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. In the year 2021, global spending on third-party app stores in China grew 19% to reach $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 now spend more time in apps than ever before, even topping the time they spend watching TV. 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.

It's not just a way to pass time. They can become big businesses. There were 233 apps and games that generated over $100 million in consumer spend. This was up 20% from the year before, when just eight apps topped $1 billion.

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

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Top Stories

twitter glitch

The image is from TechCrunch.

Last week, Musk bought a huge stake in the company and was joining the board. He wasn't. He wants to buy the entire company. Maybe not.

He said in his offer letter that he would transform the company into a private one if it wasn't accepted. Maybe that was the plan all along. He told the audience that he was not sure he would be able to acquire it.

No, really? Get it, Musk's $54.20 per share offer? Was it a joke? Who could have predicted it?

It's sad, billionaires.

Musk is playing with the social network as if it is a toy, either as a pump and dump for a little needed cash or to give himself a few minutes of attention. He got bored. Or all of the above.

Yes, whatever. It has been a ridiculous circus and one that is not helping a company that is finally getting on the right track in terms of product development efforts.

If Elon Musk gets his way, Twitter will lose years of progress

If Musk bought it, he would not have much time to devote to actually running it. He wants to throw his money around so that he can get his ideas heard on the micro-blogging site. Like way down? It would be chaos if successful on the latter point. Or worse, Parler.

Regardless of whether Musk buys it or not, the future of the company is no longer certain.

Tim Cook speaks out against sideloading…again

Tim Cook is the CEO of Apple. The image is from Apple.

At the Global Privacy Summit this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook once again called out companies whose business model is built on mining users' data, a reference to Facebook. The practice of loading apps onto mobile devices from outside the App Store was reiterated by the executive.

Apple has resisted the idea of allowing users to install apps outside of the Play Store, saying it puts users' privacy and security at risk.

The company last year published a document explaining why it believes sideloading apps could lead to an increase in scam and fraud, which would outweigh the consumer benefits of alternative app stores where fees may be reduced as developers could avoid paying Apple's commission. Apple critics believe that the company's position is more about its desire to maintain its tight grip on the mobile app market and its App Store revenues. A lower court ruled that the App Store business model was anti-competitive. The gaming company wants to serve its mobile games to users outside the App Store to avoid paying Apple commissions, but Apple insists that opening up the iPhone to third-party stores or web downloads is a slippery slope.

Apple states that there are risks involved with side loading. According to Apple's documentation, over the past four years, the number of infections on the phones was more than on the devices.

The bills that would allow sideloading are gaining bipartisan support in the U.S., which Cook specifically spoke about today, saying they could put our privacy and security at risk. He didn't only focus on how sideloading could increase the risks of malware, but also on how companies could use the feature to route around Apple's existing privacy protection to once again track users.

Apple is in favor of privacy regulation. Many countries have enacted privacy laws of their own and we applaud them. We want a strong privacy law in the United States. Cook said that they are grateful to all the global leaders who are working to advance privacy rights.

We are concerned about regulations that would undermine privacy and security. In the name of competition, policymakers are taking steps that would force Apple to let apps onto iPhone that circumvent the App Store through a process called side loading. That means data-hungry companies would be able to track users against their will, and that would be against our privacy rules.

Cook pointed out how sideloading enabled users to be tricked into installing illegitimate COVID-tracing apps, which led to them being infections with the ransomware. He said that the scheme directly targeted those who could install apps from websites that lack the App Store's defenses.

The world where there is no moderation at all could be worse, given how many scammy apps slip through the cracks of the App Store. The question is whether individuals should have the right to take that risk for themselves.

Cook raised concerns about companies that use data to make money. Tech rivals like Facebook were not mentioned by name in the speech, but they were the intended targets of some of Cook's remarks. At one point, he referred to companies tracking user data as an emergency.

Companies are mining data about our lives at the moment. We frequent the shops and restaurants. We support causes. We choose to read websites. Cook said that the companies defended their actions as pure intentions, as the work of better serving us with more targeted experiences. They don't believe that we need to give permission for them to look into our lives.

Cook painted a dramatic picture of what it would look like if it happened in the physical world.

Imagine a stranger following you as you take your child to school, holding a camera outside the driver's side window, recording everything you do. Imagine opening your computer and a stranger is watching you. You wouldn't call it a service. You would call it an emergency. He said it is one in the digital world.

Weekly News

  • Apple updated its iMovie app with new features, Storyboards and Magic Movie. Storyboards offer users pre-made templates for popular types of videos shared on social, with colleagues or with classmates, while Magic Movie instantly creates a video from the clips and photos a user selects, automatically adding transitions, effects and music to the edit.
  • Apple’s iOS 16 beta included references in the code that seem to point to the long-rumored Mixed Reality (AR/VR) headset Apple has under development. The beta also points to possible notifications changes, health-tracking features and possibly a new multitasking interface for iPad.
  • Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) may have led to $16 billion in revenue losses among big tech companies like Meta, Twitter, Snap and YouTube, a report by Lotame said.
  • Google quietly launched its awaited “Switch to Android” mobile app for iOS that helps users transfer their contacts, calendar, photos and videos from their iPhone to a new Android device. The app is not yet discoverable in the App Store.
  • Android Auto 7.5 arrived on the Play Store, but the changes this time around appear to be under the hood.
  • Pinterest partnered with the e-commerce platform WooCommerce, allowing its merchants to turn their product catalogs into shoppable Pins.
  • Wegmans began offering support for SNAP purchasing through the Instacart grocery app.

