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Apple says game streaming services violate App Store policies (businessinsider.com)
397 points by oblio 75 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 378 comments



> Basically, Apple wants to be able to review every game that graces an iPhone’s screen, even if it’s streamed from a game server somewhere in the cloud.

Really wondering how Apple can think they need to have that much power. How can they let me, a simple-minded iPhone user use the web browser without checking every website so that the sites don't violate Apple's policies. How do they allow 3rd party web browsers. They display loads of questionable content, too.

And actually, I don't think that'd be too far off. Like what Google has their Safe Browsing list containing links to malware sites, Apple could create their own Apple Internet List, and demand through App Store policies that all browsers implement it or else.


How does YouTube and Netflix get approved since Apple can’t verify every video on their platform, including videos that have yet to be published?

This reasoning is beyond absurd.


Maybe their thinking goes along the lines of "an installable game, whether local or not, is considered like an app, wheter it adds its own icon to the homescreen or not, and since it's considered as an app, it must be held to apple app store policies. now unlike youtube and netflix which primarily host video content that don't act like an app, even though you can download content for offline use in both apps."


I think it's more likely that their thinking goes along the lines of "game installs are a ton of revenue for us; game streaming services give iPhone users a way to pay someone else for games without us getting a cut, so we have to stop that because we are a business and we like money."


Very analogous to (anti-net-neutrality) ISP reasoning about video streaming services that compete with what they offer.


Or they want there own gamestream service in the future.


That wouldn't sit well in terms of antitrust if they blocked all their competitors.


Remember Netflix has interactive shows.

I just checked, and Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is playable on my iPhone.

Games like Late Shift or The Complex on Xbox are very similar.


Along the same vein then they would need to remove any remote desktop apps, of which there are many.


Netflix has games that work on the iPhone. Why is that allowed?


They're not though? The interactive stuff doesn't work on an Apple TV at least.


They work on iOS devices.


But the games aren't installed, just streamed.


TFA mentions in-app purchases as a differentiating factor, and personally I suspect that's what's really driving this. Streaming a video doesn't expose a way to make purchases that circumvents Apple's getting a cut, but since a game is executable code, there's no way to guarantee that on a gaming platform.

(Which is not to absolve Apple of unethical behavior, but it is one way in which the analogy doesn't hold.)


However if you get your subscription through the app they will demand 30%.


This is a good question. Maybe consumer demand? Perhaps consumers will move away from iphone because of this gaming platform?


By Netflix having market power.


If you mean your reasoning, yes.

They don't need to "verify every video" because a video is a video. It's all about the codec, security etc wise, not the content. With dynamic code, like a game or app, it's obviously different.


On Stadia (not sure about xCloud), the games are not run locally on the user's device. The Stadia app just captures controller input, sends it to Google's servers and returns a video stream of the gameplay (either VP9, h264, or AV1).


Can’t the web browser be used as the client here? Safari iOS has websockets as well as WebGL, if local rendering were needed.

I’m surprised Google didn’t develop it that way to begin with.


Yes, the web browser can be used as a client.

https://support.google.com/stadia/answer/9598981?hl=en


It can—that's how you used to be able to use Stadia on non-Google/Pixel Android devices before general availability.

iOS Safari isn't supported, however. Not sure if it has something to do with gamepads, video codecs, or what...


Call me paranoid, but I'd bet on Apple intentionally crippling Safari features of progressive web apps just to make sure it doesn't become a viable alternative to their walled garden.


But if it's not about the content, why are we here then talking about how Apple needs to validate the games sold inside a game streaming app to be App Store policy compliant. Youtube isn't necessarily too far off from game streaming, technically speaking. Both transfer video content over the internet. And the game streaming app doens't install anything, not even the games, to your device, as that's the whole point. I'll also add that why can I watch the game on YouTube when some youtuber plays it, but I cannot purchase & play it remotely through this one app?

And do note that you can purhcase movies from Youtube app.


> And do note that you can purhcase movies from Youtube app.

Not on iPhones?


Actually, yes. Screenshot I just took: https://i.postimg.cc/bNX4Bw5s/0-C84-E133-7003-4867-8-F28-F84... (it goes through the normal IAP flow if you hit a button)


Streamed games are just video in one direction and inputs in the other direction. No dynamic code, as far as I know.


And video players have controls, like pause, and analytics and metrics, which are sent to the server.


Game streaming is video.


Technically, the app is only streaming a video and accepting user inputs. It's basically a video player, the actual game code never runs on the Apple device itself.

Apple is just mad because they're not getting a slice of the pie. I could see them being paid for the initial app purchase (once, not a subscription) for the distribution, but why the hell should they get paid for all the games being streamed? They're not handling the game servers or any of the related bandwidth requirements behind the scene.


Need has nothing to do with it. They're identifying ways in which people are making money off of the platform and demanding a cut. This is what companies do unless there is competition and/or regulation.


I don’t think this is about revenue sharing, presumably game streaming services could simply not include purchasing games or subscriptions in the app, the same way you can’t buy books in the Kindle app.

This is about the much more subtle and insidious way that Apple leverages their control over iOS to block software that Apple deems threatening. App Store guideline 2.5.2[0], disallowing downloading and executing code in most circumstances, is a sister policy to this one about game streaming services. What both of these policies have in common is that they ban things that have the potential to supersede iOS itself, e.g., by becoming a successful app platform in-and-of itself (if you squint you can see the connection, if you can play Halo this way, why not Photoshop?)

