- Apple blocked Spotify from working with Apple Watch
- It blocked Spotify from building apps for HomePod
- It blocked Spotify from building apps for Siri
- It blocks Spotify updates on a regular basis
- It blocked Spotify from using a podcasting API after it acquired 2x major podcasting companies
I genuinely hope Europe takes this seriously. The issue of the 30% cut alone is enough for further investigation, particularly as Apple now uses that as an advantage to undercut Spotify with Apple Music.
Interesting one since it is Spotify that is trying to close the currently open podcasting universe.
Let's not pretend that Spotify is either the white knight or the underdog here. This is two big companies negotiating over pricing.
How much, I have no clue - but if they can't even have a "get premium now" button in the app then that's insane to me. The 30% fee Apple would take isn't a real alternative either, it's still not profitable.
I'm not sure this is 100% true. From browsing the spotify support forums many moons ago, some guy had built a spotify playing app for the apple watch, but spotify squashed it. Given that some random dev could do this, it doesn't seem like apple prevented anything.
It streams Spotify directly without your phone and has a very flaky offline mode.
The developer tweeted that Spotify (not Apple) asked him to remove it four days after it reached the App Store.
I was lucky enough to get hold of it in that brief window and use it often.
On the other hand Spotify did squash this guy's app. That's a thing that happened. So it's not like the APIs aren't there.
So now we're taking Spotify's word that Apple is keeping them off the app store, while ignoring the fact that said app is possible and they themselves have kept an app off the app store.
Sounds like PR bullshit all around.
- If you're deep into iOS development you know that Apple apps - the ones shipped with the OS - sometimes do things that 3rd party apps aren't able to. For example the Music app gets to be the _default_ app to live in the control panel even if you hardly ever use it and are using Spotify most of the time.
- I believe - for the Apple Watch - some of the 3rd party apps which were already available on the day of the launch were a) invited to preview the Watch ahead of other developers and b) in some cases allowed to use undocumented APIs. Uber may be one example of this - https://www.macrumors.com/2017/10/05/uber-removing-apple-gra...
Apple has been inviting 3rd party developers to preview technologies for a while e.g. https://appleinsider.com/articles/16/06/17/apple-invites-dev... so it seems to be standard practice.
As I read this "Time to Play Fair" website, it looks to me like Spotify is complaining they weren't invited to these preview sessions and thereby didn't get to learn about / get permission to use undocumented APIs.
Of course IANAL
I inferred this from the vague wording in the earlier points and the clarifications in the later points.
> When Apple launches their new Apple Watch, they dismiss our proposals and won’t work with us to develop an app for it.
Notice, they didn't say they were blocked. Also why would building an app for the watch necessitate a proposal to Apple that requires Apple to work with them directly? Wouldn't you instead build your app and submit it for approval? This is probably because the Apple Watch SDK didn't provide all the functionality Spotify wanted, and so Spotify was trying to get Apple to add new functionality to the SDK.
> We submit a new proposal for a streaming app directly on the Apple Watch. Apple declines
> With WatchOS 4, Apple continues to make it challenging for us to deliver a workable streaming solution for the Apple Watch
Again, doesn't say they were blocked, just that proposals were rejected and the provided functionality made it difficult/impossible to do what they wanted.
> With Watch OS 5, Apple allowed the Spotify team to start developing offline functionality
Was this the functionality Spotify was proposing for Apple to make possible all along? In other words, was this the missing part of the SDK that Spotify had kept proposing to Apple and having rejected (not the app itself, which they didn't want to build without this functionality)?
EDIT: I'm also not saying they didn't build the app and submit it and have it rejected. They just never actually say that in the timeline.
Did that guy's app make it on the App Store? He could have easily built it with private APIs which would work but wouldn't pass review (maybe, App Review is very inconsistent) or many other reasons why he could and Spotify couldn't.
This is a VERY different statement than the true one which is:
Apple didn't allow ANY streaming music (or audiobook, or podcast) apps on the watch due to not providing the API's. They didn't specifically block Spotify.
