What's Appening: 2023 State of Mobile 📱🌍

Data.ai Looks Back (and Forward), VALL-E AI Voices, Twitter Suspends Apps, AWS :handshake: Avalanche

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In this week’s What’s Appening, we dive into the most significant report for the apps industry - data.ai’s State of Mobile 2023. The annual statement on the health of the app ecosystem provides us with insight into trends in the sector, this year highlighting a changing industry as we emerge from a post-pandemic world. AI is also back on the menu this week, as we peruse VALL-E, a text-to-speech AI model that is as fascinating as it is scary. We have the latest from Twitter, highlighting some positive UX changes, and some shenanigans from the management. Our Stat of the Week looks at how much Apple has paid app developers over the last decade and a half (hint: it’s a lot). And What’s dAppening covers how blockchain platform Avalanche has partnered with the biggest beast in cloud infrastructure, AWS.

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Takes 🎬

📱📈 Data.ai – State of Mobile 2023 Highlights Ebbs and Flows of App Sector

At the beginning of each year, data.ai (formerly App Annie) releases its State of Mobile report. It’s essential reading for anyone connected with the apps industry. It provides a reflection on the past – crunching the numbers for 2022 – but more importantly, it gives a blueprint of where we are going. This time around, Data.ai has been firm in its convictions that we are entering a time of change. It points to a post-Covid world, which is having an effect on our relationship with mobile apps. For a start, there has been a decline in in-app spending for the first time ever. After a 19% year-on-year jump in 2021, consumer spending dipped by 2% in 2022. Alarm bells for the sector? Not necessarily: “Dollars will always follow eyeballs” eventually, and the time we spend using apps is up – again. And as mentioned, data.ai is pointing to a post-Covid world, so it notes that some of the pandemic’s big winners – notably gaming apps – are naturally seeing a decline in spending. But others saw some modest gains, such as some dating apps – logical when you consider we can now get outside and date in person. Indeed, there were loads of new records broken in the report: Mobile ad spending was up 14% at $336 billion; total hours spent in apps was 4.1 trillion, rising by 9% YoY. Average time per user also increased to 5 hours per day, up 3% YoY. As such, despite some post-pandemic adjustments, data.ai still projects a vibrant and growing ecosystem in the app sector. For us at 3Advance, the State of Mobile Report is a useful guide, albeit in a macro sense, something to provide the parameters as we help our partners launch new products like TriAxle, Istruzi, and many more, helping them navigate and succeed in a multi-trillion-dollar marketplace this year and beyond. #StateOfMobile2023 Read more here.

🤖💬 AI – Text-to-Speech Model Raises Concerns About Deep Fakes

If DALL·E 2 was the breakout project for text-to-image and ChatGPT the current king of text-to-text, might Microsoft’s VALL-E be the medium to bring text-to-speech AI models to the mainstream? The AI requires just 3 seconds of hearing someone’s voice before it can deduce what the voice would sound like and mimic it – with, as Paul says in the latest What’s Appening video, “frightening similarity” – for any given situation. A variety of use cases have already been suggested, including audiobooks. They are notoriously difficult to produce – that’s one of the reasons they are so darn expensive – so having an AI narrate in a style you like seems like a good use of the tech. Conceivably, you could have your favorite actor speak a few lines, and the AI could extrapolate that for an entire book. Apple, in fact, has already seen the light here, quietly launching its own range of AI-read audiobooks earlier this month. Of course, while use cases abound, the fear is that the tech is used for nefarious means. People have been talking about the viral Tom Cruise deep fake videos, and it’s a lot of fun to see the Hollywood legend do all kinds of wacky stuff – see one for yourself here – but we don’t have to stress that this could be weaponized for politics at home and authoritarian regimes abroad. VALL-E remains in closed beta testing for the moment, but is there a plan to ensure it is used appropriately when it becomes widely available? #AIHopesAndFears Read more here.

🐥🆕 Twitter – App Continues to Transform with Both Popular and Unpopular Changes

It’s been a few weeks since we have updated y’all on Twitter goings-on, so it feels like the right time for a recap. In terms of UX, the app has finally had its most significant change with the home feed being split across two options, “For You” and “Following”. The latter brings you the latest from accounts you actually follow, whereas the former allows the algorithm to make suggestions on what you might want to see. It’s simple, but it works. And we know it works because Twitter basically ‘borrowed’ the format straight from TikTok. Elsewhere, Twitter’s management upset a significant portion of the user base by suspending several high-profile third-party apps, including Tweetbot and Twitterrific, without warning or explanation. Initially, the consensus was that this was due to a bug, but it seems it was a deliberate move by the management, i.e., Elon Musk. Anger was palpable from the app devs (some of these products have paid subscribers), particularly due to the “radio silence” from Twitter comms. They have threatened to throw their energy into building their apps elsewhere, including on Twitter rival Mastodon. #TwitNews Read more here.

🧐 Stat of the Week: $320 Billion

🍏💵 Apple – Release of Staggering Amount Paid to App Store Devs Since 2008

Alongside data.ai’s annual report, Apple had its own in-house state of affairs reflection last week. And within the company’s report, we saw an intriguing stat: $320 Billion – a little bit more than the entire GDP of Malaysia – has been paid to App Store developers since it launched in 2008. Of course, that $320 billion comes after Apple has taken its commission, something that remains a hot-button topic in 2023. Will the seismic changes coming via the EU’s Digital Markets Act and a mooted antitrust battle with the DOJ here in the US impact those revenues in the future? #ApplePaysDevs Read more here.

🕸️ What’s dAppening?

A dApp is a decentralized app. Here’s the latest in web3, NFTs and blockchain apps.

🤝 🌍 AWS – Avalanche Is Chosen One in Blockchains for Enterprise and Governments

“Looking forward, web3 and blockchain is inevitable.” Those words aren’t from some influencer trying to shill you crypto on Twitter. They are from Howard Wright, Global Head of Startups at Amazon Web Services. Wright was speaking after the announcement of a partnership with Avalanche, the blockchain platform, which AWS believes will help scale blockchain and web3 technology for enterprises, large institutions, and governments. This is a big deal for those who believe in web3’s transformative potential, and it’s a win for Avalanche in the hugely competitive marketplace for web3 platforms building out with Web 2 partners. While many web3 workloads already run on AWS, this is the company’s first foundational partnership with a web3 platform, and it should help with scaling and further mainstreaming in the space. #AvalancheOnAWS Read more here.

Meanwhile at 3Advance...

It’a a new year, and a new chance at self-improvement. But we’re not talking about going to the gym (this time, but seriously, yes, go to the gym 😄). We’re talking about new tools to improve your life, your work, your productivity. And if you read our newsletter last week, you’ll know what we’re starting with… ChatGPT! Here’s a rundown of some of the latest tools we’ve been using over here, and why it’s important you check them out:

  1. ChatGPT: This will change your life. 🫳🎤. Head on over to https://chat.openai.com and then be patient. Yes, this website is probably over capacity. Because those who use it, really use it. Try entering a question to ask this AI chat bot. Or ask it to draft something - a tweet, a blog, a legal document, whatever. You can thank us later. PS: We’ll be hosting a Webinar on AI & ChatGPT in the coming weeks. Sign up here.

  2. Cron: This is a new calendar app (desktop and mobile) that connects to your Google calendar, and, well, does the job better. Much better. It’s owned by Notion, our all time most important app that powers our knowledge base and documentation center at 3Advance. Cron is currently free, so try it out and hopefully get grandfathered in to early bird pricing before it blows up. You might also want to take a look at Motion, another competing calendar and to-do list tool in one.

  3. Retool: Yes, we’ve used Retool for years now, and it’s got better and better. It’s not going to put us (custom application developers) out of business just yet, but we fully embrace low-code tools as a way to solve problems fast, biding us valuable time, while we build for scale. Reach out if you’d like to talk about how Retool or Webflow or Airtable or any of the fantastic low-code tools might help you validate your ideas, or in some cases provide a fully viable, low-cost solution to a real business need.

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