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This Week in Apps: Bumble’s IPO, Google’s missing privacy labels, a developer crusades against scams

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This Week in Apps: Bumble’s IPO, Google’s missing privacy labels, a developer crusades against scams

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch sequence that recaps the latest in cell OS information, cell applications and the overall app financial system.

The app industry is as hot as ever, with a yarn 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in global user consume in 2020.

Early Newspaper

Shoppers last year also spent 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 TV. At the moment, the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day, however now spends four hours per day on their cell devices.

Apps aren’t merely a way to pass indolent hours — they’re also a broad business. In 2019, cell-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x larger than these without a cell point of interest. In 2020, investors poured $73 billion in capital into cell companies — a determine that’s up 27% year-over-year.

This week, we’re taking a scrutinize at the Bumble IPO, app retailer subscription earnings and talk to a developer on a crusade against the fake ratings plaguing the App Store. We’re also checking in on the missing Google privacy labels…with a spreadsheet of all 100 apps.

This Week in Apps will rapidly be a publication! Register here: techcrunch.com/newsletters.

Bumble IPO

Bumble, the dating app positioned as certainly one of Tinder’s ideal rivals, began trading on public markets on Thursday. The company priced its shares at $43, above its earlier target range of $37 to $39. But once live, BMBL began trading up nearly 77% at $76 per share on Nasdaq, closing the day with a market cap of $7.7 billion and the inventory at $70.55.

The app itself was founded in 2014 by early Tinder exec Whitney Wolfe Herd, who now, at 31, is the youngest woman founder to take a U.S. company public and, thanks to the IPO, the arena’s youngest self-made woman billionaire, as effectively, said Fortune.

Wolfe Herd successfully leveraged her information of the online dating market, then combined that with an understanding of find out how to location a dating app to make it more appealing to ladies folks.

On Bumble, ladies folks message first, for example, and the company regularly touts features and updates designed to guard ladies folks from bad actors. A lot of what Bumble does is merely marketing and spin overlaid on the Tinder model. Care for diversified dating apps, Bumble makes employ of a similar format to attach potential matches: a swipeable “of us catalog,” where customers scrutinize at images, primarily, to determine interest. Bumble, savor others, also makes money by charging for extra features that give customers a better shot or more efficient experience.

But all this works because customers think Bumble to be diversified. They think Bumble is also capable of delivering larger-quality matches than Tinder, which has increasingly re-embraced its persona as a hook-up app.

The IPO’s success also sends a signal that investors are expecting in-particular person dating to rebound put up-pandemic, and getting in early on the next broad mass market dating app is an easy win.

Developer crusades against scammy subscription apps

Developer Kosta Eleftheriou, a Fleskly co-founder, has been on a crusade against the scammy and spammy apps overrunning the App Store, as effectively as Apple’s failure to carry out distinguished about it.

Earlier this month, Kosta complained that copycat apps have been undermining his latest business, as the developer of an Apple Watch keyboard app, FlickType. Shady clones boosted by fake ratings and experiences promised the same features as his legit app, however then locked their prospects into exorbitant subscriptions, earning the scammers a lot of of thousands per thirty days.

In his eyes, the situation wasn’t merely that clones existed, however that Apple’s lack of attention to fake experiences made these apps appear to be the better alternative.

What Apple doesn’t want you to know about the App Store👇

“The apps you savor, from a place you can have faith” they advise you. But the reality is far from it.

A 4.5-star app? May as effectively be a multi-million dollar scam.

How, you ask?

1/🧵

— Kosta Eleftheriou (@keleftheriou) February 12, 2021

Although Apple finally eliminated most of his fraudulent competitors after his rants gained press attention, he’s frustrated that the system was so damaged in the primary place.

This week, Kosta returned with another Twitter thread detailing the multimillion-dollar scams that faux to be the greatest Roku remote management app. One app, “Roku Distant Regulate – Roki,” for example, had a 4.5 stars across 15Okay+ ratings. The app was a free download, however immediately tries to lock customers into a $4.99/week subscription or a lifetime payment of $19.99. On the opposite hand, the app offers a “buggy, ad-infested, poorly designed” experience, Kosta says.

