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This Week in Apps: Apple’s large occasion, lidar involves iPhone, Android will get a brand new IDE

Welcome again to This Week in Apps, the TechCrunch sequence that recaps the most recent OS information, the purposes they assist and the cash that flows by means of all of it.

The app business is as sizzling as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in client spending in 2019. Folks are actually spending three hours and 40 minutes per day utilizing apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t only a strategy to cross idle hours — they’re an enormous enterprise. In 2019, mobile-first corporations had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x increased than these with out a cell focus.

On this sequence, we provide help to sustain with the most recent information from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly foundation.

Prime Story

Apple introduces 4 new iPhones (and extra)

Apple hosted its iPhone event this week, the place it launched the brand new iPhone 12… and the iPhone 12 mini, the iPhone 12 Professional and the iPhone 12 Professional Max — successfully plugging all of the holes available in the market. With the discharge of the 4 new iPhones, app builders could have a spread of units to construct for, from small to very massive — the 12 Professional Max, for instance, introduces the iPhone’s biggest-ever display screen and the very best decision, at almost 3.5M pixels.

It additionally, in fact, includes serious camera improvements, from a redesign of the three-lens system to together with a brand new deeper telephoto digital camera, now a 65 mm-equivalent as a substitute of 52 mm, as on earlier fashions. There’s additionally an improved wide-angle lens, bigger sensor, the addition of sensor-level picture stabilization and a revamped Night time Mode. Photographers will admire the brand new Apple ProRAW format, as effectively. (More on that here).

The iPhone 12 mini, in the meantime, goals to serve the client base that prefers a smaller telephone, just like the iPhone SE, however with out sacrificing performance.

All the devices share some key features, together with 5G connectivity, the brand new MagSafe connector for wi-fi charging and snap-on magnetic equipment, OLED shows and the A14 chip. Additionally they have a extra basic look, with straight edges that permit for extra antennas, offering next-gen wi-fi connectivity.

One of many greater variations, nevertheless, between the Professional fashions and the common iPhone 12 is the addition of the LiDAR Scanner, which can also be discovered within the newest iPad Professional. The scanner measures how lengthy it takes for mild to achieve an object and replicate again. The brand new depth-sensing expertise has large implications for AR, because it permits augmented actuality objects to work together with objects in the actual world. AR apps will likely be extra user-friendly, too, as they received’t have to first scan the room to put the AR object in the actual world. It may be positioned immediately.

Apple is leveraging the sensor for the iPhone 12 Professional digital camera to supply as much as 6x quicker focus in low-light circumstances. Builders, in the meantime, can leverage lidar to be used circumstances like AR-enabled video games that work in the actual world, social media (like Snapchat’s new lidar-powered Lens), house design and enchancment apps involving room scans, spatial format planning (like JigSpace), higher AR buying experiences and extra.

The corporate additionally introduced an reasonably priced model of its HomePod good speaker, the $99 HomePod Mini. The merchandise works finest for these totally locked contained in the Apple universe, as it is going to stream a handful of music companies, however not one of the crucial standard — Spotify. Nonetheless, Apple additionally launched a nifty function for the HomePod units, Intercom, which helps you to ship bulletins throughout the audio system. Whereas Apple and Google have supplied an identical function for his or her good audio system, Intercom additionally works throughout different Apple units, together with iPhone, iPod, AirPods and even CarPlay. (What, no Mac?)

If Apple isn’t too late to seize good speaker market share, the brand new speaker may see extra customers adopting good house units they’ll voice management by means of the HomePod Mini.

In the course of the occasion, Apple additionally subtly snubbed its nostril at Epic’s Fortnite with the announcement that
League of Legends: Wild Rift can be coming to iPhone 12 to make the most of its new 5G capabilities and A14 Bionic chip.

Weekly Information Spherical-Up


  • Lidar comes to iPhone 12 Professional. Builders can now build AR experiences that work together with real-world objects, and AR apps can now immediately place AR objects in the actual world with out scanning the room. The replace will imply an enormous enhance within the usability of AR apps however is restricted to the Professional mannequin of iPhone for now. Snapchat is already using it.
  • Apple builders can now make their apps available for pre-order even earlier — as much as 180 days earlier than launch on the App Retailer.
  • Android Studio 4.1 launches. The new, stable version of the IDE for constructing Android apps introduces higher TensorFlow Lite assist and a brand new database inspector. The workforce additionally fastened a whopping 2,370 bugs throughout this launch cycle and closed 275 public points.
  • Google introduces the Android for Vehicles library. The library, now in open beta, offers builders instruments to design, develop and take a look at new navigation, parking or charging apps for Android Auto. The Google Play Retailer will likely be enabled for publishing beta apps within the “coming months.”
  • Google stops promoting music. The corporate no longer sells tracks and albums on its Play Retailer, shifting all its focus to YouTube Music. The latter additionally simply launched on Apple Watch this week.


