As someone who has tried multiple times to dip their toes into the Apple world, I can tell you that it's highly hostile to users who try to pick and choose how much they want to be an Apple citizen. If you don't agree to sign up for Apple cloud on the latest iOS, it feels like 80% of the basic functions for a smartphone get locked away from you.
And they have viral aspects to their lock-in as well. Have a single family member who isn't on iMessage? Looks like they don't get to participate in your family discussions anymore.
Their privacy features are a selling point today, but your privacy is 100% in their control. If the executive team made the decision tomorrow to switch Apple into a fully panopticon ecosystem, they'd be able to switch over in a year with little visibility for their users that this transition was happening.
If you are in the Apple ecosystem, you under heavy lock-in pressure and you are fully putting your faith in Apple that the directions they go in the future will be directions that you are happy with.
That doesn't feel secure to me.
I don't have an iCloud account. I'm not sure what "basic functions for a smartphone" I'm unable to use, but, I don't want my photos backed up to iCloud - I'll handle that on my own, for the photos I actually want somewhere other than on my local device. Everything otherwise seems to work.
I don't use iMessage. I've ticked the little box that says to use regular SMS and not iMessage. (This was back when there were stories of people getting stuck on iMessage and losing messages when they switched to another OS, and I wasn't sure I wanted to buy into the Apple platform permanently. I could probably switch back now, since I've been a regular iOS user for years and I hear that https://selfsolve.apple.com/deregister-imessage/ works.) Multi-party SMS works fine. Multi-party Signal, Hangouts, Slack, etc. chats also work great. Similarly, I don't use FaceTime, but I've got tons of messaging apps that support video calls on their own.
Generally things have been fine, so I'm curious what specifically hasn't worked for you.
Looking harder, I think what's happening is I do have iCloud, I just don't use it. I don't have automatic backups of photos, I don't have iCloud Drive (what it prompts me for on software updates), etc. Everything is unchecked except Find My iPhone. I haven't had any downside from having iCloud in this active-but-unused state.
However, I don't share the same degree of skepticism as the GP.
I'm not arguing Apple and Google are the same, far from, but in this area, they seem the same to me for the majority of the population. (Android user)
My Apple ID isn't my normal email address and that hasn't been a problem: people don't contact me through it and Apple doesn't force me to publish it to others.
It's also "give you the chance to opt out LATER after you've invested some time into it."
Most people don't change defaults. So if they buy an iPhone, they are going to go all in on iMessage, whether they've heard of those horror stories of people losing messages or not.
Then, if they ever think they could switch to another OS, they experience the friction you describe, and decide it's not worth it after all.
(Of course, one side effect is that you can't use iMessage any more and iMessage-specific features are unavailable to you, e.g., group texts might get weird. I don't know of any platform that has the property that you can quit it and still use its features.)
Maybe now, but there was a time when iMessage would continue to hijack your number and divert messages from your phone, even if you disabled it.
Also, have you ever tried extricating your photos from iCloud? It's ridiculously complicated, and Apple doesn't give a bulk "download all my photos and delete from your servers". You have to go photo by photo and download them.
- not identify yourself to apple
- be able to firewall apps - be able to determine who your app is contacting and block them
- allow running of your own software (without asking permission from apple)
- be able to turn off location services (even if the Location Services checkbox is off, apple continuously contacts ls.apple.com)
- be able to turn off "side features" of wifi (crowdsourced location of your access points), bluetooth (ibeacons) and nfc (currently you can't disable)
FYI you can do this with an ad blocker app that users VPN.
There’s the option to sideload apps but it does require a Mac and developer knowledge.
I have an ad blocker app (adblockios.com) that uses an internal 127.0.0.1 VPN. The version I have was yanked by apple and they had to change to a less powerful "dns based solution".
In any case, a true firewall would be my holy grail.
I believe sideloading only allows you to run an app for 7 days (You have to continually ask for permission)
Contacts, Calendar, Photos, documents all allow exports to commonly understood formats (and iTunes with some caveats).
I would not currently consider alternative OSes because they'd not work as seamlessly for me, but if Apple became as bad as you envision, I'd be out in short order with basically all my data.
A few years ago I had a friend who wanted a song put on her iphone. I've never used one but I assumed I could do exactly what I've done with every other phone/MP3 player in the universe and just connect it to my laptop via USB and move the file over to some folder called "music" or something. Nope. Needs Itunes. I fire up a VM and install itunes, she has to log into everything and authorize the phone for that machine (with a warning that she can only do this so many times) and then I was able to get the file on her phone but not before it synced her entire library onto my machine (wtf). A few days later her friend is over and she wants the same song on her phone. I still have the VM with itunes installed so we give it a try and it wipes every song on her phone. The whole thing was 100% obnoxious and unnecessary. Really put me off of Apple when every other product "Just Works" while apple requires you to jump through insane hoops for basic functionality the moment you dare to Think Different and do something in a way other than exactly how they want you do things
The only difference was that the second, wiped phone was an empty "dev" phone, thankfully. It then caused Apple to ask for a series of upgrades to develop for, starting with XCode and ending with my MacBook Pro.
Streaming isn't a solution for getting media on a device either. It's a nice convenience in a lot cases, but because you're dependent on someone else to make the content available, and someone else to carry it, streaming is always uncertain and you should never assume it'll be available to you even when it has been in the past. As much as I love streaming media, it can't beat having a DRM free local copy you can keep, copy, convert, etc.
