Supreme Court: App Store Customers Can Now Sue Apple

In what could become a landmark decision, the Supreme Court has ruled to allow individual iPhone users to sue Apple in antitrust violation cases related to the tech giant’s App Store. In a 5-4 decision written by Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court agreed with a lower court ruling that determined App Store customers could sue Apple for allegedly driving up prices by forcing them to purchase apps exclusively from the App Store. Apple lost its argument that was based on the contention that third-party developers set the prices for apps. While Apple holds steady in its belief that it does not represent a monopoly, the ruling could have future ramifications regarding consumers who seek to sue other app sellers for antitrust violations. Continue reading Supreme Court: App Store Customers Can Now Sue Apple

WWDC: Apple to Unveil Apps, Software, Development Tools

When Apple’s 5-day Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) kicks off June 3 in San Jose, the company is reportedly planning to introduce an array of new apps, software features and development tools. According to those familiar with the plans, Apple is expected to introduce operating system updates for its Apple TV, Apple Watch, iPad, iPhone and Mac computers. The new iOS 13, codenamed “Yukon,” will offer new and updated features — while iOS14, codenamed “Azul,” will launch next year to support 5G wireless and new AR functions. Continue reading WWDC: Apple to Unveil Apps, Software, Development Tools

Apple Facing Criticism for Restricting Parental Control Apps

“Can you really trust that Apple wants people to spend less time on their phones?” asked Fred Stutzman, founder and chief executive of Freedom, an app designed to limit screen time. Freedom had 770,000 downloads before Apple removed it from the App Store in August, and other app makers have similar stories. According to analysis from The New York Times and app-data firm Sensor Tower, Apple removed or restricted at least 11 of the 17 most downloaded screen time and parental-control apps as well as clamping down on similar but lesser known apps.

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NBCUniversal Debuts Its ‘Series’ Interactive Storytelling App

NBCUniversal became the latest media outlet to dip a toe into interactive storytelling, with “Series: Your Story Universe,” a mobile game produced by Universal Games and Digital Platforms with Endless Entertainment. The team picked IPs not easily adapted for mobile games that allow users to interact with stories based on favorite TV shows and movies, including “Vanderpump Rules,” “Saved by the Bell,” “Law & Order,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Bridesmaids,” “Sixteen Candles” and “Xena: Warrior Princess.” Continue reading NBCUniversal Debuts Its ‘Series’ Interactive Storytelling App

Apple Music Now Has More Subscribers Than Spotify in U.S.

Apple Music now has more paid subscriptions in the U.S. than popular music streamer Spotify, as the global competition ramps up between the two rivals. According to those familiar with the matter, Apple Music surpassed 28 million U.S. subscribers by February, compared to Spotify’s 26 million subscribers (the figures only include paid subscriptions, not trial users). When including nonpaying music fans of its ad-supported offering, Spotify still holds the lead in the number of overall users in the U.S. To slow Apple’s progress, Spotify recently introduced new promotions, such as a discounted subscription bundle with Hulu. Continue reading Apple Music Now Has More Subscribers Than Spotify in U.S.

Spotify Brings Beef Against Apple to European Commission

Spotify filed a complaint with European regulators accusing Apple of violating antitrust laws by crushing companies that compete with its services, including Apple Music. Apple charges a fee of up to 30 percent on anything sold in its App Store. Spotify reported to the European Commission that Apple’s policies are a “tax” that violate competition laws, and chief executive Daniel Ek complained that Apple gives itself “an unfair advantage at every turn.” It is uncertain if the complaint will lead to a formal EC investigation. Continue reading Spotify Brings Beef Against Apple to European Commission

Facebook’s Latest Misstep: Culling Data From Popular Apps

Many smartphone users provide personal data to apps, from intimate health information to shopping habits. What the users don’t know is that Facebook culls the data seconds after they enter it, even if they have no connection to Facebook. Eleven popular apps, which have been downloaded millions of times, have been sharing data with Facebook — without any obvious disclosure to users providing that sensitive data. The revelation of that information has created a shakeup at Facebook and the involved apps. Continue reading Facebook’s Latest Misstep: Culling Data From Popular Apps

