app stores

This Week in Apps: Facebook launches trio of app experiments, TikTok gets spammed, plus coronavirus impacts on app economy

Posted by | Android, android apps, app stores, Apple, Apps, coronavirus, COVID-19, developers, Google, iOS, iOS apps, Mobile, TC | No Comments

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.

The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019. People are now spending three hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.

In this Extra Crunch series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

This week we’re continuing to look at how the coronavirus outbreak is impacting the world of mobile applications, with fresh data from App Annie about trends playing out across app categories benefiting from the pandemic, lockdowns and societal changes. We’re also keeping up with the COVID-19 contact-tracing apps making headlines, and delving into the week’s other news.

We saw a few notable new apps launch this week, including HBO’s new streaming service HBO Max, plus three new app experiments from Facebook’s R&D group. Android Studio 4.0 also launched this week. Instagram is getting better AR tools and IGTV is getting ads. TikTok got spammed in India.

Meanwhile, what is going on with app review? A shady app rises to the top of the iPhone App Store. Google cracks down on conspiracy theory-spreading apps. And a TikTok clone uses a pyramid scheme-powered invite system to rise up the charts.

COVID-19 contact-tracing apps in the news 

  • Latvia: Reuters this week reported that Latvia aims to become one of the first countries to launch a smartphone app, Stop Covid, using the new toolkit created by Apple and Alphabet’s Google to help trace coronavirus infections.
  • Australia: The role of the country’s Covidsafe app in the recovery appears to be marginal, The Guardian reports. In the month since its launch, only one person has been reported to have been identified using data from it. A survey even found that Australians were more supportive of using telecommunications metadata to track close contacts (79%) than they were of downloading an app (69.8%). In a second survey, their support for the app dropped to 64%. The app has been maligned by the public debate over it and technical issues.
  • France: The country’s data protection watchdog, CNIL, reviewed its contact-tracing app StopCovid, finding there were no major issues with the technical implementation and legal framework around StopCovid, with some caveats. France isn’t using Google and Apple’s contact-tracing API, but instead uses a controversial centralized contact-tracing protocol called ROBERT. This relies on a central server to assign a permanent ID and generate ephemeral IDs attached to this permanent ID. CNIL says the app will eventually be open-sourced and it will create a bug bounty. On Wednesday, the app passed its first vote in favor of its release.
  • Qatar: Serious security vulnerabilities in Qatar’s mandatory contact-tracing app were uncovered by Amnesty International. An investigation by Amnesty’s Security Lab discovered a critical weakness in the configuration of Qatar’s EHTERAZ contact-tracing app. Now fixed, the vulnerability would have allowed cyberattackers to access highly sensitive personal information, including the name, national ID, health status and location data of more than one million users.
  • India: India’s contact-tracing app, Aarogya Setu, is going open-source, according to Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology Secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney on Tuesday. The code is being published on GitHub. Nearly 98% of the app’s more than 114 million users are on Android. The government will also offer a cash bounty of $1,325 to security experts who find bugs or vulnerabilities.
  • Switzerland: Several thousand people are now testing a pilot version of Switzerland’s contact-tracing app, SwissCovid. Like Lativia, the app is one of the first to use Apple and Google’s contact-tracing API. Employees at EPFL, ETH Zurich, the Army and select hospitals and government agencies will be the first to test the Swiss app before its public launch planned for mid-June.
  • China: China’s health-tracking QR codes, embedded in popular WeChat and Alipay smartphone apps, are raising privacy concerns, Reuters reports. To walk around freely, people must have a green rating. They also now have to present their health QR codes to gain entry into restaurants, parks and other venues. These efforts have been met with little resistance. But the eastern city of Hangzhou has since proposed that users are given a color-coded health badge based on their medical records and lifestyle habits, including how much they exercised, their eating and drinking habits, whether they smoked and how much they slept the night before. This suggestion set off a storm of criticism on China’s Weibo, a Twitter-like platform.

