AI apps, Bing hits the Prime Charts, Google and Mozilla take a look at non-WebKit browsers •

Welcome again to This Week in Apps, the weekly sequence that recaps the most recent in cellular OS information, cellular purposes 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, based on’s “State of Cellular” report. Nonetheless, downloads are persevering with to develop, up 11% year-over-year in 2022 to succeed in 255 billion. Customers 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 provides a strategy to sustain with this fast-moving trade in a single place with the most recent from the world of apps, together with information, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and far more.

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AI’s influence on apps

Picture Credit: Bloomberg (opens in a brand new window) / Getty Photographs

Extra AI apps are on the way in which. It was an enormous week for AI information as each Microsoft and Google took the stage at competing occasions to intro their AI developments to the general public. Microsoft fared a bit higher with its information that OpenAI’s ChatGPT-like tech was coming to Bing, pushing its companion cellular app up into the App Retailer’s prime ranks. In the meantime, Google flubbed a bit with its rival AI, Bard, which, in a printed demonstration of the expertise, shared an incorrect reply to a query concerning the James Webb Area Telescope (it was NOT the primary to take an image of an exoplanet, NASA says).

Whereas each AI fashions will regularly and confidently get issues fallacious at instances, Google’s failure to fact-check the solutions it was displaying off appeared to point the corporate was dashing out the tech in response to Microsoft’s transfer into its territory…which it was.

Google ought to have been far forward on this AI race, having invested in and developed AI expertise for years with assist from a number of the prime specialists within the area. However it’s been caught off guard — and never solely by OpenAI.

Earlier than this present AI race, Amazon’s Alexa turned the family title for AI-powered voice assistants. Google, however, acquired burned when it confirmed off a few of its extra spectacular shopper purposes of AI. It confronted backlash over its consideration of AI ethics when it confirmed off Duplex’s capability to name eating places to guide reservations whereas pretending to sound human. Google additionally typically builds neat AI instruments — like an AI that may generate music from textual content descriptions — however received’t launch them.

The corporate has appeared to be gradual to maneuver on AI — seemingly hesitant to upset its search and promoting money cow that depends on advertisements bought atop an inventory of hyperlinks. Microsoft doesn’t care about that, although, noting that each 1% of search advert share achieve it makes is a $2 billion income opp.

That’s why what we’ve gotten from Google round AI has been a kind of regular stream of smaller AI-powered function drops over time, not some large and costly overhaul of search that might have killed its margins.

As a substitute, we get issues like multisearch, which expands net search to incorporate textual content and pictures mixed. Google this week introduced it was going world and the close by choice, multisearch close to me, was additionally rolling out extra broadly.

The corporate additionally rolled out different AI-powered enhancements to issues like translation and Google Maps. For instance, Google at this week’s occasion spoke about its new “immersive view” maps providing extra true-to-life scenes, that are created by leveraging an AI method referred to as neural radiance fields (NeRF). However these maps are solely out there in a handful of cities. And as cool as they’re, they really feel extra like an iteration on Avenue View quite than a significant AI leap.

In the meantime, Google used its occasion to point out off a spread of different options that weren’t AI search demos or ChatGPT rivals. It launched Maps’ AR-powered Stay View, which Google stated is hitting a number of extra cities. (This requires customers to carry up their telephones and scan the realm — probably not a delicate gesture in the event you’re making an attempt to cover the truth that you’re a vacationer and even probably misplaced!) And it talked about new EV Maps.

Microsoft, however, used its press occasion to totally concentrate on AI as the following evolution of search. It demoed its ChatGPT-like AI in Bing which can also be built-in with its Edge net browser. And it talked intimately concerning the next-gen OpenAI giant language mannequin it’s utilizing, calling it “extra highly effective than ChatGPT,” which actually excited shoppers.

The corporate additionally cleverly launched a waitlist for the AI-powered Bing that required folks to set Microsoft defaults on their PC and obtain the Bing app. In consequence, the Bing app is now ranked within the prime 10 on the U.S. App Retailer and is the No. 2 Productiveness app behind Gmail. To place this in perspective, the Bing app forward of the AI information had been ranked No. 160 on the U.S. App Retailer’s Productiveness apps chart — in different phrases, virtually invisible.

Google, in the meantime, misplaced $100 billion in market worth as Alphabet’s inventory fell after the advert with the AI’s mistake aired forward of the corporate’s occasion.

