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This Week in Apps: Photoshop for iPad bombs, Google Plays new rewards program, iOS bug fixes



Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support, and the money that flows through it all. What are the developers talking about? What Do app publishers and marketers need to know? How is international politics playing out in the App Store? What apps is everyone using?

As November kicks off, we’re looking at a number of big apps launches from Microsoft and Adobe — as well as what went wrong. We’re also looking at the iOS bug-squashing release, a bunch of data about app install trends around the world, Google Play’s new loyalty program and what it means for developers, the continued scrutiny of Chinese apps by the U.S. government, and more.

Fast Facts

eMarketer remindS us that it recently put out a big report on app installs with a ton of insights. It’s actually been live for a few months, but ICYMI, here are some of the key data points and highlights:

  • The average iPhone user in the U.S. downloaded 47 apps in 2018, up from 44 in 2017.
  • The average number of apps installed is rising — up 15% from 2016. In the U.S., Japan, South Korea, and Australia, users had more than 100 apps downloaded in 2018.
  • Smartphone users spend the most time using their top 5 apps. In 2017, the top 5 accounted for 87% of usage. Now (Apr. 2019) it’s 83%. The No. 1 app had a 49% share of the time spent, now it’s 44%.
  • The number of smartphone users in the U.S. will grow just 3% in 2019, compared with 13.2% in India and 12.1% in Indonesia.
  • Related, app downloads grew 165% in India from 2016 to 2018. In China, 70%. In Indonesia, 55%. And in Brazil, 25%. The U.S. app downloads grew just 5%.
  • In June 2019, the App Store had 1.8 million apps compared with Google Play’s 3.1 million.
  • 43% of iOS app install referrals came from Facebook properties, and only 6.6% came from Google properties.
  • Apple Search Ads drove 12% of non-organic installs in May 2019.
  • In-app video ads outperform display ads. Install-to-register rates for video were 35.1% in Q1
    2019 on the Liftoff network, compared with 28.5% for display ads.
  • App engagement drop-off rates after day one are the biggest in shopping apps. (25% engagement after the first day, but 8% at 30 days). Travel also sees a big drop-off. (20% after the first day and 6% after 30 days).


iOS Bug Squashing: Apple fixed the iOS bug that killed your background apps. Apple this week finally squashed a very annoying bug in iOS 13 that made the OS overly aggressive about killing background apps and tasks. Apps like Safari, YouTube, Overcast and others were impacted, leading users to lose emails or the video they were watching just when they switched away for a few seconds. What Apple can’t fix is a growing concern that Apple has “lost the plot” following a series of extremely buggy software updates across its product line, which made users hesitant to upgrade to macOS Catalina, and bricked people’s HomePods.

Google admits it can’t secure the Play Store on its own: Google this week announced partnerships with security firms ESET, Lookout, and Zimperium to form what it has branded the “App Defense Alliance.” The goal, the company says, is to unite the security industry to fight malicious apps across Android’s ecosystem of 2.5 billion devices. Basically, Google will integrate its own detection systems with each partner’s scanning engine to help it uncover potential risks and threats. However, the fact that Google is now essentially outsourcing security to a partner ecosystem is an admission of failure, to some extent, about its abilities to keep the Play Store free from bad actors on its own. (But of course, we all knew that already, right?)

Photoshop for iPad is tanking: Adobe released its most important mobile app ever with this week’s launch of Photoshop for iPad. But fans panned the app because it’s missing several key features. Like RAW support! The app now has 2 stars out of 5…yikes. So what went wrong?

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Binance Announces Partnership With Paxful Enabling 167 Fiat Currencies




Binance Announces Partnership With Paxful Enabling 167 Fiat Currencies

Major cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced a partnership with peer-to-peer (P2P) crypto trading platform Paxful with the aim to enable the P2P platform as a Binance fiat gateway.

According to a press release on Dec. 12, Binance users will now be able to use Paxful to buy Bitcoin (BTC) with 167 various fiat currencies.

Supported fiat currencies include the Russian ruble, Vietnamese dong, Indonesian rupiah, Nigerian naira, Colombian peso, British pound, Mexican peso, Canadian dollar, euro, Argentine peso. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said:

“This marks a significant partnership between a crypto exchange and peer-to-peer platform where a new pool of users will have access to alternative fiat payment methods available on Paxful, including local currency bank transfers and some of the world’s most popular digital wallets. […] As one of the sole exchanges offering this service with Paxful’s integration to our users, we are looking forward to seeing new possibilities arise by providing more fiat-to-crypto options to the mainstream.”

Per the release, the partnership aims to reach and aid an estimated 2 billion unbanked people worldwide. Given that developing nations host a significant portion of the unbanked, it is worth noting that an October report showed a 2,800% increase in trades on Paxful in South Africa compared to the previous year.

Binance adds a slew of support for fiat

Binance appears to be devoting a significant portion of its resources to building its fiat currency onramp infrastructure and partnerships. As Cointelegraph reported, the exchange also announced the launch of its fiat gateway for Latin America today.

Furthermore, in November Binance added support for buying Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies with the Turkish lira and partnered with stablecoin operator Paxos to implement its fiat gateway.

