This Week in Apps: WWDC23, ByteDance pushes Lemon8 ahead of TikTok ban, T2 capitalizes on Twitter chaos

1 month ago 6

Welcome backmost to This Week successful Apps, the play TechCrunch series that recaps the latest successful mobile OS news, mobile applications and the wide app economy.

The app system successful 2023 deed a fewer snags, arsenic user spending past twelvemonth dropped for the archetypal clip by 2% to $167 billion, according to’s “State of Mobile” report. However, downloads are continuing to grow, up 11% year-over-year successful 2022 to scope 255 billion. Consumers are besides spending much clip successful mobile apps than ever before. On Android devices alone, hours spent successful 2022 grew 9%, reaching 4.1 trillion.

This Week successful Apps offers a mode to support up with this fast-moving manufacture successful 1 spot with the latest from the satellite of apps, including news, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and overmuch more.

Do you privation This Week successful Apps successful your inbox each Saturday? Sign up here:

DUB DUB Returns

WWDC 2023 banner

Image Credits: Apple

As expected, Apple announced its plans for this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The large event volition instrumentality to Apple Park successful Cupertino connected June 5-9. However, the lawsuit looks similar it volition inactive beryllium different scaled-down version, akin to past year, with its keynote and State of the Union again livestreamed.

Apple besides noted it volition big a peculiar all-day lawsuit for developers and students connected June 5. And, arsenic successful erstwhile years, developers volition beryllium capable to conscionable immoderate of the teams astatine Apple, observe apical apps astatine the Apple Design Awards ceremonial and bask assorted evening activities. Student developers volition besides enactment successful a Swift Student Challenge competition, which could triumph them WWDC23 outerwear, AirPods Pro, a customized pin acceptable and a one-year rank to the Apple Developer Program. The deadline to use is April 19.

The institution volition proceed to station WWDC announcements starring up to and during the conference, truthful support an oculus connected your inboxes and the Apple Developer app for updates.

The large question connected everyone’s minds is whether oregon not Apple volition contiguous its AR/VR headset during WWDC this year. Various reports person suggested wide accumulation connected the instrumentality has been pushed backmost a mates of months to the 3rd 4th of 2023. Plus, a concerning report by The New York Times indicated the instrumentality is among the archetypal to make rare, interior dissent among Apple employees — immoderate of whom don’t judge it’s a acceptable for the company. Expected to beryllium priced astatine $3,000, immoderate are disquieted astir its inferior and the inactive unproven market. Still, Bloomberg is betting connected a headset uncover and the accompanying xrOS software.

The institution volition besides apt present the latest updates to its existing OS lineup, including iOS 17, iPadOS 17, watchOS 10, macOS 14 and tvOS 17. Not overmuch is known astir these coming releases but that iOS 17 is codenamed Dawn and volition include respective of users’ “most-requested” features.

When Apple acceptable retired to make iOS 17, the archetypal reasoning was to telephone it a tuneup merchandise — 1 focused much connected fixing bugs and improving show than adding caller features (not dissimilar the attack the institution took with Snow Leopard connected Mac OS X backmost successful 2009). The anticipation was to…

— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) March 26, 2023

ByteDance pushes different societal app, Lemon8, into the App Store’s Top Charts arsenic a TikTok prohibition looms

Lemon8 screenshot

Image Credits: Lemon8

As U.S. lawmakers moved guardant with their plans for a TikTok prohibition oregon forced sale, the app’s Chinese genitor company, ByteDance, began driving different of its societal platforms into the Top Charts of the U.S. App Store. The ByteDance-owned app Lemon8, an Instagram rival that describes itself arsenic a “lifestyle community,” jumped into the U.S. App Store’s Top Charts connected Monday, becoming the No. 10 Overall app, crossed some apps and games. By the adjacent day, it ranked No. 9 connected the App Store’s Top Apps chart, excluding games.

This is simply a melodramatic illustration ascent for the little-known app and 1 that points to paid idiosyncratic acquisition efforts powering this surge. Prior to Monday, the Lemon8 app had ne'er earlier ranked successful the Top 200 Overall Charts successful the U.S., according to app store quality provided to TechCrunch by

The steadfast confirmed that specified a speedy determination from being an unranked app to being No. 9 among the apical escaped apps successful the U.S. — up of YouTube, WhatsApp, Gmail and Facebook — implies a “significant” and “recent” idiosyncratic acquisition propulsion connected the app publisher’s part.

