Tag Archives: apps

How Free Apps Make Money

While many people have no idea that free apps can make money, those that do wonder how. Well, you need to know how to capitalize on your new users. Leverage the free downloads and you will make an even better revenue stream than paid apps. 

When you have priced your app, you will make less money compared to a free app with in-app purchases. So, how exactly do free apps make money?

With in-app purchases, users unlock features or buy extra stuff like coins or gold. Among the top ten grossing apps in 2011, 6 of them were free. They drove millions in sales through in-app purchase. 

Your in-app purchases can be one time, where one unlocks a feature or ongoing where a user buys a certain number of coins for a specific amount. You could earn an outstanding amount, but your app should also be incredible to get more users. 

If you are in the news feeds market, you can set up subscriptions, monthly or otherwise. 

Freemium upsell requires you to create two versions of your app; a free one and a paid one. You can pair the Lite and HD/Regular versions together.  Include a link to your paid app in your free app. When users click the link, it will redirect them to the iTunes store.

People download your free app, they get an idea of what you are offering, and if they like it, then they will buy the full version which has more functionality and game play. 

Ads can be quite lucrative but to make them worth your while, you will need a significant amount of traffic. With a lot of traffic, you can have a stable source of revenue. The largest ad networks are Admob and iAds—but iAds pays better. 

You may only get like $2 for every 100 downloads, but it mostly depends on how many users will click on the ad.  Ads may not pay much, but you can get a significant amount if you market your app thoroughly. 

Cost per install is a new marketing strategy, and it works like cost per acquisition (web marketing). As the name suggests, you pay for every install that you get. A good example is Chartboost—a third party with software that you install in your app. When you are playing a game, you will always see a “Get it now” pop up that prompts you to install another game. 

A developer looking to promote their app will pay Chartboost $3 for every user that installs the app through Chartboost. If you can provide that install, Chartboost will pay you, say $1. Incorporating these CPI companies is not difficult, but you need to talk to your developer before you do it.

Finding a sponsor for your free app is a sure way of earning yourself money and gaining brand credibility. If it’s a new app, you can white label it for a certain amount, and if it is an existing app, you can update the graphics to their brand for whatever amount you decide.

Facebook made an app just for video creators

In its latest attempt to woo video creators away from YouTube, Facebook has released an app just for them. It’s called Facebook Creator, and it includes a bunch of tools for streaming video, updating Stories, and message people across several of Facebook’s platforms.

Facebook has long had an app for people who manage Facebook Pages, and it’s also had an app for celebrities that did this kind of community building, too. In fact, Facebook Creator is really just an updated and rebranded version of that app — originally called Facebook Mentions (and still called that, since it seems to be stuck that way on the App Store for now) — but now it’s open to everyone.

There are two main draws to the Creator app. First, it includes some special features for Facebook Live. Anyone using it will be able to create custom intros and outros — intros are especially handy, as it takes a moment before other people see the link and start watching — as well as the ability to add interactive stickers and a custom video frame. The app is also able to take and edit photos and post them to Facebook Stories and other platforms (it’s not clear if that includes Instagram, but it really should).

The second big draw is communication. The app creates a unified inbox for comments on Facebook and Instagram and messages from Messenger, so that you don’t have to bounce between different apps in order to respond to people. The app doesn’t seem to cover every possible messaging vector inside of Facebook’s services, but it sounds like a handy start.

Finally, there are analytics too, so that creators can obsessively refresh the page wondering whether they’ve successfully gamed Facebook’s latest algorithm change. The app is available on iOS immediately and is supposed to come to Android in “the coming months.”

The app sounds handy for people who are already doing these things. But the bigger story might just be that Facebook is trying to show it cares about the community of independent vloggers. The same people who this app is designed to appeal to are currently struggling with odd changes and errors over at YouTube. Facebook has wanted to poach them for years now. One app isn’t going to suddenly change things, but a continued commitment could help win people over.

Source:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/11/16/16667030/facebook-creator-app-announced-launches

Apple won’t let apps turn the iPad’s camera into a button

Earlier this month, drawing app developer Astro HQ released a video of a really clever new idea for its apps: it turned the iPad’s front camera into a button, letting you tap on the lens to activate things on screen. It was a smart way to free up screen space, but as it turns out, Apple doesn’t agree. Astro said today that its app was rejected from the App Store for violating Apple’s guidelines.

In particular, Apple pointed to a section saying that apps couldn’t “alter or disable the functions of standard switches, such as the Volume Up/Down and Ring/Silent switches, or other native user interface elements or behaviors.” While Astro’s app, Astropad Studio, wasn’t strictly altering a switch, it did make the camera stop acting like a camera, which seems to at least break the spirit of the rule.

Apple is extremely strict about what it does and does not allow into its App Store, so this rejection isn’t a huge surprise. The company uses its position as a gatekeeper to make sure that apps don’t alter the experience of using its devices, maintaining consistency in a way that’ll be clear to users. It seems hard to argue that a small tweak like this in an app meant for professional illustrators really would have had a deleterious effect on the platform, but Apple has rejected apps for less.

Source:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/10/31/16582838/apple-rejects-camera-button-ipad-app-idea

Mastering Apps: A Beginner’s Guide To Start Making Money With Apps Free on Amazon

Communication technologies are constantly advancing to keep up with the times. Messaging apps are huge right now. Completely overtaking social media by becoming the primary way we communicate online.

When most entrepreneurs are starting out, they like to read articles on “how to make a killing with your first app,” “building the multi-billion dollar app” and most books related to this topic. They are glued to this side of the story and blinded to the other. To have your own success story you have to find out why other apps fail. The painful truth is there are more failed apps than successful ones.

