Twitter various winners and losers, BeReal declines, iOS internet apps to get notifications • TechCrunch

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

The app economic system in 2023 hit a couple of snags, as shopper spending final 12 months dropped for the primary time by 2% to $167 billion, in line with’s “State of Cellular” report. Nevertheless, 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 cell apps than ever earlier than. On Android units alone, hours spent in 2022 grew 9%, reaching 4.1 trillion.

This Week in Apps gives a strategy 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 far more.

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This week’s theme appears to be a decline in development for some much-buzzed-about apps, together with a bunch of Twitter options, AI picture apps and even the BeReal. Let’s dive in.

How are the Twitter options faring now?

Concept illustration depicting Twitter in a federated world

Picture Credit: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

Was there a Twitter exodus or only a Twitter pause? Did it even matter? This week, TechCrunch dug into new data so as to check out how a spread of “Twitter options” have fared within the months following Elon Musk’s acquisition of the favored microblogging community, now that the burst of latest installs pushed by his takeover has tapered off. The information signifies that many apps proceed to develop to a lesser diploma whereas different apps have seen development decline. Nevertheless it additionally reveals that Twitter itself was by no means considerably impacted, no less than when it comes to new app installs.

In fact, app installs is just one window into this information. However personal corporations don’t usually share figures associated to lively utilization, so monitoring shopper demand by way of app downloads is one strategy to decide market curiosity. What’s fascinating right here is that we discovered Twitter installs have trended again up after earlier declines. Downloads grew from 16.6 million installs in October to 18.6 million in November as Musk took over, then dropped in December to 16.9 million. Final month, they once more jumped again to 18.6 million installs, giving Twitter the identical 24.8% development fee it had in November.

In the meantime, different Twitter options have seen drop-offs in development. Whereas our report examined Reddit and Discord, neither of those appear to have had their fortunes straight tied to Twitter’s ups and downs, because it turned out. Different options like Hive, GETTR and Tribel have seen their development gradual. Tribel, as an example, solely added 1,100 new downloads in January. Tumblr actually had a November bump pushed by the Twitter exodus as nicely however continues to be up barely greater in December (510,000 installs) and January (480,000) in contrast with September and October.

Mastodon’s installs have been down fairly a bit from November’s peak of two.9 million month-to-month downloads. It nonetheless managed to realize 180,000 new installs in January — that’s 169,000 extra installs than it had in September 2022. So it’s not in decline but.

If something, the most important enhance to the broader Twitter various app ecosystem hinges on new person consciousness of the Fediverse and Mastodon. Even when the Mastodon app itself hasn’t reworked right into a dominant drive, it’s early days. Fediverse development may finally be a pattern that performs out over an extended time period than just some months post-Twitter acquisition, as extra apps be a part of the decentralization motion.

Net apps will get to behave extra like actual apps on iPhone

One of many extra notable modifications popping out of the iOS 16.4 beta is the information that Apple will now permit cell internet functions to perform extra like native functions by offering them entry to iOS’s push notification system. Meaning internet apps that get added to a person’s Dwelling Display screen can request permission to obtain push notifications if the person opts in — as an example by tapping on a subscribe button to obtain updates, as a submit on the WebKit blog explains. This could then permit the tip person to handle their push notifications for the app of their Settings, simply as they’d for some other native iOS or iPadOS app.

The notifications would work identical to native notifications, too, showing in all areas the place you’d anticipate to see them, just like the Notification Heart, Lock Display screen and on a paired Apple Watch. The online apps’ icon also can show a badge with a badge depend and can work with Focus Modes. What’s extra, customers may even add a number of variations of the identical internet app to their Dwelling Display screen, every with their very own settings — one thing that may be helpful for separating work and private use of some apps or a number of accounts, the submit notes.

Push notifications tied to internet browsers isn’t new know-how, however it’s fascinating to see Apple embrace the function now that it’s beneath stress to exhibit that it’s not participating in anti-competitive conduct. With this variation, the corporate can level to internet apps as an alternative choice to its App Retailer, claiming they’ve the identical means to focus on and attain iPhone and iPad customers as native apps do.

Are we nonetheless Being Actual?