The app was launched globally backmost successful March 2020 but was lone much precocious launched connected the U.S. App Store, seemingly for investigating purposes. Over the past fewer days this week, it was much “officially” launched — that is, it was accompanied by the intelligibly sizable walk connected paid find oregon app instal ads. Globally, Lemon8 had 16 cardinal full installs, Apptopia’s information indicates, with Japan arsenic its largest market.

To propulsion the app up the charts, ByteDance simply leveraged its ain channels with influencer reviews connected TikTok. Across a fig of undisclosed ads, galore creators began posting astir Lemon8, with their caller videos appearing successful conscionable the 24 hours anterior to the app’s skyrocketing. Most of the reviews utilized akin language, describing the app arsenic “cute” and a premix of “Pinterest and Instagram.” The creators didn’t archer their followers they were being paid to boost Lemon8.

Despite these efforts, Lemon8 whitethorn not beryllium a viable backup program for a TikTok ban, arsenic lawmakers could see a wide-ranging acceptable of restrictions connected Chinese tech, including connected mobile applications acold beyond TikTok alone.

Twitter alternate T2 capitalizes connected Twitter’s program to termination bequest verification, hires from Discord

As Twitter begins its displacement to a “pay to play” concern model, a caller Twitter alternate is preparing to instrumentality flight. T2, the seed-funded Twitter rival developed by Google and Twitter veterans, is acceptable to capitalize connected Twitter’s upheaval with the motorboat of a verification programme specifically targeting those who are poised to suffer their checkmark under Elon Musk’s caller Twitter policies. T2 besides this week announced a notable caller prosecute with the summation of Discord’s erstwhile Senior Director of Engineering Michael Greer arsenic its caller main exertion serviceman (CTO).

Greer joined Discord successful 2017, initially arsenic manager of Engineering, which touched connected a fig of areas, including revenue, growth, apps, assemblage servers, plan systems, messaging and more. He was promoted to elder manager of Engineering conscionable past June. Prior to Discord, Greer worked arsenic the CTO astatine Tapp Media and The Onion for multiyear stints. At T2, Greer volition present oversee the improvement squad and usher the company’s method growth.

Image Credits: T2 screenshot

Also this week, T2 debuted a caller verification process with the motorboat of its “Get the Checkmark” programme timed to correspond to Twitter’s removal of bequest verification checkmarks crossed each users who aren’t paying for the Twitter Blue subscription. Twitter said its ain checkmark removals volition statesman connected April 1st and volition see removing the verification from organizations and individuals who had antecedently qualified arsenic “notable” nether the company’s anterior rules. Ahead of this change, T2 users who are bequest Twitter checkmark holders tin assertion their T2 checkmark by filling retired this form and past pursuing the consequent email instructions which impact communicating with T2 via Twitter DM oregon reply.

After April 1 (or whenever bequest checks really disappear), volition power implicit to a caller verification flow. For now, portion the app is tiny and successful closed testing, this volition impact chatting straight with a T2 representative. (A process that would marque it precise hard for bots to beryllium verified!) Later on, T2 plans to standard this verification utilizing in-app individuality and selfie checks. These volition beryllium designated arsenic “T2 Authenticated” profiles and volition person the modular verified check, not the ruffled borderline mentation of the antecedently Twitter verified crowd.

Too atrocious T2 inactive requires an invitation to get successful — this is clever marketing!


  • Meanwhile, iPadOS 16.4 brings new Pencil hover features. By hovering a Pencil 2 up to 12 millimeters supra the caller iPad Pro’s screen, you’re capable to presumption enactment and enactment width and colour previews, on with the quality to take drafting implements successful Markup.
  • Apple reminded developers that starting connected April 25, 2023, iOS, iPadOS and watchOS apps submitted to the App Store indispensable beryllium built with Xcode 14.1 oregon later. Xcode 14, which includes the latest SDKs, is simply a escaped download connected the Mac App Store.
  • Apple launched Apple Pay Later, a outgo enactment that lets you divided the outgo of an Apple Pay acquisition into 4 adjacent payments implicit six weeks without involvement oregon precocious fees. However, the diagnostic isn’t yet broadly available, contempt its nationalist debut. Instead, Apple said it volition invitation randomly selected users to entree a pre-release mentation earlier rolling it retired to each eligible users successful the coming months.


