This Week in Apps: Apple’s Event brings a “Dynamic Island”, new widgets, and iOS 16

Welcome Back to This Week in Apps. This TechCrunch series recaps the most recent in mobile OS news and mobile apps.

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 down. 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 is a place to keep up with the fast-moving app industry. It includes news, updates and information about startup fundings, mergers, acquisitions, and other important developments.

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Top Stories
Apple unveils new iPhones and new ways for app developers reach users

Image Credits: Apple

Apple’s annual fall event was held this week, and it was a success. The iPhone 14 line brings some notable new features, like the always-on display for the Pro models, emergency satellite connectivity and the removal of the SIM tray in the U.S. in favor of eSIM support, along with other updated specs across the devices’ camera systems, chips, sensors and more.

But, what will intrigue the most app developers is a few other modifications — both expected or unexpected.

With the updated mobile operating system iOS 16, developers will have a way to reach their users directly from the phone’s Lock Screen, thanks to the new widget platform. These new widgets were announced at this year’s WWDC. They are part of a larger Lock Screen overhaul that includes a built in editor, wallpaper gallery and theming tools. A Live Activities feature allows for real-time updates to this important iPhone area.

With WidgetKit developers will be able build the same code for watchOS and Lock Screen. Apple explained this at WWDC. They can choose from three types of widgets on the iPhone’s Lock Screen: inline, rectangular, and circular — the latter is a way to communicate information with a smaller amount of text and SF Symbols, rather than below the Lock Screen’s clock like the others.

Developers are already coming up with creative ways to make the most of this screen space.

Some people see the Lock Screen widgets simply as extensions to their existing apps, such as Flighty which sends flight status updates and other travel information to its users. Some people see the widgets in a larger collection of personalization options, which allows users to pin favorite photos, motivational quotations, or favorite shortcuts to their Lock Screen. ScreenKit did this.

So live activities are awesome, right? The Dynamic Island makes them even more awesome. It was an amazing project to work on, and I can’t wait to see what you build together.

— Patrick Metcalfe (@PatrickMetcalfe) September 7, 2022

For apps that provide real-time updates the Live Activities feature allows developers to display additional information on the Lock Screen, such as when a customer’s order is being delivered or when Lyft is near by.

But the real surprise was when Apple presented a new extension to Live Activities that had not yet been released: The Dynamic Island feature. It was thrilling to discover a new feature during the keynote instead of reading about it on the news, which is becoming a more frequent occurrence these days.

The Dynamic Island is a smart combination of hardware, software and hardware. It transforms the “notch” sensor at the top of iPhones into a feature. Apple undersells the pill-shaped cutout as a unique way of interacting with notifications, alerts, and activities.

This adaptive area can expand and contract to create different shapes and sizes. It delivers information to the user through animations, transitions, and other animations.

You can picture yourself looking at your Uber while you text friends, or watching a timer as you read the next steps of a recipe, or getting turn-by–turn directions from another app. You can also use it to provide informational updates visually and without interrupting your current activities on your phone. Apple suggested that this could include confirming your AirPods have been connected, muting your iPhone, starting a charger, starting FaceID, activating your Transit Card when you tap your iPhone in transit locations, and other useful information.

It can also show background activity such as the music playing when you exit the music application — it even shows a small photo of the album artwork. To access the “now-playing” controls, tap the Dynamic Island again to expand it into a larger interactive floating widget with more options. We wonder if the selfie camera will get dirty. )

The same is true for phone calls. A tap can bring up a larger interface to tap the speaker button, mute button or FaceTime option buttons.

Needless to say, designers and developers were excited by the possibilities and praised the feature on Twitter after and during Apple’s event. We can be sure that this feature will soon become widely adopted, once the technology is available.

This is a very clever conceptual design that seamlessly integrates hardware and software. It has been executed astonishingly well. This is Apple-only stuff. This is my favorite.

— Sebastiaan de With (@sdw) September 7, 2022

Weekly News
Google Platforms


Image Credits: Google

Not to be upstaged by Apple, Google this week announced it will host an in-person Pixel hardware event on October 6 at 10 a.m. ET in Brooklyn, where Google will unveil the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.
Android 13 got its first patch, which addresses some issues around wireless charging and battery drains.
Google released a larger Android update. It includes an upgrade of its AirDrop-like Nearby Share feature. This now features a “self share” mode that allows you to move files between your devices. Redesigned widgets, sound alarms, and audio descriptions for Google TV have been added.

Image Credits: Google

Google also touted how Android 13 will make it easier to keep users’ personal data and work data separated thanks to the OS’s new “work profiles,” which let users indicate how apps should be used. This allows users to have separate photo galleries for work and personal use. It can also help preserve their YouTube history when they are used for work or for personal purposes.
After news broke that Google had blocked Trump’s Truth Social app via Google Play, Google reversed another controversial decision and allowed the conservative-leaning Parler application back in, more than a year after it was removed following the January 6 violence. Google explained that Parler had taken the necessary moderation measures required for user-generated apps to justify its decision.


According to The Information, Instagram is testing a version that focuses less on shopping. As part of the test, Instagram will remove its Instagram Shopping page. Tab Lite will be tested in the coming months by the company to determine its performance.

Augmented Reality

Image Credits: Snap

Snap will power several AR experiences custom-built for Vogue World Event at New York Fashion Week. The event on Monday, September 12, will feature a “Skywalk” Lens that transforms the show with AR as blossoming flowers emerge as models walk the runway. Other Lenses can bring sunshine or moonlight to the faces of users. Arcadia, Snap’s creative studio for AR, created the Lenses.
The new Wonderlab AR app powered by Niantic’s Lightship ARDK allows users in the U.K. access to the science behind ordinary objects through AR and geospatial technology.


India announced that its central bank will create a whitelist for legal loan applications. The IT ministry will ensure that apps only approved by it are available on the app store.
Trading app Robinhood launched an Investor Index that will be updated monthly to track the performance of the 100 most popular stocks on its platform by weighting its users’ “conviction.”
Revolut, a London-based financial app, launched one-click payments to compete with PayPal. Revolut Pay will be available to retailers such as Funky Pigeon, Prestashop and WH Smith Plc.


A new report has found that Apple’s privacy agreements with ATT helped it to grow its ads business one year later. According to a review by the performance insights platform InMobi’s Appsumer, Apple’s Search Ads business has now joined the Facebook-Google advertising duopoly after growing its adoption by 4 percentage points to reach 94.8% year-over-year, while Facebook’s adoption dropped 3% to 82.8%. In addition to the growing advertiser adoption of Apple’s Search Ads, the report also found Apple’s business grew its share-of-wallet by 5 percentage points, to reach a 15% share, while Facebook’s share-of-wallet dropped 4 percentage points, to 28%, from Q1 2021 through Q2 2022.


Image Credits: Twitter

Ahead of the U.S. midterms, Twitter said it would begin to add 1,000 contributors per week to its crowdsourced fact-checking tool, Birdwatch, which had been previously tested with 15,000 contributors. Users will be required to rate the notes and earn points based on their accuracy to become contributors.
Twitter says its new “edit tweet” feature, now in testing, will allow users to edit their tweets up to five times during the first 30 minutes it’s live. This functionality is intended to cater to marketers and other attention-getters who are looking for the right combination or hashtags to use, rather than everyday users who need to correct a typo. Twitter Blue already has this feature.
Twitter is currently testing a new method to share tweets from India. This can be done by adding a WhatsApp button below the posts for Android users.
Instagram has confirmed that it will be testing a feature that allows users to repost other’s Feed posts. This is an alternative to Twitter’s Retweet. This feature would allow aggregator accounts, rather than stealing other people’s work, to give credit.
Instagram deleted Pornhub’s account due to undisclosed reasons. Although the site has adult content, its social media accounts only share non-pornographic images or videos. This follows a lawsuit in which MindGeek, a Pornhub parent, is being sued for allegedly publishing child sexual abuse material on its site.
Nextdoor announced that it will partner again with in order to increase voter turnout for the U.S. midterm elections. encourages its users to verify voter registration and find their polling location.


Match Group and Tinder, its flagship app, announced that they are supporting the passage of “Respect for Marriage Act”, federation legislation that protects rights to interracial and same-sex marriage. With bipartisan support, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the legislation in July. Now Match Group and Tinder want the Senate to adopt the legislation. Given the threats to rights that the current Supreme Court poses, the Act comes at an important time.


Signal’s first president was Meredith Whittaker (a former Google manager and Big Tech critic), who is also a former Google manager. This new executive will be responsible for determining Signal’s policy, stragey, and communications policy.
If there were any doubts about Apple’s position regarding RCS adoption, Tim Cook clarified that by telling an audience member asking a question during a tech conference that he should “buy your mom an iPhone” to allow her to view clear videos.

