All posts in “Apps”

Algoriddim updates djay for iOS with subscription model

If you’ve been browsing the App Store for long enough, chances are you’ve seen djay at some point. Algoriddim, the company behind djay, currently has eight different apps in the App Store. Today, the company is releasing a brand new version that is going to replace all previous apps at once.

The reason why this new app is going to take center stage is because Algoriddim is switching to a freemium model. You can download the app for free on your iPhone and iPad, and you can buy a subscription to unlock all features on both platforms.

In other words, djay is following the subscription trend of the App Store. Previous independent apps, such as Ulysses, Bear and Carrot Weather have switched to subscriptions.

The app truly shines on the new iPad Pro. You can plug a display using a USB-C cable and project video loops on the display. You can also plug a supported MIDI controller directly to your iPad using USB-C.

Just like in the previous version, Spotify Premium users can access their Spotify library from the app. This turns your iPad into a comfortable device to set up cue points. You can load a song, scroll, find the right moment and put a cue point. Everything is synchronized with the Mac version of djay.

Subscriptions provide many advantages. Developers can expect predictable revenue and can release new updates more regularly — there’s no need to wait for 12 new features in order to package them all in a paid update.

Users can access apps on multiple platforms with a single subscription. They also always get the most recent version of the apps as they don’t have to consider upgrading to the next major version or keeping the previous version.

This model works quite well for very active users. For instance, I use Ulysses every day so it makes sense that I’d pay a few dollars per month for it. But some people may only use djay a few times a year. So you’ll have to consider whether subscribing is worth it for you.

Let’s look at this new version of djay more specifically. After a free trial of the pro version, you can access basic features for free forever. Those features include access to your iTunes and Spotify libraries, the basic two-deck screen, Automix AI and limited hardware controller support.

The pro version includes smart playlists, two-deck and four-deck screens, the ability to set cues, video mixing, better hardware support as well as a new looper feature. Interestingly, you can now download and play with all samples and loops in the integrated store — there’s no need to pay for additional content.

Existing apps are going to be unlisted from the store. Algoriddim will still release updates for the time being, but it’s clear that the new version represents the future of djay. Pro subscriptions cost $40 per year. Existing djay users will pay $10 for the first year.

Facebook relaunches search ads to offset slowing revenue

It’s an ad duoply battle. Facebook is starting to test search ads in its search bar and Marketplace, directly competing with Google’s AdWords. Facebook first tried Sponsored Results back in 2012 but eventually shut down the product in 2013. Now it’s going to let a small set of automotive, retail, and ecommerce industry advertisers show users ads in the US and Canada.

They’ll be repurposed News Feed ads featuring a headline, image, copy text, and a link in the static image or carousel format that can point users to external websites. Facebook declined to share screenshots as it says the exact design is still evolving. Facebook may expand search ads to more countries based on the test’s performance.

The reintroduction of search ads could open an important new revenue stream at a time when Facebook’s revenue growth is quickly decelerating as it runs out of News Feed ad space, the Stories format that advertisers are still adapting is poised to overtake feed sharing on social apps, and users shift their time elsewhere. In Q3 2018, revenue grew 33 percent year-over-year, but that’s far slower than the 49 percent YOY gain it had a year ago, and the 59 percent from Q3 2016. Opening up new ad inventory for search could reinvigorate the sagging revenue growth rate that, combined with Facebook’s privacy and security scandals, has put intense pressure on Facebook’s leaders Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg.

“We’re running a small test to place ads in Facebook search results, and we’ll be evaluating whether these ads are beneficial for people and businesses before deciding whether to expand it” Facebook product manager Zoheb Hajiyani to TechCrunch in a statement. The announcement of the search ads comes as Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai is under fire from Congress over data privacy, though the move could help Google look less like it has a monopoly in search. Facebook’s share of the $279.56 billion total worldwide digital ad market will grow to 19.5 percent this year, trailing #1 Google which has 31.5 percent.

Back in 2012, Facebook desperately sought extra revenue streams following its botched IPO. Sponsored Results let game companies, retailers, and more inject links to their Facebook apps, Pages, and posts as ads in the search typeahead results. Since advertisers could target searches for specific other Pages and apps, brands and game developers often tried to swoop in and steal traffic from their competitors. For example, dating app Match.com could target searches for competitor OkCupid and appear above its results. Facebook isn’t allowing advertisers to be quite as cutthroat with this test.

Facebook’s 2012 Sponsored Results ads let competitors swoop on each other’s traffic

Advertisers with access will be able to simply extend their existing Newss Feed ads to the new “Search” placement through the Facebook Ads Manager, similar to how they’d pick Facebook Audience Network or Instagram. No videos ads will be allowed. For now, advertisers won’t pick specific keywords to advertise agains, and instead may appear in search terms related to auto or retail topics. Ads will featured a “Sponsored” tag, and are subject to the same transparency controls around “Why Am I Seeing This?” Facebook plans to evaluate the benefits for users and advertisers in order to determine whether to roll out the ads to more countries and categories.

One major concern is that Facebook already collects as much information as possible about people and their behavior to target its ads. With the reintroduction of search ads, it’s even more incentivized to gather what we do online, what we buy offline, and who we are.

Facebook will have to balance the injection of the ads with remaining an easy way to search for friends, content, businesses and more. Search is far from the core of Facebook’s offering, where users typically browse the News Feed for serendipitous content discovery rather than go looking for something specific. The most common searches are likely for friends’ names which won’t be great ad candidates. But given how accustomed users are to search ads on Google, this new revenue stream could help Facebook boost its numbers without too much disruption to its service.