The point though is that getting an MP3 on a popular cell phone at any point over the last 3 years shouldn't be complicated. It shouldn't involve logging into accounts, needing to install bloated and intrusive software (itunes installed a service to always run in the background and set itself to start every time the OS was started) or syncing entire musical libraries (and god knows what else) anywhere. It should have been a drag and drop operation, but the internet is full of horror stories about people losing their music collections, collections being merged with other people's libraries, and requests for itunes alternatives just so people can get media onto their expensive devices.
I'm sure if she only ever used an apple computer with apple's itunes software always running on it, and no one else but her ever used it, and she paid for every piece of media she ever put on her device by using the itunes store everything would have worked wonderfully, but any deviation from that very narrow 100% apple-everything set up turns even the simplest things (like putting an MP3 on a cell phone) into an ordeal with 100% unnecessary apple-imposed complications and roadblocks.
The fact that it would have actually been easier (and probably faster) for me to install and setup a web server to host the file so that she (if she had the right browser) could download it to her phone really shows how fucked up the entire process is.
> I'm sure if she only ever used an apple computer with apple's itunes software always running on it,
That's not required. Macs come with iTunes, and on a PC you can install it. An iPhone is not a hard disk, but a computer with its own operating system, and you need dedicated software to communicate with it, imagine that.
> and no one else but her ever used it,
That's not required. You can have multiple accounts on your Mac easily, and you can also share music by putting it into a shared folder and creating respective libraries, which manage the metadata (rating, last heard, etc.) for each user independently.
> and she paid for every piece of media she ever put on her device by using the itunes store
That's not required. Most of my iTunes library is ripped from my old CDs (when iTunes came out, the motto was "Rip. Mix. Burn."). You can trivially add audio in a variety of formats (and if a format is not accepted, transcode it using eg ffmpeg).
> any deviation from that very narrow 100% apple-everything set up
Well, as outlined, it is rather special circumstances that make it cumbersome. The fundamental assumption, though, is that you get media from your computer to your mobile device using dedicated software, and I agree that that's problematic: not so much the "dedicated software" part, I have no beef with that, but you should be able to add an .mp3 or .epub to the respective library on the mobile device directly. I hope Apple addresses that without destroying the ease of use and powerful metadata we have now.
Lol so I guess my Android phone isn't a computer with its own OS, since I can just plug it into a computer and copy over whatever files I want without bloatware, or, even better, plug in an external drive and copy over files to my phone.
This rationale of answering "I don't want to use Apple's BS ecosystem" with "Just use Apple's ecosystem" with a side order of "you luddite this is how technology works" snide is so sadly typical of people entrenched in the Apple ecosystem.
And iMessage seems like a particularly bad example of lock-in because you can take your identifier (phone number) with you. If you switch from iOS to Android pretty much all that happens from a user experience perspective is your message bubbles are now green instead of blue when you text your friends with iPhones. It's very seamless between SMS and iMessages as far as messaging platforms go. To the extent that group threads with your family become harder, that's because group SMS sucks, not because you're locked in to iMessage.
It really seems like most of the time when people talk about lock in, all they mean is that the feature is particularly good. It does what I want and makes things easy, so there would be friction to change. How dare they build features like that!
Of course this isn't really Apple's fault, we can blame the cell carriers for being categorically uninterested in modernizing SMS or making it secure.
On the other hand, if the iPhone is intentionally crippling MMS, that's pretty slimy lock-in.
Apple does nothing to cripple SMS on iPhones. The only thing Apple is guilty of is not opening up iMessage to non-Apple devices. With Apple Music and TV+ making their way to other ecosystems, I'm hopeful this might change.
False. Unlike iOS, Android supports RCS.
As a followup, how is Android, or chromium any better in that regard, given Googles plans to disallow proper adblocking as it interferes with their business model?
There is a fix but Android users can have trouble being in iMessage groups.
As for how is adroid better... well. It's really not. Just like AMD isn't really better than Intel for privacy and security. For many parts of the hardware stack, if you want to be in control of your own privacy, you pretty much have to drop back to 2000s era technology.
You can install Firefox on Android with ublock origin.
You can create a new thread but unless each of your family
members deletes the old iMessage thread they will default to the old thread, which you are blocked from.
What makes Apple different is that since their business model doesn't depend on gathering and selling our data, their infrastructure gathers less data. And it sounds like they've taken active steps to make sure they gather as little as possible and that it's as useless as possible for nefarious purposes.
That takes extra effort in software design and testing, and they're hoping to see the return on that investment by explaining to their customers how that translates to value in our hands. If that's a stance they're actively taking, I think any reversal would eviscerate their image, and that's my reason to actually have a little faith.
It's not as secure as some alternatives, but it's a lot easier to use, and in the real world where not everybody compiles things from source, that matters.
No it's not, stop spreading FUD.
> It's not as secure as some alternatives
Like what? Name one platform that offers all the services that Apple offers with the same level of security and privacy.
Apple would have to argue that in court. They would almost certainly lose.
They allow 3rd-party apps for doing messaging (replaces iMessage), cloud storage (replaces icloud), firefox (replaces safari), 1password (replaces keychain) – all in a clean and easy way – with no ambiguity or confusion.