He then faded AppFigures to find handiest these experiences of the Roki app that also had text. When displayed savor this, it was revealed that “Roki” was really merely a 1.7-star app, based on shoppers who took the time to write a evaluation.

What’s worse, Kosta has also argued, that even when Apple reacts by removing a bad actor’s app, this may typically allow the developer to continue to hasten diversified, distinguished more profitable scams.

Kosta says he made up our minds to spearhead a campaign about App Store scams to “catch the phrase out about how all these scams manage to sustain themselves thru a singular normal flaw in the App Store — one that has been damaged for years.”

He also notes that although Apple answered to him, he believes the company is hoping for the account to blow over.

Dear Director at Apple who emailed me:

I already know that many of the apps I’ve reported have been eliminated.

Please acknowledge there’s a fake ratings situation plaguing the App Store, so we can begin an fair conversation.

Perhaps any individual more senior will *finallysay it?

🤨 https://t.co/wZ0ziQhtrW

— Kosta Eleftheriou (@keleftheriou) February 11, 2021

“The way Apple tried to communicate with me also didn’t assist ease my issue — they both don’t catch it, or are actively trying to let the account fizzle out thru some token gestures. But what they must carry out first and predominant, is acknowledge the situation and defend their prospects,” Kosta advised TechCrunch.

One potential argument here is that because Apple financially advantages from profitable subscription app scams, it’s no longer motivated to prioritize work that specializes in cleaning up the App Store or fake ratings and experiences. But Kosta believes Apple isn’t being intentionally malicious in an effort to develop the subscription business, it’s merely that fake App Store experiences have change into “a can that’s been perpetually kicked down the road.” Plus, since Apple touts the App Store as a place customers can have faith, it’s hard for them to admit fault on this entrance, he says.

Since the crusade began, Kosta has heard from others developers who have sent him examples “dozens and dozens of scams.”

“I will merely win exposing them until Apple acknowledges the situation,” he says.

High subscription apps grew 34% to $13B in 2020

Apps saw yarn downloads and user spending in 2020, globally reaching someplace around $111 billion to $112 billion, according to various estimates. But a growing part of that consume was subscription payments, a document from Sensor Tower indicates. Last year, global subscription app earnings from the pinnacle 100 subscription apps (excluding games), climbed 34% year-over-year to $13 billion, up from $9.7 billion in 2019.

The App Store, no longer surprisingly, accounted for a sizable chunk of this subscription earnings, given it has historically outpaced the Play Store on user spending. In 2020, the pinnacle 100 subscription apps worldwide generated $10.3 billion on the App Store, up 32% over 2019, compared with $2.7 billion on Google Play, which grew 42% from $1.9 billion in 2019. (Read more here.)

Google-Apple Privacy Label war drags on

Google said it may update its iOS apps with privacy labels weeks ago. While it did roll out some, it has but to update high apps with Apple’s unusual labels, including key apps savor the Google search app, Google Pay, Google Assistant, Google One, Google Meet, Google Images, Google Calendar, Google Maps, Google Information, Google Pressure, Gmail and others. (Aid track of this with me here. Want to assist? Email me.)

Overall, the majority of Google’s apps don’t have labels. While Google probably wished some time (and a lot of lawyers) to scrutinize this over, it’s now gigantic late to position its labels accessible. At this point, its iOS apps are out of date — which Google accidentally alerted customers to earlier this week. Right here is awful optics for a company customers already don’t have faith, and a win for Apple as a result. (Which, clearly, means we have to know for definite that Apple isn’t delaying Google’s submissions here…)

Calm, Google had time to catch this accomplished. Its December code freeze is prolonged over, and all people else, for probably the most part, has gotten on board with the unusual labels. Why can’t Google?

Google’s iOS apps release cycle earlier than & after Apple asks to advise privacy labels.

Thie pattern is probably merely a coincidence. We all know “transparency forms the bedrock of [their] commitment to customers”… pic.twitter.com/UgJjAhWfkm

— Thomasbcn (@Thomasbcn) February 2, 2021

Platforms: Apple

Apple may rapidly allow customers to situation a diversified default track provider. The company already unfolded the ability to prefer a diversified default browser and email app, however now a unusual feature in the iOS 14.5 beta indicates it may allow customers to situation another provider, savor Spotify, as the default possibility when asking Siri to play tunes. This, on the opposite hand, will be an integration with HomePod and Siri speak management give a increase to in mind, rather than something as universal as switching from Mail app to Gmail.

