Google Meet’s new feature lets users consume YouTube and Spotify together

As Google continues the great merger between its Duo and Meet video communications apps, the company today announced that it’s introducing new Apple SharePlay-like live-sharing features to Meet, making it easier for call-participants to engage with content together in real time.

It’s worth noting that Google already introduced some live-sharing features (e.g. watching YouTube videos together) to Duo back in February, and now it’s bringing them to Meet as the part of the merger.

The live-sharing feature will let users watch YouTube videos together, for example, and listen to songs on Spotify or play games such as Heads Up!, UNO! Mobile or Kahoot!.

These new features will be available under a new Activities tab — which also hosts Q&A and polls options — and is accessible through the three-dot menu. From there, users can start a shared activity — for instance, if they want to listen to a Spotify track together, they would tap on the Spotify icon and Meet redirects them to the Spotify app where they can join a group session. Notably, the group session feature is only available for Spotify Premium customers, with support for two to five participants.

Last week, Google took the next step of merging both video calling apps by updating the icon for Duo and renaming it Google Meet. As for Google Meet, it will be now called “Google Meet (original),” with a green icon — yes, it’s all very confusing. The tech giant has been adding other new features to Meet, too, such as instant and schedule meeting options, in-meeting chat, and virtual backgrounds.

While these latest updates work well for Meet calls across different platforms, consumers embedded in Apple’s ecosystem will already be familiar with this type of social content consumption through SharePlay, which works across a broader array of apps such as Apple TV+, TikTok, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, NBA, Twitch, TikTok, MasterClass, ESPN+, Paramount+, Pluto TV, Apple Fitness+, and Apple Music.

ESPN’s app gets SharePlay support for co-viewing live sports over FaceTime

A few months after making the feature available to Disney+ users, Disney is now rolling out Apple’s SharePlay co-viewing experience for FaceTime to its ESPN app’s users. The feature will allow U.S. users who are either ESPN+ streaming service subscribers or logging in with their TV Everywhere credentials to co-view live sports and ESPN+ original content in sync with friends while on a FaceTime call.

Notably, this is the first time Disney has offered a co-viewing experience for live sports fans.

SharePlay was introduced with iOS 15.1 and iPadOS 15.1 after being announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last year as an upcoming iOS feature. Apple lined up several launch partners for the experience, including TikTok, Twitch, NBA, Paramount+, Showtime and others, in addition to supporting SharePlay in its own apps like Apple TV+, Apple Music and Apple Fitness. Disney was among Apple’s partners on the effort, but didn’t have SharePlay support available to Disney+ users until this past December.

SharePlay sessions allow up to 32 people to co-view content at the same time while on FaceTime, where each can choose the audio and subtitles in the language of their choosing. To work in the ESPN app, users must be logged in either via their TV Everywhere credentials or be an ESPN+ streaming subscriber. Their device must also run iOS 15.1 or iPadOS 15.1 or later in order to use the feature.

The feature will arrive with the ESPN app’s latest update, which will be more broadly publicized starting on Thursday. The update is being rolled out gradually, but Disney expects the feature to reach 100% of the ESPN app’s users by the end of the week. While SharePlay support is initially available only to those on iPhone and iPad, Disney notes that it will roll out to its ESPN app on Apple TV. At that point, users who prefer a big-screen experience can co-watch sports with friends who are on iPhone or iPad.

“By adding SharePlay support to the ESPN app, we are bringing a live sports co-viewing experience to fans for the first time,” Brian Marshall, vice president of Sports Products & Strategy, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, said in a statement about the launch. “We are thrilled to provide a unique opportunity for friends and family to come together to root for some of their favorite teams and players, no matter the distance between them.”

Google Duo’s video chat app gains a SharePlay-inspired feature called ‘live sharing’

Google is introducing its own take on Apple’s SharePlay feature for FaceTime with today’s launch of a new “live sharing” feature for users of its Google Duo video calling service. In Google’s case, however, the interactive, co-viewing experience is not nearly as robust or as broadly available as Apple’s. It only works with a handful of Google and Samsung apps, for starters. And, at launch, it’s a Samsung exclusive.