Whereas the large race in AI apps remains to be between Google and Microsoft (through OpenAI), AI will quickly discover its means into quite a lot of cellular apps by means of integrations. Already, we’ve seen the faux ChatGPT apps arrive and belatedly get the boot from the app shops. At the moment, a seek for the time period “ChatGPT” nonetheless returns quite a few apps that indicate they’re related to OpenAI or just presume customers received’t care, so long as they provide a ChatGPT-like expertise. And we’ve seen the AI picture turbines go viral. Quora this week additionally launched an AI playground referred to as Poe, which incorporates a handful of AI chatbots from OpenAI and Anthropic. (See “Downloads” part under.)

Customers are clearly hungry to see AI put to make use of in apps. The developments additionally enliven what’s turn into a stale App Retailer over time, as Apple blocked different new tech, like NFTs, blockchain transactions and Web3 applied sciences from being totally useful on its App Retailer, forcing startups to construct their very own.

An finish to Apple’s ban on non-WebKit browsers?

Picture Credit: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto through Getty Photographs

Some browser makers imagine they’ll have the ability to launch their very own, non-WebKit-powered browser apps sooner or later, because of anticipated rules that may power Apple to open up its App Retailer to extra competitors.

This week, a number of tales emerged that prime browser makers like Mozilla and Google have been engaged on the event of non-WebKit browser apps for iOS. Google Chromium builders, as an illustration, have begun constructing an iOS browser that makes use of Google’s Blink engine — an app that right now wouldn’t be allowed on the App Retailer, as Apple’s pointers particularly state that browser apps “should use the suitable WebKit framework and WebKit Javascript.”

Google, nonetheless, downplayed the information, claiming it was solely a prototype meant to assist it study iOS efficiency.

In an announcement, a spokesperson informed us, “That is an experimental prototype that we’re growing as a part of an open-source mission with the purpose to know sure facets of efficiency on iOS. It is not going to be out there to customers and we’ll proceed to abide by Apple’s insurance policies.”

Google isn’t the one one dabbling on this space. When reached for remark, Mozilla was way more clear about its plans when it was noticed engaged on a Gecko-based model of Firefox for iOS, clearly indicating that its work is in anticipation of a extra aggressive panorama.

“We abide by Apple’s iOS app retailer insurance policies, and are merely performing some exploratory work to know the technical challenges for Gecko-based browsers on iOS if these insurance policies have been to alter,” a Mozilla spokesperson informed us. “We hope the day will come when folks can freely determine to make use of the browser of their alternative, together with the chance to pick out the engine that underpins it.”

In fact, even when Apple have been to speak in confidence to non-WebKit browsers, it may theoretically impose different limits on competing apps to dictate how they’re allowed to make use of system sources. That might be one more reason for the businesses to experiment now in order that they’ll be prepared to fulfill any such requirement if and when the App Retailer opens up.

Children’ TikTok utilization once more tops YouTube

TikTok logo displayed on a smartphone

Picture Credit: Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto / Getty Photographs

TikTok as soon as once more discovered itself because the social app youngsters and teenagers are spending essentially the most time utilizing all through the day, even outpacing YouTube. In response to an ongoing annual overview of children’ and teenagers’ app utilization and conduct globally, the youthful demographic — minors ranging in ages from 4 by means of 18 — started to look at extra TikTok than YouTube on a mean every day foundation beginning in June 2020, and TikTok’s numbers have continued to develop ever since.

In June 2020, TikTok overtook YouTube for the primary time, with youngsters watching a mean of 82 minutes per day on TikTok versus a mean of 75 minutes per day on YouTube, based on new knowledge from parental management software program maker Qustodio.

This previous 12 months, the gulf between the 2 widened, it stated, as youngsters in 2022 noticed their common every day use of TikTok climb to a whopping 107 minutes, or 60% longer than the time they spent watching video content material on YouTube (67 minutes).

Picture Credit: Qustodio

TikTok was additionally used extra, by way of common every day minutes, than different social apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Fb, Pinterest and Twitter.

The research was printed prematurely of a TikTok-focused Congressional listening to. In March, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will testify earlier than the Home Vitality and Commerce Committee concerning the app’s knowledge safety, ties to China, privateness considerations and impacts on kids.