But w.r.t end to end encryption claims, we just take them at their word. There is no formal verifiable proof.
Recently we have repeatedly learnt the hard way to not trust corporations at they word.
Without open-source and peer-reviewed cryptographic protocols and verifiable trusted execution models, it is not safe to believe it is truly end to end encrypted and nobody is spying.
With Apple products, you're putting your privacy entirely in Apple's hands and assuming that their executives will continue to follow the same branding and product strategy that they've been pursuing for the past few years.
That said, Apple is probably the least bad option for phone + cloud for most people. But it's sad that that's the case.
Obviously that still isn't as trustworthy as open source tools you can verify yourself, but it's a far cry better than any privacy guarantee you're getting from Google.
No. Apple regularly hands over iCloud data to government investigator. In China, Apple handed over its keys, so the Chinese government does not even need to involve Apple to get iCloud data.
feature lock-in, and not feeling empowered to ignore the cloud services associated with the cellular phone you bought, are concerns. they are not security concerns.
it's privacy built on a closed source platform. that's the point you're making.
Apple give me privacy. Find a company that doesn't and doesn't have lock in and I'd switch in a heart beat but based on simple economics I doubt that's gonna happen any time soon
But that is not their target market anyway. It is the general public and these comments are just noise.
But yes, these comments are likely just noise.
Librem 5 raised over $2.1 million
The VPN market is measured in the billions.
People spend money in this area. The privacy orientated crowd is willing to put their money where their mouth is.
Please keep orientating products towards it.
edit: sorry, for some reason I'm unable to reply to the comment below. Purism raised 2.1 million pre-selling their the librem 5, not in shares or anything.
I learned about the reply button because I too was once wondering why it sometimes doesn't appear, and I Googled it.
The other products and services mentioned don’t seem to be prospering the same way.
There's also lots of businesses that use them for accessing internal networks externally.
I've never met anyone in real life that is using one for privacy reasons.
As far as the “VPN market” according to the link, they are mostly referring to businesses using VPNs in the enterprise not individual users.
Yes. I hate this attitude that its not enough to be profitable you have to make literally all the money or your business is a failure.
Are they profitable
you have to make literally all the money or your business is a failure
I spend quite a bit of money per month to maintain some semblance of privacy and none of the companies I support are raking in millions in profit every quarter.
"Trying to sell something to privacy obsessed tech segment is a futile effort. They are never happy and don’t want to pay for anything anyway."
And you're off here being like "BUT THEY DO EXIST (even if they are so trivially small that they wouldn't even make a rounded-up single line on Apple's financial disclosures)".
From Apple and his perspective, these tiny businesses are irrelevant.
First it was both:
> Trying to sell something to privacy obsessed tech segment is a futile effort. They are never happy and don’t want to pay for anything anyway. But that is not their target market anyway.
> But that is not their target market anyway.
Those listed companies exist in an entirely different universe to apple and talking about them is entirely irrelevant here. Their existence proves nothing.
edit (for clarity): Saying that Apples mass-market approach spares them from catering to privacy concerned, somewhat still niche interests would've been a completely valid comment.
The message would not have needed the false part.
puri.sm may yet execute well and take-off but privacy remains a seriously hard problem to tackle (due to govt, ad-net, big-tech) yet easily a problem to get passionate about.
I'm only too happy to pay a premium if that gives me some control over my own privacy.
Apple gives you less control over your privacy. Do you want to open map links in an offline maps app? Impossible on the iPhone. Do you want to develop apps for your own device without handing over card details? Also impossible. Do you want to install apps at all without telling Apple you installed them? Too bad. Would you rather not tell Apple your location every time you use GPS? There's no way to opt out (this is opt-in on even Google-flavored Android devices). The list goes on.
> Do you want to open map links in an offline maps app? Impossible on the iPhone.
Yes and no. The app launcher defaults to Maps. You can copy and paste addresses into any offline maps app.
> Do you want to develop apps for your own device without handing over card details? Also impossible.
Blatantly false. You can compile and sideload direct from Xcode to any iOS device without the need for a paid dev account. The paid dev account is only for putting your app on the App Store, or using Test Flight, etc.
> Do you want to install apps at all without telling Apple you installed them? Too bad.
I currently have a Nintendo DS and GameBoy Advance emulator on my unjailbroken phone. I installed direct from a website. I had to 'trust' the developer's certificate first.
> Would you rather not tell Apple your location every time you use GPS?
Citation needed. This information is stored locally and not (afaik) sent to the cloud.
Are you serious? Do you normally copy and paste links instead of clicking on them? You think it's reasonable for somebody to do this with every map link? How about map links inside native applications that aren't even copyable at all?
> Blatantly false. You can compile and sideload direct from Xcode to any iOS device without the need for a paid dev account.
But you will have to reinstall it weekly, which makes this method unworkable.
> I had to 'trust' the developer's certificate first.
When you did that, you also had to tap a "Verify App" button, which phones home to Apple. Ultimately, Apple may revoke the enterprise certificate used to sign your emulator apps, and then you won't even be able to install them.
> Citation needed.
"By enabling Location Services for your devices, you agree and consent to the transmission, collection, maintenance, processing, and use of your location data and location search queries by Apple and its partners and licensees to provide and improve location-based and road traffic-based products and services."
You cannot get your GPS location without Location Services enabled.
> More hyperbole...
