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This Week in Apps: Android 13 arrives, apps plan for midterms, Amazon copies TikTok

This Week in Apps: Android 13 arrives, apps plan for midterms, Amazon copies TikTok Image
  • Posted on 20th Aug, 2022 18:03 PM
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This Week in Apps offers a way to keep up with the fast-moving apps industry in one place, with the latest including news, updates, startup fundings, M&A and more

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and the overall app economy.

Global app spending reached $65 billion in the first half of 2022, up only slightly from the $64.4 billion during the same period in 2021, as hypergrowth fueled by the pandemic has slowed. But overall, the app economy is continuing to grow, having produced a record number of downloads and consumer spending across both the iOS and Google Play stores combined in 2021, according to the latest year-end reports. Global spending across iOS and Google Play last year was $133 billion, and consumers downloaded 143.6 billion apps.

This Week in Apps offers a way to keep up with this fast-moving industry in one place with the latest from the world of apps, including news, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and much more.

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Android 13 arrives

Image Credits: Google

Big news for Android users this week as Google rolled out the new version of its mobile operating system, Android 13, initially to all Pixel devices, following the beta launch a month ago. The OS will reach other non-Pixel Android devices sometime later this year, including Samsung Galaxy, Asus, HMD (Nokia phones), iQOO, Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Sharp, Sony, Tecno, vivo, Xiaomi and others.

As mobile platforms have standardized, the latest efforts from both Google and Apple have been focused on personalization elements. In iOS 16, this now includes a customizable Lock Screen with widgets, while Android is doubling down on its Material You UI. With the prior version of Android, users could theme their device to match their background. With the latest update, they can now also match their non-Google apps to their chosen theme and color schemes. This is a much simpler and more elegant solution than the icon customization on iOS today, where apps like Brass, Themify, Aesthetic, Color Widgets and many others have to leverage a combination of configuration profiles and shortcuts to do the same.

In another personalization move, Android 13 allows users to set the languages used for different apps — useful for those who speak multiple languages.

Other improvements include the ability to copy content (e.g. URLs, photos, videos, text) between Android devices, better multitasking features on tablets, an expanded bedtime mode with dimmed wallpaper and a dark theme, HDR video support on third-party camera apps, BLE Audio, Spatial Audio on supported headphones, an upgraded media player widget that showcases album artwork and includes a dancing playback bar and more. On the privacy side, there are changes to permissions that allow users to more narrowly select images and videos to be shared with third-party apps and the OS now prevents unwanted access to your clipboard.

Another big benefit of the upgraded mobile OS for end users is that they can more easily block apps from annoying them with notifications. Now, apps users download will need explicit permission to send notifications, rather than being allowed to send notifications by default. This change sees Android finally catching up with iOS, which has offered this type of setting for years. (Many, many years.)

The Android source has also been pushed to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).

This week TechCrunch’s Frederic Lardinois also sat down with James Ward, Google’s product manager for Kotlin, to talk about the language’s role in the Android ecosystem and its future plans. You can read that here.

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