Study Finds More Than $100 Billion Spent on App Stores in 2020

 by Hartley Charlton

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A new report by Sensor Tower reveals that 2020 has been a record-setting year for worldwide spending on the Apple App Storeand Google Play Store, which collectively passed $100 billion in a single year for the first time ever in November.

The trend of increased spending continued over Christmas, when consumers around the world spent an estimated $407.6 million across Apple’s ‌App Store‌ and Google Play. This represents a 34.5 percent year-on-year growth from approximately $303 million in 2019. At the same time in 2019, spending only increased by 17.1 percent year-on-year.

Spending on Christmas day constituted 4.5 percent of December’s total spending so far, which reached nine billion dollars globally on December 27. The majority of holiday spending was on mobile games, which climbed by 27 percent from $232.4 million at the same time last year to $295.6 million.

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This AI lyrics generator strings your random words into songs

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The system provides a new cure for songwriter’s block

 Could keyword lyrics provide a new cure for songwriter’s block?

Songwriter‘s block can be a problem for even the world’s most successful musicians. They can sometimes overcome it by taking breaks, seeking new forms of inspiration, or simply pushing through. And if none of that works, they could try out a new AI lyrics generator called keyword2lyrics.

The system was created by Mathi Gatti, a data scientist from Argentina, who told TNW he got the idea from his own songwriting struggles:

Sometimes I have a few ideas that I want to turn into a song, but I’m too lazy for that, so I thought it would be cool to make a program that generates lyrics from isolated keywords or phrases.

Gatti developed the tool by training OpenAI‘s GPT-2 language model on songs that Google lists when you search for “top artists 20th century” and “top artists 21st century,” and extracted keywords from them using a tool called yake.

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How Intuit is moving from mobile-first to AI-first

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“AI fundamentally changes how we develop apps and what apps can do, and I would say we’re at the beginning of that revolution,” Intuit CTO Marianna Tessel said.

In a conversation with Nara Logics CEO Jana Eggers at Transform 2020 today, Tessel outlined some of the key ways that AI is changing the mindset at Intuit, with a focus on the app development process. Notably, Intuit is trying to adapt much in a similar way to how it adapted to the emergence of smartphones.

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Bryter raises $16M for a no-code platform for non-technical people to build enterprise automation apps

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Automation is the name of the game in enterprise IT at the moment: We now have a plethora of solutions on the market to speed up your workflow, simplify a process and perform more repetitive tasks without humans getting involved. Now, a startup that is helping non-technical people get more directly involved in how to make automation work better for their tasks is announcing some funding to seize the opportunity

Bryter — a no-code platform based in Berlin that lets workers in departments like accounting, legal, compliance and marketing who do not have any special technical or developer skills build tools like chatbots, trigger automated database and document actions and risk assessors — is today announcing that it has raised $16 million. This is a Series A round being co-led by Accel and Dawn Capital, with Notion Capital and Chalfen Ventures also participating.

The funding comes less than a year after Bryter raised a seed round — $6 million in November 2019 — and it was oversubscribed, with term sheets coming in from many of the bigger VCs in Europe and the U.S. With this funding, the company has now raised around $25 million, and while the valuation is considerably up on the last round, Bryter is not disclosing what it is.

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Smart toilet checks you’re healthy by analyzing you wees and poos

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The new ‘smart toilet’ technology can look for signs of disease, scientists claim, from cancer to kidney failure.

Going to the loo may never be the same again thanks to scientists who claim to have invented a device that can be fitted on toilets to detect signs of various diseases in stool and urine.

The gadget, which fits inside the bowl, uses cameras, test strips and motion sensing technology to analyse the deposits and sends the data to a secure cloud server.

The researchers said their so-called “smart toilet” technology could be useful to individuals who are genetically predisposed to certain conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, prostate cancer or kidney failure.

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Carnegie Mellon researchers develop app that could detect Coronavirus infection using your voice

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The COVID Voice Detector app uses your smartphone or computer’s microphone to analyse your voice and determine for signs of COVID-19 infection

At a time when every other tech giant or healthcare company is coming up with apps that could diagnose or help you detect whether or not you have coronavirus infection by asking you a bunch of questions on your smartphone, researchers at the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University claim to have created a smartphone app that could determine whether you might have COVID-19 using just your voice.

The team of researchers at CMU Pittsburgh claim that the ‘COVID Voice Detector’ app that they have developed can analyze your voice for any signs of COVID-19 infection, which is a easier and less intrusive way of detection than what the other apps do, asking you to reveal information such as your travel history and stuff.

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You can light this candle with your phone, and it’s officially the future

 

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 Apparently, smartphones really do have everything we need, from cameras to calculators to flashlights to even… matchsticks?

You read that right. But instead of shooting flames out of a port, your phone can now create fire by activating a Bluetooth-enabled scented candle called Candle Touch, currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter. Said to be the world’s first smart-connected real-flame candle, the device has an electronic base that connects to a scented coconut-wax candle body. At a press of a button using the accompanying iOS/Android app, the base sends a current up a wire, which ignites the cotton wick like magic.

You’ll never have to risk getting burned ever again. Plus, you’ll have a neat party trick to show to all your friends.

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Chinese government rolls out coronavirus ‘close contact detector’ app

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China has rolled out an app that lets people check whether they have been in close contact with someone infected by the coronavirus.

The “close contact detector,” as BBC puts it, notifies users if they have had exchanges with any individuals who have been confirmed or suspected of carrying the virus. All users need to do is scan a QR code with an app like Alipay or WeChat. People at risk are then advised to stay at home or inform local health authorities.

Once their phone number is linked, users are asked to fill in their name and ID number. The app can then be used to check the status of up to three ID numbers. The app, which was developed in cooperation by the government and the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation, relies on data from from the health and transport authorities.

Although the invasiveness of the software certainly raises questions about the obtrusive surveillance practices within the country, experts believe citizens won’t see the new app as controversial, considering the extent of the epidemic.

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Facebook opens up its AI tool to OpenStreetMap users

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Volunteers can add unmapped roads, bridges and buildings.

Plugging a new address into your smartphone’s map app can show you where to go in seconds. But in places like rural Bangladesh and Indonesia, there are millions of miles of roads that are still uncharted territory. Facebook now hopes its AI technology will make it easier for volunteers on OpenStreetMap to add unmapped areas.

The social media giant announced today that it is opening its Map with AI tool to the entire OSM community, allowing anyone to use the tool to identify areas in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. Eventually, the company hopes to expand its mapping tool to cover the entire world.

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Everybody hates the key card. Will your phone replace it?

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Hilton has installed its Digital Key technology at more than 4,250 properties over the past five years.

Technology that allows hotel guests to use their phones as room keys is expanding, taking aim at those environmentally unfriendly plastic cards.

The demonstration using the cellphone as a digital hotel room key didn’t quite go as planned. The hotel manager held his phone up to the room’s door lock and nothing happened. Realizing his Bluetooth was turned off, he tried again. Now the door’s sensor flashed green, while the phone screen informed him that the door was unlocked.

Like the majority of travelers, I had never before used a mobile hotel key, even though the first version of the system was installed nearly a decade ago. Today, about a million hotel rooms worldwide are estimated to have some version of a lock that can accept a cellphone-generated digital key, according to Nicolas Aznar, president of the Americas division of the Swedish-based lock maker Assa Abloy. Hotels are accelerating the installation of these systems to increase revenue, drive customers to their loyalty sites, and offer a better guest experience.

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Revealed: This is Palintir’s top-secret user manual for cops

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Motherboard obtained a Palantir user manual through a public records request, and it gives unprecedented insight into how the company logs and tracks individuals.

Palantir is one of the most significant and secretive companies in big data analysis. The company acts as an information management service for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, corporations like JP Morgan and Airbus, and dozens of other local, state, and federal agencies. It’s been described by scholars as a “secondary surveillance network,” since it extensively catalogs and maps interpersonal relationships between individuals, even those who aren’t suspected of a crime.

Palantir software is instrumental to the operations of ICE, which is planning one of the largest-ever targeted immigration enforcement raids this weekend on thousands of undocumented families. Activists argue raids of this scale would be impossible without software like Palantir. But few people outside the company and its customers know how its software works or what its specific capabilities and user interfaces are.

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Meet your new chief of staff: An AI chatbot

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Navigator, the new project from the creators of Mailbox, launches with $12M

Years ago, a mobile app for email launched to immediate fanfare. Simply called Mailbox, its life was woefully cut short — we’ll get to that. Today, its founders are back with their second act: An AI-enabled assistant called Navigator meant to help teams work and communicate more efficiently.

With the support of $12 million in Series A funding from CRV, #Angels, Designer Fund, SV Angel, Dropbox’s Drew Houston and other angel investors, Aspen, the San Francisco and Seattle-based startup behind Navigator, has quietly been beta testing its tool within 50 organizations across the U.S.

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