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This Week in Apps: Facebook takes on Shopify, Tinder considers its future, contact-tracing tech goes live

Posted by | Android, app stores, Apps, coronavirus, COVID-19, developers, Entertainment, Extra Crunch, Gadgets, iOS, Market Analysis, Mobile, Social, Startups, this week in apps | No Comments

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.

The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019. People are now spending three hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.

In this Extra Crunch series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

This week we’re continuing to look at how the coronavirus outbreak is impacting the world of mobile applications. Notably, we saw the launch of the Apple/Google exposure-notification API with the latest version of iOS out this week. The pandemic is also inspiring other new apps and features, including upcoming additions to Apple’s Schoolwork, which focus on distance learning, as well as Facebook’s new Shops feature designed to help small business shift their operations online in the wake of physical retail closures.

Tinder, meanwhile, seems to be toying with the idea of pivoting to a global friend finder and online hangout in the wake of social distancing, with its test of a feature that allows users to match with others worldwide — meaning, with no intention of in-person dating.

Headlines

COVID-19 apps in the news

  • Fitbit app: The fitness tracker app launched a COVID-19 early detection study aimed at determining whether wearables can help detect COVID-19 or the flu. The study will ask volunteers questions about their health, including whether they had COVID-19, then pair that with activity data to see if there are any clues that could be used to build an early warning algorithm of sorts.
  • U.K. contact-tracing app: The app won’t be ready in mid-May as promised, as the government mulls the use of the Apple/Google API. In testing, the existing app drains the phone battery too quickly. In addition, researchers have recently identified seven security flaws in the app, which is currently being trialed on the Isle of Wight.

Apple launches iOS/iPadOS 13.5 with Face ID tweak and contact-tracing API

Apple this week released the latest version of iOS/iPadOS with two new features related to the pandemic. The first is an update to Face ID which will now be able to tell when the user is wearing a mask. In those cases, Face ID will instead switch to the Passcode field so you can type in your code to unlock your phone, or authenticate with apps like the App Store, Apple Books, Apple Pay, iTunes and others.

Technology can help health officials rapidly tell someone they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Today the Exposure Notification API we created with @Google is available to help public health agencies make their COVID-19 apps effective while protecting user privacy.

— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) May 20, 2020

The other new feature is the launch of the exposure-notification API jointly developed by Apple and Google. The API allows for the development of apps from public health organizations and governments that can help determine if someone has been exposed by COVID-19. The apps that support the API have yet to launch, but some 22 countries have requested API access.

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This Week in Apps: WWDC goes online, Android 11 delays, Facebook SDK turns into app kill switch

Posted by | app stores, Apple, Apps, coronavirus, COVID-19, Developer, developers, Extra Crunch, Gaming, Google, Market Analysis, Mobile, Social, Startups, this week in apps | No Comments

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.

The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019. People are now spending 3 hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.

In this Extra Crunch series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

This week we’re continuing to look at how the coronavirus outbreak is impacting the world of mobile applications, including the latest on countries’ various contact-tracing apps, the pandemic’s impact on gaming and fintech and more. We’re also looking at that big app crash caused by Facebook, plus new app releases from Facebook and Google, Android 11’s new timeline and Apple’s plans to move WWDC online, among other things.

Headlines

WWDC goes virtual June 22

Apple announced this week its plans for a virtual version of its Worldwide Developer Conference. The company will host its WWDC 2020 event beginning on June 22 in the Apple Developer app and on the Apple Developer website for free for all developers.

It will be interesting to see how successfully Apple is able to take its developer conference online. After all, developers could already access the sessions and keynotes through videos — but the real power of the event was in the networking and being able to talk to Apple engineers, ask questions, get hands-on help and see how other developers are using Apple technologies to innovate. Unless Apple is planning a big revamp of its developer site and app that would enable those connections, it seems this year’s event will lack some of WWDC’s magic.

The company also announced the Swift Student Challenge, an opportunity for student developers to showcase their coding by creating their own Swift playground.

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This Week in Apps: Layoffs at VSCO, Google Play’s new guidelines, TikTok rolls out parental controls

Posted by | app stores, Apple, Apps, coronavirus, COVID-19, developers, Extra Crunch, Google, Growth and Monetization, Media, Mobile, TC, this week in apps, tiktok, VSCO | No Comments

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.