The changes were announced as part of Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event, where the smartphone maker presented its new Galaxy S22 series and Galaxy Tab S8 series devices. Related to this, Google also shared a handful of updates to its own apps, like Duo, as well as YouTube, and others.

Google Duo’s live sharing feature stood out as being one of the more notable changes as it addresses a similar use case as SharePlay, even if it feels like a watered-down variation. Like SharePlay, Duo’s live sharing also ties into the pandemic-induced trend of spending more time interacting with friends, family and colleagues remotely over video calls. Today, people want to be able to do more than just talk on video chats. They also want to be able to watch content together, interact with the same apps, and share their screens. Duo addresses these needs to some extent, but without the broad ecosystem of third-party app integration that SharePlay offers.

With the Duo update, users will be able to brainstorm new ideas using Google’s digital whiteboard Jamboard, share photos with Gallery, share notes with Samsung Notes, search for locations in Google Maps, and watch videos together on YouTube, Google says.

By comparison, Apple’s SharePlay out of the gate worked with far more apps and services, including many top streaming services like Disney+, NBA, TikTok, Twitch, Paramount+ and Showtime, as well as Apple’s own apps like Apple TV+, Apple Music and Apple Fitness. Unfortunately, Google declined to say if it has any intentions of making Duo a more feature-rich service over time, when asked. There was no news of a developer API platform, either.

“There are no current plans we can share at the moment beyond what was initially shared,” a spokesperson told us, when pressed for more details.

But the company did note that it would not be a Samsung exclusive in the long term. The feature is launching first on the latest Samsung devices, including the Galaxy S22 and Tab S8. It will soon roll out to other Samsung devices and Pixel devices, followed by other Android devices later in 2022.

In addition to Duo’s live sharing, another update brings YouTube users the ability to view a preview of YouTube videos in Messages to better decide whether to watch the video now or later. Users can tap to play the video without leaving the chat, as well. This feature will be coming to all Android phones, with an exception of Android (Go edition) devices.

Also, the new Galaxy S22 series and Galaxy Tab S8 series devices will now no longer require users to download a separate app for Voice Access, as it will be built-in. And devices will support Google’s new personalized design language, Material You, the company said.


Recipe app Pestle helps you organize, plan, and cook hands-free or with friends on FaceTime

A newly launched recipe app called Pestle aims to do more than provide a place to save and organize your favorite recipes. The app, from indie developer Will Bishop, also helps you plan meals, create shopping lists, keep up with new recipes from creators, and even cook hands-free or with friends and family remotely over Apple’s SharePlay feature for FaceTime.

The result is a well-built recipe app that provides a better experience for the end user, and one which tries to respect the creator content it organizes by offering source links, tools to discover more recipes from the same creator as they’re published, and a feature that encourages repeat visits to recipe sites. But some of Pestle’s other features make it almost too easy to bypass creators’ websites, which could cause concerns.

Like many people who use the web to find cooking inspiration, Bishop grew frustrated with the clutter common to today’s recipe websites where you have to scroll all the way to the bottom to find the actual recipe steps — a format designed to capture more Google Search traffic. Also like many home chefs, Bishop found himself copying and pasting recipes into Apple’s Notes app so he could annotate them with his own tweaks and tips. This wasn’t the ideal solution, of course — as it involved many manual steps and resulted in a disorganized system, given that Notes isn’t designed to be a recipe database. So he decided to create his own solution with Pestle.

The app integrates with Safari, so you can save any recipe you find on the web by tapping on the “Share” button from your iOS browser, like Safari or Chrome, then tapping on Pestle from the list of apps that appears. Pestle will automatically import the recipe, including the list of ingredients and instructions. This is similar to how other popular recipe-saving apps work, like Whisk or Paprika, for instance.

However, where other apps may highlight the source directly on the recipe’s page, making it obvious who to credit, Pestle’s attribution link is tucked under its 3-dot “more” menu at the top of the recipe’s page. This isn’t likely an issue for the end user, who can easily seek out the link if they need to refer back to the website for more information. But it could cause complaints from the recipe’s creator, given that it takes an extra tap to get to the link, and feels a bit hidden.

