iMovie’s big iOS update adds 80 new soundtracks, green-screen effects, image overlays

Ahead of the public launch of Apple’s revamped suite of first-party apps on iOS 13, the company has rolled out a new version of its popular video editor, iMovie for iOS. With the app’s most recent update, iMovie has received a host of new features — most notably, support for a green-screen effect that lets you remove the background from clips, as well as the addition of 80 new soundtracks across a variety of genres.

The green-screen support, in particular, could make iMovie a better competitor to the third-party video editors that tend to offer more advanced feature sets, while also keeping things simple for less-savvy users.

Apple says users of the new version (2.2.7) will be able to remove backgrounds from any clips shot in front of a blue or green screen, as well as adjust the clip with a four-point mask and strength slider.

Its 80 new soundtracks include genres like pop, chill and sentimental that will automatically adjust to the length of the movie.

In terms of new effects, iMovie will now allow users to add photos as overlays to create picture-in-picture and split-screen effects, as well as opt to hide the border on those. These were some of iMovie’s more requested features, in fact, and one of the reasons people went elsewhere for video-editing apps.

Other new features are designed to make iMovie easier to use. For example, when you switch back to the iOS app from other applications, it will take you right to the edit screen of your project. It has also tucked away access to iMovie Theater from the three-dot ( … ) more menu, as it’s shifting users to share videos to iCloud instead.

And, as part of other classroom-focused updates, iMovie now supports ClassKit, which means students can deliver their … Read the rest

Mobile games now account for 33% of installs, 10% of time and 74% of consumer spend

Mobile gaming continues to hold its own, accounting for 10% of the time users spend in apps — a percentage that has remained steady over the years, even though our time in apps overall has grown by 50% over the past two years. In addition, games are continuing to grow their share of consumer spend, notes App Annie in a new research report out this week, timed with E3.

Thanks to growth in hyper-casual and cross-platform gaming in particular, mobile games are on track to reach 60% market share in consumer spend in 2019.

The new report looks at how much time users spend gaming versus using other apps, monetization and regional highlights within the gaming market, among other things.

Despite accounting for a sizable portion of users’ time, games don’t lead the other categories, App Annie says.

Instead, social and communications apps account for half (50%) of the time users spent globally in apps in 2018, followed by video players and editors at 15%, then games at 10%.

In the U.S., users generally have eight games installed per device; globally, we play an average of two to five games per month.

The number of total hours spent on games continues to grow roughly 10% year-over-year, as well, thanks to existing gamers increasing their time in games and from a broadening user base, including a large number of mobile app newcomers from emerging markets.

This has also contributed to a widening age range for gamers.

Today, the majority of time spent in gaming is by those aged 25 and older. In many cases, these players may not even classify themselves as “gamers,” App Annie noted.

While games may not lead the categories in terms of time spent, they do account for a large number of mobile downloads and the … Read the rest

Apple’s new App Store website takes aim at antitrust, anti-competitive claims

Just ahead of WWDC, Apple has launched a new App Store website in the hopes of better defending itself against recent antitrust and anti-competitive accusations. The website details how Apple runs its App Store, including how apps are curated and reviewed, and what business models are available to developers. It also features a section entitled “A Store that welcomes competition,” where Apple makes the case for a marketplace where its own apps live alongside those from third-party developers.

For example, it showcases how Apple’s own Messages app competes with Messenger, Slack, Snapchat and Viber; Apple’s Mail competes with Gmail, Outlook, Spark and Yahoo Mail; Maps competes with Google Maps, Citymapper, MAPS.ME and Waze; and so on.

Spotify, naturally, is listed among the competitors for both Apple’s Music and Podcasts apps.

That’s not a surprise, given that Spotify has recently been making the case that Apple operates an anti-competitive environment. In a complaint filed with the EU in March, which is now reportedly under investigation, it claimed Apple tilted the playing field in its favor by operating iOS, the App Store and its own rival applications. Anyone else wishing to distribute an app that competes with Apple’s version then has to share a 30% cut of their app’s revenue with Apple.

Because of this so-called “Apple tax,” some developers chose to mark up the cost of their app or subscription for iOS users. For example, Spotify made its music app $9.99 per month if you subscribed via the web, but charged $12.99 per month if you subscribed via an iOS device — essentially passing along the “Apple tax” to consumers.

This is the basis for a new antitrust lawsuit that the U.S. Supreme Court just this month ruled could proceed to the courts.

At the time of the ruling, … Read the rest

Indie travel app Lambus makes group trip planning easier

There are plenty of travel apps for researching flights and hotels or generally organizing your trips, but indie German developer Hans Knöechel struggled to find one that could gather all his travel-related information in one place, in addition to allowing a group of friends to collaborate on the trip-planning process. So he built one for himself: Lambus, an app that lets you organize your travel documents, manage expenses, plus collaborate and chat with fellow co-travelers about the trip being planned.

Previously a senior software engineer at Appcelerator in San Jose, Knöechel came up with the idea for Lambus after being on the road a lot himself, and finding existing travel apps lacking.

“When traveling, you either use a manual folder with dozens of pages for all your information — or countless apps to display travel expenses, booking confirmations and waypoint planning. Alternatives like Google Trips, Sygic and Roadtrippers were always limited to one person and never offered all the features I needed during the trip,” he explains. “This gave me the idea for Lambus: A collaborative platform on which travel groups — in real-time — can display all the properties of the trip in an easy-to-use platform: Waypoints, travel expenses, booking documents, notes, photos and chat,” he says.

The resulting app he refers to as a “Swiss Army Knife” for travel planning.

Like TripIt and others, travel documents can be shared with Lambus by forwarding emails to a unique personal email address. The imported documents — like plane tickets or Airbnb stays — will then be made available to all group attendees automatically. This is handy for group trips where often multiple people take turns making the various reservations, but don’t have any easy way to share the information with others beyond forwarding emails or writing down information … Read the rest