This Week in Apps: OnlyFans bans sexual content, SharePlay delayed, TikTok questioned over biometric data collection

Welcome again to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the newest in cell OS information, cell functions and the general app economic system.

The app business continues to develop, with a record 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in world client spend in 2020. Customers final yr additionally spent 3.5 trillion minutes utilizing apps on Android units alone. And within the U.S., app utilization surged forward of the time spent watching dwell TV. At the moment, the common American watches 3.7 hours of dwell TV per day, however now spends 4 hours per day on their cell units.

Apps aren’t only a strategy to cross idle hours — they’re additionally a giant enterprise. In 2019, mobile-first corporations had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x greater than these with out a cell focus. In 2020, buyers poured $73 billion in capital into cell corporations — a determine that’s up 27% year-over-year.

This Week in Apps provides a strategy to sustain with this fast-moving business in a single place with the newest from the world of apps, together with information, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and ideas about new apps and video games to attempt, too.

Would you like This Week in Apps in your inbox each Saturday? Join right here: techcrunch.com/newsletters

OnlyFans to ban sexually specific content material

(Picture Illustration by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto by way of Getty Pictures)

Creator platform OnlyFans is getting out of the porn enterprise. The corporate introduced this week it would begin to prohibit any “sexually explicit” content beginning on October 1, 2021 — a call it claimed would make sure the long-term sustainability of the platform. The information angered various impacted creators who weren’t notified forward of time and who’ve come to depend on OnlyFans as their principal supply of earnings.

Nevertheless, phrase is that OnlyFans was struggling to find outdoors buyers, regardless of its sizable person base, as a result of grownup content material it hosts. Some VC corporations are prohibited from investing in grownup content material companies, whereas others could also be involved over different issues — like how NSFW content material may have restricted curiosity from advertisers and model companions. They might have additionally fearful about OnlyFans’ means to efficiently limit minors from utilizing the app, in gentle of what seems to be soon-to-come increased regulations for on-line companies. Plus, porn corporations face various different points, too. They’ve to repeatedly guarantee they’re not internet hosting unlawful content material like little one intercourse abuse materials, revenge porn or content material from intercourse trafficking victims — the latter which has led to lawsuits at different giant porn corporations.

The information adopted a big marketing push for OnlyFans’ porn-free (SFW) app, OFTV, which circulated alongside reviews that the corporate was trying to elevate funds at a $1 billion+ valuation. OnlyFans might not have technically wanted the funding to function its present enterprise — it dealt with greater than $2 billion in gross sales in 2020 and retains 20%. Somewhat, the corporate might have seen there’s extra alternative to cater to the “SFW” creator neighborhood, now that it has massive names like Bella Thorne, Cardi B, Tyga, Tyler Posey, Blac Chyna, Bhad Bhabie and others on board.

U.S. lawmakers demand information on TikTok’s plans for biometric knowledge assortment

The TikTok logo is seen on an iPhone 11 Pro max

The TikTok brand is seen on an iPhone 11 Professional max. Picture Credit: Nur Picture/Getty Pictures

U.S. lawmakers are difficult TikTok on its plans to gather biometric knowledge from its customers. TechCrunch first reported on TikTok’s updated privacy policy in June, the place the corporate gave itself permission to gather biometric knowledge within the U.S., together with customers’ “faceprints and voiceprints.” When reached for remark, TikTok couldn’t affirm what product developments necessitated the addition of biometric knowledge to its listing of disclosures concerning the data it mechanically collects from customers, however stated it will ask for consent within the case such knowledge assortment practices started.

Earlier this month, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Thune (R-SD) despatched a letter to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, which stated they have been “alarmed” by the change, and demanded to know what data TikTok can be gathering and what it plans to do with the information. This wouldn’t be the primary time TikTok bought in bother for extreme knowledge assortment. Earlier this yr, the corporate paid out $92 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that claimed TikTok had unlawfully collected customers’ biometric knowledge and shared it with third events.