Apple Maps to gain Waze-savor features for reporting accidents, hazards and accelerate traps. Another unusual feature in the iOS 14.5 beta will allow drivers to document road points and incidents by using Siri on their iPhone or thru Apple’s CarPlay. For example, during navigation, they’ll be able to advise Siri things savor “there’s a crash up head,” “there’s something on the road,” or “there’s a accelerate trap here.”

Apple assessments a unusual advertising slot on the App Store. Customers of Apple’s unusual iOS 14.5 beta have reported seeing a unusual sponsored ad slot that appears on the Search tab of the App Store, under the “Really helpful” heading (the veil that exhibits earlier than you carry out a search). The ad slot is also labeled “Ad” and is a a tiny bit coloration to differentiate it from the search results. It’s unclear at this time if Apple is planning to launch the ad slot or is merely testing it.

The App Store announces designate changes for Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Germany and the Republic of Korea.

Apple alerts developers to Push Notification provider server certificate update, taking place on March 29, 2021.

Platforms: Google

Image Credits: XDA Developers

Alleged Android 12 screenshots snagged from an early draft document by XDA Developers reveal Google will be borrowing some ideas from Apple’s iOS for its next update. One feature may establish aside coloured dots in the status bar to indicate when the camera or microphone are being accessing, for example. Customers may also be able to toggle off their camera, microphone or location access fully. Google may also add a “conversations” widget to reveal fresh messages, calls and activity statuses, among diversified things.

Google bans data broker Predicio that was selling user data tranquil from a Muslim prayer app to Venntel, a govt contractor that sells location data from smartphones to ICE, CBP and the FBI, following a Motherboard investigation. Google alerted developers they had a week to take away the SDK from their apps or they’d be eliminated from Google Play.

Google updated its instructor-led curriculum for Android Pattern with Kotlin, a major update for the path materials that have been first released in 2018. The unusual materials are designed for both in-particular person or virtual learning, where educators combine lectures and codelabs.

Google in temporary notified customers that their Google iOS apps have been “out of date”an embarrassing mistake that was later corrected server-aspect. The trojan horse arrived at a time when Google has but to have updated its privacy labels for many of its largest apps, including Google, Gmail, Assistant, Maps, Images and others.

Augmented Reality

Apple released a unusual iOS app, For All Mankind: Time Capsule, to promote its Apple TV+ sequence, “For All Mankind.” The app was built using Apple’s ARKit framework, offering a unusual narrative experience advised in AR format featuring the reveal’s star. In the app, customers join Danny as he examines keepsakes that join to tales about impacting events in the lives of his parents, Gordo and Tracy Stevens, in the alternative world of the TV reveal.

E-commerce

✨ TikTok is expanding its e-commerce efforts. The company advised marketers it’s planning a push into livestreamed e-commerce, and will also allow creators to share affiliate links to products, giving them a way to earn commissions from their movies. The company also no longer too prolonged ago announced a partnership with global ad agency WPP that will give WPP agencies and prospects early access to TikTok ad products. It is going to also join high creators with WPP for brand deals.

The Single Day Shopping festival drove excessive cell usage. Shoppers spent 2.3 billion hours in Android shopping apps during week of November 8-15, 2020, reports App Annie.

Social

CULVER CITY, CA - OCTOBER 13: General view of the TikTok headquarters on October 13, 2020 in Culver City, California. (Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

Image Credits: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

✨ TikTok’s sale of its U.S. operations to Oracle and Walmart is shelved. The Biden administration undertook a evaluation of Trump’s efforts to address safety dangers from Chinese tech companies, including the forced sale of TikTok’s U.S. operations. The Trump administration claimed TikTok was a national safety threat, and ordered TikTok proprietor ByteDance to divest its U.S. operations if it wanted to continue to operate in the nation. Several large tech companies stepped up to the plate to take on the potential windfall. But Biden’s evaluation of the agency action places Trump’s plan on an indefinite pause. As a result, the U.S. govt will delay its appeal of of federal district courtroom judge’s December 2020 injunction against the TikTok ban. Discussions between U.S. national safety officials and ByteDance are continuing, on the opposite hand.