  • Purchasing apps forecast. U.S. customers have been anticipated to spend 60M hours in Android buying apps throughout Prime Day week, (which simply wrapped) in accordance with one forecast from App Annie.
  • Prime Day downloads develop. Sensor Tower estimates world installs of the Amazon app grew 23% year-over-year, to 684Okay, as Prime Day neared. Installs on Wednesday have been up 33% to 750Okay. Nonetheless, U.S. installs have been down by 22% 10/13-10/14. Apptopia famous that app classes, nevertheless, have been up 27% year-over-year.
  • Purchasing, Meals & Drink app launches up greater than 50% year-over-year. Purchasing apps grew 52% whereas Meals & Drink apps grew 60%, attributable to COVID-19 impacts, according to Sensor Tower.
  • Subscriptions. U.S. customers spend $20.78 monthly on app subscriptions, Alter examine says.
  • TikTok sale affect on advert business. 73% of marketers said a TikTok sale within the U.S. would affect their 2021 promoting plans. 41% additionally believed the deal may permit Walmart to overhaul Amazon in e-commerce.
  • Amazon expands AR experimentation to its containers. The retailer launched a new AR application that works with QR codes on the corporate’s transport containers to create “interactive, shareable” AR experiences, like a pumpkin that involves life.


  • Robinhood said a “restricted quantity” of its customers’ accounts have been hacked. The service itself was not hacked, however round 2,000 clients had accounts compromised by cybercriminals who first compromised customers’ private emails exterior the buying and selling app.

Different Information

  • Zoom’s new occasions platform brings apps to video conferencing calls.
  • Messenger update brings new features, together with cross-app communication with Instagram. The app will get enjoyable options like chat themes, customized reactions and, quickly, selfie stickers and vanish mode. However the greater information is the (probably anti-competitive) merging of Fb’s chat platforms.
  • Life360 leverages TikTok teenagers’ complaints to begin a dialogue and invent a brand new function, “Bubbles,” which permits teenagers (or anybody) to share a generalized location as a substitute of a precise one. The function offers teenagers a bit extra freedom to roam and make selections with out a lot parental oversight. Dad and mom, in the meantime, can nonetheless be certain their teen is OK, as options like emergency SOS and crash alerts stay useful.
  • Should-read: The MacStories iOS and iPadOS 14 Review. Federico Viticci gives a 23-page deep dive into the most recent model of Apple’s cell working system.

Funding and M&A

    • Future raises $24M Sequence B for its $150/mo exercise teaching app amid at-home health growth. The app pairs customers with real-life health teaching for private coaching at house. The spherical was led by Trustbridge Companions with Caffeinated Capital and Sequence A buyers Kleiner Perkins collaborating.
    • River raises $10.4M for its app providing information, occasions and different happenings from across the net, starting from information tales from high publishers to sports activities to even notable tweets. The app presents the knowledge in a real-time stream, browsed vertically. There’s additionally a “For You” web page, much like TikTok.
    • Roblox confidentially filed with the SEC to go public. This cross-platform gaming platform has boomed throughout coronavirus lockdowns. In response to reports, the itemizing may double Robox’s $4B valuation.
    • Robo Adviser Wealthsimple raises $87M. The funding for the investing app with comparisons to Robinhood was led by Menlo Park-based Expertise Crossover Ventures (TCV), valuing the enterprise at $1B.
    • Health platform Playbook raises $9.3M. The corporate gives instruments for private trainers who need to make their very own movies, which customers then browse in Playbook’s cell app. Backers embody, Michael Ovitz, Summary, Algae Ventures, Porsche Ventures and FJ Labs.
    • Stay streaming app Second Home raises $1.5M seed. The startup goals to recreate reside occasions in a digital format. LA space buyers invested, together with Scooter Braun, Troy Carter, Kygo’s Palm Tree Crew and Jared Leto. Patreon chief government Jack Conte and Sequoia Capital accomplice Jess Lee additionally participated.
    • Twilio acquires Phase for $3.2B to assist builders construct data-fueled apps.
    • E-learning platform Kahoot raises $215M from SoftBank. The Norwegian startup claims to have hosted 1.Three billion “collaborating gamers” within the final 12 months. The corporate’s gamified e-learning platform is used each in faculties and in enterprise environments.



Mycons is a brand new app that makes it simpler for customers, together with non-designers, to create and buy custom icons for their iOS home screen makeovers. Within the app’s “Icon Studio,” customers can create icons by swapping out the background, selecting a logo and inserting it on the icon accordingly. You may as well create an entire set of icons in a batch export. When you don’t really feel like designing your individual, you possibly can choose to buy premade packs as a substitute.

The app is a free obtain with a one-time, in-app buy to unlock the totally performance of the icon designer. The icon packs, which embody totally different variations and matching wallpaper, vary from $7.99-$9.99.

Spotify’s new iOS 14 widget

Picture Credit: TechCrunch screenshot of Spotify widget

It’s right here! The widget quite a few individuals have waited for because the launch of the brand new model of iOS has arrived. 

The widget, which arrives within the newest model of the Spotify iOS app, is available in two sizes. The smaller widget will show simply your most not too long ago listened to merchandise, whereas the medium-sized widget will as a substitute present the 5 most up-to-date gadgets — 4 in a horizontal row and the newest on the high. In that case, you possibly can really faucet on the small thumbnail for which of the 5 you need to now stream to be taken on to that web page within the Spotify app. The widget additionally mechanically updates its background colour to match the thumbnail photograph.

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