Архив метки: China

33% of US TikTok users say they regularly get their news on the app, up from 22% in 2020

Earlier this summer, a Google exec admitted that TikTok was eating into its core Search business, particularly among younger users. But that’s not all TikTok is now being used for, a new Pew Research Center study indicates. According to the findings from a report that examined Americans’ use of social media for news consumption, 33% of TikTok users now say they regularly get their news on the social video app, up from just 22% in 2020.
Meanwhile, nearly every other social media site saw declines across that same metric — including, in particular, Facebook, where now only 44% of its users report regularly getting their news there, down from 54% just two years ago.
Image Credits: Pew Research
This data suggests TikTok has grown from being just an entertainment platform for lip syncs, dances, and comedy to one that many of its users turn to in order to learn about what’s happening in their world.
That may raise concerns, given TikTok’s connections to China — a topic it was recently pressed to clarify in a Senate hearing focused on national security. The hearing had followed the release of a BuzzFeed News report that had discovered how China-based ByteDance employees had been regularly accessing TikTok’s U.S. users’ private data.
If TikTok were to become one of the primary ways younger people in the U.S. learned about news and current events, then the app could potentially provide a channel for a foreign power to influence those users’ beliefs with subtle tweaks to its algorithm.

Meta, TikTok, YouTube and Twitter dodge questions on social media and national security

For the time being, however, TikTok is not a primary source of news consumption across social media — that honor still resides with Facebook.
Pew found that 31% of U.S. adults report regularly getting their news from Facebook, which is higher than the 25% who get their news from YouTube, the 14% who get it from Twitter, or the13% who get it from Instagram.
TikTok was in fifth place by this ranking, as only 10% of U.S. adults said they regularly get their news on the video app. (Of course, when TikTok’s sizable user base of those under the age of 18 grows up, these metrics could quickly change.)
LinkedIn (4%), Snapchat (4%), Nextdoor (4%), WhatsApp (3%) and Twitch (1%) were much smaller sources of news among Americans, the study also found.
Image Credits: Pew Research
In addition, Pew somewhat backed up Google’s assertion that it was losing traction to TikTok and other social media apps, as it noted that the percentage of U.S. adults who got their news via web search had dropped from 23% in 2020 to 18% in 2022.
But it didn’t necessarily point to TikTok or any other social platform as gaining, as the percentage of adults using social media of any sort for news consumption dropped from 23% to 17% between 2020 and 2022, as did other forms of news consumption like news websites and apps.
Image Credits: Pew Research
It’s not clear that any single platform is benefiting from these declines, as Pew didn’t uncover a shift from digital news sources to others, such as TV, print or radio — all those saw declines in news consumption as well.
Image Credits: Pew Research
Still, digital devices continue to outpace TV, Pew said, as the latter has seen its usage drop as a source for news consumption from 40% in 2020 to 31% in 2022.
Plus, when asked about preferences, more Americans (53%) said they would rather get their news digitally than on TV (33%), radio (7%), or print (5%) — an answer that’s stayed consistent since 2020.

Google exec suggests Instagram and TikTok are eating into Google’s core products, Search and Maps

33% of US TikTok users say they regularly get their news on the app, up from 22% in 2020 by Sarah Perez originally published on TechCrunch
33% of US TikTok users say they regularly get their news on the app, up from 22% in 2020