In addition, while competitor Whisk even goes so far as to not import a recipe’s instructions — forcing users to visit the recipe site, where they can then choose to copy and paste instructions into the app for later reference — Pestle automatically imports the instructions alongside the ingredient list and nutritional info. Again, handy for the end user; less so for the creator.

Finally, while premium users can enjoy smart suggestions of new recipes from the recipe sites they like to visit, these can also be browsed and saved without a website visit.

Bishop, however, says he tried to be careful about the implementation here with regard to creator content.

Image Credits: Pestle

“Ultimately I think Pestle compliments recipe websites as opposed to simply taking. Firstly, when you share a recipe to Pestle, you have to already be on their page. Meaning you’ve loaded their ads, their ranking improves, etc,” he explains. “Pestle is akin to clicking the print button in recipe websites.”

Plus, he notes, the sources are attributed and linked to, and the app also prompts you to revisit the website after you finish cooking to leave a review, which is an interesting idea in terms of recirculating traffic from the app back to the creator’s original content.

“Additionally, recipes are not redistributed en-mass,” Bishop adds. “Pestle users can share recipes with one another, but if they share the recipe to someone who doesn’t have Pestle it’ll simply load the original site.”

From the end user’s perspective, there are few complaints as Pestle offers an easy-to-use app with a lot of helpful features. Though you can create your own folders, Pestle will automatically organize recipes for you by category and cuisine, so you can quickly find recipes without having to come up with your own foldering system.

As you cook, you can switch into a guided experience where you move through the recipe on a step-by-step basis. You can also set multiple timers along the way, and tap on links within each to be reminded of the quantities you need. Many other apps force you to switch back and forth between ingredient lists and the steps, which can complicate matters when the recipe’s steps have to be implemented quickly or when hands are messy.

And if dirtying your screen is a concern, you can also navigate the app hands-free using voice commands like “Back” and “Next.”

Image Credits: Pestle

Pestle also supports Apple’s SharePlay, so you can place a FaceTime call with family or friends, and cook together while using the app.

Premium users gain access to a few more features, like the discover section for finding new cooking inspiration, handoff and sync between iPhone and iPad devices, 14-day meal planning support, and shopping lists with Apple Reminders integration. (It won’t go so far as to help you order the ingredients through a shopping site like Instacart, however).

The paid subscription is on sale during its launch where a “lifetime” subscription will cost just $4.99, rather than the $9.99 per year (or $0.99/mo) subscription that will otherwise be available. After launch, the lifetime subscription will later cost $25.

Bishop, a 19-year old indie developer and former WWDC scholar, had built other apps before Pestle, including an Apple Watch Reddit app Nano for Reddit and an Apple Watch Twitter app, Chirp, among others. But Pestle is his main focus as the others are largely self-sufficient.

He’d like to bring Pestle to other platforms, but for the time being, that may not be possible as a one-person operation, he says.

Zillow adds FaceTime SharePlay to browse homes with friends

Zillow has updated its iOS 15 iPhone and iPad apps with SharePlay support, letting you browse homes with other people on Facetime, the company announced. iOS users can start a group FaceTime call and then enable SharePlay to browse through Zillow’s photo galleries so everyone on the call can see the property.

“Americans love to Zillow surf — most of them alongside someone else — and now they have a new way to do it,” according to Zillow. “Using the Zillow app on an iPhone or iPad, home shoppers are now able to search and browse for-sale home and rental listings in a seamless, synchronous experience together with family, friends or a real estate agent.”

Zillow said that 86 percent of users browse homes with a partner, spouse or housemate, so the new feature makes sense if you can’t be together in person. It’s also a “great new way for real estate agents to connect with customers,” said Zillow CTO David Beitel.

To use the feature, each participant will need Zillow running on an iPhone or iPad with iOS/iPadOS 15.1 or later. Users can search for different locations on Zillow and browse through available listings with content synced up. A rival real estate app, Redfin, introduced a similar feature back in October.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Engadget.

Disney+ rolls out support for Apple’s SharePlay co-viewing experience over FaceTime

Disney+ is the latest streaming app to add support for Apple’s SharePlay, the iOS 15 feature that offers a co-viewing experience over FaceTime video calls on iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV devices. First announced during Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June, SharePlay rolled out with the iOS 15.1 update, soon offering co-viewing experiences across a variety of apps, including NBA, TikTok, Twitch, Paramount+, and Showtime, as well as Apple’s own apps like Apple TV+, Apple Music and Apple Fitness, among others.

