Tag Archives: Apple

Apple Launches AirTags and Find My Trackers for Android

Those who choose to travel during this holiday season should make an effort to keep a close watch on their baggage or carry-on items. Previously, Apple gave iOS users the ability to use AirTags to keep track of their stuff, and to identify when an AirTag has been placed on their stuff by a stranger. Now, Android users will have the same ability to protect themselves.

CNET reported: The new app, which Apple released on the Google Play store Monday, is intended to help people look for item trackers compatible with Apple’s Find My network. “If you think someone is using an AirTag or another device to track your location,” the app says, “you can scan to try to find it.”

The Verge posted a screenshot of what Apple’s Tracker Detect does. The screenshot shows a blue circle, with a smaller blue dot in the center. Three smaller circles show a key, a backpack, and an AirTag.

The screenshot includes the following text: “Tracker Detect looks for item trackers that are separated from their owner and that are compatible with Apple’s Find My network. These item trackers include AirTag and compatible devices from the companies. If you think someone is using AirTag or another device to track your location, you can scan to try to find it.”

As The Verge pointed out, the Tracker Detect will alert Android users if it finds a tracker that shouldn’t be there. However, it is “purely a manual search.” The Verge makes it clear: “Tracker Detect doesn’t help you keep track of the AirTags attached to an Apple account, so it’s not helping Android users actually use AirTags.”

In my opinion, it appears that Apple’s Tracker Detect could provide Apple users who have added AirTags to their belongings to quickly learn that a tracker that they did not put there has been detected. Tracker Detecter can provide Android users with the same information, but the user will have to do a manual search for the unknown tracker while scanning for it. That said, everyone traveling should always keep a close eye on their luggage and carry-on items.

Apple will Release Some New Features in iOS 15.2

Bloomberg reported that when Apple releases iOS 15.2, it will come with new features, including scanning for nude photos sent to or from children in Messages. This feature was originally announced in August of 2021, and it was seen as controversial by some.

At that time, Apple attempted to explain that its child safety features were to enable parents to play a more informed role in helping their children navigate communication online. The goal was to prevent children from encountering CSAM through Messenger from photos in iCloud. This alarmed privacy experts, and Apple delayed adding this feature.

Bloomberg explains what to expect from this feature in iOS 15.2:

The image detection works like this: Child-owned iPhones, iPads and Macs will analyze incoming and outgoing images received and sent through the Messages app to detect nudity. If the system finds a nude image, the picture will appear blurred, and the child will be warned before viewing it. If children attempt to send a nude image, they will also be warned.

According to Bloomberg, the child will be able to contact a parent though the Messages app about the situation, but parents won’t automatically receive a notification. That is a change from the initial approach announced in August, where children who attempted to open the blurred photo, or send a nude photo, would trigger Messages to inform their parents about it.

This feature only works on a family-sharing account, and only if parents enable it.

Macworld reported that Apple’s App Privacy Report should be appearing in iPhones and iPads when 15.2 updates. It will show a detailed view of how apps are using your data and sensors.

This will be a very popular feature with consumers who don’t want the apps they use to steal their data, or to sell it to third-parties. Apps that rely on sneakily grabbing people’s data will hate this feature. Be ready for some of your apps to try and convince to let them take your data.

According to Macworld, another new feature is Digital Legacy. It was designed to make things simpler for those who are trying to access a loved one’s Apple ID after their death. It allows users to specify a person as a Legacy Contact, who will then be able to request access to the deceased person’s Apple account using a recovery code.

Appeals Court Granted a Stay on Part of Epic v. Apple Ruling

An appeals court has paused one of the most consequential parts of the Epic v. Apple ruling, placing a stay on the enforcement of the injunction issued by the lower court, The Verge reported. According to The Verge, the stay allows Apple to maintain its IAP system as the sole source of in-app payments on iOS, despite the district court’s earlier ruling that the exclusive arrangement is illegal.