Apple Readies TV Service With CBS, Starz, Viacom Content

Apple is reportedly aiming for a March or April event to announce its new streaming TV service that is expected to include original content plus subscription services from CBS, Viacom and Starz among others. Apple has been hinting at such a service for quite a while, has spent about $2 billion on original programming, and has signed major players such as Oprah Winfrey. Apple’s service is expected to take on competitors Netflix and Amazon Prime Video by launching globally, possibly distributed via the App Store since it is already available in more than 100 countries. Continue reading Apple Readies TV Service With CBS, Starz, Viacom Content

EPIX Offers Original Content, Movies via Streaming Service

MGM’s premium TV net EPIX has launched a new subscription streaming service that features original programming and films from MGM, Paramount and Lionsgate. The EPIX NOW app “is available for download today in the App store for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, and in Google Play for Android phones and tablets,” reports Deadline. “It will also be coming soon to Roku devices and Amazon Fire TV.” The $5.99 per month service, which also includes the four EPIX linear live channels, will be available across additional devices later this year. Continue reading EPIX Offers Original Content, Movies via Streaming Service

Facebook Solicited Teens to Download Its Surveillance Tool

An investigation reveals that Facebook has been secretly paying users ages 13 to 35 since 2016 to install an iOS or Android “Facebook Research” app that gives the company access to all of their smartphone and Internet activity. The Research app is similar to Facebook’s Onavo Protect app that Apple banned in June and may also be a violation of Apple policy. Legislators on both sides of the aisle were infuriated at the news, decrying the surveillance technology. Facebook’s earlier Onavo app was also criticized as spyware.

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Apple Continues Push into Services With Subscription Plans

Apple is reportedly planning a new subscription service that would serve like a Netflix for games, according to people familiar with the initiative. The company began private meetings with game developers during the second half of last year. Insiders suggest Apple has also discussed potential publishing partnerships that could provide the tech giant with control over distribution, marketing and other areas. Plans are believed to be in the early stages and details, including cost of a possible subscription service, are not yet available. Meanwhile, Apple has also been working on subscription video and magazine services. Continue reading Apple Continues Push into Services With Subscription Plans

SVOD Apps and Virtual MVPDs Continue to Gain Momentum

Leading subscription video apps such as Netflix and Hulu generated a total of $781 million last year as streaming video continues its rise. According to app intelligence firm Sensor Tower, U.S. consumers spent about $329 million during Q3 2018 on the top 10 SVOD apps available via Google Play and Apple’s App Store. That figure represents a 15 percent jump over Q1. While Netflix and Hulu continue their growth, live-streaming TV services are also gaining traction. Online video analytics firm Conviva reports that virtual MVPDs including Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, and Hulu with Live TV have experienced a 212 percent increase in viewing hours over the past year in the U.S. Continue reading SVOD Apps and Virtual MVPDs Continue to Gain Momentum

Apple Streaming TV Service to Launch Worldwide Next Year

Apple is reportedly planning to introduce its subscription streaming television service in more than 100 countries during the first half of next year. Such a global launch could help make Apple a serious competitor with established services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video that already have an international presence. The service is expected to offer original programming free to iOS device owners while allowing users to sign up for third party services and TV network subscriptions. It will launch in the U.S. a few months prior to the global rollout. Continue reading Apple Streaming TV Service to Launch Worldwide Next Year

Amazon Unlocks Revenue Potential for Alexa Skill Developers

According to Amazon, Alexa can perform 50,000+ skills, from turning on lights to playing music. The tech giant is now focused on improving Alexa’s skills to compete with Google for voice assistant dominance. Last month, Amazon empowered Alexa developers, by allowing them to charge users for purchases within skills, with the ultimate goal of making Alexa a more comprehensive, powerful platform. Former Alexa head of product Ahmed Bouzid noted that the path is “exactly what we saw with the App Store for the iPhone.” Continue reading Amazon Unlocks Revenue Potential for Alexa Skill Developers

Google, Vehicle Alliance Partner on Next-Gen Media Systems

Google has partnered with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance to provide its Android operating system for next-generation infotainment systems that will integrate Google’s maps, app store and voice-activated assistant, all from the dashboard. The alliance is the biggest car vendor, having sold 106 million vehicles worldwide last year. Google has been trying for 10 years to replicate its smartphone success in the arena of car manufacturing. The alliance plans to debut cars with the new Google-powered system in 2021. Continue reading Google, Vehicle Alliance Partner on Next-Gen Media Systems

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