Ben Thompson has written the definitive article on this protectionist mindset that drives many of Apple's store policies[1].

[0]: https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/#2.5...

[1]: https://stratechery.com/2013/why-doesnt-apple-enable-sustain...


If Amazon were willing to pay 30% on every book purchased, do you think Apple would still refuse to let customers purchase books through the Kindle app?

I'd love to hear Apple explain what the worst case scenario is for consumers if they were to let Netflix customers sign up the app, let Amazon customers buy books in the app, or play streaming games?

Apple is the most valuable company in the world and there's only one way for them to go from here.


> If Amazon were willing to pay 30% on every book purchased, do you think Apple would still refuse to let customers purchase books through the Kindle app?

No, that's the whole point.

>I'd love to hear Apple explain what the worst case scenario is for consumers if they were to let Netflix customers sign up the app, let Amazon customers buy books in the app, or play streaming games?

Infrequently heard perspective is that very often (non-tech) people call in to apple support about purchases made in apps on the iPhone. Apple owns the in-app purchasing of ALL purchases in app, and can reverse and refund the purchase. Worst case scenario is apple has to say "we can't help you" and they probs don't want that. When you stream a game/app instead of get it from App Store, apple can't say its a good experience or not broken, they can't refund or audit. Think about how apple was going to ban social media apps that allow p*rnographic content. They couldn't guarantee content on app... so ban it unless the app could self-censor.

You can say apple shouldn't care about the quality/type of content, and people should be smart enough to distinguish 3party apps from apple apps... yet talk to Apple Support workers, and they'll tell you that people don't.

Android, like google, has no real support services at all. Tons of people buy Apple because of support, and they will defend their ability to support (and take a nice fat chunk $$) until someone tells them its illegal.


> Apple is the most valuable company in the world and there's only one way for them to go from here.

Just for context, Apple became the most valuable company in 2011.

https://www.macrumors.com/2018/08/09/apple-most-valuable-com...

Microsoft was the most valuable company in 2002 and as of today, it’s #3. It could easily become number one again since it has much higher margins than Apple.

Of course eventually Apple will fail. But who knows how long that will take?


Well I mean, Apple could be proactive with this. If they simply block everything, unless you paid of course, they could offer unparalleled security. /s


Not really the same situation, but I would love an App Store where there were no free ad supported apps and the only way for monetization was by paying for the app or the service.

I’m not saying that I think Apple deserves a 30% cut of every service.


> How can they let me, a simple-minded iPhone user use the web browser without checking every website so that the sites don't violate Apple's policies. How do they allow 3rd party web browsers. They display loads of questionable content, too.

We basically got lucky that the web was invented and well-established long before the iPhone was. If it had been the other way around, I strongly doubt the iPhone would ship with a browser or that they'd be allowed on the App Store.


Same thing with cash. Imagine cash didn't exist and was now being invented. No-one would ever allow it because it can't be tracked.


They don’t actually allow 3rd party web browsers: every browser on iOS has to use WebKit and their JS Engine. The browsers are basically skins for safari


I know. There's still Firefox and Chrome on the app store regardless of what browser engine behind the scenes they use. Apple could add more restrictions to those apps still. And to nit-pick a bit: i think web browser is different from browser engine. Latter which Apple restricts to.


Given how much time users spend in their browser, not allowing other browser engines could be entirely explained by not wanting to deal with support & review issues when users notice their brand new iPhone has 20% less battery life than it should (because they're using a browser that doesn't use Safari's engine).


Sure. Battery-life expectations, security (like actually this time), expected integration with the rest of the operating system. But even speaking as an EU citizen, this ruling that only one browser engine can be used is very un-american. Where's the freedom in that. If I damn well know my battery will run in 10minutes if I use an app, well as an american (i'm not) I should be able to.


Yeah, but like 0.1% of their user base really cares about that particular freedom, while the rest would end up installing Chrome because Google put ad-banners for it at the top of all the Mobile Safari search results, then be pissed off that their iPhone is suddenly working worse "for no reason". Un-American, I dunno, maybe, but specifically the freedom of being able to run a different browser engine on iOS does seem like one of those freedoms that would just make life worse for most people for minimal benefit. To boot, the main beneficiary would be a competitor, at the expense of not just Apple but everyone on the platform. It's not even like the main effect would be an improved consumer experience.


How does Apple loose in any way that I am allowed to run software on their devices? Especially free software like browsers. I mean doesn't that literally keep me as their customer more? Now that I'm not switching to an Android device where the land is greener.


They literally just explained why: browsers not using WebKit perform worse and this makes iPhones look bad, which Apple doesn't want.


I'd like to see that, but considering it's not possible to independently validate this because you can't run anything else than WebKit, we have to take Apple's word for it. And I'm not sure I can trust them in that regard, it's more about control than performance. They don't want PWA to become viable alternatives to their apps, and controlling WebKit with an iron grip is a way toward that end.


Using Safari over Chrome or Firefox gains me 90-120 minutes more battery on my Macbook. Android went through contortions and re-architectures for over a decade to even approach iOS' place on the performance/battery-capacity/battery-life chart. I used to be an Android user and wildly better battery life (especially idle—I gather it's better now but damn Android used to eat a lot of battery while doing nothing) is part of what got me to stick with Apple, when I tried their phones. I'm fairly sure mobile Safari—and so, Webkit—is more battery-friendly than Chrome or Firefox.


