Facebook, Google and Others Challenge Zoom’s Dominance

The group video chat app Zoom has been No. 1 in the Apple store for more than a month, growing 740 percent in the last month, according to App Annie. The company, valued at $47 billion, now boasts 300 million daily participants. Success spurs competition, and Zoom is now in the crosshairs of Big Tech and telecommunications companies. After Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg urged a focus on completing its video chat projects, the company launched Messenger Rooms for as many as 50 people. Continue reading Facebook, Google and Others Challenge Zoom’s Dominance

Houseparty Chat Expands Beyond Teens to Wider Audience

Zoom has gotten a lot of attention as the popular video chat platform that’s soared in usage since the COVID-19 shutdown. But Houseparty is another video chat platform with free mobile and desktop apps that’s gaining traction. Originally targeting teens, Houseparty offers features designed to encourage interaction, such as jumping into a conversation or playing trivia games remotely. In the last month, Houseparty has had 50 million signups, about 70 times its typical number in some markets, said cofounder and chief executive Sima Sistani. Continue reading Houseparty Chat Expands Beyond Teens to Wider Audience

Apple App Store Rules Ban Cloud-Based Streaming Services

Apple has always had strict limits on apps that users can access on its devices. For gaming, that means its 1+ billion iPhone/iPad users have one option: Arcade, the subscription service Apple unveiled in September. The App Store guidelines also ban streaming from the cloud, which limits Arcade’s capabilities. Still, software developers need to be on Apple’s iOS if they want to reach a maximum number of users. According to Sensor Tower, the iOS App Store was responsible for 65 percent of all global app spending last year. Continue reading Apple App Store Rules Ban Cloud-Based Streaming Services

Apple Alters App Guidelines, Okays Opt-In Push Notifications

Apple has revised its App Store review guidelines used to curate iOS/iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, and macOS App Stores, most notably, now allowing developers to serve ads via push notifications. In past guidelines, Apple specifically said that push notifications should not be used for “advertising, promotions or direct marketing purposes.” The revised guidelines also expand the definition of a spam app and state that legal entities of services in “highly regulated fields” should submit the app rather than individual developers. Continue reading Apple Alters App Guidelines, Okays Opt-In Push Notifications

New App Leverages AR to Let Users Dance with Music Stars

The stage appearance of a Tupac Shakur hologram at the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival marked the beginning of the music industry’s fascination with the new tech. Now, augmented reality startup 1RIC convinced five artists to dance and pose, surrounded by 106 cameras. The resulting 3D images of these performers reside on Jadu, 1RIC’s app, which consumers can use to create their own videos of themselves dancing with the stars. Chief executive Asad Malik said Jadu is an effort to make 3D holograms more accessible. Continue reading New App Leverages AR to Let Users Dance with Music Stars

Facebook Product Experimentation Team Open for Business

According to sources, Facebook’s new division dubbed the New Product Experimentation Team (or NPE Team) is looking into the possibility of creating apps and podcasts for travel, newsletters and workplace services. The NPE Team is tasked with “building the future of Facebook,” as chief executive Mark Zuckerberg hopes to keep the social media platform central to peoples’ daily lives. Other social networks such as Myspace and Friendster failed when they did not evolve beyond their initial offerings. Continue reading Facebook Product Experimentation Team Open for Business

Apple’s Rules For Kids Apps Will Impact Analytics and Ads

Apple has created new rules for kids apps in the App Store that will ban external analytics software and restrict the ability to sell advertisements. Considering the market dominance of the Apple App Store, developers of kids apps are worried that, starting next month when the rules go into effect, they will struggle to stay afloat. Apple said the new rules were in response to some children seeing inappropriate ads on apps and its aim to protect them from data trackers. Some privacy advocates have applauded the move. Continue reading Apple’s Rules For Kids Apps Will Impact Analytics and Ads