You've bought into Apple's marketing so completely that you don't believe the evidence right in front of your face.
I had a work iPhone and it felt like 4 years outdated.
Going with Cyanogenmod (now LineageOS) helped a lot but did not resolve the need to restart often. Then my device which is primarily a phone that absolutely must work reliably and must be secure and updated, is at the whims of a rather lackadaisical volunteer effort.
Irregardless of arguing merits, the bottom line is that it's clear to me that Android's quality does not match what Apple is doing with iOS. Ultimately, I need calls and texts to guarantee to not be laggy and be reliable. It doesn't just need to be reliable, it also needs to feel reliable. I can't remember a single time an iOS app crashed on me. Android failed me in both of those regards in favor of being a mini-PC, with all the positive and negative connotations that includes.
I moved over with the iPhone5S, loved it, still usable as a backup phone unlike all of my old Android devices which are useless today and not even supported by LineageOS builds that aren't years old. I'm using an iPhone SE today, 3 years on with zero issues, still secure, private, fast and stable. It'll be getting iOS 13 in the fall, which looks better than ever.
If Apple releases an iPhone XE, I'll be buying it at launch at any stated price. I would hand Apple $1,000 for the rumored XE. Even if I only used it 3 years, which is on the minimum end of an iPhone's lifespan, per month cost is $28 at that price for 3 years. Considering the support, build quality and reliable utility, it's an absolute no brainer. A bargain. Anyone ever use the 'Apple Support' app? If you have an issue, they help you, really help you, for $0.0. I'm speaking from my own personal experience alone. I don't work for Apple, and only buy index funds. They're simply doing business right, and making everyone else look like fools. They've built their own value through reliable, hard work. Even if the iPhone costs $50 to manufacture.
Apple is one of the very few companies that from what I've seen, gave me the impression that they actually give a damn or two about their own products. I'm actually a .Net developer, a Thinkpad fan (and Macbook, because of the copious service locations), and if it's not clear yet.. love my iPhone.
I value privacy more than a robust and fair market. I can understand why others wouldn't, but I'm not the one spending their money, nor are they the ones spending mine.
They aren't quite orthogonal because if you have root on your device, then you limit the security guarantees Apple can make about their privacy measures.
This is a fairly deep problem in the sense that there is a tradeoff between having a secure enclave to support interesting security protocols on the one hand, and the fact that a secure enclave almost by definition means you don't fully own the machine on the other.
Honest question, because I have absolutely no idea.
As a member of one segment of the cellphone user population, I'll say none, really.
The ability to root your phone, IMHO, simply makes it yet another device that sucks up admin time.
Life is too short. This is the major reason I'm a participant in Apple's walled garden. I don't want to mess about more than necessary with a device that I regard as a tool. If my hammer required admin time, I'd dump it.
Everyone values features differently. If my valuations aren't in line with yours, what makes yours more major?
Firewalling traffic and tunneling also requires root. I believe it is a popular way to block ads and analytics, either with a hosts file or iptables.
Apple products have had plenty of bugs leading to security issues, and I'd rather make it easier for researchers to discover these.
Possibly compromising security for everybody just so 0.05% of the users can be happy is not a realistic expectation.
The only way to make companies fix bugs which may be difficult to find, expensive to fix, and potentially embarrassing is to make it easy to locate exploits on real hardware. Otherwise the only people with the resources to do this are government-backed entities like NSO Group, Vupen, etc, who somehow always ensure that exploits get into the hands of repressive governments.
For the vast majority of users this isn't a concern or even a good idea.
So security isn’t a concern to you at all, huh? Or are you just really bad at understanding security?
I'm probably not obsessed with privacy, but I put it fairly high on my priority list, and I'm sure as hell I can and will pay for it, if it's not just an illusion. I can see value when there's value. It remains to be seen whether Apple can provide it, though.
We can argue (somebody here will) as to the actual level of privacy conferred, but the segment is far from miniscule:
They do ads because people are too cheap to buy apps.
If Apple reduces their “tax” to 15% how would that compensate for not having the ongoing revenue of ad sales?
At the same time, I suspect that in most cases it would not change the business decisions being made. Recurring revenue matches the financial needs of a business better in most cases.
Honestly I can’t think of one non game app that is ad supported without the option of turning off ads with an in app purchase or subscription.
I do feel safe in suggesting that across all the apps of the world, there is a greater than 50% chance of there being at least one such application.
As long as users will balk at paying even 4.99 for an app, developers will make them free and then engage in dark business models like surveillance and terrible in-app purchases.
To be fair and stop “blaming the victims,” this is a classic hard problem in psychology: The purchase price is an immediate, objective cost. Surveillance and the possibility of getting sucked into in-app purchases are subjective, uncertain costs with consequences in the future.
In aggregate, humans are really bad at making those judgments, trebly so when other humans are rigging the game to make the judgment difficult to evaluate.
You see this in games in particular. Paying removes /most/ adverts. However it does not remove the “watch an advert to get an extra life” style adverts. I assume it also does not remove any ad tracking.
Out of interest, what is the refund policy in the app store? I know, for example, I'm way more chilled about paying for "unknown" steam games when I can refund them after an hour of play if I don't like them.
I heard you even get to keep stuff you wanted to get a refund for. But I haven’t tried this.
If you consider the actions you take to preserve your privacy, it's a strategy you developed over time. And no one can claim to have a formula for devising the perfect strategy when there are non-trivial unknowns. This isn't just common, but normal in economics.
