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Netherlands ACM launches investigation into abuse by Apple in its App Store (acm.nl)
189 points by DeusExMachina 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 117 comments





Here is some context. There are two collections of frameworks available for iOS developers. The private frameworks cannot be used by non-apple applications. In some cases, this restriction makes it impossible for an App developer to develop an App that has the same functionality as the corresponding Apple app. Just to pick one example, the Music App has a download-to-device option (a cloud with an arrow) which allows users to move cloud-stored songs from their iTunes library onto their device. This functionality is not available in the iOS SDK.

In my opinion, there is legitimacy to the complaints being investigated.


I get reminded of this the most while driving and using Google Maps on an iPhone.

I've definitely had several close calls in traffic, with faceId requiring me to type the password, switch back to the maps app etc, since google maps can't stay open while the phone is locked like apple maps.

I think it's a pretty serious dark pattern when you consciously make an app unsafe for your user.

If their's a setting I'm missing to allow Google maps to stay on the lock screen, I'd love to know.


To clarify - The difference between Google Maps and Apple Maps:

If the phone is locked and navigation is in progress, on Apple, the active map shows in the lock screen. On Google, you would need to unlock the phone, and switch back to the Maps app.

Of course (and to be fair) if you don't lock the phone and leave the maps app focused, both Google and Apple will stay in view.

I've found that on longer drives where the maps app isn't needed, the phone will end up being locked/away, and when you do need a direction, that's when the API difference that I mentioned above clearly shows up.

Apple is definitely holding that API to themselves, with a side effect of making a more dangerous interaction (however un-ideal) for the user.


How you drive your car is your responsibility. Navigation or not. If you kill someone or get them handicapped it's on you. Be considerate. Safety over everything else man.

If you design software in a manner that makes it harder to use safely, then you are also responsible for any accidents.

Thank You.

Please see the HN guidelines quoted below. I’m referring to the context of the API differences I’ve personally referenced, not that I drive unsafe.

> Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith.


You said specifically:

> I've definitely had several close calls in traffic, with faceId requiring me to type the password, switch back to the maps app etc, since google maps can't stay open while the phone is locked like apple maps.

You’ve had several close calls due to using your phone when you shouldn’t, putting others at risk. That sounds exactly like the definition of unsafe driving (and the strongest plausible interpretation of what you said).

> I think it's a pretty serious dark pattern when you consciously make an app unsafe for your user.

Nobody at Apple is making an app unsafe, but you are choosing to make the roads unsafe by using an app and interacting with your phone while driving.

It’s not against HN guidelines to call out incredibly unsafe behavior, even if it is the context for complaining about API differences.


I don't think anyone was debating that. It's more that apple is deliberately making it harder for Google to build apps that in turn make it easier for the customer to drive safely, for reasons of platform control and, ultimately, profit.

Why do you need the app to stay open while the phone is locked? I don't use Google Maps, but when Waze is open it keeps the screen on and the phone unlocked.

Not on an iPhone, but on longer drives, I will lock the phone to turn off the screen to conserve power and reduce distraction during long stretches where I don't need direction. It's nice when you can get back to navigation without unlocking.

Please dont fiddle with your phone and drive. It is illgeal* , and more importantly you will end up killing an innocent person.

*Perhaps not in your specific country.


You are admirably polite in wording that request.

If one absolutely must use a smartphone in traffic the only right moves to make after a navigation app stops working is to either ignore the device and continue on your way without it (seriously, can nobody navigate without these devices any more?) or to ignore the device and find a parking spot someone where you can sort it out.

No matter what that dumb smartphone does, it cannot make you have close calls in traffic unless you are acting like an utter moron. It can't reach out and grab the wheel, it can't slam the brakes, it can't block your field of vision. YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF THE VEHICLE.

This bit bears repeating: fiddle with that damn device and you will end up killing an innocent person.


>...ignore the device and continue on your way without it (seriously, can nobody navigate without these devices any more?)...

I can, and I'm sure most people can reasonably get around without on if they're familiar with the area. Towns and cities with a grid layouts and numbered roads means that most people can probably find an address if they get a cross, but most of the US is not laid out in that manner. It's doubly frustrating when you hit a neighborhood called Winding Oaks, and every road is Winding Oaks Trail, Winding Oaks Lane, Winding Oaks Circle, Winding Oaks Road, etc.

However, no, I probably cannot get to a location if it's in an area without a grid layout that I'm unfamiliar with. I could probably get reasonably close if I reviewed the directions beforehand, but with turn-by-turn navigation, there's a good chance that I will not have done so with detail.


Then find a parking spot or don’t drive if you have to rely on fiddling with your phone while driving.

For the record, I'm not condoning using a phone while driving. I was only addressing the point of people not being able to navigate without modern navigation.

Good advice, but lol.

While visiting Turkey a few years back I witnessed amazing incidents:

- The bus I was on was driving really slowly (walking would be faster), to the point the locals started getting frustrated... and told him to get off the phone: He was texting constantly.

- A driver of a 'biskilet' (an electric moped) had his phone jammed under his open face helmet so that he could talk white riding. I saw quite a few other riders with phones in their hands...

As an aside: I've also seen cops in my country (Oz) using phones while driving, despite being illegal.


Why can’t you keep Google Maps open instead?

I disabled autolock long ago though - so maybe that’s not how you’re supposed to use them?


I don't use Google Maps, but Waze stays open just fine. As long as it's focused, my screen stays on and my phone stays unlocked. I don't understand OP's phrasing. They seems to be saying they want to use maps while the phone is locked, which doiesn't make any sense to me.

Apple Maps on iOS will actually display the ongoing navigation on the lock screen. That's what the user is asking of for Google Maps but currently it's restricted to Apple Maps. The main advantage is saving battery life since the screen isn't on in the lock-screen mode except preceding a change. Also, if a passenger is using the phone (e.g. changing the music) and accidentally locks it you still have access to navigation.

>The private frameworks cannot be used by non-apple applications. In some cases, this restriction makes it impossible for an App developer to develop an App that has the same functionality as the corresponding Apple app.

How's this any different than Android, where some functionality is gated behind permissions that require signature or signatureOrSystem[1]? You could say that there's rooting/LineageOS, but those are out of reach for most users, and are entirely at the whim of the manufacturer.

[1] https://developer.android.com/guide/topics/manifest/permissi...


If it's no different, then Android should be next in line for an investigation.

Microsoft was attacked for the exact same thing 2 decades ago. If you make a platform, you shouldn't have any private APIs that only your applications can use, in my opinion.

I think there's a reasonable exception for some built-in applications that manage core services, but that privilege should be used sparingly and for clearly benign or user-friendly reasons. It shouldn't be used to gain a competitive advantage in revenue-generating applications or services.

Hmm, after writing the above it occurred to me that cloud storage like iCloud might have to be an exception to that rule for pragmatic reasons. iCloud is clearly a competitor to Dropbox, but it is also used to store backups of the phone's system settings and such. On the one hand Dropbox should be able to compete fairly against iCloud for offline app data storage, but I don't think it should have access to do backups of phone system settings.

I suppose the way out of that conundrum is to ensure that any use of iCloud for system related storage should not be part of a commercial service offering, which is sort of how it works as you can do that on the iCloud free tier. Still, it's an interesting edge case that shows how tricky these questions can be.


> but I don't think it should have access to do backups of phone system settings.

Why not?


Because then it could read the phone's system settings, which could have dire security and privacy implications. It would also presumably need the ability to change them, because otherwise how do you restore the backups?

FWIW Apple encrypts all the data with your encryption key. So even if you swapped it out with a consumer solution like Dropbox that wouldn't make it less secure. It would make it more expensive for Apple to maintain that connection & increased customer support since people would complain to Apple when Dropbox had an issue.

Ok... then what about all those backup solutions we've been using on desktops? Should we restrict backups just to OS providers because they're "safe"?

>Microsoft was attacked for the exact same thing 2 decades ago

Can you elaborate on this? Windows isn't sandboxed, and there's no approval process, so I don't see any reason why a program can't use private Windows APIs.


That's mostly true but not absolutely so. Windows kernel space needs signed-code in 64-bits (except in a configuration only suitable for testing during dev), and MS very much makes use of internal undocumented and changing API to implement various high level features in a way that gives them a virtual exclusivity by the mere fact they are working at a level such that no competitor can even appear, or if a competitor do appear it will have the greatest pain to make a correct use of undocumented API and the competing implementation might not even continue to work after applying even security patches. Look for example at WSL: while it is very very cool and useful, no third-party can (at least in practice without MS collaboration) write a competing implementation. The same happened throughout the history of the dev of windows in various degrees and fields, and MS even has been found guilty of violating various anti-trust laws despite arguing in court that bundling disputed functionalities was a necessity of the design of their OS (they sometimes eventually managed to release extra stripped ISO extremely minimally modified compared to original ones to comply, making it clear that they are technically way better than what they argue in court...)

So it's a mere question of size and market share -- and it is not possible to reason from pure logic and as if it happened in a vacuum: the reason why they should not have an absolute unconditional right to design their exclusive features by implementing them using internal-only API is simply because they are a gigantic corporation shipping a behemoth OS used on a ton of computers and that would allow them to in practice and because of the clear advantage of maintaining the two sides of APIs extinguish any competition in the field they want on their platform.


Because they’re undocumented, for one.

Are you suggesting Microsoft (and other OS vendors) should be obligated to document all of their APIs? What constitutes an API and how is it different than private functions?

Besides, they already provide documentation -to an extent- by providing symbol files.


Am I saying that? No, but the GP specifically did.

It only matters when you have something like a monopoly. The issue with Microsoft was that they leveraged their operating system monopoly to create a monopoly on desktop office software, and part of the way they did it was by using secret, private, undocumented, proprietary, whatever you want to call them, APIs or features built into Windows for Office. A company is not allowed to give itself an unfair advantage when they have a monopoly to spread to new markets. That constitutes abuse.

Not sure about your question about private functions, because that’s a feature of OOP and not really relevant.

When Microsoft comes out with a new version of Office that works with a brand new version of Windows using features of their competitors did not know existed, I think it’s pretty obvious why their competitors are unable to have a product on the market in a timely fashion using those functions. Again, that’s only relevant if they have a monopoly on a market. Of course, a company is not otherwise required to help competitors do anything.

See: http://lowendmac.com/2008/rise-of-microsoft-monopoly/

“I have decided that we should not publish these extensions. We should wait until we have a way to do a high level of integration that will be harder for likes of Notes, WordPerfect to achieve, and which will give Office a real advantage . . . We can’t compete with Lotus and WordPerfect/Novell without this.” - Bill Gates, 1994


Just to be clear, you are free to download your own streaming service's music. You just cannot download iTunes music–you must stream it. So this only applies if you're making an app to play music from iTunes.

Yes, you are right. But the point is that it is impossible for a third party to make a music playing App that plays music in a users' own iTunes music library and that has all the functionality of the corresponding Apple app. Note that I just chose this example because I am familiar with it. There are many "private" frameworks, all of which (a) offer functionality and (b) are off limits to non-Apple apps.

Can this be implemented manually?

I mean it doesn't negate your point just curious whether this is a soft or hard limitation.


No it cannot: there is no way to get the URL of the asset if it is stored in the iTunes library on the cloud. There is at least one open bug report about this issue.

Regarding the example of not being able to download music from the cloud to the device, on iOS and Android:

Apple's music app can stream music from the cloud or download it to the device for offline playback.

Spotify's music app can stream music from the cloud or download it to the device for offline playback.

Google's music app can stream music from the cloud or download it to the device for offline playback.

Amazon's music app can stream music from the cloud or download it to the device for offline playback.


An exact same issue was raised in the 1910's about railroad companies who owned the rails and started transporting their own good and barring transportation access to other companies.

I invite you to read this (quite old - 1914) book named "Other People's Money" by Louis Brandeis, it's in the public domain now, quick free read:

https://books.google.com/books/about/Other_People_s_Money.ht...

History repeats itself.

PS: you might also read this book to understand how the people owning today's banks are the same group of people that owned railroad companies!


I'll counter this with the success of Japan because the Japanese railway companies own all the land around the stations and lease it out to companies and improve that land because they own it.

Note that China also does this, and this is illegal in nearly every other country under anti-trust law. This happens to also be the only way to make passenger profitable, capturing the positive financial externality.

Can you expand on that? "land around train stations" doesn't look as a market that should be subject to anti-trust laws.

Most countries view it as a monopolistic tactic akin to how railroads used to be the only buyer for produce & grain in many rural areas of the US, as they would refuse to sell space for bulk goods that they also traded in.

Vertical integration is a strong force, especially when it comes to infrastructure.


For those that don't know, Louis Brandeis is also the father of modern privacy rights in the western world. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Right_to_Privacy_(article)

I don't think it's the same exact issue since a key feature of railroads is the use of land, which can't be replicated endlessly with very low marginal costs.

>> which can't be replicated endlessly with very low marginal costs.

Sure it sounds easier to build an app store, but is it really any simpler than building railroads? One might think of app store as being just software but it's way more than that, it's an entire ecosystem built by a huge company made of the best talent in the world.

Look at big companies like Microsoft and Blackberry who have given up on their smartphone ecosystem (and respective app stores). It's definitely very competitive and cannot be replicated endlessly with very low marginal costs.


What app store are you on? The only ones I see have crap search and recommendation systems. Beyond that they're off the shelf shopping carts for file downloads.

The stores that are popular are so because they're preinstalled. That's it.


Not endlessly, but railroads can be replicated a few times.

Same holds for mobile platforms: you can replicate them a number of times, but certainly not infinitely many times.


Do you think it could be argued people's attention span is a limited and that having so much of it should be regulated? I mean, here's a quick spreadsheet because you got me interested in this for a bit. Assuming everyone in the world spoke english here's the amount of bytes we could collectively consume.

  Average word size in letters 4.5
  bytes per letter (ascii) 8
  Adult average reading speed wpm 250
  active hours a day (24 - work - sleep) 8
  work days a year 261
  non work days a year 104
  Number of adults(15 and over) in the world 5,553,830,738
  Total number of processed bytes 1.87542E+17
  Processed Terabytes per year 187541.7563
  Processed Petabytes per year 187.5417563
  Processed Terabytes per day 513.8130311
Those are rough but I think it should get the point across. There can only be so much information processed by humans a day. Which means that if you have a monopoly on it at any point in time you should be regulated accordingly.

I think the ability to exclude is what matters here

You've only correctly identified the scarcity on one side of the comparison.

Isn't a better comparison the situation with telephony in the old days, where a monopoly situation was ended, and competition was enforced?

I worked, briefly, for a mobile app developer that made an app so bad, it regularly bricked phones. There were bugs in the logging that would trash the flash storage. It would also prevent the radios from entering power save, and floor the CPU (bugs). Within months of use, customer phones would either “explode” from excessive battery drain, “lightly smoke,” or just become inoperable from dead flash storage.

I sat in a meeting where the execs were all complaining about Apple’s unfair business practices re: their inability to do terrible things in background tasks, and their frequent app rejections / review process.

In this case, Apple saved countless phones from being bricked by one of the worst enterprise app developers. Some of the restrictions help to prevent first class assholes, like them, from publishing wholly defective garbage.


That's great. But that sounds like failing to meet what could be an objective quality standard, enforced by something like CI. I don't think anyone objects to that kind of gate keeping.

The contention here (true or false) is that Apple tips the scales so that good apps lose to Apple's competing ones.


On what is Apple competing with respect to apps? I know they've got a few, like garage band, but they make money regardless of which app is purchased.

Their Music app versus Spotify, their Photos app versus Google Photos, their News app versus NPR...

And that's not everything.


Is there any app that they make big money off of that they're competing on?

serious question. Not being argumentative. Trying to get a picture of how much of Apple's hundreds of billions these apps are.


Apple Music. Their services are making up a growing percentage of their revenue: https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2019/01/30/apple-music-50-m...

Is there one that is bigger than that?

Because several sources are claiming that Apple Music represents less than 1% of Apple's value or whatever. I guess what I'm wondering is if there is an app that would induce a company to cheat to try to juice it? Something like MS cheating with DOS and Windows to try to juice Excel vs Lotus?


> Within months of use, customer phones would either “explode” from excessive battery drain, “lightly smoke,” or just become inoperable from dead flash storage.

Seems more like bad software exposing lightly defective hardware. These are issues that could be prevented by the manufacturer on either hardware or software level in many different ways.

If you have to trust userspace applications to not trash your hardware, you (Apple) are doing something wrong.

They're not even hard problems. You can prevent any of these with a post-release over-the-air update.

There would be a cost to your benchmarking scores, obviously.

But what good is top-tier performance when you can observe your phone self-destructing at a greatly accelerated rate as opposed to the expected amount of wear.


I think the parent post was implying that their former employer pulled those shenanigans on Android, but was prevented from doing the same on iOS due to restrictions, which was a source of frustration for their business execs.

It's possible for userspace applications with root privileges to kill most laptops running Linux in a similar way.

You don't expect an application running with root privileges on Linux to be sandboxed, quite the opposite in fact. You can brick your hardware in a million ways with root privileges by doing fun stuff like overwriting firmware/efi settings etc.

It's not comparable at all to an application on your phone downloaded from an app store, which you expect to be highly sandboxed and which you certainly not expect to be able to do irreversible damage to your hardware.


>Seems more like bad software exposing lightly defective hardware. These are issues that could be prevented by the manufacturer on either hardware or software level in many different ways.

A lot of the things the OP describes are limited or prevented on iOS devices by hardware and software restrictions, and not just review policies.


On the other hand, desktops don't seem to explode, even though there's countless types of applications shoved onto them.

There are other ways to handle this: lawsuits (worst case scenario), PR disasters via media and customer backlash, etc.


If desktops had batteries the size of their PSUs, I guarantee I'd have blown one up by now. Probably more than one. Heck, I made a set of peripheral speakers explode once.

Apple needn't be the customer's savior - just look at platforms outside iOS, they exist and thrive without an install-overlord "looking out" for users.

The biggest lie Apple has convinced the world of, is that Apple is required to play Hall monitor for user's protection, but the truth is that they lock their hardware up for greed - "you not only pay to buy hardware, but to run software on hardware you legally own"


ACM is the Autoriteit Consumer en Markt (literally: Authority for Consumers and Markets), the Dutch equivalent of the FTC, I think.

Good to know, it seemed like a strange thing for the Association for Computing Machinery to do.

Thank you!

I automatically read "Association for Computing Machinery", which is totally irrelevant.


small typo here: De Autoriteit Consument en Markt

Oops, sorry about that!

Is this not like complaining that Walmart dominates its suppliers in Walmart stores? They also sell their own brands plus demand suppliers offer and price exactly what Walmart wants.

More than likely you can buy the same brand at another store such As Target, etc. If Walmart was the only outlet where one could buy the product and that product was also competing with Walmart products, that is an unfair advantage in Walmart's favor.

In the case with Apple Music vs Spotify, Spotify is not only at a disadvantage of API availability, but also how the rules are not applied for Apple's own apps (marketing push notifications come to mind). On top of that, it is more difficult to complete on price as you are coughing up 30% for any IAP (which you have to use Apple's IAP APIs to begin with). So spotify either charges an extra 30% to cover the fees or eats the 30% to remain price competitive.


But there's still an aspect of the same vein, right?

Like, if you have a product, there's the retail price, and there's the wholesale price that Walmart pays you. There's a spread that you pay going through Walmart that they don't have to pay for their own products.

Now, it's definitely not 30%, but its there. I think the numbers change how onerous the splits feel, but the mechanics look similar.


Not really since it does not take a substantial investment and/or a large concession to convenience to be able to go to another supermarket to buy a given good. Once a person has paid Apple for one of its products said person would have to either commit to buying and carrying an additional non-Apple device - another investment as well as a compromise in convenience - or forego on the Apple device altogether by replacing it with a non-Apple type. If Walmart behaves in an annoying fashion you can just walk to the next store.

> Is this not like complaining that Walmart dominates its suppliers in Walmart stores?

Supermarkets are frequently subject to antitrust action in Europe.


I suppose a supplier choosing to work with Walmart could have chosen any reseller/distributor, whereas with apps you're pretty much limited to App Store / Google Play. Not everyone shops at Walmart, but almost everyone shops for apps at App Store / Google Play.

>almost everyone shops for apps at App Store / Google Play....

In fairness, "almost everyone" shops at Target/Walmart. That's why everyone's so desperate to get the buyers at Target and Walmart to do business with them. It's worse actually, because you can get on App Store or Google Play, and still not do very well. Whereas if you get space at Target you're set.


"Furthermore, they are not always able to use all functionalities of an iPhone"

If Apple is using "secret APIs" in its own apps in the app store then that is unfair and should change. But sandboxing apps and limiting their access to data and to OS internals is a very good thing.


I'd be perfectly happy if Apple were forced to allow alternative app stores on the IOS platform, so long as security was guaranteed and backed by legal penalties, if Apple was allowed to heavily curate the collection of apps offered by their own store.

I wouldn't use a third-party app store, nor recommend it, but I'd be fine with their existence.


I argued for this here just last week. I would definitely add a store from Mozilla for any software they were paid to review and include.

The app store works because Apple has a reputation, and we trust this reputation. Other companies have a good reputation and could trade on this to offer software.


>so long as security was guaranteed and backed by legal penalties

What does this mean? Apple's app store doesn't even guarantee security.

Would something like F-droid be allowed? Because if not I would argue we're still not solving the problem.


First, security in the payment process. Apple seems to doing pretty well there, so equivalent or better than that.

Second, offer a guarantee that the software on offer is free of malware and unreasonable tracking. Some degree of inspection and curation would need to be performed by the selling App Store as well as having agreements set up with the developers of the apps.

Third, real penalties to all parties if there was some sort of breach or other malfeasance. In the case of data leaks and other issues from the store, the penalty would fall on them. For malware, etc., the penalty would fall on the developers and/or the store for lax practices.


Coming from Computer Science academia ACM for me is Association for Computing Machinery.

Apple could help avoid some these problems if they would just let people side load apps without Appple's blessing or root your device without having to jailbreak it.

The trick is how to provide a feature like that which cannot be used as a vector for malicious hacks, and which can't be used by the authorities to compromise citizen's privacy against their wishes.

If you are side loading yourself you should be allowed to accept that risk.

If your worried about someone else side-loading make it easy to restore the device to factory defaults.

Blocking side loading or rooting by the owner is not a security feature.


Apple's side-loading ban creates ideal conditions for authorities to compromise citizen's privacy via censorship, VPN bans, etc.

Ultimately, having one all powerful gatekeeper is not secure, because that gatekeeper can get compromised or impose arbitrary restrictions for commercial/ideological reasons (such as Apples anti-sex policies)


>Apple's side-loading ban creates ideal conditions for authorities to compromise citizen's privacy via censorship, VPN bans, etc.

I can't really parse that. iOS being locked down and having strong system security prevents censorship because it prevents authorities getting access to your data. How on earth can opening that up and providing backdoors to the system prevent censorship?

The whole reason for the VPN ban is precisely because Apple's system security is so tight that eavesdropping on the wire is the only way the authorities can get at user communications. This criticism makes no sense.

Ultimately, your expectations of how gate keeping should pan out fail to match actual reality. iOS is vastly more secure that it's open competitors, so much so that it isn't even remotely close. I don't know how you can post that with a straight face, but I suppose ideology is a powerful force.


>iOS being locked down and having strong system security prevents censorship because it prevents authorities getting access to your data.

This is completely false. Owning a secure device does not help you get around censorship at all unless you can also install a good VPN (or similar).

>I don't know how you can post that with a straight face, but I suppose ideology is a powerful force.

What ideology would that be? I am an iOS user myself and superior security and privacy is one of the reasons for it. But that doesn't make me blind to the negative side-effects of Apple's approach.

Being easily co-opted by governments for censorship purposes is undeniably one of those negative side-effects.


You don’t really need a good vpn though. Any communications app with end to end encryption such as Signal also works fine. Except if you can’t trust the platform, because then your data can be accessed anyway. You have to be able to trust both the system and the application, either one on its own isn’t good enough.

As for VPNs, those are banned in China for all phones, not just iOS. If a government bans this or requires that, it’s really game over for device or application vendors. They really don’t have any choice but to obey the law, or walk away. Having a closed or open architecture doesn’t make much difference to that. However it still makes a difference in other aspects of security so it’s still a differentiator.

Ok maybe I’m wrong about ideology. But you seem to be arguing that closed systems like iOS lead to worse security, but then say you prefer iOS because of it’s superior security? I’m sorry, I really must be missing something.


>You don’t really need a good vpn though.

You do need a VPN for access to a lot of things in countries like China, but that's beside the point because governments can order Apple to take down any app, including end-to-end encrypted messaging apps.

>As for VPNs, those are banned in China for all phones, not just iOS

But what makes the ban effective on iOS as opposed to Android is Apple's side-loading ban. That's my point.

>But you seem to be arguing that closed systems like iOS lead to worse security, but then say you prefer iOS because of it’s superior security? I’m sorry, I really must be missing something

What you may be missing is that I don't live in a country that blocks wikipedia or porn sites and tells Apple to take down VPNs and end-to-end encrypted messaging apps (yet). That could change though.


Google Play has not been immune to antitrust scrutiny because Android permits sideloading. Just because you can sideload, doesn't mean you can compete with the Play Store on even ground. Sideloading has generally required selecting a scary checkbox to permit "unknown sources", it's not like just double-clicking an EXE you downloaded off the Internet.

I remember app developers getting kicked out of the Android Market back in the day (emulators for consoles, specifically) and saying they'd still work on their app as a sideloaded thing, but only a month or too later, they'd abandon it since nobody was really following them anymore.

There's a certain amount of openness on some platforms I like to call "just enough rope to hang yourself with", where they say it's an open platform that anyone can build on top of, but they control enough of the business-side aspects of to ensure you can never successfully compete on.

Legal entities are less concerned with the technical status of openness than the business reality of openness, and I doubt allowing sideloading would actually exempt them from much attention.


I said "Apple could help avoid some these problems". Keyword is some. You can still be anti-competitive despite being technically open.

Look at what happened with Microsoft and IE. You could still at least install an other browser, but that did not stop the authorities.

It's even worse IOS because you can't side load and you can't even install a competing browser engine. You also can't publish one via the app store.


Well considering even Macs are moving to a more and more controlled and restricted ecosystem / use of apps, I don't see iOS going the opposite direction

Unless required to.

If you want to side-load apps, use Android.

Completely serious here. The degree to which iOS is locked down is absolutely a feature for the overwhelming majority of users. If you don't like it, don't use it. Not all computing platforms need to offer the same functionality. Not all computing platforms need to be "open". If you want an open platform, then use one.


You can side load on iOS all you want -- just get your developer tools installed and build and compile your own code.

No problem!


You don't even need to compile the code; signing the app binary with your development certificate is enough.

Wouldn't count on that happening. They don't want their phone turning into malware central. I bet they probably already did the projections and have figured out exactly how much each type of bad pr costs. They probably already have the data to know that it's better to take the bad pr with developers than to take that pr hit with actual customers.

We all know that the reason Apple devices, Sony,Microsoft and others consoles don't let you side load apps is financial.

The situation currently with both stores is a bit comparible with Microsoft during the internet explorer dominance. The only way to resolve this is by splitting up playstore and iTunes store. Too much self interest from Google and apple is destroying these ecosystems for small businesses.

No. If you had to live through things back then you could see IE actively undermining the internet and making it MS specific. It wasn't like you use MS or you use an IBM OS or HP OS or something like that.

It was you use MS or piss off. There was no realistic Mac option for the masses due to horrible mismanagement. Linux just was not there yet to be perfectly frank. (Even though techies were over the moon because the slackware had XWindows! So now you could open multiple bash terminals to get your work done! See how usable it is!)

It ended up not mattering anyway. The courts kind of laughed the government out of the room. I'm pretty sure the best they got was a promise to let other browsers be installed. (Keep in mind, they were still going to pre-install IE, so nothing was going to change.) That was one of the biggest farcical scenes I'd witnessed in my lifetime. Equivalent of a slap on the hand. (Actually, maybe more like a tap.)


Microsoft got far more than "a slap on the hand", at least in the EU.

They were fined a total of $1.3bn for anti-competitive behaviour, which would have escalated up to $7.4bn if they hadn't stopped.

The two fines were:

- in 2004, EUR 497m ($611m) for restricting music player access, server APIs, etc, with remedies allowing competitors access to build interoperating products. That was the EU's largest fine ever against a single company.

- in 2013, EUR 561m ($731m) for "inadvertently" removing a browser choice screen in 2011 that had been added in 2010 as a condition of the previous remedy following a complaint by Opera in 2007.

That last fine was a firm warning to Microsoft to take anti-competition provisions seriously. If they hadn't changed, EU laws allowed a fine of up to 10% of global revenue, which would have been $7.4bn based on their 2012 turnover.


I'm sorry, by "government", I meant the American government's attempt to reign in MS. Not really familiar with the EU governmental structure or how antitrust works over there.

Over here, I stand by my assertion, it was a farce. Nothing happened to them. And they went on with business as usual.

All that said though, and not to be too negative on government or anything, but it doesn't sound like too much happened in the EU either. I mean, it took until 2004 for the EU to do anything? And, while I realize it sounds like a hefty fine, a browser choice screen did little to change the tech landscape. And it hurt MS very little to add back in a browser choice screen in 2011, many years into iPhone's Normandy invasion of the tech industry.

In fact, I'd argue that Apple, (along with maybe Amazon), has done more to reign in MS than the US or the EU governments. They're the ones who have changed the computing landscape to give us breathing room away from MS. It's what the government should have insisted on when MS first came under scrutiny. (At the same time of course, you could argue that they were right to do nothing. Because eventually, competition did what it was supposed to do and different sectors and services are now split off from MS.)


What about this idea? If you create a platform (OS/Cloud etc.) then you're not allowed to create applications for that platform, or profit from the sale of 3rd party applications - or compete with your own users more generally.

This would stop everything from the Amazon effect to Novell happening. For the life of me I don't understand why we don't enforce this kind of idea?


Because many platforms might not exist under those conditions.

I think Steve Jobs was initially opposed to allowing third party apps at all. Amazon market place might not exist either. Google, Amazon or Microsoft might not be offering AI services to third parties. There might not be extension APIs for MS Office or Google Docs.

Instead we could be seeing a whole lot more vertical integration and a whole lot less opportunity for small vendors to leverage technology that benefits from economies of scale.

I think it's better to let things evolve and then regulate when problems become obvious. Otherwise everything could be as stagnant as many utilities are today.


Under those principles, the entire computing industry would never have been created.

If you can't create your own hardware, and then sell your own software to run on that hardware, then you're doomed.


The title should be changed to reflect that this is a branch of the government of Netherlands and not the Association of Computing Professionals.

Agreed. That was exactly who I thought the headline was referring to.

Yes, I figured this was to do with them. I doubt it's intentionally misleading, but it might be good to expand the acronym.

Sure thing, done.

That’s why I clicked the link. Title should definitely be changed to indicate that this is the Dutch government.

The .nl tld should tell you it's not a US org.

The ACM that the OP mentioned is a global organization and have a presence in many countries.

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets is a global organisation?



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