Social media considerations additionally acquired a shoutout throughout President Biden’s State of the Union deal with this week when he pressed Congress to go laws to guard shoppers from Large Tech. “We should lastly maintain social media firms accountable…It’s time to go bipartisan laws to cease Large Tech from amassing private knowledge on youngsters and youngsters on-line, ban focused promoting to kids, and impose stricter limits on the non-public knowledge these firms accumulate on all of us.”


  • A redesigned Dwelling app is resulting from arrive within the forthcoming iOS 16.4 replace. The function had initially appeared in iOS 16.2 however was pulled out earlier than launch.
  • Apple’s tvOS and HomePod software program was up to date to 16.3.1.
  • Some customers have been complaining about iCloud backup points after updating to iOS 16.3.


  • Google launched the primary Developer Preview of Android 14, which helps a spread of units, together with tablets and foldable type elements. Among the many modifications are lots of background optimizations, assist for bigger fonts (customers can scale them as much as 200%), per-app language preferences, numerous privateness and safety updates, customization options, the flexibility to dam the set up of apps (with a targetSdkVersion decrease than 23) to guard in opposition to malware, passkeys assist and extra.
  • Android TV 13 was additionally lastly launched. Android 13 has been out there for telephones and tablets for almost a 12 months and a half.
  • Google introduced the alpha launch of Credential Supervisor, a brand new Jetpack API that permits app builders to simplify customers’ authentication journey whereas additionally including assist for passkeys.
  • It additionally rolled out the most recent model of the Google Cellular Advertisements SDK (10.0.0).


Picture Credit: Cyan Worlds

  • A remastered model of the traditional puzzle sport Myst arrived on iOS. The brand new sport, Myst Cellular, relies on the remastered sport that was already launched on Oculus VR headsets and the PC, however has been rebuilt for Apple’s M1 and M2 chipsets on newer units. The sport is free to obtain and discover the primary location however to proceed, you’ll must pay $14.99.
  • Activision supplied perception into its cellular gaming portfolio throughout This fall earnings, noting that Name of Responsibility Cellular grew by double-digits YoY and set a brand new quarterly document and 10-year-old Sweet Crush Saga noticed 20% YoY web bookings progress. Total, King’s income grew 6% YoY with web bookings up 9%.
  • Rogue Video games introduced a number of new titles coming completely to Netflix, together with a twin-stick Roguelite shooter Mud & Neon, which received the general Better of Present award at PAX West; and Highwater, an atmospheric journey/technique hybrid. Each video games might be out there on cellular in addition to PC and console, however the Netflix deal supplies the video games to iOS and Android subscribers without spending a dime with no in-app purchases.

Picture Credit: Rogue Video games


  • Zenly co-founder Antoine Martin says he’s returning to the social app market with the launch of a brand new firm referred to as Amo. The previous Zenly CEO is working with ex-Zenly managing director Michael Goldenstein and others on the brand new startup, whose purpose is to repair the issues with right now’s social networks by specializing in connecting pals in the actual world, not connecting the entire world. Particulars are nonetheless quiet in the interim, however the firm is amassing sign-ups on a waitlist now.
Amo splash screen

Picture Credit: Amo

Picture Credit: Instagram

  • After asserting new API pricing beginning with a $100 fundamental tier, Twitter blocked entry to its developer group web site. Builders used to entry the location for bulletins and to ask questions. Twitter didn’t clarify if the block was intentional or a bug (like one associated to its API points earlier this week).
  • Some Mastodon customers have gone again to Twitter, it appears. reported the decentralized social app and Twitter various has seen its MAUs drop from 2.5 million to now 1.4 million as of the tip of January. However Techdirt took problem with the characterization of this as a “hunch,” as had referred to as it, noting that Mastodon had grown considerably since Musk took over Twitter, even with the drop. Plus, the Fediverse as an entire, not simply Mastodon, is as much as round 2.6 million MAUs customers, a lot greater than the 600,000 it has within the pre-Musk period. “I’m undecided how going from 600k to 2.6 million in simply a few months could be deemed ‘a hunch.’ It certain seems to be like fairly rattling good retention general,” scoffed Techdirt’s Mike Masnick.
  • Fb creators gained new moderation instruments, together with the flexibility to go looking feedback by key phrases, emojis, commenter names and, dates, and take bulk actions, akin to liking or hiding.
  • Throughout This fall earnings, Pinterest reported 450 million MAUs, up 4% YoY however its $877 million in income missed expectations. The corporate stated it might concentrate on shoppable movies.