An economic actor can a. estimate the potential costs and benefits, b. observe other actors' strategy and outcomes but must ultimately c. execute their own strategy.
None of these are fully rational, and you have scarce resources (time & money, ability to survey the problem, limited exposure to the actions and consequences of other actors) to allocate to A and B.
If everything works, you stick to your strategy. If you get burned, you adjust your strategy in response. (Though a strategy may be "eat a cost less than $X.")
And if you observe it working for others or others getting burned, you might also adjust your strategy. This does lead to a natural selection of successful strategies; actors are "eventually optimal."
Say you have an app that is a niche app with a 7 day free trial and a one-time purchase. How does this look to the user? Exactly like every other freemium/ad riddled/subscription/pay-to-play app. The download button says "Get" and underneath it you see "In-App Purchases Available." User expectations are destroyed at the download page.
One part of the solution is to allow developers to actually define an app as a time limited free trial. Make the download button say "START FREE TRIAL" and underneath "$4.99 to Purchase". Let the user buy or take the free trial from the App Store...but most importantly let them know that it isn't yet another subscription app, or something riddled with ads (Even going so far as to add an app review check that will look for ad network connections to ensure compliance.)
Apple has created a system where user's are now afraid of in-app purchases, because they allowed kids games to be riddled with them and other apps to setup up predatory free trial structures with weekly renewals (And until recently, buried the subscriptions page in a few levels of settings menus.)
Maybe ask them outright at the end of the trial if they want to carry on?
Mostly-screen multi-touch smartphones? They were only for the rich when they first launched too. As demand grows, scale enables other businesses to build cheaper options.
Given how quickly competitors copy anything vaguely new or novel coming out of Apple, it seems reasonable that someone will come up with a similar competing service before long.
If they don't, maybe it's also worth focusing some attention on those who directly try to exploit the poor and/or less knowledgeable?
Also on a used first-gen iPad Pro 12.9". It's great. I may sell it and pick up a used 3rd-gen when the 4th gen comes out. Or may wait one past that, pick up a used 4th, and just give the 1st-gen to my kids rather than selling. Apple devices are worth the money in part because they don't go way downhill after 12-18mo, so 1) they actually hold some value, and 2) you can skip a couple upgrades and not feel like you're missing out on much.
If they right now appear to care about privacy, but it's for some other reason, I'd expect financial motives to eventually overrule that.
I mean there are a growing number of people leaving Facebook (ok mostly for Instagram and WhatsApp) who would be willing to pay a few dollars a month to have an advert free experience in a private social media network.
Jokes aside, isn't that, functionally speaking, iMessage?
The actual size - not relative size - of your base would define that. The only way relative would matter is if they needed to be larger than eg Android to do it, for some reason (they don't).
They have ~1.4 billion active devices world-wide (900+ million active iPhones). You're acting like they have more like 50 million. They'll soon have a billion people using their various services.
Have people already forgot about The Fappening?
It was one of the nastiest privacy failures for tech companies. I'm impressed with how fast public opinion can change.
This 30% number is accurate but hardly all tax.
First, companies attempting to compete with Steam have found it costs 12% to 18% to just run a digital store, without all the app review, customer discovery & acquisition, hosting and delivery, and ecosystem integration Apple and Steam are doing, much less human support.
Second, just a credit card transaction can cost 2.5% - 5% depending on the customer behavior. On a percentage take versus value provided, that seems much worse than the store cost, and it’s a huge chunk of the store cost.
Third, Apple lowers the recurring publishing, hosting, transaction, and support fee in year 2+ to 15%, still including the credit card processing.
It’d be incredibly difficult to operate a trusted digital app sales ecosystem (with human app review and support, refunds, etc.) at scale with less overhead.
And taking 30% for in-app purchases — while forbidding developers from even advertising ways of purchasing that bypass Apple — is just plain anticompetitive.
Let’s say you are at a grocery store, offering free samples of a food, the store allows you to set up in the store however, you don’t want to let the store sell your product because of the distribution fees. While giving out the samples in their store, you tell customers to buy your product from your website directly.
Is this actually a thought process that makes sense to anyone? You want to be visible to customers in Apple’s store but you want to send those customers outside of that store to buy your product? It would seem that was freeloading. Nothing prevents you from selling outside the App Store. Look at Salesforce, they have plenty of apps on the store and they pay Apple exactly nothing when someone becomes a customer of Salesforce. Last time I checked, Basecamp isn’t doing in-app purchases either.
Apple does. They aren't 100% successful, sure. But we don't excuse the PRC's Great Firewall because people manage to bypass it either (not that the damage Apple and the PRC do were comparable). An unethical act does not become ethical because you're bad at it.
> You want to be visible to customers in Apple’s store
No, you want to be able to sell at all. Due to Apple's anticompetitive behavior that means selling on Apple's store. Your argument might be valid if Apple had a store but didn't force all Iphone and Ipad users to use it.
>Is this actually a thought process that makes sense to anyone?
Totally. Apple encourages free apps just as much as paid apps. They even have a category on the App Store for free apps. They will promote free apps over paid apps if the free app is better. Many apps in their top10 lists are free. Does it sound to you like Apple is against free apps or is otherwise discouraging them? Also you have to pay Apple when you list your app on the App Store. I believe the developer license or whatever you need costs $100. So its not technically free, although I agree that the price is nominal.
