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This Week in Apps: Sneak peek at TikTok shopping, new iOS and Android betas, kids’ app Prodigy hit with FTC complaint

This Week in Apps: Sneak peek at TikTok shopping, new iOS and Android betas, kids’ app Prodigy hit with FTC complaint

Welcome attend to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in cell OS news, cell applications and the total app economy.

The app industry is as sizzling as ever, with a narrative 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in world person spend in 2020.

Early Newspaper

Consumers final year also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices by myself. And in the U.S., app utilization surged forward of the time spent watching are living TV. At present, the real looking American watches 3.7 hours of are living TV per day, nonetheless now spends four hours per day on their cell devices.

Apps aren’t precise a approach to creep sluggish hours — they’re also a great business. In 2019, cell-first corporations had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x better than those without a cell focal point. In 2020, investors poured $73 billion in capital into cell corporations — a figure that’s up 27% year-over-year.

This week, we’ve got a main stare at one in every of TikTok’s early e-commerce checks, which involves a program for sellers involving product anchors on videos and the option for affiliate gross sales. We’re also digging into the new iOS and Android betas, the FTC complaint against math app Prodigy and extra.

TikTok checks a new e-commerce abilities in Indonesia

The Financial Times these days reported TikTok became once preparing to initiate a vary of new e-commerce experiences in 2021, including the flexibility for creators to piece links to merchandise, help for affiliate gross sales, and even livestreamed shopping. Now, we’ve got a main stare at one of the fundamental are living checks spherical e-commerce that TikTok has in development.

The firm these days launched a “Seller College” online page aimed at its Indonesian target audience, where it crucial points how brands can advertise their merchandise on video. Right here, TikTok explains brands be pleased two strategies to advertise, both by making their very be pleased videos or by working with affiliates.

“Ought to you in deciding to promote thru your private page, you might maybe presumably presumably presumably then allege merchandise thru livestreaming or short videos, with product anchors embedded in your reveal. When clients peek your reveal, they’ll additionally be redirected to the corresponding product part page by clicking on the product anchor,” the location explains.

The Seller College also crucial points varied information, appreciate the manner to enroll to be a TikTok vendor and what invent of merchandise are prohibited, along with varied tips and guidelines.

Teach Credit score: TikTok

TikTok Sellers ought to offer their contact information, including location, phone, electronic mail, shop and warehouse location, and varied required documentation to be approved. They can then dwelling up a Seller profile, where they are able to arrange varied users associated with their sage. Once are living as a Seller on the app, they’ll be pleased a “TikTok Store” on the 2nd tab on their profile, which users can peek when they search recommendation from the page.

When their videos showing their merchandise are considered, there are “product anchors” embedded in the reveal. Clicking on these anchors will redirect the viewer to the product part page where they are able to transact. In addition, brands can collaborate with TikTok influencers to promote their merchandise thru a new “TikTok Affiliate” program.

Teach Credit score: TikTok

TikTok informed TechCrunch this system is a test of its e-commerce solutions in Indonesia, and one in every of several product checks in the dwelling of e-commerce.

User advocacy groups file FTC complaint against edtech app Prodigy

A coalition of 20 person advocacy groups, led by the Marketing campaign for a Business-Free Childhood, be pleased filed an FTC complaint against the favorite edtech app Prodigy, which provides a math learning app for web and cell. The app is designed valuable appreciate fresh-day freemium video games, with math “battles” designed to enhance math skills, grades and test rankings.

The complaint alleges a vary of abuses, including the intention in which it aggressively pushes kids using the free model equipped to varsities to nag of us for the paid $59 annual subscription, which includes a richer gaming abilities.

The groups also make a selection articulate with the app’s in-app rewards and badges — some of that are most efficient on hand to paid users, including fancier loot containers — saying these features trigger division between those that pay and those that can’t. And it alleges that Prodigy’s claims about educational enhancements don’t maintain merit.

In response, Prodigy says it takes the worries significantly, nonetheless over 95% of users play the sport free of charge and the business mannequin involving the paid membership is how free internet admission to is equipped.

