This Week in Apps: AI Art apps top the charts, Instagram adds text-only ‘Notes,’ alternative app stores in EU

This Week in Apps: AI Art apps top the charts, Instagram adds text-only ‘Notes,’ alternative app stores in EU


This Week in Apps is back! TechCrunch’s weekly series This article summarizes the most recent news about mobile OS news, mobile apps, and the overall app economy.

Global app spending reached $65 billion The first half of 2022 saw a slight increase in revenue from $64.4 billion in the 2021 period. This is because hypergrowth caused by the pandemic has slowed. Overall, however, the app economy continues to grow. Record Multiple reports show that the number of consumers who downloaded and spent on both the iOS and Google Play Stores combined in 2021 was approximately 1.2 billion. year-end Reports. The global spending on iOS and Google Play was $133 billion last year, and users downloaded 143.6 million apps.

This Week in Apps is a place where you can keep up with the fast-moving industry in one location. It includes news, updates and mergers and acquisitions.

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Top Stories

Apple plans to allow EU app stores other than Apple App Stores

App Store icon on iPhone screen

Image Credits TechCrunch

Bloomberg reported Apple is already working to open its platforms to enable Support for third-party app shops in the EU Companies must comply by 2024 with new requirements set forth by the Digital Markets Act. EU regulators are determined to level the playing field for app developer and improve the user experience. They believe that Apple should be competing on merit with other app store owners. Apple has long argued against sideloading third-party stores and other forms of storefront management. This poses too many risks to consumers in terms of safety, security, privacy, and security. Apple currently handles payment processing for apps downloaded from its storefront. This includes fighting fraud. It also protects user data and prevents app developers from tracking users using the App Tracking Transparency protections.

Apple’s privacy focus may be a facade to achieve its own goals in becoming a more powerful competitor in the ads industry. As Researchers recently discoveredSome of Apple’s protections do not apply to its apps. Many would argue that it is unfair to charge apps that compete with Apple’s services a commission. This could be the way Apple charges Spotify for Apple Music, or how it charges streaming app commissions when it runs Apple TV . Apple continues to expand its app markets with subscription services such as Apple Fitness , cloud storage packages through iCloud, news reading and magazines with News , and many others.

App developers feel that Apple’s 30% price is too high for the App Store’s discovery, distribution, and security. For larger companies, they are more than capable of marketing, distributing, and selling their own apps. Epic Games is currently battling Apple in court over anti-trust issues. Now under appeal. It wants to direct sell Fortnite apps to consumers, and avoid Apple’s fees.

Even if the EU forces platforms open to more competition, it’s possible that Apple could adjust its policies to allow a commission structure to third-party apps and distribution systems.

It’s amazing that Apple allowed the problem to reach this point. In an apparent attempt to soothe lawmakers and regulators’ concerns, Apple has cut back commissions for a variety of apps — from smaller developers to “reader”, apps and the like — Apple may have misunderstood by slashing all commissions across the board to stop developer backlash. It turns out that Apple’s greed may be its downfall. The terms will now be set by regulators, not Apple.

Lensa drives more AI-art apps to the top of App Store

Image Credits Lensa (mockup created by TechCrunch

Lensa AI Popularity has had a significant impact on the App Store’s Top Charts for this week. The photo and video editing app was recently added to the App Store’s Top Charts.It went viral over its new “magic avatars”, powered by the open-sourceStable Diffusion Model allows users to transform their selfies into stylized portraits of themselves as sci fi, anime, or fantasy characters. The app was popularized by consumers and AI edits were made more widely. Many other “AI” apps have since been added to the U.S. App store’s Top Charts. On Monday, the top three spots in the U.S. App Store were held by AI photo editors. Additionally, more AI art apps have been added to the Top 100.

Lensa AI was the No. 1 app store in the United States this week. Lensa AI occupied the No. 1 spot in the U.S. App Store with 12.6 million global installations in the first 11 Days of December. This is 600% more than the 1.8 million installs that it saw in November (November 20-30), according to Sensor Tower data. According to estimates, 3.6 million of those December installs were made in the U.S.

More AI apps are climbing the charts. Data showed that AI art apps accounted for eight of the top 100 most downloaded apps on the U.S. App Store between December 1 and December 11.

