All posts in “iOS apps”

Gmail launches its first public iOS beta to test support for third-party accounts


Google wants to make Gmail the place where you check all your email accounts, not just your Google accounts. The company announced this week it’s testing a new version of the Gmail app on iOS that will allow users to add their non-Google accounts, including those from Outlook (including Hotmail or Live), Yahoo, and elsewhere.

The announcement, which was sent out via a tweet from the @gmail Twitter account, invited users to sign up to test a version of the Gmail iOS app with this new feature.

The link takes users to an online form where they consent to joining the Gmail beta program. This requires users to have a current version of the official Gmail iOS app on iOS 10 or higher, and have at least one non-Google email account they would like to add to Gmail.

The form further asks them to check off which non-Google accounts they use from a list that includes Outlook, Hotmail, Live, Yahoo, Yandex, Mail.ru, or “Other.”

Because this is an iOS beta, there’s not an option to download the beta app from the App Store directly. Instead, betas are distributed through Apple’s TestFlight platform.

Notably, a Google spokesperson tells us this is the first time that the company has made a beta version of Gmail for iOS available through TestFlight with external users.

However, it’s not the first time Google has offered beta versions of its apps in general – it runs betas of many of its Android apps through Google Play today, and has for some time.

“We’re always experimenting with ways to improve user experience in Gmail, but we don’t have any additional details to share at this time,” a Google spokesperson said, when asked for details about its iOS beta program.

The company declined to say how many users will be allowed into the TestFlight beta trial, or what the company’s larger intentions are with the program.

For example, it wouldn’t confirm if the test was an attempt to measure much demand for such a feature, or if the addition was something Google planned to publicly release in the future. It’s also unclear if the TestFlight program will continue after this test wraps to trial other pre-release features in the future.

In the meantime, interested users can sign up to try the iOS beta here.

PartyWith’s new app is part event-finder, part friend-finder


Having just returned from an overseas vacation where I “partied with” a number of locals met spontaneously while out at concerts, bars and other events, I can’t quite wrap my head around the need for a dedicated app for travelers wanting to meet locals to hang out with — doesn’t this just happen naturally? But that, at least in part, is the premise behind today’s official launch of PartyWith, a revamped version of the app previously known as Party with a Local.

Founder Dan Fennessy notes the app has outgrown being only for travelers, but poking around in the app, that seems to still be a top use-case.

To be fair, PartyWith isn’t exactly carving out new territory in online networking — it’s part of a growing trend. (And perhaps I’m just showing my age when expressing a desire to meet people in real life instead of through apps, as is the millennial way.)

After all, a number of social networking companies are today exploring the idea that people are turning to mobile apps to make friends, not just find dates. Tinder attempted to expand beyond dating with Tinder Social, while Bumble launched a friend-finding feature Bumble BFF as well as professional networking option, BumbleBizz. Even Facebook is dabbling with helping strangers connect at events through its “Discover People” feature and other options.

Plus, several startups are attempting mobile friend-making, as well, like Shapr, Patook and HEY! Vina, for example.

PartyWith’s differentiator from these efforts is its focus on events — specifically, nightlife. Even if you aren’t quite sold on its social aspects, it could serve as a way to find out what’s happening in a city you’re visiting.

These events are added by the app’s users, as the startup doesn’t yet have formal relationships with event organizers. However, it has tested working with brands, including Budweiser, TimeOut, and Thrillist, among other alcohol brands, to help bring people to their sponsored events.

When you first launch the app, you’re asked what kind of parties you like (e.g. clubbing, comedy, arcade, cocktails, dive bars, festivals, live music — or you can pick music genres like punk or jazz, etc. — and much more).

You can then fill out your profile further and browse the upcoming events in your current city or elsewhere, post your own event, explore the profiles of other users and chat, or post a “party status.” The latter is basically a shout-out about what you’re up for. The app also offers some suggested statuses, like “Let’s go clubbing,” “Let’s go out as a group,” “What’s good tonight?,” “I need nightlife tips,” etc.

According to Fennessy, an Australian living in Amsterdam and former cartographer for Lonely Planet, the revamped version of PartyWith has made some changes in order to clarify that it’s not a dating app. It removed the gender filters, he noted, because that was encouraging some people to use the app in the wrong way. It’s not for dating or hookups, it’s for making friends.

A participant in Techstars Connection, which had its demo earlier this year, the app has grown to more than 170,000 users, Fennessy claims. It’s most popular in Amsterdam, New York and São Paulo at present, but is accessible worldwide.

Longer-term, the goal is to move PartyWith into other verticals, by connecting people who want to meet up for meals, drinks, playing or watching sports and more, Fennessy says.

A team of five from five continents, PartyWith has $430,000 in funding from Techstars, ZX Ventures, AB InBev, and other angels.

The new version of PartyWith is available as a free download on the App Store.

Spotify launches an app for artists with real-time streaming data, audience demographics


In the music streaming era, access to data is king. Artists want to know how their music is being discovered, who’s listening, where, how many have streamed their release, and what else their fans are into, among other things. Today, Spotify is releasing an app for artists that aims to answer these questions, while also giving artists a way to update their profile and connect with listeners while on the go.

Essentially, this new “Spotify for Artists” app, as it’s called, is a mobile version of Spotify’s artist dashboard, which exited beta earlier this year. The key difference is the convenience of mobile access – something Spotify product manager, Miles Lennon, was a top demand.

“The first thing we’re trying to achieve is meeting the artists’ needs to have mobility,” he says. “They don’t have desk jobs. While we have a desktop product, it’s not accessible to them.”

Like the web dashboard, the app lets artists update their profile on the service, including things like their bio, their artist’s pick and their playlists. These picks and playlists are one of the ways artists on Spotify engage fans – by telling them what favorite new song they’re listening to, for example, or by featuring their favorite tracks.

The ability to upload new photos to the artist profile is not yet supported, but will be in a future release of the app, we’re told.

However, the key features in the Spotify for Artists app have to do with gaining native mobile access to streaming data, including real-time data on new releases.

As soon as a new release drops, the app will update instantly as the track gets streamed. This will continue for the first week after a new single, EP or album is released, says Spotify.

This feature is exclusive to mobile and leverages Google’s Cloud infrastructure, explains Lennon. The one-week time frame was chosen partly because of the challenges of scaling such a feature, but also because it’s the most critical period to track. However, that time frame may expand in the future.

Data like this is crucial for artists, who today compete for fan attention and acclaim on number of streams, not album sales. And on Spotify, half of users discover music by way of playlists or the radio, the company has said before. So if a new release drops but isn’t picking up steam, artists will know this information immediately, then can act accordingly – getting their tracks on the right Spotify playlists, or getting other artists to feature their music on their own profiles, for instance.

In addition, the app will provide access to listener demographics, including information like gender, age, location, and even what they stream, how they listen, and what else they like.

Again, this is data the Spotify for Artists dashboard on the web also contains, but the focus here is the convenience of mobile combined with the power of data. It’s a way to drill down into the fan base base, to separate the casual streamers from the more dedicated fans, and learn more about where and how the music is being received.

“Artists are always looking to understand did this next record I put out bring me to a new level of fandom, or did this new sound change the audience makeup?,” says Lennon. “Has the gender makeup of my audience changed? Has their age changed? Or even, maybe the countries or cities?…this is something artists have told us is really critical for them.”

These demographic details can also help artists when they’re promoting their music outside Spotify – such as on Facebook by way of social ads – or for planning tours.

Data on an artist’s most devout listeners is also used today with Spotify’s email targeting project, Fans First, which lets artists reach out to top fans with special offers – like presale concert tickets, for example. These campaigns are said outperform those from traditional email marketers, who expect only a quarter of recipients to open their emails. Spotify, meanwhile, has said that its email open rate is 40 percent, and clickthrough rate is 17 percent.

The Artists’ app today doesn’t yet connect the dots between gaining access to the data and taking action based on those findings. But that’s on the roadmap.

“That’s also something that we’re working on and looking into very closely,” Lennon says.

“One of the things that inspired the ‘latest release’ feature is that the app should know what’s important to you and surface that prominently above other things,” he says of the way the app today features the real-time streams front-and-center after new releases drop. “That’s a theme we’re going to continue to build upon: letting artists know what they should pay attention to, and why, and giving them ways to act on that.”

Asked if any of these future recommendations would be premium features, Lennon said no. There are no current plans to charge for these insights.

The Spotify for Artists app had been in testing for a couple of months with over 100 beta testers prior to today’s release on iOS.

An Android version is expected in a few weeks.