Disney+, however, has been a long-awaited addition to this lineup, as Apple had announced during WWDC that the streaming service would be among those supporting the new feature.

Today, the companies are making good on that promise with the release of a Disney+ app update that will allow subscribers to use the SharePlay feature on Apple’s iOS, iPadOS and tvOS devices. Disney says the feature will be compatible globally across the entire Disney+ catalog from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic. This includes its new titles like Marvel Studios’ “Hawkeye,” “Welcome to Earth,” and its upcoming Disney+ premieres, like “Encanto” which arrives on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24), and the “The Book of Boba Fett,” which becomes available starting on Dec. 29.

Image Credits: Disney

Once updated, users will be able to host and attend SharePlay sessions that allow up to 32 people to co-watch Disney+ together. This could make for an easy way for a family who can’t be together for the holidays to have a Disney movie night, for example, or a way to entertain the kids by having them stream Disney+ with friends back home while out of town for a holiday trip, among other things.

The SharePlay feature itself is relatively easy to use as it’s built into the FaceTime app. To use the feature, you’ll first start the FaceTime call, then open the Disney+ app. A notice will appear at the top of the screen alerting you that SharePlay is available. You’ll tap play on the content you want to watch and begin watching with everyone else on the call. The playback controls are available to everyone else on the SharePlay session, allowing each user to press play, pause, rewind or fast forward.

Disney notes that each participant can choose the audio and subtitles in the language of their choice when streaming on their device. The feature also offers multiple viewing options for viewers, allowing people to watch the streaming content on their Apple TV while still FaceTiming with friends and family on their iPhone.

SharePlay has been one of the more interesting features in the iOS 15 release, as it seems like a natural next direction for the FaceTime software in an age where social distancing and remote work have become the norm, and apps like Zoom have crossed into consumer territory. In addition to supporting co-watching, users can also screen share over SharePlay, even launching apps and browsing together — great for anything from online shopping to offering aging family members remote tech support.

To use SharePlay to stream Disney+, all participants must be running at least iOS 15.1, iPadOS 15.1, and tvOS 15.1, and they’ll need to be a Disney+ subscriber.

Though Disney is embracing SharePlay, its own in-app co-viewing feature, called GroupWatch, will continue to be available to all subscribers in the same country across compatible devices.

“We’re very excited to launch SharePlay on Disney+ for Apple users in time for the holidays and ahead of several highly-
anticipated premieres,” said Jerrell Jimerson, EVP of Product & Design, Disney Streaming, in a statement. “With thousands of movies and shows and a growing content catalog of new titles and originals, SharePlay provides another opportunity for personal friends and family around the world to come together and create new memories with their favorite stories on Disney+,” he added.

This Week in Apps: SharePlay arrives, Android Dev Summit wraps, Snap and TikTok go to Congress

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.

The app industry continues to grow, with a record 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in global consumer spend in 2020. Consumers last year also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone. And in the U.S., app usage surged ahead of the time spent watching live TV. Currently, the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day, but now spends four hours per day on their mobile devices.

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’s 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.

Do you want This Week in Apps in your inbox every Saturday? Sign up here:

Top Stories

Apple SharePlay Arrives

Image Credits: Apple

Apple’s new FaceTime feature SharePlay wasn’t immediately available with the iOS 15 launch, as it needed a bit more polish. But with this week’s release of iOS 15.1, SharePlay — and a number of mobile app updates ready to support it — have finally arrived. The feature makes using Apple’s video calling platform more interactive and could help to potentially lock in users to Apple’s ecosystem.

As with many Apple features, SharePlay is easy to use despite the complicated technology powering the new system that runs under the hood. With the tap of a button on FaceTime’s controls, you can start sharing your device’s screen on your call or you can just switch over to the app you want to co-watch with a friend — the app alerts you upon arrival that it supports SharePlay as well as how to get started.