The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads in 2019 and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019, according to App Annie’s “State of Mobile” annual report. People are now spending 3 hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.

In this Extra Crunch series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

This week we’re continuing to look at how the coronavirus outbreak is impacting the world of mobile applications, including a dig into Houseparty’s big surge, layoffs at VSCO, Google’s launch of a “Teacher Reviewed” tag, Bumble’s virtual dating, plus changes to Instagram in support of small business and live streaming, among other things. Also this week, Google changed its Play Store guidelines, TikTok launched parental controls, a report suggested Apple may be expanding its Search Ads and more.

Coronavirus Special Coverage

Instagram adds features for supporting small businesses during pandemic

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This Week in Apps: Coronavirus special coverage, Apple tries to save AR with lidar and more

Posted by | app stores, Apps, coronavirus, COVID-19, developers, Extra Crunch, hardware, Mobile, this week in apps | No Comments

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.

The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads in 2019 and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019, according to App Annie’s “State of Mobile” annual report. People are now spending 3 hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.

In this Extra Crunch series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

This week we’re continuing to look at how the coronavirus outbreak is impacting the world of mobile applications. In particular, we have new data from App Annie that shows which app categories are gaining or losing as a result of the pandemic. We also take a look at other mobile news, including the new Android 11 preview, iPad’s new lidar, TikTok’s new advisory committee and more, as well as a few apps to help get you through this tough time.

Coronavirus Special Coverage

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are continuing to play out on app stores and across the industry. This week, we’re leading with these stories, followed by other news.

Android apps reviews slow down

Google this week warned Android developers that Play Store app review times will be much longer than normal due to the COVID-19 crisis. Developers should expect app reviews to take up to a week or even longer, the company informed its community by way of an alert on the Google Play Console.

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This Week in Apps: WWDC goes online, coronavirus leads to more cancellations, sneaky spy apps exposed

Posted by | app stores, app-store, Apple, Apps, coronavirus, COVID-19, developers, Extra Crunch, Google, Mobile, this week in apps | No Comments

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.

The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads in 2019 and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019, according to App Annie’s recently released “State of Mobile” annual report. People are now spending 3 hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.

In this Extra Crunch series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

This week we’re taking a look at several stories related to the coronavirus outbreak, including the cancellation of WWDC in San Jose, as well as other app industry events that are going online. We’re also discussing the iOS 14 leak, the exposure of Sensor Tower’s app network, a potential ban on TikTok for government workers and more.

Coronavirus Special Coverage

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are continuing to play out on app stores and across the industry. This week, we’re leading with these stories followed by the other — and yes, still important — news.

Apple finally cancels its WWDC event in San Jose

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Your VPN or ad-blocker app could be collecting your data

Posted by | app analytics, App Annie, app stores, Apple, Apps, Google, Mobile, privacy, sensor tower | No Comments

The underpinnings of how app store analytics platforms operate were exposed this week by BuzzFeed, which uncovered the network of mobile apps used by popular analytics firm Sensor Tower to amass app data. The company had operated at least 20 apps, including VPNs and ad blockers, whose main purpose was to collect app usage data from end users in order to make estimations about app trends and revenues. Unfortunately, these sorts of data collection apps are not new — nor unique to Sensor Tower’s operation.

Sensor Tower was found to operate apps such as Luna VPN, for example, as well as Free and Unlimited VPN, Mobile Data and Adblock Focus, among others. After BuzzFeed reached out, Apple removed Adblock Focus and Google removed Mobile Data. Others are still being investigated, the report said.

Apps’ collection of usage data has been an ongoing issue across the app stores.

Facebook and Google have both operated such apps, not always transparently, and Sensor Tower’s key rival App Annie continues to do the same today.

