Tag Archives: Apple

The Battle Between Epic Games and Apple Continues



Today, 9To5Mac reported a significant update to the legal battle between Apple and Epic Games – “Project Liberty”.

According to Apple, Epic Games hired PR firms in 2019 to work on a media strategy called “Project Liberty” aimed at portraying Apple “as the bad guy.” In October 2020, Judge Yvonne Rogers had concerns that Epic knew exactly what they were doing with the controversial Fortnite update, so this doesn’t come as a surprise.

Here is a quote from Apple:

Epic’s monopoly maintenance claim is premised on the notion that the antitrust laws preclude Apple from imposing conditions on the licensed use of its intellectual property, and impose on Apple a duty to deal with Epic on the terms preferred by Epic – to the detriment of other developers and consumers alike. But Apple has no obligation to license its intellectual property, aside from a limited exception not applicable here, businesses are free to choose the parties with whom they will deal, as well as the prices, terms and conditions of that dealing.

CNBC provided a summary of what Apple, and Epic, will argue in court. The case could be heard on May 3, 2021, (but the date could change due to the pandemic).

Apple will argue:

  • Its 30% commission is essentially the same as other online software stores like Google Play or stores for video game consoles and Apple’s fee has decreased over time.
  • It faces competition both for iPhones as well as other platforms to play games.
  • Its App Store policies have led to a boom in the software industry and result in greater safety and security for users.
  • The App Store is a core, integrated feature of the iPhone, and that using Apple payments for digital purchases is a key feature.

Epic will argue:

  • Apple forces consumers to bear high switching costs to stop using Apple products, locking them in.
  • As Apple has accumulated more customers and locked them in, the importance of selling software to Apple customers has grown.
  • Apple controls the only way to install software on an iPhone through the App Store.
  • Apple uses its App Review process, which manually screens individual apps, for anti-competitive purposes, removing apps for business reasons under the pretext of security.
  • Because some developers have chosen to raise iPhone software prices because of Apple’s 30% fee, it causes consumers to pay more, and Fortnite is an example.

Apple is Discontinuing the Original HomePod



Apple has discontinued its original HomePod, TechCrunch has reported. Apple will continue to produce and focus on the HomePod mini (which was introduced last year).

Apple gave TechCrunch a statement about the discontinuation of HomePod:

HomePod mini has been a hit since its debut last fall, offering customers amazing sound, an intelligent assistant and smart home control all for just $99. We are focusing our efforts on HomePod mini. We are discontinuing the original HomePod, it will continue to be available while supplies last through the Apple Online Store, Apple Retail Stores, and Apple Authorized Resellers. Apple will provide HomePod customers with software updates and service and support through Apple Care.

If you are hoping to buy a HomePod, you better move fast. The Verge reported on Friday, March 12, 2021, that the Space Grey model of the full-size HomePod had already sold out on Apple’s online store.

According to The Verge, the full-size HomePod launched with a $349 price tag at launch. In April of 2019, Apple dropped the price to $299. In 2020, Apple released the HomePod mini at $99. Clearly, the best choice is to buy right now is the HomePod mini – instead of trying to track down a full-size HomePod.

What if you already have the full-sized HomePod? TechCrunch reported that Apple will continue to provide support for existing HomePods. In other words, your HomePod is not going to suddenly stop working.


Apple Released Security Updates for iOS



Apple released two iOS security updates: iOS 14.4.1 and iPadOS 14.3.1 on March 8, 2021. According to MacRumors, these new updates came two weeks after the release of macOS 11.2.2 (which was a bug fix update).

9to5Mac reported that Apple said: “This update provides important security updates recommended for all users.” Apple instructed users to visit the Apple security webpage for more details.

Here is how Apple described the iOS updates:

Available for: iPhone 6s and later, iPad Air 2 and later, iPad mini 4 and later, and iPod touch (7th generation)

Impact: Processing maliciously crafted web content may lead to arbitrary code execution

Description: A memory corruption issue was addressed with improved validation

CVE-2021-1844: Clément Lecigne of Google’s Threat Analysis Group, Alison Huffman of Microsoft Browser Vulnerability Research

To start the updates, iOS users need to go to the Setting app and choose “Software Update”. If you don’t see the update immediately, don’t worry. Keep checking as it may take a few minutes to hit your device.

It is always a good idea to make sure your iPhone, and iPad have the most recent security update on them. Apple doesn’t send these types of updates unless it is very important. Procrastinating on security updates could potentially leave your devices vulnerable to whatever Apple is trying to protect them from.


North Dakota Lawmakers Reject Bill Pushed by Epic Games



The battle between Epic Games and Apple continues, this time in North Dakota. According to CNBC, the North Dakota legislature voted on a bill that – if passed – would require companies that make more than $10 million per year through app stores to be required to offer alternative payment processors for purchases through the app store, allowing developers to avoid Apple or Google’s cut. The bill would only apply to companies based in North Dakota.

Epic Games headquarters is in Cary, North Carolina. As such, I don’t see how this North Dakota bill would do them any good – even if it was passed into law.

The New York Times reported that in January of 2021, a lobbyist approached North Dakota state senator Kyle Davidson, who is a Republican.

Mr. Davidson said he had been given the draft legislation by Lacee Bjork Anderson, a lobbyist with Odney Public Affairs in Bismark. Ms. Anderson said in an interview that she had been hired by Epic Games, the maker of the popular game Fortnite and the plaintiff in lawsuits against Apple and Google over their app policies. She said she was also being paid by the Coalition for App Fairness, a group of firms, including Epic, Spotify, and Match Group, that has protested app commissions and is leading the push for app-store bills.