While screen sharing, you can view your screen or other apps together. However, you won’t have a good experience trying to co-watch videos this way due to lags. Apple also smartly blocks other viewers from seeing your incoming notifications or any kind of application pop-ups or dialogs, as they may contain sensitive information. And everything is end-to-end encrypted, so you can feel comfortable screen sharing in a business setting, not just a personal one. (And this will be further improved when SharePlay arrives on macOS Monterey later this fall.)

If anything, the biggest obstacle to using SharePlay at launch is simply availability.

Apple has a robust lineup of launch partners for the new addition — but unless you’ve happened across the App Store’s editorial round-up of SharePlay-enabled apps (do a search for “shareplay” to find it), you may not know if your favorite app is “SharePlay ready” as of yet.

Initially, SharePlay is rolling out to apps, including Apple TV+, Apple Fitness, TikTok, NBA: Live Games & Scores, Paramount+, Showtime, Kahoot!, Cameo, SmartGym, Flow, Moon FM, MUBI, Digital Concert Hall, Piano with Friends, Relax Melodies, LookUp, Heads Up!, CARROT Weather, Apollo, Night Sky and others. Disney+ will soon support SharePlay, as will ESPN, HBO Max, Hulu, MasterClass, Twitch, Pluto TV and more.

While that’s pretty decent right out of the gate, it is missing one key player: Netflix.

You have to wonder what’s going there — is it in the works? Being held back as a negotiating tactic? Is Netflix…just not interested? As you might recall, Netflix was one of the few streamers that didn’t add a native co-watching feature (or at least officially partner with another software maker) during the pandemic, while everyone else was busy building remote social experiences. Competitors like Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Plex, HBO and others rolled out co-viewing experiences. But Netflix sat out the trend, despite the growing popularity of third-party co-viewing apps like Netflix Party. With Netflix’s more recent slower growth following the pandemic’s peak, you would think the company would see SharePlay as a potential source of new user acquisition.

After all, SharePlay can be used to offer a free user without an account a way to co-watch with a paid subscriber, if that’s what the developer wants. This, in turn, could then be used to push the free user to buy a subscription after some time has passed — like after they got hooked on some exclusive shows, perhaps. It seems like a no-brainer to offer support for this sort of thing — but perhaps Netflix is building out its own version where it can collect more data as a first-party experience. Time will tell.

In the meantime, the SharePlay feature could appeal to younger people who already use FaceTime the way older people use the Phone app, and who are comfortable multi-tasking on their devices.

In-App Events Go Live

Image Credits: Apple

A whole new way to market apps has now appeared on the App Store. On Wednesday, the first in-app events began appearing on the App Store, giving users a new way to find out what’s happening inside their favorite apps and games right now. At launch, Rise of Kingdoms and Pokémon GO are promoting Halloween special events, for example, as are others. But in-app events could also be used to promote things like movie premieres or live sports in the future. When users tap a new event card on the App Store (in iOS 15 or iPadOS 15), they’ll be taken directly to the event taking place. They can also tap “Notify Me” to get alerts when upcoming events go live, share events with friends or add them to their calendar app.

Other games adopting the feature include Call of Duty: Mobile, PUBG Mobile, Clash Royale and Genshin Impact and soon, so will apps like Tinder, TikTok, Disney+, Hulu, Paramount+, HBO Max and ESPN.

Weekly News

Platforms: Apple

  • Apple released iOS 15.2 and iPadOS 15.2 beta 1, as well as watchOS 8.3. One of the biggest new features to arrive in the iOS/iPadOS beta is the App Privacy Report. First announced at WWDC, the report will show users what apps are up to — that is, which sensitive data they request, which sensors they’re using and which domains they’re contacting to possibly share that information further. Other new features include an updated Emergency SOS call feature; and an easier to read, card-style Notification Summary.
  • Apple released iOS 15.1 and iPadOS 15.1 to the general public, bringing support for SharePlay, ProRes video capture, the ability to disable automatic camera switching to Macro mode, support for COVID vaccination cards and test results in Wallet and many other improvements.
  • Apple also released iOS 14.8.1 and iPadOS 14.8.1, with several critical security updates, making good on its promise to keep people on older software up to date with necessary fixes.
  • Apple now lets you review more of its default apps, including Phone, Messages, Photos and Safari, among others, including default Watch apps. The company had earlier rolled out a selection of its apps as standalone downloads with support for ratings and reviews, to put Apple on a more even playing field with regard to competitors amid regulatory scrutiny over its App Store. Most of the new apps are doing well in reviews so far, as people seem to appreciate the functionality provided by Apple’s default experiences.
  • Apple refreshed its set of design resources for iOS 15 on a revamped website that makes it easier to find the things you need, like templates or fonts. The site includes new templates, libraries, fonts and other iOS 15-specific resources and components.
  • The company also opened Apple Entrepreneur Camp applications for one of three newly announced online cohorts for Black, Hispanic/Latinx, or female founders starting late January 2022.

Platforms: Google

  • Google held its annual Android Dev Summit this week, where it announced a series of updates for developers. The summit included over 30 Technical Talks to help developers build apps that run across devices and learn about the latest in developer tools.
  • Google announced the 12L, an OS designed for large screens, along with a set of tools, at the Dev Summit event.
  • The company also released the first alpha of Compose Material 3, which offers “Material Design 3 styled components and theme, enabling Material You personalization features like dynamic color.” Google also released the first beta version of Jetpack Compose 1.1, which has features like “stretch overscroll for Android 12, improved touch-target sizing, experimental lazy layout animations,” and others. And Compose for Wear OS is now in developer preview.

Augmented Reality

Image Credits: Snap

  • Snapchat rolled out Halloween AR Lenses, including those for finding a Halloween costume through AR in partnership with Walmart, a Halloween World Lens, one with The Home Depot’s 12-foot Skeletons, a transforming “Werewolf Lens,” a Lens for decorating your home in AR, a spooky fashion Lens, and others with candy brands like Mars-Wrigley, Skittles, Starburst and Reese’s.


  • Robinhood reported a revenue miss for its third-quarter earnings, sending the stock down 8% in after-hours trading on Tuesday. The company reported total net revenue at $365 million, versus the $431.5 million Wall Street expected. Revenues were up 35% year over year but were below the second quarter’s revenue of $565 million.


Image Credits: Instagram

  • Instagram will now allow all users to share links in their Instagram Stories via the new Link Stickers, making the final move away from the “swipe up to read” gesture. The feature was previously limited to select creators.
  • TikTok is testing a new direct tipping feature with select creators. The feature lets fans tip favorite creators outside of TikTok LIVE streams where gifting is already available.
  • TikTok brings its Video Kit feature to desktop, web and consoles, in addition to its previous support for mobile apps. The expansion will allow professional creators and others to use a variety of editing and collaboration tools to make their TikTok videos, which they can then publish directly using the “Share to TikTok” functionality provided by the SDK. Early adopters include Clipchamp, Combo, Grabyo, Kapwing, Mobcrush and LG U+.
  • Twitter’s subscription service Blue adds a “Labs” feature that provides early access to tools Twitter is considering for the premium service. The first two Labs features include the ability to pin favorite DM conversations on iOS to the top of your DM inbox and support for longer video uploads (up to 10 mins.) on desktop.
  • Twitter said it added 5 million users in its third quarter, to reach average monetizable DAUs (its own metric) of 221 million, up 13% year-over-year. Revenue increased 37% to $1.28 billion, as the company noted Apple’s privacy changes with ATT only had a “modest impact” on its business.
  • Snapchat now has 100 million MAUs in India, and is partnering with Flipkart and Android smartphone vendors to increase adoption.
  • Facebook reported a miss on revenue, citing Apple’s privacy changes as one cause, ahead of its big announcement about a shift to focus on its metaverse and VR products and a rebranding of the company to “Meta.” Facebook reported $29 billion in total revenue and earnings per share of $3.22, calculated on a diluted basis. Investors had expected revenues of $29.58 billion and earnings per share of $3.19.


Streaming & Entertainment

  • Spotify says its service is now used more by U.S. podcast listeners than Apple Podcasts. The company made the announcement during its Q3 earnings, citing its own internal data and Edison Research (where it’s a client). It did not say how many podcast listeners it had, but noted MAUs overall grew 19% year-over-year to reach 381 million in the quarter, up from 365 million last year. Premium subscribers also grew 19% to reach 172 million, up from 165 million last year. Spotify revenue was $2.9 billion in the quarter, up 27% year-over-year, with ad sales rising 75% to reach $374 million, at the top end of its guidance.
  • Clubhouse added a new Pinned Links feature that allows room creators and moderators to share URLs at the top of the room’s pages, similar to how Twitter Spaces users can add tweets to their live audio sessions.
  • Amazon is working on a Clubhouse competitor codenamed Project Mic, The Verge reported. The new app would let anyone make and distribute live radio shows that include music, which users can listen to through Audible, Amazon Music, Twitch and Alexa devices.


  • Match-owned dating app Hinge introduces a new “Voice Prompts” feature that gives users a new way to interact, by answering a prompt through a 30-second recording. The company hopes the voice feature will give users a peek into someone’s personality and hint at what a first date might be like.
  • Chinese dating app Lesdo, designed for lesbian women, announced it was shutting down. This specific niche of online dating has failed to scale and make a profit in the country, despite a potential audience of 10 million in China. Contributing to the problem of scale is a hostile environment for the LGBTQ+ community, as Beijing has pressured charities not to work with queer activists and WeChat deactivated queer groups’ public accounts, Protocol reported.
  • Tinder continued to lead the dating app market with the highest number of paid subscribers, followed by, according to new data shared by Bloomberg’s Second Measure.

Image Credits: Bloomberg Second Measure


  • Google Stadia rolls out a free, 30-minute game trial to woo people to its service. The option is being made available on its exclusive title Hello Engineer as a test, but Google confirmed it would expand the feature to other games in the next couple of months.
  • Amazon Luna’s game streaming service announced plans to add new titles in November, including Carrion, Gris and Mortal Shell: Enhanced Edition on the Luna+ Channel, and PHOGS! on the Family Channel. It also recently rolled out Alien Isolation, Amnesia: Rebirth, Far Cry 6, Olija, Riders Republic and others.

News & Reading

  • Apple News expanded its local news coverage to Charlotte, Miami and Washington, D.C., giving users access to numerous publications such as Axios Charlotte, the Charlotte Observer, Eater Miami, the Miami Herald, DCist, Washingtonian, The Washington Post and others. The company also said it’s expanding Fitness+ and its Apple One Premier subscription bundle to 17 more countries on November 3.

Health & Fitness

  • Apple rolled out support for COVID-19 vaccination cards and test results in Wallet with the release of iOS 15.1. Vaccination and test result records are downloaded in a verifiable format that’s digitally signed by a vaccine or test result provider, Apple says.

Government & Policy

Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) speaks during a Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security hearing on Protecting Kids Online: Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube on October 26, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Image Credits: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

  • This week, reps from TikTok, Snap and YouTube faced Congress to talk about how their apps are addressing kids and online safety as the U.S. considers legislation that would require tech companies to offer a safer environment for kids online. One of the highlights from the hearing was listening to senators try to get the companies on the record as to whether or not they support specific legislation, like the upcoming COPPA revamp, which only TikTok fully said “yes” to. When asked about the KIDS Act, which would prevent manipulative marketing (like undisclosed influencer marketing), there was less support. Companies said they would be happy to “look” at the details as if the Act was new, and not something that had already been around for a while.
  • TikTok dodged questions about its plans for biometric data collection during its first-ever Senate hearing. In an update to the company’s U.S. privacy policy in June, TikTok added a new section that noted the app “may collect biometric identifiers and biometric information” from its users’ content, including things like “faceprints and voiceprints.” The company was questioned by multiple lawmakers on this matter during a hearing conducted by the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, which was focused on social media’s detrimental impacts on children and teens.
  • The lawmakers also asked YouTube and Snap to defend their apps’ age ratings on the app stores, where they were sometimes rated 13 and up or 17 and up, depending on the platform. Snap was also pressed on whether its content was even appropriate for younger teens, given the app’s Discover page contained content that Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) deemed “wildly inappropriate” for a child, like “recommendations for…an invite to play an online sexualized video game that’s marketed itself to people who are 18 and up; tips on, quote, ‘why you shouldn’t go to bars alone;’ notices for video games that are rated for ages 17 and up; and articles about porn stars,” he said.
  • The senators also asked TikTok, Snap and YouTube how they handled eating disorder content, after Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen‘s document leaks exposed Facebook’s knowledge that Instagram could be dangerous for teenage girls with body image issues.
  • In non-hearing news, Apple is “very likely” going to face a DOJ antitrust lawsuit, The Information reported this week, citing sources with knowledge of the matter.

Security & Privacy

  • Malware-laden “Squid Game”-themed apps have been found in the Google Play Store, including an app for Squid Game wallpaper that infected phones with Joker malware, allowing hackers to sign up the user for premium services they profit from.

Funding and M&A (and IPOs)

💰 Barcelona-based mobile keyboard software maker Fleksy raised $1.6 million in Series A led by Spanish asset management firm Inveready. The funds will be used to help the company pivot to B2B for its white-label SDK for iOS and Android.

💰 Social networking app OneRoof, aimed at connecting people in residential buildings, raised $1.2 million in seed funding led by General Catalyst. The app offers a Slack-like hub for messaging with neighbors and is now live in around 400 buildings in NYC.

📈  Indian payments app Paytm is planning to raise as much as $2.4 billion in what could be the country’s biggest IPO, valuing the business at $20 billion. The startup has raised more than $3 billion over the past decade and was last valued at $16 billion.

🤝 Celeb video app Cameo announced its first acquisition. The company is buying marketing and merch company Represent, which helps brands and celebs set up their own individualized storefronts and already has clients like Jennifer Lopez, Ed Sheeran, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey and Kendall Jenner. Deal terms were not revealed, but Cameo plans to offer “gift bundles” that will allow users to pair videos with related merch.

💰 Neobanking app Zolve raised $40 million in Series A funding led by DST Global, valuing the startup at $210 million. The app offers a bank account, and debit and credit cards for Indian users working in the U.S., or planning to.

📈  Brazilian neobank Nu (aka Nubank) filed to go public. According to its filing, Nu plans to list in the U.S. with intent to “negotiate a program of Brazilian Depositary Receipts” in its home country. In June, Nu raised a $750 million round led by Berkshire Hathaway at a $30 billion valuation.

💰 Brazilian startup Gringo, which helps drivers monitor and perform services related to their documents and vehicles, raised $8 million in new funding led by Kaszek. The app is used to manage and pay for things like driver licenses, registration and taxes, and now has 2.5 million users.

💰 Digital physical therapy app Hinge Health raised $400 million in Series E funding led by returning investors Tiger Global and Coatue Management, valuing the startup at $6.2 billion. The app helps people treat chronic musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions, like back and joint pain, and now serves more than 575 enterprise customers.

💰 Early-stage startup Groopit raised $2 million in pre-seed funding led by to help companies crowdsource data from the information supplied by employees working in the field. The product can be customized for the individual businesses to gather the kinds of data it needs — and works across mobile and web.


Pikmin Bloom

Niantic’s attempt to once again replicate the success of Pokémon GO, in a way that Harry Potter: Wizards Unite has not really been able to, arrived this week. The company announced the launch of a new AR game Pikmin Bloom in collaboration with Nintendo. The game, like Pokémon GO, encourages users to go outside and explore — but now, instead of capturing Pokémon, they’ll collect seedlings and a squad of “Pikmin” — a sort of plant-animal hybrid creature. As you walk, you’ll leave AR trails of flowers behind you. The game will also later host monthly “Community Days” for Pikmin so users can plant and play together. Overall, the game seems less competitive than Pokémon GO and may be aimed at someone who wants more casual gameplay. The game initially rolled out to Singapore and Australia, then the U.S., and will continue to roll out globally.

Matterport 3D Capture (Android)

Matterport brought its 3D capture app to Android users, which allows customers to digitize their home, office or hotel with any compatible Android device, for free. Homeowners can use the app to create a digital appraisal of their property and everything in it for insurance, space planning or just peace of mind. Meanwhile, builders can plan and manage their construction projects along with designers, contractors and clientele. And real estate agents and rental property managers can quickly capture and publish 3D virtual experiences online, then share them across websites and social networks. The Matterport App for Android is available now on Google Play and can be used with a free account.