  • Google won partial relief successful its Android antitrust lawsuit successful India. A tribunal tribunal acceptable speech 4 retired of 10 directives, including the request to let third-party app stores wrong Play Store and restrictions astir the uninstallation of pre-installed apps by users. However, the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal upheld the $161 cardinal punishment levied connected Google by the section watchdog, the Competition Commission of India (CCI).
  • PayPal introduced Android enactment for Passkeys, a speedy caller mode to motion into PayPal. This password-free login strategy is backed by Apple, Google, Microsoft, the FIDO confederation and others. Android mobile instrumentality users successful the U.S. moving the Android 9+ OS tin make a passkey for their PayPal idiosyncratic relationship utilizing the Chrome browser. The diagnostic is rolling retired arsenic of March 23 and is becoming much broadly disposable implicit time.


  • Snap said it’s seeking AI experts for its Safety Advisory Board. The institution had intelligibly enactment the cart earlier the equine with its implementation of AI successful its caller chatbot. While chatting with a Washington Post columnist pretending to beryllium a teen, the bot allegedly advised the columnist astir hiding cookware and intoxicant astatine a day party. In addition, researchers astatine the Center for Humane Technology found that the bot gave enactment proposal to a idiosyncratic pretending to beryllium 13 years old. Snap precocious said it was moving connected giving parents much power astir teens’ usage of the My AI chatbot — different happening it should person done before, you know, launching the thing.
  • Microsoft already slipped ads into Bing. The company said it was exploring putting ads successful the responses fixed by Bing Chat, its caller hunt cause powered by OpenAI’s GPT-4 which is disposable connected the desktop web and Bing mobile app.


mastodon mascot peeking retired  of the flipboard logo holding an android phone

Image Credits: Flipboard

  • Magazine app Flipboard is integrating Mastodon successful its Android application, arsenic the institution broadens its committedness to the federated societal web. The diagnostic allows users to browse a provender of abbreviated updates from the radical they follow, reply to, similar and boost posts, arsenic good arsenic click connected hashtags to travel discussions, among different things. As connected iPhone, wherever the functionality launched first, Android users tin find the caller diagnostic by navigating implicit the accounts conception and past logging successful with their Mastodon credentials for the lawsuit they’re on. And if the idiosyncratic doesn’t yet person a Mastodon account, they tin petition entree to articulation Flipboard’s ain server from here.
  • Twitter unveiled caller API pricing, weeks aft initially announcing its program to unopen down its escaped API. Now, determination volition beryllium 3 caller tiers for developers: a “Free” tier with 1,500 tweets per month, a $100 per period “Basic” tier with expanded entree and an “Enterprise” tier that reportedly costs $42,000 per month. Many developers, including Twitter bot makers, are unhappy with the changes arsenic they won’t beryllium capable to spend the entree needed to tally their smaller projects.
  • Twitter volition region the bequest checkmarks connected April 1st. Afterward, lone Twitter Blue verified accounts will appear connected the algorithmic “For You” timeline starting April 15.
  • Twitter besides open sourced immoderate of its codification connected GitHub, including its algorithm for tweet recommendations connected the For You feed, but not its advertisement proposal algorithm.
  • Meta volition let Facebook and Instagram users to opt retired of tracking successful Europe, according to The WSJ and confirmed by Meta. Users volition beryllium capable to opt for a mentation of the work wherever they’re lone targeted with ads based connected broader categories, similar property and location. The changes travel aggregate multimillion-dollar fines successful the EU.
  • Reddit said it removed 473% much subreddits successful 2022 and permanently suspended 244% much accounts for violations of its non-consensual intimate imagery policies.
  • Snap’s caput of maturation and antecedently longtime merchandise caput Jacob Andreou announced helium volition beryllium leaving the institution successful May aft 8 years to articulation Greylock arsenic a wide partner.

Media & Entertainment

  • YouTube expanded its Analytics for Artists tool with the summation of YouTube Shorts-related information to the “Total Reach” metric, which gives artists and their teams an overview of however their euphony is reaching audiences crossed YouTube. Before this, the Total Reach metric lone included authoritative contented uploaded by the artists and long-form videos uploaded by fans. Now it volition see Shorts, too.
  • Spotify was spotted investigating out caller card-style idiosyncratic profiles that connection the quality for users to found much of a societal identity connected the level successful summation to providing casual entree to Spotify’s unsocial features — similar its personalized recommendations, Blend playlists, co-listening experiences and more.
  • Spotify launched caller personalized playlists called Niche Mixes that fto you make mixes based connected conscionable a fewer words of statement successful the Search tab. For instance, you could benignant successful an “activity, vibe oregon aesthetic,” the institution notes, past append the connection “mix” to make the customized playlist. For example, you could marque a “feel bully greeting mix,” “90s moving mix” oregon “driving singalong mix.” The diagnostic is disposable to each escaped and premium users successful English.
  • While the U.S. government debates TikTok’s future, the video app announced a caller product called Branded Effects aimed astatine businesses. The solution volition let brands to collaborate with TikTok effect creators to plan customized effects — similar AR experiences and different interactive features — to travel their online campaigns and selling efforts.


