July 21, 2024

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AI art apps are cluttering the App Store’s Top Charts following Lensa AI’s success • TechCrunch

5 min read

Lensa AI’s popularity has had a notable impact on the App Store’s Top Charts. The popular photo and video editing app recently went viral over its new “magic avatars” feature, powered by the open source Stable Diffusion model, allowing users to turn their selfies into styled portraits of themselves as sci-fi, anime, or fantasy characters, among other artistic renderings. Consumer demand for the app, and for AI edits more broadly, has now pushed numerous other “AI” apps into the U.S. App Store’s Top Charts. As of Monday, the top three spots on the U.S. App Store are all held by AI photo editors, and even more AI art apps are newly ranking in the Top 100.

The No. 1 spot on the U.S. App Store, however, continues to be held by Lensa AI, which saw 12.6 million global installs in the first 11 days of December, up 600% from the 1.8 million installs it saw during a similar time frame in November (November 20 through November 30), according to new data from App Store intelligence firm Sensor Tower. The U.S. accounted for 3.6 million of those new December installs, estimates indicate.

In fact, 8 out of the top 100 apps by downloads on the U.S. App Store were AI art apps during the December 1 through December 11 time frame, the firm’s analysis found.

Following Lensa AI, the generic-sounding app AI Art: AI Image Generator has keyword-stuffed its app’s name to rank in second place, promising AI avatars and AI art from text. Dawn — AI Avatars is in the No. 3 position, offering AI avatars that can be changed with a text prompt. (As of the time of writing on December 12, the two apps appear to have swapped places.)

AI Art has seen around 1.7 million global installs during December 1 through 11, up 229% from the 71,000 it saw during November 20 through 30. Meanwhile, Dawn also saw around 1.7 million installs, Sensor Tower said, up from the 28,000 it saw in the late November time frame.

These are closely followed by Wonder — AI Art Generator at No. 10, which also offers AI avatars and AI art from text prompts.

Although Wonder ranks lower in the U.S., it has seen around 4 million global installs so far in December, up from the prior period of November 20 through 30, when it saw 469,000 installs.

Not too much farther down the Top Charts, you’ll also find Prequel: Aesthetic AI Editor at slot No. 14. The app has seen 907,000 global installs this month so far, up from the 319,000 seen November 20 through 30.

The Top 50 also includes the newer app Voi — AI Avatar App by Wonder at No. 39. This happens to be from the same developer behind the No. 10 app Wonder but has an awful 1.6-star rating over its price subscription model and broken features, according to angry customer reviews. Launched only on December 7, Voi has already gained 785,000 installs, of which 241,000 were U.S. based. Clearly benefiting from the trend, the app’s developer actually now has three apps that reference “AI” in their titles, including the lesser-ranked Pixelup — AI Photo Enhancer.

Another AI app, Meitu — Photo Editor & AI Art, has moved into No. 47 on the U.S. App Store after gaining 6.4 million installs in December so far, up from the 1.1 million seen during November 20 through 30.

In addition to highly ranking overall among iPhone apps, the U.S. App Store’s Graphics & Design category is also now filled with AI art apps within its own Top Charts.

Here, Dawn is the No. 1 Top Free app, followed by AI Art and Wonder to round out the top 3. Profile AI: AI Avatar Creator, Inspire — AI Art Generator, and Dream by Wombo — AI Art Tool are ranked 8, 9, and 10, respectively.

Lesser known “AI” apps pop up as you scroll down the category’s Top 50 as well, filing slots No. 14, 19, 21, 25, 27, 31, 36, 44, and 47 — too many to list. All use the keyword “AI” in their app’s name and reference activities like “AI art” or “AI avatars.”

And of course, the U.S. Photo & Video category’s Top Charts have several AI apps charting as well, including No. 1 Lensa, No. 5 Prequel, No. 7 Voi, No. 8 Meitu, and No. 26 FacePlay.

AI app demand is not limited to the App Store, however. Many of the same apps are trending on Google Play, too. When both app stores’ rankings are combined, Lensa AI remains No. 1, AI Art is No. 2, Wonder is No. 8, Meitu is No. 10, Prequel is No. 68, Dawn is No. 72, Dream is No. 77 and FacePlay is No. 90.

Dream gained 782,000 new global installs in December so far, while FacePlay gained 2.8 million, Sensor Tower found.

While it’s common for app makers to congregate around a trend by updating their app’s name and description, or by bidding on keywords in Apple’s App Store Search ads, it’s remarkable just how many “AI” apps have now made it to the Top Charts in the wake of Lensa’s success. This signals something more than a flash-in-the-pan trend, as the general conversation these days is around how much AI has been improving. And in other areas, people are marveling at the leap of the AI tech ChatGPT.

That said, we should note that just because an app is marketing itself as AI-powered, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s using the same Stable Diffusion model Lensa is. Not that consumers seem to care — they seem happy to try almost any app labeling itself AI for the time being, as long as it delivers interesting and creative results.

Still, there are concerns over this specific AI use case. Already, Stable Diffusion has become controversial for the way its model was trained by using images from artists without their consent. Lensa was also able to be tricked into making NSFW images, TechCrunch found. And today, MIT Technology Review reported that Lensa created topless images and skimpy and sexualized avatars when tried by one female reporter, who happened to be of Asian heritage — suggesting the AI had been influenced by an overabundance of anime and video characters.

It’s clear the tech has a long way to go to be ethical and responsible. But those concerns, for the time being, aren’t dampening consumer interest in this growing category.

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