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This Week in Apps: Twitter alternative winners and losers, BeReal declines, iOS web apps to get notifications

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Welcome backmost to This Week successful Apps, the play TechCrunch series that recaps nan latest successful mobile OS news, mobile applications and nan wide app economy.

The app system successful 2023 deed a fewer snags, arsenic user spending past twelvemonth dropped for nan first clip by 2% to $167 billion, according to data.ai’s “State of Mobile” report. However, downloads are continuing to grow, up 11% year-over-year successful 2022 to scope 255 billion. Consumers are besides spending much clip successful mobile apps than ever before. On Android devices alone, hours spent successful 2022 grew 9%, reaching 4.1 trillion.

This Week successful Apps offers a measurement to support up pinch this fast-moving manufacture successful 1 spot pinch nan latest from nan world of apps, including news, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and overmuch more.

Do you want This Week successful Apps successful your inbox each Saturday? Sign up here: techcrunch.com/newsletters

This week’s taxable seems to beryllium a diminution successful maturation for immoderate much-buzzed-about apps, including a group of Twitter alternatives, AI photograph apps and moreover nan BeReal. Let’s dive in.

How are nan Twitter alternatives faring now?

Concept illustration depicting Twitter successful a federated world

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

Was location a Twitter exodus aliases conscionable a Twitter pause? Did it moreover matter? This week, TechCrunch dug into caller data successful bid to return a look astatine really a scope of “Twitter alternatives” person fared successful nan months pursuing Elon Musk’s acquisition of nan celebrated microblogging network, now that nan burst of caller installs driven by his takeover has tapered off. The information indicates that galore apps proceed to turn to a lesser grade while different apps person seen maturation decline. But it besides shows that Twitter itself was ne'er importantly impacted, astatine slightest successful position of caller app installs.

Of course, app installs is only 1 model into this data. But backstage companies don’t often stock figures related to progressive usage, truthful search user request done app downloads is 1 measurement to find marketplace interest. What’s absorbing present is that we recovered Twitter installs person trended backmost up aft earlier declines. Downloads grew from 16.6 cardinal installs successful October to 18.6 cardinal successful November arsenic Musk took over, past dropped successful December to 16.9 million. Last month, they again jumped backmost to 18.6 cardinal installs, giving Twitter nan aforesaid 24.8% maturation complaint it had successful November.

Meanwhile, different Twitter alternatives person seen drop-offs successful growth. While our study examined Reddit and Discord, neither of these look to person had their fortunes straight tied to Twitter’s ups and downs, arsenic it turned out. Other alternatives for illustration Hive, GETTR and Tribel person seen their maturation slow. Tribel, for instance, only added 1,100 caller downloads successful January. Tumblr surely had a November bump driven by nan Twitter exodus arsenic good but is still up somewhat higher successful December (510,000 installs) and January (480,000) compared pinch September and October.

Mastodon’s installs were down rather a spot from November’s highest of 2.9 cardinal monthly downloads. It still managed to summation 180,000 caller installs successful January — that’s 169,000 much installs than it had successful September 2022. So it’s not successful diminution yet.

If anything, nan biggest boost to nan wider Twitter replacement app ecosystem hinges connected caller personification consciousness of nan Fediverse and Mastodon. Even if nan Mastodon app itself hasn’t transformed into a ascendant force, it’s early days. Fediverse maturation could yet beryllium a inclination that plays retired complete a longer play of clip than conscionable a fewer months post-Twitter acquisition, arsenic much apps subordinate nan decentralization movement.

Web apps will get to enactment much for illustration existent apps connected iPhone

One of nan much notable changes coming retired of nan iOS 16.4 beta is nan news that Apple will now let mobile web applications to usability much for illustration autochthonal applications by providing them entree to iOS’s push notification system. That intends web apps that get added to a user’s Home Screen tin petition support to person push notifications if nan personification opts successful — for lawsuit by tapping connected a subscribe fastener to person updates, arsenic a station connected the WebKit blog explains. This would past let nan extremity personification to negociate their push notifications for nan app successful their Settings, conscionable arsenic they would for immoderate different autochthonal iOS aliases iPadOS app.

The notifications would activity conscionable for illustration autochthonal notifications, too, appearing successful each areas wherever you’d expect to spot them, for illustration nan Notification Center, Lock Screen and connected a paired Apple Watch. The web apps’ icon tin besides show a badge pinch a badge count and will activity pinch Focus Modes. What’s more, users tin moreover adhd aggregate versions of nan aforesaid web app to their Home Screen, each pinch their ain settings — thing that tin beryllium useful for separating activity and individual usage of immoderate apps aliases aggregate accounts, nan station notes.

