Welcome to FLD Magazine’s coverage of the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications, and the overall app economy. According to data.ai’s “State of Mobile” report, the app economy experienced a 2% drop in consumer spending last year, reaching $167 billion. However, downloads are continuing to grow, up 11% year-over-year in 2022, reaching 255 billion. Consumers are also spending more time in mobile apps than ever before, with hours spent on Android devices alone growing 9% in 2022, reaching 4.1 trillion.
In this week’s edition of This Week in Apps, we cover the latest news, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and much more from the world of apps. Sign up here to receive This Week in Apps in your inbox every Saturday.
Social media companies are self-policing their teen and minor users amid a lack of U.S. regulation. However, the companies’ so-called teen safety features and protections are doing little to limit the negative impacts of teens’ social media use. At best, they present small roadblocks or annoyances that any teen user could easily bypass. At worst, they actually force users to pay for the benefit of a less addictive app and better mental health.
Instagram is expanding its tests of an age verification feature that asks users to verify their age if they attempt to change their age to an adult (18 or older) in the app. The company offers one of three methods to confirm the user’s age: they can upload a government ID, take a video selfie, or get others to vouch for their age. The ID upload is the most accurate method, but video selfies can be hit or miss. Instagram also offers the option of “social vouching,” where the teen is allowed to hand-select three users among their mutual followers who will vouch that the teen is the age they say they are. However, this option puts the control largely in the teen’s hands, and a parent or guardian does not have to be asked to verify the teen’s age.
FLD Magazine’s team of expert writers and contributors cover everything from startups and entrepreneurship to emerging technologies and global business trends. Stay up-to-date with the latest news and trends in the app economy by subscribing to This Week in Apps. Our coverage includes news, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and much more from the world of apps. Join us every Saturday for the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications, and the overall app economy.eadlines about social media addiction and the negative impact it can have on teens. Instead of addressing the root of the problem, Snap is essentially monetizing it. By offering a paid option to restore a Streak, the company is encouraging teens to continue using the app in an unhealthy way. And while the ability to freeze a Streak may seem like a step in the right direction, it still doesn’t address the underlying issue of addiction.
It’s clear that social media companies have a responsibility to protect their young users. But simply adding roadblocks and monetizing addictive features isn’t the answer. Instead, these companies should be investing in research and development to create truly effective safety measures and tools for promoting healthy social media use. Until then, parents and guardians must remain vigilant and educate their teens about the potential dangers of social media addiction.
Instagram’s Age Verification System: Is It Really Effective?
Instagram recently implemented an age verification system to prevent underage users from accessing the platform. However, many experts are skeptical about its effectiveness. According to the site’s Help pages, users are required to enter their date of birth and verify their age by providing a government-issued ID. But in practice, it’s easy for teens to work around the system by simply asking their friends to click the “18” option for them.
While Instagram’s age verification system may seem like a step in the right direction, it’s really just a roadblock that can be easily bypassed. And once a teen is officially 18, Instagram can use their data for ad targeting in more expansive and revenue-boosting ways. So, is this really a preventative measure or just a way for Instagram to cover their bases?
TikTok’s Screen Time Controls: Are They Really Limiting?
TikTok recently rolled out new screen time controls for teens, but are they really effective? The platform now has a 60-minute limit for teens, but older teens can choose for themselves whether or not to continue watching. And while parents of under-13 users can enter a passcode to enable 30 more minutes of viewing, all other teens under 18 will simply be prompted to enter a passcode to keep watching TikTok.
Even TikTok acknowledges that this isn’t really a limit on viewing, but rather a way to require teens to make an active decision to extend their screen time. So, is this really a step in the right direction for teen safety and better mental health, or just another roadblock that can be easily bypassed?
Snapchat’s Monetization of Social Media Addiction
Snapchat’s “Snap Streaks” feature has become a major source of addiction among teens. The feature tracks how many days in a row two users have sent Snaps back and forth to one another, and many teens consider it an indication of the strength of their friendship. However, the Streaks have little point beyond encouraging repeat app opens and Snapchat addiction.
In response to this addiction, Snap has decided to monetize it. The company is testing a new feature that would allow users to pay for Streak Restores, essentially encouraging teens to continue using the app in an unhealthy way. And while the ability to freeze a Streak may seem like a step in the right direction, it still doesn’t address the underlying issue of addiction.
Social media companies have a responsibility to protect their young users, but simply adding roadblocks and monetizing addictive features isn’t the answer. Instead, these companies should be investing in research and development to create truly effective safety measures and tools for promoting healthy social media use. Until then, parents and guardians must remain vigilant and educate their teens about the potential dangers of social media addiction.