This Week in Apps: Instagram backlash, TikTok gaming, Snapchat+ makes millions

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and the overall app economy.
Global app spending reached $65 billion in the first half of 2022, up only slightly from the $64.4 billion during the same period in 2021, as hypergrowth fueled by the pandemic has slowed down. But overall, the app economy is continuing to grow, having produced a record number of downloads and consumer spending across both the iOS and Google Play stores combined in 2021, according to the latest year-end reports. Global spending across iOS and Google Play last year was $133 billion, and consumers downloaded 143.6 billion apps.
This Week in Apps offers a way to keep up with this fast-moving industry in one place with the latest from the world of apps, including news, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and much more.
Do you want This Week in Apps in your inbox every Saturday? Sign up here: techcrunch.com/newsletters
Top Stories
Users demand the TikTok-ification of Instagram must stop 
How do you modernize an app like Instagram, whose roots are in iconic iPhone photography, to support users’ growing engagement with short-form video? If you’re one of the many increasingly frustrated Instagram users, you simply wish it would not attempt this pivot at all. You’re sick of the app’s constant changes, its clutter, its ads, its force-fed recommendations, and you’re not a fan of its TikTok ambitions. You just want to see your friends’ posts.
This issue finally came to a head this week when celeb sisters and Instagram top creators Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian shared a petition that demanded Instagram to “stop trying to be tiktok.” The day after, Instagram head Adam Mosseri posted a video addressing the concerns and said the app would temporarily roll back some of its recent changes, including the test of a full-screen TikTok-like experience and the increase in “recommended” posts.
The company has brought this user backlash on itself, of course, with its continual “tests” of new UIs and its desperate admissions about how TikTok is eating its lunch, forcing it to adapt or die. Plus, Instagram claims video is what people want even when they’re saying otherwise. It insists its own data supports that video has been growing faster as mobile networks got faster and data became cheaper.
While that may be true, Instagram has been throwing out the baby with the bathwater as it attempts to prioritize elements of TikTok in its own app. People want different experiences from their social platforms — and Instagram is trying to do it all, without acknowledging that the real threat from TikTok is not the video content itself, necessarily, but rather TikTok’s addictive algorithm that increases users’ time spent in the app. TikTok has figured out how to recommend posts that users welcome, while Instagram’s attempt to do the same has fallen flat. Combined with TikTok’s ability to attract a younger demographic in terms of both creators and viewers alike, the app has become a massive force in social media.
Instagram will need to find a way to balance the demands of a user base that wants to still celebrate social connection (including through static media), with creator demands for increased discovery and the rise of video. This is not an easy task, but perhaps step one should be to allow users to engage with Instagram as they like. Just as how users can opt to scroll the main Feed instead of viewing Stories and vice versa, Instagram’s TikTok-ishness should rather be an optional entry point, not the entirety of the Instagram experience.
Snapchat+ outpaces Twitter Blue after just a month
Image Credits: Snapchat
Snapchat’s recent move into premium subscriptions has gained a bit of traction in its first weeks on the market.
The new Snapchat+ paid subscription launched on June 29, 2022 offering users access to various premium features, while also importantly giving the company a means of diversifying its revenue streams beyond advertising. This is critical for the social app given that the ad market is currently impacted by broader macroeconomic forces that have slowed demand. In addition, Snapchat continues to feel the effects of Apple’s 2021 privacy changes that allowed users to opt-out of tracking and is facing increased competition from rival TikTok.
