This Week in Apps: Apple’s massive occasion, lidar involves iPhone, Android will get a brand new IDE – TechCrunch

Welcome again to This Week in Apps, the TechCrunch collection that recaps the newest OS information, the functions they assist and the cash that flows by means of all of it.

The app business is as scorching as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in client spending in 2019. Individuals are actually spending three hours and 40 minutes per day utilizing apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t only a strategy to move idle hours — they’re a giant enterprise. In 2019, mobile-first firms had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x increased than these and not using a cell focus.

On this collection, we assist you sustain with the newest information from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly foundation.

Apple introduces 4 new iPhones (and extra)

Apple hosted its iPhone event this week, the place it launched the brand new iPhone 12… and the iPhone 12 mini, the iPhone 12 Professional and the iPhone 12 Professional Max — successfully plugging all of the holes out there. With the discharge of the 4 new iPhones, app builders can have a spread of units to construct for, from small to very giant — the 12 Professional Max, for instance, introduces the iPhone’s biggest-ever display and the very best decision, at practically 3.5M pixels.

It additionally, in fact, includes serious camera improvements, from a redesign of the three-lens system to together with a brand new deeper telephoto digital camera, now a 65 mm-equivalent as a substitute of 52 mm, as on earlier fashions. There’s additionally an improved wide-angle lens, bigger sensor, the addition of sensor-level picture stabilization and a revamped Evening Mode. Photographers will recognize the brand new Apple ProRAW format, as properly. (More on that here).

The iPhone 12 mini, in the meantime, goals to serve the shopper base that prefers a smaller telephone, just like the iPhone SE, however with out sacrificing performance.

All the devices share some key features, together with 5G connectivity, the brand new MagSafe connector for wi-fi charging and snap-on magnetic equipment, OLED shows and the A14 chip. In addition they have a extra traditional look, with straight edges that permit for extra antennas, offering next-gen wi-fi connectivity.

One of many larger variations, nonetheless, between the Professional fashions and the common iPhone 12 is the addition of the LiDAR Scanner, which can also be discovered within the newest iPad Professional. The scanner measures how lengthy it takes for mild to achieve an object and mirror again. The brand new depth-sensing know-how has massive implications for AR, because it permits augmented actuality objects to work together with objects in the true world. AR apps can be extra user-friendly, too, as they received’t have to first scan the room to put the AR object in the true world. It may be positioned immediately.

Apple is leveraging the sensor for the iPhone 12 Professional digital camera to supply as much as 6x quicker focus in low-light situations. Builders, in the meantime, can leverage lidar to be used instances like AR-enabled video games that work in the true world, social media (like Snapchat’s new lidar-powered Lens), residence design and enchancment apps involving room scans, spatial format planning (like JigSpace), higher AR buying experiences and extra.

The corporate additionally introduced an inexpensive model of its HomePod good speaker, the $99 HomePod Mini. The merchandise works finest for these totally locked contained in the Apple universe, as it’s going to stream a handful of music providers, however not one of the crucial standard — Spotify. Nonetheless, Apple additionally launched a nifty function for the HomePod units, Intercom, which helps you to ship bulletins throughout the audio system. Whereas Apple and Google have provided an identical function for his or her good audio system, Intercom additionally works throughout different Apple units, together with iPhone, iPod, AirPods and even CarPlay. (What, no Mac?)

If Apple isn’t too late to seize good speaker market share, the brand new speaker might see extra customers adopting good residence units they will voice management by means of the HomePod Mini.

In the course of the occasion, Apple additionally subtly snubbed its nostril at Epic’s Fortnite with the announcement that
League of Legends: Wild Rift can be coming to iPhone 12 to make the most of its new 5G capabilities and A14 Bionic chip.


  • Lidar comes to iPhone 12 Professional. Builders can now build AR experiences that work together with real-world objects, and AR apps can now immediately place AR objects in the true world with out scanning the room. The replace will imply an enormous improve within the usability of AR apps however is restricted to the Professional mannequin of iPhone for now. Snapchat is already using it.
  • Apple builders can now make their apps available for pre-order even earlier — as much as 180 days earlier than launch on the App Retailer.
  • Android Studio 4.1 launches. The new, stable version of the IDE for constructing Android apps introduces higher TensorFlow Lite assist and a brand new database inspector. The crew additionally fastened a whopping 2,370 bugs throughout this launch cycle and closed 275 public points.
  • Google introduces the Android for Vehicles library. The library, now in open beta, provides builders instruments to design, develop and check new navigation, parking or charging apps for Android Auto. The Google Play Retailer can be enabled for publishing beta apps within the “coming months.”
  • Google stops promoting music. The corporate no longer sells tracks and albums on its Play Retailer, shifting all its focus to YouTube Music. The latter additionally simply launched on Apple Watch this week.