Is the shine sporting off BeReal? Fascinating information out this week from Apptopia (through Business of Apps) signifies that BeReal could have already peaked. The app is estimated to have hit 20 million every day lively customers in October 2022, however that’s since dropped to 10.4 million. As well as, its month-to-month downloads fell from 12 million in September 2022 to three.3 million in January, the report famous, citing information from AppMagic.

TechCrunch beforehand reported there have been indications that BeReal wasn’t gaining sufficient floor to keep up its excessive ranks after going viral. The app in October was stated to be seeing only 9% of its Android users open it daily. The app calls for little of its customers’ time — its push notification prompts a one-time use per day, and the bulk weren’t even giving it that. Some could have felt that information was unfair or unhelpful, significantly given BeReal’s traction with U.S. teenagers and younger adults, most of whom are on iPhone. However together with the brand new information, it’s maybe extra of a priority.

The corporate has confronted challenges as its once-daily notification gimmick has been ripped off by Instagram, Snapchat and BeReal. In the meantime, the app itself has remained unchanged. There’s nothing to addict or re-engage customers — which is type of the purpose. The founders’ objective is to create a brand new sort of social expertise that doesn’t demand large chunks of time and strives for authenticity. However in addition they haven’t laid out a imaginative and prescient for its future, regardless of a $60 million Series B — a quantity that means a grand plan must be in retailer or no less than monetization. It’s not a life-style enterprise, in any case. It’s unclear the place BeReal goes subsequent at this level.

The AI picture app pattern has fizzled

Talking of apps in decline, that’s the place the AI picture app pattern has ended up.

Over the previous a number of months, AI-powered picture apps had been going viral on the App Retailer as shoppers explored AI-powered experiences like Lensa AI’s “magic avatars” function and different apps promising to show textual content into photos utilizing AI tech. However new information signifies shopper curiosity in AI picture apps has fallen as shortly because it rose.

At their peak of recognition, the highest AI picture apps topped 4.3 million every day downloads and ~$1.8 million per day in shopper spending through in-app purchases. As of this previous week, the identical group of apps noticed solely round 952,000 mixed downloads and round $507,000 in shopper spending, and the numbers proceed to fall.

Shoppers appeared to answer the moral considerations being raised across the apps. As TechCrunch had reported on the time, some individuals started to go away feedback on AI pictures and profile footage posted on social media to inform individuals to not use an app that steals from artists. This backlash possible quelled a number of the demand for AI artwork. In any case, it’s not a lot enjoyable to make use of an AI pic in your profile when you’re primarily being accused of theft when doing so.


  • Apple released iOS 16.3.1, iPadOS 16.3.1 and macOS Ventura 13.2.1 to patch a WebKit vulnerability. On its security update page, Apple wrote that it “is conscious of a report that this challenge could have been actively exploited.
  • Apple launched iOS 16.4’s first beta, which brings a number of new features, including 31 new emojis just like the pink coronary heart and shaking face; the flexibility for internet apps on iPhone and iPad to entry push notifications and show badges; help for wealthy content material previews of Mastodon posts in iMessage; and new options for Apple Podcasts together with a brand new “Channels” part and CarPlay updates.
  • The first macOS Ventura 13.3 beta was launched as nicely, together with tvOS 16.4 and watchOS 9.4.
  • Apple is making it easier for registered developers to put in iOS betas by permitting them to register their accounts with a view to be opted into a brand new choice that lets them set up betas straight from Software program Updates. The system will substitute the profiles beforehand required. However this variation means solely registered builders can set up the developer beta — those that aren’t registered can solely set up the general public beta as an alternative.
  • Apple officially released iOS 16 adoption figures, demonstrating it’s greater than iOS 15 with 81% of all iPhones from 2019 and on operating the latest software program. As well as, 72% of all iPhones are operating iOS 16. Not as many iPads have updated, although, as solely 50% of all iPads are operating iPadOS 16, whereas 53% of these launched within the final 4 years are.