Facebook

For Facebook, its 2013 acquisition of VPN app maker Onavo for years served as a competitive advantage. The traffic through the app gave Facebook insight into which other social applications were growing in popularity — so Facebook could either clone their features or acquire them outright. When Apple finally booted Onavo from the App Store half a decade later, Facebook simply brought back the same code in a new wrapper — then called the Facebook Research app. This time, it was a bit more transparent about its data collection, as the Research app was actually paying for the data.

But Apple kicked out that app, too. So Facebook last year launched Study and Viewpoints to further its market research and data collection efforts. These apps are still live today.

Google

Google was also caught doing something similar by way of its Screenwise Meter app, which invited users 18 and up (or 13 if part of a family group) to download the app and participate in the panel. The app’s users allowed Google to collect their app and web usage in exchange for gift cards. But like Facebook, Google’s app used Apple’s Enterprise Certificate program to work — a violation of Apple policy that saw the app removed, again following media coverage. Screenwise Meter returned to the App Store last year and continues to track app usage, among other things, with panelists’ consent.

App Annie

App Annie, a firm that directly competes with Sensor Tower, has acquired mobile data companies and now operates its own set of apps to track app usage under those brands.

In 2014, App Annie bought Distimo, and as of 2016 has run Phone Guardian, a “secure Wi-Fi and VPN” app, under the Distimo brand.

The app discloses its relationship with App Annie in its App Store description, but remains vague about its true purpose:

“Trusted by more than 1 million users, App Annie is the leading global provider of mobile performance estimates. In short, we help app developers build better apps. We build our mobile performance estimates by learning how people use their devices. We do this with the help of this app.”

In 2015, App Annie acquired Mobidia. Since 2017, it has operated real-time data usage monitor My Data Manager under that brand, as well. The App Store description only offers the same vague disclosure, which means users aren’t likely aware of what they’re agreeing to.

Disclosure?

The problem with apps like App Annie’s and Sensor Tower’s is that they’re marketed as offering a particular function, when their real purpose for existing is entirely another.

The app companies’ defense is that they do disclose and require consent during onboarding. For example, Sensor Tower apps explicitly tell users what is collected and what is not:

App Annie’s app offers a similar disclosure, and takes the extra step of identifying the parent company by name:

App Annie also says its apps can continue to be used even if data sharing is turned off.

Despite these opt-ins, end users may still not understand that their VPN app is actually tied to a much larger data collection operation, however anonymized that data may be. After all, App Annie and Sensor Tower aren’t household names (unless you’re an app publisher or marketer.)

Apple and Google’s responsibility 

Apple and Google, let’s be fair, are also culpable here.

Of course, Google is more pro-data collection because of the nature of its own business as an advertising-powered company. (It even tracks users in the real world via the Google Maps app.)

Apple, meanwhile, markets itself as a privacy-focused company, so is deserving of increased scrutiny.

It seems unfathomable that, following the Onavo scandal, Apple wouldn’t have taken a closer look into the VPN app category to ensure its apps were compliant with its rules and transparent about the nature of their businesses. In particular, it seems Apple would have paid close attention to apps operated by companies in the app store intelligence business, like App Annie and its subsidiaries.

Apple is surely aware of how these companies acquire data — it’s common industry knowledge. Plus, App Annie’s acquisitions were publicly disclosed.

oh wait! pic.twitter.com/ktVc6E9t1f

— Will Strafach (@chronic) March 10, 2020

But Apple is conflicted. It wants to protect app usage and user data (and be known for protecting such data) by not providing any broader app store metrics of its own. However, it also knows that app publishers need such data to operate competitively on the App Store. So instead of being proactive about sweeping the App Store for data collection utilities, it remains reactive by pulling select apps when the media puts them on blast, as BuzzFeed’s report has since done. That allows Apple to maintain a veil of innocence.

But pulling user data directly covertly is only one way to operate. As Facebook and Google have since realized, it’s easier to run these sorts of operations on the App Store if the apps just say, basically, “this is a data collection app,” and/or offer payment for participation — as do many marketing research panels. This is a more transparent relationship from a consumer’s perspective too, as they know they’re agreeing to sell their data.

