed.
The Oregon Trail
refreshes the original 1970s text-based strategy game with 12 playable journeys where every decision can impact your party and outcome. Players pick their traveling party and stock their wagon with supplies, then try to make it to Oregon by surviving random events like broken limbs, snowstorms, snakebites, and more.
Brave’s mobile browser Brave’s playlist feature offers quick access to your favorite audio and video content.