Platforms: Apple

Picture Credit: Apple

  • ⭐️ Apple told developers that a few of the options it introduced as coming in iOS 15 received’t be accessible at launch. This consists of one of many highlights of the brand new OS, SharePlay, a characteristic that lets folks share music, movies and their display screen over FaceTime calls. Different options that can are available in later releases embody Pockets’s help for ID playing cards, the App Privateness report and others which have but to make it to beta releases.
  • Apple walked back its controversial Safari changes with the iOS 15 beta 6 update. Apple’s unique redesign had proven the handle bar on the backside of the display screen, floating atop the web page’s content material. Now the tab bar will seem beneath the web page’s content material, providing entry to its regular set of buttons as when it was on the prime. Customers can even flip off the underside tab bar now and revert to the outdated, Single Tab choice that places the handle bar again on the prime as earlier than.
  • In response to criticism over its new CSAM detection expertise, Apple said the version of NeuralHash that was reverse-engineered by a developer, Asuhariet Ygvar, was a generic model, and never the entire model that can roll out later this yr.
  • The Verge dug by over 800 paperwork from the Apple-Epic trial to find the best emails, which included dust on various different corporations like Netflix, Hulu, Sony, Google, Nintendo, Valve, Microsoft, Amazon and extra. These supplied particulars on issues like Netflix’s secret association to pay solely 15% of income, how Microsoft additionally quietly provides a approach for some corporations to bypass its full lower, how Apple initially noticed the Amazon Appstore as a risk and extra.
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Platforms: Google

  • A beta model of the Android Accessibility Suite app (12.0.0) which rolled out with the fourth Android beta launch added something called “Camera Switches” to Swap Entry, a toolset that allows you to work together together with your gadget with out utilizing the touchscreen. Digital camera Switches permits customers to navigate their cellphone and use its options by making face gestures, like a smile, open mouth, raised eyebrows and extra.
  • Google announced its Pixel 5a with 5G, the newest A-series Pixel cellphone, will arrive on August 27, providing IP67 water resistance, long-lasting Adaptive Battery, Pixel’s dual-camera system and extra, for $449. The cellphone makes Google’s default Android expertise accessible at a lower cost level than the quickly to reach Pixel 6.
  • An unredacted criticism from the Apple-Epic trial revealed that Google had quietly paid developers hundreds of millions of dollars by way of a program generally known as “Challenge Hug,” (later “Apps and Video games Velocity Program”) to maintain their video games on the Play Retailer. Epic alleges Google launched this system to maintain builders from following its lead by transferring their video games outdoors the shop.

Augmented Actuality

  • Snap on Thursday introduced it employed its first VP of Platform Partnerships to guide AR, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis (“KP”). The brand new exec will lead Snap’s efforts to onboard companions, together with particular person AR creators constructing by way of Lens Studio in addition to giant corporations that incorporate Snapchat’s digicam and AR expertise (Camera Kit) into their apps. KP will take part September, and report back to Ben Schwerin, SVP of Content material and Partnerships.

Fintech

  • Crypto alternate Coinbase will enter the Japanese market by a brand new partnership with Japanese monetary large Mitsubishi UFJ Monetary Group (MUFG). The corporate stated it plans to launch different localized variations of its current world companies sooner or later.

Social

Picture Credit: Fb

  • Fb launched a “test” of Facebook Reels within the U.S. on iOS and Android. The brand new characteristic brings the Reels expertise to Fb, permitting customers to create and share short-form video content material immediately throughout the Information Feed or inside Fb Teams. Instagram Reels creators can even now decide in to have their Reels featured on customers’ Information Feed. The corporate is closely investing its its battle with TikTok, even pledging that some portion of its $1 billion creator fund will go towards Fb Reels.
  • Twitter’s redesign of its website and app was met with a number of backlash from customers and accessibility experts alike. The corporate decisions add extra visible distinction between numerous components and will have helped these with low imaginative and prescient. However for others, the distinction is inflicting pressure and complications. Consultants imagine accessibility isn’t a one-size matches all state of affairs, and Twitter ought to have launched instruments that allowed folks to regulate their settings to their very own wants.
  • The professional-Trump Twitter various Gettr’s lack of moderation has allowed users to share little one exploitation photos, in keeping with analysis from the Stanford Web Observatory’s Cyber Coverage Heart.
  • Pinterest rolled out a new set of more inclusive search filters that permit folks to seek out types for various kinds of hair textures — like coily, curly, wavy, straight, in addition to shaved or bald and protecting types. 

Photographs

  • Photoshop for iPad gained new image correction tools, together with the Therapeutic Brush and Magic Wand, and added help for connecting an iPad to exterior screens by way of HDMI or USB-C. The corporate additionally launched a Photoshop Beta program on the desktop.