You can run other browsers. You can't run other browser engines. The way you win is that your uncle doesn't click a Google ad banner to install Chrome when he searches (in Safari) for golf club reviews and end up complaining to you that his iPhone suddenly has worse battery life because now his default browser is Chrome, and your 7-year-old doesn't accidentally end up on porn on their school-provided iPad because some kids' app developer put an entire browser engine in their app "to make cross-platform easier" and your kid accidentally found a bug that accesses the open web though this embedded browser, then clicked the wrong ad.


Your argument only makes sense if we grant that Webkit is always and forever the fastest safest most efficient and all round best browser engine there is. iOS users are denied the opportunity to have 3rd party developers even attempt to produce something better.

(googler, but i work on and far prefer iOS. i care about the platform and i wish it had actual browser engine competition)


I'd worry more about that being a problem if Chrome and Firefox weren't still noticeably lagging desktop Safari on power use. Yeah Firefox had that big announcement that they'd improved, but the news was that they'd... caught up to Chrome. Sigh.

FWIW I like Firefox or Chromium a hell of a lot better than Safari, except that both drop my Macbook's battery life by an hour or more versus Safari, and both feel heavier in terms of their effects on overall system responsiveness (the feeling I get is that Safari is way better at keeping JavaScript from stomping all over everything). I do use Firefox on Linux, if I'm on something beefy enough to use a really heavy browser and still be able to multitask.

For that matter, it'd be worth keeping other browser engines out if their integrations broke Apple's only-vendor-who-seems-to-give-a-shit accessibility features. I dunno, maybe iOS Firefox and Chrome already do, but I'd imagine forcing Webkit keeps people from embedding browser engines that screw with that. Which, again, wouldn't bother me if anyone else were half as good. Please, for the love of god, anyone, compete with Apple. No one is, right now.


Another aspect of this is that a JIT has to dynamically generate code to work: afaict, it's basically impossible to audit such a program to ensure that it only uses the public APIs it's supposed to use. Unless I'm wrong, the security of the Sandbox depends on such auditing being valid.


I don't see how the second example has anything to do with which browser engines are allowed on the platform?


If the only embedded browser engine available, period, is Safari as provided by the OS, then it's much harder for app makers to introduce bugs (or features) that bypass Web content restrictions. Without the restriction app makers definitely would ship the equivalent of Electron apps—that is, apps embedding an entire browser engine, with the application built on top of it—to save a buck.

[EDIT] and by Safari I mean Safari's webkit, of course. You can embed webviews! You can run JS! You can ship your own browser! You cannot ship your own browser engine, for a bunch of very good reasons, and I'm having a hard time in this case of thinking of any nefarious reasons for the rule.

[EDIT EDIT] and then of course a browser engine is a giant attack surface. Better one version of one browser engine on your device than 20 versions of 3 browsers, most of which anyone but a turbonerd won't even realize are there because they're included with non-web-browser apps.


The platform looses if it is seen as virus, malware and scammy environment like Android and Windows.

In the case of Windows and the Mac, they are both insecure by design. You can’t have the functionality of either with the same level of security as the iPhone without reducing functionality. The best either can do is annoy users with pop ups that they eventually, reflexively just press OK.

I install all kind of random crap on my iPhone/iPad because there are more strict controls over what they can do. iOS aggressively kills battery and CPU intensive apps.

I refuse to install Zoom for instance on my computer because they have repeatedly been shown to be bad actors (https://www.zdnet.com/article/zoom-defends-use-of-local-web-...)

> I mean doesn't that literally keep me as their customer more? Now that I'm not switching to an Android device where the land is greener.

Apple charges $100 more for its cheapest phone than the average cost of an Android phone. Apple knows they aren’t going to get every customer.

In the famous words of Jobs - “if you want porn apps - buy an Android”. I’m not saying you want porn apps. I’m speaking to the fact that Apple knows it’s leaving some segment of the population out when it makes the choices it makes.


So, the choice was Apple vs. Android: if you want an open system, with all the isssues that accompany that, you pick Android; if you want a more curated experience you pick Apple. As an iPhone user, I tend to like these restrictions: since I picked to buy into their walled-garden, I expect them to pressure 3rd parties to integrate with the garden, rather than to plant weeds in it.


> rather than to plant weeds in it.

Love the analogy.


But can you set either as Default?

Even if you have another browser chrome wrapped around webkit, when you click a link it probably will open Safari.

Hopefully they follow through with the change on iOS 14.


> Apple could create their own Apple Internet List, and demand through App Store policies that all browsers implement it or else.

They do by requiring that all apps (including Chrome) to use the Safari WebKit engine provided by the OS.

They actually justifies it by pointing to parental control and safe browsing.


Now wait until they touch macOS with this policy. "So that our customers could be safer than ever."


Jokes aside, this is why I'm happy to see Microsoft investing in WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux). As a developer I'm glad to see solid options to MacOS emerging for running both modern web dev tools and mainstream commercial software.


Exactly. If you believe Apple's public statements, there's no reason they shouldn't have these restrictions on macOS, and in fact they're endangering users by not doing so.


I mean parental control wouldn't really be useful if you could just open, say FB messenger and "use" their built-in browser to bypass parental controls.


Nonsense, parental control can (and often does) block the installation of new apps. I don't need to be using Webkit just because I don't want my kid to install a 2nd browser.


