Apple App Retailer’s new pricing, Twitter app makers shift to Mastodon, debate over Lensa AI • TechCrunch

Welcome again to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch collection that recaps the newest in cellular OS information, cellular purposes and the general app financial system.

World app spending reached $65 billion within the first half of 2022, up solely barely from the $64.4 billion throughout the identical interval in 2021, as hypergrowth fueled by the pandemic has slowed down. However total, the app financial system is constant to develop, having produced a file variety of downloads and shopper spending throughout each the iOS and Google Play shops mixed in 2021, in line with a number of year-end reviews. World spending throughout iOS and Google Play final yr was $133 billion, and customers downloaded 143.6 billion apps.

This Week in Apps provides a method to sustain with this fast-moving trade in a single place with the newest from the world of apps, together with information, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and rather more.

Would you like This Week in Apps in your inbox each Saturday? Join right here:

App Retailer considerably expands pricing choices

Apple this week loosened its necessities round how builders have to cost their apps as authorized and regulatory stress over its tight management of the App Retailer intensifies. The corporate introduced an growth of its App Retailer pricing system to supply builders entry to 700 further worth factors, bringing the brand new whole variety of worth factors out there to 900. It can additionally permit U.S. builders to set costs for apps, in-app purchases or subscriptions as little as $0.29 or as excessive as $10,000, and in rounded endings (like $1.00) as an alternative of simply $0.99. Comparable new insurance policies to scale back restrictions round worth factors will roll out in world markets, alongside new instruments aimed toward serving to builders higher handle pricing outdoors their native market.

The modifications initially grew to become out there beginning on December 6, 2022, for auto-renewable subscriptions. They’ll grow to be out there to paid apps and in-app purchases in spring 2023.

Builders may also be capable of now publish costs that finish in $.00 as an alternative of $.99 or €X.99 or people who start with two repeating digits, like ₩110,000.

Plus, new pricing instruments are being made out there that permit builders to set their subscription costs of their native forex as the premise for mechanically producing pricing throughout the opposite 174 storefronts and 44 currencies. When the pricing is ready mechanically, pricing outdoors a developer’s residence market will replace as overseas trade and tax charges change. Builders may also nonetheless select to set costs manually if they like. And so they’ll be capable of make in-app purchases out there by storefront.

The modifications rolled out after Apple final yr settled a category motion lawsuit with U.S. app builders, which included plenty of concessions, one in every of which was an settlement to broaden the variety of worth factors out there from fewer than 100 to greater than 500.

Debate over prime app Lensa AI

The picture enhancing app Lensa AI has been going viral over a brand new function that provides to create “magic avatars” from a collection of uploaded selfie photographs. The avatars are created utilizing the open supply Secure Diffusion mannequin to rework your photographs into people who appear to be they have been created by a digital artist. However there’s controversy surrounding how these pictures are made.

The function isn’t fast or low cost — the processing time can take half an hour and even a number of hours to finish. Lensa’s pricing mannequin can be pretty artful. It’s both $3.99 for 50 distinctive avatars (5 variations of 10 completely different types) should you’re a subscriber, or $7.99 if not. If you need extra avatars, it prices $11.99 for 100 distinctive avatars (10 variations of 10 types) or $15.99 for 200 avatars (20 variations of 10 types) — which once more, could be discounted by 50% should you subscribe. This type of hybrid pricing was hailed as each intelligent and opportunistic. It’s additionally a kind of apps that makes use of darkish patterns to attempt to get customers to subscribe instantly upon first launch, with a pop-up splash display screen it’s important to bypass to make use of the app without cost.

However the massive backlash isn’t over the associated fee, it’s about Secure Diffusion, the AI generator powering the service. The AI was initially educated on 2.3 billion captioned pictures from the web, a few of that are watermarked and copyrighted works, in addition to plenty of pictures from websites like Pinterest, Smugmug, Flickr, DeviantArt, ArtStation, Getty and Shutterstock. The problem at hand is that artists didn’t choose in to have their work included within the coaching knowledge, nor can they now choose out.