Mastering Facebook: A Beginner’s Guide to Start Making Money with Facebook

This is not a book of ideas but a blueprint for Facebook success. Facebook is becoming a social media and search engine powerhouse. Seeing the trends in the online platform and knowing how to utilize them will ensure success. This has revolutionized publishing and has dawned to a new digital era. There are a million and one reasons. However, you do not need all of them. Just a few concrete ones to make you see the light as to why Facebook is giving you a golden opportunity to monetize publishing in a smarter creative way.

Google debuts Tez, a mobile payments app for India that uses Audio QR to transfer money

After several weeks of speculation and leaked details, today Google officially unveiled its first big foray into mobile payments in Asia. The Android and search giant has launched Tez, a free mobile wallet in India that will let users link up their phones to their bank accounts to pay for goods securely in physical stores and online, and for person-to-person money transfers with a new twist: Audio QR, which uses ultrasonic sounds to let you exchange money, bypassing any need for NFC.

“Send money home to your family, split a dinner bill with friends, or pay the neighbourhood chaiwala. Make all payments big or small, directly from your bank account with Tez, Google’s new digital payment app for India,” Google notes in its information portal about the new app.

Tez is Google’s play to replace cash transactions and become a more central part of how people pay for things, using their mobile to do so. But it’s also a chance for the company to push out some new technologies — like audio QR (AQR), which lets users transfer money by letting their phones speak to each other with sounds — to see how it can make that process more frictionless, and therefore more attractive to use than cash itself. More on AQR below.

Tez is launching today on iOS and Android in the country and will see Google linking up with several major banks in the country by way of UPI (Unified Payments Interface) — a payment standard and system backed by the government in its push to bring more integrated banking services into a very fragmented market. There will also be phones coming to the market from Lava, Micromax, Nokia and Panasonic with Tez preloaded, the company said.

Source:

Google debuts Tez, a mobile payments app for India that uses Audio QR to transfer money

Spotify launches an iMessage app for texting songs to friends

Spotify has quietly launched its own iMessage application that let you text songs to friends with just a few taps. The new app hasn’t been officially announced, but appears to be similar in functionality to Spotify’s Messenger app, which went live earlier this spring as one of Messenger’s new chat extensions.

As with the Messenger bot, the new iMessage app also lets you quickly search across Spotify’s full catalog for a track you want to share, then tap a button to paste a preview of that song into your chat session. This preview includes an album image, song title, and artist information.

But in the iMessage app’s case, the image is much larger than on Messenger, and there’s no “play” button. Instead, a small Spotify logo at the top left is what indicates that what you’ve sent is a song.

The recipient then taps the image which launches a new window, overlaid on top of the chat session. From here they can play the provided 30-second clip, or tap the “Play on Spotify” button below to hear the full track, if you’re a subscriber. (We also noticed that once it knows you’re a paying Spotify user, the option to stream a clip goes away and you’re just directed to the Spotify app to stream.)

Source:

Spotify launches an iMessage app for texting songs to friends

Facebook is testing features to help you make new friends

Facebook wants to show you more of what you have in common with potential new friends and make sure you don’t forget about your old ones either.

The company is rolling out a feature that allows you to get a closer look at your friend’s buddies. It’s not only showcasing connections you’ve yet to make but a lot of current friends as well, which seems a bit odd, but I suppose it helps you orient yourself with friends you haven’t interacted with in a bit.

Once you tap on a button urging you to “get to know [name’s] friends” you’re cast into a carousel of the connections. Previously, the most prominent way Facebook orients you with potential new friends was by showing you your mutual friends. This option digs deeper, showing you events that you both attended, pages you both like, places you’ve both worked or lived.

In February, Facebook began rolling out “Discover People,” a feature designed to help you find new connections largely through groups and events. The friend cards are the same here, but this roll out throws them into a more wide feature release.

Facebook is also looking to get you closer to some of the friends you already have in the app. Motherboard reports that a new feature is bringing some Tinder-like functionality to Messenger, allowing users to connect if they both indicate that they’re interested in hanging out. It’s also a little reminiscent of some of Snapchat’s efforts to get you to interact with friends you haven’t traded messages with in a while. Having this functionality inside Messenger is, again, a bit of an odd choice given that you’d have to switch to the main app to view a person’s profiles.

 

There doesn’t seem to be any clear “dating app” language present instead it’s more focused on friendly encounters, i.e. “Would you like to meet up with [name] this week?” The changes that would need to be taken to transform this feature into a Tinder or Bumble-like applet don’t take any major mental leaps though and dating could be a huge move for the company in the future.

Ultimately, Facebook is better with friends and even if the connection suggestions that Facebook comes up with are already stellar, it’s good to see some of the thinking that’s being done behind the scenes in terms of common interests.

Source:

Facebook is testing features to help you make new friends

Mastering Apps – A Beginners Guide to Start Making Money with Apps

Mastering Apps: A Beginner’s Guide To Start Making Money With Apps

Communication technologies are constantly advancing to keep up with the times. Messaging apps are huge right now. Completely overtaking social media by becoming the primary way we communicate online.

When most entrepreneurs are starting out, they like to read articles on “how to make a killing with your first app,” “building the multi-billion dollar app” and most books related to this topic. They are glued to this side of the story and blinded to the other. To have your own success story you have to find out why other apps fail. The painful truth is there are more failed apps than successful ones.