For $3.99 per month, the Snapchat+ subscription allows devoted app users to see who has rewatched their Stories, change their app icon, pin another user as a “#1 Best Friend,” try out pre-release features and more. Earlier this month, the company also made web access a part of the Snapchat+ subscription.
Since the subscription’s arrival, Snapchat’s mobile app has generated approximately $7.3 million in worldwide consumer spending across iOS and Android according to Sensor Tower. This represents the first 30 days of Snapchat+’s availability, June 29, 2022–July 26, 2022. The figure is also around 116 times higher than the $63,000 the app pulled in via in-app purchases in the 30 days prior from May 30, 2022–June 28, 2022, indicating the bulk of the new revenue was driven by Snapchat+.
Notably, the number is already larger than Twitter’s in-app revenue, which totals nearly $4 million since Twitter Blue’s June 2021 launch — over a year’s time. Snapchat+ could be succeeding because it has more power users than Twitter, Sensor Tower data shows, as 34% of its active installs open the app every single day compared with just 19% for Twitter.
Image Credits: Sensor Tower
TikTok gets into mobile games
Here’s a scoop: TikTok is getting into gaming.
The company confirmed the launch of a pilot test of “mini-games” that can be played inside the social video app and discovered through creators’ videos. The gaming pilot quietly launched just weeks ago with a variety of new partners, including game developers Vodoo, Nitro Games, FRVR, Aim Lab and Lotem.
The launch follows reports earlier this year that the social video app maker was looking to expand into HTML5 gaming after first testing the waters with gaming giant Zynga last November. The two companies had then teamed up to launch a TikTok exclusive title, Disco Loco 3D, which was similar to Zynga’s successful game (by way of acquisition) High Heels.
TikTok’s mobile games today don’t monetize through ads or in-app purchases of any kind, but if they find traction with users, things could change as TikTok further developed its games platform. In that case, the app would not only recall the social gaming era of early Facebook (which incidentally drove Zynga’s success), it would also allow TikTok to route around the app stores’ commissions.
Image Credits: TikTok
Weekly News
Platforms: Apple
Apple released the fourth beta of iOS 16. The update offers a variety of new features, like the ability to edit and delete iMessages — a feature that now includes an edit history log in response to user concerns that the editing feature could be used maliciously. Other new features include the ability for developers to test Live Activities, improved integrations with Continuity Camera, a new interface when updating the Home Screen’s design, more options for the “unsend” time in Mail, and a few new wallpapers, among other smaller tweaks.
Apple announced Live Activities and Activity Kit won’t launch with the initial release of iOS 16 but will rather become available later in the year.
Apple is also hosting summer programs that allow developers to attend live presentations and Q&A sessions with App Store experts.
Apple reported Q3 earnings with revenue of $83B, up 2% YoY and above estimates of $82.8B. iPhone revenue was up 3% to $40.7B but Mac was down 10% to $7.4B. Apple’s services revenue grew 12% YoY to $19.6B and 860M paid subscribers, up from 825M in Q2.
Platforms: Google
Google announced new Play Store policies around intrusive ads, VPNs, alarms, health misinformation, impersonation and more. The policies will roll out at different intervals and will, among other things, restrict apps’ usage of full-screen ads that aren’t closeable after 15 seconds and full-screen interstitials that appear before the app’s loading screen. Apps that use icons that trick users into thinking they’re affiliated with another brand will also be restricted along with VPNs that track user data or reroute traffic to make money through ads.
At the Think with Google Gaming Day in China, Google shared ways to help developers earn more revenue and attract high-value players with a variety of new features and ad tools.
Google updated its Google Maps app with location-sharing notifications, immersive views and better bike navigation in several markets.
Augmented Reality

