Last month the world was shaken by the still ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Apptamin stands in solidarity with Ukrainians, so does the tech industry. Apple has suspended product sales in Russia (which represents 15% of their total market share), RT News and Sputnik News aren’t available for download in the App Store outside of Russia, same goes for the Play Store (only in Europe), Google also blocked their YouTube channels in European countries, and Facebook stopped recommending content from Russia state media organizations.
In other news, the app world has kept busy: Google introduced the Privacy Sandbox for Android, Apple keeps getting fined by the Netherlands and you can now make 10 minutes TikToks.
Google’s Privacy Sandbox is coming to Android phones near you
Google unveiled the Android side of their Privacy Sandbox. Mid-February they announced that the new privacy measures they’re working on to help the ad system live through the disappearance of third-party cookies will also come to Android.
The Android privacy measures are still being worked on and Google has said to be working with app developers such as Rovio and Snap, you can see their testimonials on Google’s dedicated page.
So far, Privacy Sandbox (Android’s version) includes:
- SDK runtime: SDKs will be submitted to the Play Store independently from the app (and their access to identifiers will be limited)
- Topics: FLoC’s replacement will allow SDK to use topics as an input to serve ads to relevant users
- FLEDGE: custom audience data will be stored locally on the device and the Ad Selection API will orchestrate auction execution for ad tech platforms
- Attribution report: Google will provide two different types of report, either event-specific or aggregated
These changes are not yet set in stone, and will only start being available after thorough testing during the two years to come. In the meantime, starting April 1st, Android users will have the ability to turn their personal ad identifier into an unusable string of zeros.
As a treat, Android developers get a delay to update the safety section of their app’s listing page. They previously had until late April to fill the new section and ensure it was ready, they now have up until July 20 to do so.
Some more Play Store news
After widely rolling out iOS-style install indicators on the homescreen, Google now specifies what version of “Android OS” is required to install an app on the Play Store. First, the Play Store listings now reveal which Android version is needed to be able to install an app.
Secondly, when you download an app, Google will now show you the progress of the app install right on your homescreen.
As for the curious people out there, we found out Android 13’s codenames. Android codenames are all about desserts and Android 13 will be no exception. The first developer preview has confirmed it will be called Tiramisu.
Microsoft is changing its app store policies and coming for mobile
Microsoft is being a good student and announcing a new set of Open App Store Principles that will apply to the Microsoft Store (on Windows) and “the next-generation marketplaces we will build for games”. Given their involvement in gaming, their buying of Activision-Blizzard (who owns King, famous maker of Candy Crush), and the unstoppable rise of mobile gaming, they may angle at a comeback to mobile app stores.
In their official statement, they mention the changing laws in South Korea, the Netherlands, and the European Union’s DMA that have been the bane of Google and Apple’s existence these past few months. They don’t shy away from their desire to actively compete in the mobile gaming market.
In addition to their privacy measures and security measures, they also mention accountability (and promise not to advantage their own apps over competing ones as well as not using app store data as a competition tool), transparent rules for promotion and marketing, and, most importantly, they won’t prevent or disadvantage developers from using alternative payment systems and/or communicating directly with their consumers.
They’re actively rooting for open app markets, and already working to comply with future laws such as the European Union’s DMA and the US’ Open App Markets Act. By doing so, they’re ensuring themselves a spot as the good student, an example to be shown to both Apple and Google when they inevitably complain that the new restrictions are either too dangerous or impossible to achieve.
Microsoft is diligently waiting for the mobile app stores to crack open so they can play on this territory too.
Reels are available to Facebookers everywhere, so are Reels Ads
Meta had already started implementing Reels into Facebook in some test countries, they’re now available everywhere. As their name suggests, Facebook Reels are exactly the same thing as Instagram Reels, just on another platform.
Like their Instagram counterparts, Facebook Reels is there to show that Meta is betting hard on video and that TikTok’s more successful than ever. They’re also adding new advertising options on Facebook Reels such as ad overlays.
These allow you to overlay an ad over your Reel (either at the bottom part with a small banner or a square ad at the top right corner). Creators who use these overlay ads will earn money.
Apple vs. The Netherlands’ dating apps
Apple faced its fifth fine from the Dutch consumer watchdog in the dating apps case. The Authority for Consumers and Market has stated that Apple is abusing its dominant market position by “failing to allow software application makers in the Netherlands to use other payment methods for dating apps accessible via its App Store”.
The Cupertino firm had until the 15th of January to make the mandated changes. Since then, the ACM has been fining them every week for 5 million euros ($5,7 million). Apple is now allowing dating app makers to submit a new app with alternative payment (the developers have to submit two different apps for this to work, one with alternative payment methods enabled and the other without). They would get a 27% commission on alternative payments (instead of their usual 30%).
However, the ACM has rejected this move, stating that it was putting “an unreasonable burden on software developers and not amounting to compliance”. Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President of the European Commission, took a dig at Apple in her latest speech about the DMA, saying that “some gatekeepers may be tempted to play for time or try to circumvent the rules. Apple’s conduct in the Netherlands these days may be an example. As we understand it, Apple essentially prefers paying periodic fines, rather than complying with a decision of the Dutch Competition Authority on the terms and conditions for third parties to access its app store. And that will also be one of the obligations included in the DMA.”
Apple’s App Store sessions are available until March 29
If you have any questions about the App Store, Apple is currently running live virtual app store sessions for developers. All you need is to be a member of the Apple Developer Program. The sessions’ topics include:
- Get Started with Custom Offer Codes
- Get Started with Product Page Optimization
- Get Started with In-App Events
- Get Started with Custom Product Pages
- Optimize Subscriptions for Success: Acquisition
You can register on Apple’s Developer page right here.
App Store’s small business program no longer forbids app transfers
The App Store’s Small Business Program allows developers to qualify for a lower commission rate of 15% if they earn less than $1 million. However, developers could not qualify for apps transferred from one account to another (if you sold your app for example).
This is no longer the case, developers have been informed that the offending guideline has been removed and they can now be eligible for the discount.
Snapchat recovers from ATT, Facebook doesn’t
2021 Q4 numbers are in and Snapchat is having a good time, better than Facebook at least. Snap’s Q4 numbers beat market expectations with $1.3 billion in revenue. After losing about $3 million to advertising restrictions following Apple’s ATT, Snap’s chief financial officer, Derek Andersen, said that the company already “began to recover from the impact of the iOS platform changes quicker than we anticipated.” They’re even proposing a new ad format, adding ads within creators’ stories.
The same cannot be said for Facebook, according to CNBC, Facebook shares dropped more than 20% when Q4 results were made public. They’re still recovering from ATT who’s driving advertisers to Google Ad campaigns in search of a more precise targeting system, and a less expensive option. Moreover, Facebook is still underreporting iOS web conversions, only slightly less.
To add to the streak of bad news, Facebook’s user numbers fell for the first time in the social media platform’s history.
Meta threatened to pull Facebook and Instagram out of Europe and then backtracked
Because the European Union is currently negotiating a data transfer transatlantic pact with the US, one that would protect European users’ data, Meta showed their disagreement by saying it would “likely be unable to offer a number of our most significant products and services, including Facebook and Instagram, in Europe.”
However, European politicians were quick to show they weren’t overly concerned with the threat. The French Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, said that ‘we would live very well without Facebook”. Of course, Meta was quick to answer with a blog post aptly named “Meta is absolutely not threatening to leave Europe”.
Playing for the planet released its 2021 report
Playing for the planet is a United Nation project whose members work together to raise awareness for the environment and climate change. Last year, several games (mostly mobile games) participated in the Green Gaming Jam, a series of in-game events themed around the conservation and restoration of forests and coral reefs. The Green Game Jam in 2021 raised $800,000 for environmental causes and reached some 130 million players on ocean and forest issues in support of UN-REDD and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
The report highlights the work of each member and the actions taken to raise awareness. With several newcomers in 2021, the total number of members is now at 39. Their 2022 goals are to grow and add 10 additional members and further develop the Green Gaming Jam. You can read the report here.
Mobile gaming’s growth attracts big names to the medium
The last couple of years have been kind to mobile gaming. So good that even big names in the gaming industry tried their hands at mobile gaming (like Call of Duty). The latest one to join the mobile gang is none other than Warcraft. The Blizzard game should come to the small screens in 2022, showing everyone that the future of gaming includes mobile.
App Annie broadens its horizons and becomes data.ai
App Annie did a quick makeover to start 2022 and changed its name to data.ai. They will now provide a “unified view across all channels – mobile, web, OTT and gaming” instead of focusing solely on mobile.
TikToks can now be 10 minutes long
TikTok’s success exploded thanks to short videos. At first, TikTokers could only publish 60 seconds videos, then it grew to 3 minutes, and finally, as of a couple of days ago you can now make 10 minutes-long TikToks.
Some speculate that this means TikTok is coming for YouTube’s turf, getting itself into the long-video side of social media. We’ll see how it goes. TikTok is still growing: it was the highest-earning app in the US in January.
Numbers of the month
What we talked about this month
The latest App Marketing Snack episodes
Hi there, I’m Marine (she/her), I’m a Content Manager at Apptamin. Apptamin is a creative agency specialized in app videos (video ads, app store videos, etc.).