Judge Rules Apple Must Allow Other Forms of In-App Purchases

The legal battle between Epic and Apple has made it to court. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rodgers, of the United States District Court of Northern California, has issued a permanent injunction in the Epic v. Apple case. From the injunction:

Apple Inc. and its officers, agents, servants, employees, and any person in active concert or participation with them (“Apple”), are hereby permanently restrained and enjoined from prohibiting developers from (i) including their apps and their metadata buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms, in addition to In-App Purchasing and (ii) communicating with customers through points of contact obtained voluntarily from customers through account registration within the app.

The Verge reported that this means that iOS apps must be allowed to direct users to payment options beyond those offered by Apple. The permanent injunction will take effect in 90 days.

In addition, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rodgers wrote a judgement that includes a counterclaim:

On the complaint, in favor of plaintiff Epic Games, Inc. on the Tenth Count for violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law (with a separate injunction issuing herewith) and in favor of defendant Apple, Inc. on all other counts.

On the counterclaim, in favor of Apple on the counterclaim for breach of contract. Epic Games shall pay (1) damages in an amount equal to (i) 30% of the $12,167,719 in revenue Epic Gams collected from users in the Fortnite app on iOS through Epic Direct Payment between August and October 2020, plus (ii) 30% of such revenue Epic Games collected from November 1, 2020, through the date of the judgement, and interest according to law.

CEO of Epic Games, Tim Sweeney, tweeted: “Today’s ruling isn’t a win for developers or for consumers. Epic is fighting for fair competition among in-app payment methods and app stores for a billion consumers.”

Tech Reporter for NPR, Bobby Allyn, tweeted: “Epic spokeswoman confirms it is appealing the decision; Apple is “considering all legal options” in response. Nobody’s happy!”

The results of the permanent injunction could be a big deal for companies that make games for iOS. They can do that and point consumers toward their own platform for payment.

Microsoft Delays Office Open #1552

Microsoft has delayed opening its office due to Delta and I am sure this is happening in a lot of places. No video today as your host messed up. But it’s good to be back and I have a little unorthodox show so hope you like it.

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Twitter is Testing a New Feature Called Communities

Twitter has been introducing new features one after the other. So far, they’ve introduced Safety Mode, edge-to-edge photos, and a way to remove a follower without blocking them. The newest feature is called Twitter Communities.

That feels like a lot of new changes in a short span of time, and I think it could overwhelm some Twitter users. It also feels like Twitter is using the “throw everything against the wall and see what sticks” method.

Communities are described by Twitter as “imagine an alternate timeline where everyone just gets you”. Twitter is testing Communities, each of which will focus on one, specific, topic. The purpose is to help people easily find and connect with people who want to talk about the same things you do.

When you join a Community, you can Tweet only to your Community for a focused conversation. There will be Community moderators who pick the focus, create the Community rules, and invite the people who will make it a great place for conversation. Twitter provided examples of Communities they are testing: dogs, weather, sneakers, skincare, and astrology. More Communities will be added later.

Communities are publicly visible so everyone can see what’s being discussed. Personally, I think this is an excellent idea. Being able to see what is said could influence a person who enjoys that topic to join that Community.

All Communities and their members must follow the Twitter Rules. Both members and non-members of Communities can report any potential violations of the Twitter Rules to Twitter. I can see the good and bad in this. It is good to report Communities that are trying to organize hate raids (on Twitter) or who appear to be selling illegal goods. I worry that bad people will report Communities of marginalized people who have not broken any of Twitter’s rules.

Moderators have to continuously meet eligibility requirements including not violating the Twitter Rules. That makes sense. If you want more information, there is now an @JoinCommunities official Twitter account.

Twitter Tests A New Way to Curate Your Followers

Twitter announced that it is testing a way to remove a follower without blocking them. Here’s how Twitter Support described this feature in a Tweet:

“We’re making it easier to be the curator of your own followers list. Now testing on the web: remove a follower without blocking them. To remove a follower, go to your profile and click “Followers”, then click the three dot icon and select “Remove this follower”.

Previously, the easiest way to remove a follower was to block them, and then unblock them. Doing so would remove the follower. Twitter must have noticed that people were doing that to get rid of followers that were strangers who tweeted some really bad takes.

Twitter provided a screenshot that shows what happens when you remove a follower through the new feature. A box appears that asks: “Remove this follower?” It tells the person that the follower they want to remove won’t be notified by Twitter that they have been removed. Twitter also clarifies that the removed follower could follow you again in the future.

If you have a private account, (also called protected tweets) you can go through the same process to remove an unwanted follower. If they notice, and try to follow you again – they cannot automatically do it. Protected accounts put up a barrier and give the person who owns the account time to decide whether or not to let someone follow them.

The Verge reported that the Remove Follower feature is more of a remote unfollow button, “a gentler way to create some distance between you and someone else on Twitter.” The Verge also pointed out that, previously, the only way to remove a follower was with a “soft block” (blocking and then unblocking them again).