Snapchat launched its own spooky AR game called “Ghost Phone,” which sees players working to discover the secrets of an abandoned phone and hunting ghosts using AR. The game was built using the Lens Studio and web-first game engine PlayCanvas. It also uses Snap’s World Mesh technology and surface recognition to place game objects around the user. The company launched a Bitmoji dance game last month.
Fintech/Crypto
A U.S. Senator sent a letter to both Apple and Google asking for details as to how they’re preventing cryptocurrency apps from engaging in fraud on their respective app stores.
Messaging app Viber debuted a new digital wallet called Payments, offering bill pay, money transfers and support for buying goods.
The new Google Wallet rolled out to all users with Android 5.2+. The wallet app is available as a separate app in the U.S. and Singapore and as a Google Pay update for other markets.
Social
Snap missed in Q2 with revenue of $1.11 billion — a figure up 13% from the same period a year earlier but below its previous guidance of 20% to 25%. The company cited macroeconomic conditions for lower advertiser demand and continues to be impacted by Apple’s privacy changes. DAUs grew 18% YoY to 347 million. The company said it will reduce hiring, repurchase up to $500M in stock, and it locked in CEO and CTO roles until at least Jan. 1, 2027. Its stock tanked after earnings.
Snap announced a new creator fund that will award independent musicians posting their music on Snapchat up to $100,000 per month. The company will distribute payments for up to 20 songs per month at $5,000/song starting in August for musicians distributing to Snapchat via DistroKid.
Meta reported its first-ever decline in quarterly revenue year over year in its Q2 earnings. The company’s revenue was $28.82 billion, a 1% decrease from $29.07 billion in the second quarter of 2021. It also swapped its CFO.
Meta is killing Tuned, its social app for couples which will cease operations on Sept. 19, 2022. The app was a project from Meta’s New Product Experimentation Team (NPE) — one of many now shuttered attempts designed to test if Meta could create new social experiences in-house.
BeReal got ripped off. Because Instagram didn’t have enough drama this week, it also quietly rolled out a copycat of BeReal inside its app — which misses the point about why the new social network grew popular in the first place: It’s about your friends.
Instagram said it will begin to survey its U.S. users about race to assess if it is “fair and equitable.” The optional survey will be hosted by research group YouGov.
Twitter Blue is getting more expensive. Twitter announced it’s increasing the price of its premium subscription from $2.99 to $4.99 per month effective immediately for new subscribers and starting in October for existing subscribers. The hike is also rolling out to other Twitter Blue markets, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand at 6.99 AUD (previously 4.49 AUD), 6.49 CAD (previously 3.49 CAD) and 6.49 NZD (previously 4.49 NZD).
Twitter also began testing a status feature that lets you add a mood (hot take, vacation mode, unpopular opinion, etc.) alongside your posts and a way to post multiple forms of media in a single tweet.
The anticipated Twitter-Elon trial has set a date. The parties will battle it out in court starting October 17.
Photos
The Google Photos app gained an AI-based new movie editor and video editing features, but only for Chromebook users for the time being.
Amazon is killing its cloud storage service Amazon Drive and shifting users to Amazon Photos instead. Customers have until Dec. 31, 2023 to save their stored files.
Messaging
WhatsApp rolled out chat migration from Android to iOS and iOS to Android for all users. The feature requires Android 5 or higher, iOS 15.5 or above, and the Move to iOS app.
WhatsApp also appears to be working on a chatbot that will alert you to what’s new when the app is updated.
Streaming & Entertainment
Image Credits: YouTube
YouTube’s mobile app added a new feature that allows creators to select any segment up to 60 seconds from an existing long-form video and turn it into a YouTube Shorts video that links back to the original.
Baidu’s video streaming service iQiyi signed a content deal with TikTok’s Chinese sister app Douyin, which allows Douyin users to use iQiyi content to make short videos. The deal ends a dispute over alleged copyright infringement.
Comcast’s streaming app Peacock’s paid subscribers stayed flat at 13 million, as losses widen to $467 million in the company’s first quarter.
YouTube’s ad revenue grew just 4.8% YoY to $7.34 billion in Q2, below expectations of a 7% YoY increase to $7.49 billion. This YouTube’s slowest ad growth in over two years.
Twitter for iOS updated the Spaces bar for live audio streams to make it easier to see who’s hosting, what topics are being discussed and more.
Spotify rolled out a new Friends Mix playlist that gives users a way to discover new tracks based on the “Blends” they’ve created with their friends.
TikTok filed a trademark application for a service called TikTok Music that could allow users to buy, share and download music. Parent company ByteDance already runs a music service, Resso, but not in the U.S. — although ByteDance has considered expanding it in the past.
Gaming