Some Execs Oppose Rebranding of Popular Facebook Apps

Facebook is adding its name to Instagram and WhatsApp as part of a decision to unify its apps by branding them with the parent company’s name. The Facebook moniker will be visible on marketing and within the apps. Some Facebook employees purportedly oppose the move. The rebranding will bring the two popular apps in line with the naming conventions of Oculus, Portal and Workplace. The move to rebrand the two apps was first discovered in March, but at the time Facebook said it was just “testing the change” on a handful of users. Continue reading Some Execs Oppose Rebranding of Popular Facebook Apps

The European Union to Investigate Amazon’s Data Practices

European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has just opened an inquiry into whether Amazon unfairly uses data gleaned from third-party sellers. The investigation has no deadline and could go on for years. At issue is whether Amazon has an unfair advantage by selling its own goods on the site, in competition with its third-party sellers. Amazon stated it will “cooperate fully” with the investigation as well as “continue working hard to support businesses of all sizes and help them grow.” Continue reading The European Union to Investigate Amazon’s Data Practices

Researchers Identify Bugs in Microsoft Excel, Apple macOS

Threat intelligence firm Mimecast revealed that hackers are exploiting a Microsoft Excel feature called Power Query to facilitate Office 365 attacks. This feature lets legitimate users combine data from various sources by linking to those components in a spreadsheet. Hackers replace a link with another that leads to a site infected with malware. The hacked Excel spreadsheets then allow attackers to install backdoors, using the software program’s own tools. Meanwhile, Apple has yet to fix a macOS bug first identified by a cybersecurity researcher in February. Continue reading Researchers Identify Bugs in Microsoft Excel, Apple macOS

Apple Reinstates Kid Controls, App Developers File Lawsuit

Apple abruptly reversed a decision made a year ago to remove iPhone apps that use one of two technologies to allow parents to control their children’s use of Apple devices. The company revealed its move to allow parental controls in a short blog post on its website. The reversal comes on the heels of news that the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are scrutinizing Silicon Valley tech companies for antitrust behavior. App developers filed a lawsuit in California accusing Apple of monopolizing app distribution. Continue reading Apple Reinstates Kid Controls, App Developers File Lawsuit

Developers Are Struggling to Create Alexa-Centric Killer App

Four years after launching its program to allow outside developers to write apps for Alexa, Amazon’s voice system has some 80,000 “skills” — but no huge hit. In fact, most people with Alexa-enabled smart speakers still use them only to listen to music or make simple requests. That compares to Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, each of which are home to over 550,000 apps, many of which have been huge successes for developers. But voice-centric apps are challenging to build and don’t appear to attract consumers. Continue reading Developers Are Struggling to Create Alexa-Centric Killer App

Unfold, an App for Designing Instagram Stories, Gains Steam

Instagram’s Stories — featuring short, disappearing photos and videos — are now read by 400 million people per day. An app called Unfold, created specifically for Instagram Stories, is growing in popularity. Alfonso Cobo, an architect, created Unfold in March 2017 and the app already has 11 million users. Cobo is also opening a design agency to help brands and companies that need to create compelling content for Stories. Cobo originally created Unfold as an app for designers to use the iPad to create portfolios. Continue reading Unfold, an App for Designing Instagram Stories, Gains Steam

Apple Shares Dip Despite Report of Record Revenue, Profit

Apple reported record revenue and profit for the fourth consecutive quarter, due to higher iPhone prices and App Store sales, but shares fell 6.5 percent to $207.76 in after-hours trading. Investors were unhappy about the company’s announcement that it plans to stop reporting unit sales for products. Apple’s numbers reflect a trend of tech share price drops, due to investor concern about the combination of high valuations, slowing revenue growth and rising costs. Apple forecasts that December quarter revenue will be between $89 billion and $93 billion. Continue reading Apple Shares Dip Despite Report of Record Revenue, Profit

Senators Ask FTC to Examine Kids Apps’ Privacy Violations

Two Democratic senators — Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — sent a letter on Wednesday to the Federal Trade Commission asking for an investigation into whether the thousands of “child-friendly” apps in the market are actually collecting children’s personal information. To do so would violate a federal law protecting children’s online privacy, since it requires sites and apps targeting persons under 13 years old to obtain verifiable parental permission before collecting data. Continue reading Senators Ask FTC to Examine Kids Apps’ Privacy Violations

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