✨ Facebook is said to be building its possess Clubhouse rival. Mark Zuckerberg made a temporary appearance on Clubhouse earlier this month, which now looks more savor a reconnaissance mission, if The NYT’s document is appropriate. Facebook will have to tread calmly, given its detached under regulatory scrutiny for anticompetitive practices, which included cloning and acquiring its competition.

✨ Microsoft reportedly approached Pinterest about an acquisition of the $51 billion social media platform, however these talks are no longer active.

TikTok partnered with recipe app Drag to add a way for customers to save recipes featured in TikTok movies. The feature is at reveal in pilot testing with defend out creators.

Mark Cuban is co-founding a unusual podcast app, Hearth. The Shark Tank star and investor has teamed up with Falon Fatemi, who purchased buyer intelligence startup Node to SugarCRM last year. Hearth is basically Clubhouse, however adds the ability to export live conversations as podcasts.

TikTok expands its Universal Tune Neighborhood deal merely days after UMG pulled its track catalog from Triller, saying the app was withholding artist payments.

Indian agency ShareChat will integrate Snapchat’s Camera Package know-how into its Moj app to enable AR features. The transfer will give Snap a foothold in a key emerging market.

Instagram said this may impose stricter penalties against these that send abusive messages, including account bans, and originate unusual controls to cleave the abuse of us contemplate in their DMs. The announcement adopted a fresh bout of racist abuse targeted at footballers in the U.Okay. A joint statement from Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester Metropolis condemned the abuse, saying “there is no such thing as a room for racism, hate or any create of discrimination in our beautiful game.”

Instagram tells creators that it obtained’t promote their recycled TikToks. The company announced via its @creators account a situation of easiest practices for Reels, noting that these featuring a watermark or brand (which TikTok smartly attaches to its swear material), obtained’t be instant regularly on Instagram’s platform. Unnecessary to say, TikTok creators are already circulating movies with guidelines about find out how to cleave out the brand from TikTok movies by first exporting the video as a Are living Picture, then going to their iOS Images app, clicking on the Are living Picture and choosing “Save as Video.” Discipline solved.

Images

Image Credits: Google

Google Images for Android adds previously Pixel-handiest features — however handiest if customers subscribe to Google One. The paywalled features include machine learning-powered editing tools savor Portrait Blur, Portrait Mild and Coloration Pop. There’s also a unusual video editor on iOS with an Android update planned. The editor now allows you to nick, change perspective, add filters, apply granular edits (including brightness, contrast, saturation and warmth) and more.

Adobe adds collaboration and asynchronous editing to Photoshop, Illustrator and Fresco. The update will be supported across platforms, including desktop, iPad and iPhone.

Streaming and Entertainment

Waze adds Audible to its checklist of in-app audio players. The integration allows you to easily play your audiobooks whereas driving. Waze already supported in-app track integrations, savor YouTube Tune and Spotify, thanks to developer integrations with the Waze Audio Package.

HBO Max is going international. The app will be expanded to 39 Latin American and Caribbean territories in June, replacing the existing HBO GO app.

Image-in-image mode returned to YouTube on iOS with the launch of the iOS 14.5 beta.

Messaging

Facebook Messenger added a unusual feature that makes it easier to dam and mass-delete Message Requests from of us you don’t know. It also said it’s working on unusual ways to document abuse and providing better feedback on the status of these reports.

The Biden administration pauses the Trump ban on WeChat. The administration asked a federal appeals courtroom to place a win on proceedings over the WeChat a day after it asked for a similar delay over the TikTok case, saying it wished time to learn about the old administration’s efforts, which are now in the appeals stage.

Health & Health

NHS Covid-tracing app has prevented 600,000 infections in England and Wales, researchers estimated in certainly one of the crucial primary research of smartphone-based tracing. The app faded the tracing system built by Apple and Google.

