YouTube’s dark theme has started gradually rolling out to Android

YouTube’s dark theme has started gradually rolling out to Android

A dark theme option for YouTube users on Android is in the early stages of rolling out to end users, Google confirmed to TechCrunch, following a number of reports and sightings of the dark mode showing up for users in the app’s settings. The feature has taken a bit longer to launch than expected – YouTube first announced a dark mode for its mobile app back in March, when it launched on iOS. At the time, the company said the dark theme for Android was coming “soon.”

Five months later, well, here it is.

Similar to its iOS counterpart, the dark theme is toggled on or off in the Android app’s Settings. When enabled, YouTube’s usual white background switches to black throughout the YouTube app experience as your browse, search and watch videos.

The dark theme has a variety of benefits for end users. It gives watching videos a more cinematic feel, for starters. And when you’ve been staring at your screen for a long time, it can help you to better focus on the content, and not the controls. It can also help to cut down on glare, and help viewers take in the true colors of the videos they watch, the company previously explained.

Plus, some tests have shown dark themes can save battery life – something that’s particularly useful for YouTube’s 1.8 billion monthly users, who are spending more than an hour per day watching YouTube videos on mobile devices.

Above: Image credits, Imgur user absinth92

YouTube first introduced a dark theme in May 2017, when it debuted a series of enhancements to its desktop website, including its simpler, Material Design-inspired look. At the time, it said a dark theme for mobile was a top request.

The YouTube app isn’t alone in catering to users’ desire for a dark mode. Other high-profile apps have gone this route as well, including Twitter, Reddit, Twitter clients like Tweetbot and Twitterific, Reddit clients like Beam, Narwhal, and Apollo, podcast player Overcast, calendar app Fantastical, Telegram X, Instapaper, Pocket, Feedly and others.

Google told us that the dark theme for YouTube on Android is still in the early phases of a gradual rollout, and it will have more updates about this launch in the “coming weeks.”

The change arrives alongside update a YouTube Community Manager shared in YouTube’s Help Forum about YouTube’s adaptive video player. The player on desktop now removes the black bars alongside 4:3 and vertical videos, by adjusting the viewing area accordingly, they said.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Apple’s App Store revenue nearly double that of Google Play in first half of 2018

Apple’s App Store revenue nearly double that of Google Play in first half of 2018

Apple’s App Store continues to outpace Google Play on revenue. In the first half of the year, the App Store generated nearly double the revenue of Google Play on half the downloads, according to a new report from Sensor Tower out today. In terms of dollars and cents, that’s $22.6 billion in worldwide gross app revenue on the App Store versus $11.8 billion for Google Play – or, 1.9 times more spent on the App Store compared with what was spent on Google Play.

This trend is not new. Apple’s iOS store has consistently generated more revenue than its Android counterpart for years due to a number of factors – including the fact that Android users historically have spent less on apps than iOS users, as well as the fact that there are other Android app stores consumer can shop – like the Amazon Appstore or Samsung Store, for example. In addition, Google Play is not available in China, but Apple’s App Store is.

Last year, consumer spending on the App Store reached $38.5 billion, again nearly double that of Google Play’s $20.1 billion.

As the new figures for the first half of 2018 indicate, consumer spending is up this year.

Sensor Tower estimates it has increased by 26.8 percent on iOS compared with the same period in 2017, and it’s up by 29.7 percent on Google Play.

The growth in spending can be partly attributed to subscription apps like Netflix, Tencent Video, and even Tinder, as has been previously reported.

Subscription-based apps are big businesses these days, having helped to boost app revenue in 2017 by 77 percent to reach $781 million, according to an earlier study. Netflix was also 2017’s top non-game app by revenue, and recently became ranked as the top (non-game) app of all-time by worldwide consumer spend, according to App Annie’s App Store retrospective.

Many of the other all-time top apps following Netflix were also subscription-based, including Spotify (#2), Pandora (#3), Tencent Video (#4), Tinder (#5), and HBO NOW (#8), for example.

And Netflix is again the top non-game app by consumer spending in the first half of 2018, notes Sensor Tower.

Game spending, however, continues to account for a huge chunk of revenue.

Consumer spending on games grew 19.1 percent in the first half of 2018 to $26.6 billion across both stores, representing roughly 78 percent of the total spent ($16.3 billion on the App Store and $10.3 billion on Google Play). Honor of Kings from Tencent, Monster Strike from Mixi, and Fate/Grand Order from Sony Aniplex were the top grossing games across both stores.