Published at Thu, 12 Dec 2019 15:27:00 +0000

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Bitcoin Price ‘Boring and Fragile’ as Trader Plans for Dip Below $7K




Bitcoin Price ‘Boring and Fragile’ as Trader Plans for Dip Below $7K

Bitcoin (BTC) continued its broad downtrend towards $7,000 support on Dec. 12, failing to break out of a behavioral pattern that has left traders uninspired.

Cryptocurrency market daily overview

Cryptocurrency market daily overview. Source: Coin360

Bitcoin could face “significant drop”

Data from Coin360 showed BTC/USD trading down around 1.2% on the day, with only a brief spike to $7,265 punctuating the otherwise lackluster performance.

The sudden uptick met with selling pressure within minutes, markets tanking to local lows of $7,107 before recovering to current levels around $7,150. 

Bitcoin seven-day price chart

Bitcoin seven-day price chart. Source: Coin360

Bitcoin has nonetheless lost over 3% since last week, with traders’ hopes for a retest of resistance closer to $8,000 so far going unanswered. 

Now, regular Cointelegraph contributor Michaël van de Poppe said that if fresh energy did not appear, Bitcoin could be in line for a “significant” drop. 

“Boring & fragile markets here,” he summarized in his latest Twitter update on Thursday. 

Downside potential could see BTC/USD bottom out at previous lows around $6,500, he added, while a boost to the upside would place $7,500 levels back into the equation.

Fellow contributor filbfilb meanwhile was more risk-averse. Revealing his short-term risk plan to readers on Wednesday, he confirmed he was short BTC, eyeing a likely dip below $7,000. 

“Overall I am bullish pre halving its just a matter of trying to micromanage the mid term optimal entry,” he added.

As Cointelegraph reported, concerns over Bitcoin’s performance before May’s block reward halving have spread rapidly through analytical circles. 

Statistician Willy Woo previously said bearish price action made the run-up to Bitcoin’s third halving unlike any other, while Keith Wareing warned BTC/USD could dip as low as $2,500 in analysis for Cointelegraph over the weekend.

Altcoins continue to lose ground 

Altcoins meanwhile saw broadly negative progress in line with Bitcoin on Thursday. The top twenty cryptocurrencies by market cap generally saw losses of 1-2%.

Ether (ETH), the largest altcoin, performed worse, losing 3.6% to trade at $141. 

Ether seven-day price chart

Ether seven-day price chart. Source: Coin360

Cosmos (ATOM) conversely managed 4.6% gains in the same period, while Tezos (XTZ) traded up 1.3%.

The overall cryptocurrency market cap was $195 billion at press time, with Bitcoin’s share at 66.7%.

Keep track of top crypto markets in real time here

Published at Thu, 12 Dec 2019 09:36:00 +0000

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From Health Care to Mining, Central Asia Stays on the Blockchain Beat




From Health Care to Mining, Central Asia Stays on the Blockchain Beat

Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology continues to be a global phenomenon, with adoption and utilization cases emerging in almost every corner of the globe. Digital technology has become so popular that it is now a major talking point not only in the financial sector but also in politics and governance.

The seven “-stan” countries of Central and South Asia — Pakistan, Kazakhstan, AfghanistanKyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan — haven’t shied away from the sweeping digital technology phenomenon. Whether it be revitalizing Afghanistan’s healthcare sector with blockchain adoption or introducing a waiver for crypto mining in Kazakhstan, digital technology utilization appears to be gaining a foothold in these countries.

Some stakeholders in these nations argue that more still needs to be done if the region is going to enjoy a similar level of crypto and blockchain commerce as seen in Eastern and Southeast Asia. The following is an overview of some of the notable crypto and blockchain developments in the seven countries.

Pakistan’s government exploring digitization policy

Pakistan’s central bank — the State Bank of Pakistan — banned cryptos in the country. As is the case in India, stakeholders within the local crypto community have sought to overturn the prohibition.

Related: Binance Buyout in India Takes Industry Fearful of Regulation to Hope

Waqir Zaka, a co-founder of TenUp, a blockchain-based venture capital startup, is among the vocal critics of the Pakistani crypto ban. Zaka appeared before the Sindh High Court earlier in the week to argue against the central bank’s ban.

According to local media outlet ProPakistani, the SHC instructed the country’s Federal Investigation Agency to aid the court in understanding cryptocurrencies and come to a reasonably fair judgment on the matter.

In a tweet posted by Zaka on Dec. 5, the high court adjourned the case to Jan. 28, 2020. The TenUp chief also used his appearance in court to report the alleged harassment of crypto miners in Pakistan.

Stepping away from blanket crypto bans, Pakistan’s government is looking to implement robust digitization policies. Back in April 2019, Cointelegraph reported that authorities in the country were set to pursue digitization of core government operations.

Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the Strategic Reform and Implementation Unit — dubbed Digital Pakistan — on Dec. 5, with ex-Google Product chief Tania Ardus at the helm.