Disney sued for allegedly spying on children through 42 gaming apps

A federal class action lawsuit filed last week in California alleges that the Walt Disney Company is violating privacy protection laws by collecting children’s personal information from 42 of its apps and sharing the data with advertisers without parental consent.

The lawsuit targets Disney and three software companies — Upsight, Unity, and Kochava — alleging that the companies created mobile apps aimed at children that contained embedded software to track, collect, and then export their personal information along with information about their online behavior. The plaintiff, a San Francisco woman named Amanda Rushing, says she was unaware that information about her child, “L.L.,” was collected while playing mobile game Disney Princess Palace Pets, and that data was then sold to third parties for ad targeting.

The class action suit says this violates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which was enacted by Congress in 1999 and designed to protect the privacy of children online. COPPA requires that companies designing apps for children under the age of 13 obtain consent from parents before collecting personal information. In 2013, the FTC revised COPPA, expanding what counts as personal information to include things like geolocation markers and IP addresses. The update also requires third-party advertisers to comply with the rules.

Disney has responded to the lawsuit, saying:

“Disney has a robust COPPA compliance program, and we maintain strict data collection and use policies for Disney apps created for children and families. The complaint is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of COPPA principles, and we look forward to defending this action in court.”
This is not the first time Disney has faced COPPA violations. In 2011, the FTC levied a $3 million civil penalty against subsidiary Playdom after it illegally collected and disclosed personal information from “hundreds of thousands of children under age 13 without their parents’ prior consent.”

Source:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/9/16115352/disney-sued-spying-children-gaming-apps-disney-princess-palace-pets

How Rovio Fought Off Bankruptcy to Make Angry Birds

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Right?

For the maker of Angry Birds, everyone’s favorite time waster, it actually took 51 tries before they created the perfect casual game. Wired UK has an excellent profile of how the company battled back from bankruptcy to become one of the hottest entertainment companies in the world. It’s more inspiring than you’d expect.

First they had to save a company in crisis: at the beginning of 2009, Rovio was close to bankruptcy. Then they had to create the perfect game, do every other little thing exactly right, and keep on doing it. The Heds had developed 51 titles before Angry Birds. Some of them had sold in the millions for third parties such as Namco and EA, so they decided to create their own, original intellectual property. “We thought we would need to do ten to 15 titles until we got the right one,” says 30-year-old Niklas. One afternoon in late March, in their offices overlooking a courtyard in downtown Helsinki, Jaakko Iisalo, a games designer who had been at Rovio since 2006, showed them a screenshot. He had pitched hundreds in the two months before. This one showed a cartoon flock of round birds, trudging along the ground, moving towards a pile of colourful blocks. They looked cross. “People saw this picture and it was just magical,” says Niklas. Eight months and thousands of changes later, after nearly abandoning the project, Niklas watched his mother burn a Christmas turkey, distracted by playing the finished game. “She doesn’t play any games. I realised: this is it.”

I’ve long thought casual games are like pop songs. Everyone knows roughly what they’re supposed to sound like, but getting everything just right is stupendously unlikely. Since nearly every single casual game or pop song won’t be a hit, the key skill seems to be the right ear (or fingers) to feel when something isn’t good, but great. Or maybe you just have to get lucky.

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Source:

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/03/how-rovio-fought-off-bankruptcy-to-make-angry-birds/72250/

Facebook brings Live broadcasting to its Spaces virtual reality app

In an effort to seemingly combine a couple of the top tech trends of the year, Facebook will soon be allowing users of its Oculus Rift virtual reality system to live stream themselves inside VR to their Facebook friends and followers as avatars.

The Facebook Live functionality will be arriving on the Spaces app, which is still in beta. Users will be able to go live to all their friends and can position a virtual camera to capture their experience. A lot of things will look familiar to a traditional Live broadcast for the streamer, but things like physically reaching out and grabbing a comment to show those watching are things only possible in VR.

Facebook Spaces may be just a preview of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s 10-year vision for virtual reality at the company, but with Messenger video calls and Facebook Live broadcasts already coming to the app, it’s clear that the company isn’t shying away from building a bridge between its loftier VR bets and its central 2D service, which now boasts 2 billion users.

going-live-from-spaces

It may be a while before every feature sees a VR counterpart though.

 

“There are things that aren’t going to map one-to-one, but I think in a lot of ways Facebook is sort of the 2D metaverse,” Facebook VR guru Mike Booth told TechCrunch. “It’s a huge network of people, places and things, so it’s a question of how we present those things in VR and how we let people access them and interact with them, but it’s also huge so there’re a lot of things to figure out and explore.”

To Booth, bringing Facebook Live to Spaces is just as much about “evangelism” as anything else, allowing larger groups of friends to get exposed to the app and virtual reality in general.

Whether users see the need to return to a feature like this is the real question; VR systems have some pretty obtrusive setups and don’t lend themselves to the ease of use that going Live on mobile boasts. Whether seeing avatars is fun and quirky or just gimmicky seems to be something that might be up for debate after only a couple minutes of live streaming, but for Facebook, much of their VR strategy involves a lot of trial and a lot of potential for error.

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Facebook brings Live broadcasting to its Spaces virtual reality app

Microsoft’s new iPhone app narrates the world for blind people

Microsoft has released Seeing AI — a smartphone app that uses computer vision to describe the world for the visually impaired. With the app downloaded, the users can point their phone’s camera at a person and it’ll say who they are and how they’re feeling; they can point it at a product and it’ll tell them what it is. All using artificial intelligence that runs locally on their phone.