App downloads were also up in the first half of the year, if by a smaller percentage.

Worldwide first-time app installs grew to 51 billion in 1H18, or up 11.3 percent compared with the same time last year, when downloads were then 45.8 billion across the two app stores.

Facebook led the way on this front with WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook and Instagram as the top four apps across both the App Store and Google Play combined. The most downloaded games were PUBG Mobile from Tencent, Helix Jump from Voodoo, and Subway Surfers from Kiloo.

Google Play app downloads were up a bit more (13.1 percent vs iOS’s 10.6 percent) year-over-year due to Android’s reach in developing markets, reaching 36 billion. That’s around 2.4 times the App Store’s 15 billion.

Despite this, Apple’s platform still earned more than double the revenue with fewer than half the downloads, which is remarkable. And it can’t all be chalked up to China. (The country contributed about 31.7 percent of the App Store revenue last quarter, or $7.1 billion, to give you an idea.)

Sensor Tower tells TechCrunch that even if China was removed from the picture, the App Store would have generated $15.4 billion gross revenue for first half of 2018, which is still about 30 percent higher than Google Play’s $11.8 billion.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Google’s Datally app adds more ways to limit mobile data usage

Google’s Datally app adds more ways to limit mobile data usage

In November, Google introduced Datally, a data-saving app largely aimed at emerging markets where users often rely on prepaid SIM cards, and don’t have access to all-you-can-eat unlimited data plans. The app lets users granularly control which apps can use data, which resulted in a 30% savings on data usage during pilot testing and now saves users 21%, on average. Today, Google is giving Datally an upgrade with several new features that will help users cut data usage even further.

One key feature is the introduction of daily limits, which allow you to control your data usage on a per-day basis. This one is more about creating better habits around data consumption, so you don’t accidentally burn through too much data in a day, then end up without any data left before the month ends.

This also ties into to Google’s larger push to give users more insights into their own behavior when using mobile devices, and more tools to combat the addictive nature of smartphones.

The company in May announced new time management features for Android users, as well as new features to help users silence their phones and wind down at bedtime. It also has software for parents to limit screen time for their children.

While the Datally feature is primarily about conserving data, it acknowledges that it’s often easy to get sucked into your smartphone and lose track of how much time – and then, consequently, how much mobile data – you want to spend.

Another new Datally feature lets you enable a guest mode where you control how much data someone borrowing your phone can use – helpful in those situations where phones are shared among family members.

The “Unused Apps” feature, meanwhile, highlights those apps you’ve stopped using but could still be leaking data. Google notes that, for many people, 20 percent of mobile data is from apps using data in the background that haven’t been opened for over a month. Unused Apps will find those culprits so you can uninstall them, it says.

And finally, a new Wi-Fi Map shows all the nearby Wi-Fi networks so you can find those with a good signal and stop using your mobile data.

Though Datally is aimed at helping the “Next Billion Users” come online, it’s not limited to emerging markets. Anyone concerned with data usage can give it a shot.

The new additions are rolling out to Datally today, says Google.

The Android app, which has been downloaded over 10 million times, is free on Google Play.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Local marketplace OfferUp takes on eBay with launch of nationwide shipping

Local marketplace OfferUp takes on eBay with launch of nationwide shipping

OfferUp, the mobile marketplace for buying and selling locally, is expanding its sights beyond your neighborhood. Today, the company is announcing an expansion of its service that will now allow sellers to ship their items nationwide to interested buyers, potentially netting them a larger audience than if trying to sell only within their local community.

The feature to browse the items outside your area will appear in a separate “shipping” tab in the new version of the OfferUp app for iOS and Android, arriving today.

When sellers list an item, they’ll have the option to toggle on a switch to “sell & ship” nationwide. They then pick the item’s weight from the options that appear (up to 20 lbs). Items must also be under $500, and are shipped via USPS. Buyers are kept up-to-date on the item’s status through the app, as well.

Listing items for nationwide shipping is free. Sellers are paid after the item is sold, less a 7.9 percent fee, which goes to OfferUp. (This is less than eBay’s standard 10%).

The transaction fee represents a new revenue stream for OfferUp, which before had offered paid tools to promote items for sale, but not a cut of transactions.

