App Developers Team to Oppose Apple, Google Store Rules

Thirteen app developers including Basecamp, Epic, Match Group and Spotify formed the nonprofit Coalition for App Fairness to oppose some of the policies of Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store. Coalition spokeswoman Sarah Maxwell said the impetus for forming the group was to recognize “we’re not alone in this, and maybe what we should do is advocate on behalf of everybody.” Apple and Google have been scrutinized by regulators in the U.S. and the European Union; the Justice Department is expected to file an antitrust suit against Google shortly.

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App Store Battle: Epic Sues Apple, Google for Pulling ‘Fortnite’

In an ongoing dispute over Apple’s 30 percent commissions in its App Store, Epic Games, maker of “Fortnite,” threw down the gauntlet by openly encouraging players to pay the company directly, rather than through Apple and Google’s app stores. But within hours of the announcement, Apple removed “Fortnite” from its App Store, noting Epic’s “express intent of violating App Store guidelines.” Google also pulled the game from its Play Store. Epic Games responded by suing the two tech giants in federal court, claiming antitrust violations. Continue reading App Store Battle: Epic Sues Apple, Google for Pulling ‘Fortnite’

Google Ramps Up Online Shopping, Faces Scrutiny in Europe

Google has tried to compete with Amazon in online shopping four times since 2013. But, with shoppers stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company now sees another opportunity. To lure sellers, Google said it would waive sales commissions, which range from 5 percent to 15 percent, and let retailers use third-party payment and order management services like Shopify. In the European Union, meanwhile, Google is facing the demand that it “make major concessions” related to its $2.1 billion purchase of Fitbit, including how it uses customer data for search and advertising. Continue reading Google Ramps Up Online Shopping, Faces Scrutiny in Europe

Google Stadia Code Reveals Plans to Debut Free Tier, More

When Google debuted its Stadia cloud gaming service in November of last year, players had one choice: Stadia Pro, priced at $10 per month. But the company had stated it would unveil two tiers of service, and it appears to be on the verge of introducing its free tier, as well as a player limit and YouTube live streaming. Google Stadia has not revealed a launch date for the potential free tier, which was found in the code of its version 2.7 update. Also revealed in the code is a new option to sign up without a paid code. Continue reading Google Stadia Code Reveals Plans to Debut Free Tier, More

Chinese Mobile Giants Join Forces to Develop App Platform

In China, four major mobile companies have teamed up to replace Google Play, which cannot operate there. Xiaomi, Huawei Technologies, Oppo and Vivo have revealed plans to debut what they’ve dubbed the Global Developer Service Alliance (GDSA), to make it easier for game, music, movie and other app developers to sell their wares in overseas markets. According to sources, GDSA was originally going to launch in March, but it’s unknown whether that might be delayed by the coronavirus outbreak. Continue reading Chinese Mobile Giants Join Forces to Develop App Platform

Microsoft Targets Phone Market with Foldable Surface Duo

Having exited the smartphone market in 2017, Microsoft will rejoin it by the 2020 holiday season with the Surface Duo, a foldable, dual-screen device. Developed in collaboration with Alphabet, Microsoft’s Surface Duo will run on the Android operating system and feature the Google Play Store. Microsoft stated its intent to develop its own software for the device. The company also announced its Surface Pro X, a thinner version of its Surface Pro laptop, which features a custom-designed chip co-developed with Qualcomm. Continue reading Microsoft Targets Phone Market with Foldable Surface Duo

Why Adware Is the Most Intrusive Malware on Our Devices

Adware is the flavor of malware that the ordinary person is most likely to encounter on a smartphone or browser. Aimed at generating profits, adware sneaks ads into apps and browsers, with advertisers paying developers based on the number of people who load them. The smartphone is the ideal environment for this version of malware, via apps sold in Apple’s App Store or Google Play Store. Ad malware largely goes unnoticed because its main impact (besides relentlessly serving ads) is to slow down the device. Continue reading Why Adware Is the Most Intrusive Malware on Our Devices

Apple Reinstates Kid Controls, App Developers File Lawsuit

Apple abruptly reversed a decision made a year ago to remove iPhone apps that use one of two technologies to allow parents to control their children’s use of Apple devices. The company revealed its move to allow parental controls in a short blog post on its website. The reversal comes on the heels of news that the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are scrutinizing Silicon Valley tech companies for antitrust behavior. App developers filed a lawsuit in California accusing Apple of monopolizing app distribution. Continue reading Apple Reinstates Kid Controls, App Developers File Lawsuit

India Reportedly Launches Antitrust Investigation of Google

Sources informed Reuters that the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has ordered an antitrust investigation into Google for allegedly using the popularity of its Android operating system to block competitors. CCI began evaluating the complaint in 2018, and by April of this year reportedly determined that there was enough merit to launch a full investigation. A similar case played out in Europe last year, which resulted in a $5 billion fine against Google. In that case, the EU determined that Google had violated antitrust rules by forcing Android phone manufacturers to pre-install the Google search app and Chrome Web browser, providing the Google Play Store with an unfair advantage. Continue reading India Reportedly Launches Antitrust Investigation of Google

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

Developers Are Struggling to Create Alexa-Centric Killer App

Four years after launching its program to allow outside developers to write apps for Alexa, Amazon’s voice system has some 80,000 “skills” — but no huge hit. In fact, most people with Alexa-enabled smart speakers still use them only to listen to music or make simple requests. That compares to Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, each of which are home to over 550,000 apps, many of which have been huge successes for developers. But voice-centric apps are challenging to build and don’t appear to attract consumers. Continue reading Developers Are Struggling to Create Alexa-Centric Killer App

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

Google Opens Titan Security Key Availability to All Consumers

At its Cloud Next 2018 conference, Google debuted the Titan Security Key, its version of a FIDO (Fast Identity Online) physical device to authenticate logins over Bluetooth. Now, only a few weeks after the announcement, Google has made it available for purchase at $50 in its Google Play Store. Google Cloud enterprise customers have been able to access the Titan Security Key for the past two months. The product comes with a USB key, a Bluetooth Low Energy key, and an adapter for devices with USB Type-C ports. Continue reading Google Opens Titan Security Key Availability to All Consumers

Verizon’s VPN Product Protects Mobile Users on Public Wi-Fi

Verizon debuted a VPN (virtual private network) product, dubbed Safe Wi-Fi, marketed as a security measure for smartphone users who log onto public networks, as well as an ad-blocker. Public Wi-Fi networks can make it easy for advertisers and bad actors to track a user’s IP address, which the VPN will hide from public view. Safe Wi-Fi — available to Verizon customers on Android and iOS devices — is priced at $3.99 per month per account. Safe Wi-Fi can protect up to 10 devices on a single account. Continue reading Verizon’s VPN Product Protects Mobile Users on Public Wi-Fi

Popular Game ‘Fortnite’ Racks Up 100 Million iOS Downloads

According to Apptopia, Epic Games’ free game “Fortnite” can now count 100 million downloads on the Apple iOS platform in 138 days, or less than five months, earning $160 million in iOS in-app purchases. Counting versions for the PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, “Fortnite” has posted $1 billion in revenue since its “Battle Royale” version was introduced in September 2017. That compares with “Super Mario Run” (100 million downloads in 68 days) and “Pokémon Go” (100 million iOS downloads in 71 days). Continue reading Popular Game ‘Fortnite’ Racks Up 100 Million iOS Downloads

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