Roblox rolled out an update that makes its materials appear more lifelike and overhauled aspects of its developer toolkit to support this change. The move is a part of the company’s mission to improve its visual fidelity, but game developers will be able to choose if they want to keep creating using the more blocky, traditional style.
Backbone, the maker of a popular gaming controller for iPhone, expanded with the launch of the Backbone One PlayStation Edition. The new device allows compatible mobile games to use proper PlayStation glyphs (Triangle, Circle, etc.) instead of ABXY. It will cost the same as the original Backbone One at $100.
K-pop stars Blackpink collaborated with PUBG Mobile, which just hosted its first in-game concert. The band released a new video featuring virtual avatars inside the game, which was earlier teased during the concert.
Government & Policy
The popular mobile game Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) was pulled by Apple and Google from their respective app stores in India to comply with a government order. Krafton had said it cut ties with publishing partner Tencent, so it’s unclear why the game was pulled. The game had over 16.5M MAUs.
Google will be allowed to relaunch Street View in India in 10 cities initially, 10 years after the government shut down the service for security reasons.
China’s government asked TikTok for a stealth social account to target Western audiences with propaganda, Bloomberg reported, but TikTok execs pushed back and denied the request.
Security & Privacy
Messaging app JusTalk, popular in Asia, has been leaking users’ unencrypted private messages. The app, which has 20 million global users, had claimed to offer end-to-end encryption across its flagship apps and its child-friendly JusTalk Kids.
Funding and M&A
Livestream shopping app for collectibles Whatnot raised $260 million in Series D funding at a $3.7 billion valuation, up from $1.5 billion in September 2021. The livestream shopping market has only grown to $11 billion in the U.S. versus the $600 billion industry in China.
School communications app ClassDojo raised $125 million in Series D funding in September 2022, valuing the business at $1.25 billion. The company plans to launch a kids virtual space in August 2022.
Paris-based Contentsquare raised $400 million in Series F funding and $200 million in debt for its web and app analytics business. The round doubled the startup’s May 2021 valuation to $5.6 billion.
Conversational commerce startup Charles raised $20 million in Series A funding led by Salesforce Ventures to bring its service to WhatsApp in Europe. The company so far has seen the most traction in its domestic German market, but has received inbound interest from Italy, Spain, France, the Netherlands, and the U.K.
Blockchain infrastructure company Chain acquired Measurable Data Token for $100 million. The deal sees it acquiring a cash-back mobile app, RewardMe, and the financial data protocol MeFi.
Banking and networking platform Guava, targeting Black entrepreneurs, raised $2.4 million in a pre-seed round led by Heron Rock. The company aims to narrow the racial wealth gap by providing financial services to Black small businesses and creators.
Text-to-speech app Peech raised $550,000 in funding led by Flyer One Ventures. The app offers natural-sounding text-to-speech in 50 languages, allowing users to listen to Word docs, web articles or PDFs for $3/week.
South African startup Qwili raised $1.2 million in seed funding to scale its app and low-cost NFC-enabled smartphone. Qwili software can be downloaded to any phone in addition to being pre-installed on Qwili’s phones, which are used as point-of-sale devices for merchants selling data, pay-TV subscriptions, groceries or clothing to customers.
Brooklyn-based fantasy sports app Underdog raised $35 million in Series B funding, valuing the business at $485 million. The company plans to launch licensed sports betting in Ohio and Colorado in 2023.
Spotify’s latest SEC filing revealed it paid €291 million ($295 million) for its four recent acquisitions, Findaway, Podsights, Chartable, and Sonantic. Findaway, specifically, cost the company €117 million (around $123 million).
U.K. investing app Shares raised $40 million led by Peter Thiel-backed Valar Ventures, bringing its total raised to $90 million. The app has over 150,000 users.
U.S.-based digital bank Umba, which focuses on emerging markets, acquired a majority share of Kenyan microfinance bank Daraja for an undisclosed amount.
Downloads
Lock Screen widget TestFlights
A new type of app to download? We’re in!
If you’re running the iOS 16 public beta and looking to dig into Lock Screen widgets, there are a number of interesting apps now being tested that offer a look into how iOS developers are thinking about use cases for this prominent iPhone real estate. (If you ask nicely, the developers might add you to the TestFlight!)
A few apps we’ve found useful include:
Lock Screen Contacts: This allows you to put a favorite contact directly on your Lock Screen, without having to give the app access to your iPhone Contacts thanks to Apple’s more secure Contacts API. Users can toggle and choose to remove the text, image and background. The app will sell for $3.99 at launch.  The same developer is also working on a Lock Screen Icon widget that will allow you to place any of some 4,000 icons on your Lock Screen to personalize your device.

