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Who makes the best apps for the iPhone and iPad? It’s not Apple

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America’s favorite brands — where’s Apple?
TechRepublic’s Karen Roby asks ZDNet’s Chris Matyszczyk about a new survey that came out declaring that Apple is not one of America’s top 25 brands. Read more: https://zd.net/2WhrKSC

Apple ships a lot of stock apps with iOS, everything ranging from a browser to a calendar app, to a reminders app, to an app for storing notes. And while these apps are workable, they’re definitely not the best apps for the iOS.

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Not by a long shot.

Must read: iOS 12.3: How to keep your iPhone safe from hackers and snoopers

It might surprise many to hear, but when it comes to iOS apps, the company that’s currently doing the best job of developing apps for the iPhone and iPad is Microsoft.

Yes, Microsoft. The company behind the Windows platform.

Microsoft has some awesome apps for iOS. You get features that you’d expect to find on the desktop made available to you on the small screen.

If you’ve not tried them, I suggest you take a look at what it has to offer. I started using the OneNote app after deciding that Evernote wasn’t working for me, but eventually moved to using Word and Excel too.

Apple’s own Pages and Numbers apps seems so basic and useless in comparison to what Microsoft offers that they feel like a bit of a joke.

Sure, to get the full benefit of Microsoft apps you need to buy an Office subscription, but even without a subscription these apps are head and shoulders better than anything Apple offers.

Don’t want to go the Microsoft route? Then take a look at what Google has to offer. Yes, that Google. The company that is behind the Android mobile platform.

Apps such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Calendar are all extremely powerful, packed with features, and allow you to work with and have access to your documents no matter where you are and no matter what device you are using.

I’m highlighting Microsoft and Google here, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t hundreds, or even thousands, of other amazing developers out there making great apps for iOS. However, outside of a few big names – think the likes of Amazon, Adobe, or Dropbox – most don’t have the ability to deliver such a broad range of apps, and offer many of there them either completely for free or offer a subset of the features without needing a paid subscription.

I understand that Apple is trying to cater for the masses with its iOS apps, but given that it has such tight control over the ecosystem, and how high-priced its devices are, it seems like a real blunder that it doesn’t do a better job of catering for those higher-end users who actually use those expensive iPhones and iPads for real work.

I wish Apple would work on making some serious apps that can do serious work for iOS. Not only would that streamline workflow for Mac and iOS users, but also allow users to better leverage Apple features such as iCloud and the tight integration between devices.

Are you an iOS user? What do you think of Apple’s apps for the platform? Do you use them or do you also have to turn to third-party apps to get your work done? Let me know!

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Fortnite’s mystery ‘superstar’ virtual music tour kicks off next week – TechCrunch

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Epic Games is teasing the biggest in-game event since Travis Scott psychedelically stomped through Fortnite’s virtual meadows.

The mysterious new event, which Fortnite-maker Epic is calling the “Rift Tour,” will kick off on Friday, August 6 and run through Sunday, August 8. In the teaser announcement, Epic invites players to “take a musical journey into magical new realities where Fortnite and a record-breaking superstar collide.”

In-game events building up to the mystery show series will run from July 29 through August 8, so players can hop into Fortnite to check out new Rift Tour-themed quests and rewards now. The cotton-candy-colored event will offer a custom loading screen and a fluffy cloud kitty emoticon, among other digital prizes.

The Rift Tour isn’t a one-and-done event. Like the Travis Scott event, Fortnite will host five different show times across three days to make it easier for players to catch. Epic says they’ll have more details to share on Monday, August 2, so Fortnite players will have to wait for more hints or an official announcement about who’s performing.

So … who’s performing? So far, all signs point to Ariana Grande. Leakers have been saying as much for more than a week, and the documents revealed through Epic’s court battle with Apple also detailed plans for in-game events with both Grande and Lady Gaga.

Image Credits: Epic Games

At Forbes, Paul Tassi also connected the dots on how recent leaks point to Grande, including some visual themes from her music videos and a reference to her pet pig Piggy Smalls.

Since Epic is calling its latest virtual event a tour, that suggests Grande won’t be alone, if she is indeed the mystery superstar. A Lady Gaga appearance could also be in the cards, since Epic apparently had plans for Gaga to appear in a December 2020 concert that never materialized. Kanye West is also releasing his newest album on August 6, but it seems less likely that Epic would be willing to partner with West given his myriad recent controversies. And “Donda,” West’s latest album, was originally scheduled for a different date before being delayed.

