Weekly News For You To Stay Updated With The App Industry
Twitter has been whipping up a storm since the Elon Musk saga. Now, however, they’ve been caught red-handed for misusing user data. We can’t say we’re surprised, maybe a little disappointed.
Anyway, we’ve got more news on Google and their video chat apps and a new feature from Snapchat.
Learn about it all in the latest edition of The Weekly News Wr(app):
1. Google facing police complaints in South Korea
A consumer group in South Korea called the Citizens United for Consumer Sovereignty (CUCS) filed a police complaint against Google’s Korea CEO, Google’s Asia-Pacific President, and CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai.
The CUCS was unhappy with the increase in prices of app subscriptions due to Google forcing all developers to adopt its own billing system. Because developers have to use Google’s Billing System, they end up paying commissions of 15-30 percent on all transactions, and this is passed on to the end-user.
Representatives from the CUCS also stated how this goes against Korea’s Telecommunications Business Act, and this enforcement “has raised costs, burdening consumers, and damaging creators”.
Developers are also left with no choice but to comply failing which they face the ignominy of being booted out of the Play Store. Furthermore, developers who don’t follow the rules will not be allowed to even release updates for their apps, which will hurt their user experience. Plus Google is removing apps that are not updated from the Play Store from November 1, 2022. Although there’s a slim chance that most apps will be removed, it still is an unnerving prospect.
Google is facing a lot of flak for its policies but nothing seems to make them budge. The company continues its brazen attempts at enforcing its restrictive policies with no discrimination. Developers in India have up till 31st October 2022 to comply with Google’s rules, which shows that even those on our home turf are facing the brunt of Big Tech’s rules.
2. Twitter fined for selling user data
America’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) imposed a fine on Twitter, to the tune of $150 million, for deceptively collecting user data and selling it to advertisers.
Twitter got this data (phone numbers and email IDs) from users by telling them that it was collecting it to keep the user account safe. But in truth, Twitter used this info to sell to targeted advertisers and boost its own revenue.
Twitter’s infraction was first pointed out in 2019 and they were found guilty of violating the 2011 FTC Order to not profit from deceptively collected data. According to FTC Chair Lina M. Khan, “Twitter obtained data from users on the pretext of harnessing it for security purposes but then ended up also using the data to target users with ads. This practice affected more than 140 million Twitter,”.
However, Twitter accepted the charges and paid the settlement while agreeing to follow new rules laid down by the FTC which include allowing users to use other multi-factor authentication methods, limiting employee access to user data, notifying users if their data was misused, etc.
3. Snapchat introduces a “Shared Stories” feature
Snapchat released a new feature called “Shared Stories” which allows users to add friends to a story for them to view and contribute. According to Snap, this is a way for users to collaborate and share memories.
“Today, we’re introducing Shared Stories, a new way for Snapchatters to build community around the content they love to snap. With this next generation Story, we’re hoping to help Snapchatters turn shared moments into shared memories.”, Snap said in a blog post.
Shared Stories was one of the many features they added to their roster during Snap’s Partner Summit. Snap also introduced a Director Mode, Spotlight which is a short-form video feature, and they’re also investing in AR technology to enhance online shopping for its users.
4. Google Duo and Google Meet to be made one
In Duo time, Google made both its video chat apps to Meet. That was a poorly structured pun, but you likely gist of the story from the headline at least, right? Right?
Without any further hedging, Google has decided to bring Duo and Meet under one umbrella. Initially, Google intended Duo to act as a video chat app for personal use and Meet for business. Nowadays, no one really separates the two since the pandemic began. So it makes sense that Google is marrying the two.
This announcement means that Duo will also get Meet’s features like scheduled calls, and gradually it’ll be rebranded as Google Meet.
Google’s GM and VP, Javier Soltero believes that this move will enable Google to serve its video calling consumers better. He said that “it’s incredibly important and strategically critical for Google to be able to serve the full breadth of the video market, from consumer use all the way to organizational and commercial use with a common service platform and a product whose user experience is guided by the same sense of simplicity and intuitiveness,”.
These apps are part of a long list of video calling/messaging apps that Google has experimented with. They’ve come out with 13 different messaging services with varying degrees of success. And many of them are now defunct. Maybe this “merger” will help them decide to stick it out.
5. Poparazzi, the anti-Instagram app, is making waves in 2022
There’s a new app in town called Poparazzi that’s making waves among Gen-Z users. This app is built around a core feature on Instagram, namely, photo tagging.
But the main difference lies in who gets to tag whom. And on Poparazzi, your friends click pictures of you and post them on your profile. All you can do as a user is create your own profile. This takes the focus off yourself and onto others. You’re now aware of those around you and you act as the “paparazzi” for your friends.
According to Alex Ma, co-founder of Poparazzi, the idea sounded dumb at first. “It started off almost like a novel, dumb idea — like, what if you could build Instagram but didn’t let people post photos of themselves?” he said. “But the more we thought about it, the more we realized we were actually fundamentally changing the engine of what drives social today. And that was the big bet.”
The bet paid off, and they’ve reported 5 million app installs last year and they’re waiting on potential funding for future projects. The app is available on iOS and its users are mainly from America, with 95% of its users between the ages of 14 to 21.
It’s interesting to note that there are other “anti-Instagram” apps out there that believe that “big tech is no longer the best place to connect with your real-life friends”. These alternative apps include Yubo, Locket, LiveIn, HalloApp, and BeReal.
When these apps will make it to Android is unknown and the question of whether this will resonate with an Indian audience is uncertain. But the fact that there are those opposing Big Tech and subverting expectations is refreshing to see.