August was a big month for apps.
There were plenty of important updates to popular apps like Instagram and Snapchat, interesting acquisitions of apps by some of the biggest players in tech, and a few new releases worth mentioning.
Here’s everything you may have missed in the world of apps last month:
Instagram released its own take on Snapchat’s Story functionality and gave it the same name.
Instagram Stories is basically Snapchat for Instagram. You can share photos and short videos that disappear after 24 hours.
Despite the striking similarities to Snapchat, a lot of people are already using Instagram Stories. The Facebook-owned app recently told TechCrunch that over 100 million people watch Stories at least once a day. That’s one-fifth of Instagram’s entire user base.
Spotify debuted a personalized playlist for brand-new music that uses the same technology behind Discover Weekly.
Spotify’s Release Radar is just like Discover Weekly, but only for brand-new music.
Like Discover Weekly, Release Radar will be updated with roughly two hours of new music once a week. In an interview with Business Insider, Spotify lead engineer Edward Newett said Release Radar was “just the first in a line of playlist experiences following in the footsteps of Discover Weekly.”
He described Release Radar as a “mix” of new singles from the artists Spotify knows you listen to and from ones you might not have heard before. Spotify’s audio-research team in New York City is also using deep-learning techniques to analyze the audio and determine which specific songs from a new album or EP you would like most.
Apple finally released a new iPhone remote app for the Apple TV.
- App Store
Apple finally redesigned its remote iPhone app for the Apple TV. You can use the app to control the Apple TV, enter passwords with the iPhone’s keyboard, and use Siri with the latest Apple TV model.
It’s much better than the physical Apple TV remote and free to download in the App Store.
Netflix put out a free app that shows you how fast your internet really is.
- ‘Stranger Things’/Netflix
In May, Netflix released a new online tool called Fast.com that showed you how fast your internet connection really is on mobile or broadband. All you have to do is go to Fast.com, and Netflix will run a test.
Pokémon Go finally added a big feature players have been asking for.
- Pokemon Go
Diehard Pokémon Go players have wanted the ability to check the overall value (or IV) or their Pokémon in the game since it was released earlier this summer.
An update to the game in August finally granted that wish with a new appraisal feature.
The game also gave players hope by testing a redesigned “Nearby” screen that’s actually usefully for finding Pokémon to catch.
The hottest app of the month was Prisma, an AI-powered filter app that turns photos into works of art.
If you’ve checked Instagram or Facebook at all in the last month, chances are you’ve seen at least one selfie that looks like it was painted by Vincent van Gogh or Pablo Picasso.
Thanks to its bold, impressionistic filters, Prisma has quickly become the hottest photography app of the summer. The Russian startup behind the app, Prisma Labs, says that it has seen 42 million downloads since June 11 and “prismed” 1.2 billion photos.
In August, Prisma added the ability to process photos offline, and the app plans to add support for video filters next.
The Atom Tickets app wants to change how you go to the movies.
- Atom Tickets
Going to the movies is too complicated.
That’s why a former Lionsgate executive and veteran Amazon engineer built Atom Tickets, a Santa Monica startup that wants to simplify every part of the movie-theater experience down to the line for popcorn.
The Atom app, which is free to download in the App Store and Google Play Store, lets you order movie tickets like Fandango. You can also you invite friends to go with you, poll them on which movie to see, plan around the night with an in-app chat interface, and order concessions in advance.
When you show up to the theater, you scan your ticket’s bar code at an Atom-branded iPad kiosk and pick up your popcorn and candy from an express line. Besides a small convenience fee at certain theaters, the app is free for movie-goers.
Snapchat paid around $200 million for a search and location-discovery app called Vurb.
Snapchat agreed to pay around $200 million for Vurb in August.
Vurb bills itself as an “experience” search engine that helps people “easily find, save, and do the best things by connecting community recommendations, rich content, and useful services.”
The app integrates with services like Yelp for restaurant information and Fandango for movie tickets. The app also has a social aspect that shows Foursquare-like tips and recommendations. Users can also message friends directly in the app with rich media “cards” that show information like restaurant details.
A person familiar with the deal speculated that Snapchat is mainly interested in Vurb’s team, which is highly regarded, rather than its product, which hasn’t really taken off.
Facebook launched a new app for high-schoolers called Lifestage. The app immediately raised some serious privacy concerns.
Facebook’s latest iPhone app,Lifestage, is a social network specifically to connect teens who go to the same high school.
It was even designed by a 19-year-old.
Lifestage doesn’t work for people who list their age over 21, but the fact that you can easily fake your age raises some serious privacy concerns.
Pinterest bought Instapaper. But don’t worry: Pinterest promises to keep the app running.
In August Pinterest acquired the small team that makes Instapaper, the popular read-it-later app.
But fans of Instapaper need not worry: Pinterest says it has no plans to shut the app down.
Crunchbase’s iPhone app is a good way to get business information like the latest funding rounds.
Crunchbase is already used by many in the tech and business world for staying on top of the latest startup funding rounds.
Thanks to its new iPhone app, you can get all of that same information on the go.
Instagram finally added the ability to zoom in on photos and videos.
Starting today, you can pinch to zoom on photos and videos in feed, on profiles and on Explore. Dive into an adorable puppy’s smile or into every detail of your friend’s new shirt. Over the past six months, you’ve seen many exciting changes come to Instagram, from a new icon to longer videos and even a new way to share everyday moments with Instagram Stories. And as things change, we’re still focused on improving the core parts of Instagram. Zoom is available today for Instagram on iOS. Zoom will be available on Android in the coming weeks.