Additionally, the federal government enacted a set of rules in April 2019 to govern and license digital currency institutions. The move was part of efforts by the country to comply with Anti-Money Laundering guidelines prescribed by the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force.

Pakistan is also reportedly eyeing the possibility of creating its own sovereign digital currency. As reported by Cointelegraph earlier in 2019, the State Bank of Pakistan has plans to issue its own national central bank digital currency by 2025.

Draft tax exemption policy for crypto miners in Kazakhstan

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, lawmakers in Kazakhstan are looking to exempt crypto miners from tax obligations. According to a draft law, the lawmakers want cryptocurrency mining to be recognized as a “purely technological process” for tax purposes.

Under this special designation, crypto miners will only be required to pay taxes when they convert their virtual currencies to fiat. The draft policy also seeks to establish crypto mining as a legal and regulated activity within the country.

The proposed tax bill is the latest example of the generally positive stance toward crypto and blockchain exhibited by the Kazakhstani government in recent times. On the matter, Cointelegraph spoke with Madi Saken, senior legislative coordinator at the Blockchain & Data Center Industry Development Association in Kazakhstan, to obtain first-hand details about the bill. In an email to Cointelegraph, Saken explained that the country is not considering levying a capital gain tax on mining activity, explaining:

“However, mining will still be deemed entrepreneurial activity in cases when mining farms offer services to use their computing hardware for digital mining. Mining farms would be taxed by analogy with typical data centers as they receive fiat income under commercial contract alike other data-center services.”

Concerning the legal status of crypto in the country, Saken revealed that the government has no official position regarding digital assets. However, he pointed to the Astana International Financial Center as having created a special regime for cryptos under its own independent legislative prerogative.

The association’s coordinator did reveal to Cointelegraph that the government was considering a draft framework for digital assets. Back in 2018, the country’s central bank called for a ban on crypto trading and mining.

For Saken, crypto and blockchain adoption in Kazakhstan is relatively low, but the NABDC says there are positive signs signaling greater utilization in the country. According to Saken:

“Business adoption of blockchain is relatively low at this stage. However, the biggest national telecom operator Kazakhtelecom JSC has just launched its corporate BAAS (Blockchain as a Service) platform for business, which allows companies and state bodies to create and place blockchain systems on its decentralized platform. The company expects that its product will ease blockchain adoption for business. Besides, there are several startups being developed in Astana Hub and AIFC.”

Saken also said that he believes cryptocurrency adoption is on the horizon, as he observes a positive attitude toward crypto from the national bank: 

“Having initially conservative and adverse position, now National Bank is more prone to be constructive consideration. The government and National Bank are more supportive with regard to mining industry development and cryptocurrency regulation, taking into account FATF recommendations and a need of proper financial monitoring and AML instruments.”

Transforming Afghanistan’s health sector via blockchain adoption

Afghanistan is seeing some real-world application of blockchain technology in areas such as healthcare and urban development. As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the country’s Ministry of Public Health signed a Memorandum of Understanding in November 2019 with blockchain startup, FantomOperations.

The memorandum aims to facilitate the deployment of blockchain-based solutions in the country’s health sector. The major focus of the project is to combat the spread of counterfeit medicines and the digitization of patient and hospital records. In a statement released at the time, the ministry declared:

“The Ministry of Public Health is committed for the institutionalization of electronic government in the health sector and the block-chain technology would help the ministry bring transparency, acceleration and effectiveness in the related affairs.”

Earlier in the year, the United Nations also announced that it would be utilizing blockchain-based solutions to drive Afghanistan’s urban development projects. The move is part of the UN’s “City for All” initiative, with the country expected to become predominantly urban by 2034.

Elsewhere in the region

In Kyrgyzstan, authorities seem to be on the offensive against crypto miners. In September 2019, 45 cryptocurrency mining centers were cut off from the national grid as energy officials accused the mining farms of abnormally high electricity consumption.

Despite the 2014 crypto ban, miners have established a significant presence in Kyrgyzstan, taking advantage of the country’s cheap electricity rates. However, government authorities are reportedly looking for ways to regulate the industry, claiming that crypto mining is yet to be defined under federal law.

While Kazakhstan is considering a reduction to the tax burden on crypto miners, Kyrgyzstan’s Ministry of Economy is set to amend the country’s tax code in preparation for the introduction of cryptocurrency mining taxes. 

The draft law is reportedly considering two approaches to the proposed crypto mining tax regime — levying taxes on income or expenses. Based on the popularity of crypto mining in the country, the tax law could see the government earn close to $4.2 million per year.

In Uzbekistan, the government increased electricity tariffs for crypto miners by 300%. At the time, energy officials said the move was to facilitate a more rational utilization of electrical energy by consumers in the country. Crypto trading remains legalized in the country, with participants enjoying tax breaks. However, foreign traders can only operate in the country if they create a local subsidiary in Uzbekistan.

On the whole, the government of Uzbekistan maintains a positive attitude toward digital technology, especially blockchain. Back in September 2018, the country created Digital Trust — a state blockchain fund dedicated to the utilization of technology in several government projects across sectors like education and healthcare.

Published at Thu, 12 Dec 2019 03:00:00 +0000

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