Artists, understandably, are involved. Now their distinctive types are being duped by an AI mannequin, which means their unique artwork will grow to be misplaced among the many now quite a few auto-generated copycats. Some see this not solely as an existential risk, but in addition as a type of unregulated stealing. Customers, in the meantime, have been merely having fun with the photographs they’d paid for with out an understanding of how the tech labored, then grew to become topic to backlash or shaming from those that did. Extra conscientious objectors quickly realized they’d simply thrown away their cash on profile footage they now didn’t really feel ethically snug in utilizing. These are advanced issues that want extra dialogue. No less than when Instagram first launched its filters, they have been donated by an artist, Cole Rise. (Whereas he could have later regretted giving up his artwork to the corporate, the filters weren’t stolen.)

As well as, the app maker confronted one other severe subject, when folks found it was simple to make use of to make non-consensual nude pictures within the app. If customers uploaded Photoshopped pictures of topless fashions with another person’s face, for instance, the AI disables its NSFW filter and can create higher-quality AI avatars of the particular person whose face was uploaded on the topless picture. The corporate mentioned it was working to forestall this from occurring and famous trying to make NSFW content material was in violation of its phrases of use.

Lensa AI can be tricked into leaving very little to the imagination. Illustration of a woman's bare shoulder...

Picture Credit: Lensa AI

Third-party Twitter app builders are actually constructing for Mastodon

There’s a refined stirring within the Twitter app ecosystem as third-party builders are starting to rethink their dependence on Twitter’s API.

Now having grown to three.3 million+ lively customers, the open supply Twitter different Mastodon has been gaining curiosity from third-party Twitter app builders in current days. The makers of widespread Twitter shoppers, together with Aviary and Tweetbot, have set their sights on constructing related apps for the rising Mastodon person base.

Picture Credit: Tapbots

App developer Tapbots, recognized for its widespread Twitter app Tweetbot for iOS and Mac, is constructing an app for the Mastodon group. The app is much like Tweetbot, which is hailed as one of many third-party Twitter shoppers that retains bettering with age. This yr’s launch of Tweetbot 7, for instance, added options like picture-in-picture, a stats tab and widgets. Now, Tapbots is engaged on Ivory, a subscription-based app for Mastodon that features entry to key options like your house timeline, @ mentions, favorites, search and traits, and your personal person profile. Tweetbots’ developer Paul Haddad mentioned the purpose is to first ship a secure 1.0, then begin including extra Mastodon-specific options, in addition to some options that he had wished so as to add to Tweetbot however couldn’t due to technical limitations.

Aviary’s developer, Shihab Mehboob, in the meantime, is constructing a Mastodon consumer, referred to as Mammoth. The brand new app will probably be a paid obtain with a yet-to-be-determined worth, and can embrace the newest Mastodon API options once they’re launched, in addition to 4.0 options like enhancing posts and edit historical past.

App makers aren’t the one builders impacted by the chaos at Twitter. As TechCrunch reported, Typefully, a Twitter thread-making app backed by Ev Williams, is now planning to shift focus to LinkedIn. Scheduler Chirr App can be engaged on a Mastodon integration, and Tweepsmap simply launched a submit scheduler for Mastodon, too.