  • Buying apps forecast. U.S. customers had been anticipated to spend 60M hours in Android buying apps throughout Prime Day week, (which simply wrapped) in keeping with one forecast from App Annie.
  • Prime Day downloads develop. Sensor Tower estimates world installs of the Amazon app grew 23% year-over-year, to 684K, as Prime Day neared. Installs on Wednesday had been up 33% to 750K. Nonetheless, U.S. installs had been down by 22% 10/13-10/14. Apptopia famous that app periods, nonetheless, had been up 27% year-over-year.
  • Buying, Meals & Drink app launches up greater than 50% year-over-year. Buying apps grew 52% whereas Meals & Drink apps grew 60%, as a result of COVID-19 impacts, according to Sensor Tower.
  • Subscriptions. U.S. customers spend $20.78 monthly on app subscriptions, Regulate examine says.
  • TikTok sale affect on advert business. 73% of marketers said a TikTok sale within the U.S. would affect their 2021 promoting plans. 41% additionally believed the deal might permit Walmart to overhaul Amazon in e-commerce.
  • Amazon expands AR experimentation to its bins. The retailer launched a new AR application that works with QR codes on the corporate’s transport bins to create “interactive, shareable” AR experiences, like a pumpkin that involves life.


  • Robinhood said a “restricted quantity” of its customers’ accounts had been hacked. The service itself was not hacked, however round 2,000 clients had accounts compromised by cybercriminals who first compromised customers’ private emails exterior the buying and selling app.

Different Information

  • Zoom’s new occasions platform brings apps to video conferencing calls.
  • Messenger update brings new features, together with cross-app communication with Instagram. The app will get enjoyable options like chat themes, customized reactions and, quickly, selfie stickers and vanish mode. However the larger information is the (doubtlessly anti-competitive) merging of Fb’s chat platforms.
  • Life360 leverages TikTok teenagers’ complaints to start out a dialogue and invent a brand new function, “Bubbles,” which permits teenagers (or anybody) to share a generalized location as a substitute of an actual one. The function provides teenagers a bit extra freedom to roam and make selections with out a lot parental oversight. Dad and mom, in the meantime, can nonetheless ensure their teen is OK, as options like emergency SOS and crash alerts stay purposeful.
  • Should-read: The MacStories iOS and iPadOS 14 Review. Federico Viticci provides a 23-page deep dive into the newest model of Apple’s cell working system.
    • Future raises $24M Sequence B for its $150/mo exercise teaching app amid at-home health growth. The app pairs customers with real-life health teaching for private coaching at residence. The spherical was led by Trustbridge Companions with Caffeinated Capital and Sequence A traders Kleiner Perkins taking part.
    • River raises $10.4M for its app providing information, occasions and different happenings from across the internet, starting from information tales from high publishers to sports activities to even notable tweets. The app presents the knowledge in a real-time stream, browsed vertically. There’s additionally a “For You” web page, just like TikTok.
    • Roblox confidentially filed with the SEC to go public. This cross-platform gaming platform has boomed throughout coronavirus lockdowns. Based on reports, the itemizing might double Robox’s $4B valuation.
    • Robo Adviser Wealthsimple raises $87M. The funding for the investing app with comparisons to Robinhood was led by Menlo Park-based Know-how Crossover Ventures (TCV), valuing the enterprise at $1B.
    • Health platform Playbook raises $9.3M. The corporate provides instruments for private trainers who need to make their very own movies, which customers then browse in Playbook’s cell app. Backers embody, Michael Ovitz, Summary, Algae Ventures, Porsche Ventures and FJ Labs.
    • Reside streaming app Second Home raises $1.5M seed. The startup goals to recreate dwell occasions in a digital format. LA space traders invested, together with Scooter Braun, Troy Carter, Kygo’s Palm Tree Crew and Jared Leto. Patreon chief govt Jack Conte and Sequoia Capital accomplice Jess Lee additionally participated.
    • Twilio acquires Section for $3.2B to assist builders construct data-fueled apps.
    • E-learning platform Kahoot raises $215M from SoftBank. The Norwegian startup claims to have hosted 1.3 billion “taking part gamers” within the final 12 months. The corporate’s gamified e-learning platform is used each in colleges and in enterprise environments.


Mycons is a brand new app that makes it simpler for customers, together with non-designers, to create and buy custom icons for their iOS home screen makeovers. Within the app’s “Icon Studio,” customers can create icons by swapping out the background, selecting an emblem and inserting it on the icon accordingly. You may also create a complete set of icons in a batch export. In case you don’t really feel like designing your personal, you’ll be able to decide to buy premade packs as a substitute.

The app is a free obtain with a one-time, in-app buy to unlock the totally performance of the icon designer. The icon packs, which embody totally different variations and matching wallpaper, vary from $7.99-$9.99.

Spotify’s new iOS 14 widget

Picture Credit: TechCrunch screenshot of Spotify widget

It’s right here! The widget a lot of folks have waited for because the launch of the brand new model of iOS has arrived. 

The widget, which arrives within the newest model of the Spotify iOS app, is available in two sizes. The smaller widget will show simply your most lately listened to merchandise, whereas the medium-sized widget will as a substitute present the 5 most up-to-date gadgets — 4 in a horizontal row and the latest on the high. In that case, you’ll be able to truly faucet on the small thumbnail for which of the 5 you need to now stream to be taken on to that web page within the Spotify app. The widget additionally robotically updates its background colour to match the thumbnail photograph.

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