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This Week in Apps: Apple’s big event, lidar comes to iPhone, Android gets a new IDE – TechCrunch

Welcome again to This Week in Apps, the PJDM collection that recaps the newest OS information, the functions they assist and the cash that flows by means of all of it.

The app trade is as scorching as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in client spending in 2019. Individuals are actually spending three hours and 40 minutes per day utilizing apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t only a method to move idle hours — they’re an enormous enterprise. In 2019, mobile-first firms had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x larger than these with no cellular focus.

On this collection, we allow you to sustain with the newest information from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly foundation.

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 may have a spread of gadgets 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 an alternative 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 properly. (More on that here).

The iPhone 12 mini, in the meantime, goals to serve the shopper base that prefers a smaller cellphone, 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. In addition they have a extra basic look, with straight edges that enable for added antennas, offering next-gen wi-fi connectivity.

One of many larger variations, nonetheless, 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 gentle to succeed in an object and mirror again. The brand new depth-sensing expertise has massive implications for AR, because it permits augmented actuality objects to work together with objects in the true world. AR apps might be extra user-friendly, too, as they received’t must first scan the room to position the AR object in the true world. It may be positioned immediately.

Apple is leveraging the sensor for the iPhone 12 Professional digital camera to supply as much as 6x sooner 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 true world, social media (like Snapchat’s new lidar-powered Lens), residence design and enchancment apps involving room scans, spatial structure planning (like JigSpace), higher AR procuring experiences and extra.

The corporate additionally introduced an inexpensive model of its HomePod good speaker, the $99 HomePod Mini. The merchandise works greatest for these totally locked contained in the Apple universe, as it would stream a handful of music companies, however not one of the vital fashionable — Spotify. Nevertheless, Apple additionally launched a nifty characteristic for the HomePod gadgets, Intercom, which helps you to ship bulletins throughout the audio system. Whereas Apple and Google have provided the same characteristic for his or her good audio system, Intercom additionally works throughout different Apple gadgets, 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 might see extra customers adopting good residence gadgets they will 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 could be coming to iPhone 12 to benefit from its new 5G capabilities and A14 Bionic chip.


  • 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 true world with out scanning the room. The replace will imply an enormous improve 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 staff additionally mounted a whopping 2,370 bugs throughout this launch cycle and closed 275 public points.
  • Google introduces the Android for Automobiles library. The library, now in open beta, provides builders instruments to design, develop and check new navigation, parking or charging apps for Android Auto. The Google Play Retailer might 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.


  • Procuring apps forecast. U.S. customers have been anticipated to spend 60M hours in Android procuring apps throughout Prime Day week, (which simply wrapped) in accordance with one forecast from App Annie.
  • Prime Day downloads develop. Sensor Tower estimates international 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. Nevertheless, U.S. installs have been down by 22% 10/13-10/14. Apptopia famous that app classes, nonetheless, have been up 27% year-over-year.
  • Procuring, Meals & Drink app launches up greater than 50% year-over-year. Procuring apps grew 52% whereas Meals & Drink apps grew 60%, as a consequence of 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 trade. 73% of marketers said a TikTok sale within the U.S. would affect their 2021 promoting plans. 41% additionally believed the deal might enable Walmart to overhaul Amazon in e-commerce.
  • Amazon expands AR experimentation to its packing containers. The retailer launched a new AR application that works with QR codes on the corporate’s delivery packing 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 outdoors 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 larger information is the (doubtlessly anti-competitive) merging of Fb’s chat platforms.
  • Life360 leverages TikTok teenagers’ complaints to begin a dialogue and invent a brand new characteristic, “Bubbles,” which permits teenagers (or anybody) to share a generalized location as an alternative of a precise one. The characteristic provides teenagers a bit extra freedom to roam and make decisions with out a lot parental oversight. Mother and father, in the meantime, can nonetheless be certain their teen is OK, as options like emergency SOS and crash alerts stay practical.
  • Should-read: The MacStories iOS and iPadOS 14 Review. Federico Viticci gives a 23-page deep dive into the newest model of Apple’s cellular working system.
    • Future raises $24M Collection B for its $150/mo exercise teaching app amid at-home health increase. The app pairs customers with real-life health teaching for private coaching at residence. The spherical was led by Trustbridge Companions with Caffeinated Capital and Collection A buyers Kleiner Perkins collaborating.
    • River raises $10.4M for its app providing information, occasions and different happenings from across the internet, starting from information tales from high publishers to sports activities to even notable tweets. The app presents the data in a real-time stream, browsed vertically. There’s additionally a “For You” web page, just like TikTok.
    • Roblox confidentially filed with the SEC to go public. This cross-platform gaming platform has boomed throughout coronavirus lockdowns. In keeping with reports, the itemizing might 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 cellular app. Backers embrace, Michael Ovitz, Summary, Algae Ventures, Porsche Ventures and FJ Labs.
    • Stay streaming app Second Home raises $1.5M seed. The startup goals to recreate dwell 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 associate Jess Lee additionally participated.
    • Twilio acquires Section 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 colleges and in enterprise environments.


mycons promo screen

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 an emblem and inserting it on the icon accordingly. You may as well create an entire set of icons in a batch export. For those who don’t really feel like designing your personal, you may choose to buy premade packs as an alternative.

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 embrace totally different variations and matching wallpaper, vary from $7.99-$9.99.

Spotify’s new iOS 14 widget

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Picture Credit: PJDM screenshot of Spotify widget

It’s right here! The widget plenty of 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 an alternative present the 5 most up-to-date gadgets — 4 in a horizontal row and the newest on the high. In that case, you may 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 shade to match the thumbnail photograph.

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Sarah Perez