Doesn’t matter if you block the installation of other browsers when you want to let your kid use Pinterest, Messenger, or the zillion other apps that have embedded browsers.


I wonder when they'll come for RDP and VNC clients because here I am running whatever software I want on my iPhone streamed from a remote server.


Their rules say its ok if you connect over LAN and if you own the server on the other end.


Tech companies need to stop thinking they should moderate content. This isnt their job and its a can of worms they’re ill equipped to manage.


> Really wondering how Apple can think they need to have that much power.

Apple's approach for many years (at least) has been screaming "control freak", so it's completely in character.


Basically, decide you want to make the maximum possible amount of money and reason backwards to the types of "principles" you'd need to stipulate to justify the policies that maximize your money.


I'm surprised that they bundle a web browser and allow apps like Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, etc. Anyone could say anything through those platforms and Apple's benevolent Content Curation Geniuses could do nothing to intervene!

I guess the reality is that nobody would buy an iPhone if those things didn't work, but game streaming is new enough that Apple can use their large market position to kill them instead of them killing Apple. I guess that's business for you.


I sincerely hope the service providers sue Apple (and win). This is blatant abuse of their market position. Better if the App Store gets broken up into its own independent company.


What does that even mean?

If it has a clear meaning, can you point to a single example of the sort of arrangement you’re talking about?


Breaking up tech companies into smaller companies has been suggested a lot lately, probably most notably by Elizabeth Warren's recent pushes.

A relevant quote on her approach is here:

>Apple, you’ve got to break it apart from their App Store. It’s got to be one or the other. Either they run the platform or they play in the store. They don’t get to do both at the same time. So it’s the same notion.

>If you run a platform where others come to sell, then you don’t get to sell your own items on the platform because you have two comparative advantages. One, you’ve sucked up information about every buyer and every seller before you’ve made a decision about what you’re going to sell. And second, you have the capacity — because you run the platform — to prefer your product over anyone else’s product. It gives an enormous comparative advantage to the platform.

You can find a transcript of this full interview at [1], but she's mentioned it several times and other politicians have also made their own, similar suggestions.

[1] https://www.theverge.com/2019/3/9/18257965/elizabeth-warren-...


That’s an expansion of the original proposal, but what does it mean?

You’d have to in some way break the entire model of the iphone, which involves sandboxing apps. How else could you have an app store company separate from the device maker?

Android can have different stores but that is done through rooting correct?

You have a few game app stores on windows/mac, but no general purpose app stores. It just isn’t a business that I know of.

Nor is the rationale explained. As long as there has been computing, OS makers have developed software that has competed with third party. This distinction seems like a slogan, rather than a solution.

(There may be other solutions of course)


Any app can prompt you to install another app without root on Android (since Android supports installing app packages outside of the Play Store). So if somebody wants to make an app store, they just need to publish an app that provides downloads to other apps and that's it. New app store. It doesn't affect how individual apps are sandboxed either. How apps are installed doesn't change the security model of the OS. Now, Google's position is still problematic because they clearly use their position to push the Play Store on everybody, but it shows that separating the store from the OS actually is quite possible.

And seriously, Apple is a hundred billion dollar company. I'm sure they can handle this if push comes to shove. People need to stop defending these companies as if they need the protection.


But how is that separate app store a business? The original proposal I replied to was:

> Better if the App Store gets broken up into its own independent company.

It sounds like the actual proposal would be “make apple allow the installation of arbitrary app packages without review”, since that would allow the app model from android you’re talking about.

That isn’t making the app store a business, but rather changing os permissions. It’s not clear to me “the apple app store” is a business separate from apple.

Btw, got an example of one of those android app store apps? I’d be interested in looking at one. I’m assuming google doesn’t review the apps you can install with those?

> Apple is a hundred billion dollar company.

A nit, but they’re near two trillion actually


I'm not sure how it couldn't be a business. The App Store currently takes a 30% cut of every purchase. The business is running and developing an app store and we already know where its revenue would come from. It wouldn't be any different from Valve running Steam.

F-Droid is an open source alternative. Amazon has the Amazon Appstore. Samsung has the Galaxy Store. A more complete list here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Android_app_stores

Google has nothing to do with the curation of any of these alternative stores, since they're owned and run by completely separate third-parties and Android as currently designed doesn't prevent a user from installing arbitrary app packages (apk's).


The app store has the 30% commission because apple runs it. Really not obvious thry could have that if independent.

F droid isn’t a business, it’s a non profit. The amazon app store is mostly for fire devices. On non-fire devices:

> The Amazon App Store is not limited to just Fire devices. While it takes a bit of work, the App Store can be installed on most Android devices and provide users with an alternative to the Google Play Store. However, the process requires you to enable the ability to install apps from unknown sources, which is highly discouraged by Google.

https://www.businessofapps.com/news/amazon-app-store-vs-goog...

I’m sure the Samsung app store is a similar story on non-samsung devices.

Outside of games, there aren’t really any app stores on mac/pc, because you can install anything you want. It is the security model of phones that makes app stores a thing in the first place.

A proposal to allow multiple app stores seems like a proposal to make apple alter its security model. Alternate app stores on android involve circumventing android’s default security model.


I'm not the guy you're responding to, but to be clear, yes: Apple would need to alter its security model to allow third-party app stores to exist, as they cannot exist with its current their-apps-only model.