The past month I’ve been making an iOS 16 Lock Screen widget app to quickly call contacts – much like speed dial.
I’m really pleased with how it’s turning out. pic.twitter.com/hVFJVeKgdY
— Rihab Mehboob (@elohohel) July 7, 2022

Day Ticker: This simple icon widget lets you quickly view how many more days until an important event — like a birthday, vacation, anniversary or anything else. Days until the kid goes to camp? Just two, my widget told me. We’d better start packing!
Can’t wait to use these!
Parcel’s Package Tracker: This widget keeps track of your expected deliveries and lets you see their status right on your Lock Screen.

Work in progress! pic.twitter.com/UntypJ1Pgu
— Parcel (@parcel_app) June 13, 2022

Home Widget: This widget will bring your HomeKit devices to your Lock Screen.
LockLauncher: Create custom Lock Screen widgets that can actually take actions — like open websites or apps, for example.
Tally: The current beta of this quick counter app includes a Lock Screen widget and other goodies.
Countdowns: Another widget for tracking the time until upcoming events.

Happy to announce that @HomeWidget beta version now supports iOS 16 Lock Screen Widgets!
If you’re on iOS16 beta and want to test this new feature, contact us.#iOS16 #ios16lockscreen #ioslockscreen #homekit #iOSWidgets #LockScreen #WWDC22 #iOS16beta pic.twitter.com/84mFMTiW4e
— Home Widget for HomeKit (@HomeWidget) July 21, 2022

This Week in Apps: Instagram backlash, TikTok gaming, Snapchat+ makes millions

New report examines the number of downloads it takes to hit the top of the App Store

New analysis indicates it’s gotten harder to get an app to the top of the App Store, in terms of downloads, over the past several years. According to new data from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower, the number of downloads needed for an app to break into the No. 1 position on Apple’s iPhone App Store in the U.S. has climbed by 37% since 2019. Specifically, it estimates an app now requires approximately 156,000 downloads on a given day to hit the top spot, up from 114,000 daily downloads back in 2019.
But to be clear, downloads alone don’t move an app to the top of the charts. It’s only one of several factors that Apple’s ranking algorithm takes into account for managing its Top Charts.
Image Credits: Sensor Tower
In the early days of the App Store, Apple soon realized that downloads alone would give developers an easy way to buy their way to the No. 1 spot.
It then expanded its ranking algorithm to make it more complex — and more of a mystery. Another firm, Apptopia, believes it has reverse-engineered the current version of this algorithm, which is said to consider numerous factors like velocity, app usage, quantity of new users and more.
That said, downloads are still a part of the equation here, and an interesting factor to examine, given how little information there is about how Apple’s App Store ranks actually work.
Among the new findings, Sensor Tower noticed that Apple appeared to have adjusted the ranking algorithm to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
It reports that in 2020, the number of downloads it was taking an app to hit No. 1 on the U.S. App Store hit a record high of 185,000, up 62% year-over-year. That would be in line with the overall boost seen in app downloads and usage that was occurring as consumers stayed at home under government lockdowns, while schools, stores and workplaces closed.
Getting to the same position on Google Play was easier at that time, however, as the number of daily downloads required grew just 5% year-over-year to reach 87,000 in 2020.
Image Credits: Sensor Tower
Since then, the number of daily downloads needed to reach No. 1 has declined on both marketplaces as post-COVID trends (or rather, post-lockdown trends) have normalized app usage.
This year, Sensor Tower estimates apps must reach a median of 156,000 daily installs to reach No. 1 on the App Store, as noted above, but Android apps now need just 56,000 installs, down 33% from the 83,000 required in 2019.
Breaking into the top 10 on the U.S. App Store also requires more effort than hitting that same position on Google Play.
Per the report’s findings, it now takes approximately 52,000 daily downloads to get into the Overall Top 10 on the App Store, up 2% from the 51,000 required to reach the Top 10 in 2019. But Android apps only need 29,000 daily downloads, which is down 9% from 2019 levels.
Image Credits: Sensor Tower
Image Credits: Sensor Tower
Still, these figures are approximations reached from trends across the respective app stores.
When looking at figures in more detail on a per-category basis, there are different trends to be found. For instance, on the App Store, it’s tougher to break into the Top 10 free iPhone apps for those ranked in the Entertainment category than others like Shopping, Social Networking, Travel or Finance. Android is similar in that it also sees Entertainment as needing more daily installs, but this is followed by the Shopping, Tools, Finance, then Communication categories.
Image Credits: Sensor Tower
Image Credits: Sensor Tower
It’s worth pointing out that these trends only hold true for mobile apps, not mobile games. That’s an entirely different matter.
When looking at mobile games, Sensor Tower found iPhone games now require a median of 93,000 downloads to hit No. 1 while Android games need 37,000 installs. These figures are down from 2019 levels, dropping by 46% and 68%, respectively.
The report also notes that, historically, it’s taken fewer installs for games to get into the Top 10. So far in 2022, iPhone games have needed 26,000 daily downloads to reach the Top 10, down 40% from 43,000 in 2019. And Android games needed just 16,000 daily installs, down 52% from 33,000 in 2019.
While much of the new report is focused on the U.S. market, Sensor Tower did examine how the U.S.’s Top 10 compared to other countries.
Here, it found that it’s much tougher for non-game apps in China to reach the Top 10 — requiring more than twice the number of daily downloads as in the U.S. at 108,000 (China) versus 52,000 (U.S.)
But on Android, it’s India that is the most difficult market to top, requiring 292,000 daily downloads to reach the Top 10 in the free charts for non-game apps.
Image Credits: Sensor Tower
Image Credits: Sensor Tower
While the data here is worth investigating, this analysis doesn’t take into account the other factors apps and games require to climb the charts, so it’s not a complete picture of how or why apps can climb to the top of the app stores.
In addition, there have been some hints that Apple may have been adjusting its algorithms even more in recent weeks, as bigger apps like Facebook, Netflix, Snapchat and others have taken ranking hits since around mid-April, Apptopia told us last month, when we inquired how relative unknown apps had been finding their way to the Top 10. This could be a test or a more permanent change meant to give smaller apps a chance to stand out and be discovered amid the tech giants, but more time will be needed to conduct that analysis.
Still, this sort of tweaking could help to highlight a variety of apps that are benefitting from marketing, promotions, and other trends. This might explain why Planet Fitness is No. 2 on the Top Free Charts in the U.S. today, for instance — the company gave teens free gym passes for the summer. Meanwhile, DIRECTV’s recent consolidation of its apps has driven it to No. 3, while the newcomer social networking app LiveIn, popular among teens, is now sitting higher than Facebook and Snapchat at No. 7.
New report examines the number of downloads it takes to hit the top of the App Store

Royole returns with another foldable

I first spent time with the Royole Flexpai at a TechCrunch event in China back in 2018. The device was exciting. It was the first commercially released foldable, after all, before Samsung and Huawei offered their respective takes on the form factor. But ultimately it felt like, at best, a proof of concept. It was a shot across the bow from a little-known Shenzhen-based hardware maker, and ultimately little else.
The last two years have been — let’s say “complicated” for the category. I don’t think anyone was anticipating that $2,000 foldable phones were going to disrupt the industry right out of the gate or anything — especially in a time when more people are spending less money on their mobile devices. But to say foldables got off to a rocky start is something of an understatement. Royole has announced a few more products here and there, but the Flexpai continues to be the company’s most engaging from a consumer perspective.

A closer look at Royole’s foldable display

At an event in Beijing this morning, the company announced the Flexpai 2. The device is similar in design to the first model, which is to say it folds with the screen facing outward. The design makes sense from the standpoint of offering up notifications while closed (there’s a reason the Galaxy Fold 2 got a larger front-facing screen), but now you’ve got two screens to scuff up when the big old device is in your pocket.

