Finally, Apple’s iPad has a default weather app

Hell hath frozen over, apparently. Today, Apple addressed a longtime user complaint about the iPad with news that the device will finally get its own default weather app — some 12 years after the tablet’s debut, if you can believe it. Oddly, Apple had overlooked the addition of this key app, despite acquiring weather app maker Dark Sky in 2020 and revamping the iOS Weather app with the launch of iOS 15. The company even went so far as to roll out a Weather widget for the iPadOS home screen, but instead of launching a native app, it linked users to The Weather Channel’s website.

This was a less-than-ideal experience, as the site (, is cluttered with ads and is not the sort of clean and easy-to-navigate experience Apple users have come to expect. Apple never explained its thinking here, but the fact that it had launched a Weather widget for iPad without an accompanying app made this whole thing feel increasingly bizarre. Did the IBM-owned The Weather Channel have an undisclosed traffic deal with Apple? Did Apple really think users would rather visit a website than a native app? Was this an antitrust thing? What was going on?!

While there were plenty of quality third-party apps users could rely on for accessing weather information on the iPad, it seemed strange that a flagship Apple device like this wouldn’t have such a basic utility at this point.

But today at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference keynote, the company announced that, at last, the iPad would finally get its own Weather app.

“We’re also bringing Weather to the iPad, taking full advantage of the stunning display with beautiful animations like these gently moving clouds, heavy snowfall and driving rain,” noted Apple SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi, as he briefly showed off the new native app’s features. The app isn’t all that remarkable, largely just an iPad-optimized version of the native iPhone app. But it will be a welcome addition.

Image Credits: Apple

The update coincides with iOS 16’s new feature that allows users to customize their device’s lock screen with a live weather wallpaper that shows the current conditions as they change throughout the day. Similarly, the iPad app will include these same sorts of animations — clouds, rain, lightning, snow, etc. The native app will also offer tappable weather modules that will allow users to drill into areas like the forecast, temperature, precipitation, UV index, air quality and more. When tapped, a window will pop up and overlay the app’s home screen to show the detailed information, Federighi explained.

In addition, Apple followed the news of the weather app with the long-expected launch of WeatherKit. This developer toolkit makes good on Apple’s plans to allow third-party developers to build apps on top of Apple’s own weather data — an area Apple had signaled its interest in with the Dark Sky acquisition. This was an under-the-radar announcement that has larger ramifications for the app industry, as it sees Apple introducing its own weather-related, revenue-generating service.

As the company transitions developers off the Dark Sky weather service to WeatherKit, it says it will provide up to 500,000 API calls per month as part of its Apple Developer Program membership during the beta period and beyond. After that point, it will begin to charge at the following rates:

  • 1 million calls/month: US$49.99
  • 2 million calls/month: US$99.99
  • 5 million calls/month: US$249.99
  • 10 million calls/month: US$499.99
  • 20 million calls/month: US$999.99

For comparison, Dark Sky’s API had offered 1,000 API calls for free, then charged $0.0001 for each subsequent call.

Apple says WeatherKit requires iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS 13, tvOS 16 or watchOS 9 and notes REST APIs can be used for websites and other platforms. The Swift APIs for WeatherKit will require the beta versions of the Apple OS’s and Xcode 14.

The native iPad weather app rolls out with the released of iPadOS 16.

Read more about WWDC 2022 on TechCrunch

Russia’s App Store lost nearly 7K apps since its invasion of Ukraine, but some Big Tech apps remain

The Russian App Store has lost 6,982 mobile apps since the start of the Ukraine invasion, as numerous companies have now pulled their apps and games from Apple’s iPhone and iPad App Stores in the country, according to data shared with TechCrunch by app intelligence firm Sensor Tower.

To date, those apps had been downloaded around 218 million times in Russia, representing a little over 3% of their total 6.6 billion global lifetime installs. Amid the widespread exits, several Big Tech companies’ apps continue to rank highly on the Russian App Store, though the Top Charts currently are filled with VPN apps.

While Apple routinely removes outdated and abandoned apps from its App Store, the Russian App Store app removals post-invasion (February 24 through March 14) represent a 105% increase in the number of apps removed from the store when compared with the first two weeks of February 2022 (February 1 to 14). During that earlier period, Russia’s App Store had seen only 3,404 app removals — a figure that was in line with the number of apps pulled from Apple’s App Stores in other markets, including the U.S., where 3,422 apps were removed. These pre-invasion app removals were likely related to Apple’s ongoing cleanup efforts, Sensor Tower noted.

Russia is not the only country being impacted in this way. Many publishers also removed their apps and games from the App Store in Belarus, Russia’s neighbor and ally. That country has now seen a loss of 5,900 apps since the invasion’s start — a figure that increased by 73% when compared with the 3,418 apps removed from February 1-14.

By comparison, other app markets had seen smaller increases in app removals, perhaps also related to Apple’s App Store maintenance efforts.

Image Credits: Sensor Tower

As a result of Russia’s decision to wage war against Ukraine, the country has been cut off from the global economy as the U.S. and its allies coordinated to enact broad economic sanctions. Large companies have also stopped doing business in Russia, including some of the world’s best-known brands, like McDonald’s, Apple, Microsoft, Disney, IKEA, H&M, Adidas and Starbucks, as well as payments giants Visa, Mastercard and Amex, among others.

In some cases, the Russian App Store removals are related to those big brand exits. For instance, Coca-Cola pulled its iOS loyalty and rewards-focused app out of the Russian App Store, as the company recently vowed to suspend its business in Russia. Retailers like H&M and American Eagle Outfitters also pulled apps, along with Ebates’ shopping platform ShopStyle.

In sports, apps from the NFL, NBA, WWE and Eurosport have disappeared from the Russian App Store following the invasion. Also gone are health apps from MyFitnessPal, Kaiser Permanente, and numerous smaller fitness, meditation and yoga apps. Of these, MyFitnessPal had been fairly popular in Russia, having seen some 4.2 million installs to date, including those across both iOS and Android.

Mobile gaming giants leave Russia

Games are the largest category seeing removals in Russia and represent some huge departures. The Russian App Store has lost a number of top games from publishers including Zynga, Supercell, Take-Two (Rockstar Games), and others — many of which have publicly announced their exits.

For instance, Supercell on March 9 tweeted that, in response to the ongoing war, “new downloads are halted and access for existing players will be suspended with the next update. The company’s games that were pulled from the App Store in Russia included Brawl Stars, Clash of Clans, Clash Royale and Hay Day. These are sizable exits — Clash of Clans alone has seen 36 million installs across both iOS and Android to date in Russia, for example.

Rockstar Games pulled over a half dozen titles from its Grand Theft Auto series, among others. Its parent company, Take-Two, had announced its intentions to exit Russia on March 7, noting it had watched the events unfolding in Ukraine with “concern and sadness.” It said it would stop new sales, installations, and marketing in both Russia and Belarus.

Zynga, meanwhile, said on March 8 it’s been watching the events in Ukraine with “great concern” and would exit Russia and Belarus as well as donate to relief organizations. The publisher has now pulled dozens of its casual games from those countries’ App Stores, including many bigger titles like Farmville 3, Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells, Empires & Puzzles, Solitaire, Zynga Poker, and others from its 2020 acquisition, Rollic Games.

Netflix has also delivered on its promise to leave Russia with the removal of its streaming app in the country. Dating apps Bumble and Badoo are gone, too. Bumble (Badoo’s parent) said during its Q4 2021 earnings on March 8 that it would leave both app stores in Russia and Belarus. The combined revenue it saw from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus was approximately 2.8% of total Bumble annual revenue in 2021, the company added.

Other notable removals from the Russian App Store include Amazon’s IMDb, travel app Trivago, The Weather Channel (IBM), Playtika and Big Fish Games (games), Hily’s dating app, Citizen, DAZN sports live streaming, AllTrails, and Google Home. (AllTrails had not yet released a public statement, but told TechCrunch it has now “indefinitely suspended” services in Russia. “We stand with the people of Ukraine, and refuse to associate with Russia as they wage this tragic war,” the company said.)

In terms of removal by categories, the types of apps that have seen the largest number of removals from the Russian App Store include those in Games, Productivity, Utilities, Music, Business, Education and Health. As a point of reference, more than 860 games were removed across impacted App Stores, including those in Russia, Belarus and, to some extent, Ukraine. (Only a handful were pulled in the latter, however.)

Tech giants’ apps still top the charts

However, not all tech giants have fully exited Russia’s App Store at this time.

Microsoft on March 4 announced it was halting all new sales of products and services in Russia and has since pulled apps like Solitaire, Majong, Wordament and, notably, Minecraft from the Russian App Store. But still ranking at the top of the Productivity charts in Russia are Microsoft’s Word, Office, Excel, Powerpoint, Teams and Outlook, per Sensor Tower data. (See below).

Image Credits: Sensor Tower. Russian App Store’s Top Charts for Productivity apps on March 15, 2022.

Microsoft is not alone. Google took several actions against Russia, including the suspension of its advertising business in the country, but its productivity apps are still available in Russia. Currently ranking highly on the Top Productivity apps chart are Google’s Docs, Sheets, Slides, Assistant, Calendar, Drive, One and Keep, for instance.

Adobe, too, committed to leaving Russia, saying on March 4 it would “halt all new sales” of Adobe products and services in Russia, “effective immediately.” It also said it would terminate access to Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe Document Cloud and Adobe Experience Cloud for all Russian state media outlets and pledged money toward the refugee and humanitarian aid.

In the days since, Adobe has pulled some of its apps from the Russian App Store, like Photoshop and Illustrator, but others remain available for download, including a top-ranked productivity app, Adobe Reader. It’s currently at No. 9 in the Top Productivity apps chart.

Microsoft, Google and Adobe did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Social apps still highly ranking, despite blocks

At present, Russia’s Top Chart for its overall App Store is pointing to apps that no longer work or where content is heavily restricted.

On Monday, Instagram was blocked in Russia, impacting 80 million users. But the app still ranks at No. 34 overall in the country today, as it wasn’t actually removed from the App Store. (That means users can still download the app, but can’t access the service, except, perhaps, via a VPN). Russia has also restricted other social media, including Facebook and Twitter, while TikTok suspended users’ ability to livestream and post new content in Russia and has blocked all non-Russian content.

But TikTok is still ranking well, as the No. 18 overall app on Russia’s App Store, followed by YouTube at No. 27. YouTube, like other platforms, has banned Russian state media outlets and paused advertising and payments.

But VPNs dominate the Russian App Store’s Top Charts

The downranking of these social apps can only partly be attributed to the bans and restrictions. Another factor is the VPN apps, which now dominate the Top Charts.

Image Credits: Sensor Tower

The top 10 VPN apps collectively reached 4.2 million installs from February 24 through March 13, up 2,286% from the prior period, when the top 10 apps hit about 176,000 installs, Sensor Tower data indicated. The firm noted it also saw apps like Cloudflare’s and Psiphon appear in the Top 10, though the app dubbed isn’t only a VPN; it advertises privacy and security, which likely appeal to Russian users at this time.

App Annie: Global app stores’ consumer spend up 19% to $170B in 2021, downloads grew 5% to 230B

Consumer spending on mobile apps reached $170 billion in 2021, according to App Annie’s newly released “State of Mobile 2022″ report, out today, which offers a comprehensive look at the app economy across iOS, Google Play and third-party Android app stores in China. That figure is up 19% year-over-year, which is down just one percentage point from the growth rate the firm reported in its prior annual report. Growth in app downloads, however, dipped a bit more. Though today’s consumers are installing more apps than ever — 230 billion were downloaded in 2021, setting another record — the growth rate itself is slowing.

In January 2021, App Annie reported year-over-year download growth of 7% during 2021, which has now dropped to just 5% in 2021.

Download growth today is being driven largely by emerging markets like India, as well as Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Egypt.

Image Credits: App Annie

What’s also clear is that consumers are spending more time in apps — even topping the time they spend watching TV in some cases.

The report noted the average American watches 3.1 hours of TV per day, for example, but over the course of the past year, they spent 4.1 hours on their mobile device. And they’re not even the world’s heaviest mobile users. In markets like Brazil, Indonesia and South Korea, users surpassed 5 hours per day in mobile apps in 2021.

Across the top 10 markets analyzed in the study, the average time spent in apps topped 4 hours, 48 minutes in 2021 — up 30% from 2019. This included the averages from Brazil, Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico, India, Japan, Turkey, Singapore, Canada, the U.S., Russia, the U.K., Australia, Argentina, France, Germany and China combined.