CNBC reported that the North Dakota Senate voted 36-11 against the bill. That means the legislation did not pass. If the North Dakota Senate has passed the bill, it would have then gone to the North Dakota House to be debated and voted on. The outcome of the Senate vote means the bill will not go to the House. CNBC describes the vote as “a victory for Apple”.

This isn’t the end between Epic Games and Apple. Apple Insider reported that there is a court date set on May 3, 2021, in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California. The court will hear the case of Epic Games v. Apple, Inc. It is a bench trial, not a jury trial. In short, the battle between Epic Games and Apple is not over yet!


Amphetamine App was Almost Removed from Mac App Store



A free app called Amphetamine, which helps keep your Mac awake, was almost removed from the Mac App Store. The reasons why are dubious because the app has been on the Mac App Store since 2014, and has absolutely nothing to do with drugs. In my opinion, Apple didn’t look very carefully at the Amphetamine app before removing it.

William Gustafson, the creator of the Amphetamine app, posted on GitHub some details about what happened. He was contacted by a representative from Apple who told him that the Amphetamine app would be removed from the Mac App Store on January 12, 2021, if changes to the app were not made.

According to William Gustafson, Apple stated that the Amphetamine app violated the following guideline: “Apps that encourage consumption of tobacco and vape products, illegal drugs, or excessive amounts of alcohol are not permitted on the App Store. Apps that encourage minors to consume any of these substances will be rejected. Facilitating the sale of marijuana, tobacco, or controlled substances (except by licensed pharmacies) isn’t allowed.”

Apple further specified: “Your app appears to promote inappropriate use of controlled substances. Specifically, your app name and icon include references to controlled substances, pills.”

In the GitHub post, William Gustafson wrote: “’Amphetamine’ is the brand name and identity of one of the apps that I have developed. Amphetamine is widely considered the go-to app for keeping your Mac awake. This is evidenced by its consistent ranking in the Mac App Store, as well as its inclusion in various major-player tech sites “best of…” Mac apps list…”

Apple eventually responded to William Gustafson’s appeal, and an Apple representative stated that Apple now recognizes that the word “amphetamine” and the pill icon are being used “metaphorically” and in a “medical sense”. As such, the app will remain in the Mac App Store.

To me, it sounds like someone who works for the Mac App Store made a big mistake. It is very clear that the Amphetamine app has absolutely nothing to do with drugs. I cannot help but wonder if the person who flagged the app because it appeared to be focusing on drugs feels a bit silly now for failing to take a close look at the Amphetamine app.


EFF Calls Facebook’s Campaign Against Apple “Laughable”



The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has shared its opinion about Facebook’s full-page newspaper ad campaign against Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency feature on iPhones. The EFF described Facebook’s campaign as “laughable”.

Facebook claimed that Apple’s new AppTrackingTransparancy for iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14 “will hurt small businesses who benefit from access to targeted advertising services.” EFF points out that Facebook is not telling you the whole story. Facebook’s complaint, according to EFF, is what Facebook stands to lose if its users learn more about exactly what it and other data brokers are up to behind the scenes.

Bottom line: “The Association of National Advertisers estimates that, when the “ad tech tax” is taken into account, publishers are only taking home between 30 and 40 cents of every dollar [spent on ads]”. The rest goes to third-party data brokers who keep the lights on by exploiting your information, and not to small businesses trying to work within a broken system to reach their customers.

EFF pointed out that small businesses cannot compete with large ad distribution networks on their own. Because the ad industry has promoted this fantasy that targeted advertising is superior to other methods of reaching customers, anything else will inherently command less value on ad markets, EFF reported.

Personally, I think EFF did an excellent job of explaining why Facebook’s “laughable” campaign is a problem. Facebook is worried that Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency feature will hurt Facebook’s chance to make money off the data it collects from its users.

This has nothing to do with an attempt to help small businesses. In my opinion, Facebook realizes that people don’t like to be tracked, and that targeted ads can be creepy. What we are seeing is Facebook having a panic attack about the amount of money they could lose after Apple, by default, prevents apps from collecting and sharing people’s data.


Apple Temporarily Closes Stores (Again) Due to COVID-19



Apple has temporarily closed nearly one-fifth of its stores due to new COVID-19 restrictions, 9To5Mac reported. This is not the first time that Apple closed stores that were located in areas where there were spikes of COVID-19 cases. 95 Apple Stores across the globe have re-closed since Monday, December 14, 2020.

Apple announced closures of all its stores in California and Tennessee this weekend, adding to just over a dozen closures of Los Angeles stores announced on December 18. On Friday, California broke its record for most new COVID-19 cases in a single day since the pandemic began.

Bloomberg reported that Apple closed all 53 of its locations in California, one day after saying it would close stores in the Los Angeles area. The closures now cover major locations in the San Francisco Bay Area.

MacRumors reported that all retail locations in California have a notice letting customers know that the stores are temporarily closed, though some are allowing for order pickups and genius bar appointments through December 22. There’s no word on when the stores will reopen, but they will remain closed through the holidays.

Stores in Tennessee were closed this weekend, MacRumors reported. Stores that are located in the UK’s Tier 4 restrictions shut down today. Apple closed 18 stores in Germany and the Netherlands last week, and stores in Mexico and Brazil are closing this weekend.

I think Apple is doing the right thing by temporarily closing these stores. It is a good way to help prevent their workers from being exposed to COVID-19. Doing so also prevents last-minute shoppers, who are in areas where COVID-19 is surging, from gathering in stores and potentially spreading the virus.