This Week in Apps: TikTok-style feeds come to Spotify and Reddit; Meta’s Fediverse plans

Welcome again to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the newest in cellular OS information, cellular functions and the general app economic system.

The app economic system in 2023 hit a number of snags, as shopper spending final 12 months dropped for the primary time by 2% to $167 billion, in response to’s “State of Cell” report. Nonetheless, downloads are persevering with to develop, up 11% year-over-year in 2022 to succeed in 255 billion. Shoppers are additionally spending extra time in cellular apps than ever earlier than. On Android units alone, hours spent in 2022 grew 9%, reaching 4.1 trillion.

This Week in Apps presents a approach to sustain with this fast-moving trade in a single place with the newest from the world of apps, together with information, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and way more.

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The TikTok-ification of shopper apps, now together with Reddit and Spotify

Picture Credit: Spotify

The TikTok mannequin had already infiltrated many shopper apps — Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest and several other extra (even Netflix and Amazon!). Now you may add a handful of different high-profile apps to the checklist. Most notably, Spotify and Reddit this week introduced their very own takes on the TikTok feed with vital modifications to their respective app’s designs. SoundCloud additionally launched video feeds for music as a test.

For Reddit, the modifications come solely a year into a broader redesign. Reddit on Tuesday unveiled an up to date person interface that now separates text-based content material and video into separate feeds within the app, dubbed “Learn” and “Watch.” The corporate stated that, by doing so, customers might swap between text-browsing — Reddit’s historic draw — to a video expertise, relying on their present temper. Whereas Reddit had examined different fashions for integrating video within the app earlier than this variation, this places entry to its video feed extra front-and-center within the app expertise.

In the meantime, Spotify this week revealed a cellular app overhaul that introduces video-based “discovery” feeds for music, podcasts and audiobooks in an effort to have interaction customers and reclaim a few of the time spent on music discovery that had shifted over to TikTok.

What’s attention-grabbing about these newest updates is that they contain two apps that aren’t actually identified for video having discovered methods to launch their very own video-based feeds as key components of their new person experiences. Whereas it wasn’t as a lot of a stretch for apps like Instagram or YouTube to undertake short-form video, Spotify and Reddit appeared much less doubtless candidates, as they targeted on different kinds of content material, like textual content and audio.

However Spotify has additionally watched as TikTok has eaten into its market, changing into a music discovery platform so highly effective that it’s now accountable for the highest charts. TikTok is minting new hits and artists and might even put decades-old music again into rotation when older songs get hooked up to a viral development.

This isn’t nice information for Spotify, which needs to have the ability to promote artists entry to advertising instruments to get their music discovered and streamed — and it needs to distinguish itself amongst customers by providing higher music discovery options. The corporate’s Uncover Weekly playlist remains to be considered one of shopper tech’s greatest merchandise, nevertheless it’s not sufficient to promote the service’s capability to attach followers to new music in a world the place TikTok now exists.

That brings us to Spotify’s TikTok-ified revamp, which not solely introduces video feeds for content material discovery but additionally capitalizes on the format to attach customers with their numerous pursuits, drilling down several types of music classes, playlists or compilations designed for particular actions. The app’s new feeds introduce video clips from artists (their quick, looping Canvas movies, which already accompanied their streams), podcast video clips, podcast audio clips with a static background and animated real-time transcriptions overlaid on prime, in addition to clips of audiobook narrations.

The modifications are radical — and probably controversial, too.

We’ve already seen lengthy social media threads the place customers announce how is the final straw — and one that may push them again to Apple Music, they lament. The general sentiment is that they don’t want a TikTok of their music app.


However Spotify’s feeds aren’t actually a TikTok clone. There are not any creators pushing content material for likes and feedback. There aren’t viral dances and challenges and traits. Its objectives are growing streams and serving to individuals discover new issues to take pleasure in. (Properly that…and serving to Spotify make more cash).

Arguably, a multimedia feed is a greater format for serendipitous discovery than a carousel that factors to albums or playlists. It’s why Netflix has trailers (even annoying autoplay ones). Listening to and seeing is just extra participating than studying textual content. That may be true and customers can hate it.