Meanwhile, Sensor Tower and App Annie competitor Apptopia says it tested then scrapped its own ad blocker app around six years ago, but claims it never collected data with it. It now favors getting its data directly from its app developer customers.

“We can confidently state that 100% of the proprietary data we collect is from shared App Analytics Accounts where app developers proactively and explicitly share their data with us, and give us the right to use it for modeling,” stated Apptopia co-founder and COO, Jonathan Kay. “We do not collect any data from mobile panels, third-party apps or even at the user/device level.”

This system (which is used by the others as well) isn’t necessarily a solution for end users concerned about data collection, as it further obscures the collection and sharing process. Generally, consumers don’t know which app developers are sharing this data, what data is being shared, or how it’s being utilized. App data of this nature isn’t on the user level (meaning it’s not personal data), but it’s still about reporting back to the developer things like installs, daily and monthly users, and revenue, among other things. (Fortunately, Apple allows users to disable the sharing of some diagnostic and usage data from within iOS Settings.)

Data collection done by app analytics firms is only one of many, many ways that apps leak data, however.

In fact, many apps collect personal data — including data that’s far more sensitive than anonymized app usage trends — by way of their included SDKs (software development kits). These tools allow apps to share data with numerous technology companies, including ad networks, data brokers and aggregators, both large and small. It’s not illegal, and mainstream users probably don’t know about this either.

Instead, user awareness seems to crop up through conspiracy theories, like “Facebook is listening through the microphone,” without realizing that Facebook collects so much data it doesn’t really need to do so. (Well, except when it does).

In the wake of BuzzFeed’s reporting, Sensor Tower says it’s “taking immediate steps to make Sensor Tower’s connection to our apps perfectly clear, and adding even more visibility around the data their users share with us.”

Google isn’t providing an official comment. Apple didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Sensor Tower’s full statement is below:

Our business model is predicated on high-level, macro app trends. As such, we do not collect or store any personally identifiable information (PII) about users on our servers or elsewhere. In fact, based on the way our apps are designed, such data is separated before we could possibly view or interact with it, and all we see are ad creatives being served to users. What we do store is extremely high level, aggregated advertising data that may demonstrate trends that we share with customers.

Our privacy policy follows best practices and makes our data use clear. We want to reiterate that our apps do not collect any PII, and therefore it cannot be shared with any other entity, Sensor Tower or otherwise. We’ve made this very clear in our privacy policy, which users actively opt into during the apps’ onboarding processes after being shown an unambiguous disclaimer detailing what data is shared with us. As a routine matter, and as our business evolves, we’ll always take a privacy-centric approach to new features to help ensure that any PII remains uncollected and is fully safeguarded.

Based on the feedback we’ve received, we’re taking immediate steps to make Sensor Tower’s connection to our apps perfectly clear, and adding even more visibility around the data their users share with us.

App Annie shared the below statement, referencing the root certificate installations mentioned in the BuzzFeed article. (On iOS devices, VPN certificates don’t get full root access, however):

App Annie does not use root certificates at any point in its data collection process.

App Annie discloses that when users opt into data collection (and data sharing is not mandatory to use our apps), data will be shared with App Annie for the purposes of creating market research. We only collect data after users expressly consent to this collection within our apps. We are very transparent, both on the app stores and in the apps themselves and clearly connect App Annie to our mobile apps.

 

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This Week in Apps: Coronavirus impacts app stores, Facebook sues mobile SDK maker, Apple kicks out a cloud gaming app

Posted by | android apps, app stores, Apple, Apps, China, coronavirus, Google, iOS apps, Mobile, this week in apps | No Comments

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.

The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads in 2019 and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019, according to App Annie’s recently released “State of Mobile” annual report. People are now spending 3 hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.

In this Extra Crunch series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

This week, we’ll look at the coronavirus outbreak’s impact on the App Store, China’s demand for App Store removals — and soon-to-be-removals, it seems. We’re also talking about Facebook’s lawsuit over a data-grabbing SDK, Tinder’s new video series, the TSA ban on TikTok, Instagram’s explanation for its lack of an iPad app and how Democratic presidential primary candidates are performing on mobile and social, among other things.