To go back to your grocery store example, I'm selling someone a wifi router, and telling them to sign up for internet on my website. Apple wants to tax the internet too. Or I'm selling someone a Sirius XM Satellite radio for their car, and telling them to signup for service on my website.
I will concede that there is nothing either 'evil' or 'good' about what Apple is doing. But to me, taking 30% of a companies sales is super greedy at the very least. Apple does have a history of overcharging for their products. Nobody is opposed to paying premium for premium parts/labor/service, etc. But with Apple, they have an insane margin and so the extra money simply goes into a pile of cash or into some executives pocket. Its not going towards a better product.
They've been focused on privacy for a long time, and developers running terrible ads is despite Apple's efforts, not because of them.
It's not incredibly difficult to operate a trusted digital app sales ecosystem at all. It's just that there is no competition. If Apple wasn't a monopoly, I have no doubt someone like Amazon could deliver a service that undercut Apple by 90% and deliver the same exact "trusted" ecosystem.
As a comment above highlights, it is more expensive than it might seem to operate the ecosystem.
It always seems like one should be able to reproduce a popular service in a weekend, but the details (and scale) are tricky.
Seems like a fair competitive market. /s
Your comment implies price-fixing, but history demonstrates competition, and Apple lowered the costs for everyone.
> It's not incredibly difficult to operate a trusted digital app sales ecosystem
How do you ensure the trust of the millions of apps that are constantly updating?
But Apple is trying something - subscription games.
As a society, we're able to establish laws and protections against trends where capitalism goes awry. We banned lead usage in products like paints and set regulations to protect dumping anything and eveverything into rivers (hey its cheap).
Privacy may be no different and if market forces are somehow perpetuating it to remain competitive, we as a society need to intervene in a regulatory fashion and redirect businesses to pursue other approaches to increasing revenue and implementing cost saving mechanisms.
And rightfully so. They've been accused of selling customer data in this lawsuit:
And then I learned that Apple does not guarantee that apps from its online store respect users' privacy. That rather gives the lie to its commitment to privacy.
I mean, it did (along with Google) take down that Facebook app that exploited the enterprise loophole to basically log all phone usage. And it has taken down apps that block ads in other apps.
So why has it been more-or-less lying by omission about tracking by third-party apps? Apps that it has supposedly vetted.
But there should at least be an apology for not acknowledging tracking by third-party apps. For years. While they were touting their privacy stance.
And it's not just about behavioral ads. Some repressive governments have used iOS apps against dissidents.
They deserve a lot of slack. Apple's privacy approach may not be perfect but they are head and shoulders above just about every other major tech company.
Google actually takes the extra step of obscuring the footnotes to look like hyperlinks. For example, if you click "ads you'll find most useful" under "We want you to understand the types of information we collect as you use our services" you'll see that it pops out as a footnote rather than linking you to a new site.
<a class="g1mG8c" href="privacy#footnote-useful-ads" data-name="useful-ads"jsaction="click:IPbaae(preventDefault=true)">ads you’ll find most useful</a>
It looks like the PDF version is available at the top of your linked page under the link "Download PDF" (https://www.gstatic.com/policies/privacy/pdf/20190122/f3294e...). The footnotes are all tacked on to the end of the document there, but they're hard to make use of out of context.
It's frustrating that the footnotes contain both important disclosures like "we assign you a unique identifier to track your activity if you're not signed in to a Google account" but then use the exact same format to say "a device is a computer that can be used to access Google services."
Makes it harder to identify the important bits.
And it is frustrating for sure. Not all footnotes are bad but all the bad stuff is usually in the footnotes!
What I am arguing is that Apple has been BSing people.
> What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.
Because that's just not true. Unless, I suppose, you don't install any third-party apps on your phone. So then, that privacy claim should look like:
> What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.#
> # Unless you install third-party apps.
Otherwise, dissidents will feel safe using iPhones. Until they're dead or in prison.
They can't 100% guarantee that third-party apps won't spy on you, and they don't even promise to do it.
You might want to bash Apple for something they haven't promised and is probably not even possible. But that's on you, just baseless bashing.
But my point is that Apple does have lots of rules about what apps can do, and can't do. And that it's been rather aggressive in applying those rules. If you search HN re some mix of ["Apple", "iOS", "app", "store", etc] you'll find complaints from developers about Apple removing their apps from its store.
So, in that context, why were they silent for years about privacy risks of third-party apps? That wouldn't be a remarkable omission by Google, given that its business model is largely about monetizing users' information. But for Apple, which has been promoting itself as privacy-friendly, it strikes me as a glaring omission.
I'm getting criticism for not acknowledging Apple for its stance on privacy, and for how much better it is than Google. And for blaming it for not being perfect. And yes, it is privacy-friendly, and does a far better job at privacy than Google does.
What I'm criticizing is the failure to clearly acknowledge limitations. And I'm coming at this from the perspective of users who are concerned about threats to their privacy. Users who aren't very technical, and who may misunderstand just what Apple protects them from.