 

The company showed off a prototype of Seeing AI in March last year at its Build conference, but from today, the app is available to download for free in the US on iOS. However, there’s no word yet on when it’ll come to Android or other countries.

The app works in a number of scenarios. As well as recognizing people its seen before and guessing strangers’ age and emotion, it can identify household products by scanning barcodes. It also reads and scan documents, and recognizes US currency. This last function is a good example of how useful it can be. As all dollar bills are the same size and color regardless of value, spotting the difference can be difficult or even impossible for the visually impaired. An app like Seeing AI helps them find that information.

seeing-ai-app

The app uses neural networks to identify the world around it — the same basic technology that’s being deployed all over Silicon Valley, powering self-driving cars, drones, and more. The app’s most basic functions are carried out directly on the device itself. This means they can be accessed more quickly and in situations where there’s no stable internet connection. However, Seeing AI’s experimental features — like describing an entire scene or recognizing hand-writing — require a connection to the cloud.

 

Speaking to The Verge at a Microsoft event in London, Saqib Shaikh, the tech lead on Seeing AI, said he most commonly used the app for reading documents like signs and menus. He points out the app doesn’t just perform the basic task of optical character recognition technology, but also directs the user — telling them to move the camera left or right to get the target in shot.

Shaikh says that the difference between this and similar apps is the speed of the neural nets: “One of the things we wanted to do was face recognition on device, and we’ve done that so within a few milliseconds you’ll hear the result. It’s all about the speed, and we try to do as much as we can on the device.”

Source:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/12/15958174/microsoft-ai-seeing-app-blind-ios

Adidas’ All Day fitness app hits iOS and Android devices

Exactly three months after announcing its All Day fitness app, Adidas is finally launching it in the US. The application, which is available for iOSand Android, focuses on serving up insights about different health aspects, such as mindset, movement, nutrition rest.

 

Adidas says that All Day is designed for “versatile” athletes, meaning that the app’s goal isn’t just to help you with tough workouts, but also showing you anything from quick meditation moves to how to cook healthy recipes. While All Day is only available for those of you in the States right now, the sportswear giant tells Engadget that the app will be coming to other markets later this fall.

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Source:

https://www.engadget.com/2017/06/28/adidas-all-day-app-ios-android/

Apple won’t let apps annoy you with their own review prompts anymore

Apple is putting an end to the scourge of review prompts that seemed to pop up inside of some apps every few days. In a change to the App Store rules this week, Apple said it will now enforce hard limits on how review prompts show up and how often users have to see them. The changes were first spotted by 9to5Mac.

 

Under the new rules, developers will no longer be able to display review prompts however and whenever they’d like. Instead, there’ll be two key restrictions that should reduce headaches for everyone: First, apps will be required to use a new Apple-made review prompt, which allows users to leave a rating without exiting an app. That’s a huge convenience that may well get a lot more people to leave ratings. Apple introduced the rating prompt a few months ago, but it’s been optional up until now.

The second restriction is on how often that prompt can show up. An app can only display the prompt three times a year, regardless of how often it’s been updated. And once a user has left a rating, they’ll never see it again. Users also have the option to completely disable app review prompts inside the iOS Settings app, preventing the prompts from annoying them at all.

This seems like it should be a win-win for users and developers. People have been annoyed by app review prompts for years, and this update seems to remedy the problem. It may even make people more interested in leaving a review, because it can be done without exiting the app and because it means they’ll be done with the prompt for good. If that results in more reviews — and reviews from users who aren’t annoyed about switching apps — that’s a good thing for developers, too.

 

Part of the reason developers have their apps show review prompts so often is because Apple has always reset an app’s rating after every update, even very minor ones. With the redesigned App Store, developers will have the option to change that, so that their app’s ratings are maintained between updates. That’s likely to become a common choice — for good apps, at least — since users will only be able to get prompted for a rating once.

Source:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/9/15768196/apple-ending-annoying-app-store-review-prompts

MEET THE TREND-CHASING DEVELOPERS FILLING THE APP STORE WITH FIDGET SPINNERS

It’s summer 2017 and the App Store is spilling over with fidget spinner apps. Their titles are largely uninspired, impossible to tell apart: Fidget Spinner, Fidget Spinner Toy, Fidget Hand Spinner, Fidget Spin. Most are lazy re-creations of the popular stress reliever. All are indicative of a larger trend in mobile gaming to identify and mass-produce the hot idea of the moment.

 

The fidget spinner — a cheap, easy-to-make object that you can pick up at your local bodega or gas station — exploded into popularity in late April. The toy, which comes in a variety of colors and shapes, has inspired techno music, phone cases, rocket-powered safety nightmares, and even the dry world of workplace art.

Fidget apps began to overflow in the App Store around mid-May. The rush to crank out clones and copies is a predictable aspect of the mobile ecosystem. Flappy Bird, Threes!, Pokémon Go: all of these games were followed by a surge of rushed rip-offs hoping to ride the wave of popularity and skim some cash in the process.

But fidget spinners are a strange take on this trend: a play off the popularity of a physical toy that serves very little purpose, translated into a digital app that does even less. The entire point of a fidget spinner is the tactile feel that no app can capture.

 Screen_Shot_2017_05_31_at_1.11.55_PM.0

Earlier this month, Ketchapp’s Fidget Spinner was the top free app in the App Store; it’s since fallen to number six. The app isn’t a high-quality game or a good stress-releasing spinner toy. As my colleague Paul Miller explained, “The whole app is basically designed to minimize your time fidget spinning while maximizing ad impressions.”

