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In this week’s What’s Appening, we have a peek at TikTok’s plans to roll out gaming content to its 1 billion users. Is it a good move for the phenomenally popular app? WhatsApp has 2 billion users, but have you ever thought about how it makes money? We look at its revenue-focused business plans. Three cheers for Apple, which has announced some brilliant new accessibility features for its products. Our Stat of the Week has an alarming report on how often your data is shared for marketing online. And What’s dAppening reports on Spotify’s NFT experimenting.

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🎬 Takes

🎮 🤳 TikTok – Video Sharing App Said to Be Making “Major Push” Into Gaming

The addition of games to a platform can sometimes seem like a brand hitting the panic button in the face of potential user decline (Facebook👋, Netflix👋👋), but TikTok, armed with its 1 billion monthly active users and record ad revenues, might just be doing it from a position of strength. According to Reuters, which cites several TikTok insiders with knowledge of the matter, the social media app is in a testing phase for gaming content in Vietnam before a broader roll-out as early as the fall. At the moment, we don’t have a huge amount of information on what TikTok’s gaming offering will look like, but we do have a few snippets to make assumptions: For a start, TikTok formed a partnership with Zynga (Farmville, Zynga Poker) last year, and it was already known that the pair would start developing HTML5 games for the platform. We also know that the Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin, already has a suite of minigames on the app. And if you’re a TikTok aficionado here in the US, you might be aware that there are a couple of games like Disco Loco 3D available for the platform. But Reuters has (confidently) declared that this is a “major push” into the gaming arena, and we will take their word for it. TikTok has had a rocket strapped to its back in terms of growth and revenues at a time when rivals are floundering, and aiming for a slice of the gaming pie might just send it into orbit. #TikTokGames Read more here.

📱💰 WhatsApp – Revenue Boosting Cloud API and Future Paid-Tier for Business App

What’s Appening with WhatsApp this week? A lot, seemingly. Meta’s messaging app has been fleshing out its Business API (its first-ever revenue-generating enterprise product) over the last four years, and it has now announced the launch of WhatsApp Cloud API. In essence, it’s a cloud-based version of the existing Business API, which is already being used by big brands like BMW and Vodafone. But Meta claims the new service will be open to any business big or small, allow them to get set up faster, eliminate costly server expenses, allow customers faster access to new features, and so on. What will this mean for the typical user? The key is integration across different apps through the Cloud API. So, for example, you might click the customer service tab when browsing a website and instantly start a WhatsApp conversation with the customer advisor. Importantly for WhatsApp, it gets paid on a per-message basis for businesses using the Cloud API. The news came alongside a host of new upgrades for WhatsApp Business, including the ability to manage chats across up to 10 devices and the option for businesses to send click-to-chat links. Meta also announced plans for a Premium version of the WhatsApp Business app, with pricing and feature details coming at a later date. #WhatsAppBusiness Read more here.

🍏 ♿ Apple – New Software Features to Help People with Disabilities

As the gatekeepers of the digital world, there is a responsibility among tech companies to foster accessibility and inclusivity in their products. In the absence of legislation – you can read this article that explains why current accessibility laws are outdated for a digital world – it’s often up to the tech companies to take action. Apple seems to be one of the best at understanding that responsibility, and it is adding to its existing accessibility features with the announcement of several new disability access updates for its products. Door Detection is a new navigation feature for iPhone and iPad that can help the visually impaired locate a door upon arriving at a new destination, having the ability to read signs and signals like the door number or whether it is ajar. For Apple Watch, there’s Apple Watch Mirroring, which allows users to use a paired iPhone’s accessibility features like Voice and Switch Control to remotely control their Apple Watch. More live captioning for the hard of hearing is coming to iPhone, iPad and Mac. And Apple is extending its VoiceOver screen reader for the visually impaired with the addition of more than 20 languages and locales. That’s just a small selection of what Apple is doing (features should be rolled out over the next year; some will be iOS 16 features), and it’s heartening to see that others, like Google, are also taking steps to increase the accessibility of their products. Good work – now let’s see a lot more of it. #iAccessible Read more here.

🧐 Stat of the Week – 747 – Your Data, Shared Daily

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) conducted a major study into internet users’ data sharing this month, and it concluded that the average European internet user’s data is shared 376 times daily for advertising and marketing purposes. Sucks for them, right? But wait: Part of the study looked at American users, and it found that the average was almost double – 747 times per day. Look, many of us have become desensitized to these reports on privacy incursions, but stats like this still paint a staggering picture of how our data has become a commodity in the web2 era. Understandable, then, why so many popular web3 projects are centered around taking back control of our online identities. #JumboJetDataSharing Read more here.

🕸️ What’s dAppening?

🖼️ 📻 Spotify – Streaming Platform Introduces NFT Sales on Artist Profiles

Spotify has confirmed it is testing a feature to allow artists to display and sell third-party NFTs on the platform. At the moment, it’s in a limited testing phase, with just a handful of US artists’ accounts given access to the functionality so far. On the surface, this sounds like a big deal, with another web2 incumbent embracing web3. Spotify is following in the footsteps of others like Twitter and Instagram by allowing users (artists in Spotify’s case) to display NFTs on their profile page. And like Twitter, they’ll allow these NFTs to link out to OpenSea where you could potentially purchase them. It all kind of makes sense: while a user is listening to their favorite artist that they can potentially be upsold on a collectible, creating an additional revenue stream for artists and an opportunity for the user to support their favorite musicians. However, this really is the bare minimum as far as we’re concerned: we believe in the power of web3 to revolutionize many industries, and music is near the top of the list. In the web2 era, we’ve all moved from ownership to rental of our music, and the recent vinyl record comeback suggests maybe we’d rather own it again. The advent of web3 creates not just a marketplace, but an ecosystem of connections between musicians and fans. I can buy an album from my favorite artist and also get a 1-1 unique piece of artwork that goes with it. But web3 and NFTs can take it further: What if albums were initially only allowed to be sold, not streamed? What if you received royalties by lending it to someone? What if you had to come to my store/coffee shop in the metaverse to listen to it…? Web2 commoditized music, but can web3 put it back where it belongs? #SpotifyNFTs. #SpotifyNFTs Read more here.

Meanwhile at 3Advance…

3Advance is finally on TikTok 🎉… And YouTube. Yes, to compliment this newsletter you read all the way through (you do read it all, right? 🤓), we’re now producing a weekly “What’s Appening” video series too. You may have caught the Kate and Paul show already but if not, pick your poison: Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or of course YouTube / TikTok. We’re new to this video game, so definitely let us know what you think. And please, forward this newsletter or share our social links with anyone you think might enjoy it. 🙌