“Without this mannequin, we might maybe presumably presumably be required to position all of our educational reveal behind a paywall, which contradicts our mission of providing fat internet admission to to fun and engaging math learning,” a firm spokesperson said. “The alternative might maybe presumably presumably be to generate income thru advertising, which is never a mannequin we think about greatest advantages or protects our users. We never allege third-birthday party ads on our platform, nor attain we promote or hire any varied user information to third parties,” they successfully-known.

The FTC has stepped up its enforcement over how apps targeting kids can behave, with a focal point on data series practices and COPPA violations, which has resulted in fines for apps appreciate TikTok and YouTube. This complaint, nonetheless, is now not about kids’s privateness, nonetheless rather how they’re being marketed to thru edtech.

Platforms: Apple

Apple rolls out iOS 14.5, beta 2. The update includes a new Apple Music interface with the flexibility to piece lyrics on social and utilize new swipe gestures; new Shortcuts actions for taking screenshots, setting veil orientation switching between cell data modes, and extra; expanded help for iPad privateness features (in relation to shutting off the microphone); and greater than 200 new emoji.

The most critical new emoji include the coronary heart on fireplace, exhaling face, face in clouds, gender alternatives for folks with beards and an updated syringe that removes the blood, making it extra invaluable for conversations concerning the COVID vaccine.

Apple welcomed the teams from 13 app corporations in its inaugural cohort for Apple’s Entrepreneur Camp for Unlit Founders and Developers. This system focuses on building technical skills and designing a great user abilities thru classes, hands-on labs, one-on-ones with Apple specialists and engineers, and extra. VC company Harlem Capital can even offer mentorship.

Individuals include health app B3am, news app Unlit, track app Bar Exam, 3D photos app Film3D, MIDI Controller app FormKey, healthcare app Health Auto Export, gardening app Hologarden, faraway learning resolution Hubli (beta testing), game Justice Royale, sneaker fanatic app Kickstroid, nail paintings app Nailstry, social app Peek: Movies & TV Reveals and track app TuneBend.

Platforms: Google

Google launches the main developer preview of Android 12. The update includes new privateness controls; pre-dwelling password complexity phases of high, medium and low; varied improved user abilities instruments and app compatibility enhancements; the flexibility to transcode media into better-quality formats appreciate the AV1 image format; transitions and animations for notifications, plus the flexibility to decorate notifications with custom reveal; enrollment-particular IDs for employee-owned devices; streamlined credential management for unmanaged devices; an improved screenshot editor; better help for multi-channel audio; Venture Mainline enhancements; and extra.

Google’s Play Store adds help for Nearby Sharing. The feature enables users to piece apps and updates with nearby Android devices.

Google suspended the Trump 2020 app from the Play Store for non-performance. The app would both cling upon first initiate or immediately reported a server error. Google says the app became once in violation of its policies spherical non-functional apps, nonetheless the app can return if it’s fastened.


YouTube says it’s now beta testing a new e-commerce shopping abilities in the app that enables creators to market merchandise to followers, who can then settle without delay on YouTube. The feature, which targets to compete with TikTok’s growing shopping ambitions, will expand later in 2021 beyond the initial community of creators.

Teach Credit score: YouTube


Robinhood’s CEO Vlad Tenev testified forward of Congress this week over the GameStop frenzy. Tenev denied helping hedge funds and requested for the SEC to alter trading tips. AOC pointed out that Robinhood isn’t in truth free, it’s precise hiding the price from retail investors by subsidizing free trades with cost for present circulation. (A share of its income Tenev ridiculously claimed he couldn’t rob, saying most efficient “it’s over 50%.”)

From the hearing, thru CSPAN


TikTok father or mother ByteDance is exploring a sale of its TikTok operations in India to Bangalore-headquartered Leer, a cell reveal platform founded by InMobi founder Naveen Tewari. Leer operates a TikTok rival Roposo, which has viewed huge growth since TikTok became once banned in India over national security considerations. The two corporations — ByteDance and Leer father or mother InMobi Pte — piece an investor with SoftBank, which initiated the talks, per a Bloomberg report.