WhatsApp status updates

Picture Credit: WhatsApp

  • WhatsApp added the flexibility to put up a Standing to a personal viewers together with 30-second Voice Standing messages, Standing reactions and extra throughout iOS, Android and the online.
  • Telegram added a brand new profile picture maker that turns stickers or animated emoji into your pfp, plus instruments to translate complete chats, assist for sorting emoji by classes, detailed pie charts for viewing community utilization and different options in its newest replace.


OkCupid's ChatGPT questions

Picture Credit: OkCupid

  • ChatGPT for locating love? OkCupid started testing match questions that have been generated by ChatGPT. The questions assist daters discover compatibility with others throughout a spread of innocuous questions, like “are you a morning particular person or an evening particular person?” (Sure, the bot got here up with that one!)
  • Tinder added an incognito mode that allows you to browse that solely reveals your profile to these you’ve preferred. It additionally added a “block profile” function for hiding your self from folks you realize whenever you encounter them within the app amongst different privateness modifications.


Picture Credit: Netflix

  • Netflix’s password crackdown isn’t going properly as quite a lot of offended clients at the moment are planning to boycott the modifications by canceling their service. 
    • Customers are significantly upset over the principles that influence prolonged households from sharing accounts — like mother and father who pay for his or her school college students’ accounts or grown kids who pay for his or her aged mother and father’ entry — plus, households the place a member commonly travels for work (or is deployed abroad). The modifications additionally influence folks with a number of houses. Subscribers say they’re already paying for further screens and that must be sufficient.
    • Netflix claims that each one anybody has to do is reauthenticate as soon as per thirty days with the app on the family’s most important location, however shoppers see that requirement as a burden — and an impossibility in some instances. In the event that they don’t, although, the “touring” account may lose entry. Netflix will power folks to pay further for the freeloaders or they will select emigrate to a brand new account with a profile switch function. It stays to be seen if Netflix will preserve these identical guidelines within the U.S., because the rollout has been exterior to its residence marketplace for now.
  • Spotify now allows you to block playlists from impacting your “style profile.” This could enable folks to dam sure playlists, like these used for finding out, sleeping, understanding or these favored by the youngsters, from influencing their suggestions.
Spotify's new exclude from taste profile feature

Picture Credit: Spotify

And so on.

  • Sensor Tower reported on the state of health apps, noting that Well being and Health apps in Europe reached 232 million installs final 12 months, up 16% from 2019. The agency stated it now takes almost $4 million in gross income in a given month to turn into the No. 1 ranked Well being and Health app on the app shops, up 23% from the $3.5 million required in 2021.
  • Robinhood stated it’s going to purchase as much as 55 million shares, or 7%+ of its excellent shares, that had been purchased by Sam Bankman-Fried in 2022. The corporate reported $380 million in income in This fall, up 5% YoY and a web loss down 61% to $166 million. 2022 income was down 25% YoY to $1.36 billion.
  • Courageous’s iOS and Android apps added assist for Solana’s DApp in its built-in web3 pockets.
  • DoorDash built-in with gasoline financial savings app GasBuddy to permit its drivers to search out the most cost effective close by gasoline.
  • Flipboard’s iOS and Android apps have been up to date with assist for its new Notes function that lets Flipboard journal curators dialog with their readers by means of brief notes, intros and polls.
  • PayPal is getting a brand new CEO as Dan Schulman prepares to go away at 12 months’s finish. The corporate additionally reported This fall income up 7% YoY to $7.33 billion and TPV up 5% to $357.4 billion.
  • Uber built-in its driver app with Apple CarPlay. Higher late than by no means.
  • Fantastical’s in style calendar app added assist for Stay Actions so now you can see upcoming occasions on the Lock Display screen.
  • Japan’s Honest Commerce Fee issued a brand new report concerning its investigation of Apple and Google’s app shops. The report accuses each firms of “abuse of a superior bargaining place,” and makes a number of suggestions, together with these round commissions and in-app funds and says the businesses mustn’t reap the benefits of options not made out there to builders. It doesn’t explicitly say the platforms must host third-party app shops, nonetheless.
  • The Indian authorities provided additional particulars about its ban on greater than 90 lending apps, together with its considerations over Chinese language affect. China buyers have been on the cap tables of a number of the banned apps, it stated, and apps have been storing person knowledge outdoors the nation. Cash laundering and different mortgage practices have been additionally a priority. Later within the week, it lifted the ban on PayU’s LazyPay, Kissht, KreditBee, Indiabulls’ Dwelling Loans, mPokket, Buddy Mortgage and Faircent after reviewing their cap tables for Chinese language buyers.
  • Google Play started requiring regulatory approval for mortgage apps in Nigeria and Kenya as of January 31, matching related guidelines in India, Indonesia and the Philippines.
  • U.S. policymakers are involved about TikTok’s plan to permit oversight of its algorithm as an alternative choice to a ban, noting that it might be technically difficult and there may nonetheless be backdoors that allowed China’s authorities to govern content material on the platform.
  • Utah is pushing by means of new payments that may require social media firms to confirm customers’ ages and provides mother and father entry to their youngsters’ accounts.
  • In a presentation to the EU, Meta confirmed knowledge that indicated that pop-up content material warnings diminished the sharing of flagged posts by 25% on Fb and 38% on Instagram. TikTok, for comparability, reviews a discount of 29%.
  • Lunar, a Danish neobank final valued at $2.2 billion, raised $38 million from undisclosed buyers to proceed to construct its banking and monetary providers platform. The corporate final 12 months raised a Sequence D extension that introduced its whole funding then to €280 million.
  • Meta acquired the go-ahead to accumulate VR software program maker Inside, regardless of FTC considerations. The corporate’s flagship app is the VR health app Supernatural.
  • Fintech app Fierce, which provides free inventory buying and selling, checking and later crypto, launched on iOS after receiving $10 million in seed funding from buyers together with Pendrell, AP Capital, Wheelhouse Digital Studios, Area Whale Capital and different angels.