Much of this time was spent in social, photo and video apps, which accounted for 7 out of every 10 minutes spent on mobile in the past year. These categories, plus entertainment apps, also appeal to Gen Z users, particularly in the U.S.

Here in the U.S., Gen Z’s most-used apps included Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and Netflix. Millennials meanwhile preferred Facebook, Messenger, Amazon and WhatsApp. Gen X, which has now been lumped into the Baby Boomer demographic (ack!), used The Weather Channel, Amazon Alexa, NewsBreak and Ring.

Image Credits: App Annie

This increased time spent in apps has had a direct impact on consumer spending. In the U.S., the COVID-19 pandemic’s lingering effects have forced users to shop, work, learn, game and entertain themselves from home over the past year. This led to “phenomenal” growth in consumer spending, App Annie said, as the market added $43 billion in 2021, or $10.4 billion more than 2020, equating to 30% year-over-year growth — higher than the global average.

At the high end of consumer spending, there were 233 apps and games that pulled in more than $100 million in 2021, and 13 titles that generated over $1 billion. This is up 20% from 2020, when there were then 193 apps and games topping the $100 million mark, and only 8 titles making over $1 billion annually.

Image Credits: App Annie

Outside the consumer spending that included paid apps, subscriptions and in-app purchases, the broader mobile app market topped $295 billion in 2021, up 23% year-over-year, despite fears from marketers over Apple’s privacy changes and IDFA crackdown. In 2022, the market is expected to grow to $350 billion, aided by big events including the Beijing Olympics and the U.S. mid-terms.

Image Credits: App Annie

New mobile app releases also grew in 2021, as publishers launched 2 million new apps and games, bringing the total number of apps and games ever released across the App Store and Google Play to 21+ million. Of course, older apps and games have since been removed over the years either by the publishers themselves or the app stores during cleanups. Currently, there are 5.4 million “live” apps and games available on the app stores, 1.8 million of which are on iOS and 3.6 million on Google Play.

Google Play also accounted for 77% of all the new releases last year, while games made up 15% of all releases across both stores, the report noted.

Image Credits: App Annie

App Annie’s full report took a deep dive into individual app categories, as well, including gaming, finance, retail, video streaming, food & drink, health & fitness, social, travel, dating and more.

Among the highlights from its findings:

  • Gaming: An additional $16 billion in gaming consumer spend was added in 2021, bringing the total spend to $116 billion.
  • Finance: Finance app downloads in India topped 1 billion in 2021, driving the category’s 28% year-over-year increase in downloads to 5.9 billion worldwide.
  • Shopping: Time in shopping apps reached over 100 billion hours spent globally in 2021, up 18% year-over-year. Countries with the fastest growth include Indonesia, Singapore and Brazil (52%, 46% and 45%, respectively).
  • Video Streaming: Total hours spent watching video streaming apps grew 16% worldwide since pre-pandemic levels. But China saw declines as users shifted to short-form apps TikTok and Kwai. Netflix is on track to top 1 million downloads in more than 60 countries in 2022.
  • Food & Drink: Sessions in food & drink apps reached 62 billion in 2021. Several regions drove growth in Q4, including the U.S. (42% year-over-year), Russia (154% YoY), Turkey (75% YoY) and Indonesia (over 9x growth).
  • Health & Fitness: Worldwide downloads of health & fitness apps surpassed pre-COVID levels in 2021, despite a slight softening from a pandemic-induced high in 2020 in most countries. The top five meditation apps worldwide saw 27% year-over-year growth in consumer spending.
  • Social: Time spent in the top 25 livestreaming apps outpaced the social market year-over-year by a factor of 9 — year-over-year growth of 40% compared to all social apps at 5%. Global spend in the top 25 livestreaming apps in 2021 grew 6.5x from 2018 and 55% year-over-year. TikTok saw year-over-year growth rates as high as 75%.
  • Travel: Downloads of travel apps rebounded by 20% in H2 driven by sharp increases from July-December 2021. H2 downloads hit 1.95 billion globally, nearing pre-pandemic levels of 2.08 billion H2 2019.
  • Dating: Worldwide consumer spending on dating apps topped $4 billion in 2021, a 95% increase since 2018. Growth was primarily driven by the U.S., Japan, China and the U.K. Tinder led the market with $1.35 billion in worldwide consumer spending in 2021.

The report also listed the top apps and games worldwide and by individual countries by both downloads and consumer spending. Globally, the top five most downloaded apps in 2021 were Google Meet, Instagram, TikTok, Microsoft Teams and InShot. By consumer spend, the list was YouTube, Tinder, Tencent Video, Disney+ and TikTok.

Image Credits: App Annie

Top games by download included Project Makeover,,, DOP 2: Delete One Part and Bridge Race. By spending, the list was led by Honour of Kings, Fantasy Westward Journey, Candy Crush Saga, Homescapes and Empires & Puzzles.

Image Credits: App Annie

The full report is here.

Vimeo snaps up AI video startup Wibbitz and ‘shoppable’ video tech maker Wirewax to expand its enterprise video tools

Vimeo, the B2B video platform that spun out from IAC earlier this year, has made a pair of acquisitions aimed at building out the suite of features and tools it offers to businesses to create and run their own video strategies. The company has picked up short-form AI-based video creation platform Wibbitz; and Wirewax, which has built technology for marketers and other non-technical creatives to make objects in videos “shoppable” or linkable to other outside content.

Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed, but for some context, New York-based Wibbitz originally made its name as an Israeli startup that had built AI-based technology that automatically turned text into videos, a service that helped it raise around $30 million from investors that included a number of strategic backers (that is, customers) like the Associated Press, Bertelsmann, France’s TF1, and the Weather Channel, as well as traditional VCs like Horizons Ventures and Kima Ventures. London-based Wirewax, meanwhile, also had a strategic backer in the form of the BBC, and other investors included Passion Capital and the Plug and Play incubator. It had raised around $7 million. Both have large customers on their books.

Vimeo plans to keep both platforms operational and continue serving existing customers, which include the likes of Walmart, Disney, Google, and Nike for Wirewax and HubSpot, Bloomberg, Condé Nast, and Harvard University for Wibbitz. It is also planning to integrate its features into its wider video creation dashboard to over time sell a wider set of tools both to those customers and those already with Vimeo.

The idea behind the deals is to bring in more tools specifically targeting Vimeo’s larger enterprise customers, CEO Anjali Sud said in an interview, to provide more creative tools that are less technical to help them feed the video beast: video consumption has skyrocketed in the last couple of years, fueled in no small part by Covid-19 and people spending more time at home and on their screens rather than in public places.

That’s accelerated a lot of organizations’ video strategies, whether that involves providing tools for internal teams to get work done, or creating marketing campaigns, or building new products themselves.

“Companies are going from reactive to proactive, and employees are demanding it,” Sud said of the video push and how its customers are looking for more functionality in their video software. The knock-on effect for Vimeo, she added, has been to become a consolidator of many of the smaller video companies that have emerged over the years to address different aspects of the creation process, to make a bigger product that is easier to address that demand, with “several acquisitions helpful in expanding our product suite to create an all-in-one professional video solution. Our belief is that every startup has an interesting video feature to provide. We want to get every company using video every day, to get 1 billion knowledge workers using video. To do that you have to materially lower the barriers.”

It’s been a years-long strategy for the company, with other acquisitions including the purchase of Livestream, which it says now powers town halls and other live events (a platform that was expanded earlier this month by way of a new virtual events product); and Magisto, another short-form video creator tool.

Wirewax will be bringing more interactive video functionality to Vimeo, specifically with a drag-and-drop interface. One of the most obvious applications will be in the realm of e-commerce where users will be able to use the tech to build “shoppable” videos with links within the videos themselves to buying featured items; but other applications can be technical (eg to product demonstrations) or education (for further information about something in a video), or internal training for employees (for example links through to quizzes).

Wibbitz, meanwhile, is more focused on video creation, and specifically tools for marketing, internal communications and media teams to manage large amounts of video while keeping the content consistent with company branding and style. It also still offers a product for using AI to transform text to video automatically, although this is no longer the core service. Sud said that AI IP will be integrated into its existing products that also provide the same functionality (which it acquired via Magisto).

“Wirewax was built for the video-first future, evolving video to be a lean-in, fully engaging experience,” said Steve Callanan, CEO, Wirewax, in a statement. “Marrying Wirewax with Vimeo’s video leadership and global scale will put the power of next-generation interactive video into the hands of millions of users. It’s an exciting step to be joining Vimeo and contributing to helping organizations unleash their creativity and produce engaging experiences that drive better business outcomes, from shoppable videos to boost sales, to entirely new ways to improve training, education, and customer service.”

“Wibbitz and Vimeo have a shared goal of making video creation so simple that any employee can easily and quickly make beautiful, professional-quality videos at scale,” added Zohar Dayan, CEO, Wibbitz. “We have spent over 10 years honing our product to serve marketing, HR, and communications teams at some of the largest companies in the world, and are thrilled to join Vimeo’s world-class platform to accelerate the video transformation taking place across the enterprise.”

The pair of acquisitions nevertheless come on the heels of a mixed year for Vimeo. The company spun out as a public company from IAC in May, debuting at $57/share. However, it saw its stock dip on its first day of trading ending up with a market cap of $8.4 billion on its closing day. Today, its share price and valuation are more than halved, with a market cap of $4 billion. Some of the skepticism in the market appears to hinge on the fact that it’s spinning out into what has become a highly competitive space, with many a company with deep pockets also looking to address the same gap in the market for providing video services to businesses that want to do more in video.

Despite this, the fact remains that we have seen record-breaking levels for all kinds of video providers, from on-demand premium content companies like Netflix through to those focused as well on user-generated content like TikTok and YouTube, and those with more business focus, such as Zoom for conferencing.

That rising tide has also lifted 10-year-old Vimeo’s boat. The company posted quarterly revenues of $100 million in Q3 (it debuted in May with quarter revenues of $89.4 million). Sud tells us that the company now has “hundreds of millions” of free users and 1.6 million paying users (that latter figure is flat compared to May, when Vimeo disclosed 200 million free users).

Since its pivot to B2B four years ago, Vimeo’s customer base has settled on a pretty wide mix, ranging from SMBs through to startups and some 6,000 large enterprises including Starbucks, Amazon and Spotify. Enterprise revenues grew 60% in the last quarter compared to a year ago, figures that the company is holding in place as it looks to the future.

“We think in the long term of decades, not years,” Sud said.

App stores saw record 218 billion downloads in 2020, consumer spend of $143 billion

Mobile adoption continued to grow in 2020, in part due to the market forces of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to App Annie’s annual “State of Mobile” industry report, mobile app downloads grew by 7% year-over-year to a record 218 billion in 2020. Meanwhile, consumer spending grew by 20% to also hit a new milestone of $143 billion, led by markets that included China, the United States, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

Consumers also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone, the report found.

In another shift, app usage in the U.S. 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 on their mobile device.

The increase in time spent is a trend that’s not unique to the U.S., but can be seen across several other countries, including both developing mobile markets like Indonesia, Brazil and India, as well as places like China, Japan, South Korea, the U.K., Germany, France and others.

The trend isn’t isolated to any one demographic, either, but is seen across age groups. In the U.S., for example, Gen Z, millennials and Gen X/Baby Boomers spent 16%, 18% and 30% more time in their most-used apps year-over-year, respectively. However, what those favorite apps looked like was very different.

For Gen Z in the U.S., top apps on Android phones included Snapchat, Twitch, TikTok, Roblox and Spotify.

Millennials favored Discord, LinkedIn, PayPal, Pandora and Amazon Music.

And Gen X/Baby Boomers used Ring, Nextdoor, The Weather Channel, Kindle and ColorNote Notepad Notes.

The pandemic didn’t necessarily change how consumers were using apps in 2020, but rather accelerated mobile adoption by two to three years’ time, the report found.

Investors were also eager to fuel mobile businesses as a result, pouring $73 billion in capital into mobile companies — a figure that’s up 27% year-over-year. According to Crunchbase data, 26% of total global funding dollars in 2020 went to businesses that included a mobile solution.

From 2016 to 2020, global funding to mobile technology companies more than doubled compared with the previous five years, and was led by financial services, transportation, commerce and shopping.

Mobile gaming adoption also continued to grow in 2020. Casual games dominated the market in terms of downloads (78%), but Core games accounted for 66% of games’ consumer spend and 55% of the time spent.

With many stuck inside due to COVID-19 lockdowns and quarantines, mobile games that offered social interaction boomed. Among Us, for example, became a breakout game in several markets in 2020, including the U.S.

Other app categories saw sizable increases over the past year, as well.

Time spent in Finance apps in 2020 was up 45% worldwide, outside of China, and participation in the stock market grew 55% on mobile, thanks to apps like Robinhood in the U.S. and others worldwide, that democratized investing and trading.

TikTok had a big year, too.

The app saw incredible 325% year-over-year growth, despite a ban in India, and ranked in the top five apps by time spent. The average monthly time spent per user also grew faster than nearly every other app analyzed, including 65% in the U.S. and 80% in the U.K., surpassing Facebook. TikTok is now on track to hit 1.2 billion active users in 2021, App Annie forecasts.

Other video services boomed in 2020, thanks to a combination of new market entrants and a lot of time spent at home. Consumers spent 40% more hours streaming on mobile devices, with time spent in streaming apps peaking in the second quarter in the west as the pandemic forced people inside.

YouTube benefitted from this trend, as it became the No. 1 streaming app by time spent among all markets analyzed except China. The time spent in YouTube is up to 6x that of the next closet app at 38 hours per month.

Of course, another big story for 2020 was the rise of e-commerce amid the pandemic. This made the past year the biggest ever for mobile shopping, with an over 30% increase in time spent in Shopping apps, as measured on Android phones outside of China.

Mobile commerce, however, looked less traditional in 2020.

Social shopping was a big trend, with global downloads of Pinterest and Instagram growing 50% and 20% year-over-year, respectively.

Livestreaming shopping grew, too, led by China. Downloads of live shopping TaoBao Live in China, Grip in South Korea and NTWRK in the U.S. grew 100%, 245% and 85%, respectively. NTWRK doubled in size last year, and now others are entering the space as well — including TikTok, to some extent.

The pandemic also prompted increased usage of mobile ordering apps. In the U.S., Argentina, the U.K., Indonesia and Russia, the app grew by 60%, 65%, 70%, 80% and 105%, respectively, in Q4.

Business apps, like Zoom and Google Meet among others, grew 275% in Q4, for example, as remote work and sometimes school, continued.

The analysis additionally included lists of the top apps by downloads, spending and monthly active users (MAUs).

Although TikTok had been topping year-end charts, Facebook continued to beat it in terms of MAUs. Facebook-owned apps controlled the top charts by MAUs, with Facebook at No. 1 followed by WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram.

TikTok, however, had more downloads than Facebook and ranked No. 2 by consumer spending, behind Tinder.

The full report is available only as an online interactive experience this year, not a download. The report largely uses data from both the iOS App Store and Google Play, except where otherwise noted.

IBM and The Weather Channel launch detailed local COVID-19 maps and data tracking

There are already a number of resources available for mapping the spread of confirmed COVID-19 cases both in the U.S. and globally, but IBM and its subsidiary The Weather Company have launched new tools that bring COVID-19 mapping and analysis to more people via their Weather Channel mobile app and

Existing tools are useful, but come from fairly specialized sources including the World Health Organization (WHO) and Johns Hopkins University. This new initiative combines data fro these same sources, including global confirmed reported COVID-19 cases, as well as reported data from sources at both the state and county level. This is collected on a so-called “incident map” that displays color-coded reported case data for states and counties, as well as on state-wide trend graphs and through reporting of stats including relative percentage increase of cases week-over-week.

On top of these sections built into the core, consumer-facing products, IBM has also launched a Watson and Cognos Analytics tools, are intended for use by both researchers and public officials – but they’re also meant for general public consumption. IBM is also providing resources including fact-checking resources and practical guidance for both COVID-19 patients and the general public, to help not only inform people about the spread of the virus, but also the steps they can take to protect themselves and others.

One of the key elements of COVID-19 mitigation is making sure that the average American has access to reliable and accurate information, including the most up-to-date guidelines about social distancing and isolation from trusted experts including the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That makes this a key resource in the ongoing efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus, since it resides in an app that is among the most popular pieces of software available for smartphones. There are around 45 million or so monthly active users of the Weather Channel app, which means that this information will now be readily accessible by a large percentage of the U.S. population.