Category Archives: Apple

Apple Reaches Deal With EU Regulators To Open Up Mobile Payments

EU antitrust regulators on Thursday accepted commitments from Apple to allow access to its tap-and-go payments technology to rivals, bringing an end to a four-year investigation, CNBC reported.

“The commission has decided accept commitments offered by Apple. These commitments address our preliminary concerns that Apple may illegally have restricted competition when it comes to mobile wallets and iPhones,” EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said during a news conference.

The EU formally launched an investigation relating to Apple Pay in 2020. The probe looked at the terms and conditions Apple sets for integrating Apple Pay in apps and websites, as well as concerns around the tap-and-go technology and alleged refusals of accessing Apple Pay.

In 2022 the European Commission found that Apple Pay could restrict competition as it was the only option for iPhone users. Apple has since suggested several commitments to address the concerns and in January it offered to give its rivals access to contactless payment and mobile wallet technology.

“The commitments bring important changes to how Apple operates in Europe add to the benefit of competitors and customers,” Vestager said.

The iPhone maker now has until July 25 to implement the commitments, Vestager said. All developers will then be able to offer mobile wallets for iPhones with the tap-and-go technology, she explained. The commitments are set to remain in effect for 10 years.

The European Commission posted: Commission accepts commitments by Apple opening access to ‘tap and go’ technology on iPhones

…In its investigation, the Commission preliminary concluded that Apple abused its dominant position by refusing to supply the NFC input on iOS to competing mobile wallet developers, while reserving such access only to Apple Pay.

The Commission’s preliminary view is that Apple’s refusal excluded Apple Pay’s rivals from the market and led to less innovation an choice for iPhone mobile wallets users.

Such behavior may breach Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) which prohibits the abuse of a dominant position.

The Commission concluded that Apple’s final commitments would address its competition concerns over Apple’s restriction of third-party mobile wallet developers’ access to NFC payments in stores for EEA iOS users. It therefore decided to make them legally binding on Apple.

The commitments will remain in force for ten years and apply throughout the EEA. Their implementation will be monitored by a monitoring trustee appointed by Apple who will report to the Commission for the same time period.

ArsTechnica reported: In two weeks, iPhone users in the European Union will be able to use any mobile wallet they like to complete “tap and go” payments with the ease of using Apple Pay.

In a press release, the EU’s executive vice president, Margrethe Vestager, said that Apple’s commitments in the settlement address the commission’s “preliminary concerns that Apple may have illegally restricted competition for mobile wallets on iPhones.”

Arguably, providing outside developers access to NFC functionality on its devices is the biggest change. Rather than allowing developers to access this functionality through Apple’s hardware, Apple has borrowed a solution prevalent in the Android ecosystem, Vestager said, granting access through a software solution called “Host Card Emulation mode.”

In my opinion, Apple is going to have to work hard to keep its commitments to the European Commission and make changes to how it handles “tap and go”. Apple’s deadline is July 25.

Apple Watch: Bigger Screens But A Similar Look

Apple Inc. likes to commemorate product anniversaries when it can. As the iPhone neared its 10th birthday in 2017, the company raced to get the iPhone X out in time. That model was a major upgrade, with a new design featuring an edge-to-edge display. (To make the model number work, Apple skipped the iPhone 9.) Bloomberg reported.

It couldn’t really celebrate the iPod in the same way because that device was already fading when its 10-year anniversary rolled around in 2011. And Apple didn’t make a fuss about the iPad’s 10-year birthday in 2020, at the dawn of the pandemic. It just made tweaks to the iPad Pro.

Now the Apple Watch is nearing its 10th birthday, and the company has a chance to make the occasion. This fall, Apple is planning some notable changes to its original smartwatch line — the “Series” models — including larger displays. The device will also be thinner, through the design itself is unlikely to look much different.

Both versions of the Series 10 — codenamed N217 and N218 — will  get bigger screens. The change means Series 10 shoppers will be able to pick a screen that’s about as large as the one on the Apple Watch Ultra. The Ultra itself, meanwhile, won’t get a major design change (but the current one only dates to 2022).

The Verge reported the Apple Watch Series 10 — may get the same size screen as the company’s 49mm outdoorsy watch. That’s in addition to other possible improvements, like a thinner case and a new chip that could “lay the groundwork for some AI enhancements down the road,” according to Mark Gurman’s latest Power On newsletter for Bloomberg.

