Senate Measure Could Impact Developers, App Store Models

The U.S. Senate introduced the Open App Markets Act to give consumers more control over their devices; stop app stores from ‘disadvantaging’ developers and allow them to inform consumers about lower prices and offer competitive pricing; improve the ability of startup apps, third-party app stores and payment services to compete; require devices to allow ‘sideloading’ of apps; and continue to protect privacy, security and safety of consumers. If voted into law, the Act could end Apple and Google’s monopoly over the app ecosystem. Continue reading Senate Measure Could Impact Developers, App Store Models

Apple, Epic Games Trial to Determine Anticompetition Charge

The lawsuit between Apple and Epic Games has come to trial and is expected to last about three weeks. Epic sued the Big Tech company over its App Store rule that developers must use its payment system, for which it charges a 30 percent fee. Epic Games has also sued tech giant Google for the same issue on its Play Store. The European Union has similarly charged Apple with violating antitrust laws. At the trial, Epic’s lawyers will argue a legal theory that Apple is using its dominant position to stifle competition. Continue reading Apple, Epic Games Trial to Determine Anticompetition Charge

New Report Finds TikTok Does Not Pose a U.S. Security Risk

University of Toronto’s cybersecurity group The Citizen Lab just released a report with the finding that TikTok’s underlying code does not pose a threat to U.S. national security. Former president Donald Trump and leaders in other countries accused ByteDance’s TikTok of spying for China but The Citizen Lab, which reports on censorship and surveillance by Chinese social media apps, found no evidence of “overtly malicious behavior.” However, they added that there could be undiscovered security issues. Continue reading New Report Finds TikTok Does Not Pose a U.S. Security Risk

Google Joins Apple in Reducing App Store Commission Fees

Google is following in Apple’s footsteps by lowering the commissions it charges app developers in its Google Play Store. Apple and Google, currently the primary marketplaces for apps, charge developers 30 percent for app sales and in-app purchases. Now, beginning in July, Google stated it will lower the traditional fee to 15 percent for the first $1 million developers earn. That is slightly different than Apple’s plan, which is to lower its rate to 15 percent for developers who generate less than $1 million in annual sales. Continue reading Google Joins Apple in Reducing App Store Commission Fees

Streaming Platforms Benefited from 2020 COVID Lockdowns

In 2020, many analysts expected a shakeout among the burgeoning number of streaming services. Instead, the COVID-19 pandemic led to record-breaking viewing. U.S. subscription numbers are expected to finish the year 50+ percent higher than a year ago, according to data from Moffett Nathanson and HarrisX, whose chief executive Dritan Nesho said “streaming coexistence and parallel growth” were leitmotifs for the year. Newcomers AT&T’s HBO Max and Disney+ also saw a rise in app downloads when they debuted feature films. Continue reading Streaming Platforms Benefited from 2020 COVID Lockdowns

TikTok and U.S. Reportedly in Talks on Possible Partnership

According to sources, ByteDance and the U.S. government are discussing avoiding a full sale of TikTok’s U.S. operations. Although President Trump issued an executive order for ByteDance to do so by a November 12 deadline, the Chinese government restricted the export of AI technology, making the sale more difficult. One possibility is that TikTok will partner with a U.S. company that would help secure its data. Sensor Tower reported that, again, TikTok was the most downloaded non-gaming app globally in August 2020. Continue reading TikTok and U.S. Reportedly in Talks on Possible Partnership

Epic Games and Apple Continue Heated Feud Over App Fees

The battle between Apple and Epic Games over the former’s commission fees for games sold in its App Store has heated up. Apple and Google both tossed Epic Games’ “Fortnite” from their app stores after Epic debuted an in-app payment system that prevented both companies from reaping 30 percent of customers’ spending. Epic Games filed a lawsuit, and Apple just filed a countersuit, accusing the software developer of “duplicity and greed” and asking a judge for punitive damages. Epic Games has seen its iOS- and Mac-based usership plunge. Continue reading Epic Games and Apple Continue Heated Feud Over App Fees