Developer Ketchapp has a history of controversial apps. The company has been accused of cloning games like Sirvo’s Threes! and ustwo Games’ Monument Valley with 2048 and Skyward. Ketchapp disputes these claims. Last February, co-founder and co-director Antoine Morcos told Tech Insider that Skyward was a different type of game that didn’t fall into the same genre Monument Valley. His response to 2048’s similarities to Threes! Was that “all [car] racing games look the same.”

Today, Ketchapp exists under the umbrella of publisher Ubisoft. The company behind AAA franchises like Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and Watch Dogs acquired Ketchapp last year.

 

Fidget Spinner looks and functions like many other fidget spinner games in the App Store, but it’s hard to tell who’s mimicking who. It seems all parties are equally looking to cash in on a hot, albeit undoubtedly short-lived, trend. In an email to The Verge, Morcos says the idea was inspired by the popularity of real-life spinners. “Seeing [people] playing the Fidget Spinner everywhere has given us the idea to create a game based on this trend, that would be as addictive as the real toy,” he says. “We came up with something interesting and unique, the idea of spinning the fidget to earn coins, which in return would let you unlock new crazy models. Also, there is a concept of ‘the more you are good in spinning, the better you will improve the stats of your spinner over time.’”

Source:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/1/15720264/app-store-with-fidget-spinners-developer-ios

Amazon to pay out $70 million in refunds over unauthorized in-app purchases

Amazon is offering customers refunds for unauthorized charges their children have incurred playing games from the company’s Appstore.

The move comes nearly three years after the Federal Trade Commission sued Amazon in federal court over in-game charges that shocked unsuspecting parents.

“Amazon’s in-app system allowed children to incur unlimited charges on their parents’ accounts without permission,” the FTC’s then-Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said when the lawsuit was filed.

A judge concurred and the FTC says the company has agreed to refund up to $70 million in unintended charges.

Amazon spokesman Jonathan Richardson said in a statement to NPR: “We have contacted all eligible customers who have not already received a refund for unauthorized charges to help ensure their refunds are confirmed quickly.”

If you believe your child made an in-app purchase without your permission between November 2011 and May 2016, you may be eligible for a refund. The FTC says you can visit this Amazon webpage or log into your Amazon account and look in the Message Center under “Important Messages.” Or you can call Amazon at 866-216-1072. Refund requests are due by May 28, 2018.

Julie Comeaux is one of many parents who had no idea her daughter was continually spending money inside a game on her new Amazon Kindle. Comeaux described on Morning Edition last month how she typed in her password once to approve a $5 in-app purchase—then left the Kindle with her daughter.

“When we checked the account and we saw hundreds of charges from Amazon, it totaled near $10,000,” Comeaux said.

“She cried. I had to calm her down,” Comeaux recalled. “She was very upset, didn’t know she was spending real money.”

According to the FTC complaint, games often blur the lines between what kids can buy with virtual currency and what they’re buying with actual money. It cited the app Ice Age Village, in which players can use virtual coins and acorns to buy items — and can also pay real money to buy more of the virtual currencies, on a screen that looks very similar.

But Amazon’s Richardson said Wednesday, “Since the launch of the Appstore in 2011, Amazon has helped parents prevent purchases made without their permission by offering access to parental controls, clear notice of in-app purchasing, real-time notification for every in-app purchase and refund assistance for unauthorized purchases.”

The FTC asked the court to require that Amazon refund unauthorized charges and to prevent it from billing account holders for future in-app charges without their consent.

A year ago, federal district court Judge John Coughenour agreed to the refunds. He wrote: “The Court determines that the scope of Amazon’s unfair billing practices pertains to all in-app charges made by account users without express, informed authorization.” But he denied the FTC’s request for the future billing ban.

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Richardson noted, “The Court here affirmed our commitment to customers when it ruled no changes to current Appstore practices were required. To continue ensuring a great customer experience, we are happy to provide our customers what we have always provided: refunds for purchases they did not approve.”

The FTC appealed the judge’s decision in hopes of securing a future ban, and Amazon appealed the refund order. Last month, both sides agreed to drop their appeals so the refund process could begin.

According to the FTC, when Amazon introduced in-app charges in its Appstore in November 2011, it didn’t require any password to spend real money inside an app. In March 2012, the FTC said, the company updated its system to require the account owner to enter a password for single purchases over $20. That meant children could still make an unlimited number of purchases under $20 each.

Then in early 2013, Amazon began requiring a password for some charges, the FTC said. But even when a parent authorized a single charge, that permission sometimes lasted for up to an hour, allowing children to make more purchases without new authorization.

“Not until June 2014, roughly two and a half years after the problem first surfaced,” did Amazon begin to require account holders’ consent for in-app charges on its newer mobile devices,” the FTC explained in a statement.

The judge’s ruling noted that, “By December 2011, (Amazon Appstore Director) Aaron Rubenson referred to the amount of customer complaints as ‘near house on fire.’… Rubenson also referred to ‘accidental purchasing by kids’ as one of two issues the company needed to solve.”

Source:

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/31/530903237/amazon-offers-refunds-for-childrens-unauthorized-in-app-purchases

Drivers For Ride-Hailing App Juno Claim Company Misled Them With Promises Of Stock

Last year, drivers for ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft were excited about a new competing app, Juno, which promised to grant drivers stock in the company along with lower commissions and in-app tipping. Juno was recently acquired by yet another service, Gett, and the drivers have seen their equity evaporate, leading them to file a complaint with federal regulators.

The plan for Juno was to share more revenue with its drivers than rivals do. Retaining drivers is important, as it cuts down on costly expenses associated with recruiting new drivers, like referral fees and sign-on bonuses.

