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This Week in Apps: Redesigning the iOS 14 home screen, app makers form ‘fairness’ coalition, latest on TikTok ban – TechCrunch

Welcome again to This Week in Apps, the TechCrunch sequence that recaps the newest OS information, the functions they assist and the cash that flows via all of it.

The app {industry} is as sizzling as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in shopper spending in 2019. Folks at the moment are spending three hours and 40 minutes per day utilizing apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t only a option to move idle hours — they’re a giant enterprise. In 2019, mobile-first firms had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x increased than these with out a cellular focus.

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

iOS 14 Dwelling display Customization Craze

The discharge of iOS 14 included one of many largest updates to the iPhone’s consumer interface in years. Apps can now be saved off display within the new App Library the place they’re organized for you, versus you being compelled to categorize apps your self into numerous folders. And Apple lastly permits for residence display widgets — a improvement that left Android customers snickering about how “behind” their iPhone-using counterparts have been all this time.

However as with iOS apps, Apple’s design constraints and guidelines round widgets imply there’s a regular that every one widgets have to fulfill to be accredited. In consequence, widgets have a constant look-and-feel, because of issues like dimension limitations and different design tips. They’ll’t be stretched out indefinitely or moved all around the display, both.

Apple could have initially envisioned widgets as a manner for current iOS apps to achieve a bigger presence on customers’ residence screens, whereas delivering key data like information, climate or inventory updates, for instance. However a handful of iOS developers as a substitute constructed apps that allowed customers to design widgets themselves — by deciding on colours, fonts, sizes, backgrounds and what data the widget would show.

In the meantime, TikTok customers and different Gen Z’ers started instructing one another how you can create customized icons for his or her apps utilizing Apple’s Shortcuts app. These tutorials have been beginning to pattern even earlier than iOS 14’s launch, however the addition of the App Library and widgets meant customers may now finally customize their entire home screen. That prompted a extra enthusiastic adoption of the icon customization method.

On the Twitter hashtag #iOS14homescreen, customers shared their creations — a showcase of creativity the place residence screens seemed absolutely themed eventually, with customized icons, widgets, ornamental images, matching wallpapers and extra. The results have been fantastic.

And on the prime of the App Retailer, there now sit a trio of must-have instruments for this new period: Widgetsmith, Shade Widgets and Photograph Widget right this moment proceed to assert the highest three spots on the free apps chart.

Customers are additionally now demanding Apple to alter how app shortcuts open. At the moment, an app shortcut first launches Apple’s Shortcuts app, which then opens the goal app. With the recognition of customized icons, customers need that intermediate step reduce out.

Apple is conscious of the customization craze because it has within the days since iOS 14’s launch run App Retailer editorial options about iOS 14’s design modifications, advised widgets to attempt, artistic instruments and extra. It additionally featured apps on the prime of the App Retailer, that are benefiting from the pattern, like apps providing nice widgets, like Fantastical, or these which might be booming, like Pinterest — which recently broke its day by day obtain file.

App makers group as much as tackle Apple and Google

Quite a few prime app makers have banded collectively to combat towards Apple’s management of its App Retailer and, to a lesser extent, Google’s management of the Play Retailer — a subject of elevated regulatory scrutiny in latest months. In the present day, 13 app publishers, together with Epic Video games, Deezer, Basecamp, Tile, Spotify and others, have launched the Coalition for App Fairness.

The brand new group formalizes efforts the businesses have already got underway that concentrate on both forcing app retailer suppliers to alter their insurance policies, or finally pushing the app shops into regulation.

On the coalition’s website, the group particulars its key points, which embody anti-competitive practices, just like the app shops’ 30% fee construction, and the shortcoming to distribute software program to billions of Apple units via another means however the App Retailer, which the group sees as an affront to non-public freedom.

Google permits apps to be side-loaded, so it’s not as a lot of a goal on this entrance. In actual fact, a lot of the main focus of the coalition’s efforts must do with Apple’s enterprise, given its stricter tips.