TikTok Takes a Stand, Stating Intent to Sue Trump Over Ban

Next week, TikTok plans to file a suit against the Trump Administration over its executive order to block the app, claiming that it has been “unfairly and incorrectly treated as a security threat.” TikTok spokesperson Josh Gartner noted that, “for nearly a year we have sought to engage in good faith to provide a constructive solution … what we encountered instead was a lack of due process.” TikTok is also trying to encourage its 1,500 U.S.-based employees, while putting aside plans to hire 10,000 more and open new offices. Continue reading TikTok Takes a Stand, Stating Intent to Sue Trump Over Ban

Trump’s Latest Order Gives ByteDance 90 Days to Sell TikTok

President Trump issued another executive order, this one setting a 90-day deadline for Beijing-based ByteDance to sell its U.S. TikTok operations. Trump has repeatedly cited national security as his rationale, but ByteDance denies it allows China access to TikTok data. This recent order specifies that ByteDance must destroy all data from U.S. TikTok users, inform the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) when it has done so and re-certify this on a weekly basis. Last week’s order banned TikTok in the U.S. in 45 days. Continue reading Trump’s Latest Order Gives ByteDance 90 Days to Sell TikTok

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’

Influencers Test Rival Apps Due to TikTok’s Uncertain Future

With Trump administration threats to ban Chinese app TikTok, that platform’s creators are worried about its future viability. Potential TikTok rivals such as Byte and Triller are wooing TikTok influencers (and other users), even offering cash to make the switch. Short-form video app Clash, for example, debuted its services months earlier than planned and Facebook’s Instagram is about to debut its TikTok-like service Reels. The rising tension between the countries also impacts U.S. app developers that aim to launch in China. Continue reading Influencers Test Rival Apps Due to TikTok’s Uncertain Future

TikTok Still Under Scrutiny by U.S. Government, Corporations

Amazon recently instructed its employees to delete TikTok, the short-video app owned by Chinese company ByteDance, then quickly reversed the decision, saying the first email — which stated that concerns about “security risks” — had been distributed in error. But Amazon’s worry reflects that of the Trump administration, which has called some Chinese apps “a threat to national security.” TikTok grew out of U.S. company Musical.ly, and ByteDance’s acquisition prompted the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. to review the deal. Continue reading TikTok Still Under Scrutiny by U.S. Government, Corporations

FTC and DOJ to Probe TikTok Violation of Child Privacy Rules

Chinese app TikTok has had a tumultuous few weeks. After being banned in India due to political tensions between that country and China, TikTok ceased its activities in Hong Kong in response to its concerns about the mainland’s imposition of a natural security law. In the U.S., the Trump administration is considering limiting the app’s access to its users. Now, sources say the U.S. Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission are probing allegations that TikTok has violated a 2019 agreement on children’s privacy. Continue reading FTC and DOJ to Probe TikTok Violation of Child Privacy Rules

Justice Department Probes Requirements of Apple App Store

The Justice Department is scrutinizing Apple’s App Store rules, specifically the requirement that app developers use Apple Pay, which takes up to a 30 percent cut. Since mid-2019, lawyers have been interviewing app developers about their experiences with Apple. Developers have pushed back by blocking subscriptions and payments on their apps or charging higher rates on iPhone apps. The DOJ’s antitrust resources are focused on Google’s dominance in digital advertising, which may result in a case as early as this summer. Continue reading Justice Department Probes Requirements of Apple App Store

Use of Messaging App Signal Skyrockets During Civil Unrest

In May, according to App Annie, the encrypted messaging app Signal was downloaded one million times worldwide, a result of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the more recent protests over George Floyd’s death and police brutality. Sensor Tower reports that Signal currently has 32.4 million installs. Privacy advocates have always been attracted to Signal’s ability to limit the information it can give to authorities. Signal’s end-to-end encryption is considered more secure than what is offered by Facebook’s WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage. Continue reading Use of Messaging App Signal Skyrockets During Civil Unrest