Quora Poe

Picture Credit: Quora

Q&A platform Quora opened up public entry to its new AI chatbot app, Poe, which lets customers ask questions and get solutions from a spread of AI chatbots, together with these from ChatGPT maker OpenAI, and different firms like Anthropic. Past permitting customers to experiment with new AI applied sciences, Poe’s content material will finally assist to evolve Quora itself. If and when Poe’s content material meets a excessive sufficient high quality commonplace, it is going to be distributed on Quora’s web site itself, the place it has the flexibility to succeed in Quora’s 400 million month-to-month guests, the corporate stated.

At launch, there are three normal data chatbots: Sage, Claude and Dragonfly. Each Sage and Dragonfly are powered by OpenAI whereas Claude is powered by Anthropic expertise. All have their very own limitations at current. As an example, Sage and Claude don’t have data of occasions after 2021, and Dragonfly might refuse to reply some questions. All three have additionally been identified to make incorrect statements — which is one more reason why Quora itself isn’t instantly integrating Poe into its service. Builders may also have the ability to add their very own bots to Poe sooner or later.

Epic Video games’ Postparty

Fortnite Postparty app and in-game skins

Picture Credit: Epic Video games

Fortnite maker Epic Video games launched a brand new clip-sharing app referred to as Postparty on iOS and Android that provides players a strategy to simply share their clips on social media. The app permits for sharing from Xbox, Swap, PlayStation and PC for Fortnite customers and simply Xbox and PlayStation for Epic’s Rocket League. Fortnite customers will see the app promoted after an in-game kill, prompting them to obtain the app to allow them to share clips. The app was created by Houseparty developer Life on Air, acquired by Epic in 2019. (Houseparty shut down in 2021.) After sharing their first clip from the app, Fortnite customers will get particular in-game pores and skin, spray and wrap.


Picture Credit: Spillt

A former Instagram engineer launched a brand new recipe app referred to as Spillt, coated by The Data, which helps customers discover, manage and cook dinner recipes — the latter by helpfully maintaining the telephone’s display on in the course of the recipe’s prep. That’s a function the favored Pestle app additionally has, together with its voice-powered guided cooking, nonetheless. However Spillt’s worth proposition is that it provides a means for customers to see which recipes their pals are saving in a Information Feed of types. It stays to be seen if it may well really achieve traction amid a sea of recipe apps, but it surely’s a minimum of differentiated from the set of “TikTok for cooking” apps which might be in the marketplace right now.

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