Headlines

Coronavirus concerns send Chinese ride-hailing apps crashing, games surging

One of the many economic fallouts related to COVID-19 coronavirus concerns is a significant decline in the usage of Chinese ride-hailing applications. According to Sensor Tower data, downloads of the three most popular apps — Hello, Didi and Dida — were down 75% year-over-year during the week of February 10 compared with the same time frame in 2019. Meanwhile, people staying home have been ordering food and groceries more often. Overall downloads of the top 10 apps in the food-ordering category increased by 68% from January 13 to the week of February 3.

Also on the rise are mobile games. According to a recent report by the FT, users in China downloaded a record number of games and apps as the virus outbreak confined people to their homes. More than 22 million downloads were registered in Apple’s App Store in China during the week of February 2, according to App Annie, and average weekly downloads during the first two weeks of February were up 40% over the same time last year.

Meanwhile, Chinese tech giants, including Alibaba and Tencent, have been deploying health-rating systems to help authorities track the movements of millions of Chinese. Alibaba had been tapped to explore the rollout of a rating app to help the government control who can travel into and around the city. Along with Ant Financial, it worked to develop a smartphone-based rating system in conjunction with the government of Hangzhou. Tencent created a program for Shenzhen, reported The WSJ.

Top mobile game Plague Inc. pulled from China’s App Store amid coronavirus outbreak

Plague Inc., a simulation game with more than 130 million players, was pulled from the Chinese App Store this week, a move that appears to be linked to the coronavirus outbreak. The company behind the game, Ndemic, posted a statement announcing that the game’s content is now considered “illegal in China as determined by the Cyberspace Administration of China.” Ndemic says it’s trying to reach out to find out what, specifically, it could change in order to get the game back in China.

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This Week in Apps: HQ Trivia’s dramatic death, Android 11, Apple mulls a more open iOS

Posted by | android apps, app stores, Apple, Apps, Google, iOS apps, Mobile, mobile apps, this week in apps | No Comments

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.

The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads in 2019 and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019, according to App Annie’s recently released “State of Mobile” annual report. People are now spending 3 hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.

In this Extra Crunch series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

This week we look at the sad, strange death of HQ Trivia, spying app ToTok getting booted from Google Play (again!), Android 11, an enticing Apple rumor about opening up iOS further to third-party apps, Google Stadia updates, the App Store book Apple wants banned, apps abusing subscriptions and much more.

Headlines

HQ Trivia burns to the ground

hq trivia app 1

Once-hot HQ Trivia believed it had invented a new kind of online gaming — live trivia played through your phone. Investors threw $15 million into the company hoping that was true. But the novelty wore off, cheaters came in, prize money dwindled and copycats emerged. Then co-founder Colin Kroll passed away and things at HQ Trivia got worse, including a failed internal mutiny, firings and layoffs. This week, HQ Trivia announced its demise. It then hosted one last, insane night of gaming featuring drunken and cursing hosts who sprayed champagne, called out trolls and begged for new jobs. (Sure, because they exited this one so professionally.)

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This Week in Apps: Apple antitrust issues come to Congress, subscription apps boom, Tencent takes on TikTok

Posted by | Android, app stores, app trends, Apple, Apps, developers, iOS, Mobile, mobile apps, mobile games, this week in apps | No Comments

Welcome back to ThisWeek in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.

The app industry is as hot as ever with a record 204 billion downloads in 2019 and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019, according to App Annie’s recently released “State of Mobile” annual report. People are now spending 3 hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.

In this Extra Crunch series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

This week, there was a ton of app news. We’re digging into the latest with Apple’s antitrust issues, Tencent’s plan to leverage WeChat to fend off the TikTok threat, AppsFlyer’s massive new round, the booming subscription economy, Disney’s mobile game studio sale, Pokémon GO’s boost to tourism, Match Group’s latest investment and much more. And did you see the app that lets you use your phone from within a paper envelope? Or the new AR social network? It’s Weird App Week, apparently.

Headlines

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