  • Google stated a small proportion of Android 13 units might be enrolled within the beta trials of its new privacy sandbox, an interest-based ad-targeting system. Preliminary advert companions for the trial embrace TechCrunch’s father or mother Yahoo, cell video games maker Rovio, mobility agency Wolt, cross-platform video games engine Unity and cell advertising and marketing platforms AppsFlyer, InMobi Trade and Regulate.
  • Google introduced that Play Video games Companies (PGS) is rolling out next-generation Player IDs. With this variation, says Google, “the primary time a person performs a sport, they’ll at all times be assigned a novel next-generation Participant ID that can stay constant whatever the machine or platform a person performs a sport on, however which can fluctuate from sport to sport.”
  • Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Android telephone’s new Message Guard feature is claimed to forestall zero-click exploits through messaging apps.


  • At its investor day, Snap announced that Snapchat now has 750 million+ monthly active users, up 25% from April 2022 and famous 150 million of these customers are in North America. Amongst a bevy of metrics it shared, it additionally stated its Snapchat+ $3.99/month subscription now has 2.5 million subscribers. The corporate stated it might focus extra on its Direct Response adverts enterprise going ahead, put money into AR and proceed M&A. It spoke little about its Spectacles and declined to reply a query on how the newest in AI would impression its enterprise.
  • TikTok could also be developing a paywalled product the place creators may cost $1 or extra for movies. It’s also said to be working on a revamped Creator Fund which might pay creators with 100,000+ followers.
  • Fashionable Mastodon shopper Ivory received one thing Twitter customers waited eons for: an edit button.
  • Twitter started allowing cannabis ads on its platform in U.S. states the place it’s authorized. The adverts will promote manufacturers and supply data however not facilitate direct gross sales. The transfer comes after many bigger Twitter advertisers put their campaigns on pause, forcing Twitter to recoup its enterprise elsewhere.
  • Instagram launched Instagram Channels, a broadcast chat function that enables creators to share public, one-to-many messages with followers and followers. The function helps each textual content and pictures and is initially out there to creators within the U.S.
  • TikTok added new dedicated feeds alongside its For You and Following feeds that allow customers browse movies by classes like  “Sports activities,” “Trend,” “Gaming” and “Meals.”


Snap launches ray tracing technology

Picture Credit: Snap

  • Snapchat stated it’s including ray tracing support to its AR Lens Studio for builders globally. The technical functionality permits for life like renderings of sunshine and shine on AR artifacts. Snap is partnering with Tiffany & Co. to let customers attempt on and buy bracelets utilizing AR utilizing this new function.


  • Following Fb, Instagram will shut down its live shopping feature on March 16, 2023 to as an alternative put its concentrate on adverts that permit customers to find companies and Outlets on the app. With the change, Instagram customers will not have the ability to tag merchandise whereas livestreaming — a functionality that has been broadly out there to U.S. companies and creators since 2020.
  • In the meantime, TikTok has extra manufacturers testing out its personal in-app commerce options with TikTok Store within the U.S. Whereas the exams have been underway since November, TikTok confirmed more companies like PacSun, Revolve and Willow Boutique, in addition to magnificence model KimChi Stylish, are actually on board, observe an Ad Age report.

Media and Leisure

  • Massive information on the earth of YouTube as Susan Wojcicki announced she’s stepping down as YouTube CEO after 9 years. The exec, Google’s sixteenth worker, has labored on the firm for almost 25 years, having led YouTube by way of the launch of latest merchandise like YouTube Premium YouTube TV, and different creator services, in addition to by way of challenges round moderation points and elevated lawmaker scrutiny of Massive Tech.
  • Spotify was caught in a backlash after audiobook narrators found a clause that allow Apple use audiobooks from Findaway Voices to coach its artificial voices. Spotify acquired Findaway in June 2022. Apple launched audiobooks narrated by artificial voices just last month.
  • TikTok is launching TikTok Trivia, a livestream trivia quiz game that has a $500,000 prize pool. The sport might be hosted every day between February 22 and 26 and might be open to customers within the U.S. aged 18 or older. Throughout the first three days, TikTok Trivia can have two dwell periods per day which are every an hour lengthy. The primary session will start at 8 p.m. ET, and can have 12 questions. Winners break up a $30,000 reward. The second session is at 9 p.m. ET., and winners break up a $70,000 reward. After finishing “survival rounds” the final group standing will break up a $100,000 reward.


