As 2019 comes to an end, it is clear that the world order of social media has changed drastically. Facebook knows it is perhaps no longer the dominant force it used to be, with apps like TikTok and Likee rising fast in crucial markets like India. In fact, TikTok now has over a billion users globally and even Zuckerberg acknowledged that the app was bigger than Instagram in a market like India.
For TikTok, 2019 has been a big year and it does not look like the popularity of the service will fade anytime soon. TikTok was the seventh most downloaded app of the decade, according to App Annie. Of course Facebook tried to acquire the app, but unfortunately the plans didn’t materialise. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg even has a secret TikTok account, reported BuzzFeed. For those unaware, TikTok allows its users to share short videos, and rivals Facebook’s Instagram.
But Tik Tok’s list of controversies is also long as it was banned in India, which is one of its biggest markets, for a short while with Madras High Court citing reasons that it encouraged pornography and posed a threat to children. Among other troubles that it faced was a fine of $5.7 million by FTC for illegally collecting data from children under the age of 13, banning LGBTQ content in countries such as Turkey. Still TikTok remains one of the most talked about apps for 2019.
The FaceApp went viral in July of 2019, thanks to its AI-driven old age filter, though the app was originally launched back in 2017. Suddenly, Instagram and Twitter were filled with people and celebrities posting pictures of what they would look like when old. But there were privacy concerns with how FaceApp was using all of this image data.
The app’s terms and services triggered privacy concerns after fears that data of users was sent to Russian servers and that the app could access the entire photo library on a user’s phone, both of which was denied by the company.
Likee is an app similar to TikTok that lets users create short videos. Likee was declared the number one “breakout” app by App Annie in 2019. The new category of “breakout” apps by App Annie included apps that saw the largest absolute growth in downloads or consumer spending between 2018 and 2019 and Likee was the most downloaded non-game apps worldwide.
According to Sensor Tower data, the app from Singapore BIGO Technology has over 100 million installs on Google Play Store. Likee is among the most popular short video creating apps in India as well with accounts of Bollywood celebrities like Disha Patani and Sonakshi Sinha on the platform.
Likee was also talked about for winning the Guinness World Record for the ‘Largest online video album of people waving the Indian flag’ in which more than 1 lakh Indians participated including athlete Hima Das. The album had a whopping 2.5 lac videos with over 225.3 million total views and was created during Likee’s ‘No matter where I am, #IAMINDIAN’ campaign to celebrate India’s 73rd Independence Day. The app won the award in partnership with Indian Express.
Ablo has been picked by Google as the best app of 2019 for its Play Best of 2019 awards. The chat app makes it easier to connect to people abroad with real-time chats and video calls translation, thanks to built-in translator. So Ablo helps to remove the language barrier so that people across the world can connect with anyone they wish to, no matter the language.
Video Editor – Glitch Video Effects
Photo editing apps are hugely popular but Video Editor – Glitch Video Effects, which is the winner of Google’s Users’ Choice 2019, takes a different approach with what it calls glitch video effects. The idea is to “distort video in an artistic way” and make them look like they have been made way back in time and thus, the glitch effect.
Spectre Camera by Lux Optics was Apple’s iPhone App of the Year. The AI-powered app lets users shoot long-exposure photos without needing additional camera equipment. So, while trying to shoot a moving object like for instance moving traffic or waterfall, there’s a good chance the photos will turn out with less blur with Spectre Camera.
Facebook was arguably among the most talked apps on 2019, though mainly for its privacy issues and the spread of fake news. The app remains the most downloaded in the decade with 2 billion plus users, but its popularity faded slightly after a series of data leaks revelations and concerns regarding private data of its users.
Privacy was the buzzword at Facebook’s F8 annual developer conference 2019 where the company said it will redesign its products to focus on privacy. Later in the year, it came up with a redesigned logo, which it has placed across all of its products including WhatsApp and Instagram.
Rise of Telegram, Signal after WhatsApp Pegasus spyware attack
WhatsApp suffered in what can be called as one of the biggest spyware attacks, which was used to spy on users in 20 countries, including journalists and human rights activists in India. Following the Pegasus attack, users quickly turned to alternatives like Telegram and Signal, which also offer end-to-end encryption like WhatsApp.
Data from Sensor Tower revealed an 80 per cent decline in the number of downloads of WhatsApp in the week after the attack came to light, while Signal and Telegram reported up to 63 per cent rise in downloads in India (via Business Standard). WhatsApp is among the most widely used messaging apps with its largest user base in India and it has been quite vocal about end-to-end encryption.
For WhatsApp, curbing the spread of misinformation and fake news on the platform was a big focus in 2019. It announced slew of features to tackle the problem such as restricting the forwards to five people, tip line to check for fake news, and more.
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