The Verge embedded a copy of the ruling into their article. From the ruling:

…Apple has demonstrated, at minimum, that its appeal raises serious questions on the merits of the district court’s determination that Epic Games, Inc., failed to show Apple’s conduct violated any antitrust laws but did not show that the same conduct violated California’s Unfair Competition Law… Apple has also made a sufficient showing irreparable harm, … and that the remaining factors weigh in favor of staying part.. of the injunction and maintaining the status quo pending appeal.

The Court wrote: “Therefore we grant Apple’s motion to stay part(i) of paragraph (1) of the permanent injunction. The stay will remain in effect until the mandate issues in this appeal. The existing briefing schedule remains in place.”

The New York Times reported: “If the appeals court had not ruled, Apple on Thursday would have had to start allowing companies to include links within their apps directing customers to outside websites where they can pay for those companies’ services or subscriptions. That would have prevented Apple from taking a cut of up to 30 percent on those transactions.”

The New York Times also reported: “In a brief document, three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit wrote that Apple could wait to make any changes until the appeals process for the Epic lawsuit concluded, which could take more than a year.”

Given this information, it appears that the Epic v. Apple case could continue to drag on through the courts an indeterminate amount of time. The outcome of the case could change is it works its way through the courts.

Apple to Pay $29.9M to Workers Over After-Hours Bag Checks

Apple Inc. agreed to pay $29.9 million to employees at its stores who were forced to submit to security bag checks – off the clock — when they left work after or during their shifts, Bloomberg reported.

The lawsuit only covered workers at California’s 52 Apple stores. The class includes 14,683 workers; each will get $1,286 from the settlement, the lawyers said in the court filing.

The name of the lawsuit is Frlekin v. Apple Inc. It is not a new lawsuit. According to Bloomberg, the class-action lawsuit was filed in 2013, in which a group of workers claimed that Apple was violating California law by not paying them for the time it took to check their bags. Apple countered that claim by stating that the bag searches were necessary to make sure workers were not hiding stolen electronic devices in their bags. Apple argued in court that anyone who didn’t like the policy could choose not to bring bags to work.

This lawsuit is specific to California Apple Stores. Apple should have known better than to make its workers wait around – off the clock and unpaid – for someone to check their bags. In February of 2020, Los Angeles Times reported that Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote in a decision that an industrial wage order defines hours as “the time during which an employee is subject to the control of an employer, and includes all the time the employee is suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to do so.”

Los Angeles Times also reported that the California Supreme Court unanimously decided that California law requires Apple Inc. to pay its workers for being searched before they leave retail stores.

The good news is that these workers are going to get paid for the time they were required to stand around waiting for their bags to be checked (without pay). Unfortunately, I don’t think all states have the law that California has (requiring workers to be paid for their time). So it is possible that Apple, or other companies, in other states, may attempt to force security checks on their workers without having to pay them for their time.

According to Bloomberg, Apple said that it discontinued the bag check policy in 2015.

Judge Orders Apple to Allow External Payment Options

The Epic v. Apple lawsuit feels like a never-ending one. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said Apple must comply with an order to let developers add links and buttons to external payment options, denying Apple’s request for a stay, The Verge reported. As you may have guessed, Apple announced that it would appeal the Judge’s decision.

You can read a copy of Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers’ ruling on The Verge. They have embedded it into the article. Here are a few key parts of the ruling:

…Having considered all the filings, and oral argument, the Court finds Apple has failed to satisfy its burden, and the request is framed is DENIED. In short, Apple’s motion is based on a selective reading of this Court’s findings and ignores all the findings which supported the injunction, namely incipient antitrust conduct including supercompetitive commission rates resulting in extraordinary high operating margins which have not been correlated to the value of its intellectual property. This incipient antitrust conduct is the result, in part, of the anti steering policies which Apple has enforced to harm competition…

…Further, even if additional time was warranted to comply with the limited injunction, Apple did not request additional time other than ten days to appeal this ruling. Thus, the Court does not consider the option of additional time, other than the requested ten days…

The New York Times reported that Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rodriguez interrupted Apple’s lawyer, Mark Perry, when he argued that allowing developers to include links to outside websites within their app would take months to figure out.

According to The New York Times, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said: “You did not ask for a few months. You did not ask for six months. You didn’t ask for a limited amount of time. You asked for an across-the-board stay, which could take three, four, five years.”

Apple is seeking a reversal of the Judge’s decision. The Verge reported that Apple plans to appeal to the Ninth Circuit for a stay, since it did not get one from Judge Gonzalez Rogers. According to The Verge, pending a stay of some kind, the injunction is scheduled to go into effect on December 9, 2021.

This really feels like a lawsuit that is going to be slowly moving through the courts for an indeterminate amount of time. I guess that’s what happens when two big companies decided to fight each other via the courts. Perhaps the result will be that whichever one of them has the most money will win by attrition.

Fortnite Will Not Return to the App Store Anytime Soon

Fortnite will not be returning to the iOS Apple Store anytime soon, The Verge reported. This was clarified by Apple recently in a series of emails between Apple and CEO and co-founder of Epic, Tim Sweeney.

Recently, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers issued a permanent injunction to Apple, to restrain Apple from “prohibiting developers from 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 communicating to customers through points of contact obtained voluntarily from customers through account registration within the app.” That seemed to be in Epic’s favor.

In addition, the judge also sided in Apple’s favor, requiring Epic to pay damages to Apple in an amount equal to 30% of the $12,167,719 in revenue Epic Games collected from users on the Fortnite app on iOS through Epic Direct Payment between August and October 2020, plus 30% of such revenue Epic Games collected from November 1, 2020, though the date of judgement, and interest.” In short, the judge felt Epic Games had breached its contract with Apple.

Epic Games decided to appeal the ruling.

CEO and co-founder of Epic, Tim Sweeney, posted on the Epic Games website about this situation (and also tweeted about it).

Tim Sweeney wrote, Apple lied. Apple spent a year telling the world, the court, and the press they’d “welcome Epic’s return to the App Store if they agree to play by the same rules as everyone else.” Epic agreed, and now Apple has reneged in another abuse of its monopoly over a billion users. According to Tim Sweeney, Epic has paid Apple $6,000,000 as ordered by the court.

The blog post includes a screenshot from Tim Sweeney to someone at Apple. There is also a screenshot of a response from what appears to be a lawyer for Apple. The response briefly reviews the outcome of the case. The key points appear to be these: “Apple has exercised its discretion not to reinstate Epic’s developer program account at this time. Furthermore, Apple will not consider any further requests for reinstatement until the district court’s judgement becomes final and nonappealable.”

Epic Appealed the Ruling in Epic v. Apple Case

Epic has decided to appeal the ruling in the its case against Apple. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rodgers, of the United States District Court of Northern California issued a permanent injunction in the Epic v. Apple case.

The judge also wrote a judgement that includes a counterclaim in which she was in favor of Epic Games, on the Tenth Court for violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law and in favor of Apple on all other counts.

The judge also wrote in favor of Apple on Epic’s breach of contract. The judge required Epic to pay damages in an amount equal to 30% of the $12,167,719 in revenue Epic Games collected from users on the Fortnite app on iOS through Epic Direct Payment between August and October 2020, plus 30% of any such revenue Epic Games collected from November 1, 2020 through the date of judgement and interest of law.

One could reasonably assume that it is the part that Epic doesn’t like. On the day the ruling was released, Epic Games CEO 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.”

The Verge posted a copy of Epic’s appeal. Here’s the main paragraph:

Notice is hereby given that Epic Games, Inc., Plaintiff and Counter-defendant in the above-named case, appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from the final Judgement entered on September 10, 2021… and all orders leading to or producing that judgement, including but not limited to the Rule 52 Over After Trial on the Merits … and the Permanent Injunction… each entered on the same date.

Overall, I think this means that the Epic v. Apple case is going to continue its way through the courts. It might be the court case that seems as though it will never actually end.