Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re also a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus. In 2020, investors poured $73 billion in capital into mobile companies — a figure that was up 27% year-over-year. 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 suggestions about new apps and games to try, too.
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. According to the most recent year-end estimates, the app industry continues to thrive, with a record amount of downloads and consumer spending across both the iOS and Google Play stores combined in 2021. According to App Annie, global spending on iOS and Google Play will reach $135 billion in 2021, and when its annual report, which includes third-party app stores in China, is released following year, that amount will likely be higher. Consumers also downloaded 10 billion more apps this year than in 2020, bringing the total number of new app instals to roughly 140 billion, according to the study.
Do you want This Week in Apps in your inbox every Saturday? Sign up here: techcrunch.com/newsletters. Apps have been accused of quietly snooping on their users for some time. They collect data and reshare it with advertisers and other third parties, often without users’ truly informed consent. Now the tables are turned in a sense, as users will finally be able to snoop on their apps, thanks to Apple’s new App Privacy Report feature, now available in iOS 15.2 and iPadOS 15.2. This app transparency feature lets an iOS user see what their apps are actually doing — including which apps are accessing the data and the sensors on your phone, as well as where that data is being shared. The latter is revealed through the feature’s ability to report with which third-party websites an app is communicating. Some of those may be for analytics purposes, but others may be adtech sites.