  • iOS 16.2 RC has arrived forward of subsequent week’s public launch. This is among the larger updates, as it would convey the brand new Freeform app, the just-announced karaoke expertise referred to as Apple Music Sing, the 10-minute AirDrop restrict that hit China first, new Sleep and Medicine widgets, new Residence app structure and, with iPadOS 16.2, the flexibility to make use of Stage Supervisor on iPads with an exterior show, amongst different issues. It can additionally convey 5G help to iPhones in India.
  • A day after Apple revamped its App Retailer pricing, RevenueCat mentioned it might roll out A/B worth testing options.
  • Apple is launching Superior Information Safety, a function that provides end-to-end encryption on iCloud backups, Notes, Images and extra within the U.S. in 2022, then globally, together with China, in 2023. There will probably be 23 knowledge classes protected, apart from iCloud Mail, Contacts and Calendar, due to the necessity to interoperate with different programs. The FBI will not be comfortable.
  • Apple additionally introduced an iMessage function that may assist customers confirm they’re messaging solely the folks they meant, plus Apple ID help for {hardware} safety keys.
  • Nevertheless, the corporate mentioned it’s pausing its efforts in launching a CSAM detection instrument for iCloud Images.
  • The developer collection “Ask Apple” is returning December 12-16, for one more week of one-on-ones and group Q&As round app constructing.
  • Google’s Pixel replace brings the Google One VPN and Clear Calling (name enhancement) function to Pixel 7/7 Professional and computerized speaker labels within the Recorder app to Pixel 6 and up. All Pixel gadgets may also acquire a brand new privateness hub for settings.
twitter app icon ios

Picture Credit: TechCrunch

  • Reddit rolled out its enjoyable end-of-year Recap expertise to customers, which incorporates stats about your time on web site, the communities you have interaction with probably the most and extra. This yr, seemingly impressed by the favored Spotify Wrapped expertise, Reddit can be doling out customized, sharable playing cards that embrace enjoyable stats, like your most upvoted remark or should you’re crew cat or canine, amongst different issues.
  • Snap introduced at its annual Lens Fest it now has 300,000 builders constructing AR merchandise and can quickly permit creators to construct Lenses that function digital items that may be bought with Snap Tokens. Customers will be capable of unlock power-ups, AR gadgets and further instruments inside choose Lenses as a part of this check. Snap additionally introduced a partnership ith Adidas for a Bitmoji Vogue Drop.

Picture Credit: Snap

  • Twitter goes to launch twin pricing for its upcoming Twitter Blue subscription relaunch. App Retailer customers pays $11 monthly because of the “Apple tax,” whereas those that pay on the net will solely be charged $7 monthly.
  • Calm’s meditation app is catering to players with the addition of latest auditory environments from video games like “Halo Infinite” and “Sea of Thieves,” which will help some folks focus and enhance their temper.
  • Instagram’s newest function will inform creators and types if their content material is ineligible for suggestion and why.
Instagram account status

Picture Credit: Instagram

  • Celeb greetings app Cameo debuted Cameo Children, providing customized video messages from widespread youngsters’ characters like Santa and Thomas the Tank Engine.

Picture Credit: Cameo

WhatsApp Avatars

Picture Credit: WhatsApp

  • TikTok launched its year-end traits checklist. Apparently, a chocolate giraffe was very fashionable, as was a set of dumb life hacks.
  • Yelp takes on Angie’s Record (now, simply referred to as Angi) with a brand new method to rent service professionals within the app.
  • Amazon Luna now permits Prime members to play already bought Ubisoft video games on Luna with out having to subscribe.
  • YouTube is rolling out its personal tackle Twitch emotes.
  • Snapchat-owned social mapping app Zenly is shutting down. RIP.
  • Fb Courting is now going to check the identical age verification tech that Meta is at the moment testing on Instagram. ID uploads or selfie movies could also be required for customers suspected of being underage.
  • Robinhood added a waitlist for a brand new Robinhood Retirement function, which can supply IRAs with a 1% match on each greenback contributed.
  • Roblox goes to permit customers 13 and up to import their contacts and can introduce good friend suggestions.
twitter app icon ios

Picture Credit: TechCrunch

Loads occurred on the chaotic fowl app firm this week! In case you haven’t been maintaining with the drama, right here’s a fast evaluate:

  • Twitter is attempting to lure again advertisers with enormous incentives, like matching $500,000 to $1 million in spending, as much as $1 million cap. Twitter’s advert income is claimed to be 80% under expectations as of the World Cup’s November 20 begin.
  • Elon Musk made a giant deal about publishing inner emails over Twitter’s Hunter Biden laptop computer drama. He’s calling these reveals “The Twitter Recordsdata.” However the hyped occasion fell a little bit flat as they solely appeared to point out an organization having conversations over tough content material moderation selections, finally ensuing within the firm taking the bizarre step to restrict the attain of a information story on the time over issues it got here from a hack and leak marketing campaign by a Russian group and would violate Twitter’s anti-doxing coverage. Twitter had already admitted, in hindsight (and with the help of additional data and reporting), the choice was incorrect.
  • Twitter’s new VP of Belief and Security Ella Irwin mentioned the corporate will now give attention to utilizing automation to reasonable content material, not removals.
  • Twitter later launched one other “Twitter File” that once more confirmed the corporate merely doing the tough enterprise of moderation, on this case conflating shadowbanning with de-amplification, as former Twitter exec Kayvon Beykpour identified, calling the characterization both “a lazy interpretation or intentionally deceptive.”
  • Extra issues have been raised as as to if or not the reporter tweeting the story (who will not be a Twitter worker) was given inner programs entry, as she included screenshots of Twitter’s inner programs within the posts.
  • Musk additionally “exited” deputy normal counsel Jim Baker, claiming there have been issues over Baker’s “doable position in suppression of data” associated to the so-called Twitter Recordsdata.
  • Musk mentioned a later Twitter replace will present customers in the event that they’ve been shadowbanned and why.
  • Twitter allowed Andrew Anglin, a neo-Nazi and founding father of the white supremacist web site The Each day Stormer, again on the app.
  • Main manufacturers’ adverts appeared on the pages of two white nationalists after their accounts have been restored by Musk. Adverts from Amazon, Snap, Uber and others have been amongst these impacted. Twitter later emailed advertisers to say it would launch controls to forestall adverts from exhibiting up subsequent to sure key phrases.
  • Twitter is going through a number of lawsuits over layoffs, which may value it hundreds of thousands in arbitration charges. Some employees on H-1B visas additionally mentioned they didn’t get enough immigration help.
  • Twitter’s iOS app has been going through points with plenty of key security measures, together with the flexibility to guard tweets or toggle DM settings.
  • Twitter will supply two completely different costs for Twitter Blue: a $7 monthly subscription should you purchase from the web site, or $11 should you purchase by way of in-app buy, to offset the “Apple tax.”
  • Within the meantime, it began savagely altering legacy verified customers‘ checkmarks to tell customers who clicked that “it is a legacy verified account. It could or will not be notable.”
  • Twitter shut down numerous developer-focused tasks like Twitter Toolbox and others.
  • Musk is now promising to delete 1.5 billion inactive accounts to liberate usernames.

Picture Credit: Fb/Meta

A Fb Twitter clone?

The New York Occasions took a take a look at the brand new startups and social apps capitalizing on Twitter’s chaos after the Musk takeover, additionally dropping the bombshell reveal that Meta could also be cranking up its clone machine to dupe Twitter. The corporate had already been testing a brief message-sharing function in Instagram referred to as Instagram Notes, however was now questioning if that type of product ought to be its personal standalone app or one other feed inside Instagram. Whereas there’s a transparent alternative to realize traction amid Twitter’s transition when some customers are on the lookout for an out, we hope Meta doesn’t add much more muddle to the already overwhelmingly busy Instagram app and as an alternative chooses to take an actual threat right here.

Meta hasn’t efficiently launched a brand new app in years, so it’s simple to see why it wouldn’t wish to strive now. However it might be so, so fascinating if it made a text-heavy, simplified model of Fb — let’s name it FB Traditional, (Gen Z loves nostalgia!) — the place the Information Feed as an alternative turns into a real-time Twitter-like feed as an alternative. No difficult navigation, no non-public teams, no Reels, no market or recreation streams, or all the opposite detritus of in the present day’s Fb. Have all of it run by means of Fb’s current programs for reporting and moderation. Let folks privately submit to associates or select to be extra public. Think about if Fb’s duped Twitter’s core function set round posts, replies and threads, favorites and the like, however didn’t tackle additional options. Even perhaps supply the flexibility to sync choose posts from Fb (and the forthcoming IG Notes) to the app’s Twitter-like feed for a minimalistic feed to get everybody began…I imply, I do know Meta is constructing the metaverse now, however…a Twitter 2.0 arms race between Meta and Twitter itself could be wild to look at.

