Welcome back to This Week in Apps, a weekly TechCrunch series that highlights the latest in mobile OS news, mobile apps, and the app market in general.
In 2020, the app business is expected to reach a new high of 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in global consumer spending. Last year, consumers spent 3.5 trillion minutes only on Android devices. In the United States, app usage has surpassed the time spent viewing live television. The average American currently watches 3.7 hours of live television per day, but increasingly spends four hours on their mobile devices.
Apps aren’t simply a fun way to kill time; they’re also major money. Mobile-first companies were valued at $544 billion in 2019, 6.5 times greater than those without a mobile emphasis. In 2020, investors will have invested $73 billion in mobile enterprises, an increase of 27% year over year.
This Week in Applications is a great way to keep up with this fast-paced sector in one location, with the latest news, updates, startup fundings, mergers, and acquisitions, as well as recommendations for new apps and games to try.
This week’s news was dominated by changes to the App Store ecosystem. Legislators in South Korea are preparing to vote on a major bill that might put an end to Apple and Google’s payment exclusivity on their respective app stores. Meanwhile, Apple has reduced commissions for news publishers’ applications to 15% if they agree to join the Apple News ecosystem. Apple also agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by American app developers that, pending court approval, will make a few changes to App Store rules, the most notable of which is the ability for developers to communicate with their users outside of their iOS apps to inform them of other purchase options.
As it turns out, the App Store settlement agreement isn’t quite as groundbreaking as some headlines suggested. For starters, Apple had previously made a minor change to its App Store policy in June, clarifying that developers were permitted to contact their customers via email and text about other paying options other than Apple’s own in-app sales. However, developers were only allowed to do so if they didn’t use contact information gathered from within the app. That has changed slightly with the current settlement.
Developers can now take the tiniest of steps ahead by informing users — specifically, users who have agreed to receive offers via email or other forms of communication — about alternate payment ways to in-app purchases. Users may already be checking in using third-party credentials such as Facebook’s, Google’s, or even Apple’s own sign-on systems, which means developers will have to obtain users’ contact information from their app. (Of course, Apple’s system allows you to hide your email address from developers.) Wow, someone was foreseeing that!)