  • Netflix appears to beryllium moving to bring its games to the TV with the iPhone arsenic a controller. New codification discovered wrong the Netflix app is acceptable to inquire the user: “A crippled connected your TV needs a controller to play. Do you privation to usage this telephone arsenic a crippled controller?” Netflix declined to remark connected its plans.
  • Pokémon GO fans are upset implicit changes to the pricing of Remote Raid Passes. The game’s shaper Niantic said the outgo of these items volition astir treble to 195 coins for 1 walk oregon 525 coins for 3 passes. Previously, 1 walk was 100 coins (about $1) and 3 passes were 250 coins (about $2.50). Plus, players volition lone beryllium capable to enactment successful 5 raids per day. The pricing changes suggest the institution is facing economical headwinds. Niantic has not been palmy successful translating its AR level to different titles to make different deed arsenic large arsenic Pokémon GO.
  • In Epic Games’ antitrust lawsuit against Google, lawyers for the plaintiffs submitted a fig of exhibits to show Google employees’ inclination to power disconnected chat past connected interior discussions. Epic believes this behaviour is meant to destruct delicate communications related to its Fortnite lawsuit. Shortly aft the caller filing, a national justice ruled that Google’s nonaccomplishment to sphere messages requires sanctions. The justice is requiring Google to wage lawyer fees and is debating what different non-monetary sanctions volition beryllium needed.


  • Block said connected Thursday it had verified 44 million of its implicit 51 cardinal monthly progressive users done its individuality programme arsenic of December 31. The connection was made pursuing an investigative report from abbreviated seller Hindenburg Research, which claimed 40-75% of Cash App accounts they reviewed were fake, committing fraud oregon were further accounts belonging to a azygous individual.


  • Google Fi subscribers can yet usage 5G connected the iPhone. The enactment requires the caller iOS 16.4 update connected an iPhone 12 oregon newer, past the telephone has to beryllium switched implicit to 5G Auto successful cellular settings.
  • Google Search, including its mobile hunt app, volition now see utmost vigor alerts that volition archer users erstwhile a vigor question is expected to start on with tips to assistance users enactment cool.
  • Lyft’s co-founders, CEO Logan Green and president John Zimmer, are stepping down. Green connected April 17 and Zimmer connected June 30. Ex-Amazon exec David Risher volition beryllium the caller CEO.
  • OverDrive, a longtime integer speechmaking companion utilized by room patrons, will beryllium shutting down for good. After announcing its plans to sunset the app and removing it from app stores past year, the institution present says that OverDrive volition fully unopen down connected May 1, 2023. Readers volition beryllium directed to usage the newer integer app Libby instead.

Security Concerns

  • Two targeted spyware campaigns involving respective zero-day exploits for Android, iOS and mobile versions of the Chrome browser were detailed by researchers from Google’s Threat Analysis Group. Hackers were capable to instal a instrumentality that allowed them to way the determination of devices successful Italy, Malaysia and Kazakhstan.
  • A Washington Post report warns that galore of the astir fashionable VPN services and apps person misled users astir their practices portion besides disguising their origins, ownership and locations. It noted besides that galore of these apps are based successful China oregon controlled by Chinese nationals.
  • New York City-based LeapXpert, which monitors worker communications with customers and co-workers crossed chat apps similar iMessage, WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal and WeChat, raised $22 million successful Series A funding led by Rockefeller Asset Management.
  • Indian fintech PhonePe will nary longer beryllium acquiring BNPL work ZestMoney, successful a woody that was acceptable to beryllium between $200-300 million. The M&A was called disconnected implicit owed diligence concerns.
  • YC and Foundation Capital-backed meditation app Simple Habit was acquired by wellness marketplace institution Ingenio for an undisclosed sum. Simple Habit volition rebrand itself to Sleep Reset arsenic a effect of the deal.
  • Autio, a location-based audio amusement app co-founded by histrion Kevin Costner (previously known arsenic HearHere), raised a $5.9 cardinal effect extension led by iHeartMedia.
  • Cabify — the Madrid-based level that competes against Uber successful Spain and Latin America — announced $110 cardinal successful funding. However, the nonstop breakdown of the backing is unclear. The fig includes a €40 cardinal indebtedness from the European Investment Bank announced successful December 2022 and the proceeds of a backing circular of an unconfirmed magnitude that Cabify secured successful July 2022.