Instagram is fixing the iMessage bug. Some suspected the articulate became once related to Apple and Fb’s ongoing public battles, nonetheless Instagram said the downside where Instagram links in iMessage wouldn’t allege a preview became once precise a bug. The firm successfully-known a repair will near soon.

TikTok inks a multi-year deal with UFC which includes livestreams of pre- and post-fight reveal, and varied behind-the-scenes photography. The reveal will circulation on UFC TikTok accounts including @UFC, @UFCRussia, @UFCBrasil and @UFCEurope.

Douyin, the Chinese model of TikTok, now has 550 million users for its in-app Search feature by myself. The app final reported in September it had 600 million each day users, indicating an even increased rotten of MAUs.

Proper kind-wing social network Parler announced it’s attend online for existing users and will re-initiate to new users subsequent week. The firm also has a new interim CEO, Designate Meckler, who previously co-founded the Tea Social gathering Patriots.

Triller is mired in controversy over its MAUs. A Billboard report says the firm misrepresented the alternative of month-to-month energetic users it had — 25 million instead of the 50 million it claimed. Triller CEO Mike Lu had said the discrepancies didn’t matter on sage of there’s “no compatible definition” for an MAU. After the report came out, Lu denied the firm became once inflating its numbers. We happen to rob that Triller immediately threatened to sue over a report that it had inflated its downloads final year.


YouTube smartly-known person David Dobrik’s photograph-sharing app Dispo, backed by a $4 million seed, launched into private beta to a ton of buzz. The app mercurial maxed out TestFlight’s 10,000-person restrict, instead of being the low-key beta debut the crew had anticipated. Dispo’s gimmick is that users ought to attend 24 hours to hit upon the photos they snap.


Teach Credit score: WhatsApp

WhatsApp will roll out an in-app banner in an attempt to raised explain its new privateness policy. When clicked, users will likely be directed in the direction of policy information they are able to overview at their leisure forward of the Could maybe even unbiased 15 deadline to easily earn the changes.

Streaming & Entertainment

Teach Credit score: App Annie

Clubhouse has topped 8 million world downloads, 2.6 million of that be pleased been in the U.S., according to a new report from App Annie. The report also highlighted the broader affect Clubhouse is having on social audio, as local audio apps are gaining new installs, too.

International cell users streamed 935 billion hours of video in 2020, up 40% YoY, says App Annie. The pandemic impacts be pleased been clear — users went from 146 billion hours in Q1 2019 to 240 billion in Q4 2020, a 65% upward thrust in two years.

Cameo, the app that connects clients with celebs for paid personalized messages, is declared to be raising $100 million, valuing its business at $1 billion, studies Bloomberg Quint. Now now not coincidentally, Fb precise started testing its Cameo clone, Easy.

YouTube unearths its 2021 plans. In a blog post from Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan, YouTube gave a ogle at coming updates all over its suite of apps:

  • YouTube to redesign its YouTube VR app homepage to enhance navigation, accessibility and search performance.
  • YouTube says this can expand its video chapters feature to add chapters automatically and update the watch abilities to be extra intuitive, including on the pill.
  • YouTube TV, now with 3 million-plus users, will introduce a paid add-on that can help 4K streaming, DVR for off-line playback and unlimited simultaneous in-dwelling streams.
  • YouTube Youngsters will add a feature that enables of us to specify the channels and videos their kids are allowed to watch.
  • YouTube will expand its Applause tipping feature to extra creators in 2021.
  • YouTube Music will increase playlist creation and create those playlists extra discoverable.
  • And as successfully-known above, YouTube is testing an e-commerce feature that lets users examine out on the app.
  • YouTube Shorts, an in-app TikTok rival of kinds, will approach to the U.S. in March, following its checks in India.


Microsoft xCloud, the sport streaming provider that lets users play Xbox video games on Android tablets and telephones, has begun testing an online model. In a overview by The Verge, the abilities is described as equivalent to the cell model, with a straightforward launcher, recommendations, internet admission to to cloud video games thru Xbox Sport Pass Ultimate and the flexibility to resume these days played video games.

Apple demanded delicate data from Valve to abet in its compatible battle with Account Video games. The demand included things appreciate full yearly gross sales of apps and in-app merchandise; annual advert revenues from Steam; annual revenues from Steam; annual earnings execrable or gain from Steam; and extra. Apple also wished the names of all Steam apps, price and IAP, and date vary on hand. Valve, now not surprisingly, did now not agree to this. PCGamer has the fat report.

Account Video games expands its compatible fight with Apple to the EU. The Fortnite owner filed a proper antitrust complaint with the European Commission, alleging Apple’s anti-aggressive restrictions that be pleased “eliminated competition in app distribution and payments.” Account Video games can also be fighting Apple in the U.S., U.Okay. and Australia.

We’re bringing our fight to slay Apple’s App Store monopoly to Europe. Apple’s practices are harming patrons and app developers in Europe and all around the enviornment, and we’re joining the #EU’s ongoing investigation into Apple’s abuse of its dominant station https://t.co/LIb346QmEi

— Account Video games Newsroom (@EpicNewsroom) February 17, 2021

Stadia layoffs unnerved crew. Google Stadia, the sport streaming provider on hand thru Chromecast Ultra, the Chrome browser, ChromeOS tablets and the Stadia cell app for Android, these days shut down its in-dwelling game pattern studio, Stadia Video games and Entertainment. A report from Kotaku this week indicates how valuable of a shock this became once to crew, as precise days forward of the mass layoffs, management became once praising workers for his or her “great development.”

Health & Health

Apple tells developers that most efficient apps submitted by identified public health authorities will have the opportunity to post “health creep” apps to the App Store. These apps are designed to inform someone’s COVID-19 testing and vaccination status. Apple says this can earn apps from authorities, clinical and varied credentialed institutions, healthcare companies, laboratories and test bundle manufacturers.

Apple promotes iOS health apps to Apple Card holders. In honor of American Coronary heart Month, Apple emailed Apple Card users savings on iOS health apps including Strava, Ten P.c Happier, Sleep Cycle and Lifesum.

U.S. health & health apps saw over 405 million installs in 2020, up 22% year-over-year, studies Sensor Tower. The apps, which benefited from gym closures amid COVID, saw $838 million in person spend, up 42% YoY. The real looking age of users also continued climb, demonstrating better retention with older users.

Teach Credit score: Sensor Tower

A 2nd report from the company indicated U.S. pharmacy app installs be pleased been up 47% because the COVID-19 vaccine began to roll out.


Microsoft launched a unified app for iPad that combines Phrase, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote into one single app. The app is a free obtain with in-app subscriptions, starting at $6.99/month. A $69.99/year subscription can also be on hand. Microsoft previously launched unified apps for the iPhone and Android.

Authorities & Protection

TikTok faces a new series of regulatory complaints in Europe, including unfair terms over its digital currency, whose substitute rate might maybe presumably presumably additionally be modified by TikTok; unfair terms in relation to copyright, related to TikTok’s skill to redistribute users’ videos without paying them (e.g. for ads); child safety considerations over suggestive reveal and “hidden marketing” of its branded Hashtag Challenges; and varied accusations of misleading data processing and privateness practices.

North Dakota’s Senate votes down the App Store bill that would be pleased compelled Apple to allow users to sideload apps on their cell devices. The bill became once funded by the advocacy community Coalition for App Fairness, which includes Account Video games, Spotify, Match Group, Tile and others with a pork against Apple over its price development. Same payments are beneath consideration in Arizona and Georgia.

Breaking: The North Dakota senate precise voted down the bill that would’ve banned Apple and Google from taking a minimize of app gross sales from corporations in the state.

Arizona and Georgia are considering identical payments, that are attracting intense lobbying on every facet.https://t.co/jKRBnH7NeI

— Jack Nicas (@jacknicas) February 16, 2021


The Post-IDFA Alliance, which contains Liftoff, Fyber, Chartboost, InMobi, Vungle and Singular, launched a new “No IDFA? No Situation” resource that targets to attend publishers and advertisers navigate the iOS 14 transition.


File sharing app SHAREit, one in every of the enviornment’s preferred apps, is chanced on to be pleased several security flaws, researchers reported. The vulnerabilities will likely be abused to leak delicate user data and “attain arbitrary code” with app permissions.

✨ Robinhood rival Public.com raised $220 million precise months after its $65 million Series C, as previously reported by TechCrunch. Prior investors returned, including Greycroft, Accel, Tiger International, Inspired Capital, and others, valuing the business at $1.2 billion.

✨ Robinhood rival Webull raised $150 million in a new spherical that values the business at over $1 billion. The brokerage became once founded by Alibaba alum Wang Anquan and, appreciate Public.com, has benefitted from the exodus of disgruntled Robinhood users, who left over the GameStop debacle.

✨ Math learning app Photomath raised $23 million in Series B funding in a spherical led by Menlo Ventures. The app, now with 220 million downloads, helps you to point your phone at a math downside and it explains the resolution.

✨ Live video shopping startup Talkshoplive raised $3 million from Spero Ventures for its are living video shopping platform that lets users watch its videos on the online and cell web — or wherever else they’re embedded.

✨ Event networking app Grip raised a $13 million Series A, irrespective of the pandemic. The app pivoted final year to support digital, hybrid and are living events, instead of precise in-person events.

✨ Cellular gaming startup Artie raised $10 million for its gaming platform that lets users play cell video games without installing an app, from the browser or wherever links might maybe presumably presumably additionally be shared online. Investors included Zynga founder Designate Pincus, Kevin Durant and Prosperous Kleiman’s Thirty Five Ventures, Scooter Braun’s Raised In Dwelling, Shutterstock founder Jon Oringer, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, Googler Manuel Bronstein and YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley.

✨ Low-code app pattern provider OutSystems raised $150 million in a spherical led by Abdiel Capital and Tiger International, valuing the business at $9.5 billion.

✨ Disagreeable-border neobanking app Zolve raised $15 million in a seed spherical led by Accel and Lightspeed. The app became once founded by the Raghunandan G, the founder of bound-hailing company TaxiForSure, which exited to Ola. It’s aimed at individuals moving from India to the U.S. or vice versa.

✨ Dating app Jigsaw raised $3.7 million for its app that hides daters’ faces with puzzle pieces in an effort to push users to make a selection and internet to know every varied forward of the allege. While “face unearths” are favorite on social media, a dating app that does this lends itself to objectifying individuals by now not showing the face, as users focal point on the daters’ physique instead.


Teach Credit score: Outfit

TechCrunch this week covered DIY dwelling renovation startup Outfit, which leverages patrons’ cell devices to attend them with their dwelling projects. After submitting information, including dimensions and photos, Outfit’s app provides the patron a step-by-step information for completing the mission, including documenting their dwelling, getting objects and instruments delivered, a custom to-attain list and receiving help while the mission is underway.


Teach Credit score: Hush

Hush, a these days launched Safari advert blocker for Mac, iPhone and iPad, does greater than precise block ads. The app also works to block varied invasive trackers and those annoying cookie warnings that now pop up in every single station due to GDPR rules. (it truly doesn’t consent or converse the “earn cookies?” requests — it precise blocks the scripts and aspects on the online page. It doesn’t interact with the location or click on any buttons.

In inequity to some blockers, Hush doesn’t accumulate your data. It doesn’t log your browser habits or passwords or even accumulate smash studies. It’s also free, nonetheless you might maybe presumably presumably presumably sponsor the developer on GitHub.

Zillow’s update

The updated model of Zillow’s 3D Home app introduced new abilities that combines into one interface 3D Home excursions, listing photos and AI-generated ground plans. To create the bottom plans and dwelling tour, the app makes utilize of computer vision and machine learning on panoramic photos the agent or photographer captured using the app and a 360-stage digicam. The app also leverages AI to foretell things appreciate room dimensions and square photography. Every the dwelling tour and ground opinion can then be automatically uploaded to the lists and added to a website online, MLS or shared on electronic mail/social media.

Attributable to the pandemic, Zillow 3D Home excursions printed on for-sale listings increased 255% during 2020 as clients mature it as a safer approach to tour properties, the firm also successfully-known.

This Week in Apps: Sneak peek at TikTok shopping, new iOS and Android betas, kids’ app Prodigy hit with FTC complaint