As for new sensors, that seems cloudier, as Gurman says Apple is struggling with two big health sensor updates it’s been planning. The company reportedly hasn’t been able to get its rumored blood pressure monitor’s reliability up to snuff, and he writes that not being able to use its banned blood oxygen sensor is hampering its efforts to add step apnea detection.

The screen rumor seems to back up a CAD render from last month that showed a Series 10 watch with a two-inch display. Gurman says — and the render appears to show — that the watch won’t otherwise feature any major design changes. That means no magnetic watch strap or whatever.

Engadget reported Apple has been working on more advanced health features for its smartwatches, but it seems some of these may not be ready in time for the next release. 

That includes tools that measure high blood pressure and detect sleep apnea. Sleep apnea monitoring, for one would rely on blood oxygen saturation measurements, which Apple currently can’t offer thanks to a patent dispute.

In my opinion, those who love to buy new Apple Watches will purchase them when they become available. I wonder if there will be a line outside Apple stores when the new Apple Watches are ready for sale.

Apple Approves The Epic Games Store On iPhones And iPads In The EU

Apple said on Friday that it has approved Epic Games’ games marketplace app on iPhones and iPads in Europe, after the “Fortnite” maker escalated its feud with the technology giant, accusing it of hindering its efforts to set up a games store on the devices, Reuters reported.

Apple said the latest spat concerned the Epic Sweden AB Marketplace has nothing to do with the video games maker’s Fortnite app which has already been given the green light.

Apps developers and antitrust regulators have criticized Apple’s tight control of the iOS app ecosystem.

Before Apple’s announcement, Epic said the iPhone maker had twice rejected documents the video-game publisher submitted to launch the Epic Games Store because of the design of certain buttons and labels was similar to those used by its App Store.

The European Commission, which opened an investigation into the checks and reviews put in place to validate apps and alternative app stores to be sideloaded last month, declined to comment.

TechCrunch reported: After multiple rejections, Apple has approved Fortnite maker Epic Games’ third-party app marketplace for launch in the EU. As now permitted by the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), Epic announced earlier this year it planned to bring both the digital storefront and its flagship game, Fortnite, back to iOS in Europe

However, Friday, Epic Games took to X (formerly Twitter) to complain that Apple had rejected its submission twice over concerns that it’s Games Store looked too much like Apple’s App Store. Epic then said it would take the matter to European regulators for review.

Later in the day, Apple approved the third-party marketplace app on the condition that Epic Games would make the necessary corrections in a subsequent update.

NBC News reported reported Apple has signed off on the Epic Games Store in the European Union after the gaming company publicly complained that the tech giant had repeatedly rejected their application, which Epic Games said was a violation of the E.U. law.

On Friday morning, the Epic Games Newsroom account posted on X, accusing Apple of rejecting the Epic Games Store notarization submission twice because of similarities to Apple’s own App Store. A few hours later, the account shared that the Epic Games Store submission had been accepted.

The Epic Games Store is a virtual storefront for consumers to purchase various games, including Fortnite.

A representative of Apple confirmed in a statement to NBC News that the Epic Sweden AB Marketplace app has now been approved but that they have asked Epic Games to make its Marketplace less similar to the Apple App Store in the future.

In my opinion, this situation isn’t new. Apple and Epic Games have been fighting with each other, over and over again, for years. I highly doubt either of these two companies will give up the fight.

Apple Plans To Mass Produce New AirPods With Camera Modules

According to a new report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is targeting to begin mass production of new “AirPods with camera modules” by 2026, 9TO5Mac reported. This report comes after Bloomberg also noted Apple’s plans for developing AirPods with cameras back in February.

According to Kuo, these new AirPods will feature an infrared camera similar to what’s used as part of the Face ID module on iPhone and iPad. Apple’s goal is reportedly for the camera-equipped AirPods to integrate with Vision Pro and future Apple Vision headsets.

Additionally, the report says that the IR camera on AirPods could detect environmental image changes, “potentially enabling in-air gesture control to enhance human-device interaction.”

Gizmodo reported Apple is reportedly bringing cameras to AirPods, ear hairs be damned.

The $3 trillion company intends to mass-produce revamped earbuds with built-in infrared cameras by 2026, according to the new report from analyst and longtime Apple insider Ming-Chi-Kuo. The cameras could help Apple shore up its current and future augmented-reality headsets with enhanced spatial audio features, the analyst wrote.

Citing a supply-chain survey, Kup indicated that pairing these enhanced buds with Vision Pro goggles could make Apple’s spacial-computing experience more lifelike. For example, “if users turn their heads to look in a specific direction, the sound source in that direction could be emphasized,” said the analyst.