Also, this isn't just me hating on Apple. I've said pretty much the same things about the Tor Project. Back in the day, when many users actually saw Tor start at the command line, they saw "[notice] Tor v0...(...). This is experimental software. Do not rely on it for strong anonymity." But the new https://www.torproject.org/ starts with "Browse Privately. Explore Freely. Defend yourself against tracking and surveillance. Circumvent censorship." Finding anything at all about limitations is not so easy. About risks from global adversaries. About Tor-bypass risks in Tor browser. About risks from malware that phones home through clearnet, bypassing Tor. Conversely, when you start Tor browser in Whonix, you see "Whonix is experimental software. Do not rely on it for strong anonymity."
My point was, you seem to have an interpretation of "Apple approved this app so therefore this means that X,Y, Z is true". I'm asking if that is actually what Apple is claiming.. officially, and also what X, Y, Z mean to you.
If you're claiming that "Approved third party app" == "no data ever leaves your phone" then this has never been the claim of Apple AFAIK.
>What I'm criticizing is the failure to clearly acknowledge limitations.
I see. But why would a company acknowledge their limitations in a commercial competitive marketplace? People who appreciate companies being honest about their limitations in such a public manner, and still end up buying their product are not in the majority, I think.
People try to avoid mentioning anything negative about their past in a job interview - which is kinda the position companies are in, when they go look for customers.
There's arguably an analogy to potential limitation in DCMA safe harbor protection for sites moderate user posts. So if Apple didn't vet apps in its store, and only removed apps after complaints about malicious behavior, it would have no burden for disclosure.
But Apple clearly does vet apps. Aggressively so, given what I've read. So allowing apps that violate users' privacy does create a burden for disclosure. Unless you argue that Apple didn't know that they were doing that, which seems unlikely.
> I see. But why would a company acknowledge their limitations in a commercial competitive marketplace? People who appreciate companies being honest about their limitations in such a public manner, and still end up buying their product are not in the majority, I think.
Yes, for better or worse, that's how things are.
But if you play the "you can trust us" card, and are not in fact being totally honest, it's arguably worse than not promising anything.
Google did pretty much the same, with its "do no evil" mantra. But nobody believes that anymore. I was hoping that Apple was really trustable, but now I'm dubious.
But to be clear by saying “the app asks you”, it would be more accurate that the app asks the operating system for the location, the operating system asks you and the OS enforces it.
Given that Apple is announcing patches for these loopholes, it must have been working on them for at least months, if not years. But searching "apple privacy third party app" shows nothing before late May, 2019. Maybe I missed something, and if I did, please share.
There is no such thing as a third-party guarantee that doesn't also disallow useful functionality.
But I still maintain that they should have explicitly warned users that installing third-party apps would put their privacy at risk. The situation with Android is undoubtedly far worse. But Google doesn't (at least, not plausibly) claim to be privacy-friendly.
I mean, consider what lengths Apple has gone to to keep customers from rooting their phones. Back in the day, they were bricking them. And they justified it all for security against malicious apps.
They want to retain control over their customers; at the same time, force the developers into relying entirely on Apple as a middle man so that they can't cut Apple out of any transactions.
This way, Apple gets their cut and user's get some level of privacy.
That they can get away with this arm-twisting as "privacy" is to give credit to their brand positioning.
I think GP's point is that Apple is doing this using lock-in, rather than having the best possible products.
If there were multiple app stores for iOS users, you could argue that Apple is behaving just like every other business. But they're not. They're stifling competition to lock their customers in.
If you buy an iPhone, which is a big investment for most people, then you must either use Apple's App Store or jailbreak.
I‘m not sure that’s true for every Android phone.
I think there is a reason there is basically one App Store on each platform (outside desktops).
The difference is in whether other people who dislike/distrust Apple have another option, and right now they don't.
Each time you use the sign in with Apple button, it becomes ever so harder to switch away from Apple products.
Each time your friends add you to an iMessage group chat (instead of, say, a WhatsApp one) it becomes ever so harder to switch away from Apple products.
Each time you buy an Apple home speaker or Apple TV or whatever else it becomes harder to switch away from Apple products.
Google's stuff works better if you're all in but works fine piecemeal. Apple's stuff works fine all in but doesn't work at all piecemeal.
Tech folks should be up in arms about all this, but all you see on this wretched forum are rationalizations involving "business models" and "paying customers".
You want to see a software maker actually care about people's privacy? See Mozilla. Oh but you can't set Firefox as your default browser on your $1200 iPhone, sorry.
Since the beginning, Apple wants to justify its premium by it just works which has allowed novice users to use their Macs and then iPhones and other products. With privacy, it's another one of those "it just works" plus "you don't have to worry about it".
If Apple can tie security to its already high brand equity, it will be and continue to be in a good place in today's fear mongering world. It's always better to sell a pain killer than a vitamin and security is top of mind for consumers now more than ever. If nothing else their advertising campaigns are pushing that education onto consumers.
Each time your friends add you to a Facebook Messenger group chat (instead of, say, an iMessage one) it becomes ever so harder to switch away from Facebook.
Each time you buy an Amazon Echo or Google Home or Chromecast or whatever else it becomes harder to switch away from Amazon/Google products.
At least iMessage is based primarily on phone number, so you can turn off iMessage and keep your contacts. Deleting your Facebook account or trying to change Gmail addresses means losing it all. Lock-in is only lock-in if you let it be. Personally, I worry more about Google than Apple, but your mileage may vary.
Comcast also wants to retain control over their customers -- they want to sell customers internet access, while also selling ISPs and websites access to the customers. This strategy doesn't make the customer better off. If Apple treats their captive customers better than Comcast it's not due to any strategy of being a "middle man".