If anything it makes the case that if it were so simple for a single random dev that unless Apple itself were preventing it there is no reason the app wouldn't have been released.
Spotify could have made a watch app that provided controls and had offline somgs. They didn’t, and kept shutting down spps that did, or buying them and shutting them. This was a major sore point against spotify on the apple watch subreddit. Even now they’re dragging their feet, iirc.
I’m guessing apple will add lte support for 3rd party apps in watchos 6. Meanwhile, 3rd party apps have had the ability to make apps with offline support since June 2018. Most audio apps have added this.
Spotify....has not. What’s the holdup? Apple watch users are pretty frustrated with spotify: if all the other audio apps can do it, why haven’t they?
(Lte is an edge case: few watches have lte, and even fewer have an active lte plan. Offline audio is the main use case spotify still isn’t doing)
Until WatchOS 5 the APIs to do something like Spotify didn't really exist. There were workarounds, like by abusing the workout API, but unsurprisingly these has significant drawbacks, were unstable and Apple cracked down when they found API abuses.
Apple "blocked" Spotify only in that it hadn't (yet) released APIs that supported their use cases.
It makes me wonder how disingenuous their other claims are.
I do think services should have more options than Apple allows for accepting payment.
But they've blocked every streaming music thing, right? It wasn't a vindictive campaign targetted at Spotify as this timeline is suggesting - no-one got to build streaming music apps for the Watch or HomePod IIRC.
Rephrased, Spotify seems to think it has a /right/ to run its software on Apple platforms in an identical fashion to Apple's first-party software. Does that mean Apple has an obligation to provide an equivalent technical capacity for literally any software that runs on its devices? An app store? A payment provider? A cloud provider? A health data store? An update mechanism?
I'd say if you're selling $1200 computer devices, one principle of that is ownership and that you get to run what you want, not what Apple wants. We seem to have come a long way on this site from fighting Tivoization of embedded platforms, and unrepairable, unfixable, unhackable consumer electronics, to people making excuses for a super locked down platform, and not even on the excuse that it helps security, but from a philosophical standpoint that somehow Apple is morally right to do whatever they want.
Yes, you have a choice of not buying Apple software, just like you had the choice of not buying Windows and using Linux, or building a MythTV instead of a Tivo, but keep in mind, in the latter case, this was only possible because the CableCard standard was forced by law on the cable industry.
Apple can maintain their high levels of security and privacy without their 30% cut of subscriptions, it's a false dichotomy to pretend their behavior is anything but rent seeking.
At the same time though, Microsoft wasn't preventing other developers from using those hidden APIs (if they could find them) nor preventing them from publishing their own competing apps. Sure, Microsoft's behaviour at the time was anti-competitive and sometimes even predatory, but they were never so on Windows to the extent that Apple is today on iOS.
I wish you'd stopped here because this is an interesting question, but the rest of your comment feels like it stretches things a bit.
What Spotify seems to be saying (correct me if I'm wrong), is that Apple does provide the technical capabilities for third parties to do as they're asking, but Apple is rejecting proposals purely on whim. It's not like there's not a API to stream music on the Apple Watch or play music through HomePod. It's all there. Apple's just blocking them from using it.
The same thing about not allowing others to use “private APIs”. No guarantees are made about any methods that I didn’t make public. If I change that method in future releases, and your software that depends on it breaks - so be it.
Windows is full of backward compatibility hacks because one piece of software that wanted to use an undocumented method.
Apple has since day one had APIs that it used privately until they were fully baked and made public. Do you think that Apple waited two or three years to make share extensions public because of competitive reasons?
> An app store? A payment provider? A cloud provider? A health data store? An update mechanism?
Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes.
To do otherwise, is to invite platform owners to be (potentially abusive) monopolists with a license to favor their own services instead of promoting and maintaining fair competition in markets on top of that platform. In western societies, since the last century, that has been behavior which has been regulated by law and courts.