The recent buzz around teen safety and mental health protections is not addressing the root cause of the problem. The gamification of friendships among a psychologically vulnerable demographic is a major concern. Moreover, Snapchat is asking users to pay for the privilege of unwinding from their addiction, which is not a solution. The fact that the launch is being widely celebrated only highlights how desperate Snap’s users have become to limit their in-app screen time. It’s like charging opioid addicts for their methadone. This is truly mind-blowing.
In other news, Bluesky, the Twitter alternative backed by Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey, has hit the App Store this week, and more testers are gaining access. Although the app is still only available as an invite-only beta, its App Store arrival signals that a public launch could be nearing. Bluesky’s main effort is the AT (originally called ADX, or “Authenticated Transfer Protocol”), while the Bluesky mobile app serves to showcase the protocol in action. Similar to the ActivityPub protocol that powers Mastodon, AT offers the means of creating a federated and decentralized social network.
TechCrunch was able to go hands-on with the Bluesky app this week, which you can read more about here, but found it to be a stripped-down Twitter clone for the most part. Its uniqueness is more about the underlying technology rather than its user interface, it seems. Bluesky has faced some criticism, notably from Mastodon and other developers, who pointed out that ActivityPub, a recommended W3C standard, already powers a large and growing “Fediverse” of interconnected servers. Already, other companies have committed to or have at least discussed plans to adopt ActivityPub, including Flipboard, which announced its Fediverse plans this week, as well as Medium, Tumblr, and possibly Discord.
In conclusion, the launch of Bluesky is a significant development in the world of social media. It offers a new way of creating a federated and decentralized social network, which could be a game-changer. However, it remains to be seen how successful it will be in the long run, given the competition from other platforms and the criticism it has faced. Nevertheless, it is an exciting time for social media enthusiasts, and we look forward to seeing how Bluesky evolves in the coming months.latest updates is a new feature called “Page Zoom” which allows users to zoom in on a specific part of a webpage on their Android device. This feature is particularly useful for those with visual impairments or for those who want to focus on a specific section of a webpage. Additionally, Google announced updates to Wear OS, including new watch faces and improved battery life. Chromebook users can also expect updates to the operating system, including improved performance and security features.
Flickr Considers Support for ActivityPub
Flickr, the popular photo-sharing platform, is reportedly considering support for ActivityPub, the social protocol that powers Twitter alternative Mastodon. While there is currently no official announcement from Flickr, this move could potentially bring more users to the Fediverse, a network of decentralized social media platforms that use ActivityPub. This comes as other companies, such as Tumblr, are also exploring their own Fediverse ambitions. Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg has stated that the company is testing all the protocols, including ActivityPub, Bluesky, and Nostr, but there is no ETA on when a decision will be made.
Tweetbot and Twitterific Ask Customers to Decline Refunds
Twitter’s recent ban on third-party clients has had a significant impact on popular apps such as Tweetbot and Twitterrific. However, in an unusual turn of events, the developers of these apps have updated their nonfunctional apps with new functionality and are asking subscribers to decline refunds by clicking a new “I don’t need a refund” button. This allows subscribers to offer support to these indie developers by not asking for their money back. This situation has also paved the way for an exception to App Store rules, which typically wouldn’t allow developers to solicit customers to decline refunds for non-functional apps.
Google Announces New Features for Android, Chromebook, and Wear OS
Google has announced new updates for Android, Chromebook, and Wear OS at Mobile World Congress. Among the latest updates is a new feature called “Page Zoom” which allows users to zoom in on a specific part of a webpage on their Android device. Additionally, Wear OS users can expect new watch faces and improved battery life, while Chromebook users can expect improved performance and security features.
*Note: As an AI language model, I am programmed to write in English.Google has announced several updates to its products and services. Fast Pair will soon work with Chromebook to connect headphones that are already configured with an Android device. Google Meet will have expanded noise cancellation on more Android devices. A Google Keep widget for Home screens will be available, and users will be able to use a stylus or touch the screen to annotate PDFs in the Google Drive app for Android. Additionally, users can increase the text size in Chrome up to 300% while preserving the layout. Wear OS will receive two new sound and display modes to improve watch accessibility.
Google’s Pixel Watch gained a fall-detection feature that uses motion sensors and on-device machine learning to identify if a user has taken a hard fall. The watch can then connect the user with help, if need be. Apple has offered a similar feature since 2018’s launch of the Apple Watch Series 4.
Google has announced upcoming policy changes aimed at improving the quality of apps for Wear OS and how they appear in the Google Play Store. The changes speak to how the app should be designed and how features should appear, among other things. The requirements go into effect on August 31. Google also noted all Wear OS apps must target Android 11 (API level 30) by August 31 as well in order to remain discoverable by users with newer Android OS versions.
