The web version of Apple’s iWork suite exits iCloud beta

Apple moved its web-based versions of its iWork office suite, including Pages, Numbers, and Keynote out of iCloud’s beta site and onto iCloud.com on Thursday. The web versions are free, and they come with 1GB of iCloud storage. You don’t need an Apple device to use the web-based iWork suite: Recently, Apple started supporting Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer, meaning Chromebook, Windows and Linux users can use the software in their browsers. Previously, they had to go to beta.icloud.com to access the web apps. If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to create an Apple ID. Apple’s FAQ has more information.

Has Snapchat peaked? Comscore numbers suggest flat growth in 2014

Snapchat’s user growth seems to have stalled toward the end of 2014, according to new Comscore numbers I obtained on Friday. As you can see from the below graph, Snapchat hit a peak around March 2014 and has slowly declined in unique visitors since then. I’ve reached out to Snapchat for comment and will update this if I hear back.

One caveat: Comscore only reports numbers from the 18 and over user group for legal reasons. Companies like Snapchat and Kik have big teen bases, so the Comscore numbers aren’t 100 percent representative. At the same time, given that Snapchat has saturated the teen audience at this point, the slow growth from the 18+ demographic is troubling.

The trend graph comes from a Comscore Mobile Metrix report that charts the number of monthly active users aged 18 and over in the United States. It looked at five messaging applications from October 2013 to October 2014 — Snapchat, Kik, WhatsApp, Line, and WeChat. It tracked “total unique app visitors,” but Comscore confirmed to me that’s the same as MAUs.

Comscore’s numbers are notoriously fickle and publishers frequently report more traffic than Comscore says they have, but in terms of overall growth trends the company is usually pretty accurate.

Comscore's Mobile Media Matrix 2015

Comscore’s Mobile Media Matrix (shows growth 2013-2014)

It’s not just Snapchat that has flatlined. Other messaging apps are seeing similar stagnation, with Kik hovering near the 15 to 16 million mark since April, WhatsApp at 7 million since March, and Line around 4 million since August. WeChat has been below 1 million since January.

So have we hit peak messaging app overload?

The Comscore graph also shows us where the most popular apps stack up against each other in the U.S. market. Snapchat is in the clear lead, despite flatlining. Kik is a not too distant second, which might surprise some. We also get a sense of WhatsApp’s American user base. The company hasn’t shared its U.S. metrics before, which led many to believe they were low.

But the fact that WhatsApp’s US monthly active users are this low — near Japanese-based Line — is new information.

 

This story has been updated since publishing to highlight the 18+ caveat higher in the post.

Here’s how Sidecar took the lead in the carpool race

It’s been four months since Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar officially launched their carpool features. And although all three rideshare companies have marketed their new carpool feature to the masses, one of them is pulling ahead: Sidecar.

It has expanded its carpool option to the most cities and seen record-breaking use in the process. The company trotted out a host of statistics and facts during a recent interview with me. The overall picture was clear: Sidecar’s carpooling feature is now its main source of growth, and a welcome injection.

Sidecar’s Shared Rides feature is now available in five cities, compared to three for both Lyft and Uber. In the cities where it launched the feature, 40 percent of the rides Sidecar offers are carpool. Uber wouldn’t disclose its percentage of UberPool rides. Lyft told me that as of a few months ago, 30 percent of its rides in San Francisco were Lyft Line, but it declined to share more up-to-date figures or the percentages of other cities.

It’s worth noting that since Lyft does a higher volume of rides than Sidecar, 30 percent of its total is likely far greater in absolute number of rides than 40 percent of Sidecar’s total.

For those who don’t track every change in the transportation industry: This carpooling option is different from these companies’ original “ridesharing” services. Instead of traveling alone with a driver (as with original ridesharing), in carpooling you get matched with another passenger going the same direction, making it cheaper to get across town than if you were traveling solo.

You might be surprised to hear that Sidecar has expanded its carpooling feature more quickly than Uber or Lyft. After all, it’s the company which I have previously referred to as the forgotten stepsister of ridesharing. It’s the smallest, with far less passengers and far less venture capital funding ($35 million) than Uber ($3.3 billion) and Lyft ($332.5 million).

But the company’s smaller size may actually be the reason for its fast carpool expansion. It has been able to focus its resources on the carpooling part of the business, making it a priority above all else. The company raised its latest round, a comparably paltry $15 million, solely on the premise of expanding Shared Rides.

Since introducing Shared Rides, Sidecar’s business has grown in multiples. It had a record week last week, with rides up 60 percent from the average prior weeks, despite the fact that there wasn’t a holiday like New Years or Halloween to propel the growth. The number of rides it offered in Chicago increased 10 times since it launched Shared Rides there in early November.

Contrary to outward appearances, Sidecar was first to market with the carpool feature, giving it a head start on Uber and Lyft. The media narrative around carpooling originally went: Lyft was the creatorUber upstaged Lyft’s big launch with a preemptive release, and Sidecar belatedly chased the pack.

But as this June article shows, Sidecar had actually been doing shared rides months before its competitors — it just hadn’t made much fanfare announcing it. The company claims it started testing Shared Rides in May. It had months of time to hone its operations, and as Uber and Lyft were just launching their SF markets, Sidecar had already tried out its feature with 13,000 passengers.

It has by no means won that war though. Sidecar may have gotten a head start, but its rivals are still far better funded. All it takes is Lyft or Uber placing a priority on carpooling — making it their main raison d’être — for them to take over.

Hands on: iWork Documents in the Cloud

With the release of OS X Mountain Lion on Tuesday, and updated versions of the iWork apps (which also now have Retina display support) I can finally sync and edit files across all my Apple devices. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to set this up.

Kids with smartphones: What’s the right age?

The majority of parents in a recent survey find that age 16 is about the right time for kids to have a smartphone. Standard cell phones are OK at a younger age; that makes sense as households dump landlines and kids are talking more to friends.

iOS 5: Documents in the Cloud

Of all the iOS 5/iCloud announcements made during this summer’s WWDC, the one that excited me the most was Documents in the Cloud. Unfortunately, it’s also turned into the one that disappointed me the most at launch, thanks to a number of issues.

Apple Releases iWork 1.3 With Support for iOS 4.2

Apple released a fresh update of its iPad productivity suite iWork yesterday. This update supports core iOS 4.2 features such as AirPrint and multitasking. The update also brings better PDF exporting, and provides some fixes for font issues that arise on export.

iPad iWork 1.2 Update: Better Sync for Files, Office

The iWork 1.2 update for iPad brings about a whole host of welcome improvements. The best one in my opinion is the ability to import and export directly from iDisk, or any WebDAV-supported virtual disk. Also, all three apps can now export in MS Office-compatible formats.

TechUniversity: Conditional Formatting with Numbers

Conditional formatting in Numbers lets you format the contents of a cell based on certain rules. So say you want to show all negative numbers as red and bold…conditional formatting lets us do that! We’ll cover how to apply conditional formatting to numbers, text and dates.

Twitter: All the Numbers That Matter

At its first-ever developers conference — known as Chirp — which is being held in San Francisco today, Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams provided some hard numbers behind the growth and size of the social network. Here are some of the most important ones.