Push notifications tied to web browsers is not caller technology, but it’s absorbing to spot Apple clasp nan characteristic now that it’s nether unit to show that it’s not engaging successful anti-competitive behavior. With this change, nan institution tin constituent to web apps arsenic an replacement to its App Store, claiming they person nan aforesaid expertise to target and scope iPhone and iPad users arsenic autochthonal apps do.

Are we still Being Real?

Is nan radiance wearing disconnected BeReal? Interesting information retired this week from Apptopia (via Business of Apps) indicates that BeReal whitethorn person already peaked. The app is estimated to person deed 20 cardinal regular progressive users successful October 2022, but that’s since dropped to 10.4 million. In addition, its monthly downloads fell from 12 cardinal successful September 2022 to 3.3 cardinal successful January, nan study noted, citing information from AppMagic.

TechCrunch antecedently reported location were indications that BeReal wasn’t gaining capable crushed to support its precocious ranks aft going viral. The app successful October was said to beryllium seeing only 9% of its Android users unfastened it daily. The app demands small of its users’ clip — its push notification prompts a one-time usage per day, and nan mostly weren’t moreover giving it that. Some whitethorn person felt that information was unfair aliases unhelpful, peculiarly fixed BeReal’s traction pinch U.S. teens and young adults, astir of whom are connected iPhone. But successful operation pinch nan caller data, it’s possibly much of a concern.

The institution has faced challenges arsenic its once-daily notification gimmick has been ripped disconnected by Instagram, Snapchat and BeReal. Meanwhile, nan app itself has remained unchanged. There’s thing to addict aliases re-engage users — which is benignant of nan point. The founders’ extremity is to create a caller type of societal acquisition that doesn’t request immense chunks of clip and strives for authenticity. But they besides haven’t laid retired a imagination for its future, despite a $60 cardinal Series B — a number that suggests a expansive scheme should beryllium successful shop aliases astatine slightest monetization. It’s not a manner business, aft all. It’s unclear wherever BeReal is going adjacent astatine this point.

The AI photograph app inclination has fizzled

Speaking of apps successful decline, that’s wherever nan AI photograph app inclination has ended up.

Over nan past respective months, AI-powered photograph apps had been going viral connected nan App Store arsenic consumers explored AI-powered experiences for illustration Lensa AI’s “magic avatars” characteristic and different apps promising to move matter into images utilizing AI tech. But caller information indicates user liking successful AI photograph apps has fallen arsenic quickly arsenic it rose.

At their tallness of popularity, nan apical AI photograph apps topped 4.3 cardinal regular downloads and ~$1.8 cardinal per time successful user spending via in-app purchases. As of this past week, nan aforesaid group of apps saw only astir 952,000 mixed downloads and astir $507,000 successful user spending, and nan numbers proceed to fall.

Consumers seemed to respond to nan ethical concerns being raised astir nan apps. As TechCrunch had reported astatine nan time, immoderate group began to time off comments connected AI photos and floor plan pictures posted connected societal media to show group not to usage an app that steals from artists. This backlash apt quelled immoderate of nan request for AI art. After all, it’s not overmuch nosy to usage an AI pic for your floor plan if you’re fundamentally being accused of theft erstwhile doing so.

Apple

  • Apple released iOS 16.3.1, iPadOS 16.3.1 and macOS Ventura 13.2.1 to spot a WebKit vulnerability. On its information update page, Apple wrote that it “is alert of a study that this rumor whitethorn person been actively exploited.
  • Apple released iOS 16.4’s first beta, which brings a number of caller features, including 31 caller emojis for illustration nan pinkish bosom and shaking face; nan expertise for web apps connected iPhone and iPad to access push notifications and show badges; support for rich | contented previews of Mastodon posts successful iMessage; and new features for Apple Podcasts including a caller “Channels” conception and CarPlay updates.
  • The first macOS Ventura 13.3 beta was released arsenic well, on pinch tvOS 16.4 and watchOS 9.4.
  • Apple is making it easier for registered developers to instal iOS betas by allowing them to registry their accounts successful bid to beryllium opted into a caller action that lets them instal betas straight from Software Updates. The strategy will switch nan profiles antecedently required. But this alteration intends only registered developers tin instal nan developer beta — those who aren’t registered tin only instal nan nationalist beta instead.
  • Apple officially released iOS 16 take figures, demonstrating it’s higher than iOS 15 pinch 81% of each iPhones from 2019 and connected moving nan newest software. In addition, 72% of all iPhones are moving iOS 16. Not arsenic galore iPads person updated, though, arsenic only 50% of each iPads are moving iPadOS 16, while 53% of those introduced successful nan past 4 years are.

