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Apple revises App Store guidelines, loosening some in-app payment rules

13th September 2020
"App Store review guidelines here, loosening some restrictions on streaming game services, online classes ."

Apple Inc AAPL.O on Friday published a revision of some of its App Store review guidelines here, loosening some restrictions on streaming game services, online classes and when developers must use its in-app purchase system, which charges a 30% commission.

The company made the changes after criticism from developers over its App Store practices and after rivals such as Microsoft Corp MSFT.O and Alphabet Inc's GOOGL.O Google declined to launch their streaming game platforms on the iPhone because of Apple's rules.

Apple has long barred catalogs of apps within apps but said Friday that it would allow streaming game companies to create such catalog apps. However, each game within the catalog must still be made into its own standalone app and use Apple’s in-app payment system.

Google and Microsoft did not immediately return requests for comment.

Other rule changes include allowing one-on-one virtual classes to be paid for outside of Apple's payment system, though classes taught to a group still must use Apple's system and pay its fees. The change comes after the New York Times reported here that ClassPass, which had helped users book in-person appointments at gyms, became subject to Apple's fees.

The new rules also let business applications such as professional databases skip Apple’s payment system when selling to organizations, but still require Apple’s payment system for sales to individuals or families. Apple also said that free standalone apps connected to a paid service outside the app - such as email or cloud storage services - do not need to use its payment system “provided there is no purchasing inside the app, or calls to action for purchase outside of the app.

The change comes after makers of paid email service Hey publicly criticized Apple for refusing to allow its free companion app in the App Store.

source: reuters

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New Apple Privacy Rules for its Mobile Devices

27th August 2020
"iOS 14 is designed to protect people’s privacy."

Facebook is pushing back on new Apple privacy rules for its mobile devices — and putting app developers in the middle.

Apple will soon require apps to ask users for permission to collect data on what devices they are using and to let ads follow them around on the internet. The social network said Wednesday that those rules could reduce what apps can earn by advertising through Facebook’s audience network.

Facebook said it expects “less impact” on its own advertising revenue than on the ad-supported businesses that rely on its audience network to promote their apps. The audience network allows Facebook and Instagram advertisers to place their ads elsewhere on the internet.

Apple says the latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 14, is designed to protect people’s privacy. It will require apps to ask users for permission to collect and share data using a unique code that identifies their iPhones and iPads. The update is due later this fall.

Facebook said that because of this change, it will no longer collect the identifier for advertisers on its own apps for iOS 14 devices. It is also asking businesses to create new ad accounts dedicated solely to running ads for apps for iOS 14 users in order to comply with Apple’s new rules.

Apple, on the other hand, said it is intent on giving people more choice over how they want to be tracked by companies on the internet — and the ability to say no if they don’t.

David Chavern, CEO of the news-publisher trade group News Media Alliance, said the change is “more annoying than material.” But he added that it could still cost publishers money by making ads on their apps less valuable to advertisers.

The annoying part comes from the loss of revenue at a time when all revenue is important, and the unilateral nature of Apple’s decision,” he said. “They decide and the rest of the world just has to adapt.

Source:AP

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Apple to launch its own web-based search engine

31st August 2020
"Apple's engine would weaken Google's stranglehold on search"

A new report claims that factors are increasingly pointing to Apple expanding Siri search results and Spotlight Searches even farther, with the company potentially working on a universal search engine.

Apple already has a search engine it uses for Spotlight Searches and Siri. However, if a new report is accurate, Apple may be looking to ditch the financial arrangement it has for Google to be the default on the iPhone, and launch its own full search engine.

The main tentpole to the argument made on Thursday morning by Jon Henshaw at Coywolf says that it isn't clear if Siri Suggestions are using Google at all anymore. Instead, Apple is returning search results with Spotlight Search, and is bypassing other search engines.

In AppleInsider's own brief tests on Thursday morning, some outgoing and return traffic to and from Google for Siri Suggestions in iOS 14 passed through our router. The same search terms in iOS 13 pulled nearly entirely from Google.

The report goes on to say that Apple is investing heavily on search, and pointing to job postings for search engineers. However, the number of available jobs in related fields has decreased in the last year, versus increased. This may be a factor of coronavirus limitations more than anything else, making a year-over-year comparison difficult.

An update to the "Applebot" web crawler page for web developers was made in June as well. Henshaw notes that the changes included how to verify traffic was actually coming from Applebot, and the company provided details about differences in the crawler between desktop- and mobile-centric searches. The update also made clear that the crawler renders ages similarly to Google, and a section about search rankings was amplified upon. At present, the information Apple has promulgated about the crawler is very similar, if not identical, to how Google scans pages.

Henshaw also notes that the AppleBot web crawler has been busy, with him noticing it just recently. A quick perusal of AppleInsider crawler traffic has shown no notable increase or decrease in Applebot crawler traffic since 2015, following a slow launch in the fall of 2014.

However, despite some evidence that suggests that there is not an increase in factors that suggest an imminent launch, a full Apple search engine available to all makes some sense. Henshaw says that Apple's engine would weaken Google's stranglehold on search, provide better promotion for Apple services, tighten Apple's control of the full hardware and software stack, and allow developers to promote apps in larger search results beyond just App Store searches.

A big factor against Apple developing its own full search engine include the loss of the billions of dollars per year that Google pays Apple for the privilege. Additionally, it may draw some additional antitrust attention from regulators if it does so, in a time where the investigations and testimony demands are at an all-time high.

Henshaw does note that the product may never come to market.

"At this point, everything is based on observation and conjecture. They may never release a search engine. It's also possible that iOS, iPadOS, and macOS users will be using it and not even be aware of it," writes Henshaw. "It could be so tightly integrated into the operating system and native apps that alerts and Spotlight Searches slowly steal away queries that would have otherwise been made on Google."

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Fortnite says gamers can no longer use Apple sign-in system

10th September 2020
"“Fortnite” users will no longer be able to use Apple Inc’s sign-in system to log in to the game."

Fortnite” users will no longer be able to use Apple Inc’s sign-in system to log in to the game as early as Friday, the video game maker said.

Apple and Epic Games have been in a legal battle since August when the maker of the popular video game launched its own in-app payment system.

Apple’s App Store requires developers to use Apple’s payment system and pay a 30% commission.

The iPhone maker on Thursday filed counterclaims against Epic, asking for lost App Store fees and other damages, and seeking an order to stop the game maker from operating its own in-app payment system.

Source: Reuters

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