In other news, Apple rolled out iOS 16.4 beta 2 for developers alongside the second developer betas for iPadOS 16.4, tvOS 16.4, and watchOS 9.4. The betas include more hints about Apple Music Classical, the rumored streaming service in development. The software also confirms the coming launch of Apple Pay in South Korea, which had already been given the green light.
The App Store Connect tool was updated to now allow developers to use peer group benchmarks for metrics about their apps. This allows developers to compare their app’s performance with others like them without having to subscribe to a third-party measurement firm’s data.
Snap introduced My AI, a new in-app chatbot that uses the latest version of OpenAI’s GPT technology. The feature, which is only offered to Snapchat’s paid subscribers (Snapchat+), can do things like suggest birthday gift ideas, help with trip planning, suggest recipes, and other less serious tasks. Users can also personalize the AI by giving it a name and customizing the wallpaper for their chat.
Overall, these updates and announcements from Google and Apple showcase their commitment to improving their products and services for their users. With new features and policies, users can expect a better experience and more options for customization and personalization.Snapchat’s New AI Chatbot and Other Social Media Updates
Snapchat has recently launched a new AI chatbot that can help users with a variety of tasks. This move comes as part of the company’s efforts to integrate generative AI into its services and develop “AI personas” that can assist people in different ways. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also announced that the company will build a new top-level product group focused on integrating generative AI into its services.
In addition to this, Windows 11 has added the new Bing to its taskbar, and Brave Search has launched a new “Summarizer” feature powered by different large language models (LLMs). TikTok has also introduced a new viral beauty filter called “Bold Glamour,” which appears to be AI-powered and uses ML, specifically Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs).
On the social media front, companies are now looking to direct user payments, including subscriptions and other in-app purchases, as Apple’s ATT changes have cut into their ad revenues. Apptopia has crunched the numbers on social apps’ in-app purchases and found that TikTok has earned $205 million more than Facebook, Twitter, Snap, and Instagram combined on in-app purchases in 2023 so far. Snapchat+ is also outperforming Facebook on daily IAP revenue by 20% on average.
VSCO is also expanding its social features in Spaces, its collaborative galleries where photographers can upload images around a theme and chat. In mid-March, VSCO will make it possible for users to share text-based posts in Spaces and will allow users to message each other, regardless of follow status. It will also introduce new 9×16 auto-generated images, optimized for Instagram Stories and the like, among other improvements.
In conclusion, these updates show that social media platforms are constantly evolving and adapting to new technologies and user needs. As a result, it is important for businesses and individuals to stay up-to-date with these changes to remain competitive and relevant in the digital landscape.FLD Magazine presents the latest updates in the tech world. Reddit has added new features that allow users to find comments within a post from the search bar. Twitter’s paid subscription, Twitter Blue, is now available in more than 20 new countries in Europe, including the Netherlands, Poland, and Ireland. Instagram has begun testing its age verification tools in more countries, including Canada and Mexico. Pinterest is alpha testing a new video advertising product that allows brands to reach consumers from a more prominent position within the company’s mobile app. TikTok parent company ByteDance has launched Lemon8 in the U.S. and U.K, a lifestyle community app that pays creators to post on the platform. Meta has increased the length of Facebook Reels to 90 seconds and added more creative tools. Stay tuned for more updates on emerging technologies and global business trends from FLD Magazine.arting March 1st, TikTok has introduced new well-being features for teens, including screen time controls, new default settings, and expanded Family Pairing controls. Every account belonging to a user under the age of 18 will automatically be set to a 60-minute daily screen time limit, and teens will have to enter a code to continue scrolling. Family Pairing controls will allow parents to filter videos by words and hashtags, as well as customize daily screen time controls. This comes ahead of TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew’s testimony before Congress in March.
In Australia, TikTok conducted a test limiting the amount of licensed music available to some users on the platform to determine different ways people interact with the app. However, users issued numerous complaints over the accompanying “sound removed” messages during the tests. The results could ultimately inform TikTok’s licensing strategy.
Spotify is replacing its “heart” button for liking songs with a plus button. This change will consolidate likes and adding content to playlists into a single button, where one tap will like the track and a second tap will add the track to playlists.
Pinterest’s collage maker app Shuffles has expanded to nine more countries, including Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Netherlands. The app allows users to pull and edit images from Pinterest or their camera roll to make collages they can share with others in-app or post to social media.
TikTok has launched Sounds for Business, a collection of sounds designed as templates for easy use by marketers. The collection includes a mix of music, voice-over, and other sound cues to help businesses create engaging content.
Twitter outages have gotten worse as further layoffs of senior staff have left the company floundering. Most recently, a global outage lasted for over two hours, with the timeline failing to load on mobile and web. Users are now often experiencing lags and errors outside of full outages as well.udio and entertainment platform called “Cariad” that will feature an app store with popular apps like Spotify and TikTok. The platform will be available in VW Group vehicles starting in 2025.
Amazon-owned Audible is launching its first-ever singing competition series, “Breakthrough,” as an exclusive podcast featuring artists Sara Bareilles and Kelly Rowland as judges. The series debuts on June 1.
Netflix will live stream its first broadcast with Chris Rock’s latest standup, “Chris Rock: Selective Outrage.” The airing will take place on Saturday, March 4, at 10 PM Eastern.
Movies Anywhere, a previously Disney-backed app that lets users access their digitally owned movie collection from across services, is shutting down two features, “Screen Pass” and “Watch Together.” The former allowed users to share their movies with friends while the latter was for co-viewing.
During this week’s Pokémon Presents livestream, the company announced Pokémon Sleep will become available on iOS and Android this summer, offering users a way to track their sleep habits and analyze them. It also announced integrations between its Pokémon Scarlet & Violet games and the Niantic-produced mobile game Pokémon GO.
Tinder kicked off a new brand campaign to appeal to Gen Z daters and their inclusive attitudes. It’s also pushing back again at Tinder’s hookup perception, noting that long-term relationships are members’ No. 1 goals — a change from an earlier campaign several years back that had embraced Tinder’s “casual” nature.
Microsoft launched Phone Link for iOS which lets iPhone users take calls and respond to iMessage texts from their PC.
Telegram updated its Mac App Store app with a new Power Saving Mode that aims to help prevent the app from draining the computer’s battery. The feature will also automatically turn itself on based on the current battery charge.
Travel & Transportation
The VW Group announced a new in-car audio and entertainment platform called “Cariad” that will feature an app store with popular apps like Spotify and TikTok. The platform will be available in VW Group vehicles starting in 2025.
Uber announced that it will launch its first-ever subscription service for rides in select cities, offering users a discount on rides and other perks for a monthly fee.
*Note: As an AI language model, I am capable of writing in multiple languages. However, I will follow the instructions given and respond only in English.Cariad, the software subsidiary of PP Store, is set to launch an app store for select Audi vehicles this summer. The app store will offer dozens of apps, including Spotify, Amazon Music, TikTok, and gaming hubs Vector Unit and FRVR. The plan is to expand the app store across Audi’s portfolio and eventually to Porsche and Volkswagen.
Waze has discontinued its iOS widget due to low usage. The widget was designed for the left-most homescreen and allowed users to jump into navigation. It is unclear if Waze will bring back the widget as a Lock Screen option or full Home Screen widget instead.
Apple Maps’ 3D “Look Around” feature has arrived in Finland, Norway, and Sweden.
Uber has updated its app with updates for its courier feature Shop and Pay to address concerns with out-of-stock items, digital payments, and order clarity before accepting a tip.
Indian fintech CRED has announced plans to launch a buy now and pay later service and a tap-to-pay feature that will first roll out to NFC-enabled smartphones.
Public has made its Treasury Accounts available to all members. Members can now take advantage of the current 5.1% yield of Treasury bills, which is higher than savings accounts, while also receiving the “flexibility and ease of access to cash” of a typical bank account.
All-in-one fintech app Revolut reported its first full year of profit, noting it tripled its revenue between 2020 and 2021 and reached 16+ million users by the end of 2021.
The crypto-focused Robinhood Wallet app was officially launched to iOS users globally. The app, which now supports both the Polygon and Ethereum networks, had a waitlist of over 1 million ahead of its launch.
Wealthfront announced an expansion into stocks and fractional shares, allowing investors to now buy individual stocks and discover new investment opportunities.
Gen Z neobank Step launched stock investing, allowing users to now invest as well as earn, save, spend, and build credit before they turn 18. The company also announced a milestone of 4 million accounts.
In government, policy, and lawsuits news, European Commissioner for Europe fit for the Digital Age, Margrethe Vestager, gestures as she speaks during an online news conference on Apple antitrust case at the EU headquarters in Brussels, on April 30, 2021.FLD Magazine: Latest Tech News Roundup
The tech world is constantly evolving, and FLD Magazine is here to keep you up-to-date with the latest news. Here are some of the top stories from the past week:
EU Drops Objections Over In-App Purchases on Streaming Music Providers
The EU has confirmed changes to its antitrust case against Apple, dropping objections over in-app purchases on streaming music providers. Instead, the focus is on Apple’s policies that prevent apps from telling their users about other subscription options. This could still be good news for Spotify if a final ruling is issued, as it could force Apple to adjust its guidelines in addition to a fine. However, Spotify is not happy with how long it’s taken to reach a decision on the matter.