Google/Android

  • Google said a mini percent of Android 13 devices will beryllium enrolled successful nan beta tests of its caller privateness sandbox, an interest-based ad-targeting system. Initial advertisement partners for nan proceedings see TechCrunch’s genitor Yahoo, mobile games shaper Rovio, mobility patient Wolt, cross-platform games motor Unity and mobile trading platforms AppsFlyer, InMobi Exchange and Adjust.
  • Google announced that Play Games Services (PGS) is rolling retired next-generation Player IDs. With this change, says Google, “the first clip a personification plays a game, they will ever beryllium assigned a unsocial next-generation Player ID that will stay accordant sloppy of nan instrumentality aliases level a personification plays a crippled on, but which will alteration from crippled to game.”
  • Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Android phone’s caller Message Guard feature is said to forestall zero-click exploits via messaging apps.

Social

  • At its investor day, Snap announced that Snapchat now has 750 million+ monthly progressive users, up 25% from April 2022 and noted 150 cardinal of those users are successful North America. Among a bevy of metrics it shared, it besides said its Snapchat+ $3.99/month subscription now has 2.5 cardinal subscribers. The institution said it would attraction much connected its Direct Response ads business going forward, put successful AR and proceed M&A. It said small astir its Spectacles and declined to reply a mobility connected really nan latest successful AI would effect its business.
  • TikTok whitethorn beryllium developing a paywalled product wherever creators could complaint $1 aliases much for videos. It’s besides said to beryllium working connected a revamped Creator Fund which would salary creators pinch 100,000+ followers.
  • Popular Mastodon customer Ivory sewage thing Twitter users waited eons for: an edit button.
  • Twitter began allowing cannabis ads connected its level successful U.S. states wherever it’s legal. The ads will beforehand brands and connection info but not facilitate nonstop sales. The move comes aft galore larger Twitter advertisers put their campaigns connected pause, forcing Twitter to recoup its business elsewhere.
  • Instagram launched Instagram Channels, a broadcast chat characteristic that allows creators to stock public, one-to-many messages pinch fans and followers. The characteristic supports some matter and images and is initially disposable to creators successful nan U.S.
  • TikTok added caller dedicated feeds alongside its For You and Following feeds that fto users browse videos by categories for illustration  “Sports,” “Fashion,” “Gaming” and “Food.”

AR

Snap launches ray tracing technology

Image Credits: Snap

  • Snapchat said it’s adding ray tracing support to its AR Lens Studio for developers globally. The method capacity allows for realistic renderings of ray and radiance connected AR artifacts. Snap is partnering pinch Tiffany & Co. to fto users effort connected and acquisition bracelets utilizing AR utilizing this caller feature.

Commerce

  • Following Facebook, Instagram will unopen down its unrecorded shopping feature connected March 16, 2023 to alternatively put its attraction connected ads that let users to observe businesses and Shops connected nan app. With nan change, Instagram users will nary longer beryllium capable to tag products while livestreaming — a capability that has been broadly disposable to U.S. businesses and creators since 2020.
  • Meanwhile, TikTok has much brands testing retired its ain in-app commerce features pinch TikTok Shop successful nan U.S. While the tests person been underway since November, TikTok confirmed much companies for illustration PacSun, Revolve and Willow Boutique, arsenic good arsenic beauty marque KimChi Chic, are now connected board, travel an Ad Age report.

Media and Entertainment

  • Big news successful nan world of YouTube as Susan Wojcicki announced she’s stepping down arsenic YouTube CEO aft 9 years. The exec, Google’s 16th employee, has worked astatine nan institution for astir 25 years, having led YouTube done nan motorboat of caller products for illustration YouTube Premium YouTube TV, and different creator products and services, arsenic good arsenic done challenges astir moderation issues and accrued lawmaker scrutiny of Big Tech.
  • Spotify was caught successful a backlash aft audiobook narrators discovered a clause that fto Apple usage audiobooks from Findaway Voices to train its synthetic voices. Spotify acquired Findaway successful June 2022. Apple launched audiobooks narrated by synthetic voices just past month.
  • TikTok is launching TikTok Trivia, a livestream trivia quiz game that has a $500,000 prize pool. The crippled will beryllium hosted regular betwixt February 22 and 26 and will beryllium unfastened to users successful nan U.S. aged 18 aliases older. During nan first 3 days, TikTok Trivia will person 2 unrecorded sessions per time that are each an hr long. The first convention will statesman astatine 8 p.m. ET, and will person 12 questions. Winners divided a $30,000 reward. The 2nd convention is astatine 9 p.m. ET., and winners divided a $70,000 reward. After completing “survival rounds” nan past group opinionated will divided a $100,000 reward.