Streaming & Entertainment

Image Credits: Disney+

Disney+’s first AR-enabled short film, “Remembering”, was released by Brie Larson. ShazamKit is used to listen for an audio cue which will alert users when the AR experience should be launched during the film. The film focuses on exploring children’s imagination. The AR companion app will show a waterfall that spills off the TV, as well as other effects that enhance the film’s storytelling.
Triller is now facing a third lawsuit from Phiture, a company that provides consulting services to mobile app developer. This time, it’s over non-payment. The company has already been sued by Sony Music for nonpayment and by creators Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, who say they are owed $28 million for selling Verzuz to the company.
Paul Vogel, Spotify’s chief financial officer, said that the company will soon begin to test and trial audiobooks. This follows its acquisition of Findaway, an audiobook distributor last fall. It can now compete with Amazon and Apple.
After failing to secure new funding or finding an exit, Gaana, the Tencent-backed Indian music streaming app, switched to a subscription model.


Google will launch a pilot program in India for a year that will allow daily fantasy games and rummy, but it will not allow Google to bill IAPs. The pilot begins on September 28.
Roblox has launched its new advertising platform and is currently testing dynamic billboards in-game. It’s also launching new age guidelines to restrict some games to users over the age of 13. The company also said it’s adding $10 million more to its Game Fund to support game creators, where each project gets a minimum of $500,000.

Health & Fitness

Apple has confirmed that it will offer its Apple Fitness+ subscription to all iPhone owners regardless of whether or not they have an Apple Watch. This was as promised at WWDC earlier this year. The service will arrive in all 21 countries where Fitness+ is offered and will ship alongside the iOS 16 update on Monday, including some new workouts.


Google Maps expanded its fuel-efficient and eco-friendly routing options to 40 more countries across Europe. The feature was first introduced to the U.S. in 2021, allowing users to plan their drive by how much gas they’d need to expend over other factors.
Apple announced that the Compass app will be updated to watchOS 9, during its keynote this week. This was in addition to unveiling the rugged Apple Watch Ultra. The updated app will provide more detail and offer three views. The new hybrid view will show both an analog compass dial as well as a digital view. The Digital Crown can be turned to reveal a new view with latitude, longitude and elevation. It also shows Compass Waypoints, Backtrack, and an orienteering view. This feature is powered by GPS data and will show the user where they have been, according to Apple’s press release.

Government & Policy

EU privacy regulators are fining Instagram EUR405 million as a result of a complaint over how the social media app handles children’s data in violation of the GDPR. Ireland’s Data Protection Commission found that Instagram would publish child user’s phone numbers and set accounts public by default at the time of the complaint. This is the second-highest GDPR fine and the third by DPC for the company.

Security & Privacy

Android now alerts users when data breaches have occurred by updating Google Play Services.

M&A and funding

Remento, a mobile app that preserves and captures family stories, has raised $3 million from Upfront Ventures. After a year of beta testing, the app launched on iOS this week.

Grocery delivery app Instacart has announced that it acquired Rosie, an e-commerce platform that helps independent and local retailers and wholesalers. Rosie provides tools to help them manage order flow, fulfillment, and customer insights. Deal terms were not disclosed but Ithaca, New York-based Rosie had raised $11.9 million to date.

Latana, a platform that bids on mobile ad space, raised EUR36 million (~$35. 79 million) in Series B funding — EUR10 million (~$9. 94 million) of which was debt — led by Oxx.

Stack, a subscription-based Android fintech app, raised $2.7 Million from Madrona Venture Collective, Santa Clara Ventures, and other investors. The app will offer trading and education in crypto to teens and their parents.

Headspace Health purchased Shine, a mobile app for mental health and wellbeing that aims to provide an inclusive mental health experience in the BIPOC community. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.


If you are a fan of creating Spotify playlists to hype up for upcoming music festivals or to revisit a favorite show, LineupSupply is a mobile app that can make it easier. The clever utility lets you upload a photo from a music festival to instantly transform it into a Spotify playlist. You can also use the app to search for playlists created by others, or make a single purchase of $1. 99, tap into music recommendations based on the artists in the images you uploaded.

LineupSupply allows you to customize your playlist by removing artists from it before it is created. You don’t have to upload your own images, but you can find existing playlists created by others in the “Discover” section of the app.

There is no limit to how many playlists you can make with the free version. You can upgrade for $1. 99, you can gain access to a few additional features, including the ability to set a custom app icon or further customize the playlist by controlling the number of songs per artist, the song sorting options, and the playlist description.