• Proteams Information Tech

This Week In Apps; IPOs, Financing, Branching out and Keeping you Safe on the App Store

Below you'll find five of the latest App News Stories that are making headlines

1. Robinhood Confirms IPO

Bloomberg reported last week following a confirmation by Axios that the trading fintech app, Robinhood, has filed confidentially to go public. The company is well funded as a provider of zero-cost trading services to its users, the company have been long expected to have a 2021 IPO, although the company is yet to respond to media regarding the offering.

Private IPOs are becoming increasingly popular in the recent months, and so their decision to file in private before presenting their numbers to the public leaves little for speculation, apart from their going public should be in the near future.

The company reportedly made great strides of growth last year, coupled with a warming appetite through the pandemic for public investing, creates a hopeful landscape for Robinhood's successful IPO.

2. Slack is Branching Out

Starting this week, Slack users will be able to direct message any other Slack user as the company hopes to transition towards a fully fledged messaging app. The new system has been coined 'Connect DMs' and is said to work similarly to traditional messaging apps. Essentially, users can send an invite to anyone via their work email address, and given that

the recipient accepts (everything is opt-in), the new contact is added to their Slack sidebar. The new conversations are tied to users' organisations, but exist in a separate section of the Slack app itself. This move towards general messaging will set Slack up to be on par with enterprise tools like Microsoft Teams as well as free consumer services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Ilan Frank, Slack's VP of product said "if they're connecting with their friends, they click on Facebook or WhatsApp. If they're connecting with someone they work with, regardless of where that person works, they should be clicking on Slack."

3. Instagram for Kids

Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, told BuzzFeed that Instagram knows “more and more kids” want to use Instagram but that age verification is a challenge for the company. It is said that Instagram doesn't have a heavily detailed plan for the development of its child-focused Instagram project. “We have to do a lot here,” he said, “but part of the solution is to create a version of Instagram for young people or kids where parents have transparency or control. It’s one of the things we’re exploring.”

“I’m excited to announce that going forward, we have identified youth work as a priority for Instagram and have added it to our H1 priority list,” Vishal Shah, Instagram’s vice president of product, wrote on an internal employee message board, according to BuzzFeed News.

“We will be building a new youth pillar within the Community Product Group to focus on two things: (a) accelerating our integrity and privacy work to ensure the safest possible experience for teens and (b) building a version of Instagram that allows people under the age of 13 to safely use Instagram for the first time.”

The new version of the app is said to be overseen by Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, and Pavni Diwanji, previously the head of Google’s child-friendly version of YouTube, known as 'YouTube Kids'.

4. Telegram Raises $1bn in Debt Financing

Telegram has now announced it’s raised over $1bn in debt financing by selling bonds, the founder Pavel Durov put out an update via an official Telegram channel after a press announcement last week revealed that the company had taken in $150M from Mubadala and Abu Dhabi Catalyst Partners by selling 5-year pre-IPO convertible bonds. “This will enable Telegram to continue growing globally while sticking to its values and remaining independent,” said Durov, adding that the $1BN debt cushion will also be used to implement a monetization strategy that was set out in December, writing that “a project of our size needs at least a few hundred million dollars per year to keep going”.

Although it is unclear where the additional millions in debt funding came from, but Durov said that Telegram has sold bonds to “some of the largest and most knowledgable investors from all over the world”.

5. Malicious Apps on App Stores

There is an increasing prevalence of malicious apps being uploaded by hackers onto app store platforms, as well as a number of seemingly legitimate apps that are in fact not. Recently, apps that can access and withdraw money from your bank account, as well as steal your login credentials, and harass users with malicious advertising spam are becoming even more common. Avast researchers have announced a new warning about an app category that is particularly concentrated with 'dodgy' apps, known as “fleeceware” apps, and they have reportedly been helping developers to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from unsuspecting Android as well as iOS device owners.Avast researchers explain in their new report that they have found a total of 204 'fleeceware' apps with over a billion downloads and over $400 million in revenue on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Avast wrote “The purpose of these applications, is to draw users into a free trial to ‘test’ the app, after which they overcharge them through subscriptions which sometimes run as high as $3,432 per year. These applications generally have no unique functionality and are merely conduits for fleeceware scams.”

Avast provided some key areas for people to look out for and protect themselves from these kinds of apps:

  1. Free trial periods of less than a week should draw your suspicion

  2. Treat viral ads touting these apps with skepticism

  3. And keep your payment methods secure (two-factor authentication, biometrics, etc).

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