Gaming

  • China’s games industry shrank for nan first clip successful years, according to nan country’s apical gaming manufacture association. The marketplace grossed 265.9 cardinal yuan ($39 billion) from video gaming income successful 2022, a 10.33% driblet year-over-year. The diminution was owed to a number of factors, including its video crippled crackdowns, region connected issuing permits and nan now lengthier process to go compliant.
  • The Google Home app tin now power nan Xbox Series S aliases Series X, allowing nan app to service arsenic a touch distant for nan console.
  • The Information reported connected really Amazon’s Luna gaming work is losing steam, noting that its room has shrunk by astir 30% since October, and dozens much titles were connected way to exit successful nan weeks ahead.
  • Roblox is testing a tool that lets players usage earthy language to create aliases alteration nan quality of their avatars and environment.

Dating

  • Match-owned making love app Hinge rolled retired its caller $50/month subscription called HingeX, which offers continually boosted profiles, getting likes seen first, enhanced recommendations and each nan different perks of nan adjacent tier down, Hinge+ (previously Hinge Preferred).
  • Relationship app Flamme, antecedently known arsenic Sparks, introduced a caller AI-powered Ask Me Anything instrumentality which caters to couples looking to present caller and nosy experiences to their lives, and besides amended connection successful their relationship.
  • TechCrunch rounded up a caller group of making love app startups, Candid, Ditto and IRLY, that are incorporating video successful different ways, including for profiles, calls and moreover arsenic a benignant of TikTok for dating.
  • Dating app installs person fallen, Sensor Tower reported astir Valentine’s Day. Download levels returned to those seen successful 2019 and 2021, and past dropped further successful 2022, making past twelvemonth nan lowest number of installs complete nan past 4 years, moreover arsenic revenues grew, peaking astatine $374 cardinal successful gross gross successful Q1 2022. Social find apps, however, person been a much move group pinch astir of nan apical 10 swapping places from 2021-2022.

Image Credits: Sensor Tower

Etc.

  • Tile introduced a caller anti-theft mode that requires biometric data, a authorities ID and caller Terms of Service that let nan institution to stock users’ individual info pinch rule enforcement. The changes are meant to service arsenic a deterrent to nan criminal usage of trackers for things for illustration stalking and theft. But nan institution says it won’t hold for a lawsuit to move complete information to police — which whitethorn deter user take too.
  • Two-year-old crypto app Bakkt is shutting down connected March 16. The institution had collaborated pinch Starbucks, Best Buy and Choice Hotels connected its efforts to necktie crypto pinch integer assets, for illustration gift cards, loyalty points and hose miles.
  • Google Photos’ app began crashing aft nan merchandise of iOS 16.3.1, requiring a speedy update to fix.
  • Google rolled out caller features including partial civilization tabs and auto-filling passwords to make in-app browsing connected Android a amended experience.
  • Reddit is reportedly looking to IPO later this year, The Information said, but it will apt beryllium worthy little than nan $15 cardinal it had hoped for erstwhile it primitively revenge successful Dec. 2021.
  • Firefox for Android gained an extension that allows users to perceive to articles publication aloud, and others for hiding email addresses and removing search elements earlier sharing a URL.
  • The Wall Street Journal offered an update connected nan Department of Justice’s antitrust investigation against Apple, noting nan authorities had now added much litigators to nan investigation and accrued its consultations pinch companies related to issues astatine manus successful caller months.
  • The Washington Post featured an interview pinch TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew who’s trying to person U.S. lawmakers that TikTok is not a nationalist information threat.
  • Singapore-based neobank Aspire raised $100 cardinal successful Series C funding from investors including Lightspeed, Sequoia Capital SEA, PayPal, Tencent, LGT Capital Partners, and others. Over nan past 12 months, nan startup tripled its annualized TPV to $12 cardinal and now reaches complete 15,000 businesses successful Southeast Asia.
  • Triller closed connected its acquisition of influencer trading patient Julius for an undisclosed sum. New York-based Julius had raised a full of $23.8 million. It’s unclear really Triller has nan costs aft dealing pinch multiple lawsuits from UMG, Sony Music and Verzuz successful caller months.

Editor: Naga



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