TikTok is an image.

  • TikTok launched Effect House into open beta. The new AR development platform allows creators to make AR effects that others can use in TikTok videos. The platform offers creation tools, documentation, templates, and the occasional live demo from TikTok engineers.
  • Walmart introduced “shoppable” AR content on Snapchat with a new AR lens to inspire users to make recipes with ingredients from home or those they can order from Walmart.
  • A portion of Etsy’s sellers went on strike for a week over a 1.5% increase in the site’s transaction fees.


  • Investing app Public launched a new “Learn and Earn” hub where users can complete courses related to investing and earn rewards, like a free slice of stock or ETF as a reward for leveling up.
  • India’s payments body, the National Payments Corporation of India, approved WhatsApp’s plan to extend its payments service to 60 million additional users in India, to allow WhatsApp Pay to reach up to 100 million in total.
  • Robinhood’s trading app added SHIB, SOL, COMP and MATIC to its service, leading Shiba Inu to rally by 35% on the move.
  • Coinbase suspended support for UPI payments on its app in India, less than four days after launching the trading service. The National Payments Corporation of India, which oversees UPI, had said that it was not aware of any crypto exchange using UPI payments.
  • Coinbase shareholders have filed a class-action lawsuitagainst the company for deceptively positive statements, noting the company had failed to disclose things like the amount of cash it would need to scale and how susceptible to outages it would be.
  • TikTok star and musician Bella Poarch’s latest brand deal has her becoming the face of Cash App. The deal has the star modeling Cash App’s clothing line (?!!) and giving away $100,000 in bitcoin.


snapchat dynamic stories feature

The image is called snap.

  • Snapchat’s latest feature is able to automatically create Stories for publishers based on the news stories they post online. The feature leverages RSS feeds, and the generated Stories will appear in the app’s Discover section.
  • Snapchat also debuted its fifth cohort of Yellow accelerator startups. The eight startups will take up a 13-week residency at Snap’s HQ, and include companies focused on finance, e-commerce, dating, social, AR and more.
  • TikTok is testing a private dislike button for comments. The dislike won’t be public and commenters won’t know they’ve been downvoted in this way. But TikTok could use the feature to inform a comment-ranking algorithm in the future.
  • Fox News said an account on Trump-backed Truth Social using its name was unauthorized after the site’s CEO had welcomed the news outlet to the social app.
  • India’s ban on Chinese apps in the country has allowed TikTok rival Josh to thrive after TikTok itself was blocked. Josh now has more than 150 million MAUs and a $5 billion valuation as of April.
  • TikTok is found to be dominated by pro-war content in Russia after its ban on new uploads, per a study examining the impacts of the Russian “fake news” law. TechCrunch also found that Russian state media was continuing to post to TikTok a month after the app blocked new content originating in Russia.
  • TikTok users spent a record $874 million on in-app payments from January-March 2022, up 184% year-over-year, per data (previously App Annie.) The app reached 1.6 billion MAUs by the end of March.
  • Pinterest launched its latest version of its API (v5), saying it’s the first time in the company’s history it’s offering a developer-centric open API that any developer can apply to.


  • Meta subpoenaed “competitor” Dispo, a social photo-sharing startup, in an attempt to prove it wasn’t a monopoly. Dispo fought the summons, which had seen the tech giant send 36 requests for its internal documents, including metrics, calling Meta’s requests “unduly burdensome, overbroad, vexatious and harassing.”


The image is from WhatsApp.

  • WhatsApp introduced Communities — a new, organized group chat feature that includes admin tools, file sharing, emoji reactions, 32-person calls and more, allowing clubs, schools and other private groups to host chats with thousands of users. Only admins can announce to the entire group, but members can chat more freely in sub-group chats. The update could allow the app to compete with other group chat products or even Facebook’s own Groups, to some extent. But WhatsApp clarifies its difference is that chats are more personal — users would see each other’s phone numbers, for example. They may also be networked in the real world, unlike Facebook’s larger interest-based Groups. Communities will initially launch with select testers for feedback, but some of the other features designed for Communities will arrive on WhatsApp for general access sooner.


The image is from the dating app.

  • Tinder added a “Festival Mode” to its mobile app that allows members to make connections before heading out to a concert or music festival. The feature was launched in partnership with Live Nation and event producers AEG Presents and Superstruct Entertainment.

Streaming & Entertainment


The image is from Spotify.

  • Spotify rebranded its companion app Spotify Greenroom as Spotify Live and integrated its live audio capabilities directly into its main streaming app, minus the interactive features. Only select creators from Spotify’s originals will be able to go live in the main app. Independent creators will still be able to stream in Spotify Live, however.
  • YouTube said it will now make all public videos on its platform eligible to be remixed into YouTube Shorts (short-form video) content unless creators opt out. The one exception to this will be music videos, where licensing issues prevent re-use.
  • Clubhouse added a dark mode for your nighttime streaming.
  • Artists are criticizing TikTok’s new music distribution service SoundOn, claiming issues with delays and audience reach.
  • Plex drops its plan to be a podcast streaming app. The company said it was ending support for streaming podcasts along with web shows to instead focus on its ad-supported video streaming efforts.
  • Spotify-owned podcast creation app Anchor rolled out support for 35 more languages.


  • Would-be Roblox rival Rec Room, a cross-platform app including VR, reached 3 million monthly active users specifically in VR.
  • Amazon launched its first original mobile games since 2015 with the debut of Amazon Kids+ original games, “Super Spy Ryan” and “Do, Re & Mi” based on its popular shows.
  • Niantic launched its first original AR game in nearly a decade not tied to another company’s existing intellectual property with the debut of Peridot.
  • Mobile game app spending was down 6.3% year-over-year in March 2022, per Sensor Tower data, to reach $7 billion in player spending. The U.S. was the top market with $1.9 billion or 27.4% of spend, followed by China (19.2%), then Japan (19%). The top game was Tencent’s Honor of Kinds, with $272.4 million in spending.
  • Square Enix unveiled Kingdom Hearts 4 and a new Kingdom Hearts mobile game, Missing-Link, for iOS and Android, as part of its 20th Anniversary Event.
  • Zynga launched FarmVille 3 in Japan, after having first debuted in November 2021 for most other countries.

Health & Fitness

  • A free iPad app called Staybl launched to help people with involuntary hand tremors due to conditions like Parkinson’s be able to use the tablet computer.
  • Apple is planning to add new features to its Health app this year that will include things like medication reminders, additional sleep tracking and possibly body temperature sensing. Plans to add a blood pressure monitor to Apple Watch were scaled back, however.

Government & Policy

  • Apple will face another antitrust charge in the EU related to its music streaming efforts, Reuters reported. Last year, the European Commission accused Apple of anticompetitive behavior by restricting developers to its own in-app payment system and preventing them from informing users of other purchasing options.

Funding and M&A

Welcome Tech raised $30 million in funding from TTV Capital, bringing its total raise to $70 million. The funding will help bridge the gap between the B and C rounds. There is a bilingual mobile app and a banking service in the app.

Sony and Kirkbi, the parent company of the Lego Group, invested $1 billion each in the funding of the game. The value of the company is $31.5 billion. The funding will be used to build out a kid-friendly metaverse and support its further growth.

Two years after raising its $2 million seed, Nigeria-based digital banking app Umba has raised $15 million in Series A funding. The app has free bank accounts, interbank transfers, peer-to-peer transfers and bill payments.

Smash Capital led a $60 million Series C funding for Wagestream, a U.K.-based startup that offers salary advances to employees through an app. Front-line workers and others who are paid hourly are the targets of the app.

The mobile engagement platform Open Back was acquired by the social media giant. The deal will help improve push notifications by using on-device data processing.

China-based game engine developers, Cocos Technologies, raised $50 million in Series B funding from CCB Trust, a subsidiary of China Construction Bank, GGV Capital and real-time communication solution provider Agora. Cocos is best known for its open source engine for 2D mobile games.

The owner of Philippines, Voyager Innovations, raised $210 million in new funding. The round was led by SIG Venture Capital.

Berlin-based Choco, a startup that makes ordering tools for restaurants and suppliers, raised $111 million in Series B2 funding at a $1.2 billion valuation. The company's apps are focused on streamlining ordering for the food industry.

Real raised $37 million in Series B funding, bringing its total funding to $53 million. The app gives users access to therapists, therapist-created mental health programs and resources, events and more.

The dating app raised a second round of funding. The company raised $200,000 in its first seed round from angel investors. After launching in India, the startup claims over 50,000 downloads.


The upcoming launch of the augmented reality mobile game Peridot was announced by the maker of Pokémon GO. This game is not based on intellectual property, but instead allows users to care for virtual, magical animals called Peridots. The Dots, as they are called for short, will be able to distinguish between different types of terrain and will be able to acquire different types of items based on their surroundings. When players reach adulthood, they will be able to breed Dots and get new types of virtual pets. The new game will be available in a few test markets.

You can read more about the game here.


And lastly, because Apple won't cede an inch in the in-app purchase space, you also have to pop a modal before the link saying HERE BE DRAGONS:

— Jens-Fabian Goetzmann (@MrJefago) March 31, 2022

I've now been asked multiple times for my take on Elon's offer for Twitter.

So fine, this is what I think about that. I will assume the takeover succeeds, and he takes Twitter private. (I have little knowledge/insight into how actual takeover battles work or play out)

(long 🧵)

— Yishan (@yishan) April 15, 2022