The app store could have a 99% commission "because Apple runs it". That's part of the problem. If a developer wants to target iOS users, they have to go through Apple's store and agree to anything Apple says.

But, of course, that's totally legal and fine. That's not why people are advocating breaking up the App Store. The real problem is that Apple has free reign to remove, ban, or hinder adoption (in basically unlimited ways) any app they want, which often equates to "apps that compete with anything Apple wants to do as a company". Does your music streaming company want an app on iPhones? Too bad, Apple can simply say "no" because they have Apple Music. Want to let people buy books through your company's app? Too bad, Apple can just say no because they have Apple Books. Want to let your existing customers access their existing Stadia purchases on an iOS device they own? Too bad.

It's pretty basic anti-competitive and anti-consumer behavior under the guise of needing to "review" all apps, coupled with the idea that only reviewed apps can be installed on your phone (a paradigm that doesn't exist on other widespread operating systems, mind you!). There's benefit in reviewing apps, for sure, but when you, as a company, have the means and the motive to screw over your competitors, it's often in everyone else's best interest to remove either the means (separating the app store from Apple) or the motivation (removing Apple's apps from the app store).

Apple's not alone in this, and they're not the only one politicians like Warren are going after. It's not really any different from e.g. Amazon siphoning up data on purchase patterns and then producing their own products that they can then promote instead of their competitors on their own store.

Having third-party app stores lets Apple continue to play in their own store, but arguably removes the means to screw over competitors by giving them an alternate way to get their app to a user's phone and frees them from having to agree to literally-anything-Apple-says to play on customer devices that Apple doesn't own.


Look at the Steamlink debacle. That time the excuse was about buying games through the app (even though you can buy games on the main steam app) and not about what content you stream from your computer to your iOS device.


I think apple caving on 3rd party app stores might be the easy regulatory solution for Apple.

As a consumer there is definitely a tangible benefit to having the App Store be safe and consistent. Apple can impose its technical, moral, safety, and design philosophy on every app in its own stores like Disney or Whole Foods might with their retail products.

But if Hey Email or ClassPass or anyone else doesn't like Apples offerings, they can go to a 3rd party store and be available there. Like the new browser entitlement, Apple can choose which 3rd parties are able to allow installs (and hopefully some regulation prevents this from being anti-competitive).

There is no anti-competitive measures because there is no singular channel to install an app on an iphone anymore. And then Apple can make their App Store even more tightly controlled because every developer there is there by choice. Apple can cut custom deals to keep Google, Facebook or anyone else there, but Apple has to earn those partnerships like on the Mac App Store


> Apple can choose which 3rd parties are able to allow installs (and hopefully some regulation prevents this from being anti-competitive).

What regulation could ever make Apple behave nicely to sub-stores who are eating their lunch? I doubt there would ever be a truly effective way to do that.

Instead, why not just tell Apple to allow side-loading (like basically every other consumer-grade OS has since the history of computers began)? If they want to include a 3rd-party app store in the Apple App Store, that's fine. If they don't, also fine. But I should be able to run whatever programs I want


Apple definitely needs to loosen their guidelines, wanting to review third party games on gaming services is an exact example of a dumb guideline poorly applied.

But allowing third party stores would be terrible for users and developers. Security is a huge issue, but other reasons include:

1) Splitting app search across different stores hurting discoverability.

2) Different payment systems making purchasing more difficult.

3) Different subscription and purchasing rules making it harder for customers to refund purchases or cancel subscriptions, reducing consumer confidence in buying on the platform.

4) Lowered app review standards letting even more spam-ware, malware and fraud-ware on the platform, hurting sales for legit developers.

5) Developers forced to spend more time and money hosting their apps on more stores to maximize their reach.

The security of the platform and frictionless purchase system are Apples primary responsibilities. If they lose control of them then iPhone has little that is better than Android.


Android has had sideloading as well as alternative app stores enabled by it since the beginning. These problems don't really exist. You'd still want to publish on Google Play by default, but if your app hurts Google's business, morals, feelings, or whatever else, you have the option of distributing it using whatever means you see fit — like an apk with a built-in updater on your website.

In other words, being rejected from the App Store is an end of the world situation, while being rejected from Google Play is not quite.


Google Play is a dumpster fire compared to the App Store, and despite alternative app stores as competition still charges 30%.


As opposed to Apple, Google doesn't mandate that your payments go through the store. You could as well do your own payment processing.


Right, Apple has a unified purchasing system that makes the entire purchasing process (including subscription management and app refunds) easier and more trustworthy for iPhone users.


Google also offers that. My point is that choice is good.


My point is allowing alternate stores means allowing more malware, fraud-ware and worse purchasing experiences for platform customers.


Allowing a web browser also means allowing phishing and "worse purchasing experience".

Again, if a company wants The Google Experience™, it can use it for 30% of its income. If it does not, it's free to use whatever payment provider it wants.


Can you elaborate on how a browser or a video streaming app are more "safe and consistent" than a game streaming app?


I think there is nothing wrong with a game streaming app.

But apple should probably set rules for which third party apps are allowed to download and execute third party code. Third party app stores would work differently on a technical level then a game streaming app which I agree with you are like a browser or video app. Game streaming apps however seem to be gated from the same “no third party stores” rules


> But if Hey Email or ClassPass or anyone else doesn't like Apples offerings, they can go to a 3rd party store and be available there.

I absolutely do not want that to happen. This is no way is an actual benefit to anyone. If Hey or ClassPass was relegated to some other app store on iOS, it may as well not exist.


> This is no way is an actual benefit to anyone.

It's an actual benefit to anybody who is willing to jump through one tiny hoop to get the app they want, and an actual benefit to the developers of those apps.

The result is that Apple has to actually be competitive with its App Store. A lot of these BS policies wouldn't last if they had to be competitive.


98% of their policies aren’t BS, but integral to the value of the iPhone for both consumers and developers. Ripping down that framework because of the few rules that are counterproductive is foolish.


Why would people be willing to pay $99/year for Hey but not willing to download a seperate app store?


Very, very few people want to pay $99/year for Hey. Their needs don’t represent the needs of iPhone users in general.

And if Hey is typical of the vast majority of SAAS services, they pay affiliate fees and other marketing fees based on a percentage of sales to third parties that promote their service. So why not play Apple their 15% for a seamless in-app purchase system to add new users with?


> So why not play Apple their 15% for a seamless in-app purchase system to add new users with?

Hey has responded very specifically to this https://hey.com/apple/iap/

Their main objection to this is that they want to own the relationship with the customer. They want to be able to issue a refund or account credit or discount or hardship exceptions, which you cannot do through Apple's App Store.


I can’t do any of that if I sell products through Walmart, Target, or any retailer but it’s still worth it. I don’t think Hey is quantifying the benefits appropriately.


That is possible, but right now Hey does not have the ability to weigh its options at all and do what’s best for its business.

If they had their app distributed elsewhere and they were losing customers, they could choose to work with apple, but right now they have no choice. At the same time, apple would have to earn its relationship with developers like target and Walmart have to do with their suppliers.


Nevertheless, Hey should be able to weigh those benefits on their own and make their own choice as to whether or not it's worthwhile.

There are plenty of companies and individuals that have chosen to direct-sell rather than offer products through other retailers. It's a choice they can make, foolish or not.


I've purchased many products from local retailers that contain explicit instructions from the manufacturer to NOT contact the retailer if there are any issues, but to contact them directly. So it seems it is possible.


Yea, but how many people will do anything but return it to the retailer if there are issues? I know I wouldn't contact them directly.


I think we need to be creative about who could run these app stores too. Amazon could theoretically have an App Store in its main app everyone already has installed. Disney could run a store for kids games. Lots of trusted brands can be viable safe distribution channels


“Trusted” doesn’t make them secure.


This is a false dichotomy. The reality is that having one app store to fit everyone's needs at the same time makes us less secure.

If I'm a parent, I would love to be able to enable an app store that sells human-curated child-friendly apps with no advertising and strict controls over tracking. I'd like that store to be a heck of a lot stricter than Apple's is.

Apple can't offer me that level of quality, because the same store needs to serve multiple demographics. Sure, they can flag some apps as mature, but the fact that they're balancing that distinction to try and come up with a set of standards that will be acceptable to everyone across multiple continents means it's very difficult for them to make gut-level instinctual choices or take hardline positions on what they consider acceptable.

The same is true for security. Apple has standards about what info apps are allowed to access, and they'll throw apps out for requesting permissions that are unnecessary. But I'm going to be honest -- their standards are lower than mine are. If I was building a privacy-respecting app store, it would be way stricter than Apple's.

Having choices gives you the freedom to opt into stores that are strictly regulated and curated on a quality level that Apple will never be able to approach. No single app store that's designed for everyone will ever be as well moderated as a set of distinct stores that are serving specific niches.


And the opposite is true too. Why should apple decide the porn, cryptocurrency, or the Hong Kong protest app can’t run on an iPhone. It’s perfectly reasonable that they don’t want to sell those things because of their brand but they shouldn’t be blocking anyone for making and consuming those apps


I think this is a very complicated idea. At its root, all secure systems are based on trust of certain entities (be that a bank, a piece of Open Source cryptography, or just a company with values/incentives align with you)

Apple has built a secure system, but that is only secure if you trust apple (i.e. one software update could break a secure enclave). The next question is, can the system still be secure, but the trust decentralized. This is complicated and hard, but I would say it is not impossible


Apple can trust Apple, and isn’t in the business of building the not impossible. The easiest, safest path is to keep it in-house and work on continuously improving your internal security.


I can’t help but wonder if this is a larger existential debate for Apple than gaming.

Maybe they perceive this as a first step on a path of streaming apps in general? As internet connectivity continues to improve, what’s to stop all apps from simply being streamed? If they allow interactive remote gaming, why not allow us to stream text processors, photo editing apps, etc? How would they make any money off the App Store in a future where all apps are streamed bypassing their system all together?

I’m not advocating for this, just bouncing the ball in an attempt to understand their perspective. Where do you draw the line?


Streaming apps are a huge threat to Apple's current business model. Arguably, the gate to the kingdom had already been thrown wide open years ago with all of the capability that currently exists in the web browsers. It's mostly just a matter of engineering at this point to get around the censors and gatekeepers.

There is probably nothing Apple could do to prevent some determined engineer from building a streaming application framework that targets web instead of native apps for delivery of final server-side rasterized content. Best they could do is start blocking websites by IP/DNS which is arguably immediate grounds for Apple being split up and scattered to the seven winds by the FTC.

Hypothetically, you could develop this framework and build your own app store at myappstore.com. Instead of downloading binary images of applications from this site, it would actually host the application directly as a streaming web experience. For instance, accessing myappstore.com/MySocialMediaApp would be the resource that loads a full-screen server-side-rendered view of that specific application. All clients would just need to store a 256 bit cookie that is used for identifying the session. Everything else could live on the server, including 100% of the client view state. This model also makes it trivial to share application state between users or devices.

This kind of approach should sound like a massive boon to Apple in terms of them having absolute control & visibility, but I think they are just playing the current development ecosystem right now.


Why did you specify the bit size of the cookie?


This is the size I am currently using in one of my prototypes. As noted by another poster, this demonstrates the lightweight client storage requirement. All I need is sufficient entropy to uniquely and securely identify each client from the server's perspective.


Probably just to emphasise the lightweight requirement on client side storage.


> How would they make any money off the App Store in a future where all apps are streamed bypassing their system all together?

Yes I agree, I think this is the answer. Video streaming is allowed since they already lost -- no one wants to download the whole video as an app first because the experience would suck.

That's not true of games...yet. They are scared it will be. As an enthusiast, I'm a little scared too!


Indeed, in the future, any app could be built as a native shell that provides the integration to the OS, then the actual app is streamed from the Cloud.

So, we get a native app that also runs on a server, like a website.

As Microsoft Cloud Gaming (xCloud) and other platforms are proving, there are new markets for this type of apps.


By this logic, why are any video streaming services like Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime allowed on the service given they cant audit every video?

It's exactly the same logic.


I would say that there is a pretty good chance they will target those services at some point.


They've tried and I think they got netflix to cave to the 30% thing.


I recently (last week) got a new iPad and had to log into Netflix and typed my email address wrong and was met with a popup saying “If you’re trying to sign up through the app, you can’t. We know, it’s ridiculous.”


Would that be grounds for legal trouble?


It's exactly NOT the same logic.

Videos, security, behavior etc wise, are all the same (as long as they use the same codecs). It's the video player code that matters and might have be audited, not each video.

Games and apps are obviously different, as they have dynamic behavior.

So it's not the same logic at all.


Yes, it is the same logic. The games are streamed, not executed on the phone. For all intents and purposes, you are getting an interactive video.


On top of that, Netflix has already set the precedent for interactive video controlled from iOS devices.

What is Apple's argument for allowing the choose-your-own-adventure Netflix titles (without per-title review) but disallowing more fine-grained interactivity?


The game look is streamed, the game engine has local dynamic behavior (not just "play/pause/send controls to game").


That's not the case. It literally is sending user input to the server, where the game is running, and then you watch a video back. That's the base technology that underlies every single gaming streaming service (to date, at least).


What? That’s exactly what it does - it pipes controls to the server where it’s executed. Nothing runs on the phone other than a streaming agent.


It IS the same logic because these are game STREAMING services. You send gamepad inputs and it sends video back. There's no security risk, the code running on the local device never changes.


On Stadia, games are rendered/run on Google servers. Nothing is running on the user's device. From the device's perspective, Stadia is just an app to capture gamepad input, send it to Google servers and play the video response (AV1, VP9 or h264).


Even simpler: Stadia is the remote desktop rebranded. Want to run your own Stadia? Buy a bunch of VMs on some cloud hosting provider: a few for the game server engine and one per user with game client code (those need GPUs); then let users remote desktop into the client VMs. Did I miss anything?


It’s a streamed game. It’s just a video and not being executed locally.


I agree - it's pretty simple. Videos are not games. Literally different words. If you think that Apple is in the wrong here, guys, you should just switch to Android. It's a private company and they can do what they want. I appreciate their oversight, because now I know that I can't get hacked by Microsoft allowing bad games on their app!


> Videos are not games. Literally different words.

Well yes, but this is a game streaming app. It just captures input from the user and sends back a video of the game, running in the cloud.

> It's a private company and they can do what they want.

And we are individuals who can complain as much as we want; this is a non-argument.

> I appreciate their oversight, because now I know that I can't get hacked by Microsoft allowing bad games on their app!

The games are totally isolated from your phone, so they can't hack you, unless they're somehow using the input from your phone as a ridiculously low-bandwidth side channel.


You do realize that the games are not installed to the phone, right? But my point being that I can watch this game on YouTube but I cannot stream the desktop of a nearby datacenter and send my control input to it to stream the same game on my device, because Apple needs to validate the content on one of the apps before I can use it.


Honest question: how could you get hacked by a game running on a server and streaming the graphics to your phone?


I bet that coldtea and applethrow is the same person. Latter being a throwaway account created ~10mins ago.


You bet and you'd be wrong. People can have opinions other than yours without it being some big conspiracy.


Please don't do this here, it's against the rules.


Oh I didn't know but noted!


[flagged]


Your reasoning applies identically to Netflix videos, Kindle e-books, and podcast files delivered via Overcast or some other podcatcher.

It is hard to imagine, since the mechanics here are the same as streaming video. The code that's executing on your device is not being streamed. Images and video are.



I'd imagine it depends on what granularity "interaction" means: 1. Do you have a chatbox/channel in-game? 2. Can you plug-in usernames/passwords to login to your game accounts? 3. Is your game account tied to social networks etc? 34. If you purchased the game outside of the streaming company and had that tied to a credit card etc then can a notorious game streamed through the app make you inadvertently rack up charges on that card?