For folks not interested in dropping thousands on an Apple headset, the IR cameras could offer other perks, including bringing “in-air” gestures to AirPods, per Kuo. The IR module could be similar to the receiver that powers Apple’s facial recognition feature, FaceID.

TechRadar reported Apple is rumored to be planning to add a new model to its line-up of the best AirPods: specifically, AirPods with infrared cameras installed, which can be paired with a Vision Pro headset and create a spatial audio experience that changes as you move your head.

This comes from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who is right more often than not when it comes to Apple predictions. However, the IR-enabled AirPods aren’t going to be available anytime soon, with mass production said to start in 2026.

It’s worth noting that back in February, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman also reported that AirPods with cameras were being looked at by Apple. That’s two good sources to back up this rumor, TechRadar reported, though of course Apple’s plans can always change.

Apple Insider reported that in his full blog post, Kuo says this information comes from his latest supply chain survey. By 2026, Apple’s AirPods range will inch at least one that has an infra-red (IR) camera, he says.

It will detect when the user’s environment changes, typically because they have moved their head. Kuo says this means that the AirPods will be able to relay direction to the Apple Vision Pro, which will then adjust the balance of any playing Spatial Audio.

In my opinion, I think some Apple users will want to purchase these new AirPods. The big question is – what will they cost?

Apple Stresses Device Longevity

It wasn’t long ago that Apple products routinely raised the ire among repairability advocates. The iPhone maker has more fully embraced user repairability in recent years, owing, in part, to both sustainability concerns and the growing right to repair movement, TechCrunch reported.

Actions like parts paring continue to rankle critics, including iFixit, which retroactively dropped the iPhone 14’s repairability score late last year over the policy.

In the simplest terms, parts pairing requires a specific component (in this case, first-party) for a device to function as intended. A new white paper released on Wednesday offers the most in-depth glimpse of Apple’s current repair policy. Titled “Longevity By Design,” the study highlights a prioritization of durability over repairability.

Apple posted a White Paper titled: “Apple’s Approach To Longevity”

At Apple, we are always working to create the best experience for our customers, which is why we design products that last. Designing for longevity is a company-wide effort, informing our earliest decisions long before the first prototype is built and guided by historical customer-use data and predictions on future usage. It requires striking a balance between durability and repairability while not compromising on safety security, and privacy.

We are also continuously striving to increase product longevity through new design and manufacturing technologies, ongoing software support, and expanded access to repair services. We also make it easy for customers to give their products a second life by simplifying the process to securely wipe their devices in preparation for resale or trade in.

Our approach is working. Apple leads the industry in longevity as measured by the value of our secondhand products, increasing product lifespans, and decreasing service rates.

Apple Insider reported about Apple’s White Pages:

“Designing for longevity is a company-wide effort, informing our earliest decisions lot before the first prototype is built and guided by historical customer-use and predictions on future usage,” it states.

This requires Apple to constantly consider the balance durability, design aspects, and repairability while maintaining safety, security, and privacy.

“Our approach is working. Apple leads the industry in longevity as measured by the value of our secondhand product lifespans, and decreasing service rates.”

As evidence of this, the document points out that the value of its iPhone on the second-hand market is at least 40% more compared to Android devices. That valuation increases with the age of the iPhone.

The lifespan of the iPhone is also continuing to grow. Hundreds of millions of iPhones have been in use for more than five years, it claims.

As for service rates, newer devices are apparently less likely to require repairs than older ones. Out of warranty repairs from 2015 to 2022 were down 38%, with accidental damage repairs for iPhone down 44% since iPhone 7.

In my opinion, it is good that Apple is interested in making Apple products that will have longevity. That’s much better than having iPhones end up in a landfill.

Brussels Accuses Apple Of Breaking UE ‘Gatekeeper’ Rules

Brussels has accused Apple of stifling competition on its App Store, marking the first time EU regulators have brought charges against a Big Tech group under new digital rules, Financial Times reported.

The European Commission has been gearing up for years to unleash the full authority of its new Digital Markets Act against Big Tech. The landmark rules were designed to help start-ups by forcing powerful “online gatekeepers” — most of whom are US companies — to open up their businesses to competition.

In preliminary findings issued on Monday, regulators in Brussels said they were concerned about restrictions Apple is imposing on developers’ ability to “freely steer their customers” by directing them to promotions outside the App Store.

