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Apple App Store’s new pricing, Twitter app makers shift to Mastodon, debate over Lensa AI • TechCrunch

Welcome again to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the newest in cell OS information, cell purposes and the general app economic system.

International app spending reached $65 billion within the first half of 2022, up solely barely from the $64.4 billion throughout the identical interval in 2021, as hypergrowth fueled by the pandemic has slowed down. However general, the app economic system is continuous to develop, having produced a record variety of downloads and client spending throughout each the iOS and Google Play shops mixed in 2021, in accordance with a number of year-end reports. International spending throughout iOS and Google Play final yr was $133 billion, and shoppers downloaded 143.6 billion apps.

This Week in Apps provides a approach to sustain with this fast-moving trade in a single place with the newest from the world of apps, together with information, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and far more.

Would you like This Week in Apps in your inbox each Saturday? Enroll right here:

App Retailer considerably expands pricing choices

Apple this week loosened its requirements round how builders have to cost their apps as authorized and regulatory strain over its tight management of the App Retailer intensifies. The corporate introduced an growth of its App Retailer pricing system to supply builders entry to 700 extra worth factors, bringing the brand new whole variety of worth factors obtainable to 900. It’ll additionally permit U.S. builders to set costs for apps, in-app purchases or subscriptions as little as $0.29 or as excessive as $10,000, and in rounded endings (like $1.00) as a substitute of simply $0.99. Related new insurance policies to cut back restrictions round worth factors will roll out in international markets, alongside new instruments geared toward serving to builders higher handle pricing exterior their native market.

The adjustments initially grew to become obtainable beginning on December 6, 2022, for auto-renewable subscriptions. They’ll turn out to be obtainable to paid apps and in-app purchases in spring 2023.

Builders may also be capable to now publish costs that finish in $.00 as a substitute of $.99 or €X.99 or those who start with two repeating digits, like ₩110,000.

Plus, new pricing instruments are being made obtainable that permit builders to set their subscription costs of their native foreign money as the premise for mechanically producing pricing throughout the opposite 174 storefronts and 44 currencies. When the pricing is about mechanically, pricing exterior a developer’s dwelling market will replace as international alternate and tax charges change. Builders may nonetheless select to set costs manually if they like. And so they’ll be capable to make in-app purchases obtainable by storefront.

The adjustments rolled out after Apple last year settled a category motion lawsuit with U.S. app developers, which included a variety of concessions, one among which was an settlement to increase the variety of worth factors obtainable from fewer than 100 to greater than 500.

Debate over prime app Lensa AI

The photo editing app Lensa AI has been going viral over a brand new function that gives to create “magic avatars” from a sequence of uploaded selfie photographs. The avatars are created utilizing the open supply Stable Diffusion mannequin to remodel your photographs into those who appear to be they had been created by a digital artist. However there’s controversy surrounding how these photographs are made.

The function isn’t fast or low cost — the processing time can take half an hour and even a number of hours to finish. Lensa’s pricing mannequin can be pretty artful. It’s both $3.99 for 50 distinctive avatars (5 variations of 10 completely different types) in case you’re a subscriber, or $7.99 if not. If you need extra avatars, it prices $11.99 for 100 distinctive avatars (10 variations of 10 types) or $15.99 for 200 avatars (20 variations of 10 types) — which once more, could be discounted by 50% in case you subscribe. This type of hybrid pricing was hailed as each intelligent and opportunistic. It’s additionally a kind of apps that makes use of darkish patterns to attempt to get customers to subscribe instantly upon first launch, with a pop-up splash display screen you need to bypass to make use of the app without cost.

However the huge backlash isn’t over the price, it’s about Secure Diffusion, the AI generator powering the service. The AI was initially educated on 2.3 billion captioned photographs from the web, a few of that are watermarked and copyrighted works, in addition to a variety of photographs from websites like Pinterest, Smugmug, Flickr, DeviantArt, ArtStation, Getty and Shutterstock. The problem at hand is that artists didn’t choose in to have their work included within the coaching information, nor can they now choose out.

Artists, understandably, are concerned. Now their distinctive types are being duped by an AI mannequin, that means their authentic artwork will turn out to be misplaced among the many now quite a few auto-generated copycats. Some see this not solely as an existential risk, but in addition as a type of unregulated stealing. Customers, in the meantime, had been merely having fun with the photographs that they had paid for with out an understanding of how the tech labored, then grew to become topic to backlash or shaming from those that did. Extra conscientious objectors quickly realized that they had simply thrown away their cash on profile footage they now didn’t really feel ethically comfy in utilizing. These are complicated issues that want extra dialogue. A minimum of when Instagram first launched its filters, they had been donated by an artist, Cole Rise. (Whereas he could have later regretted giving up his artwork to the corporate, the filters weren’t stolen.)

As well as, the app maker confronted one other severe concern, when individuals found it was straightforward to make use of to make non-consensual nude images in the app. If customers uploaded Photoshopped photographs of topless fashions with another person’s face, for instance, the AI disables its NSFW filter and can create higher-quality AI avatars of the particular person whose face was uploaded on the topless photograph. The corporate said it was working to prevent this from occurring and famous making an attempt to make NSFW content material was in violation of its phrases of use.

Lensa AI can be tricked into leaving very little to the imagination. Illustration of a woman's bare shoulder...

Picture Credit: Lensa AI

Third-party Twitter app builders are actually constructing for Mastodon

There’s a delicate stirring within the Twitter app ecosystem as third-party builders are starting to rethink their dependence on Twitter’s API.

Now having grown to three.3 million+ energetic customers, the open supply Twitter various Mastodon has been gaining interest from third-party Twitter app builders in current days. The makers of standard Twitter shoppers, together with Aviary and Tweetbot, have set their sights on constructing comparable apps for the rising Mastodon person base.

Picture Credit: Tapbots

App developer Tapbots, recognized for its standard Twitter app Tweetbot for iOS and Mac, is constructing an app for the Mastodon neighborhood. The app is much like Tweetbot, which is hailed as one of many third-party Twitter shoppers that keeps improving with age. This yr’s launch of Tweetbot 7, for instance, added options like picture-in-picture, a stats tab and widgets. Now, Tapbots is engaged on Ivory, a subscription-based app for Mastodon that features entry to key options like your property timeline, @ mentions, favorites, search and traits, and your individual person profile. Tweetbots’ developer Paul Haddad stated the aim is to first ship a steady 1.0, then begin including extra Mastodon-specific options, in addition to some options that he had wished so as to add to Tweetbot however couldn’t due to technical limitations.

Aviary’s developer, Shihab Mehboob, in the meantime, is constructing a Mastodon shopper, known as Mammoth. The brand new app will probably be a paid obtain with a yet-to-be-determined worth, and can embrace the newest Mastodon API options after they’re launched, in addition to 4.0 options like enhancing posts and edit historical past.

App makers aren’t the only developers impacted by the chaos at Twitter. As TechCrunch reported, Typefully, a Twitter thread-making app backed by Ev Williams, is now planning to shift focus to LinkedIn. Scheduler Chirr App can be working on a Mastodon integration, and Tweepsmap just launched a put up scheduler for Mastodon, too.

  • iOS 16.2 RC has arrived forward of subsequent week’s public launch. This is among the greater updates, as it should deliver the brand new Freeform app, the just-announced karaoke experience called Apple Music Sing, the 10-minute AirDrop limit that hit China first, new Sleep and Remedy widgets, new Residence app structure and, with iPadOS 16.2, the flexibility to make use of Stage Supervisor on iPads with an exterior show, amongst different issues. It’ll also bring 5G assist to iPhones in India.
  • A day after Apple revamped its App Retailer pricing, RevenueCat stated it will roll out A/B price testing features.
  • Apple is launching Superior Knowledge Safety, a function that gives end-to-end encryption on iCloud backups, Notes, Images and extra within the U.S. in 2022, then globally, together with China, in 2023. There will probably be 23 information classes protected, except iCloud Mail, Contacts and Calendar, due to the necessity to interoperate with different methods. The FBI is not happy.
  • Apple additionally introduced an iMessage function that may assist customers verify they’re messaging only the people they intended, plus Apple ID assist for {hardware} safety keys.
  • Nonetheless, the corporate stated it’s pausing its efforts in launching a CSAM detection instrument for iCloud Images.
  • The developer sequence “Ask Apple” is returning December 12-16, for an additional week of one-on-ones and group Q&As round app constructing.
  • Google’s Pixel update brings the Google One VPN and Clear Calling (name enhancement) function to Pixel 7/7 Professional and computerized speaker labels within the Recorder app to Pixel 6 and up. All Pixel units may also achieve a brand new privateness hub for settings.
twitter app icon ios

Picture Credit: TechCrunch

  • Reddit rolled out its enjoyable end-of-year Recap experience to users, which incorporates stats about your time on web site, the communities you have interaction with probably the most and extra. This yr, seemingly impressed by the favored Spotify Wrapped expertise, Reddit can be doling out personalised, sharable playing cards that embrace enjoyable stats, like your most upvoted remark or in case you’re group cat or canine, amongst different issues.
  • Snap introduced at its annual Lens Fest it now has 300,000 builders constructing AR merchandise and can quickly permit creators to construct Lenses that function digital items that may be bought with Snap Tokens. Customers will be capable to unlock power-ups, AR gadgets and additional instruments inside choose Lenses as a part of this take a look at. Snap also introduced a partnership ith Adidas for a Bitmoji Trend Drop.

Picture Credit: Snap

  • Twitter goes to launch twin pricing for its upcoming Twitter Blue subscription relaunch. App Retailer customers will pay $11 per month due to the “Apple tax,” whereas those that pay on the net will solely be charged $7 monthly.
  • Calm’s meditation app is catering to players with the addition of recent auditory environments from video games like “Halo Infinite” and “Sea of Thieves,” which can assist some individuals focus and enhance their temper.
  • Instagram’s latest feature will inform creators and types if their content material is ineligible for suggestion and why.
Instagram account status

Picture Credit: Instagram

  • Celeb greetings app Cameo debuted Cameo Kids, providing personalised video messages from standard youngsters’ characters like Santa and Thomas the Tank Engine.

Picture Credit: Cameo

WhatsApp Avatars

Picture Credit: WhatsApp

  • TikTok launched its year-end traits checklist. Apparently, a chocolate giraffe was highly regarded, as was a set of dumb life hacks.
  • Yelp takes on Angie’s Record (now, simply known as Angi) with a brand new approach to hire service professionals within the app.
  • Amazon Luna now permits Prime members to play already purchased Ubisoft games on Luna with out having to subscribe.
  • YouTube is rolling out its personal tackle Twitch emotes.
  • Snapchat-owned social mapping app Zenly is shutting down. RIP.
  • Fb Courting is now going to test the identical age verification tech that Meta is at present testing on Instagram. ID uploads or selfie movies could also be required for customers suspected of being underage.
  • Robinhood added a waitlist for a brand new Robinhood Retirement function, which is able to provide IRAs with a 1% match on each greenback contributed.
  • Roblox goes to permit customers 13 and up to import their contacts and can introduce buddy suggestions.
twitter app icon ios

Picture Credit: TechCrunch

Loads occurred on the chaotic hen app firm this week! In case you haven’t been maintaining with the drama, right here’s a fast assessment:

  • Twitter is making an attempt to lure again advertisers with huge incentives, like matching $500,000 to $1 million in spending, as much as $1 million cap. Twitter’s advert income is claimed to be 80% below expectations as of the World Cup’s November 20 begin.
  • Elon Musk made a giant deal about publishing inside emails over Twitter’s Hunter Biden laptop computer drama. He’s calling these reveals “The Twitter Information.” However the hyped event fell a little flat as they solely appeared to indicate an organization having conversations over difficult content moderation decisions, in the end ensuing within the firm taking the weird step to restrict the attain of a information story on the time over issues it got here from a hack and leak marketing campaign by a Russian group and would violate Twitter’s anti-doxing coverage. Twitter had already admitted, in hindsight (and with assistance from additional data and reporting), the choice was improper.
  • Twitter’s new VP of Belief and Security Ella Irwin said the company will now concentrate on utilizing automation to average content material, not removals.
  • Twitter later launched one other “Twitter File” that once more confirmed the corporate merely doing the difficult business of moderation, on this case conflating shadowbanning with de-amplification, as former Twitter exec Kayvon Beykpour pointed out, calling the characterization both “a lazy interpretation or intentionally deceptive.”
  • Extra concerns were raised as as to if or not the reporter tweeting the story (who isn’t a Twitter worker) was given inside methods entry, as she included screenshots of Twitter’s inside methods within the posts.
  • Musk also “exited” deputy basic counsel Jim Baker, claiming there have been issues over Baker’s “potential function in suppression of data” associated to the so-called Twitter Information.
  • Musk stated a later Twitter replace will show users in the event that they’ve been shadowbanned and why.
  • Twitter allowed Andrew Anglin, a neo-Nazi and founding father of the white supremacist web site The Each day Stormer, again on the app.
  • Main manufacturers’ advertisements appeared on the pages of two white nationalists after their accounts had been restored by Musk. Advertisements from Amazon, Snap, Uber and others had been amongst these impacted. Twitter later emailed advertisers to say it should launch controls to stop advertisements from displaying up subsequent to sure key phrases.
  • Twitter is facing multiple lawsuits over layoffs, which might value it hundreds of thousands in arbitration charges. Some employees on H-1B visas also said they didn’t get enough immigration assist.
  • Twitter’s iOS app has been facing issues with a number of key security features, together with the flexibility to guard tweets or toggle DM settings.
  • Twitter will provide two different prices for Twitter Blue: a $7 monthly subscription in case you purchase from the web site, or $11 in case you purchase through in-app buy, to offset the “Apple tax.”
  • Within the meantime, it began savagely changing legacy verified users‘ checkmarks to tell customers who clicked that “this can be a legacy verified account. It could or is probably not notable.”
  • Twitter shut down various developer-focused projects like Twitter Toolbox and others.
  • Musk is now promising to delete 1.5 billion inactive accounts to liberate usernames.

Picture Credit: Fb/Meta

A Fb Twitter clone?

The New York Times took a take a look at the brand new startups and social apps capitalizing on Twitter’s chaos after the Musk takeover, additionally dropping the bombshell reveal that Meta could also be cranking up its clone machine to dupe Twitter. The corporate had already been testing a brief message-sharing function in Instagram known as Instagram Notes, however was now questioning if that type of product must be its personal standalone app or one other feed inside Instagram. Whereas there’s a transparent alternative to realize traction amid Twitter’s transition when some customers are on the lookout for an out, we hope Meta doesn’t add much more litter to the already overwhelmingly busy Instagram app and as a substitute chooses to take an actual danger right here.

Meta hasn’t efficiently launched a brand new app in years, so it’s straightforward to see why it wouldn’t need to strive now. However it will be so, so fascinating if it made a text-heavy, simplified model of Fb — let’s name it FB Traditional, (Gen Z loves nostalgia!) — the place the Information Feed as a substitute turns into a real-time Twitter-like feed as a substitute. No difficult navigation, no personal teams, no Reels, no market or sport streams, or all the opposite detritus of immediately’s Fb. Have all of it run by Fb’s current methods for reporting and moderation. Let individuals privately put up to pals or select to be extra public. Think about if Fb’s duped Twitter’s core function set round posts, replies and threads, favorites and the like, however didn’t tackle further options. Even perhaps provide the flexibility to sync choose posts from Fb (and the forthcoming IG Notes) to the app’s Twitter-like feed for a minimalistic feed to get everybody began…I imply, I do know Meta is constructing the metaverse now, however…a Twitter 2.0 arms race between Meta and Twitter itself can be wild to look at.

A Microsoft Tremendous App?

Microsoft has mentioned debuting a brilliant app with net search, information and buying to raised compete with Google, in accordance with The Information. It’s loopy to think about how costly and troublesome it will be to get customers to obtain one other search app at this cut-off date, when even Google is complaining it’s losing search market share to TikTok and Instagram. Hey, possibly Microsoft ought to index TikTok and launch a Gen Z advertising marketing campaign on the app, calling its new tremendous app a greater search engine for TikTok movies! Ha! In spite of everything, it did consider buying TikTok. Okay, okay, I child. But when a Microsoft Tremendous App is to succeed, it’s positively going to want greater than Bing (nonetheless can’t consider they named it that) to lure within the subsequent technology of customers.

  • Meta failed in its attempt to annul a $267 million high-quality over WhatsApp’s breaching of GDPR transparency obligations.
  • Indiana’s lawyer basic sued TikTok for deceiving customers over China’s entry to person information and exposing youngsters to mature content material.
  • EU regulators ruled that Meta can’t use its Phrases of Service to require customers to see personalised advertisements on Fb and Instagram.
  • Texas banned TikTok on government-issued units. Different states have achieved the identical, together with South Dakota, South Carolina and Maryland.
  • The SEC is investigating whether or not or not the social occasions app IRL misled buyers. The corporate raised $170 million from SoftBank at a $1.17 billion valuation final yr, however some staff advised The Info they didn’t consider the app had the 20 million customers it claimed to.
  • Uber Eats settled a lawsuit with the Metropolis of Chicago for itemizing native eating places within the Uber Eats and Postmates apps with out the eating places’ consent and charging extra fee charges. Uber will pay $10 million, $5 million of which is able to go towards paying damages to eating places. launched its annual report predicting the following huge cell traits for 2023 (beneath). The total report is here. Of specific curiosity is its wager that cell advert spend will attain $362 billion subsequent yr.

Picture Credit:

💰 Norwegian grocery supply app Oda raised 1.5 billion Norwegian crowns in fairness (about $151 million) in funding at a lowered valuation of $353 million. The service operates in its dwelling market in addition to Finland and Germany.

💰 Singapore tremendous app Osome raised $25 million in Collection B funding. The app helps enterprise homeowners with administrative duties like payroll, accounting and tax reporting and serves over 11,000 companies.

🤝 Saudi Arabia-based meals supply service Jahez is buying The Chefz in a money and inventory deal for $173 million.

Lensa AI

Effectively, you in all probability still want to see it! The avatars Lensa AI makes with Secure Diffusion are spectacular, regardless of the controversy. It’s an incredible demo of a possible use case for AI, even when ethically fraught. Demand for AI avatars is clearly robust. Lensa’s recognition is having a knock-on impact throughout the App Retailer’s High Charts, as now apps like AI Artwork, Picture Generator; Meitu, Picture Editor & AI Artwork; Surprise, AI Artwork Generator; Daybreak, AI Avatars; and Prequel, Aesthetic AI Editor have all entered the highest 30. The apps are benefitting as a result of they’ve “AI” of their names — and, in some instances, have purchased App Retailer Search advertisements.


  • Proton: The E2EE cloud storage service launched iOS and Android apps providing 1GB of storage without cost, 200GB for $4 monthly, or 500GB for $10 monthly.
  • Copilot: The favored budgeting and finance app launched a Mac counterpart.

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