In a press release that was as surprising as it was terse, weather app and API purveyor Dark Sky announced that it had been acquired by Apple. Of course, iOS users will be fine and the Dark Sky will continue to be available for purchase in the App Store until it inevitably replaces the stock weather app in an upcoming iOS release.
Android users aren’t so lucky. Dark Sky offered no promises or hope, saying plainly that the Android and Wear OS apps will no longer be available for download in the Play Store and service to existing users and subscribers will end on July 1.(Subscribers who are still active at that time will receive a refund for whatever remains of their $3 annual subscription fee.)
What really hurts is that Apple will also be pulling the Dark Sky API, which gave developers powerful tools for tracking weather all over the world, and powers some of the best Android weather apps, including Tiny Clouds and the ultra minimal Sun. They have until the end of next year to find a new provider that will hopefully be as comprehensive as Dark Sky.
Unfortunately, Android users are no stranger to the effects of Apple’s spending spree. Over the years, Apple has bought some of the best and most beloved apps and left Android users twisting in the wind with no alternative other than to switch to an iPhone.
And sadly, this won’t be the last time it happens. Apple has a history of buying and killing (or crippling) Android apps and services over the years with a smile, and with a ton of money, lots of clout, and a billion-plus customers, there isn’t much Google can do to stop it.
Back before Google had a stranglehold on all things search, a small company named Chomp was chewing up the competition. There was a reason—when it originally launched in 2011, the Android Market wasn’t so easy to navigate. Chomp made it easier to discover apps through personalized recommendations and crowd-sourced reviews. With an excellent interface, uncanny search results, and a smart, sophisticated engine, Android enthusiasts knew Chomp was the best way to search for apps, and it was on the cusp of exploding (in fact, Verizon had just inked a deal for its own Android search to be powered by Chomp) until Apple gobbled it up in early 2012. Google’s own search has gotten a lot better, but we’d by lying if we said we didn’t still miss Chomp when we can’t find something.
Beats Music was short-lived, lasting only from January 2014 to November 2015, but it remains one of the bright spots in the streaming music world. Along with unlimited streaming and offline listening, the $10-a-month service offered one thing Spotify and Rdio didn’t: The Sentence. Like a musical version of Mad Libs, Beats tailored its random songs based on where you were, who you were with, and what you were in the mood for based on your multiple-choice responses. But all that went away when Apple bought the company for a cool $3.2 billion, shut down the music service, and replaced it with Apple Music. It’s still better than any of the AI-generated stations on Spotify, and if Apple ever added it to its own music service, it would instantly add a million more subscribers.
Texture might not have been as popular as Beats Music, but it was one of the best ways to subscribe and read magazines on Android phones before Apple closed its doors. With more than five million downloads and hundreds of titles from Conde Nast, Time, and many others, Texture was something of the Netflix for magazines, offering an all-you-can-read subscription service with powerful search, sorting, and sharing. When Apple bought Texture, it left nothing in its place, as Apple News+ is only available on iOS devices. But that’s OK, because we hear it’s not very good anyway.
OK, so this isn’t actually an app, but Apple’s acquisition of Xnor.ai did mess up one of our favorite Android smart home apps, so it counts. Xnor.ai was the smarts behind the insanely cheap Wyze Cam’s awesome people detection feature that was able to distinguish faces from pets so you weren’t bombarded with alert notifications. That went away in January when Apple bought the company and terminated its contract with Wyze. We still love the tiny and versatile $20 camera that works with Google Assistant but ahem, not with Siri, but we sorely miss the features Apple stole from us.
It’s been about 18 months since Apple acquired the music discovery service Shazam, and surprise! It’s still available in the Play Store. It’s even ad free. But we can’t help but think that’s only because Apple hasn’t actually done anything with it. Once Shazam is built into iOS on the iPhone a la the Now Playing feature on Pixel phones, we’re afraid it’s going to disappear from our Android phones forever too.