Welcome to the Crabberspost series that rounds up the latest news on mobile operating systems, mobile applications, and the overall app economy. The app industry continues to grow, with record downloads and consumer spending combined for both iOS and Google Play stores in 2021, according to the latest year-end reports. Global spending on third-party iOS, Google Play and Android app stores in China grew 19% to US$170 billion in 2021.
App downloads also grew 5% to $230 billion in 2021, and mobile ad spend grew 23% year over year to $295 billion. in some cases. For example, the average American watches 3.1 hours of television a day, but in 2021 they spent 4.1 hours on their mobile device. And they’re not even the heaviest mobile users in the world. In markets like Brazil, Indonesia and South Korea, users spent more than five hours a day on mobile apps in 2021.
Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle time, either. They can grow into huge companies. In 2021, 233 apps and games generated over $100 million in consumer spending and 13 surpassed $1 billion in revenue.
This was a 20% increase from 2020, when 193 apps and games surpassed $100 million in annual consumer spending and just eight apps surpassed $1 billion. This Week in Apps provides a way to keep up with this fast-paced industry in one place with the latest from the app world, including news, updates, startup funding, mergers and acquisitions, and suggested new apps to try .
Instagram announced this week that it was testing a new set of user age verification features in the app, including things like video selfies, sponsorships from adult friends, and providing an ID card. The tests, beginning in the US, will apply to users attempting to change their age to 18 or older, having previously been set as under 18.
These users may be trying to correct a previous mistake, or they could be teenagers trying to circumvent the apps’ newer age-appropriate restrictions. When users are asked to provide an ID such as a passport or driver’s license, Meta stores it on its servers for 30 days before deleting it. If users choose the “Social Vouching” option, they’ll need at least three other adult friends who will vouch for their age, and Instagram will randomly select a list of six people who meet the criteria. These users cannot have a new account or vouch for others at the same time.
The COMPANY also said it uses AI that can estimate users’ ages in video selfies. The company works with London-based digital identity company Yoti, which examines the file, makes an estimate, and then deletes the file. Age verification is an increasingly common feature in social apps used by younger users due to stricter regulations. Another company targeting Gen Z users, Yubo, also recently launched its own age estimation technology.
Twitter tested a long-form writing feature called Twitter Notes. The next day after our report went live, Twitter officially announced it. The news is one of Twitter’s most significant changes since doubling the character count from 140 to 280, allowing users to write directly on Twitter as if it were a blogging platform. Twitter Notes allows users to create articles with rich formatting and uploaded media, which can then be tweeted and shared with followers after publication. The company also announced plans to merge its Revue newsletter service with Twitter Notes.
Users with access can create Twitter notes using the Write link in the Twitter navigation. Twitter is currently testing Notes with a small group of authors in the United States, Canada, Ghana, and the United Kingdom. Notes can be up to 2,500 words long.
The feature could encourage users to rely less on Twitter threads (Tweetstorms) to share their longer thoughts, ideas or stories with their Twitter followers, community or Circle. It could also put an end to using a screenshot from the Notes app to tweet anything longer than 280 characters. In the meantime, Twitter Notes can capitalize on the potential for viral spread that comes with posting on the platform. Like tweets, the notes would have their own link and could be tweeted, retweeted, DMed, liked, and bookmarked. They can also be reported and must follow Twitter’s rules. It’s worth noting (ha!) that Twitter Notes also offers the company new business and potential revenue streams as it develops the product further. The feature may allow the social platform to compete with established services such as Medium for blogging or Substacks newsletters.
Spotify has revamped its concert recognition feature with the launch of a new live event feed. The personalized feature allows users to find popular artist events near you and now includes artist pictures and more tour details.
Local events are also highlighted during streaming and soon elsewhere in the Spotify app.
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