Fintech

The Robinhood backlash hasn’t stopped the downloads. Many customers downrated the app after it halted meme inventory trading earlier this month — a transfer that’s now under Congressional investigation and has prompted more than one lawsuits. But the app continues to obtain downloads. The day after it halted trades was its 2d-largest by downloads ever, and downloads remained excessive in the days that adopted. In January 2021, the app was installed 3.7 million occasions in the U.S., or 4x the installs of January 2020.

Authorities & Coverage

Image credits: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

The Chinese govt blocked Clubhouse, which had been rapidly gaining attention in the nation. The app itself had handiest in temporary been made available in Apple’s China App Store last fall, however these had it installed may access its audio chat rooms without a VPN. Sooner than the ban, a staff discussing the 1989 professional-democracy Tiananmen narrate reached 5,000 participants — the max alternative of participants Clubhouse supports.

A unusual North Dakota Senate bill proposes to ban app stores savor Apple and Google from requiring developers to solely employ their retailer and payment mechanisms to distribute apps, and would prevent them from retaliating, at the danger of fines. Apple’s Chief Privacy Engineer Erik Neuenschwander said the bill “threatens to abolish the iPhone as you understand it,” and that Apple succeeds because it “works hard to maintain the bad apps out of the App Store.”

The Coalition for App Fairness (CAF) announced that Meghan DiMuzio has now joined as its first govt director. The advocacy staff fighting against app retailer anticompetitive behavior is made up of over 50 individuals, including Spotify, Tile, Basecamp, Epic Games and others.

Safety & Privacy

The U.S. Home of Representatives Committee on Power and Commerce has asked Apple to give a increase to the credibility of App Store privacy labels, so shoppers aren’t harmed. The quiz was made after an investigation by The Washington Put up revealed that many labels have been false, leading to questions as to whether the labels will be trusted at all.

Apple will begin to proxy Google’s “Safe Browsing” provider faded by Safari thru its possess servers starting with iOS 14.5. Safari on iPhone and iPad includes a “Fraudulent Online page Warning” feature that warns customers if they’re visiting a imaginable phishing jam. The feature leverages Google’s “Safe Browsing” database and blocklist. Earlier than, Google may have tranquil user’s IP address during its interaction with Safari, when the browser would examine the web page online URL against Google’s checklist. Now, Apple will proxy the feature thru Apple’s possess servers to limit the danger of information leaks. The change was reported by The 8-bit, MacRumors and others, after a Reddit sighting, and confirmed by Apple’s head of Engineering for WebKit.

This article is a bit perplexed on the details of how Safe Browsing works, however in the unusual iOS beta, Safari does indeed proxy the provider via Apple servers to limit the danger of information leak.https://t.co/TlDZNMO8do

— othermaciej (@othermaciej) February 11, 2021

A generically named app “Barcode Scanner” on the Google Play Store had been operating as a legit app for years earlier than turning into malware. Customers of the app, which had over 10 million installs, began to experience ads that would start their browser out of nowhere. The malware was traced to the app and Google eliminated it from the Play Store. Unfortunately, customers evaluation-bombed a diversified, innocent app as a result, leaving it 1-star experiences and accusing it of being malware.

Google Chrome’s iOS app is testing a feature that would lock your Incognito tabs with both Contact ID or Face ID to add more safety to the browser app.

Google Fi VPN for Android exits beta and expands to iPhone. The VPN app, designed for Google Fi customers, is meant to encrypt connections when on public Wi-Fi networks or when using web pages that don’t encrypt data. Customers, on the opposite hand, seek information from the privacy equipped by VPN from Google.

Twitter said the iOS 14 privacy update will have a “modest impact” on its earnings. The companies joins others, including Facebook and Snap, in saying that Apple is impacting their business’s monetization.

💰 Quilt, a “Clubhouse” targeted self-care, raised $3.5 million seed round led by Mayfield Fund. The app has a similar format to audio social network, Clubhouse, however rooms are dedicated much less to hustle tradition and more to wellness, personal vogue, spirituality, meditation, astrology and more.

🤝  Match Neighborhood, proprietor of dating apps savor Match and Tinder, will prefer Korean social media company Hyperconnect for $1.73 billion. The company runs two apps, Azar and Hakuna Are living, each which point of interest on video, including video chats and live broadcasts.