The cynical part of me sees this as an "Oh Shit!" reaction to businesses starting to circumvent the App Store.
If Apple can make everybody on a iPhone dependent upon their single-sign-on, they can threaten businesses with access to it later.
And what do you think Google and Microsoft and Facebook don't also try to control their customers? They do just as much but they also violate privacy.
You control the customers and you pay Apple nothing. So this idea that Apple is forcing developers to do anything is nonsense.
We are unable to release this app on the AppStore until we change our whole payment/subscription/billing stack to support Apple subscription system and agree to give them 30% / 15% of our revenues on those users (this is more than we pay for AWS, comparatively).
Keep in mind that a good chunk of of revenues comes from custom plans, so I don't even know how that would work with Apple system.
So much for not forcing developers to do anything.
We believe we fall under the exception of "business databases" which are exempted from this restriction, but the reviewer does not believe so. Guess who won.
We are not trying to use the app as an acquisition channel, we don't believe our customers would discover our service through an app store search. We want to make it more easy for our current customers to view their data on a mobile device, the app is pretty simple, coded in react native and also available on the play store.
I have apps on my phone that accept payment only on the web.
But you can, and that's what a lot of companies including Netflix do?
But this would require a significant amount of work on our side to support both web and mobile subscription. We do not expect to get any new business straight from the mobile app, we just want to offer an additional free service to our existing and future customers.
It would take us at least 2 to 3 man-month to rework our billing stack so that Apple has a chance to get 30% on some subscription. Which they won't since we really doubt B2B customers will subscribe to $2k+ yearly contracts using in-apps purchases. So it's really spending all that time/effort so that the Apple reviewer feels OK can safely check the little box on his list next to "in-app policy" :-(
I don't think that's true. Youtube premium costs $16/mo when you subscribe using their iOS app, but $12-13 when you subscribe on the web.
That can't be true, SoundCloud offers differing prices between their Go+ on their website and app store. $9.99 and $12.99. They even tell you if you sign-up through their website instead of the app store you get a "discount".
I worked at a SAAS company that allowed the app to be on the App Store but you had to have a contract with us to use it.
You seem very confident about your understanding of things, but you seem to have misidentified the exact cause of your rejection.
--- START ---
Hello XXX team,
We are writing to let you know the results of your appeal for your app, XXX.
The App Review Board evaluated your app and determined that the original rejection feedback is valid. Your app does not comply with:
Guideline 3.1.1 - Business - Payments - In-App Purchase
We continue to find that your app offers a subscription with a mechanism other than the in-app purchase API.
While we understand that the app reads data, it does not fall into any of the categories listed in guideline 3.1.3 for reader apps:
3.1.3(a) “Reader” Apps: Apps may allow a user to access previously purchased content or content subscriptions (specifically: magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, video, access to professional databases, VoIP, cloud storage, and approved services such as classroom management apps), provided that you agree not to directly or indirectly target iOS users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase, and your general communications about other purchasing methods are not designed to discourage use of in-app purchase
We hope you will consider making the necessary changes to be in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines and will resubmit your revised binary.
App Review Board
--- END ---
So unless you are in one of those listed categories, it does not work. Don't know why we can't be considered to be a professional database tho.
(Edit: I know Spotify used to have an option for it but they dropped that and I never used it anyway)
But you just can't use Apple's own platform against them.
In reality, I don't think people will go back to Cloud 1.0 but at least Apple will keep companies in check while they rot away to oblivion.
Examples? They are a platform vendor and have done no worse than other companies when it comes to their platform. Sure macOS has stagnated somewhat, but so have nearly all desktop platforms. Windows 10 started gaining momentum only when Microsoft realized that they had no scope in mobile space and had to save the last fort they had left. And to be honest, I do not consider Windows 10 to be massively superior to macOS. There is a reason they are building a Frankenstein's Monster by grafting a Linux kernel on top of Windows.
And iOS, despite its problem, can't be considered as worse than Android -- the later has its own problems.
At this point, OS platforms are as good as they are going to get. Barring a paradigm shift in computing, all we are going to see are incremental improvements. And IMO, that is not a bad thing. I, for one, do not want to see an interface redesign every other year.
> no real cloud offering besides iCloud.
That is like saying Google and Microsoft have no cloud offering besides Google Drive and OneDrive respectively. Or are you talking about GCP/Azure? If so, how is that relevant? Apple, unlike the other two, remains a consumer focused company with limited investment into enterprise.
> In reality, I don't think people will go back to Cloud 1.0 but at least Apple will keep companies in check while they rot away to oblivion.
What does that even mean?
> They're doubling down on what they can do which is to convince people to avoid moving their life online.
Are you suggesting iCloud is not online?
Uh, what? iCloud is the umbrella term for all their cloud services. So they offer "no real cloud offering" besides all their cloud offerings?
I think most EU Advertising Control Boards would verdict that Apple's privacy claims are misleading and therefore against the applicable Advertising Law.
I think not. From the horses mouth:
Since the directive on unfair commercial practices (2005/29/EC) is in place, the misleading and comparative advertising directive has been applied only to business-to-business (B2B) relations concerning misleading advertising.
For what "misleading is", see Article 2 (b) and especially Article 3 of Directive 2006/114/EC.