A source familiar with the startup’s finances told Bloomberg Technology that Juno was profitable, but unable to convince investors to help it expand to more cities. Instead, the company decided to pursue a deal with Gett, a ride-hailing app out of Israel which operates in multiple cities, including New York.

gett

Drivers acquired theoretical equity in Juno the more that they drove, and the plan was that drivers would own about half of the company by 2026. Gett, which paid $200 million to acquire Juno, has no such equity plan, which meant the end of the stock program.

Drivers learned in an email that they would receive a small cash payment, about 10% of what drivers had been told their accumulated stock was worth.

That’s where the Independent Drivers Guild, a group that’s not a union but represents New York City’s drivers with Uber, comes in. To maximize their time and income, drivers for ride-hailing apps often work for multiple services at once, accepting passengers as they come in. According to the group, 40% of its members also drive for Juno.

While the Independent Drivers Guild represents drivers for Uber in New York City, its members often drive for Juno as well. Yet Uber pays some of the group’s administrative expenses, which makes it a little awkward when the IDG is calling for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate one of Uber’s competitors.

Uber itself Uber paid $20 million to settle charges that it misled prospective drivers about what their pay would be.

In its letter to the FTC [PDF], the IDG says that it learned from mysterious “sources” that Juno had learned from the Securities and Exchange Commission that its stock plan may be illegal. Yet, the IDG alleges, that was a few months before the deal, and the company still used the idea of earning equity in the company to appeal to new drivers.

“Many IDG drivers have no access to traditional worker protections like retirement plans, group health insurance, or even paid time off,” the IDG notes in its letter. “The promise of a stake in the company attracted thousands of drivers seeking financial security for their families.”

The group also sent the letter to New York state’s attorney general, New York City’s Office of Labor Policy and Standards, Juno, and Gett.

Source:

Drivers For Ride-Hailing App Juno Claim Company Misled Them With Promises Of Stock

Forget 10 seconds, Snapchat now lets you replay messages forever

Snapchat was built on the concept of ephemerality: once you see a message, it disappears forever.

Starting Tuesday, Snapchat is making its messages feel less fleeting by letting them replay indefinitely. A new infinity icon will allow a photo or video message to be replayed forever until the receiver exits the conversation thread. Snapchat messages, called “snaps,” could previously only be seen for up to 10 seconds before they disappeared.

“We’ve all felt the frustration of not being able to fully enjoy a Snap – even after replaying it – and we wanted to give you the option of allowing the recipient to enjoy your Snap as long as they’d like,” the company wrote in a blog post on Tuesday. “After your friend finishes viewing the Snap and taps to close it, it will delete as usual.”

The change is a notable one for Snapchat, which in its early days earned a reputation for sexting because of how quickly its messages disappeared after being viewed. The app has since popularized the Stories format, which shows photo and video messages in chronological order that disappear after 24 hours. Facebook has aggressively copied Stories in its full suite of apps in recent months.

Snapchat’s change to one of its core features also comes a day ahead of the company’s first earnings report since it became a publicly traded company in February. Wall Street is looking for signs that Snapchat is still growing and that the competition from Facebook hasn’t taken too great of a toll.

Snapchat also added a few new creative tools on Tuesday, including the ability to draw with emojis and a “magic eraser.” A redesigned menu for the app’s editing tools will “provide a foundation for introducing even more creative tools for making fun Snaps,” the company said.

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Source:

http://www.businessinsider.com/snapchat-lets-messages-reply-forever-adds-magic-eraser-and-other-tools-2017-5

Driver-friendly ride-hailing apps Gett and Juno are combining

Ride-hailing app Gett today confirmed that it will acquire Juno, another app in the on-demand transportation industry, for $200 million, reports TechCrunch. The deal will combine Juno’s network of New York City-based drivers under Gett’s and continue to offer drivers a 10 percent commission rate while giving them 100 percent of tips. (Uber’s commission ranges between 20 to 25 percent.)

Juno launched in New York City just one year ago, and initially pitched itself toward drivers, not riders. It promised to be a more “ethical ride-sharing app,” offering drivers $50 a week to keep the app open during normal work hours and a rating system that deducted 5 percent of their lowest ratings on a weekly basis.

In light of recent press around Uber’s shady business practices, consumers have been rapidly switching to competitors like Juno, Lyft, and Gett. Just a few days after the #DeleteUber campaign began in January, Lyft surpassed Uber in app downloads for the first time ever. Gett also reported that in the last quarter, its revenue and rides completed grew 100 percent.

Gett currently services 100 cities worldwide, including New York, Tel Aviv, London, and Moscow. Its acquisition of Juno aims to help it further expand in the United States.

Source:

http://www.theverge.com/2017/4/26/15436222/gett-acquires-juno-driver-friendly-ride-hailing-apps

Feeding America launches new tech platform to help businesses fight hunger

For Earth Day 2017, Feeding America® is announcing the launch of MealConnectTM, an innovative technology platform that makes food donation as simple as a click. The new and free platform was developed to help reduce food waste, benefit the environment and put more food on the tables of families and individuals facing hunger in America.

Feeding America is already the largest food rescue and domestic hunger-relief organization, helping to provide food to 46 million people in need each year, and now with MealConnect is poised to play an even bigger role in reducing food waste. MealConnect helps to save food that previously might have gone to waste—such as a small load of meat from a local butcher or a box of tomatoes from a farmers market. The platform then directs that rescued food immediately to Feeding America food banks’ food pantries and meal programs that serve people in need. MealConnect allows food businesses of all sizes, from local mom-and-pop restaurants to large chain grocery retailers, to post surplus food on the MealConnect platform. An algorithm determines the best-suited local pantry or food program to quickly pick up and distribute the donation.