Picture Credit: Spotify screenshot

One other key factor to notice is that Spotify can also be utilizing the video feed format to not solely function a discovery engine throughout codecs however a beginning place for connecting customers to the precise kind of music they wish to hear now — with out requiring customers to kind right into a search field. Beneath the music sub-feed, the app will level you to short-form video feeds targeted on numerous genres and even actions, like enjoyable, finding out or understanding, for instance.

This shift targets the altering shopper habits of a youthful era (Gen Z, and shortly, Alpha), which stays Spotify’s core demographic. As Google noted last year, younger people are using the web differently — and it’s a possible disaster for its personal enterprise. Talking at an occasion, a Google Search exec defined how younger individuals now usually start sure kinds of searches immediately on Instagram and TikTok, bypassing Google Search.

Spotify, if it didn’t adapt to altering traits, might have confronted the identical destiny.

It might have seen customers heading on to TikTok to seek out new music, somewhat than its personal app — irrespective of what number of intelligent, customized playlists it supplied. Reasonably than ready for this to be an existential risk (and one probably accompanied by the launch of a devoted TikTok Music app, as has been reported), it embraced the development.

Nonetheless, it’s a giant threat.

Some customers weren’t essentially thrilled with the modernized look of Google Search, now filled with colorful cards and videos as a substitute of only a checklist of hyperlinks. And equally, numerous Spotify customers might defect from the now video-first app to return to extra “basic” gamers, like Apple Music.

There’s a little bit of old man yells at cloud to this early backlash, nevertheless. Web expertise is all the time altering as is shopper habits. Spotify might have refused to experiment on this space, however in a method, it has a duty to take action as a distinguished shopper app. If the modifications don’t ship the outcomes it needs — if customers cancel subscriptions, if engagement and discovery decline — it could doubtless dial issues again.

Picture Credit: Spotify

But when it succeeds, it could be a boon for its backside line.

Going ahead, Spotify says extra artists can pay for its controversial Discovery Mode instrument, which provides a sign to Spotify’s customized algorithms — algorithms that now inform its video feeds. The characteristic consists of paying Spotify a fee on streams. It’s not precisely an advert, however somewhat a instrument to control what feels extra like an natural expertise to the tip person. Plus, artists can use a brand new characteristic referred to as Showcase to position a cellular card within the new video feeds to introduce their music to potential followers. Longer-term, Spotify might insert extra advertisements into this expertise, too.

No less than we’ll should credit score Spotify with this: It determined to not merely dabble with its TikTok-style options, it went all in. That is no mere add-on to its product, it’s the face of it. Not like Reddit, which made visiting its TikTok-inspired feed a extra intentional selection, Spotify’s feeds are in every single place. It’s an actual check for Spotify’s model and, as CEO Daniel Ek stated on the occasion, the “greatest change Spotify has undergone since we launched cellular 10 years in the past.” Now the ball is in customers’ courtroom as to what comes subsequent.

Extra from Spotify

The app’s modifications have been amongst many new options Spotify launched at its Stream On stay occasion in LA.

Podcasters have been additionally pitched new instruments that will give them the choice so as to add interactive options — like Q&As and polls. These have been beforehand reserved for Anchor creators solely, however Anchor is now being merged into the bigger Spotify for Podcasters dashboard. Spotify additionally expanded entry to video podcasts, which now might maintain extra enchantment given the brand new video feeds.

Artists, in the meantime, are being supplied entry to new instruments for operating campaigns, and selling live shows and merchandise, in addition to new Countdown Pages that allow followers presave albums, watch unique movies, preorder merch, preview tracklists and watch a timer depend right down to a brand new launch.

The Countdown pages can even showcase Spotify’s new Clips — under-30-second vertical movies which can be uploaded on to Spotify for Artists. These will seem on artist profiles and album pages, as effectively.

The characteristic can be utilized to share the story behind a track, announce an upcoming launch, characteristic a collaborator, exhibit merch or, for brand spanking new artists, as an introduction — or the rest an artist might wish to share. Not like on social media platforms, the purpose with Clips is to not generate Likes, however somewhat streams of the artist’s music as a substitute.

It’s one other method Spotify is shifting its app to video outdoors of the TikTok-style feeds.

Company takeover of the Fediverse?

