Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest mobile OS news, mobile applications, and the overall app economy.
The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in global consumer spending in 2020.
Consumers last year also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone. And in the U.S., app usage surged ahead of the time spent watching live TV. Currently, the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day but now spends four hours per day on their mobile devices.
Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re also a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus. In 2020, investors poured $73 billion in capital into mobile companies — a figure that’s up 27% year-over-year.
This week, there was a lot of headline-making app ecosystem news, including Google’s impactful decision to drop its Play Store commissions, an App Store lawsuit over scammy apps with fake ratings, battles over Apple’s App Tracking Transparency, and the arrival of a notable new feature on YouTube — a TikTok rival called Shorts.