Whoever it winds up being, we’ll likely know more on Monday. Even if you’re not a Grande fan or a regular gamer, Fortnite’s in-game concerts are some of the most creative and visually exciting virtual events to date.

Everyone should fall through the metaverse with their friends while a skyscraper-sized virtual rapper shoots neon lightning bolts at least once.

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Why companies and brands need to tune in – TechCrunch

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What comes to mind when you think of livestreaming? In the U.S., most people would name their favorite celebrity leading a Q&A on Instagram or a gamer doing a speedrun on Twitch.

In China, it’s shopping, streamed live.

Livestream e-commerce has taken off in China in the last few years and is expected to yield more than $60 billion this year. In 2019, 37% of online shoppers in China (a cool 265 million people) made purchases on livestreams — and that was well before quarantine. In 2020, it’s estimated to have reached around 560 million people.

During Taobao’s annual Single’s Day Global Shopping Festival in 2020 (China’s Black Friday), livestreams accounted for $6 billion in sales — nearly doubled from a year earlier.

Starting to see a trend? The big U.S. companies have noticed, and they’re jumping on the bandwagon faster than you can say, “Swipe up to buy now!”

Last December, Walmart livestreamed shopping events on TikTok. Amazon released a live platform where influencers promote items and chat with customers. Instagram launched a Shop feature that encourages users to browse and buy within the app. Facebook also kicked off Live Shopping Fridays for the beauty and fashion categories.

“It’s an entertaining way for shops to tell the story behind their products. It brings buyers closer than ever to their favorite creators and allows them to have a voice in the conversation.”

Startups are growing fast to keep up with the heavy hitters — PopShop.Live raised $20 million to let people buy everything from books and toys to jewelry from sellers who livestream their offerings, and Whatnot raised a $50 million Series B, largely to expand its livestream commerce infrastructure. There’s also a burgeoning category of SaaS tools such as Bambuser, which is working with brands like Klarna to test native livestream shopping directly within branded apps.

At this pace, retailers will all welcome livestream commerce teams like they have influencer partnerships in recent years. It’ll just be part of the digital equation to stay competitive and relevant in the future of marketplaces and e-commerce.

From B.C. to 5G: The evolution of shopping

What is old is new again. Your grandparents spent years watching QVC because it balanced the experience of speaking with an associate with the convenience of their retirement community’s TV room. Livestream is today’s version of “shoptainment,” where hosts showcase products dynamically, interact with their audiences and build urgency with short-term offers, giveaways and limited-edition items.

Now, with livestream commerce, hosts can form deeper customer connections and answer questions in real time. It’s a new standard of communication that holds a longstanding truth from Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar to smartphones: People shop to kill time and are more likely to buy when they feel connected with a salesperson.

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Twitter shuttering NY, SF offices in response to new CDC guidelines – TechCrunch

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Just two weeks after reopening its New York and San Francisco offices, social media giant Twitter said Wednesday that it will be closing those offices “immediately.”

The decision came “after careful consideration of the CDC’s updated guidelines, and in light of current conditions,” a spokesperson said.

“Twitter has made the decision to close our opened offices in New York and San Francisco as well as pause future office reopenings, effective immediately. We’re continuing to closely monitor local conditions and make necessary changes that prioritize the health and safety of our Tweeps,” the spokesperson added.

The company initially just reopened those offices on July 12. It declined to reveal headcount per office.

The CDC this week recommended that fully vaccinated people begin wearing masks indoors again in places with high Covid transmission rates amid concerns about the highly contagious Delta variant.

Earlier today, TechCrunch’s Brian Heater reported that Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the company will require employees to be vaccinated before returning to work on-site. It was part of a larger letter sent to Google/Alphabet staff that also noted the company will be extending its work-from-home policy through October 18, as the COVID-19 delta variant continues to sweep through the global population.

In a message to TechCrunch, Facebook’s VP of People, Lori Goler, confirmed a similar policy for the social media behemoth.

Amazon also responded to TechCrunch’s inquiry on the matter, noting, “We strongly encourage Amazon employees and contractors to be vaccinated as soon as COVID-19 vaccines are available to them.”

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