  • China’s video games trade shrank for the first time in years, in line with the nation’s prime gaming trade affiliation. The market grossed 265.9 billion yuan ($39 billion) from video gaming gross sales in 2022, a ten.33% drop year-over-year. The decline was resulting from quite a few elements, together with its online game crackdowns, pause on issuing permits and the now lengthier course of to turn into compliant.
  • The Google Dwelling app can now control the Xbox Sequence S or Sequence X, permitting the app to function a contact distant for the console.
  • The Information reported on how Amazon’s Luna gaming service is shedding steam, noting that its library has shrunk by about 30% since October, and dozens extra titles have been on monitor to exit within the weeks forward.
  • Roblox is testing a tool that lets gamers use pure language to create or change the looks of their avatars and surroundings.


  • Match-owned courting app Hinge rolled out its new $50/month subscription known as HingeX, which gives frequently boosted profiles, getting likes seen first, enhanced suggestions and all the opposite perks of the subsequent tier down, Hinge+ (beforehand Hinge Most popular).
  • Relationship app Flamme, beforehand often called Sparks, introduced a brand new AI-powered Ask Me Something device which caters to {couples} seeking to introduce new and enjoyable experiences to their lives, and in addition enhance communication of their relationship.
  • TechCrunch rounded up a brand new group of courting app startups, CandidDitto and IRLY, which are incorporating video in several methods, together with for profiles, calls and at the same time as a type of TikTok for courting.
  • Relationship app installs have fallen, Sensor Tower reported round Valentine’s Day. Obtain ranges returned to these seen in 2019 and 2021, after which dropped additional in 2022, making final 12 months the bottom variety of installs over the previous 4 years, at the same time as revenues grew, peaking at $374 million in gross income in Q1 2022. Social discovery apps, nevertheless, have been a extra dynamic group with many of the prime 10 swapping locations from 2021-2022.

Picture Credit: Sensor Tower

And so on.

  • Tile introduced a new anti-theft mode that requires biometric information, a authorities ID and new Phrases of Service that permit the corporate to share customers’ private data with regulation enforcement. The modifications are supposed to function a deterrent to the legal use of trackers for issues like stalking and theft. However the firm says it gained’t anticipate a subpoena to show over information to police — which can deter shopper adoption too.
  • Two-year-old crypto app Bakkt is shutting down on March 16. The corporate had partnered with Starbucks, Greatest Purchase and Alternative Inns on its efforts to tie crypto with digital belongings, like reward playing cards, loyalty factors and airline miles.
  • Google Images’ app started crashing after the discharge of iOS 16.3.1, requiring a fast update to repair.
  • Google rolled out new options including partial customized tabs and auto-filling passwords to make in-app looking on Android a greater expertise.
  • Reddit is reportedly seeking to IPO later this 12 months, The Information stated, however it’s going to possible be value lower than the $15 billion it had hoped for when it initially filed in Dec. 2021.
  • Firefox for Android gained an extension that enables customers to take heed to articles learn aloud, and others for hiding electronic mail addresses and eradicating monitoring parts earlier than sharing a URL.
  • The Wall Road Journal offered an update on the Division of Justice’s antitrust investigation in opposition to Apple, noting the federal government had now added extra litigators to the investigation and elevated its consultations with corporations associated to points at hand in current months.
  • The Washington Submit featured an interview with TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew who’s making an attempt to persuade U.S. lawmakers that TikTok isn’t a nationwide safety risk.
  • Singapore-based neobank Aspire raised $100 million in Series C funding from buyers together with Lightspeed, Sequoia Capital SEA, PayPal, Tencent, LGT Capital Companions, and others. Over the previous 12 months, the startup tripled its annualized TPV to $12 billion and now reaches over 15,000 companies in Southeast Asia.
  • Triller closed on its acquisition of influencer advertising and marketing agency Julius for an undisclosed sum. New York-based Julius had raised a complete of $23.8 million. It’s unclear how Triller has the funds after coping with multiple lawsuits from UMG, Sony Music and Verzuz in current months.

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