In the beginning of the week, some within the Fediverse person base have been upset about Medium’s entry into their open supply, decentralized area with information that Medium’s new Mastodon server would involve a fee. (It’s truly simply one other perk of a Medium membership.) However by the tip of the week, a a lot greater risk to the established order had emerged as Meta confirmed it was working on a decentralized, text-based app. The app would successfully function a Twitter various, but additionally seemingly would threaten the expansion of the free and decentralized internet the place platforms like Meta have much less management.

The app, codenamed P92, would let customers log in utilizing their Instagram credentials and would assist ActivityPub. The latter is regarding Fediverse advocates who concern Meta’s actual curiosity on this area has nothing to do with their values however somewhat is simply one other instance of the “embrace, prolong, extinguish” method massive tech takes when there’s a risk to its energy.

Within the case of the Fediverse, nevertheless, there could also be a instrument for preventing again. Server operators might refuse to federate with any Meta-run cases, primarily carving out an area for social networking outdoors of massive tech’s attain. Or servers might select solely to federate if Meta agreed to sure situations, like account portability or not screwing round with ActivityPub’s growth.


Picture Credit: Google

  • Google’s annual I/O developer convention is returning to the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View on Could 10. The in-person occasion remains to be extra scaled-down than in pre-COVID years and the keynotes shall be livestreamed. Varied talks will give attention to Google’s OS efforts, like Android and Put on OS.
  • The second developer preview of Android 14 has shipped, providing new additions that principally give attention to added safety and privateness options, somewhat than consumer-facing ones. One new addition is the up to date picture picker which can now ask customers in the event that they wish to give an app permission to entry each picture or solely choose ones. Android 14 can also be including a credential supervisor as a platform API, introducing new optimizations to Android’s reminiscence administration system, and providing extra personalization choices to finish customers for numerous settings like temperature items and numbering programs.
  • Google’s Play Console will open release tracks devoted to Put on OS allowing builders to ship Put on OS updates independently of their core Android launch.
  • Google started rolling out the first Beta for the brand new Privateness Sandbox on Android to a small share of Android units. The hassle is concentrated on growing new applied sciences to allow customized advertisements for cellular units with extra respect for shopper privateness.
  • Android 15 shall be code-named Vanilla.


  • Apple’s new App Retailer pricing capabilities, introduced in December, at the moment are accessible throughout all app and in-app buy varieties together with paid apps and one-time in-app purchases, Apple announced. Which means builders can now use extra versatile worth factors and globally equalized costs. As well as, the corporate stated on Could 9, 2023, pricing for current apps and one‑time in‑app purchases shall be up to date throughout all 175 App Retailer storefronts to make the most of new enhanced international pricing.
  • Apple’s Emergency SOS characteristic which connects customers to a satellite tv for pc messaging service when a cell sign isn’t accessible is now live in 12 markets, together with the U.S. and Canada, after an EU growth. Newly supported international locations embody Austria, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Portugal.
  • Apple rolled out the third iOS 16.4 public beta, which incorporates the 31 new emoji, Safari push notifications and minor modifications to first-party apps, together with Podcasts and Apple Music, amongst different issues. This will even be the final beta to require customers to put in a certificates — going ahead, beta updates shall be linked to customers’ Apple IDs, as a substitute.
  • Apple released TestFlight 3.3 to its App Retailer. The corporate stated it consists of simply stability enhancements and bug fixes.
  • A brand new shopper survey printed by The WSJ (through Daring Fireball) famous that Apple is now beating Samsung in Korea within the key demographic of 18- to 29-year-olds.


  • Fb announced it could start testing the power for customers to entry their Messenger inbox throughout the Fb app. The corporate had separated the applied sciences in 2016 in a push to drive customers to the standalone Messenger app.
  • WhatsApp is working on a brand new anti-spam characteristic that may permit customers to mechanically silence incoming calls from unknown numbers.
  • Telegram launched its new Power Saving Mode on iOS alongside different options. The battery saver was first introduced on Mac. The characteristic disables animations and different results to increase battery life and could be set to mechanically activate when the battery reaches a sure share. Now iOS customers can even granularly regulate playback pace for movies, podcasts, voice and video messages; can view when messages have been learn by particular person group members; can ship invite hyperlinks as messages; can mark all chats in a folder as learn; and more.

Picture Credit: Telegram

  • Japanese messaging platform LINE added assist for ChatGPT in its app, permitting customers to ship as much as 5 messages free of charge per day or improve to limitless messages for round $5/month. The characteristic was so widespread it gained 200,000 customers in a day.
  • Discord announced a set of latest AI experiences, together with an replace to its Clyde bot that may combine OpenAI’s ChatGPT expertise. With the discharge, customers will be capable to ask Clyde questions, have conversations or ask the bot to carry out duties, like sending you a GIF.
  • Signal and WhatsApp took a stand towards the On-line Security Invoice within the UK, together with other secure messaging apps, all of that are refusing to undermine the encryption they use to cater to authorities calls for.


  • TikTok is now blocking links to app stores from creators’ bios. The corporate confirmed that solely enterprise accounts would now have this capability, which even extends to incorporate hyperlinks inside link-in-bio companies like Linktree. Whereas there’s no cost and no advert product concerned, the transfer appears a push to get companies to purchase advertisements, somewhat than partnering with creators on CPI campaigns.
  • Twitter had another outage this week, this time impacting photos and hyperlinks. Perhaps they need to deliver again the fail whale.
  • Along with Spotify and SoundCloud, Reddit has additionally now adopted the TikTok-style format for its personal app. The corporate this week launched a redesign of its app, which incorporates a brand new Watch feed for movies whereas one other new feed, Learn, will give attention to textual content content material. The corporate believes separating the 2 will permit customers to extra simply leap into the expertise they like.
  • As well as, Reddit stated it’s closing down its Clubhouse clone, Reddit Speak. The corporate defined its third-party audio vendor was closing up store and it didn’t have its personal in-house sources prepared.
  • Meta stated it will stop offering Reels bonuses to creators on Instagram and Fb after first saying the incentivized content material program in 2021.
  • An NBC Information investigation found creeps and pedophiles on Pinterest, pinning photos of younger ladies. The corporate stated it could launch a characteristic that will permit customers to report boards and extra optioning for flagging profiles within the near-term and was planning to introduce age-verification measures at a later date.
  • Gowalla, a location-based social networking app first launched in 2009, is coming again. The app is making its return simply in time for SXSW (once more!) to see if the time is now proper for its idea to succeed. The new app has an up to date look and hopes to capitalize on the void created by Snap’s shutdown of Zenly.
  • Alongside the brand new model of its TV OS, which focuses on sports activities updates and stay information, Roku additionally introduced a revamp of its companion mobile app. The corporate described the brand new design as extra visually immersive and stated it could add options that allow customers entry issues like account administration, privateness and safety settings, and units hooked up to their Roku account. The app will even now assist as much as 1,000 images for photostreams as a substitute of simply 100. The brand new sports activities expertise and “Proceed Watching” rows will even be included within the replace.

Picture Credit: Roku

Leisure & Streaming

  • Spotify’s not the one app taking inspiration from TikTok. SoundCloud this week additionally introduced vertical video feeds that spotlight track clips in its new TikTok-style “Uncover” and “Following” feeds.
  • SoundCloud also gained a new CEO: Eliah Seton, who beforehand oversaw Creator and Roster divisions, technique, M&A, content material partnerships, biz dev, distribution and artist partnerships. Fred Wilson, founding father of Union Sq. Ventures and member of SoundCloud’s board since 2011, was additionally been appointed as the brand new chairman of the board.
SoundCloud feed on two smartphone screens

Picture Credit: SoundCloud

  • TikTok will get a paywall. The corporate introduced a brand new characteristic referred to as Collection, which permits creators to promote Collections of as much as 80 paid movies of as much as 20 minutes lengthy. Initially, creators are allowed to maintain 100% of the income generated.
  • SiriusXM announced layoffs of 475 individuals, or 8% of its whole workforce, citing the “unsure financial setting.” The corporate runs the satellite tv for pc radio service in addition to Pandora and Stitcher.
  • Wattpad also announced layoffs of 15% of its employees (42 of 267 individuals), citing the financial setting.
  • Sonos stated it could add support for spatial audio on Apple Music on March 28, making the corporate the primary companion to deliver spatial audio into the house.
  • Apple launched its Apple Music Classical app for preorder. (Extra on that under.)

And so forth.

  • Utah is allowing residents to make use of the GET Cell ID app to create a digital id which might then be used to generate a digital driving license remotely. The cellular driving license (mDL) can be utilized at TSA checkpoints at Salt Lake Metropolis Worldwide Airport.
  • Standard widget maker and personalization app Widgetsmith introduced it has now topped 100 million downloads since its launch in September 2020.
  • Snoop Dogg is among the many co-founders of a brand new app referred to as Shiller that lets creators promote their NFTs, accumulate digital ideas and have interaction with a web3 neighborhood.
  • Epic Video games is now letting developers self-publish to its Epic Video games Retailer, taking solely a 12% fee on recreation gross sales and no IAP minimize in the event that they use their very own funds instrument. 
  • Microsoft’s Outlook Mac app is now free, as a substitute of requiring a 365 subscription.

Picture Credit: Microsoft

  • Microsoft’s enterprise-focused Azure OpenAI service made ChatGPT available to companies trying so as to add the AI mannequin to their very own apps. The Azure OpenAI service already presents different OpenAI expertise, together with GPT-3.5, Codex and DALL-E 2. ChatGPT is priced at $0.002 per 1,000 tokens, or about 750 phrases, with billing for ChatGPT utilization to start March 13. Snap has already built-in ChatGPT and others, like Instacart and Workplace Depot, stated they may quickly.
  • A bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced new laws, the RESTRICT Act, that will permit the administration to limit and even ban overseas expertise, together with TikTok if it considers the tech a nationwide safety risk. If handed, it could give the Dept. of Commerce the ability to “evaluate, stop and mitigate” software program, {hardware} and companies from overseas adversaries.
  • In the meantime, TikTok announced Mission Clover, a allure offensive targeted on EU regulators that may embody protecting EU person information on servers in Europe and permitting a cybersecurity audit by a European agency.
  • EU regulators additionally asked Twitter to rent extra moderators and fact-checkers, the FT stated. The policymakers have been frightened concerning the firm’s plan to lean on volunteers and AI for moderation.
  • Irish information safety commissioner Helen Dixon stated regulators were concerned about Twitter’s resolution to roll out its subscription service, Twitter Blue, with out discover or discussions with the DPC — a greatest apply, although not a authorized requirement.
  • Gaming startup Believer, based by ex-Riot execs, raised $55 million from Lightspeed, a16z and others in a Collection A spherical. The corporate remains to be being cagey about its plans — together with what platforms it should assist — however is concentrated on giant, multiplayer “open world” video games.
  • Alongside the launch of latest password supervisor Uno, the startup disclosed a $3 million seed round led by a16z, with participation from Lookout founder Kevin Mahaffey and Dug Tune from Duo Safety. The app will work on Mac, Chrome and iOS and goals to enhance on the designs of different password managers with a extra user-friendly expertise and interface.
  • Korean tech big Kakao made a $1 billion bid to purchase one-third of SM Leisure.
  • Bach, an app for planning group journey and bachelorette journeys, raised $9 million in Series A funding led by Pritzker Group Enterprise Capital. Obtainable on each iOS and Android, the app lets buddies chat about journeys, plan an itinerary, break up bills, browse curated experiences and extra.

Apple Music Classical (preorder)

Picture Credit: Apple

Apple announced on Thursday it should quickly launch a brand new music streaming service targeted on classical music. Primarily based on its 2021 acquisition of Amsterdam-based streamer Primephonic, the brand new Apple Music Classical app will provide Apple Music subscribers entry to greater than 5 million classical music tracks, together with new releases in high-quality audio, in addition to a whole lot of curated playlists, 1000’s of unique albums and different options like composer bios and deep dives on key works.

Customers will be capable to search by composer, work, conductor and even catalog quantity, to find recordings. These could be streamed in high-quality audio of as much as 192 kHz/24-bit Hello-Res Lossless. And 1000’s of recordings shall be accessible in Apple’s immersive spatial audio, as effectively.

The service shall be included with an Apple Music subscription, together with Particular person ($10.99/mo), Pupil ($5.99/mo) and Household ($16.99/mo) plans, and the Apple One bundles. At launch, it will likely be iOS solely (iOS 15.4+) with Android to comply with “quickly.”

The app is accessible for preorder on the App Retailer for a March 28 launch.

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