This Week in Apps: Apple ‘sherlocks’ journaling apps, Twitter’s checkmark apocalypse, Snap summit recap

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 financial system.

The app financial system in 2023 hit a couple of snags, as shopper spending final yr dropped for the primary time by 2% to $167 billion, in response to’s “State of Cell” report. Nonetheless, downloads are persevering with to develop, up 11% year-over-year in 2022, to achieve 255 billion. Customers are additionally spending extra time in cell apps than ever earlier than. On Android units alone, hours spent in 2022 grew 9%, reaching 4.1 trillion.

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 way more.

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Apple plans its subsequent “sherlock:” journaling apps

Apple is planning to “sherlock” a brand new class of functions if a brand new report from The Wall Street Journal holds true. The paper reported Apple is planning to introduce an iPhone journaling utility as a part of its enlargement of well being initiatives. The brand new app, which is unnamed, would problem these available on the market like Day One (acquired by maker Automattic in 2021). The WSJ stated a doc describing Apple’s app famous journaling helps to enhance psychological and bodily well-being.

The app is reportedly set to reach with the launch of iOS 17 and would put Apple once more within the crosshairs of regulatory scrutiny. The corporate has come underneath hearth lately for its behavior of lifting concepts from the broader app developer and companion neighborhood. The apply has develop into so frequent, it’s bought its personal identify — sherlocking — a reference to Apple software program that began this development a long time in the past.

The timing of this transfer is price noting. Apple is at the moment underneath DoJ investigation for alleged anticompetitive conduct within the App Retailer and in different enterprise practices. The DoJ has spoken to corporations who’ve been “sherlocking” victims as a part of its inquiry, together with Tile, whose enterprise was hit by the launch of Apple’s AirTag. The Justice Dept. has additionally spoken to different app builders, together with smaller corporations like Basecamp and parent control software maker Mobicip, in addition to larger builders like Match and Spotify, about Apple’s App Retailer phrases.

For Apple to now launch one more app that competes with a variety of third-party builders exhibits Apple just isn’t apprehensive a lot in regards to the regulatory strain and isn’t adjusting its conduct.

Associated to this, The WSJ additionally just lately ran a characteristic on Apple’s “kiss of death,” citing companions who detailed what it felt like when the tech big got here calling. After initially being excited by the prospect of an Apple partnership, many companions now say Apple has stolen their concepts for itself, hurting their very own companies.

Twitter’s Checkmark Apocalypse has arrived — and it’s fairly the debacle


Picture Credit: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

Twitter has lastly made good on its promise to yank its users’ verification checkmarks from their profiles in what must be one of many extra ridiculous choices Elon Musk has made to this point since taking possession of the social media platform.

Seemingly not understanding the worth of the corporate he owns, Musk believes that nobody must be verified except they’re paying Twitter. However in actuality, the verification service was a useful resource supplied to Twitter’s neighborhood that added worth. The blue checkmark image indicated {that a} high-profile determine, celeb, establishment or journalist was who they stated they had been and never an impersonator.

Twitter just isn’t a curated, visible platform like Instagram, the place a verification mark (which you can even now pay for!) gives an influencer with clout or bragging rights. As a substitute, Twitter is a community that’s centered across the rapid-fire dissemination of reports and knowledge in actual time. The checkmark meant the supply had been already vetted to be the true individual, group or official in query, permitting for sooner fact-checks. This aids in newsgathering and establishes a baseline of belief throughout the platform.

However after all, Musk doesn’t perceive this.

He has such a low opinion and worth for journalism that he went round including “state-affiliated media” after which “government-funded” labels to the profiles of reports retailers like PBS, NPR, CBC, BBC and others, lumping these editorially unbiased news-gathering organizations alongside state-run media entities just like the Kremlin-backed Russia At present. A few of the news organizations finally left Twitter — one thing extra ought to do, the truth is. (No, I don’t management TC’s social media efforts.)