These included No. 2, and No. 3 apps, AI Art – AI Image Generator and Dawn AI Avatars. The first saw 1.7 million global installations between December 1 and 11, an increase of 229% over the 71,000 it saw between November 20 and 30. Dawn also saw 1.7 million installs, an increase of the 28,000 it saw in November.

Other apps topped the Top Charts, including No. 10 Wonder – AI Art Generator, No. 14 Prequel: AestheticAI Editor, No. 39 Voi – AI Avatar app by Wonder, No. 47 Meitu, Photo Editor & Ai Art, and many more. You’ll also find Profile AI: Avatar Maker, Inspire – AI Art Generator, and Dream by Wombo – AI Art Tool in select categories like Graphics & Design.

Developers learned to capitalize upon consumer demand for AI art by keyword-stuffeding their app names with terms such as “AI”, “Avatar”, “AI Art” or other search terms.

Despite the rise in consumer adoption, some are still concerned about the ethics behind using AI apps.

Lensa was trained in the Stable Diffusion model. This model is controversial because it uses images from artists. Without their consent. Lensa was also able be Tricked into creating NSFW images, TechCrunch found. And MIT Technology Review Report Lensa created topless images, and skimpy, sexualized avatars when she was tested by one female reporter who was of Asian heritage. This suggests that the AI was influenced by a lot of anime and video characters.

Instagram weighs taking on Twitter using text-based “Notes”.

Instagram now supports text messages, as seen on a phone screen

Image Credits Instagram

The middle Backlash Instagram this week was harmed by algorithmic, recommended content. Introduced A number of new features have been added to make it easier to keep up with real-world friends. Notes is one of the new products. This feature Meta was considering turning into a Twitter competitor. The NYT Recently reported. Notes allows users to update their friends with just text and emoji. This adds a new format to social updates beyond the images or videos Instagram is most well-known for.

Although Twitter is not a competitor in terms of user interface, the idea behind leaving text notes for others to see has some similarities with Twitter. Or, perhaps, more specifically, with a product such as Twitter Circle, which allows you to hand-pick people who will read your posts. In Instagram, however users can leave notes by going directly to their inbox and selecting the followers they follow back (aka mutuals), or other people from their existing “Close Friends” list. The user will then write the note using 60 characters of text or emoji. The note will be displayed at the top of friends’ email inboxes for 24hrs. Replies will arrive as DMs.

It’s interesting to note that Meta had considered making Notes a direct Twitter competitor. According to the NYT, Meta considered making Notes its own Instagram feed or creating its own app. The company will launch the product, which has been in development for several months, as it is. Too bad.

Developer News

  • iOS 16.2 will also bring a mysterious AirTag firmware update.No one knows. It is not yet clear what it does.
  • Apple also released the first betas for iOS 16.3, iPadOS 16.3 macOS Ventura 13.2.
  • Android 13 for TV Shipped.
  • Compose for Wear OS 1. Now stable
  • Android 13 QPR2 Beta 1 Available now. Android 13 Beta continues with the next round updates for its March 2023 release. These Quarterly Platform Updates are delivered to Pixel phones via Feature Drops.
  • Sony smartphones now have Android 13.User reportsIncluding the Xperia 1 IV and Xperia 5 IV, as well as the Xperia 1 III, Xperia 5 IV and Xperia Pro-I.
  • Google Completed the rollout The Matter smart home standard is compatible with Android and Nest. Apple and Samsung already have Matter support. Amazon will support Matter by the end of 2022.