MealConnect is available to donors from any smartphone, tablet or computer to make an immediate impact in the communities where they operate. MealConnect is free for all users and all donations are tax-deductible. The technology leverages the Feeding America network of 200 food banks and 60,000 pantries and feeding programs across the country. In addition, Feeding America maintains stringent food-safety standards to ensure that all food distributed is safe for consumption.

This new technology enhancement has been made possible with a $1 million grant from General Mills. This funding also will help support efforts to scale MealConnect to communities nationwide.

“We are extremely grateful to General Mills for their incredible support of this major initiative. This donation is not only beneficial to our environment but also helps meet the needs of hardworking families throughout the country,” Feeding America CEO Diana Aviv said.

“For nearly 40 years, we’ve partnered with Feeding America to help rescue more food to help families facing hunger,” said Shawn O’Grady, group president of Convenience & Foodservice, and senior vice president of Global Revenue Development at General Mills. “We are encouraged that the new MealConnect technology will help food retailers and foodservice operators nationwide donate food safely and efficiently.” O’Grady has served on the Feeding America board of directors since 2013.

Starbucks, which announced a partnership with Feeding America in 2016, will use MealConnect to help achieve its goal to rescue 100 percent of unsold food from its U.S. company-operated stores.

“In 2016, we pledged to bring the excess food in our stores, that otherwise would have been thrown away, to families in need,” said Jane Maly, Program Manager at Starbucks. “By using MealConnect, we’re able to track our donations in real time, allowing for more streamlined reporting by store and food bank.”

Feeding America is the leading food recovery partner across the food industry, currently rescuing 2.8 billion pounds of good food from going to waste and providing it to families in need.

New information from ReFED, a collaboration of business, nonprofit, foundation and government leaders committed to reducing food waste in the United States, indicates that 72 billion pounds of good, safe food is wasted every year in the U.S. MealConnect aims to close that gap to reduce food waste and end hunger.

“Working with valued companies, including General Mills, Walmart and Starbucks, Feeding America has been able to distribute more than four billion pounds of food annually to people facing hunger,” Aviv said. “Now, MealConnect will allow us to supplement these great national efforts with donations captured from regional and local donors who may not have a consistent donation stream.”

MealConnect was initially funded and designed with support from Google.org with additional funding from the Walmart Foundation.

Google.org strives to identify and support innovations that improve our world, and MealConnect’s enhanced platform does just that. We are thrilled to support Feeding America and its network, which will allow MealConnect to scale across the country,” said Andrew Dunckelman of Google.org.

“Since 2005 Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have invested over $100 million in Feeding America,” Karrie Denniston said. “We made the investment in MealConnect because we saw an opportunity to strengthen capacity for the organization and its network of food banks.  This platform is a prime example of how innovative technology is being used to improve food recovery and address hunger.”

By connecting more donors with the Feeding America network of food banks, food pantries and meal programs, MealConnect will prevent more food waste, benefit the environment and help end the hunger crisis for millions of people in America.

For more information on MealConnect, visit MealConnect.org.

– See more at: http://3blmedia.com/News/Feeding-America-Launches-MealConnecttm-Technology-Platform-Help-Reduce-Food-Waste-and-End#sthash.HIc1aq5p.dpuf

Google launches Areo, a food delivery & home services app for India

Google seems to have silently launched a new food delivery and home services aggregator called Areo for the India market. The app is available as a free download on the Google Play store and is currently operational in Bengaluru and Mumbai.

Areo aggregates food dishes and home services across various local service providers, allowing users to order food or schedule appointments with a local beautician, electrician, painter, cleaner and plumber among others. The app was first spotted by The Android Soul.

At the time of the writing this article, Areo has signed up partners like UrbanClap and Zimmber for home services and Freshmenu, Box8 & Faasos for food ordering.

Notably missing from the list however are prominent players like Zomato and Swiggy in food delivery and Amazon-backed Housejoy in home services.

One can either search for any specific dish or choose any specific partner to browse through dishes and schedule deliveries by paying online or use cash on delivery. Strangely, we noticed that Google has partnered with TimesofMoney’s DirecPay for online payments on Areo rather than using its own payment solution.

“We are constantly experimenting with ways to better serve our users in India. In this case, Areo makes everyday chores and ordering food easier by bringing together useful local services like ordering food or hiring a cleaner in one place.” a Google spokesperson told in a statement to ETtech.

A Google spokesperson said they are currently not charging partners for this service but they are yet to respond to our queries on how these partners were selected or do they plan to charge these partners in the future.

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Source:

http://tech.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/mobile/google-india-launches-areo-a-food-delivery-home-services-app/58159124

Amazon will soon refund up to $70 million of in-app purchases made by children

Nearly one year after Amazon was found guilty of illegally billing users for unauthorized in-app purchases, the company has dropped its appeal against the decision, paving way for refunds to finally commence.

The in-app charges stemmed from purchases made by kids when playing with freemium apps. In the 2016 decision, a US federal judge found that Amazon failed to clearly inform parents that free apps may still include in-app purchases, and did not provide enough notice and password requirements to prevent unwanted charges. The Federal Trade Commission estimated that parents were charged upwards of $70 million between November 2011 and May 2016.