Lydia introduces credit lines

French startup Lydia announced a partnership with Banque Casino today for small credit lines. Starting tomorrow, Lydia users in France will be able to borrow as much as €1,000 in just a few seconds.

While Lydia started as a peer-to-peer money transferring app, fintech startups always end up offering credit at some point. It’s hard to make money without offering some form of credit.

Banque Casino is a subsidiary of Casino and Crédit Mutuel. As the name suggests, it’s a bank that can issue credit lines. Lydia has developed a seamless integration with Banque Casino so you can instantly get money from Banque Casino.

The credit feature lets you borrow between €100 and €1,000 and reimburse that credit line over three months. If you’re eligible, you’ll instantly see how much you’ll end up paying after three months.

But the most interesting feature is that you can either get your money instantly on your Lydia account for a fee, or you can wait a couple of weeks to wave this fee.

Combining instant credit with instant spending is key to this feature. Lydia lets you instantly spend money on your Lydia account on e-commerce websites that support Lydia, using Lydia’s debit card, or using a virtual card in Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay. And if Lydia wants to replace cash, it needs to be as quick as giving a money bill to someone.

Lydia currently has 1.5 million users; 3,500 people open a Lydia account every day. The company recently released two insurance products for your mobile devices, as well.

AppOnboard raises $15 million to let Android users try before they buy apps on Google Play

Pitching app developers with a new way to convert app browsers into actual customers, AppOnboard has raised $15 million in a new round of funding, the company said.

Based in Los Angeles, AppOnboard sees itself as one of a new breed of LA startup that’s steeping itself in the local ecosystem and trying to be one of the cornerstone’s for a new technology hub in the southern California region.

Company co-founder Jonathan Zweig has already had one hit as a Los Angeles-based entrepreneur. Zweig was one of the architects behind the success of AdColony, a startup that sold to Opera Software in 2014 for $350 million. It was an early success for the regional ecosystem and proved to be one of the most valuable exits (from a capital efficiency standpoint) for the year.

Now Zweig is back again… this time pitching app developers a tool that can help convert browsers into buyers for new applications in app stores around the world. As consumers sour on the free-to-use model (since that model depends on selling user information in order for “free” apps to make money), giving users a way to try before they buy makes sense.

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Zweig claims that conversion rates have increased significantly for the companies that pay a fee for his company’s service. Play Store shoppers who engage with an app store demo before installing have higher retention and are more likely to become paying customers than those who install directly without playing or using a demo version, the company said.

That certainly aligns with the thinking of Paul Heydon, an investor at Breakaway Growth, which led the new round for AppOnboard. “The entire app store paradigm is about to change dramatically, and AppOnboard is perfectly positioned for this disruption,” said Heydon in a statement. “With its patented app demo technology and tools, users will now be able to experience their apps and games on-demand and without an install across various platforms, starting with Google .”

Zweig says that the service is the first from a third party to be directly integrated into a platform like Google’s Play store.

“Google has been a great partner for us,” Zweig says. And the company is in talks with other platforms, he said.

Now, with the additional cash in hand, Zweig says AppOnboard is ready to make some international expansion moves. The company already has offices in London and in cities across the U.S., but Zweig thinks there’s more room to grow.

“Our vision continues to be that every app and game will be instant and available for users to experience without a download. We look forward to continuing to work with global developers, Google, and partners to make this a reality for all mobile app users,” said Bryan Buskas, the chief operating officer of AppOnboard. As part of its new pitch, the company is offering a 30-day free trial for any App Store Demo.

Capture lets you grab real 3D models with your iPhone X’s powerful camera

Three dimensional modeling used to be hard. It used to require something at least as big as the Xbox Kinect to get really high quality scans you needed high-powered laser sensor systems. Now all you need is your phone and Capture.

Capture is a proof-of-concept for a company called Standard Cyborg led by Jeff Huber and Garrett Spiegel. These YCombinator grads have worked in a number of high-profile vision startups and raised $2.4 million in seed from folks like Scott Banister, Trevor Blackwell, and Jeff Huber.

They launched the app on December 3 and it’s already making 3D waves. The tool, which uses the iPhone X’s front camera and laser scanning system to create a live color point cloud, can create 3D models that you can view inside the app or in an AR setting. You can also export them into a USDZ file for use elsewhere. The app is actually a Trojan horse for the company’s other applications including a programming framework for 3D scanning.

“We are at the bleeding edge – deploying 3D dense reconstruction and point cloud deep learning on mobile devices,” said Huber. “We package up this core technology for developers, abstracting away all the math and GPU acceleration, and giving them superpowers in just 3 lines of code.”

I’ve tried the app a few times and the resulting scans are still a little iffy. You have to take special care to slowly scan all facets of an object and if you move, as you see below, you end up with two noses. That said it’s an amazingly cool use of the iPhone’s powerful front-facing sensors.

“Standard Cyborg is building the API for the physical world,” said Huber. “We make it easy for developers to build 3D scanning, analysis, and design into their applications. Our Capture app is a showcase of our technology that makes it easy for anyone with a FaceID-enabled iPhone to play with the technology and share scans with their friends. Our scanning SDK is launching in January and is currently in beta with a few enterprise-level sporting goods companies.”

While you won’t be scanning your loved ones into a TRON remake with this thing just yet it’s cool to think about how far we’ve come from flailing around in our living rooms with a clunky Kinect next to our TV.