App Updates

Image Credits Flipboard

  • Flipboard capitalizes on Twitter’s chaos. The social magazine app will now let its magazine curators start conversations with their readers Through a new Notes featureThey can post, share images, link to other sites, and ask questions.
  • Twitter re-launched Its subscription service Twitter Blue has different prices for iOS subscribers and web subscribers.According to the company, the new subscription will include the verified checkmark and lower ads. However, it will also have enhanced protections to stop spam and impersonation. Blue for Business will Businesses can get Twitter gold checks Instead of blue. (That’s right, blue will also give out gold checks. Did you think of the branding?
  • Twitter has made its community fact-checks Visible to all users worldwide. (The Community Notes feature used to be called Birdwatch.
  • Twitter is available in the interim Revue has shut down its newsletter platform, Shortly after the departure of former CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey used the tool to write a post About the Twitter Files, warning about attacks on Twitter’s staff. He also spoke about decentralization and his own efforts in that space, Bluesky.
  • Elon Musk A Twitter bot that tracked his plane’s movements Coming and going. You know the reasons. After issuing his new jet-tracking-inspired anti-doxing policy, Twitter Without warning, ban prominent journalistsIncluding those who tweeted about Musk’s decision to Also, Mastodon’s account must be banned Some of the suspended journalists had posted images from the tweet that were shared by them Banned the Mastodon account — A post that pointed to ElonJet’s Mastodon account.
  • TikTok goes horizontal. The company It’s been confirmed. The app can be used horizontally in full-screen mode, which makes it more competitive with YouTube.

TikTok's brand new full-screen mode

Image Credits Screenshot/TechCrunch

  • Microsoft is shutting down Its Authenticator App for Apple Watch Users in January 2023
  • A little-known app called Xnspy, which monitors phones, has stolen data From tens to thousands of devices TechCrunch reported.
  • An app that organizes media. Sofa was updated New features include Lock Screen widgets, shared lists, Shortcuts support, and more.
  • Playtika is a game maker Layoff of 610 employees Three titles are being shut down by the publisher. Ghost Detective, DiceLife, MergeStories
  • Netflix Two more games were launched, This time, we are partnering with a top game publisher Annapurna Interactive. One is Kentucky Route Zero, which was developed by Cardboard Computer. It is published by Annapurna Interactive. Twelve Minutes was developed by 24 Bit Games. The company stated that it was also a “recorded game”. Developing A new game that is based on the historical drama “Vikings, Valhalla”
  • Spotify is reducing its live audio plans.As the Clubhouse frenzy fades, Spotify has ended several of its live showsIncluding “Deux Me After Dark”, “Doughboys: Snack Pack”, “The Movie Buff” as well as “A Gay in the Life”.
  • Tinder launched “Relationship Goals,” Similar to Hinge, a sister app that allows daters to be more specific about what they are looking for.
  • YouTube will Notify users now Abusive comments will be removed as they are in violation of the rules. The user will then be banned from posting for 24 hours If they continue to make abusive comments,
  • Instagram Launched a new hub To assist users who suspect that their accounts were hacked Or who cannot log in because of other problems, such as a lost password or access to two-factor authentication.
  • PayPal and MetaMask have teamed up. MetaMask It’s adding an integration It will allow users to purchase cryptocurrencies using their PayPal accounts.

Government, Policy, and Lawsuits

  • A bipartisan group of A bill was introduced by U.S. lawmakers This would ban any social media company, TikTok included.In — or under — the influence of — China, Russia, or other U.S. enemies
  • Triller Responded To the Sony Music lawsuit Concerning unpaid licensing fees, the company confirmed that it was unable to issue payments due to a “range” of reasons, but did not reveal what those reasons were.
  • An advisor to France’s privacy authority (The Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertes, or CNIL) Recommended Apple fined EUR6 millioniOS 14 did not meet EU privacy requirements. Apple did not extend the same tracking protections to users (like AT) to its first-party apps.
  • The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), is Twitter’s privacy regulator in the EU. Is reviewing Twitter’s plans To Forcing Users can receive personalized ads They cannot opt out of ads unless they subscribe to Twitter Blue.
  • The U.S. Senate The unanimously passed No TikTok on Government Devices ActAfter 13 states had imposed similar bans on the app due to security concerns,



Image Credits Trendio

TechCrunch’s Aisha Maki took a look at Trendio, a video shopping app that was founded by an ex-Amazon Prime Video executive. The app is designed to help you shop makeup and beauty products. It offers personalized content and makes it easy to buy beauty products via recorded and live videos from creators. Merit, Philosophy and Ursa Major are supported brands.

Alex Perez-Tenessa (ex-vice president of Prime Video U.S., head of Beauty at CVS) and David Olmos, a startup veteran, co-founded the startup. Leah Grubb, a former Glossier head for Make-up Category Management and Julie Novak, are also part of the team. You can TechCrunch’s complete review can be found here.

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