The company declines to say how much it makes from its existing paid offerings and ads, or if it’s turning a profit. Likely it needs to enter into transactions like this, to grow its revenue and justify its $220 million in VC investment and unicorn valuation. (The Information reported in December it was having trouble raising, so it may have needed this new path to revenue.)

The move will also pit OfferUp in more direct competition with eBay, which it already outranks in the App Store’s Top Charts where it’s No. 3 to eBay’s No. 8 in the Shopping category. While eBay still has a much larger user base – 171 million globally active buyers, as of its most recent earnings for example – OfferUp has managed to grow to over 42 million uniques during the past 12 months, just here in the U.S.

Longer-term, OfferUp aims to go international and including a shipping feature would be the first step.

“We definitely have global ambitions as a company,” says OfferUp co-founder and CEO Nick Huzar. But, he cautions, “we want to feel like, as a company, that we’re in the right spot to do that. So we don’t have a date in mind to do that.”

The company claims to reach buyers and sellers across the country, and not just in urban metros. And it claims its buyers are interested in a range of products, as opposed to favoring those in a single category or two.

“I think that’s why people come back so often,” says Huzar, explaining why users will return to the app, on average, 2 or 3 times per day. While furniture is popular because it’s a local marketplace, he adds, OfferUp users browse all kinds of things – from electronics to clothing to baby needs and even cars.

“It’s not like Amazon where it’s very intent-based – where you know what you want. OfferUp is more discovery-based. You go in there and you kind of look around and you find that thing you didn’t think you wanted that you end up buying,” Huzar says.

The app has also grown in popularity because of its systems to make transactions more trusted than those on Craigslist, which has been one of OfferUp’s bigger competitors to date, along with Facebook’s Buy/Sell Groups. Users on OfferUp can optionally verify their identity with Driver’s License uploads, and/or by confirming their phone number, Facebook or email. Users can also rate transactions, and see sellers’ response rate to questions, among other things.

The shipping feature has been in testing for a few months prior to today’s nationwide launch across the 48 contiguous U.S. states. To gain access to the option, you’ll need to update to the latest version of the OfferUp app on iOS or Android.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Amazon launches a ‘lite’ Android web browser app in India

Amazon launches a ‘lite’ Android web browser app in India

Amazon has quietly launched an Android web browser app for emerging markets, where access to mobile data and high-speed connectivity is more limited. The browser has the rather generic name of: “Internet: fast, lite and private” on Google Play, and promises to be “lighter than the competition.”

The app first appeared on the Play Store in March, and has fewer than 1,000 downloads, according to data from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower.

It’s only available to users in India for the time being, and is supported on devices running Android 5.0 or higher.

Like most “lite” apps, the new browser is a small download — it’s less than 2 MB in size. That’s much smaller than other browsers, including Chrome (21MB), Edge (54.5MB), Firefox (19.9MB) and Opera (14.7MB), according to an analysis by appFigures.

The browser’s Google Play description also notes that it’s “private,” as it doesn’t ask for extra permissions or collect private data like other browsers do. This seems to indicate that it’s meant to be something of a competitor to other private mobile browsers, like Firefox, which blocks website trackers.

The browser additionally supports Private tabs, so you can browse without saving visits to your history, plus other features like tab previews, an automatic full-screen mode and integrated news reader of sorts.

In fact, the news reading experience is another telling indication that the browser is only meant for Indian users. The app’s description notes the browser homepage is designed to keep you up-to-date with news, cricket and entertainment from top sources. Yep, cricket — the most popular sport in India.

And finally, the “feedback” email on Google Play points to Amazon India, which indicates it was built by that team.

In addition to the new browser, Amazon also offers a Kindle Lite app in India.

The company is not alone in building lightweight mobile apps for emerging markets.

Facebook also offers “lite” versions of its apps, like Facebook Lite and Messenger Lite, to reach users with limited connectivity and access to data. Google has also rolled out a suite of lightweight mobile apps under the “Go” branding. Some of these, like Gmail Go, only come pre-installed on select devices. Others, meanwhile, are available through Google Play for anyone to download, like YouTube Go, Files Go, Google Go, Google Maps and Google Assistant Go.

It is interesting, however, that Amazon didn’t adopt a similar strategy by offering a “lite” version of its existing Silk browser, but has instead built something new.

And if its goal is to offer an alternative to Silk on the Fire tablets it sells in India, it’s odd that the browser isn’t yet available in the Amazon Appstore in India.

Amazon has not yet returned a request for comment about the new app.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch