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> - Apple blocked Spotify from working with Apple Watch / HomePad

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.




I believe this is their point: Apple deliberately leaves those features unbuilt in order to give itself a market position that others can't compete with


Which raises the question: to what degree does a platform owner have a responsibility to support the businesses of others?

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?


Microsoft used to be roundly criticized for supposedly building private APIs into Windows that Microsoft Office was allowed to use either because they were undocumented, or Office got the documentation far ahead of anyone else.

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.


>Microsoft used to be roundly criticized for supposedly building private APIs into Windows that Microsoft Office was allowed to use either because they were undocumented, or Office got the documentation far ahead of anyone else.

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.


> Which raises the question: to what degree does a platform owner have a responsibility to support the businesses of others?

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.


Once you publish an API you’re stuck with supporting it. When I’m hacking around with a library I wrote for my own use, I might do all sorts of things while I’m iterating but don’t want others to consume until they are fully baked.

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?


> 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?

Yes.

> 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.


For comparison, Android keeps a very clear line between the 'Platform', and the 'Apps'.

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.


This may have changed recently, haven't used an Android in a bit, but this wasn't true (and still probably isn't).

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.


I believe that API is in the play store itself. If your user used a third party store, you could ask them to give you an API to install other apps with no user interaction too.

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.


That's true; you're right that there is a open platform between the AOSP layer and the APK apps that run on top of it.

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.


Is it really a platform if it doesn't support 3rd party businesses?


Who gets to define the term platform? I think this is just arguing semantics.


I think that's precisely the point.

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?


> to what degree does a platform owner have a responsibility to support the businesses of others?

Perhaps they should not be allowed (by law) to change the terms of the platform for X amount of time.


You can also ask if Netflix has a /right/ to send their videos to consumers using Comcast's network. Or if Bing has a /right/ to be accessible on Google Chrome.


Thanks to recent FCC rule changes, the answer in the USA is: "For Now...."


EDIT: This is no longer true, and doesn't exist in the guidelines

[---- 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?

[---- obsolete info ----]


> 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.


You're right. This is no longer in the guidelines, updated my comment accordingly


> Apple deliberately leaves those features unbuilt in order to give itself a market position that others can't compete with

There's a vast gulf between "Spotify was blocked" and "Apple didn't spend time and money building a service that Spotify wanted".


This is for the lawyers to make sense of, but in electing to be a platform provider, they should be held to higher standards in my opinion.

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.


> They did indeed have "the service" in question, it was just limited to Apple's own offering.

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.


None of the above was an argument about how easy or hard it is to build a service (though Apple has enough resources to build anything they want within the scope that they operate).

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.


> 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.


From a layman perspective: Why can Siri make Apple Music play artists, albums, playlists, and songs but I can't ask Siri to do the same with Spotify?

Clearly the technology is there, but Apple is not letting Spotify use it.


Spotify should be able to do this using the API provided in iOS 12.


It's not about the tech, it's about policy.

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/


Except they have a history of later opening up some of these features to others - see password managers, ~streaming~music~on~the~Watch~, etc.

EDIT: I thought you could now stream on the Watch but further research suggests that's still not possible. In summary, confusion.


Yes, every streaming music thing but Apple Music. Available in watchOS 4.1 (vs 5.0 a year later for spotify). And for HomePod since release AFAIK.


It's also funny because Spotify won't let other people integrate their streaming service on a device (even only for premium subscribers) if you don't follow a huge list of restrictions.


Feels worse to me than what Google was heavily fined for.


Can iOS natively or iTunes stream music through those devices?




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