I think the ability to curate your followers – and remove the problematic ones – is a good idea. People change over the years, and your interests may no longer match the interests of some of your followers. It is also a good way to remove the friend or family member who Tweets misinformation from sketchy websites. Send them on their way!

Apple Announced California Streaming Event

Apple announced an Apple Event called California Streaming. It will take place on September 14, at 10 a.m. PDT. It will be broadcast from Apple Park. You can watch it live online at apple.com. That’s all the information that Apple has given about this event.

MacRumors reported that this event will be held digitally with no members of the media to attend in person. They think Apple will likely provide pre-taped segments for each new product..

What might those products be? We won’t know for certain just yet. MacRumors expects Apple to announce new iPhone 13 models, the Apple Watch Series 7, and possibly the AirPods 3. They don’t think that new MacBook Pro models and new iPads will be part of the event.

Mashable reported that opening the September 14 event page on an iPhone reveals a graphic that mimics the video being shared by company bigwigs on Twitter: The glowing Apple logo floating over an alpine lake. But when you tap on that logo, “the augmented reality magic happens”.

I tried this out for myself, and saw the glowing Apple logo over a lake. Tapping on the screen started the AR, and I now had a glowing Apple logo on my desk (when viewed through my iPhone). It kind of reminded me of how Pókemon GO uses AR in their game. I could see the date of the event hovering over the lake.

Based on this, Mashable predicts that we might soon see an iPhone AR. According to Mashable, the latest iPad Pro is optimized for AR tech.

MacStories speculated that we might see new Macs, considering that it has been several months since the M1 iMac was introduced. They also think Apple will announce upcoming versions of its operating systems and release dates for each.

Overall, we have no clear idea what Apple will present at the event. That’s part of the fun, I think. Some of the speculation could turn out to be accurate, and some not right at all. Apple could surprise us with something that nobody expected.

Twitter Tests New Timeline That Looks Like Instagram

Twitter announced new timeline in a short thread of Tweets on the Twitter Support account. “Edge to edge Tweets that span the width of the timeline so your photos, GIFs, and videos can have more room to shine,” is how Twitter describes it. The Tweet shows an example with several Tweets that show photos, videos, and artwork filling up the majority of the space under whatever a person typed.

It bears a resemblance to Instagram, which was designed for people to post their own photos (sometimes filtered), videos, and other visual media. This is not surprising, since all of the big social media companies have a tendency to copy each other’s homework.

The second Tweet in the thread says: “Video summary: upbeat music plays as the Twitter Home timeline scrolls up to show bold colorful images and GIFs. They begin to animate and expand, showing a new test that will display Tweets and media edge to edge, across the width of the timeline to give them more room to shine”.

The responses to the new edge to edge Tweets includes mostly negative comments. That is to be expected whenever any social media changes how something looks or functions.

However, in this case, I think I can see the problem. If I post a photo, will Twitter animate it – and add music – automatically? Or, would I get to choose whether or not to let it do that? My hope is that there are some buttons or sliders or something that allows a person to choose what they want to happen with the photo they wish to post.

The Verge reported that the edge to edge Tweets are being rolled out to a select group of iOS users. That means those who use the Twitter website should be unaffected by this change for a while.

Another thing to consider is that if Twitter rolls this new feature out to everyone, it could mean that Twitter wants to emphasize photos, art, and videos. I have concerns that some of the more interesting threads will be pushed out of Twitter’s algorithm, in favor of this new thing.

Superhero Stamps from the Royal Mail

To celebrate DC’s collection of superheroes and villains, the British Royal Mail is bringing out a collection of 18 first-class special stamps. Based on two of DC’s iconic comic characters, the main set of 12 celebrates Batman – the superhero, his sidekicks, and the villains. The second set shows off Justice League, featuring Batman (again), Wonder Woman, and Superman among others.

The Batman set is in two halves, with the first part introducing the superhero himself along with his allies, Batwoman, Robin, Batgirl, Nightwing, and Alfred. The second half includes his foes, The Joker, Harley Quinn, The Penguin, Poison Ivy, Catwoman and The Riddler. All these characters will be familiar to fans of Bruce Wayne and Gotham City.

Stamp images courtesy of Royal Mail

Fans of Justice League won’t be disappointed either with a miniature sheet showing their favourite superheroes – Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, Supergirl and finally, Shazam!

Stamp images courtesy of Royal Mail

All 18 stamps have been specially commissioned for Royal Mail and illustrated by British comic book artist, Jim Cheung and colourist Laura Martin. “Generations have grown up, spellbound by the adventures and the personalities of these Super Heroes and Super-Villains. These illustrations detail each character with such vivid imagery that they look ready to leap out of the stamp!” said Matt Parkes, Director Stamps and Collectibles at Royal Mail.

The superhero stamps will be available on 17 September with pre-orders open now. The Royal Mail offers a wide range of collectibles based around the stamp sets, but personally, I think I’ll be picking up some Batman and allies sheets for general use. I’m Batman!