If found guilty, the iPhone maker faces a penalty of up to 10 per cent of its global annual revenue, meaning any fine could run into tens of billions of dollars. The fines can rise to 20 per cent in the event the offense is repeated, the EU said. Apple said it was “confident” in its compliance.

European Commission posted a press release titled: “Commission sends preliminary findings to Apple and opens additional non-compliance investigation against Apple under the Digital Markets Act”

Today, the European Commission has informed Apple of its preliminary view that its App Store rules are in breach of the Digital Markets Act (DMA), as they prevent app developers from freely steering consumers to alternative channels for offers and content…

Apple currently has three sets of business terms governing its relationship with app developers, including the App Store’s steering rules. The Commission finds that:

* None of these businesses terms allow developers to freely steer their customers. For example, developers cannot provide pricing information within the app or communicate in any other way with their customers to promote offers available on alternative distribution channels.

* Under most of the business terms available to app developers, Apple allows steering only through “link-outs”, i.e., app developers can include a link in their app that redirects the customer to a web page where the customer can conclude a contract. The link-out process is subject to several restrictions imposed by Apple that prevent app developers from communicating, promoting offers, and concluding contracts through the distribution channel of their choice.

* Whilst Apple can receive a fee for facilitating via the AppStore, the initial acquisition of a new customer by developers, the fees charged by Apple go beyond what is strictly necessary for such renumeration. For example, Apple charges developers a fee for every purchase of digital goods or services a user makes within seven days after a link-out from the app.

The Guardian reported Apple has been found to be in breach of sweeping new EU laws designed to allow smaller companies to compete and allows consumers to find cheaper and alternative apps in terms of tech business’s app store.

The European Commission, which also acts as the EU antitrust and technology regulator, said it had sent its preliminary findings to Apple after an investigation in March.

The company has 12 months to comply before it face fines of up to 10% of its global revenues but the EU hopes ongoing dialogue will lead to compliance rather than sanctions.

In my opinion, it sounds like Apple decided to do what it does, regardless of how that will affect their business. What works as a business model in the U.S. is clearly not acceptable by the European Commission.

Apple To Delay Launch Of AI-Powered Features In Europe

Apple will delay launching three new artificial intelligence features because landmark European Union tech rules require it to ensure that rival products and services can function with its devices, the U.S. tech group said on Friday, Reuters reported.

Apple underscored its AI push earlier this month with a slew of new features and software enhancements for its iPhone and other devices to bolster sagging sales.

It said Apple Intelligence, which users AI to conjure text, images and other content on command, would be available on iPhone 15 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro Max, and iPad and Mac with its M1 chip and later versions. iPhone Mirroring on MacOS Sequoia allows the phone’s screen to be viewed and interacted with on Mac computers.

The company said on Friday three features — Phone Mirroring, SharePlay Screen Sharing enhancements and Apple Intelligence — will not be rolled out to EU users this year because of regulatory uncertainties due to the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA).

Engadget reported: Apple said on Friday that it would delay iOS 18’s marquee AI features in the European Union, conveniently blaming Digital Markets Act (DMA) regulations. 

“We are concerned that the interoperability requirements of the DMA could force us to compromise the integrity of our products in ways that risk user privacy and data security,” the company said in a statement to Bloomberg. Apple didn’t expand on how DMA regulations could force it to compromise user privacy and security.

This isn’t the first time Apple pinned blame on regulations — without offering much in the way of specifics — for blocking EU users from having nice things. Earlier this year, the company said it would remove the ability to add home screen web apps in Europe due to DMA rules. 

It later reversed course, citing “requests” it received. Google did something similar when it removed third-party apps and watch faces from European devices, blaming “new regulatory requirements.”

The Verge posted a statement by Apple spokesperson Fred Sainz:

“Two weeks ago, Apple unveiled hundreds of new features that we are excited to bring to our users around the world. We are highly motivated to make these technologies accessible to all users. However, due to the regulatory uncertainties brought about by the Digital Markets Act (DMA), we do not believe that we will be able to roll out three of these features — iPhone Mirroring, SharePlay, Screen Sharing enhancements, and Apple Intelligence — to our EU users this year.

Specifically, we are concerned that the interoperability requirements of the DMA could force us to compromise the integrity of our products in ways that risk user privacy and data security. We are committed to collaborating with the European Commission in an attempt to find a solution that would enable us to deliver these features to our EU customers without compromising their safety.” 

In my opinion, Apple should have to follow the rules set by the EU’s Digital Markets Act. The company might have to reduce some features for European users.