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Indians Spent 4.7 Hours Daily on Their Phones in 2021, App Annie's State of Mobile 2022 Report Finds

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Indians Spent 4.7 Hours Daily on Their Phones in 2021, App Annie’s State of Mobile 2022 Report Finds

Smartphone users in India used their devices for an average of 4.7 hours per day in 2021, according to a report by mobile app analytics platform App Annie. Daily average smartphone usage has increased for the third year in a row, showing a growing reliance on smartphones amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. India was second in the top 20 mobile markets in terms of app downloads this year, accounting for nearly 27 billion downloads in 2021. Finance apps were also popular in India, with over 1 billion downloads last year.

According to the State of Mobile 2022 report by mobile app analytics service App Annie, smartphone owners in India used their devices for an average of 4.7 hours per day in 2021, up from 4.5 hours in 2020 and 3.7 hours in 2019. However, Indian smartphone users were on their phones for fewer hours than their counterparts Brazil, Indonesia, South and Korea, where the average daily smartphone usage was five (or more) hours in 2021. Mexico was also ahead of India, with 4.8 hours per day on average. Mobile-first markets spent a third of their waking hours on their smartphones, according to the report.

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Smartphone users in most countries saw an increase in total hours spent watching video streaming apps in 2021, with the notable exceptions of India and China that saw a drop of -8 percent and -46 percent from 2019, respectively. In terms of downloaded applications, India was the second highest country with nearly 27 billion app downloads (out of 230 billion global downloads) in 2021, according to the report. The global app store spending for 2021 is estimated at a whopping $170 billion (roughly Rs. 12,60,461 crore). Finance apps, job search apps like Apna, and food delivery apps saw an increase among users in India, according to the report.

The report also reveals that the most searched keywords on the iOS App Store in India, were “Whatsapp+” followed by “Zoom” and “Google Meet”. Many iPhone users in India were also looking for “WhatsApp Business” and “Call recorder for iPhone free” in 2021. Finance app downloads in India crossed the 1 billion download mark, pushing the global downloads for finance apps to 5.9 billion in 2021. India’s WazirX saw the highest year-on-year increase in sessions per user in 2021, giving close competition to US-headquartered app publishers, according to the report.

Food and drink delivery apps also rebounded to 12.1 billion user sessions in India in Q4 2021, after a decline recorded in Q2 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and associated logistics issues, according to the report. The government’s Aarogya Setu app crossed the 100 million download mark but saw declining open rates year on year. Travel apps also saw an increase in downloads in 2021, with India recording a 5 percent increase. Global travel app downloads hit 1.95 billion downloads in the second half of 2021 — close to pre-pandemic levels of 2.08 billion.

While consumer spending on dating apps increased in countries like Germany, Indonesia, and Japan, Indian users spent less on dating apps in 2021 with an 18 percent increase since 2018, according to the report. However, the report states that while spending on these apps may be low in India, over 75 percent of users have started going on “hobby” dates. Global spending on dating apps crossed $4 billion (roughly Rs. 29,659 crore) in 2021, marking a 95 percent increase since 2018, according to the report.


Xiaomi India speaks exclusively to Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast, on their plans for 2022 and pushing for 120W fast charging with the 11i HyperCharge. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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WhatsApp Group Admins Can Soon Approve or Reject New Participants on Android: Report

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WhatsApp is reportedly working on a new feature that would give more control and power to group admins. The Meta-owned instant messaging app could soon add a new option called ‘Approve new participants’ that will allow group admins to determine who can join the group. It would make it easier for group admins to ensure privacy and reduce spam messages. The feature has been spotted in WhatsApp for Android beta v2.22.18.9, which is available via the Google Play Beta programme, however, it is not yet available to testers.

As per a report by WhatsApp features tracker WABetaInfo, the messaging service is said to be working on a new feature that will allow group admins to decide who can join the group. Once released, the WhatsApp group settings will have an “Approve new participants” option where group admins can approve or reject the incoming requests from people who all want to join a particular group.

The report also includes a screenshot showing the new option, giving WhatsApp users an idea of what the feature might look like when it starts rolling out. In the screenshot, the Approve new participants option is seen under the group settings menu at the bottom of edit group admins option in WhatsApp group info. WhatsApp is likely to add a new section listing all current requests of users who want to join the group.

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The messaging platform is said to be rolling out the update via the Google Play Beta programme, with the v2.22.18.9 beta for Android. The feature is still in development and is not visible to beta testers.

The development comes a few days after the Meta-owned social messaging platform announced a new privacy feature that lets participants exit silently from WhatsApp groups without letting other members know about their exit. This feature will allow users to exit a group privately without having to notify everyone, except the admins. Currently, WhatsApp shows an auto-generated notification when someone exits a group. The new functionality will be available to all users this month.


What should you make of Realme’s three new offerings? We discuss them on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Instagram Can Track User Data, Behaviour via Its In-App Browser; Meta Responds: Report

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Instagram app can track its users’ every interaction — including all form inputs like passwords, addresses, every single tap, text selections, and screenshots — with external websites that are accessed through the platform’s in-app browser, as per a report. The Instagram app reportedly injects JavaScript code into every website shown, including when clicking on ads, which allows the company to monitor all user interactions. As per Meta, the script which Instagram app injects helps the company “aggregate events” and respect users’ App Tracking Transparency (ATT) opt-out choice.