Every API on the platform is available to all apps which have the necessary permissions.
Sure, it might look like Google has taken over key low level features of the device like updates and wifi location, but in fact from the platform perspective, all those components have an open API and can be replaced.
The only fly in the ointment here is some of the API's require powerful permissions which aren't allowed in store apps, but you can still sideload them, or use an alternate store.
Specifically my company wanted to break our app into multiple apps and give a way for people to easily install the companions. If you send the user to the Play Store page, about 75% of users would dropoff, in user studies much of it was confusion about what to do once they saw the play store page.
Google has an api that is a much simpler flow than the full store experience which has much lower user dropoff. If you're curious where it's used, one example is the Google Drive app to install the Docs, Sheets, etc.
The API validates that the calling app is an app signed by the Google dev cert.
This isn't a security issue, you could just ship one app with all the functionality. It's clear they just wanted to reduce user drop off in a flow, but now provide that option to others.
I understand the potential for abuse even though the api still checked with the user. It wouldn't bother me if no one had access to the API, we'd just have to deal with it. But it felt anti-competitive that Google had it and we did not.
IIRC there are a few other similar non-security private APIs and they also felt anti-competitive to us. That said, it was no where near on the order of Apple, where it's commonplace on iOS.
As far as the platform is concerned, any app with the right permissions can install any other app. It just so happens that only the play store and other stores have that permission.
As you point out there is a fly in the ointment (which is enhanced by Google making it very difficult to ship with anything but the Play Store).
As an app developer like Spotify, the platform is the base of devices out there in the wild and how I build on top of them which, for me, is inclusive of the play services and play store.
Android definitely is a lot more open than iOS. But when the Play Store enforces a mechanism that favors Google, it's not of a practical difference to my livelihood than when the App Store has policies that favor Apple. If you have a really loyal following, like Epic/Fortnite, it's better than nothing. But even then the barrier to your users is huge and even the most establish companies with technical user bases will have a hard time crossing it. Nevermind the fledgling startups or developers with non-technical user bases.
If the Apple Watch and WatchOS is a device then I expect it to only contain Apple software.
If the Apple Watch and WatchOS is a platform then I expect to be able to install 3rd party software on it.
The real question is how much feature-parity should 3rd parties expect when developing on another company's platform?
Perhaps they should not be allowed (by law) to change the terms of the platform for X amount of time.
[---- obsolete info ----]
Yeah, it's a bit of a grey area.
However, App Store policies explicitly forbid apps that duplicate iOS and first-party functionality IIRC. Now that Apple has Maps, and Apple Music, and Podcasts, and..., and... should they enforce those rules?
You should probably pull out the relevant quote from the guidelines. I don't think this is a thing anymore, at least in the way you're describing. If they did enforce it it would be a huge blow to the App Store.
There's a vast gulf between "Spotify was blocked" and "Apple didn't spend time and money building a service that Spotify wanted".
They did indeed have "the service" in question, it was just limited to Apple's own offering.
It's a scenario not unlike net neutrality: an infrastructure provider that is also a content provider can put themselves or select customers in a position where free market forces are hindered or suspended in order to achieve a monopoly-like status.
Again, there's a difference between "Siri can talk to our music service" and "We have a stable public API that 3rd party vendors can hook into to connect up to a music service". They're not the same thing, and one is a lot easier than the other.
Given that they are a platform provider, maybe doing the bare minimum to get their own stuff working, but not enough to get any alternatives to work, is a strategic choice on their part.
"If Homepod only works with Apple Music, more people will switch"
No, a hardware manufacturer has no requirement to support any specific software. An infrastructure provider, however, has (in MY opinion) a requirement to support what they support to an equal degree, or it amounts to… market manipulation? Something not quite fair, some kind of abuse of power which is to the detriment of all other participants in the market, customers and companies alike.
Obviously, America as of today disagrees, seeing as net neutrality is not held in very high regard.