A Microsoft Tremendous App?

Microsoft has mentioned debuting a brilliant app with net search, information and purchasing to higher compete with Google, in line with The Info. It’s loopy to think about how costly and tough it might be to get customers to obtain one other search app at this cut-off date, when even Google is complaining it’s shedding search market share to TikTok and Instagram. Hey, possibly Microsoft ought to index TikTok and launch a Gen Z advertising and marketing marketing campaign on the app, calling its new tremendous app a greater search engine for TikTok movies! Ha! In any case, it did contemplate shopping for TikTok. Okay, okay, I child. But when a Microsoft Tremendous App is to succeed, it’s undoubtedly going to wish greater than Bing (nonetheless can not imagine they named it that) to lure within the subsequent era of customers.

  • Meta failed in its try to annul a $267 million tremendous over WhatsApp’s breaching of GDPR transparency obligations.
  • Indiana’s legal professional normal sued TikTok for deceiving customers over China’s entry to person knowledge and exposing youngsters to mature content material.
  • EU regulators dominated that Meta can’t use its Phrases of Service to require customers to see customized adverts on Fb and Instagram.
  • Texas banned TikTok on government-issued gadgets. Different states have completed the identical, together with South Dakota, South Carolina and Maryland.
  • The SEC is investigating whether or not or not the social occasions app IRL misled traders. The corporate raised $170 million from SoftBank at a $1.17 billion valuation final yr, however some workers informed The Info they didn’t imagine the app had the 20 million customers it claimed to.
  • Uber Eats settled a lawsuit with the Metropolis of Chicago for itemizing native eating places within the Uber Eats and Postmates apps with out the eating places’ consent and charging extra fee charges. Uber pays $10 million, $5 million of which can go towards paying damages to eating places. launched its annual report predicting the subsequent massive cellular traits for 2023 (under). The total report is right here. Of specific curiosity is its wager that cellular advert spend will attain $362 billion subsequent yr.

Picture Credit:

💰 Norwegian grocery supply app Oda raised 1.5 billion Norwegian crowns in fairness (about $151 million) in funding at a lowered valuation of $353 million. The service operates in its residence market in addition to Finland and Germany.

💰 Singapore tremendous app Osome raised $25 million in Collection B funding. The app helps enterprise house owners with administrative duties like payroll, accounting and tax reporting and serves over 11,000 companies.

🤝 Saudi Arabia-based meals supply service Jahez is buying The Chefz in a money and inventory deal for $173 million.

Lensa AI

Properly, you most likely nonetheless wish to see it! The avatars Lensa AI makes with Secure Diffusion are spectacular, regardless of the controversy. It’s an important demo of a possible use case for AI, even when ethically fraught. Demand for AI avatars is clearly robust. Lensa’s reputation is having a knock-on impact throughout the App Retailer’s High Charts, as now apps like AI Artwork, Picture Generator; Meitu, Photograph Editor & AI Artwork; Surprise, AI Artwork Generator; Daybreak, AI Avatars; and Prequel, Aesthetic AI Editor have all entered the highest 30. The apps are benefitting as a result of they’ve “AI” of their names — and, in some circumstances, have purchased App Retailer Search adverts.


  • Proton: The E2EE cloud storage service launched iOS and Android apps providing 1GB of storage without cost, 200GB for $4 monthly, or 500GB for $10 monthly.
  • Copilot: The favored budgeting and finance app launched a Mac counterpart.

Rahul Diyashi
News and travel at your doorstep.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles

%d bloggers like this: