Archive for Apple

Epic Games Picks A Fight With Apple And Google…. And Apple Is Going To Be On The Wrong End Of This Fight

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on August 14, 2020 by itnerd

Epic Games, makers of the insanely popular game Fortnite have decided to pick a fight with Apple and Google over being able to offer in app purchases without giving Apple and Google a cut. And to nobody’s surprise, Apple and Google have retaliated by banning Fortnite from their respective app stores. Epic Games didn’t take that well, and sued both Apple and Google.

Here’s how we got here:

  • Epic Games announced that it has introduced a new direct payment option in the Fortnite app for iPhone and iPad, allowing players to purchase 1000 V-Bucks for $7.99 rather than $9.99 through an in-app purchase mechanism which would give Apple and Google a cut. In a FAQ, Epic Games described Apple’s and Google’s 30 percent commission on in-app purchases as “exorbitant,” leading it to introduce this alternate payment system so that it can offer the same permanent discount of up to 20 percent on V-Bucks that it is now offering to players on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Mac, and PC.
  • To nobody’s surprise, Apple and Google said that this violated their app store rules and both companies pulled the game from their respective app stores.
  • Epic responded to this by dropping this video which has similar overtones to Apple’s “1984” video that launched the original Macintosh:

Here’s Apple’s “1984” video for comparison:

The next thing that Fortnite did is sue Apple [Warning: PDF] and Google. Epic’s is also encouraging Fortnite players affected by the ban to tweet at Apple with the #FreeFortnite hashtag. But I should note that it’s not doing the same thing with Google.

Clearly Epic Games was expecting things to play out the way that they have as they clearly had things ready to go. And this will end badly for Apple as this isn’t about Google despite the fact that Google is being sued as well. Here’s why. You can also still play Fortnite on Android by sideloading the app, avoiding the Google Play Store entirely. However you can’t do this on the Apple App Store. Which means that iOS users who want to play Fortnite can’t do so unless they have already have it on their iDevice. And they can’t update the game either. Which means that Apple holds all the cards. This caught the attention of Congress not too long ago and has Apple under a microscope at the moment. An example of this is Apple’s rather stupid reason for banning game streaming services. Thus Epic Games is likely assuming that if they force this issue now, Apple will be put under all sort of pressure and be the subject of negative press which will make them change course. Or encourage Congress to use anti-trust law to force Apple to change course. And seeing as Epic Games has one of the most popular games in the world at the moment, they have a lot of power. As for Google, I am pretty sure that Epic Games thinks that if Apple gets taken down, Google will likely settle very quickly.

Apple is not in a good place when it comes to this and Apple is going to lose if they don’t come up with a way out of this. Epic Games has played this perfectly and I am sure that a lot of people at Apple Park are very worried about this. Apple has pretty much have been pwned in Epic fashion.

Stadia and xCloud Are Not Allowed On Apple App Store For Reasons That Are Completely Ridiculous

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 7, 2020 by itnerd

Apple won’t allow Microsoft xCloud or Google Stadia on iOS because of strict App Store guidelines that make cloud services effectively impossible to operate on the iPhone. Here’s Apple’s reason why they won’t let these services on iOS:

The App Store was created to be a safe and trusted place for customers to discover and download apps, and a great business opportunity for all developers. Before they go on our store, all apps are reviewed against the same set of guidelines that are intended to protect customers and provide a fair and level playing field to developers.

Our customers enjoy great apps and games from millions of developers, and gaming services can absolutely launch on the App Store as long as they follow the same set of guidelines applicable to all developers, including submitting games individually for review, and appearing in charts and search. In addition to the App Store, developers can choose to reach all iPhone and iPad users over the web through Safari and other browsers on the App Store.

So in short, Apple can’t review the games so the entire service is banned.

To be blunt, and this is one of the few times I’ve been this blunt on this blog, Apple’s explanation is total bullshit.

Netflix is on the iOS platform. And Apple can’t review everything on the Netflix platform to ferret out things like quasi-pornographic material as Apple has a problem with that. But Netflix is still on the App Store. Stadia and xCloud are not any different. I’ll also point out that both Steam Link and PS4 Remote Play are on the App Store, and allow users access to a whole pile of games that I am certain Apple has not reviewed. So why is Stadia and xCloud any different?

The fact is that Apple has Apple Arcade. And Apple wants you using Apple Arcade games because it lines Apple’s pockets with money. Not to mention other games that are available on the App Store that Apple gets a cut of. Conversely Apple won’t get the same levels of money from Stadia and xCloud, thus Stadia and xCloud must not appear on the App Store. In short, it’s Apple being Apple by being protectionist. And hopefully the same politicians that were quizzing Apple among other tech companies about this sort of behavior see this latest example so that they can take action by doing something that makes it clear that Apple can’t behave like this. Like using the anti-trust laws that exist against Apple for starters.

UPDATE: Facebook has apparently launched a similar gaming service today on iOS with no games to protest Apple’s absolutely laughable and stupid stance on game streaming services. Details here.

Apple Faces A Multi-State “Batterygate” Investigation

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 29, 2020 by itnerd

If Apple thought that this settlement for their “Batterygate” issues would put it to bed, they were wrong. Arizona is leading a multi-U.S. state probe into whether Apple’s deliberate slowing of older iPhones violated deceptive trade practice laws:

Arizona is leading a multi-U.S. state probe into whether Apple Inc’s deliberate slowing of older iPhones violated deceptive trade practice laws, documents reviewed by Reuters on Wednesday showed. 

Last week, a separate document released by a tech watchdog group showed the Texas attorney general might sue Apple for such violations in connection with a multi-state probe, without specifying charges. 

In the ongoing probe since at least October 2018, investigators have asked Apple for data about “unexpected shutdowns” of iPhones and the company’s throttling, or slowing down, of the devices through power management software, documents Reuters obtained through a public records request showed.

The attorneys general offices in Arizona and Texas declined to comment. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Well, that’s a problem for Apple. It means that this issue will stay in the news longer. And it’s entirely possible that other states will jump on the bandwagon which is something else that Apple likely doesn’t want. IT should be interesting to see Apple respond to this latest “Batterygate” crisis.

Tech CEOs To Get Grilled By Congress Today…. Here’s How To Watch

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on July 29, 2020 by itnerd

Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook are set to be grilled by Congress today. Specifically the Judiciary Committee. The hearing is to find out if tech companies are using their dominant market positions to stifle competition which would be harmful to consumers. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as this is an election year which means that you might see some things might happen for no other reason than to increase the chances of re-election for some politician. If you’re interested in watching the “fun”, here’s a link to watch it live starting at noon ET:

Expect some feedback from yours truly once this is over.

Intuit Canada Launches The Intuit Prosperity Accelerator

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 13, 2020 by itnerd

Intuit Canada, a leading global financial platform company known for products such as TurboTax, QuickBooks and Mint, and Highline Beta, a venture studio and venture capital firm, today announced the launch of the Intuit Prosperity Accelerator. This program aims to solve very specific problems that will help enable the future financial health of consumers and small businesses across Canada.

Since the onset of COVID-19, half (49%) of Canadians report that they are $200 or less away each month from insolvency, according to the latest MNP Consumer Debt Index. CFIB reports that 48% of small businesses are making half or less their normal sales, with 50% stating they are most concerned about their business cash flow. These are just a few of the problems this accelerator will be looking to help solve.

Successful applicants to this accelerator will pilot solutions that: 1) help Canadian consumers eliminate debt, build savings and enable financial literacy; and/or 2) help Canadian self-employed and small businesses improve cash flow, get customers, and access help.

Selected startups in the Intuit Prosperity Accelerator will benefit from four months of virtual programming, where they will have access to a mentorship network, $20,000 towards pilot execution, and the opportunity for follow-on investment from Highline Beta. The program will accept global applications from high-potential seed-stage tech startups with products in market, but is open to the possibility of pre-seed or later stage. The Intuit Prosperity Accelerator is now accepting applications until September 4th.

For more information on eligibility requirements and to apply, visit:
http://www.intuit.com/ca/prosperity-accelerator.

US iPhone Users Who Experienced ‘Batterygate’ Related Issues Can Now File To Receive A Settlement From Apple

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 13, 2020 by itnerd

If you live in the US, and you have or have previously owned an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and/or iPhone SE that ran iOS 10.2.1 or later, and/or an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus that ran iOS 11.2 or later, before December 21, 2017, and you have had issues related to “Batterygate”, today is your lucky day.

A website has been set up where those who have been affected by “battery gate” can submit a claim or review their other options including excluding themselves from the lawsuit to retain the ability to sue Apple individually over the matter.

All claims must be submitted online or received by letter mail by October 6, 2020, or else you won’t get paid. Speaking of being paid the total payout is going to fall between $310 million and $500 million. That works out to about $25 per affected owner. Which is about the cost of a battery for one of these iPhones.

Let’s see if similar programs appear in other places on the planet in the coming weeks and months.

Apple Expands Independent Repair Program To Canada And Europe…. And Here’s Why I An Not Impressed With This

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 8, 2020 by itnerd

Apple today announced two things related to its Independent Repair Provider Program that I have been critical of. I’ll get to my criticisms later. But here’s what they announced:

  • Over 140 providers are part of the program in the US.
  • The program is expanding to Canada and Europe.

So this is good news, right? Well, not exactly. I wrote about the fact that the terms and conditions that Apple puts on these repair providers are pretty unbelievable. Including having customers sign documentation saying that Apple will not warranty repairs made by these repair providers, and that there must be signage visible that says that the repair providers are not authorized. And I have zero reason to believe that has changed. Thus I am not at all impressed by this. While this is news and I should likely write about it, it is something given the facts at hand is hard to take seriously.

European Advertisers Whine Like Babies About iOS 14 Ad Tracking Warnings For Users

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 3, 2020 by itnerd

Reuters is reporting that a group of European digital advertising associations has criticized Apple for requiring apps in iOS 14 to seek additional permission from users before tracking them across other apps and websites:

Sixteen marketing associations, some of which are backed by Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google, faulted Apple for not adhering to an ad-industry system for seeking user consent under European privacy rules. Apps will now need to ask for permission twice, increasing the risk users will refuse, the associations argued.

You’ll note that some of these marketing associations are backed by Google and Facebook. Both of whom are companies who make tons of money off advertising. That likely goes a long way to explain why they are upset. But what these clowns don’t get is that users want control over what companies know about them. Companies should not have the right to do whatever they want and I for one am perfectly fine with Apple blocking them from tracking me in any manner that they feel like. I criticize Apple for a lot of things, but this isn’t one of them. I say good on Apple for making these companies whine like babies because they will not get the data that they want when iOS 14 ships this fall.

Person Who Discovered A macOS Security Bug Goes Public After Months Of Apple Not Fixing It

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 1, 2020 by itnerd

Software developer Jeff Johnson discovered and told Apple about a privacy bypass vulnerability opening up protected files in macOS Mojave, macOS Catalina, and the upcoming macOS Big Sur. This he thought was the responsible thing to do. But that was over six months ago. And the best Apple could come up with was that it was “investigating” what he reported. So after feeling that the folks at 1 Apple Park weren’t taking this security issue seriously, he’s decided to go public via this blog post that went online yesterday. In this blog post he’s laid out the timeline in terms of when it was reported and what happened next. Then he says this:

For technical reasons, I don’t believe that the issue will be fixed by Apple before Big Sur is released to the public in the Fall. I’ve seen no evidence that Big Sur makes any effort in this direction, and Apple’s email to me shows no evidence of that either. Therefore, I’m disclosing the issue now. It’s been over 6 months since I reported the issue to Apple. This is well beyond the bounds of “responsible disclosure”, which is typically 90 days after reporting an issue to a vendor. It’s also becoming obvious that I will never get paid a bounty by Apple for anything I’ve reported to them, or at least not within a reasonable amount of time. I’m not interested in waiting years for a bounty. I can’t speak for anyone else, but my personal experience is that the Apple Security Bounty Program has been a disappointment, and I don’t plan to participate again in the future. 

Well, that’s a pretty damming statement when it comes to Apple’s Security Bounty program. If people don’t have confidence that Apple will act on the things that they report, then they won’t use it. And what is really bad is that  he revealed a similar issue last October after reporting it in February of that year and waited eight months for Apple to fix it without success.

Besides that, he gives readers this to think about:

Should you be worried about this issue? That depends on how you feel in general about macOS privacy protections. Prior to Mojave, the privacy protections feature did not exist at all on the Mac, so you’re not any worse off now than you were on High Sierra and earlier. My personal opinion is that macOS privacy protections are mainly security theater and only harm legitimate Mac developers while allowing malware apps to bypass them through many existing holes such as the one I’m disclosing, and that other security researchers have also found. I feel that if you already have a hostile non-sandboxed app running on your Mac, then you’re in big trouble regardless, so these privacy protections won’t save you. The best security is to be selective about which software you install, to be careful to avoid ever installing malware on your Mac in the first place. There’s a reason that my security research has focused on macOS privacy protections: my goal is to show that Apple’s debilitating lockdown of the Mac is not justified by alleged privacy and security benefits. In that respect, I think I’ve proved my point, over and over again. In any case, you have the right to know that the systems you rely on for protection are not actually protecting you.

Here’s my $0.02 worth. Apple makes a lot of noise about privacy and security. But reading the above statement makes it appear that Apple is only paying lip service to privacy and security. If Apple were actually serious about this, they would not only respond to this developer in public and address his claims in public, but they would also make a statement about why users of their products should trust in their products to keep them secure, and what they are going to do to walk the walk as opposed to just talking the talk. But I am not naive. That won’t happen because Apple isn’t that sort of company. They never have been. And clearly they never will be. And that will come back to haunt them sooner or later.

Apple Rumored To Be Dropping Earphones And Chargers From The Packaging Of The iPhone 12

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 1, 2020 by itnerd

Rumors have been circulating for a week or so that Apple is about to make some radical changes as to what comes in the box of the iPhone 12. The rumors come from a couple of reliable sources. The first being Ming-Chi Kuo who is a reliable source for this sort of information. The second is a Twitter user that goes by the handle of L0vetodream who is a recent entrant into the Apple rumor game and has an excellent track record in terms of accuracy. His latest tweet is below:

Now Apple dropping the earphones makes sense on a number of fronts. First of all, I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that only a handful of people use the earphones that come from the box. Most users will use their own earphones because they have better sound quality, and/or they are wireless. Thus the supplied earphones that come with iPhones are wasted a lot of the time. Plus if people really wanted them, they could easily buy them as an add on when they get their iPhone. Or they could by AirPods or Beats headphones when they get their iPhone. Regardless, I don’t see this as being a big deal.

Now not including a charger in the box is a big deal. Apple has taken flack for not including a fast charger in the box in the past. This despite the fact that modern iPhones are fast charge capable if you use a Lightning to USB-C cable and a USB-C fast charger. They sort of fixed that when the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max came out by including those items in the box. But I guess that because the iPhone 11 wasn’t a “Pro” device, they left it out of that. Still, there was a charger in the box.

I have to assume that Apple either has a reason related to the environment, or a reason related to cost (as in they want to use this as a vehicle to lower the cost of the iPhone) as to why they would ever consider going this route. In terms of the former, I am guessing that they would argue that people charge wirelessly using third party wireless chargers, or they buy third party fast chargers. So there’s no need for a charger to be put into the box. Now there is some truth in that. But not enough truth in my opinion to omit a charger from the box. The latter reason is simply cynical on Apple’s part if they are actually thinking that.

Here’s why this is a big deal. It is handy to have a wired charger for traveling, or for emergency reasons. Plus with all of us working from home because of the pandemic, it is simply faster to use a wired charger to give your phone a quick jolt of energy before your next conference call. And that doesn’t include first time iPhone users who get a phone and are shocked to find that there’s no charger in the box. Imagine how they would feel and how they would perceive Apple. Thus including one in the box is in my mind something that Apple should do as a matter of course.

Potentially not including a charger in the box of future iPhoens is a step too far for Apple as far as I am concerned. They are a company that will take bold moves like this and try to convince us that it’s for our own good. But this isn’t bold. It’s stupid. And hopefully Apple will reconsider this move before it’s too late.