According to the FTC, Amazon will begin is refund program “shortly.” In November, Amazon’s request to refund the purchases in the form of gift cards was rejected by a US district judge, so the company is expected to refund affected customers money back directly to their debit or credit card, or via paper checks.

Source:

http://www.theverge.com/2017/4/4/15183254/amazon-ends-appeal-refund-70-million-in-app-purchases

Top 5 Apps for Traders

Consumers are increasingly shifting towards mobile platforms as new tools can help investors gain insight, hone their skills without risking a dime and ultimately trade their portfolio. Below are the top five apps that gained popularity and positive reviews among users in 2016.

Robinhood

Robinhood allows investors to trade stocks with no commission fee. While more experienced traders may be skeptical about the simplicity of the app and the newbies it attracts, there is no denying that it is a game changer. Launched in 2014, Robinhood’s target audience is the younger generation of traders with an average age of 26 years old, 25% of whom are first-time investors.

In 2015, Robinhood became the first financial app of any kind to win an Apple Design Award, thanks to its quick sign-up process and easy-to-use interface. The app uses geolocation to suggest relevant stocks. It provides an innovative crowd-sourced, social approach that shares insight and trends from other Robinhood users, looking to build a following. Latest updated versions of the app both for iOS and Android were uploaded in October 2016 and so far have been receiving positive reviews from the users.

In September 2016, the company announced the launch of Robinhood Gold – an advanced version of the platform with a set of premium features, such as extended trading hours, a line of credit and a faster option for making deposits and withdrawals. Access to Robinhood Gold will cost the users a flat fee of ten dollars a month.

TD Ameritrade Mobile

TD Ameritrade Mobile is offering customers several applications for monitoring the market and making trades. TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader enables the trading of equities, options, futures and forex. Traders can keep the track of the news through integrated live streams from several CNBC regional channels and a financial news service. With access to comprehensive research materials, traders of any level benefit from TD Ameritrade’s expertise. Users of this app can chat with other traders and learn about the upcoming events through the interactive market calendar.

TD Ameritrade Mobile app, the second tool offered by the mobile division of the company, is mostly focused on analysis of trends and keeping track of the trader’s positions and orders. It provides an opportunity to transfer cash and deposit checks by taking the pictures of them with the phone camera. Moreover, users can find out market information about the companies by simply scanning the bar code of the consumer products in the store. The iOS version of the application is rated higher by mobile store users than the version for Android devices.

E*Trade Mobile

E*Trade Mobile’s easy-to-use interface helps users locate stocks quickly through a voice search function. Similar to TD Ameritrade applications, E*Trade Mobile provides an opportunity to trade a variety of securities: stocks, ETFs, mutual funds and options. With real-time quotes and news from Morningstar, MarketWatch, Briefing.com, and various wires, along with CNBC Video on Demand, users have access to a wealth of information. Users can select information that is displayed on the customizable dashboard and have access to educational tools and comparison charts. E*trade Mobile’s application is available on mobile phones with both operating systems and can be connected to Apple Watch.

StockTouch

StockTouch is an informational resource that allows users to monitor the stock market in real time with an intuitive visualization of the market data. Stocks are sortable alphabetically, by size, by market capitalization, by percentage gains and by volume. Users can zoom in to obtain the detailed information about a particular stock and its historical performance, or touch anywhere on the screen to gain more insight into market trends on companies and sectors. Color-coded heat maps help users track the market’s ups and downs. The app was shut down for several months earlier this year without an official reason, but became available in the App Store again at the end of September 2016. The tool is only available for the users of Apple devices.

TradeHero

TradeHero is a learning app that allows investors to practice trading in a safe environment. Based on the real world data, the app is perfect for users looking to hone their skills or test new strategies without financial risk on simulated stock exchanges from around the world.

Users receive $100,000 to build their fantasy portfolios and compete against each other. The winners have a chance to be listed on the leaderboard as a hero and receive a real cash prize. Participants receive alerts about the performance of their favorite stocks and can get access to the video tutorials and the tips from experienced users.

The most recent updates for the app were launched in October 2016 with predominantly positive reviews from users. Currently the iOS and Android versions of the app slightly differ by functionality, however the company promised to add the missing features in the next versions.

Source:

http://www.investopedia.com/articles/active-trading/111315/top-5-apps-stock-traders.asp

Google tests Instant Apps – a feature that lets you use apps without downloading them

It’s annoying when you have to download an app on a smartphone just to carry out one function. Well Google wants to fix this pain point and has begun testing one of its hotly-anticipated features announced last year called Android Instant Apps.

The feature was previewed last year at the Google I/O developers’ conference. Instant Apps works by letting a user hit a link and then opening a small part of the app required to carry out the specific task, without actually downloading it. The aim is to be as fast as loading a web page so an Instant App can be runnable in a few seconds.

One example Google showed off last year was paying for parking. If a person holds their phone near a parking meter with a special built-in chip, the Instant App will open to let people pay for parking.

On Monday, Google said in a blog that it had begun live testing of Instant Apps with a small number of developers including BuzzFeed, Wish, Periscope and Viki, with the aim of collecting user feedback.

Google also said that the software development kit (SDK) needed for developers to make Instant Apps, will be available “in the coming months.”

Instant Apps gives the advantage of not having to download an app and store it on your phone which could take up a lot of memory space and even screen real estate. Sometimes and app is required just to do one specific task and then it needs to be deleted. But also, if you’re out without Wi-Fi and need to download an app, it can use up a lot of a person’s monthly data. Instant Apps could eliminate all of these issues.

Source:

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/24/google-tests-instant-apps-a-feature-that-lets-you-use-apps-without-downloading-them.html