🤝 Digital Arts buys Glu Cell, maker of the “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” cell game in a $2.4 billion deal. The all-cash deal will also bring diversified games, savor “Diner Dash” and “MLB Tap Sports activities Baseball” to EA, which said it made the acquisition because cell is the “fastest-growing platform on the planet.”

💰 French startup Powder raised $12 million for its social app for sharing clips from your favorite games, and observe others with the same interests. The app can capture video swear material from each desktop and cell games.

💰 Reddit’s valuation doubled to $6 billion after raising $250 million in a late-stage funding round led by Vy Capital, following the r/WallStreetBets and GameStop frenzy. The company was previously valued at $3 billion, and is also backed by Andreessen Horowitz and Tencent Holdings Ltd.

💰 SplashLearn raised $18 million for its game-based edtech platform. The startup offers math and reading programs for Pre-Okay thru 5th grade, and over 4,000 games and interactive activities.

💰 Goody raised $4 million for its cell app that allows you to send gifts to chums, family and diversified loved ones over a text message. The diversified user can then personalize the reward and share their address, in the occasion you don’t have that information.

💰 VerSe Innovation, the Bangalore-based parent agency of information and entertainment app Dailyhunt and short video app Josh, a TikTok rival, raised over $100 million in Series H round led by Qatar Investment Authority and Glade Brook Capital Partners. The round turns the company into a unicorn.

💰 Tickr, an app that lets U.Okay. shoppers make financial investments based on their impact to society and the ambiance, raised $3.4 million in a round led by Ada Ventures, a VC agency targeted on impact startups.

📈 Huuuge Inc., a developer of free-to-play cell casino games, raised $445 million in its IPO in Warsaw, becoming Poland’s largest-ever gaming industry listing.

💰 Uptime, an educational app that offers 5-minute bits of insight from high books and programs, raised a $16 million “seed” round led by Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy; entrepreneur and chairman of N Brown, David Alliance; and individuals of private equity agency Thomas H Lee.

💰 Fashionable Health, a mental health products and providers provider for businesses to present to their staff, raised $74 million, valuing its business at $1.17 billion. The Fashionable Health cell app assesses each employee’s need and then present care alternatives.

💰 Scalarr raised $7.5 million to battle cell ad fraud. The company offers products to detect ad fraud earlier than an advertiser bids and diversified tools faded by ad exchanges, demand-aspect platforms, and offer-aspect platforms.

💰 Dublin-based meals ordering app Flipdish, a Deliveroo rival, raised €40 million from global investment agency Tiger Global Management. The app offers a lower commission than diversified shipping rivals and is even testing drone shipping with startup Manna Aero.

💰 Jackpot, an NYC-based lottery designate app, raised $50 million Series C. The app allows customers to play the lottery games in nine diversified states, including Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, Contemporary Hampshire, Contemporary Jersey, Contemporary York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas and Washington, D.C.

Insight’s iOS web browser supports “extensions”

Image Credits: Insight

A unusual startup called Insight is bringing web browser extensions to the iPhone, with the goal of delivering a better web browsing experience by blocking ads and trackers, flagging fake experiences on Amazon, offering web page online positioning-free search experiences or even calling out media bias and misinformation, among diversified things. These features are made available by way of the browser’s “extensions,” which work by way of a “sub-tab” workflow where you navigate using swiping gestures. For example, when online shopping, you may learn about the product you’re interested in, then swipe over to find the available coupons, the trusted product experiences or to comparison store across diversified web pages.

The app is a free download on iOS.

App Annie Pulse

Image Credits: App Annie

App Annie’s unusual app Pulse is aimed no longer at the more advanced analyst or marketer immersed in data, however rather at the govt.who wants a “more elevated, high-down learn about” of the app ecosystem, TechCrunch reported. The app offers easy access to the app stores’ high charts, plus tools for tracking apps, and a information feed highlighting fresh traits. Another feature, the App Annie Performance accept, which aims to distill user acquisition, engagement, monetization and sentiment into a single benchmark.

The app is at reveal iOS-handiest.

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This Week in Apps: Bumble’s IPO, Google’s missing privacy labels, a developer crusades against scams