This Week in Apps: Commission battles, Twitter NFTs and Epic’s appeal begins

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This Week in Apps recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and the overall app economy.

According to the latest year-end reports, the app industry has continued to grow, with a record number of downloads and consumer spending across both the Apple and Google Play stores. App Annie says global spending on third-party app stores in China grew 19% in 2021, reaching $170 billion. Downloads of apps grew by 5%, reaching 230 billion in 2021, and mobile ad spend grew 23% year-over-year to reach $295 billion.

Consumers are spending more time in apps than ever before, even topping the time they spend watching TV in some cases. The average American watches 3.1 hours of TV per day, but they spend 4.1 hours on their mobile device in the year 2021. They are not the world's heaviest mobile users. Users in Brazil, Indonesia, and South Korea spent five hours per day on mobile apps.

Apps aren't just a way to pass time. They can become big businesses. More than 200 apps and games generated over $100 million in consumer spend and more than a dozen generated $1 billion in revenue in the year 2021, according to App Annie. This was up 20% from the year before, when just eight apps topped $1 billion.

This Week in Apps gives a place to keep up with the latest from the world of apps, including news, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and suggestions about new apps and games to try.

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There are top stories.

The original ruling of the lawsuit was appealed by both Apple and Epic Games, which sought to prove that Apple was acting in an anti-competitive manner by not allowing alternative payments or other means of distributing apps outside the App Store. Although the judge ruled that Apple was not a monopolist, he instructed it to stop preventing app developers from adding links to third-party purchasing mechanisms. Apple was given permission to hold off on the App Store changes until the appeal ruling, which is a blow to Epic. Since it wanted another chance to make its arguments, it appealed the case.

The opening brief was filed this week by Epic Games. The company tries to explain how Apple reduces innovation, prevents alternative app stores from competing with its own, and extracts competitive commission while making minimal investments in the App Store. The market definitions for deciding the case should be reconsidered by the appeals court. The lower court decided the case was about the digital mobile game transactions market, but that was not true. The market definition was based on a misinterpretation of Amex, and the court treated the two separate transactions as a single transaction.

On Scribd, there is an opening brief by TechCrunch.

We will call it a platform fee.

When Apple was ordered by the Netherlands to allow dating apps on the App Store to process third-party payments, it looked like it was a small win for a more open platform. But anyone who was celebrating did so quickly. While Apple will adhere to the letter of the law, it won't adhere to the spirit by offering entitlements to the dating apps looking to process payments on their own. The developers will have to pay Apple a commission on third-party payments if they want their app to be distributed to the Netherlands App Store. Developers won't be able to take advantage of any platform advantages, like getting Apple to assist with refunds, payment history, subscription management or other issues related to the purchases, as those will now take place outside its App Store. What is the platform fee for? I guess it's access to users.

According to Apple, dating apps that are granted an entitlement to link out or use a third-party in-app payment provider will pay Apple a commission on transactions. Apple did not say how much that commission would be. The commission rate for external payments in South Korea was dropped by 4%, and Apple is likely to follow suit.

NFTs is where Twitter gets into.

The image was posted on the social media site.

It is official, NFTs have been embraced by Twitter. The first users to take advantage of the new feature will be those who also subscribe to the service on the app. The new NFT pics will help to differentiate the people from the rest of the crowd.

To use the feature, you have to change your profile photo. There is a new option to choose an NFT. You connect with your wallet.

At launch, a number of wallets are supported. You will select the NFT you want to showcase after authenticating. NFT Profile Pictures can be used with JPEG and PNG NFTs that have been created on the ethereum. In a later update, it was said that it was looking into adding support for s girs, but can't render them right now.

The U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand are the early markets where the NFT Profile Pictures offering is currently live, but the global availability of the Twitter Blue subscription service will limit the adoption of the service.

Some people are not happy with the update. Some people are making fun of the feature, others are blocking people, and some artists claim the feature has encouraged more people to steal their art and mint it as an NFT.

There is weekly news.

