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The second half of the year is underway, but the WordPress community shows no signs of slowing down.

WordPress developers have already started work for version 5.9, despite the recent release of the much-anticipated WordPress 5.8 on July 20. 

This summer saw new product launches and acquisitions and the development of new features to support Full Site Editing (FSE) in WordPress 5.8.

Read on to learn about:

Jetpack 9.9 Introduces Revamped Carousel

Automattic Acquires Pocket Casts

Awesome Motive Acquires SearchWP

WordPress 5.9 May Boost Lazy Loading by 33%

Launch of InstaWP, a Disposable WordPress Staging Website

Jetpack has been keeping busy.

Shortly after releasing its mobile application in June 2021, Jetpack started preparations for the WordPress 5.8 release.

Jetpack 9.9, which came out in July 2021, introduces WordPress 5.8 compatibility improvements and a revamped Carousel feature.

Jetpack’s revamped Carousel feature introduces a full-screen carousel that makes it easy to highlight your photography portfolio. Jetpack also optimized the zooming and swiping experience for users on mobile devices. 

Automattic Acquires Pocket Casts

In July 2021, Automattic acquired Pocket Casts, a popular podcasting app that empowers users to keep all their podcast subscriptions in one place and sync them on other platforms.

Pocket Casts is considered one of the best podcasting apps on the market. Previously a commercial app, it switched to a freemium model in 2019, shortly after being acquired by NPR, WNYC Studios, WBEZ Chicago, and This American Life in 2018.

However, despite being considered one of the best podcasting apps, NPR’s 2020 financial statements (PDF file) showed a net loss of $800,000, giving its board reason to sell the app. It was not disclosed how much Automattic acquired the app for.

Australian co-founders Russell Ivanovic and Philip Simpson shall continue to lead Pocket Casts as part of Automattic.

Pocket Casts is Automattic’s third acquisition for 2021, after acquiring in February 2021 and journaling app Day One in June 2021. 

Awesome Motive Acquires SearchWP

In July 2021, Awesome Motive, the company behind OptinMonster, MonsterInsights and WPForms, acquired SearchWP, a commercial-only plugin that enhances WordPress’ search functionality.

Awesome Motive CEO Syed Balkhi assured that existing SearchWP users can still use the plugin as they did before. Balkhi also shared that Awesome Motive is coming up with a 12-month plan to make it easier for beginners and technical users to set up the plugin.

WordPress 5.9 May Boost Lazy Loading by 33%

The much-anticipated WordPress 5.8 was released in July 2021, but WordPress developers are already preparing for WordPress 5.9, set for a December 2021 release.

A post on the WordPress developers’ website proposed that the lazy loading attribute be excluded from the first image or iframe in the code.

The core code adds a lazy loading attribute by default to all images and iframes since WordPress 5.5. The developer suggests that it’s not ideal because images at the top of the page must be downloaded for the web page to become usable. WordPress has adopted this because all themes are coded differently.

When developers tested the proposed method on the most popular WordPress themes, the themes’ largest contentful paint (LCP) score improved by an average of 7%. The LCP measures how quickly visual elements download from the website visitors’ viewpoint.

The proposal is currently under discussion, but the response has largely been positive.

Launch of InstaWP, a Disposable WordPress Staging Website

July 2021 saw the launch of InstaWP, a disposable WordPress staging website. Founder Vikas Singhal created the tool to set up live testing websites quickly.

InstaWP, which is different from InstantWP,  was built on an Nginx + Apache web server without any containers. Free WordPress websites built on the platform stay live for up to eight hours. That can be extended up to 48 hours when you link your account via email.

Like its competitors TasteWP and WPSandbox, InstaWP lets you select your PHP and WordPress versions. InstaWP supports WordPress versions 4.7 and onwards and enables you to spin a website using the latest beta or release candidate.

Final Thoughts: WordPress News: Jetpack 9.9 Released + 4 More | July 2021

In July alone, the WordPress community saw the development of features of the newly-released WordPress 5.8 and new launches, acquisitions, and products.

There is still so much to look forward to in the coming months.
Follow @Bluehost on Twitter for the latest WordPress news.

  • Machielle Thomas

    Machielle is a content enthusiast who has a passion for bridging the gap between audiences and brands through impactful storytelling. Machielle has also spoken at dozens of WordCamps throughout the years.

    Texas State University
    Previous Experience
    Brand Content, Content Marketing, Brand Lead, Operations Lead, Course Instructor
    Other publications
    Shopify, Contently
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