I look forward to roads that only support Fords, water pipes that only support Nestlé water, and stairs that only support Nike shoes.
Thankfully, America is not (yet) stupid enough to let private companies build our critical infrastructure, and thankfully "voice controlled speaker" is as critical as chewing gum.
Clearly the technology is there, but Apple is not letting Spotify use it.
Tech is there, https://developer.apple.com/documentation/sirikit/media_inte...
I'm sure Spotify has no problems with the knowledge of its engineers, I just found the APIs in 5 min. In fact, number 4 of this page explains your comment: https://www.timetoplayfair.com/facts/
EDIT: I thought you could now stream on the Watch but further research suggests that's still not possible. In summary, confusion.
Is this talking about the Apple Watch-Podcasting issue? Until recently, podcast apps on the watch had issues saving where you are in an episode because they couldn't constantly run in the background; you could still play audio in the background without your app, you just couldn't watch the percentage played. Fitness tracking apps were allowed to run in the background forever, so some podcast apps told the API they were fitness apps to get around the restriction . Apple later removed this loophole and created the APIs necessary for podcast apps to work on the watch .
By raising prices and blocking access to competing services, Apple is acting with malice to consumer welfare.
Not really, it's 30% for everyone, not just Spotify.
As they mention on the website. That's not true. It's not 30% for Uber or Deliveroo. And most importantly, it's not 30% for Apple Music.
If you buy a real world product or service, you need to use a third party payment service like Stripe (or Apple Pay, if you want), there is a 0% commission fee from Apple. This is why Amazon can distribute an app on iOS that allows to buy whatever you want without Apple getting a cut; well, anything but digital goods, like Kindle books, which in fact can't be bought from Amazon iOS app.
What do you mean it isn't? Apple Store could trivially take a 30% cut of the Apple Music revenue, and the only thing that would change would be the distribution of revenue between Apple Music and Apple Store in Apple's revenue reports. The total revenue would be the same.
This effectively gives Apple an extra 30% margin for their streaming music service.
I definitely couldn’t start a ride sharing company when Uber and Lyft are being funded by VCs...
Regarding Apple Music I'm not sure what that supposed to mean. I'm pretty sure that Spotify doesn't charge the same for "Spotify Premium" and "McDonalds" ads.
Apple could charge themselves the 30% App Store fee for Apple Music, demonstrating that the App Store is a fair marketplace that doesn't artificially advantage Apple's own services. It would then be incumbent on Apple to prove that Apple Music is priced fairly, rather than being deliberately operated at a loss to squeeze other streaming music services out of the market.
It's somewhat similar to net neutrality proposals. AT&T doesn't have a monopoly as an ISP. However, if AT&T starts/acquires a video streaming service, they should not give unfair advantages to their own service because they want to compete with Netflix.
What does it change ? Nothing.
It’s on multiple platforms, it’s tied to Beats, it has a relationship with iTunes Store, there is advertising involved etc. So there could be multiple licensing and revenue sharing deals that mean Apple Music is not running at a loss.
In fact I think it’s likely than you’re wrong.
Interesting, so Spotify could pay nearly the same simply by paying the 30% to artists instead of Apple.
And of course, those 37 might already be partly paid by Spotify anyway.
The newest version of WatchOS does allow it. The first generation of watchOS really didn’t allow any apps - just remote views of iOS apps (yeah I’m simplifying it).
Apple doesn’t have any apps on the HomePod. Now we are going to force all single purpose devices to ship with an SDK?
Apple also just came out with any third party integration with Siri a version or two ago. Again we want the government to dictate the timeline when they build features for apps?
Netflix also blocked its API from most third parties years ago. Can we sue Netflix?
How? By not providing API's to do what they wanted? yawn Next?
Wakes up Ok here we have the first real issue, BUT even with that said this is SUPER one-sided. We have only Spotify's word and given their liberal stretching of the truth (or outright breaking it in some cases) I'm not willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
I'm going to need more info on this because it is super vague.