Weekly News For You To Stay Updated With The App Industry
Today’s major news covers Google’s “third-party payment options”, the groundbreaking Digital Markets Act in Europe, and Apple’s ninth fine in the Netherlands. It’s been a while since the news was dominated by such monumental shifts in policy.
There are also exciting new features announced by Twitter and Instagram, plus two new games from Netflix. Read it all in our latest Weekly News Wr(app).
[Click here in case you missed last week’s news on Netflix worrying about password sharing and WhatsApp’s new voice note feature]
1. Google permits third-party payment options for Spotify, but still ensures it gets a cut of the commission
On what seems like a momentous occasion, Google announced its plans to allow developers to use third-party payment options. This could be the signal of a new dawn, where app developers and users witness complete fairness in the app market. Only that it’s not.
Google’s plans first of all include only a small selection of developers, Spotify being one of them. We don’t know when more will be allowed into this esoteric group.
Plus there are also reports of Google still taking a commission from Spotify even when the Google billing system is not used. Spotify declined to comment on what kind of fees it’ll be paying Google but they said that it meets their “standard of fairness”.
In India, the Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF) was frustrated with Google’s deflection tactics and discriminatory move to allow only a few developers to the program. Sijo Kuruvilla, Executive Director of ADIF said that “This is essentially “Google” choice billing and has nothing to do with “user” choice. The fact of the matter remains that this announcement does nothing to address the underlying issues and concerns: the anti-competitive nature of the policy,”.
Corie Wright, the VP of public policy for Epic Games was not impressed either. She said that “Apple and Google continue to abuse their market power with policies that stifle innovation, inflate prices and reduce consumer choice,” and that “One deal does not change the anti-competitive status quo. We will continue to fight for fair and open platforms for all developers and consumers and work with policymakers and regulators to hold these gatekeepers accountable for their anticompetitive conduct.”
At first glance, it looked like Google was turning over a new leaf. But a closer look into the deal makes it seem like they’re trying their best to maintain the status quo. Time will tell how things pan out for developers around the world.
2. Apple fined for the 9th time in the Netherlands over alternative in-app payment options.
Since the beginning of 2022, the legal tussle between Apple and the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has been a regular fixture in the news. The ACM, which is the antitrust regulator in the Netherlands, issued weekly fines to Apple for non-compliance with its order over payment options for dating apps.
Apple was ordered to allow alternative in-app payment options for dating apps in the Netherlands but they failed to adhere to the requirements. That is still the case as of last week, which is why they were fined another 5 million euros for the ninth time.
In response to the latest fine, Apple sent over new proposals to the ACM hoping to smooth things over. The previous actions of Apple failed to impress the ACM especially when they reduced commissions from 30% to 27%. Neither have they made it easier for dating app developers with additional requirements for them to publish their apps on the App Store.
3. India among the largest markets for app downloads in the first quarter of 2022
The app market continues to increase in stature with the latest numbers from data.ai showing a record 37 billion downloads and $33 billion spent on apps. Android apps contributed to a massive 28.5 billion downloads to the 37 billion while iOS app users made up 65% of the consumer spending.
India, Brazil, and the US were the top markets for new app downloads. Android apps were performing well in terms of downloads due to their popularity in emerging markets. The top downloaded apps were in the gaming, tools, and social apps categories.
The numbers, especially of India’s, seem to be telling us that the mobile app market is on an upward trend. We know, given the untapped potential in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.
4. Data shows that people used crypto apps more than stock trading apps in 2021
The second half of 2021 saw the growing popularity of crypto apps, according to a report from Apptopia. The data was making a comparison with stock trading apps. Crypto apps outperformed stock trading apps in retention rates, user sessions per day, and stickiness.
In fact, Crypto apps outperformed banking and payment apps too in session length.
As we saw in India’s Budget 2022, cryptocurrencies are definitely growing in popularity in India too.
5. The EU plans to free up the app market in Europe with the Digital Markets Act
With the growing frustration with Big Tech, the EU has finally had enough and is introducing the Digital Markets Act (DMA). The legislation will impose new rules and restrictions on firms that provide core platform services and have an annual turnover of 7.5 billion euros.
This firmly places Google, Apple, and Meta at the center of the new policy. The aim is to end the era of dominance that these firms are enjoying at the cost of smaller market players.
Andreas Schwab, the European Parliament’s Rapporteur for the file, said in a statement: “The Digital Markets Act puts an end to the ever-increasing dominance of Big Tech companies. From now on, they must show that they also allow for fair competition on the internet. The new rules will help enforce that basic principle. Europe is thus ensuring more competition, more innovation, and more choice for users.”
One of the key tenets of the DMA is the interoperability of social messaging platforms. This means that users of smaller messaging services can send texts, files, and make calls to users of more popular platforms like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. This will result in a user’s freedom to use any platform if they don’t like the policies of Meta, without the fear of being unable to connect with friends and family who don’t use the same service.
Other significant restrictions of the DMA include a ban on Big Tech firms on ranking their own product and services over others, a ban on forcing app developers to use a certain payment method for digital transactions, a ban on unfair business practices, etc.
The DMA looks pretty sweet, especially for those outside the Big Tech circle. This could finally promote fairness and transparency that breeds innovation and maintains healthy competition in the market.
6. Android 13 will notify you if an app is using too much of your battery
The latest iteration of Android has a neat feature that will save a lot of your battery life. According to a blog post, the new feature works by sending a system notification to the user alerting them to any app that’s eating a lot of battery power.
Android 13 will do this by assessing what all app does. This includes foreground services, app’s cache, background services, work tasks, etc. This will help users identify any unused apps that are draining battery power in the background.
Users will have to wait until Google releases a stable update of Android 13 in September or October. The first beta version is slated for release in April.
7. The chronological feed is back. Instagram allows you to switch your feed between Favorites and Following.
The new option to switch between “Favorites” and “Following” could help Instagram users to experience the app in the way they like. If a user chooses the Favorites feed, he or she will see posts from accounts of their choice, like friends and family, or a favorite influencer. The Following feed displays posts from people they follow.
One major change is the return of the chronological feed. Now posts will be displayed not according to an algorithm but on the time of posting.
To make the switch, users simply have to tap the top left corner of the homepage to change what they see.
8. Netflix adds two more games to their collection, available on both Android and iOS
Netflix is growing its gaming collection with the addition of two titles called “Shattered Remaster” and “This Is A True Story”. Shattered Remastered is a retro brick-breaking game that was first released on the Playstation 3 in 2009. This Is A True Story is an app built to raise awareness of the lack of clean and safe drinking water around the world.
Both the games are available on the Android and iOS apps. For Android users, a dedicated games tab is present on the app where all games are available, including the new ones. iOS users have to download the games separately and log in using their Netflix accounts.
Netflix is also planning to enter the first-person shooter scene with “Into the Dead 2: Unleased”. No release date is set for the game other than Netflix’s promise that it’s “coming soon”.
9. Twitter users can now search for specific chats in their DMs
A new powerful search feature for Twitter DMs is out for everyone. Those who use WhatsApp knows how useful this feature is. Simply put, any Twitter user can type in a word in the DM search bar and all chats with that word will pop up.
Now you don’t have to go searching for something you said to someone (or vice versa) with this new feature.
Twitter originally announced this feature in May 2021, and finally released it now, after missing a deadline.
Update your app to start using this feature.
10. Reddit weighing the option of a video feature to enhance user experience
The platform that has brought forth various discussion communities is mulling over the idea to introduce a video reactions feature. This is not a move to take on apps like TikTok and Instagram but more of a way to introduce fresher ways of discussion.
The feature is still in its early stages and the company will reach out to Redditors to hear what they have to say. One Reddit spokesperson commented the following: “In line with our work to help people engage in the topics that matter to them through social audio, video, text, memes, and more, we’re in the process of reaching out to a few Reddit communities to see if a new video feature we’re working on is something they find useful and fun,”.
Since the feature is still in its infancy, a lot can change over time, including the scrapping of the whole idea. We’ll just have to wait for the next announcement.