Before you update to iOS 11 here’s how to check which apps won’t work


For users of Apple’s iOS the imminent arrival of a major new update to the mobile platform is generally a moment of high excitement. In the case of iOS 11, iPad users have the most to be excited about — including a new system-wide dock where favorite apps can live, and a bird’s eye view of recent apps and workspaces. There’s also a new spring-loaded, drag-and-drop system.

iPhone users will get some under-the-hood changes — paving the way for ARKit, Apple’s new augmented reality framework.

Some app makers have already updated their apps to support new AR features, such as Citymapper in the below example. Features which may or may not be useful…

There are also new emojis to keep things feeling fresh. And a new Control Center with customizable shortcuts.

But before you hit the update button to grab iOS 11 it’s worth checking which apps you’ll be consigning to the digital dustbin of history. All old 32-bit apps are incompatible with the update — which means a lot of content is going to reach the end of the road here.

Flappy Bird? The game that was so addictive its creator took it out back and terminated it at the peak of its fame — albeit, not before a very large number of people had downloaded it and driven themselves nuts trying to play it. Well, now it’s finally time to say your goodbyes.

If you want to check which of your existing apps aren’t compatible with iOS 11, go to Settings > General > About > Applications and there will be a list of those that aren’t going to survive the transition. At least not unless their developer takes pity and fixes compatibility in a future update.

If you can’t see any apps, you don’t have any that are incompatible with iOS 11.

iOS 11 won’t purge any dud apps from your devices but it will mean they won’t launch — unless/until they get an update fix.

Some iPad users are reporting a fair number of games are about to bite the dust — even if a lot of these titles had already been gathering virtual dust in the app drawer…

In other cases games developers have made the effort to carry their titles over to iOS 11…

But the above shortcut will give you a quick overview of which apps you’ll need to be prepared to live without. At least initially.

As the saying goes, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

YouTube’s app is dominating mobile video by monthly users, time spent


Americans spent nearly a billion hours watching YouTube videos on Android this past July, according to new data released today by App Annie. That’s the largest amount of time spent in any one streaming video app in a month. The figure is yet another data point showcasing the shift in the way people are consuming video content – less in the living room, over traditional pay TV connections, and more so on mobile devices.

And on mobile, YouTube is killing it.

In fact, YouTube’s Android app alone accounted for roughly 80 percent, or 9.5 billion hours, of the 12 billion total hours consumers spent using the top 10 video streaming apps on Android during the twelve months ending in July 2017.

That 12 billion figure is also up 45 percent over last year, and continues to accelerate, App Annie says.

YouTube is far ahead of its next nearest competitors in the top five by peak time spent per month, including Netflix, Twitch, Hulu, and Amazon Video. Even more remarkable, YouTube Kids was ranked #7 by peak time spent – an indication that YouTube’s plan to break out a filtered version of its service is now feeding even more viewers into its massive video network.

And when looking at the apps by average time spent, YouTube is still on top, again followed by Netflix.

However, the list of top apps becomes a lot different when you examine the video streaming apps by monthly active users.

YouTube and Netflix remain #1 and #2, respectively, but the rest of the list – both in terms of peak monthly users and average monthly users – expands to include other types of video apps, like those offering news and sports.

YouTube Kids didn’t make the list of the top 10 apps by monthly active users.

That indicates that its user base is highly engaged, explains App Annie, with each user spending hours in the app, but its overall audience is smaller. That same principle applies for Hulu, which is the #6 video streaming app by average monthly active users, and #7 by peak monthly active users across iOS and Android.

Now, YouTube is preparing to extend its influence even further.

The company this year launched YouTube TV, a Sling TV competitor that lets consumers stream live TV and record to a cloud DVR through a dedicated app for $35 per month. That service is available to half of U.S. households as of August, and continuing to expand.

In addition to its ads, YouTube makes money by way of YouTube Red, the optional service that offers premium features like offline access to videos, an ad-free experience, background play for music, and original programming. That’s helped YouTube climb the top revenue charts, as well, where it ranks the #3 video streaming app (across iOS and Android) by peak revenue in a month, and #4 by average revenue in a month.

Netflix and HBO NOW, however, beat YouTube on both of these revenue charts, and Hulu inched above it on average revenue.

Across all top 10 video apps, U.S. users spent over $570 million during the twelve months ending in July, the report also notes. That’s up 80 percent year-over-year, and likely another reason why people are rapidly reallocating the money they used to spend on cable TV elsewhere.

Featured Image: nevodka/iStock Editorial