Perplexity AI

Image Credits: Perplexity connected the App Store

AI hunt startup Perplexity AI this week announced $25.6 cardinal successful a caller backing round led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA). The San Francisco-based institution is 1 of present respective hoping to situation Google by offering users a caller mode to inquire and get answers to their mundane system. Notably, Perplexity’s CEO worked antecedently arsenic a researcher astatine DeepMind and the Google Brain project. That transportation has brought immoderate fractional twelve AI researchers astatine Google and DeepMind arsenic investors, including SVP for Research and AI, Jeff Dean. While Perplexity launched successful December, it’s been precocious gaining much traction, Bloomberg reported, with February’s 13 cardinal visits much than treble that of January’s.

However, the company’s mobile app lone launched this past week (March 28), offering a mode for iPhone users to get instant answers connected immoderate taxable with up-to-date (and cited!) sources. You tin besides inquire the chatbot follow-up questions and prosecute with the app utilizing either typing oregon your voice. Plus, you tin support your thread past to prime up wherever you near off. Noted 1 App Store review, “this truly is excessively bully to beryllium true,” noting that the app was escaped to usage contempt each the functionality — making it a imaginable menace to OpenAI.

Apple Music Classical

The caller   Apple Music Classical app, shown connected  3 smartphone screens, offers Apple Music subscribers entree  to implicit    5 cardinal  classical euphony  tracks.

Image Credits: Apple

Apple’s caller app for classical music, Apple Music Classical, is present disposable arsenic a free download for Apple Music subscribers. At launch, the work volition beryllium disposable globally, but successful prime markets, including China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Taiwan and Turkey. However, Apple says it volition get successful these countries astatine immoderate constituent successful the future.

The institution said that determination are much than 5 cardinal tracks disposable connected the app close now, arsenic good implicit 50+ cardinal information points with information attributes of 20,000+ composers, 115,000+ unsocial works and 350,000+ movements. This information helps Apple Music subscribers find recordings crossed the catalog done the app’s specialized hunt motor built for classical music.

As Apple explains, classical works person aggregate movements and tracks, portion celebrated pieces person hundreds of recordings with antithetic orchestras, conductors and soloists. In addition, galore composers person their ain peculiar catalog classifications, which means classical euphony hunt has to beryllium built otherwise with these complexities successful mind. Because of these challenges, it’s been hard to find classical works connected accepted euphony streaming apps.

In the caller app, users tin hunt for works utilizing keyword combinations that see composer, work, opus number, conductor, artist, instrumentality oregon adjacent the work’s name. Plus, erstwhile you look up a enactment connected the app, you’ll find each its associated recordings arsenic good arsenic a hand-picked “Editor’s Choice” performance. Apple Music Classical’s editors created implicit 700 playlists to usher listeners done 800 years of euphony and plans to adhd much implicit time.

Arc’s mobile browser companion app

Image Credits: Arc

A buzzy caller desktop web browser Arc has been rethinking however browsers should work. However, with the launch of its mobile app this week, Arc opted not to make different browser to vie with Safari. Instead, its app serves chiefly arsenic a mobile companion to Arc, offering users entree to their Spaces and tabs from Arc for Mac portion connected the go, arsenic good arsenic the quality to prevention links from different apps to work later, and a mode to presumption your saved Easels (a scrapbooking feature) and Notes. Arc is absorbing due to the fact that it’s trying to reimagine a basal portion of mundane computing with an oculus connected the aboriginal — and it has a batch of fans. However, its absorption is scattered, trying to lick galore problems astatine erstwhile astatine the aforesaid clip it’s inventing caller tools to use, similar its web scrapbooks which feels much similar a standalone merchandise thought that’s been mashed into a browser. The existent trial for Arc volition beryllium erstwhile it exits its backstage beta investigating and opens to the wider public.

Read Entire Article