The group has additionally revealed a listing of 10 “App Retailer Rules” it wish to see enacted industry-wide. These embody the power to distribute apps outdoors of app shops, protections from having their very own knowledge used towards them to compete, well timed entry to developer documentation, the appropriate to speak with customers via its app for legit enterprise functions, no necessities to make use of the app retailer’s cost techniques, no necessities to pay unfair charges and extra.

The web site can be aiming to recruit new members to affix the coalition. App makers who really feel equally oppressed by Apple’s practices are capable of fill out a type to request to affix.

Apple responded to the hardball ways with a barrage of latest materials and knowledge meant to spotlight the advantages of its App Retailer platform. The corporate on Thursday revealed the number of rejections it enforces is sort of low in comparison with the variety of submissions. It mentioned it rejected 150,000 apps in 2020 however sees 100,000 submissions per week. It additionally has eliminated greater than 60 million consumer opinions it believed to be spam.

The corporate famous its Developer program has over 28 million builders worldwide, whose apps have seen over 50 billion promotions — which means when a consumer sees an app Apple has promoted on the App Retailer, in emails, on social media or in different common promoting.

Nonetheless, the backlash has additionally forced Apple to be more transparent about a few of its until-now pretty secretive packages. For instance, Apple has now published a page that clarifies how its Video Associate program works — a program that had earlier than solely been detailed by way of background conversations with reporters who then relayed the knowledge to readers. The web page reveals this system’s necessities and that over 130 premium subscription video leisure suppliers have since joined. If the rules are adopted, these suppliers will pay solely a 15% fee to Apple as a substitute of 20%.

Present members embody Amazon Prime Video, Binge, Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC), Claro, C Extra, DAZN, Disney+, Globo, HBO Max, Joyn, Molotov, MUBI, myCanal, STARZ and Viaplay, the web site mentioned.

TikTok deal chaos continues

No, severely, what is going on with the TikTok deal? (We feel you, Walmart.)

The deal that Trump was poised to approve solved some but not all concerns by making Oracle a trusted expertise companion answerable for internet hosting U.S. consumer knowledge and making certain different safety necessities have been in place. However points round how the TikTok algorithm could possibly be used to affect U.S. customers or censor content material weren’t addressed.

The ban acquired per week’s extension on account of promising progress and the bulletins that appeared to point the events have been in settlement on phrases.

However this week, China jumped in to say it won’t approve a TikTok sale. In China Every day, an official English-language newspaper of the Chinese language Communist Celebration, an editorial slammed the deal that may see Oracle and Walmart successfully taking on TikTok within the U.S. as one based mostly on “bullying and extortion.”

On the identical time, TikTok is chasing a authorized technique of stopping its ban within the U.S.

TikTok filed a motion to cease the Commerce Division from imposing the Trump administration’s ban that may in any other case be set to start out this weekend. The transfer got here shortly after WeChat customers were granted an injunction in a federal court docket final week that blocked the app from being banned. TikTok’s submitting asks the court to set a listening to earlier than the foundations take impact at 11:59 PM on September 27, 2020. However in contrast to the WeChat case, TikTok is the one asking the court docket to cease the ban, not its customers.

A federal decide said Thursday that the Trump administration should both delay the ban on U.S. app shops or file its authorized response to defend the choice by 2:30 PM Friday. The Justice Division filed its opposition Friday, saying that U.S. consumer knowledge being saved outdoors the nation is a “important” danger.  The decide will nonetheless must rule on the injunction — that’s, whether or not the ban ought to go into impact Sunday, as deliberate.

Keep tuned to TechCrunch for the newest on this endless saga.


  • Google will improve its push for apps to provide it a reduce of in-app purchases. Following Apple’s lead, Google will start to push more durable to demand a reduce of transactions on Android by imposing a requirement for apps to make use of Google’s billing service, Bloomberg reports.
  • New Google Play Console arrives on November 2, 2020. Over 350Okay builders now use the brand new Play Console right this moment. On November 2, it exits beta — which means you’ll be redirected to the up to date expertise whenever you log in. The console options reorganized navigation, pace and efficiency enhancements, personalised messaging, a brand new Publishing overview web page, acquisition stories and extra.
  • Apple quickly waived App Retailer charges for Fb’s on-line occasions. Fb final month launched paid on-line occasions to assist companies impacted by the pandemic. However on the time, Apple wouldn’t waive its personal charges. The corporate has now changed its mind, and can waive charges till December 31, however says this gained’t apply to gaming creators.
  • Apple and Fb combat over messaging. However all is just not effectively between the 2 tech giants on different fronts. Now that Apple has lifted its guidelines over default apps for e mail and net shopping, Facebook is pushing the company to permit Messenger to develop into a default messaging app too.
  • iOS 14.0.1 and iPadOS 14.0.1 launched. The replace patches the bug that reset net browser and e mail apps again to Apple’s defaults after a restart, and different fixes.
  • iOS 14 adoption surpasses 25% in 5 days after launch. In accordance with data from Mixpanel, iOS 14 (together with iPadOS 14) reached 25% of lively units by Monday, September 21. As of the time of writing, it has reached 30.7%.
  • Apple’s Swift involves Home windows. The programming language is available on Windows for the primary time, six years after its debut on Apple platforms.
  • Schoolwork 2.1 beta launched. The up to date iPad app for lecturers and college students is now in beta. Apps that use the newest ClassKit might be extra discoverable by lecturers in Schoolwork.


  • Amazon declares a gaming streaming service, Luna. A competitor to Microsoft xCloud and Google Stadia, Luna will allow gamers to stream titles to play throughout PC, Mac and iOS cellular net. Over 50 titles might be included at launch, together with a Sonic sport and Treatment Leisure’s Management. Ubisoft titles might be accessible on subscription. Twitch integration might be a key promoting level.
  • Microsoft launches Xbox distant play streaming on Android. This isn’t xCloud, however fairly a rebrand of the service beforehand referred to as Console Streaming. The video games stream immediately out of your Xbox One console to your Android courtesy of Microsoft’s new Xbox app for Android.
  • UK launches a COVID-19 publicity notification app for England and Wales. Northern Eire and Scotland had already launched official apps. All apps use smartphones’ Bluetooth radios to generate alerts of potential publicity to COVID-19.
  • Samsung TV+ involves telephones. Free, ad-supporting streaming service makes the leap to Samsung units.
  • Adobe rolls out new ‘Liquid Mode’ in Adobe’s Acrobat Reader app for iOS and Android. The feature uses Adobe’s AI engine, Sensei, to research a PDF and routinely rebuild it for cellular units. Adobe says it’s engaged on an API that can permit related performance for non-Adobe apps sooner or later.


  • Fintech apps prime 1.2B installs worldwide in Q2 (report).
  • Time spent in training apps was up 90% year-over-year throughout the week of September 6, 2020, in comparison with final yr, on a world foundation. The numbers, via App Annie, have been calculated on Android units on-line. Within the U.S., time spent was up 30%.
  • Dwelling display customization apps prime the App Retailer. Prime 20 iOS residence display customization apps reached at least 13.7 million installs and greater than $1 million in shopper spending within the seven days following the iOS 14 launch. Pinterest additionally broke its daily download record as customers sought new inspiration.

Different Information

  • Telepath launches a “kinder” social networking app. It goals to promote high quality dialog and ban harassment and faux information. Simpler mentioned than accomplished on right this moment’s web.
  • Baby ideas off safety researchers about rip-off apps with 2.four million downloads. The rip-off involved apps posing as leisure, wallpaper pictures or music obtain apps concentrating on younger customers. Some served intrusive advertisements even when the app wasn’t lively. Others charged customers, gaining revenues of over $500Okay. The apps have been accessible throughout iOS and Android.
  • Epic rejects Apple’s makes an attempt to disparage its enterprise. Apple tried to claim that curiosity in Fortnite declined 70% from October 2019 to July 2020. Epic mentioned, no truly, day by day lively gamers grew 39% throughout these dates. The 2 sides are preventing over Apple’s proper to fee Epic’s enterprise in a seamless authorized battle.
  • Apple acquires Scout FM. Apple bought a startup referred to as Scout FM that turns podcast listening into extra of a standard radio-like expertise by leveraging the consumer’s listening historical past to know what kind of programming they like. Deal phrases are unknown.
  • Epic Video games acquires SuperAwesome. Epic acquired the kidtech pioneer whose digital engagement instruments are utilized by 500 million youngsters monthly throughout hundreds of apps, together with these from Lego, NBCU and Hasbro. Deal phrases weren’t disclosed.
  • IRL app raises $16 million. Occasion discovery community IRL raised $16 million in Sequence B funding after refocusing its social calendar on digital occasions throughout the pandemic. The transfer made the app, now with 5.5 million MAUs, accessible by a wider viewers.
  • GoodRx IPO raises $1 billion+. GoodRx, an app that helps customers comparability store costs for pharmaceuticals, sold roughly 34.6 million shares at its IPO worth to boost $1.14 billion at a valuation of $12.67 billion, sending its replenish 50%.
  • Robinhood raises $660 million. Inventory buying and selling app Robinhood raised $660 million in an extension of its Sequence G spherical introduced final month when D1 Capital Companions invested $200 million. Robinhood is now valued at $11.7 billion.
  • Class for Zoom raises $16 million. Class for Zoom from ClassEDU is designed to make on-line instructing extra partaking. The corporate was based by former Blackboard CEO and former PrecisionHawk CEO Michael Chasen.
  • Cellular Premier League raises $90 million. Indian cellular gaming platform Cellular Premier League (MPL) raised $90 million as the corporate appears to be like to broaden its esports and gaming platform outdoors India.
  • Rappi raises over $300 million. Colombian supply app Rappi raised over $300 million in a spherical from T. Rowe Value Associates and others.

How may you not be customizing your iOS 14 residence display this week? The launch of the brand new cellular OS has delivered a completely new class of apps — widget design instruments. And alongside these apps, there are others that may aid you get began creating a complete new search for your house display. These could possibly be artistic instruments, these for sourcing inspiration or these for constructing customized icons. Desire a weekend venture? These apps under can get you going:

  • Pinterest: Seek for concepts and inspiration to get your motivation. Obtain wallpapers and different images you might need to use together with your icons.
  • Widgetsmith: The present No. 1 app allows you to construct all types of custom-made widgets in a variety of colours and sizes.
  • Color Widgets: The present No. 2 app provides a customizable widget that may function the date, time, day of the week and battery proportion for the highest of your house display.
  • Photo Widget: Simple: One other prime app that allows you to choose a single photograph for placement on your house display.
  • Motivation – Daily Quotes: A prime 30 app allows you to pin some day by day inspirational quotes to your house display.
  • Launcher and Launch Center Pro: these two apps embody instruments for creating customized icons.
  • PicsArt: For extra artistic varieties, PicsArt is nice for sourcing images and designing backgrounds and icons both from scratch or by remixing these others have already made.
  • Canva: The DIY design instrument has added a collection of iOS residence display templates.
  • TuneTrack: If you’d like a Spotify widget, this app is your only option for now as no official widget is offered.
  • Fonts: Why cease on the residence display? customise your keyboard theme to match your new design.
  • Fantastical: Now features a dozen widgets for date, climate, calendar, occasions and extra.
  • Etsy: Can’t DIY? Designers are turning to Etsy to sell packs of icons and widget cover photos that can allow you to create a good looking residence display with out doing all of the artistic work your self.


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Sarah Perez