Canada and US Government Plan to Ban TikTok
The Canadian government has followed the US’s lead with an announcement that it plans to ban TikTok from federal mobile devices over security concerns. Meanwhile, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to give President Joe Biden the power to ban TikTok and other apps. Democrats opposed the bill, which was said to be “dangerously overbroad.” The ACLU said a TikTok ban would violate citizens’ free speech. The bill will have an uphill battle in the Senate, where Democrats still have a narrow majority. The bill follows moves by federal government and several state governments to ban TikTok from government devices.
U.S. Civil Liberties and Digital Rights Groups Speak Out Against Potential TikTok Ban
U.S. civil liberties and digital rights groups, including the ACLU, Access Now, and Fight for the Future, are speaking out against a potential TikTok ban, saying that it would violate people’s First Amendment rights.
BetterHelp Settles with FTC for $7.8 Million Over Data Mishandling
BetterHelp owner Teladoc Health settled with the FTC for $7.8 million over data mishandling occurring from 2017-2020. The company also agreed to stop sharing data with Meta, Snap, and Pinterest for advertising purposes.
US Department of Justice Accuses Google of Deleting Chats in Its Antitrust Investigation
In a new filing late last week, the US Department of Justice alleged that Google “routinely destroyed” an entire category of written communications in its antitrust investigation against the company. The communications – chat messages between Google employees – were said to be similar to Fortnite’s case.
As always, FLD Magazine will continue to keep you updated on the latest tech news and trends. Stay tuned for more updates!FLD Magazine brings you the latest news and updates on startups, entrepreneurship, emerging technologies, and global business trends. In recent news, Google has been accused of anticompetitive conduct with its Play Store by Epic Games. Google allowed employees to set messages to auto-delete, resulting in the deletion of thousands of messages over several years.
In funding and M&A news, CollX, a mobile app for trading card collectors, raised $5.5 million in a seed round led by Brand Foundry Ventures. Serena Ventures backed community finance company SoLo Funds now has over 1 million registered users and 1.3 million downloads. Recipe app and website SideChef raised $6 million in Series B funding, while chef-prepared meals marketplace Shef raised $73.5 million in Series B funding.
In downloads news, Mammoth, a new Mastodon app, gained 10,000 downloads in the first few days of its availability on the App Store. The app offers a range of features for using Mastodon, including browsing timelines, posting, and turning on a dark mode. It also offers tools for viewing media in AR, sentiment analysis, and more. The app is backed by Mozilla, which led the company’s pre-seed round.
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This Week in Apps: Jack Dorsey-backed Bluesky, social apps’ teen protections, Twitter clients get help
The world of apps is constantly evolving, with new developments and updates being released on a regular basis. This week, there were several notable announcements, including the launch of a new project backed by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, updates to social media apps’ teen protections, and improvements to Twitter clients.
Bluesky: A New Decentralized Social Media Project
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has initiated a new project called Bluesky, which is aimed at creating a decentralized social media platform. The project is in the early stages, but Dorsey stated that the goal is to create a platform that is not controlled by any single corporation or entity. Dorsey believes that decentralization is the key to solving many of the problems currently faced by social media platforms, including disinformation, privacy concerns, and centralized control.
Teen Protections in Social Media Apps
This week, two of the world’s largest social media platforms, Snapchat and TikTok, announced new measures aimed at protecting teenagers on their platforms. Snapchat announced that it will now make all accounts of users under the age of 18 private by default, with only friends being able to see their content. TikTok, on the other hand, is giving parents more control over their children’s accounts, including limiting the amount of time they can spend on the app.
Twitter Clients Get a Boost
Twitter clients are third-party apps that allow users to interact with the platform outside of the official Twitter app. This week, two popular Twitter clients, Tweetbot and Twitterrific, received updates that will improve their functionality. Tweetbot has added support for Twitter’s new API, which means that users can now receive notifications for direct messages, mentions, and likes. Twitterrific has added a feature called “Tweet Delete” that allows users to automatically delete their tweets after a certain amount of time.
The world of apps is constantly evolving, with new developments and updates being released on a regular basis. This week saw several notable announcements, including the launch of a new social media project backed by Jack Dorsey, updates to social media apps’ teen protections, and improvements to Twitter clients. As technology continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see what other apps and updates are released in the coming weeks and months.