It’s unclear what’s taking place with these labels now, as they’re disappearing from accounts on Friday, together with these of China state-affiliated media.

Musk traditionally has demonstrated a callous disregard for journalism, calling The NYT “pretend,” whereas tweeting out precise pretend information himself. He additionally has Twitter’s comms electronic mail respond to press inquiries with a poop emoji. For that purpose, it’s virtually humorous to observe Musk run headfirst right into a wall together with his full mishandling of such a pivotal Twitter characteristic.

In any case, if Musk had wished to generate income from Twitter energy customers, he might have achieved so by giving ID-verified customers their personal checkmarks, maybe with a distinct colour scheme, that supplied the set of particular options and timeline prioritization that Twitter is now promoting with its Blue subscription. That will have added worth with out disrupting the present system.

As a substitute, he’s once more created chaos by eradicating checkmarks from virtually everybody, permitting for impersonation — and, in some circumstances, the unfold of harmful misinformation, as effectively. On prime of that, he left legacy checkmarks on some high-profile accounts, like LeBron James and Stephen King, each of who stated they might not pay for Twitter Blue. It was an influence play, clearly. If the celebs don’t go away, they’re tacitly confirming they’ve accepted the brand new system.

As well as, Twitter is being dishonest about who is really a paid Twitter Blue subscriber.

Yours really paid for Blue earlier this yr to fact-check a narrative after which instantly canceled. I now continue to have a checkmark regardless of the subscription’s expiration in February, as documented under. (In any occasion, don’t hassle to observe me on Twitter, by the best way — I’m on Bluesky, T2, Post and Mastodon.)

Together with the checkmark removals, Twitter has additionally now begun pressuring advertisers to either pay for Twitter Blue or Verified Organizations to proceed operating advertisements on the platform. These companies that already spend over $1,000 per 30 days could have gold checks routinely, Twitter stated.

Snap’s Associate Summit focuses on Buying, AR and AI

Picture Credit: Snap

Snap this week hosted its Partner Summit the place it shared a variety of options, updates and initiatives in areas like e-commerce, AR and AI. The corporate additionally used the time to introduce a variety of consumer-facing updates for its Snapchat cell app.

On the occasion, CEO Evan Spiegel commented on the proposed TikTok ban within the U.S., joking at first that Snap would “love that,” however noting that such a ban units a harmful precedent for different social platforms. Although he acknowledged there could possibly be nationwide safety issues, the exec, like Zuckerberg has, additionally pushed for tech laws.

“It is crucial for us to be considerate and actually develop a regulatory framework to cope with safety issues, particularly round know-how,” Spiegel.

Among the many different occasion highlights and information:

  • Snap stated the Snapchat+ paid subscription now has over 3 million users. That’s up from 2 million in February and 1 million final August.
  • Snap opened its Public Story income share program to creators with a minimum of 50,000 followers and 25,000 month-to-month Snap views who submit a minimum of 10x per 30 days.
Public Profiles on Snapchat

Picture Credit: Snapchat

  • Snapchat added new Story modes like “After Darkish” for posts after 8 pm and “Communities” which let customers work together with folks of their identical faculty.
  • Snapchat updated its flashback characteristic Reminiscences to point out buddies what they had been doing on a given day precisely a yr in the past.
  • The Snap Map will begin suggesting locations that Snap thinks customers would love. A brand new “Standard Final Evening” tag may even present folks the place their buddies had been hanging out.
  • Snapchat is adding an interactive Lens that lets customers full puzzles and play video games collectively whereas they’re face-to-face on a video name.
Snapchat's calling Lens

Picture Credit: Snapchat

  • Snap additionally announced new AR Lenses powered by generative AI, beginning with a brand new “Cosmic Lens” that turns you and your environment into an immersive, animated sci-fi scene. The transfer follows TikTok’s just lately profitable launch of the AI filter, “Daring Glamour.” The app may even use AI to suggest Lenses primarily based on the photograph or video customers supplied.
Snapchat's new AI lens

Picture Credit: Snapchat

  • Bitmoji’s avatar type is being updated with a extra expressive look with lifelike dimensions, shading and lighting.
  • Snap’s enterprise biz, ARES, introduced AR Mirrors — a method to deliver AR experiences to real-world areas, like retail shops. Males’s Wearhouse and Nike have used its AR Mirrors in shops and Coca-Cola is constructing a prototype drink machine with Snap that lets customers use hand gestures to manage the display.