Messaging

  • WhatsApp is being adopted by the Taliban to unfold its message throughout Afghanistan, regardless of being on Fb’s listing of banned organizations. The corporate says it’s proactively removing Taliban content material — however which may be tough to do since WhatsApp’s E2E encryption means it can’t read people’s texts. This week, Fb shut down a Taliban helpline in Kabul, which allowed civilians to report violence and looting, however some critics stated this wasn’t truly serving to native Afghans, because the group was now in impact governing the area.
  • WhatsApp can also be testing a new feature that can present a big preview when sharing hyperlinks, which some suspect might launch across the time when the app provides the power to have the identical account working on a number of units.

Streaming & Leisure

  • Netflix introduced it’s adding spatial audio support on iPhone and iPad on iOS 14, becoming a member of different streamers like HBO Max, Disney+ and Peacock which have already pledged to help the brand new expertise. The characteristic can be accessible to toggle on and off within the Management Heart, when it arrives.
  • Blockchain-powered streaming music service Audius partnered with TikTok to permit artists to add their songs utilizing TikTok’s new SoundKit in only one click on.
  • YouTube’s cell app added new functionality that permits customers to browse a video’s chapters, and soar into the chapter they need immediately from the search web page.
  • Spotify’s Anchor app now permits customers in world markets to record “Music + Talk” podcasts, the place customers can mix spoken phrase recordings with any observe from Spotify’s library of 70 million songs for a radio DJ-like expertise.
  • Podcasters are complaining that Apple’s revamped Podcasts platform isn’t working properly, reports The Verge. Podcasts Join has been buggy, and sports activities a complicated interface that has led to critical person errors (like whole exhibits being archived). And listeners have complained about syncing issues and podcasts they already heard flooding their libraries.

Relationship

  • Tinder announced a new feature that can permit customers to voluntarily confirm their identification on the platform, which can permit the corporate to cross-reference intercourse offender registry knowledge. Beforehand, Tinder would solely examine this database when a person signed up for a paid subscription with a bank card.
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Gaming

Picture Supply: The Pokémon Firm

  • Pokémon Unite will come to iOS and Android on September 22, The Pokémon Firm introduced throughout a livestream this week. The strategic battle recreation first launched on Nintendo Swap in late July.
  • Developer Konami introduced a brand new recreation, Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls, which can come completely to Apple Arcade. The sport is described as a “full-fledged side-scrolling motion recreation,” that includes a roster of iconic characters from the basic recreation sequence. The corporate final yr launched another version of Castelvania on the App Retailer and Google Play.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle has now surpassed $3 billion in participant spending since its 2015 debut, reported Sensor Tower. The sport from Bandai Namco took 20 months to achieve the determine after hitting the $2 billion milestone in 2019. The brand new landmark sees the sport becoming a member of different top-grossers, together with Conflict Royale, Lineage M and others.
  • Sensor Tower’s mobile gaming advertising report revealed knowledge on prime advert networks within the cell gaming market, and their market share. It additionally discovered puzzle video games have been among the many prime advertisers on gaming-focused networks like Chartboost, Unity, IronSource and Vungle. On much less game-focused networks, mid-core video games have been prime titles, like Name of Obligation: Cell and High Battle. 

Picture Credit: Sensor Tower

Well being & Health

  • Apple is reportedly scaling again HealthHabit, an inner app for Apple staff that allowed them to trace health targets, discuss to clinicians and coaches at AC Wellness (a medical doctors’ group Apple works with) and handle hypertension. According to Insider, 50 staff had been tasked to work on the undertaking.
  • Samsung launched a brand new product for Galaxy smartphones in partnership with healthcare nonprofit The Commons Challenge, that permits U.S. customers to avoid wasting a verifiable copy of their vaccination card within the Samsung Pay digital pockets.

Picture Credit: Samsung

Adtech

Authorities & Coverage

  • China cited 43 apps, together with Tencent’s WeChat and an e-reader from Alibaba, for illegally transferring user data. The regulator stated the apps had transferred customers location knowledge and phone listing and harassed them with pop-up home windows. The apps have till August 25 to make adjustments earlier than being punished.

Safety & Privateness

  • A VICE report reveals a captivating story a couple of jailbreaking neighborhood member who had served as a double agent by spying for Apple’s safety staff. Andrey Shumeyko, whose on-line handles included JVHResearch and YRH04E, would promote leaked apps, manuals and stolen units on Twitter and Discord. He would then inform Apple issues like which Apple staff have been leaking confidential information, which reporters would discuss to leakers, who offered stolen iPhone prototypes and extra. Shumeyko determined to share his story as a result of he felt Apple took benefit of him and didn’t compensate him for the work.

💰 South Korea’s GS Retail Co. Ltd will purchase Supply Hero’s meals supply app Yogiyo in a deal valued at 800 billion won ($685 million USD). Yogiyo is the second-largest meals supply app in South Korea, with a 25% market share.

💰 Gaming platform Roblox acquired a Discord rival, Guilded, which permits customers to have textual content and voice conversations, set up communities round occasions and calendars and extra. Deal phrases weren’t disclosed. Guilded raised $10.2 million in enterprise funding. Roblox’s stock fell by 7% after the corporate reported earnings this week, after failing to fulfill Wall Avenue expectations.

💰 Journey app Hopper raised $175 million in a Collection G round of funding led by GPI Capital, valuing the enterprise at over $3.5 billion. The corporate raised the same quantity simply final yr, however is now benefiting from renewed development in journey following COVID-19 vaccinations and lifting restrictions.

💰 Indian quiz app maker Zupee raised $30 million in a Collection B spherical of funding led by Silicon Valley-based WestCap Group and Tomales Bay Capital. The spherical values the corporate at $500 million, up 5x from final yr.

💰 Danggeun Market, the writer of South Korea’s hyperlocal neighborhood app Karrot, raised $162 million in a Collection D spherical of funding led by DST International. The spherical values the enterprise at $2.7 billion and can be used to assist the corporate launch its personal funds platform, Karrot Pay.

💰 Bangalore-based fintech app Smallcase raised $40 million in Collection C funding spherical led by Faering Capital and Premji Make investments, with participation from current buyers, in addition to Amazon. The Robinhood-like app has over 3 million customers who’re transacting about $2.5 billion per yr.

💰 Social listening app Earbuds raised $3 million in Collection A funding led by Ecliptic Capital. Based by NFL star Jason Fox, the app lets anybody share their favourite playlists, livestream music like a DJ or touch upon others’ music picks.

💰 U.S. neobank app One raised $40 million in Collection B funding led by Progressive Funding Firm (the insurance coverage large’s funding arm), bringing its complete elevate up to now to $66 million. The app provides all-in-one banking companies and budgeting instruments aimed toward middle-income households who handle their funds on a weekly foundation.

Public Markets

📈 Indian journey reserving app ixigo is trying to raise Rs 1,600 crore in its preliminary public providing, The Financial Occasions reported this week.

📉 Buying and selling app Robinhood disappointed in its first quarterly earnings as a publicly traded firm, when it posted a internet lack of $502 million, or $2.16 per share, bigger than Wall Avenue forecasts. This overshadowed its beat on income ($565 million versus $521.8 million anticipated) and its greater than doubling of MAUs to 21.3 million in Q2.  Additionally of observe, the corporate stated dogecoin made up 62% of its crypto income in Q2.

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Polycam (replace)

Picture Credit: Polycam

3D scanning software program maker Polycam launched a brand new 3D seize software, Picture Mode, that permits iPhone and iPad customers to seize professional-quality 3D fashions with simply an iPhone. Whereas the app’s scanner earlier than had required the usage of the lidar sensor constructed into newer units just like the iPhone 12 Professional and iPad Professional fashions, the brand new Picture Mode characteristic makes use of simply an iPhone’s digicam. The ensuing 3D belongings are prepared to make use of in quite a lot of functions, together with 3D artwork, gaming, AR/VR and e-commerce. Information export is accessible in over a dozen file codecs, together with .obj, .gtlf, .usdz and others. The app is a free download on the App Store, with in-app purchases accessible.

Jiobit (replace)

Jiobit, the monitoring dongle acquired by household security and communication app Life360, this week partnered with emergency response service Noonlight to supply Jiobit Defend, a premium add-on that gives Jiobit customers entry to an SOS Mode and Alert Button that work with the Jiobit cell app. SOS Mode might be triggered by a baby’s caregiver once they detect — by notifications from the Jiobit app — {that a} cherished one could also be in peril. They’ll then attain Noonlight’s dispatcher who can facilitate a name to 911 and supply the precise location of the particular person carrying the Jiobit gadget, in addition to share different particulars, like allergy symptoms or particular wants, for instance.

When your app redesign goes mistaken…

Picture Credit: Twitter.com

Distinguished App Retailer critic Kosta Eleftheriou shut down his FlickType iOS app this week after too many frustrations with App Overview. He cited rejections that incorrectly argued that his app required extra entry than it did — one thing he had efficiently appealed and overturned years in the past. Tried follow-ups with Apple have been ignored, he stated. 

Picture Credit: Twitter.com

Anybody have app concepts?

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