As per a blog post by Felix Krause, who owns fastlane — an open source platform aimed at simplifying Android and iOS deployment — Instagram app injects their JavaScript code into every website shown, including when clicking on ads, in the app. Injecting custom scripts into third-party websites allows the platform “to monitor all user interactions, like every button & link tapped, text selections, screenshots, as well as any form inputs, like passwords, addresses and credit card numbers” without users’ consent.

In layman’s words, when you tap on a website link, swipe up link, or a link to purchase anything through ads on Instagram, it opens a window in the in-app browser instead of opening it in the default browser (Google Chrome, Safari, among others) that you have set on your phone. As per the blog, Instagram app injects their JavaScript code into every website shown, allowing them to “monitor everything happening on external websites — without the consent from the user, nor the website provider” — when you are using the opened website in Instagram’s in-app browser.

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App Tracking Transparency feature in iOS 14.5 allows users to decide which apps have the permission to track their data. Meta reportedly said that this has cost the company $10 billion (roughly Rs. 80,000 crore) a year. The blog notes that in order to be safe from the tracking, users can copy and open the link in their preferred browsers. Apple’s web browser Safari blocks third-party cookies by default, Google Chrome will soon start phasing out third-party cookies, and Firefox’s recently-announced Total Cookie Protection will prevent any cross-page tracking.

Meanwhile, Meta responded to Krause saying that the script that gets injected “isn’t the Meta Pixel” — a snippet of JavaScript code that allows tracking visitor activity on a website. Meta says that it is the pcm.js script, which “helps aggregate events, i.e. online purchase, before those events are used for targeted advertising and measurement for the Facebook platform.” Meta also said that the injected script respects the user’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) opt-out choice “which is only relevant if the rendered website has the Meta Pixel installed.” ATT is a framework on iOS that requires all iOS apps to ask users for permission to share their data.

Krause says he has reverted to Meta asking more details on the same. He, however, points that all of this (injecting code and respecting user’s ATT choice) “wouldn’t be necessary if Instagram were to open the phone’s default browser, instead of building & using the custom in-app browser.”


What should you make of Realme’s three new offerings? We discuss them on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Twitter May Fail to Fight Election Misinformation, Voting Rights Experts Say

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Twitter on Thursday set out a plan to combat the spread of election misinformation that revives previous strategies, but civil and voting rights experts said it would fall short of what is needed to prepare for the upcoming US midterm elections.

The social media company said it will apply its civic integrity policy, introduced in 2018, to the November 8 midterms, when numerous US Senate and House of Representatives seats will be up for election. The policy relies on labelling or removing posts with misleading content, focused on messages intended to stop voting or claims intended to undermine public confidence in an election.

In a statement, Twitter said it has taken numerous steps in recent months to “elevate reliable resources” about primaries and voting processes. Applying a label to a tweet also means the content is not recommended or distributed to more users.

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The San Francisco-based company is currently in a legal battle with billionaire Elon Musk over his attempt to walk away from his $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3.5 lakh crore) deal to acquire Twitter.

Musk has called himself a “free speech absolutist,” and has said Twitter posts should only be removed if there is illegal content, a view supported by many in the tech industry.

But civil rights and online misinformation experts have long accused social media and tech platforms of not doing enough to prevent the spread of false content, including the idea that President Joe Biden did not win the 2020 election.

They warn that misinformation could be an even greater challenge this year, as candidates who question the 2020 election are running for office, and divisive rhetoric is spreading following an FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home earlier this week.

“We’re seeing the same patterns playing out,” said Evan Feeney, deputy senior campaign director at Color of Change, which advocates for the rights of Black Americans.

In the blog post, Twitter said a test of redesigned labels saw a decline in users’ retweeting, liking, and replying to misleading content.

Researchers say Twitter and other platforms have a spotty record in consistently labelling such content.

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In a paper published last month, Stanford University researchers examined a sample of posts on Twitter and Meta’s Facebook that altogether contained 78 misleading claims about the 2020 election. They found that Twitter and Facebook consistently applied labels to only about 70 percent of the claims.

In a statement, Twitter said it has taken numerous steps in recent months to “elevate reliable resources” about primaries and voting processes.

Twitter’s efforts to fight misinformation during the midterms will include information prompts to debunk falsehoods before they spread widely online.

More emphasis should be placed on removing false and misleading posts, said Yosef Getachew, media and democracy program director at nonpartisan group Common Cause.

“Pointing them to other sources isn’t enough,” he said.

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Experts also questioned Twitter’s practice of leaving up some tweets from world leaders in the name of public interest.

“Twitter has a responsibility and ability to stop misinformation at the source,” Feeney said, saying that world leaders and politicians should face a higher standard for what they tweet.

Twitter leads the industry in releasing data on how its efforts to intervene against misinformation are working, said Evelyn Douek, an assistant professor at Stanford Law School who studies online speech regulation.

Yet more than a year after soliciting public input on what the company should do when a world leader violates its rules, Twitter has not provided an update, she said.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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What should you make of Realme’s three new offerings? We discuss them on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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