Picture Credit: Snap

  • Snapchat announced its AI chatbot, My AI, is now free for all Snapchat international customers as an alternative of solely Snapchat+ subscribers, as earlier than. Nonetheless, Snap can be rolling out a subscriber-only My AI characteristic which is able to see the chatbot in a position to “Snap” you again utilizing generative AI to create images. The AI chatbot may even now be capable to be added to group chats with an @point out, make suggestions for locations on Snap Map, recommend Lenses and ship chat replies once you ship it Snaps.

Picture Credit: Snap


  • Apple is introducing a new feature that may scale back the burden on app builders on the subject of fixing subscription billing points. Typically, when an app’s subscribers have a cost methodology that fails, they’ll flip to the app developer for assist. However the developer doesn’t deal with billing points for his or her App Retailer apps — these are managed by Apple itself. Now, Apple says a brand new warning message will seem to immediate customers contained in the app when their cost methodology fails, that means they’ll not have to hassle the developer for assist with this frequent problem.

  • Apple is rumored to be developing VR apps and companies for its upcoming mixed-reality headset in classes like gaming, health, stay sports activities and collaboration.
  • Researchers said they found evidence that Apple’s Lockdown Mode has helped block an assault by hackers utilizing spy ware made by the notorious mercenary hacking supplier NSO Group.
  • Apple launched its Apple Card financial savings account inside Apple Pockets providing an attention-getting 4.15% APY. The accounts are open to Apple Card holders within the U.S. and are technically managed by Goldman Sachs, in order that they have FDIC protections.
  • Apple Watch’s software program is because of get its largest replace since its launch, in response to a brand new report by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. Particulars had been sparse however we count on to listen to extra at WWDC.


  • Google Play will inform customers to replace their buggy, crashing apps: Google announced a brand new Play Retailer characteristic that may immediate customers to replace builders’ apps if the app crashes within the foreground and there’s a extra secure model of the outdated app already out there for obtain. The characteristic will apply to telephones and tablets operating Android 7.0 (SDK stage 24) and above. Builders don’t have to do any integration work to make the most of the characteristic, which is enabled routinely when Google Play determines a more recent model of the app has a statistically related, decrease crash price.

  • Forward of Google I/O, a leak is suggesting the upcoming Google Pixel Pill can be priced round €600-650 ($658.63-$713.52 if transformed on to USD) — pricier than rivals — and the dock will value round $120.
  • Google shared a number of updates to assist app publishers improve income and develop their companies with AdMob, together with these round stock entry, bidding, income optimization and extra.
  • Google Play Factors can now get you extra stuff. The corporate this week announced adjustments to this system which rewards customers with factors for making purchases on Google Play to now embrace app provides — like $10 off DoorDash or Instacart; Google merchandise (like Chrome dino recreation socks!); in-game gadgets and coupons; and Google Play Credit score for making in-app purchases, apps, books and subscriptions.

Picture Credit: Google

Messaging & Communications

  • Telegram’s latest update brings shareable chat folders, customized wallpapers and different options to customers. The app’s chat folders can now be shared with a hyperlink, the corporate says, permitting customers to ask buddies or colleagues to dozens of labor teams, collections of reports channels and extra.
  • Google Fi, the tech big’s provider service, is being rebranded to Google Fi Wi-fi and gaining new features, together with the power so as to add on a Pixel Watch or Samsung Galaxy Watch to their plan at no further cost. Customers also can get a free telephone for including a line in the event that they agree to stick with the service for twenty-four months, amongst different issues. The choices can be found from the Google Fi cell app and web site, the place customers handle their service.
  • The corporate behind the favored iPhone customization app Brass and others launched an AI chat app known as Superchat, which permits iOS customers to speak with digital characters powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Different corporations already supply AI chats with characters in additional superior methods, including D-ID. In the meantime, the developer of one other AI chat app known as Superchat says their idea was ripped off by one other Superchat app earlier than they may launch. “Tremendous chat” just isn’t a singular identify, although, because it’s well-known as YouTube’s paid stay chatting characteristic for creators and followers.


  • Roblox’s attain right into a barely older demographic is expanding, information exhibits. The gaming platform maker’s 17-to-24 age group has grown 33% year-over-year as children are ageing up however remaining on the platform.
  • Netflix is launching a follow-up to the supernatural thriller Oxenfree after acquiring the studio behind the sport (Evening Faculty Studio) in 2021. The corporate says Oxenfree II: Misplaced Alerts will arrive on July 12 on Netflix, Nintendo Swap, PS4/PS5 and Steam. Netflix just lately introduced it has 40 video games slated for launch this yr and has 70 in improvement with its companions.
  • Netflix additionally simply employed former Halo Infinite artistic head Joseph Staten to develop a multi-platform AAA title for the Netflix Video games division. Staten will function a artistic director at Netflix, he introduced in a tweet, including that his work will concentrate on creating on authentic IP.
  • Meta opened up its social VR space Horizon Worlds to teen customers aged 13 to 17 after initially preserving it to 18 and up. The corporate stated as a part of its enlargement it might embrace age-appropriate protections and security defaults. Youngsters’s rights activists had earlier urged Meta to desert its plans to court docket youthful customers.
  • Niantic announced a partnership with Capcom to launch a recreation inside the Monster Hunter franchise later this yr. The brand new cell title will come to each iOS and Android and could have gamers hunt monsters in the true world.


Picture Credit: Meta

  • Instagram said users can now add up to five links to their profiles, in a transfer that challenges Linktree, Beacons and quite a few different “hyperlink in bio” answer suppliers.
  • Reddit is shifting to a paid subscription model for API entry, impacting app builders just like the makers of the favored Reddit app, Apollo. The change will possible imply most third-party apps might want to shift to their very own subscription mannequin going ahead. The corporate’s determination has to do with the demand for data to train AI models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and others. “The Reddit corpus of knowledge is absolutely helpful…we don’t want to present all of that worth to a number of the largest corporations on the earth totally free,” said Reddit CEO Steve Huffman.
  • The Verge does a deep divide into ActivityPub, the open supply, decentralized social networking protocol powering Mastodon and the broader Fediverse. Need to stand up to hurry on the state of the Fediverse and its potential? It is a good place to start out.
  • Fiction apps Wattpad and Yonder are now being overseen by KB Nam, beforehand head of Technique and Analysis at their guardian firm Naver Webtoon. Nam will report on to Webtoon Americas president, Ken Kim.
  • The Jack Dorsey-backed Twitter various Bluesky arrived on Android however stays invite-only. The neighborhood has round 20,000 customers however the app has been downloaded 240,000 occasions on iOS to this point.

Picture Credit: Bluesky

  • Journal app Flipboard is furthering its funding within the Fediverse with its newly launched “editorial desks” that curate news for the Mastodon neighborhood. Initially, the corporate will launch 4 desks — NewsTechCulture and Science — which it says gained’t be automated by bots however as an alternative by skilled curators who’ve experience in discovering and elevating attention-grabbing content material.
  • Pinterest hired a Google Pixel VP to fill its CPO place. Sabrina Ellis spent the final 12 years at Google, the place she led the work on Google Pixel. Beforehand, she spent eight years at Yahoo in quite a few management roles. She’s going to change Pinterest’s present senior vp of product, Naveen Gavini.
  • Imgur plans to ban explicit images, whereas nonetheless permitting for inventive nudity beginning on Could 15. The corporate says the service will undertake a mixture of automated and human moderation. The adjustments could impression NSFW subreddits (communities) on Reddit which permit for specific photos. The MediaLab-owned firm stated specific content material was a danger to Imgur’s “neighborhood and its enterprise,” as the explanation for the transfer.

Streaming and Leisure

Spotify and Bereal integration

Picture Credit: Spotify

  • Spotify introduced it should now work with BeReal to permit the social app’s customers to share what they’re listening to on Spotify via a new integration. After connecting your accounts, BeReal will routinely pull within the music or podcast you’re listening to on Spotify on the time you seize a BeReal.
  • Creator firm Jellysmack is partnering with Spotify to deliver its creators to the streaming platform. A number of its creators will add weekly video podcast episodes to the service, together with Ed Bolian (VINwiki), Audit the AuditChristina RandallBrooke Makenna, and Jessica Kent.
  • Cameo introduced Cameo Collage, a free group-gifting characteristic. Reward givers can now mix celeb Cameo movies with extra customized movies, photos, GIFS and written messages from family and friends to create a digital collage for the recipient.
  • Netflix in its Q1 earnings stated it might begin its password-sharing crackdown within the U.S. and different nations this summer season (Q2). It has already applied the adjustments in Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain.
  • Netflix reported mixed earnings with income of $8.16 billion, behind estimates of $8.18 billion. It reported higher-than-expected earnings of $2.88 per share in Q1, as analysts had anticipated $2.86 per share.


Picture Credit: Google / Waze

  • Waze on Google built-in has come to Volvo Automobiles and Polestar 2 automobiles. After a one-time setup, Volvo and Polestar drivers can entry Waze’s real-time routing, navigation, alerts, settings, preferences and saved locations on a much bigger, eye-level show.

Well being & Health

  • Marvel announced a brand new cell health app, Marvel Transfer, that includes immersive audio-based operating routines with common Marvel Comics characters. The app, a part of a collaboration with Six to Begin, co-creator of the favored health app Zombies, Run!, contains 5 storylines to select from together with Thor & Loki, X-Males, The Hulk, Daredevil and Physician Unusual and the Scarlet Witch.


  • Samsung launched its personal tackle Apple Information with its new “Samsung Information” app that offers customers entry to on a regular basis information from quite a lot of publications. The app will change the corporate’s present “Samsung Free” app, and contains customized information feeds along with morning and night briefings in regards to the prime information of the day.
  • WhatsApp, Sign, Viber, Wire and different encrypted messaging apps signed an open letter asking the U.Ok. authorities to “urgently rethink” its On-line Security Invoice laws, which they are saying will drive tech corporations to break end-to-end encryption on non-public messaging companies, weakening the “privateness of billions of individuals world wide.”
  • Google has asked the court to dismiss multiple claims in its antitrust trial with Epic Video games, Match, state AGs and others. In a brand new submitting, Google’s authorized staff is now asking the court docket to dismiss a number of of the plaintiffs’ arguments concerning the character of its app retailer enterprise, revenue-sharing agreements and different app store-related tasks in a partial movement for abstract judgment. Google believes the court docket ought to now have sufficient data available to make determinations on a handful of the plaintiffs’ claims earlier than the case goes to trial, saying that these things should not in violation of antitrust legislation. If the court docket agrees with Google’s place, the trial would nonetheless transfer ahead as different claims would nonetheless have to be argued in court docket.
  • The U.Ok. Competitors and Markets Authority (CMA) opened a consultation on Google’s proposal to let builders use various cost strategies for in-app purchases on Android, aka “Consumer Alternative Billing.” It’s inviting stakeholders to answer Google’s proposal by Could 19 and can then decide on whether or not to just accept the feedback and resolve the case. Google is suggesting it cuts its fee to 4% if the developer provides Google’s personal billing alongside their very own. However this might solely be reduce to three% if simply third-party billing was provided.
  • Montana lawmakers approved a invoice that might ban TikTok and would bar app shops from providing the app inside the state, beginning on January 1, 2024. It’s unclear how such a measure can be enforced because the app shops don’t supply a method to block distribution by state, solely by nation.
  • Starboard (Previously Olympic Media) concluded the acquisition of right-wing Twitter various Parler and shut it down. The corporate said of the choice: “No cheap individual believes {that a} Twitter clone only for conservatives is a viable enterprise any extra [sic].” The Parler app will endure a strategic evaluation and it’s not clear what the corporate has in retailer for its future.
  • Epic Video games expanded its Latin American footprint with its acquisition of the Brazilian recreation improvement studio Aquiris. The developer is greatest recognized for “Wonderbox: The Journey Maker,” a magic-themed game-creation sandbox out there on Apple Arcade.
  • Myxt, an audio file administration platform for creators, raised $2 million in seed funding led by Accel Ventures and Quiet Capital. The startup provides a collaborative office app for audio creators that’s out there on net, iOS and Android, the place customers can stream tracks, set up recordsdata and again up their library.
  • SoundHound closed on $100 million in strategic funding from Atlas Credit score Companions as a part of a brand new $125 million mortgage facility. The publicly traded firm is utilizing the cash to refinance its debt and proceed to fund its long-term technique.
  • Japanese gaming big Sega is acquiring Finland’s Rovio in an all-cash deal price €706 million ($775 million). The deal is predicted to shut in Q2 or Rovio’s fiscal yr (within the subsequent couple of months). Sega’s supply represents a 63.1% premium on Rovio’s closing value on January 19.


Wavelength group chat

Picture Credit: Wavelength

An attention-grabbing new chat app known as Wavelength has arisen out of the ashes of the social networking app Telepath, which shut down final yr. Now the staff has shifted its focus to bettering group chat experiences. As a substitute of getting totally different group chats, it introduces the thought of threaded messaging mixed with AI. The threads assist to maintain group chats much less cluttered by making it simpler to observe a number of conversations without delay.

As well as, customers can add OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 into their group chats by mentioning @AI. This makes the app among the many first to supply chatting with AI. Snapchat can be now doing this with its My AI feature as is Ghost, which allows groups to chat with ChatGPT.

The startup goals to focus in different areas as effectively, like privateness, moderation, discovery and extra. Notably, John Gruber is an advisor for the at the moment iOS and Mac-only app.

You may learn extra about Wavelength here.


A brand new social video app known as Nocam has a radical thought to make social networking extra genuine — it’s turning off the digicam so you’ll be able to’t see the way you look whereas filming. The thought is to make capturing a second really feel pure whereas lowering the friction that comes with seeing a preview of your personal picture, which may usually go away customers hesitant to submit or scrambling so as to add edits and filters to the touch up their look.

Picture Credit: Nocam

Nocam believes this idea higher displays the best way folks work together in actual life, the place we aren’t confronted by a mirror that exhibits us what we appear to be, that’s. The corporate describes its app as BeReal meets TikTok. However maybe it’s extra correct to say BeReal meets TikTok Challenges, because the app focuses on sending customers enjoyable or foolish prompts they need to act out with the digicam, like doing a dance or simply exhibiting what they’re as much as. Customers also can immediate their buddies, too.

You may learn extra about Nocam here.

Proton Move

A screenshot of the browser extension of Proton Pass

Picture Credit: Proton

Proton, the maker of the end-to-end encrypted electronic mail service Proton Mail, Proton VPN, Proton Drive and Proton Calendar, this week launched a brand new password supervisor known as Proton Move. Every thing saved within the app is end-to-end encrypted, and Proton itself by no means has entry to your information. The beta model is stay now to Proton customers with a lifetime plan and can then roll out to different subscribers and clients sooner or later.

The app comes about from the corporate’s acquisition of SimpleLogin, an electronic mail alias startup, and is accessible as a desktop as a browser extension, iOS or Android app.

You may learn extra about Proton Move here.

Does anybody want they nonetheless had their previous telephone?


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