Apple developers can now create custom codes for subscriptions in App Store Connect, each with a unique name. The codes can be used with the app.
A fix for a bug that could have led to the leaking of users' browsing history is included in the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system. It has stopped signing iOS 15.2. It is starting to push users to upgrade toiOS 15.
The App Store Foundation program will be expanded to 29 countries in Europe. In Europe, the program offers developers support on app development, marketing and monetization with help from Apple employees.
January 25, 2022, is when Apple says it will update the App Store submission experience. The new App Store Connect experience will allow developers to submit multiple items, submit without needing a new app version, view past submissions and more.

The image is from the internet search engine, Google.

The PC version of the Play Games is in the testing stage. The app will be available for download in Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan. There are more than 25 titles available at launch.

Food delivery.

Learning Express sales are being boosted by TikTok kids. The company's online sales increased 25% in 2021, compared with 233% growth in 2020. The retailer doesn't spend money on TikTok marketing or advertising because kids are starting to find them on their own. Thanks to kids sharing videos on the social app, toys like Pop Its, Squishmallow and more have become viral hits. The retailer, where individual stores are franchises, is also benefiting from some of its owners own TikTok presence, like the Birmingham location, which has 2.3 million followers and its most popular video received 62 million views.
Research shows that consumers may be replacing food delivery apps with grocery delivery. The total sessions fell from March to Q2 and the rest of the year didn't show any gains. In December, grocery delivery apps saw a 20% increase in downloads. DoorDash added grocery and convenience stores to its app, as well as removing the word restaurant from its title.

The image is called Apptopia.

It's called Fintech.

British digital banking app Revolut expanded into the U.S. stock market. The company already allows British users to buy and sell shares in the U.S. Users will be able to trade 1,100 securities, including shares on the New York Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange.
The merger agreement was worth more than $2 billion before it was scrapped. Through December 15, the company will pay $17.5 million in termination fees. The company said that it was changing to a private capital raise because of market conditions.


TikTok fired its marketing chief after he kicked off a series of marketing stunts without approval. The TikTok Kitchen service would use ghost kitchens to promote popular TikTok creators' recipes in partnership with Virtual Dining Concepts, as well as new business lines involving NFTs and TikTokresumes.
Support for paid creator subscriptions has begun to be tested. The alpha test of subscriptions offered creators eight price points between 99 cents and $99.99, which they can charge users. Subscribers gain access to exclusive live videos and stories, and receive a special badge elevating them in the comments section and the inbox. TikTok confirmed it has begun testing subscriptions, but wouldn't give any details.

The image is on the social media site.

Anyone can now use the expanded version of "remix" on any public video on the platform, unless the creators opt out.
An NBC News investigation found that the app was linked to the sale of drugs that led to the deaths of teenagers and young adults in over a dozen states. 13 to 17 year old users are not allowed to show up in Quick Add search results unless they have friends in common with the person searching, a feature designed to prevent users from adding people they don't know to deter drug transactions.
NFTs will be able to be displayed on users' social profiles with the help of Facebook andInstagram. Meta is considering its own NFT marketplace, but the efforts are in the early stages, according to a report. Mosseri had said the company was considering a marketplace. It has invited NFT artists to offer feedback through panel discussions, which was discussed in the press last year when some artists were upset about being asked to advise the social giant without compensation. The investment may go to Facebook as well.

It's messaging.

The in-app chat feature has been available for a while, but has begun showing up for non-beta users.
Later this year, Meta's workplace service will integrate with WhatsApp. The service will integrate with the messaging app so that customers can share announcements with front-line employees.
New internet safety activities for young children were introduced by Messenger Kids. Kids learn to make healthy decisions, stay safe online, use blocking and reporting tools, and build resilience in each episode of "Pledge Planets".

Meta is the image credit.

Streaming and entertainment.

According to new research from MIDiA, the market share of the top streaming music service has slipped as the market has grown. In the second quarter of this year, 523.9 million people subscribed to a music streaming service, an increase of 26.4% from the same time last year. Apple's market share dropped from 34% in the year before to 22% today, followed by Amazon Music. The only Western streamer to have increased market share was YouTube Music.
In order to be ready when there is either weak coverage or no signal at a later point, the app is testing a feature called smart downloads, which automatically downloads videos when a device is connected to the internet. The feature can be found in YouTube Music.

There is gaming.

The image is from the streaming service.

This week, the streaming service launched two more games, including an open-world single-player card strategy game and a puzzle game. The additions bring the gaming catalog to 12 titles, including bowling ballers, shooting hoops, teeter up, asphalt Xtreme, Stranger Things 1984, and Card Blast.
Greg Peters said that the company is open to licensing large game intellectual property as it expands its gaming business. Some of that will happen over the year to come, according to Peters.
The company announced this week that it has grown its Game Pass service to 25 million subscribers, up from 18 million in January.
The popularity of Wordle!, a game that existed before the rise of the popular web-based game by the same name, has led to a surge in downloads. The Wordle game, which was first launched in the year of 2017, had not been updated in a while, until it reached 200,000 downloads per week from people who were looking for another Wordle game. The developer of Wordle reached out to Cravotta to let him know he was donating the proceeds to charity.
Consumer spending in mobile action games jumped up 68.9% in the year 2021, driven by almost entirely Genshin Impact. Open World Adventure is the largest Action genre, with spending reaching $966.8 million. In the U.S., MiHoYo's Genshin Impact earned $400 million, followed by the Marvel Contest of Champs by Kabam and Dragon Ball Legends.
According to a new report from NewZoo, mobile game players who use TikTok spend more money and play more genres. TikTok players are more likely to pay for games and add-ons. They are more likely to watch TikTok. 45% of the group use social platforms to find new games, compared to 32% who don't use TikTok. They are more likely to notice ad types when playing on average 7.1 genres compared to 4.2 genres for non-TikTok users.

Productivity and utilities.

New features on the Read-it-later app include public folders, which allow users to share their saved reading lists with others via web or mobile. The app added custom app icons in a variety of neutral tones for its premium users, and a feature for web users that lets you click the Instapaper logo immediately after saving an article to read it. The company said it can't offer the feature on the platform due to technical limitations.

Health and fitness.

According to The Citizen Lab, the app mandated for use by all attendees of the Olympic Games in Beijing was found to have technical flaws. Health forms containing passport details, demographic info, and medical and travel history are vulnerable because of the flaw.

Government and policy.

M&A and funding.

The Indonesia-based startup BukuKas raised $80 million in Series C funding, led by Tiger Global and Sequoia Capital India. The LummoShop and BukuKas are e-commerce and bookkeeping solutions. The company has 300 employees.

Carry1st raised $20 million in Series A funding led by a16z. Carry1st has signed publishing deals for seven games from six studios, including the publisher of SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off. CrazyLabs and Sweden's Raketspel are other partners.

An Indian startup raised $75 million in Series D funding for its super finance app that aims to be a one-stop shop for investments and expenses. The startup was valued at $600 million.

InFlow, a science-backed app to address ADHD symptoms using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, raised $2.3 million in seed funding. The company said that the app has been downloaded 15,000 times per month.

Istanbul-based Spyke Games, a mobile games startup, raised $55 million in a seed round. Spyke wants to combine casual gaming with social elements. After a limited release, its first title, Royal Riches, is launching globally this month.

Dream Games, the casual gaming developer behind top-grossing game Royal Match, raised $255 million in Series C funding. The round values the startup at over $2 billion, up from $1 billion six months ago.

Appcues raised $32.1 million in Series B funding to develop technology for better user onboarding across platforms. The company has tools to fix issues.

HyperCharts is a data visualization platform that shows financial and biz metrics for publicly traded companies. The deal terms were not disclosed.

Big Health raised $75 million in Series C funding led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 to launch six new digital mental health therapies. The company has more than 10 million users and has raised over 120 million dollars from investors.

Truecaller acquired Israeli company CallHero, which developed a digital assistant called SmartAgent, which helps its users verify and identify calls. Truecaller will integrate CallHero's technology into its own platform following the close of the $4.5 million deal.

Western & Southern Financial Group acquired Fabric Technologies Inc., a digital life insurance platform and mobile app that has over 60,000 families as customers, and has placed billions of life insurance coverage.

This week's startup news and trends will be the focus of the weekly column. This will be in your inbox if you subscribe here. AngelList has a recently closed early-stage venture fund.

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