The device itself got a bit of screen time during the press conference, though not a ton. For now we mostly have press shots to rely on, which is going to continue to be one of the pain points of covering hardware in the COVID-19 era. Fittingly, the company spent a lot of time talking hinges here — that, after all, was a high profile point of failure for Samsung’s first-gen device.
Here’s how Royole describes it in the press material:

The structure of the hinge is stable and shockproof, providing the great protection for the screen. It has more than 200 precision components with 0.01 mm processing accuracy. The hinge technology holds around 200 patents and solved many issues seen in other foldable smartphones.

Image Credits: Royole

Having had limited time with the Flexpai, I’ll say that robustness didn’t seem like one of the primary issues with a product that had some other first-gen bugs. The thing was pretty massively thick, though — which Royole has addressed with a design here that’s around 40% thinner than the first gen. The display is a generous 7.8 inches — though no mention of whether there’s glass reinforcement, which could be an issue.
There’s 5G support, a healthy 4450mAh battery and a Snapdragon 865 processor. The company updated its waterOS, which is built on top of Android 10 to offer a more seamless foldable experience. It arrives in China this week priced at around $1,427, which is wildly expensive for a standard smartphone, but actually pretty good for a foldable.
U.S. availability is, once again, a big question mark.

Royole returns with another foldable

Daily Crunch: Apple revises App Store rules

Apple’s making App Store changes, China might stop TikTok’s acquisition and we talk to Polish venture capitalists about the startup scene. This is your Daily Crunch for September 11, 2020.
The big story: Apple revises App Store rules
Apple announced a bunch of changes to its App Store guidelines today, with details about how it will support new iOS features like App Clips and much more.

For one thing, it sounds like the App Store will now support game-streaming services like Microsoft’s xCloud and Google’s Stadia. The main caveat is that games available through these services must have their own listings in the App Store and be available as a separate download.
In addition, Apple is also offering more flexibility to “reader” apps like Netflix, and said it’s supporting a new category called “free stand-alone” apps, which could include email apps like the disputed Hey.
The tech giants
Facebook launches poll worker recruitment push in the News Feed — With the election looming and a pandemic still raging through the U.S., a shortage of poll workers is one of many threats to voting this November.
Elon Musk says Tesla will ‘one day’ produce ‘super efficient home HVAC’ with HEPA filtering — While primarily an automaker, Tesla is also already in the business of home energy and power generation, thanks to its acquisition of SolarCity.
Startups, funding and venture capital
China may kill TikTok’s U.S. operations rather than see them sold — According to reporting by Reuters, the Chinese government may prefer if TikTok simply shutters its U.S. operations instead of allowing it to be sold to an American company.
Santander spins out its $400M fintech venture capital arm, now called Mouro Capital — Santander, the Spanish multinational banking giant, is announcing that its fintech venture arm is to be spun out and will be managed more autonomously going forward.
Toucan raises $3 million to teach you new languages as you browse the web — The startup has developed a Chrome browser extension designed for anyone who wants to learn a new language but hasn’t found the motivation or the time.
Advice and analysis From Extra Crunch
10 Poland-based investors discuss trends, opportunities and the road ahead — The first in a two-part survey series about the nation’s startup ecosystem.
VCs pour funding into edtech startups as COVID-19 shakes up the market — 2020 should crush 2018’s edtech fundraising record.
(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our subscription membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)
Everything else
England’s long-delayed COVID-19 contact-tracing app to launch on September 24 — Scotland and Northern Ireland already have their own COVID-19 contact-tracing apps.
TechCrunch still brings the fun to Disrupt 2020 — Disrupt may be virtual this year, but we’re still making time for levity, swag and kick-ass entertainment.
The 2019 TechCrunch Include Report — TechCrunch is reporting our 2019 events and staff diversity numbers, the fourth report since we started tracking.
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Daily Crunch: Apple revises App Store rules