I'm just spit-balling here. These are the top attack vectors that come to mind. IDK, maybe I'm thinking wayyyyy outta the box here.


I really like iPhones. But I won't ever own one if I can't sideload apps on it. Two simple reasons:

1) I think that only I should decide if I want to run that app. The manufacturer no longer owns the device after selling it to me

2) The corrupt government if my county likes to block apps and Apple does as they ask. One day they'll remove the apps I really need, and it is not acceptable for me.


In the last several years I've manually installed maybe two apps on my Android devices. I would be really upset if I couldn't use this oft-used but valuable tool.


This capability should exist. If only as a leverage against hostile anti-user actions like the one we are discussing here.


That’s partly because Google doesn’t rule the Play Store with as much of an Iron Fist as Apple does. For better or for worse.


Wait - So you can have Netflix on IOS which is a streaming service, but not game streaming which is essentially the same thing?


Netflix wouldn’t have been allowed on iOS devices if appleTV would have been out first :)


And even so, you're not allowed to sign up or renew your membership via an iOS app. Heck, I don't think you're even allowed to link to a web browser page from the app itself. Well... you are allowed to pay from the app, but then Apple wants a 30% cut to enable that. The video streaming services have balked at paying that. Rightly so.


Worth pointing out that Netflix has even had a game-like interactive movie called “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Mirror:_Bandersnatch


So game streaming is out, but video streaming is in? I take it they don't want to give up any of that App Store game revenue should game streaming turn out to be viable.


> So game streaming is out, but video streaming is in?

Just what I was thinking. They allow Spotify and they don't insist on reviewing all the songs available. They allow the Netflix and the Google Play Movies app (and the equivalent movie streaming apps from Amazon, PlayStation, Rakuten, etc) without reviewing all the films that can be streamed there.

I suppose interactivity is the 'category difference' there, but what are they protecting the customer from?


Netflix already has interactive content: see Bandersnatch and Minecraft: Story Mode.


Interactive Netflix content doesn’t work on the Apple TV.


> Basically, Apple wants to be able to review every game that graces an iPhone’s screen, even if it’s streamed from a game server somewhere in the cloud.

I don't see how this logic doesn't also apply to Youtube, and other video-streaming apps? I get that it's less "interactive", but it's still content that Apple has "not reviewed".


Apple is hypocritical. They block apps for various reasons, may it be gambling, nudity, not paying the App Store fee on transactions, not including Apple's authentication provider, or other stuff. But they include a web browser which can access all of this forbidden content.

As a German this American prudery is especially disturbing. We got nudity (not sexual acts) on public daytime television...


My first culture shock in Berlin was a rotating billboard cube advertising a kid’s dentist, what looked like a brothel, a BMW dealership, and a massage parlour in that order.

Even as someone raised in the UK, I find American sexual prohibition to be disturbing, especially given the freedom America affords to express extreme violence.


Berlin is a bit extreme even by German standards (let's not forget that Berlin was basically the capital of sex as early as the 1920s). Maybe what you remember as "looks like a brothel" was an ad for Dildoking? Those are basically everywhere. Incidentally (not having grown up here) I wonder how parents explain that to their kids.

But I would take this any day over the American prudishness and I find the idea that you as a responsible adult shouldn't be allowed to install an app with sexual content repugnant. And it was particularly ridiculous that tumblr basically decided to commit suicide by banning NSFW content.

Although I sometimes wonder if this is really just American prudishness or if it also has something to do with certain other markets (e.g. China) that tech companies want to expand to.


It wasn’t Dildoking, although I do know why you’d think that as I have seen plenty of billboards (and fly-posters and a car) advertising them.


It's weird indeed, they have no problem selling and steaming music that literally talks about killing someone. The puritanism is real.


I really don't see the hypocrisy in this one. Bypassing the App Store not via Safari will get you kicked off the platform no matter the technical means you use to accomplish it.


The XCloud streaming service has several hundred games.

Youtube has millions of individual videos.

There’s an obvious difference in scale that makes reviewing one possible and the other not. Apple could never even propose to have each individual YouTube video reviewed by their App Store.


Your argument here is that Youtube is also in violation of these rules, but is allowed because they are too big for Apple to review?

I mean yes, you might have a valid point, but that goes straight back against:

> "all apps are reviewed against the same set of guidelines that are intended to protect customers and provide a fair and level playing field to developers."


No, that is not my argument.

The rules are online, and if you go and read them you can see that Youtube, netflix, and similar streaming video services and ebook readers, etc are explicitly exempted.

As I said, Apple could never even hope to put this requirement on those type of services. It's totally impractical for them.


Yes, but do you not see the issue at play here?

> "all apps are reviewed against the same set of guidelines that are intended to protect customers and provide a fair and level playing field to developers."

This strongly implies that all apps have to following the same rules and guidelines. Having the guidelines say that (for example) Youtube is exempt, means that yes, _technically_ all apps are following the same "guidelines", but Youtube isn't following the same "rules".

Ie, writing exemptions into the guidelines means that the quoted statement, if it was being honest, would read:

> "all apps, except for those granted exemptions, are reviewed against the same set of guidelines that are intended to protect customers and provide a fair and level playing field to developers."

The exemptions are quite literally the issue with their statement.


The exemptions are for types of apps, not for individual apps.

The idea that different rules might be written for different types of apps makes sense in the abstract.

There are certainly arguments that can be made that Apple should change its rules to add more types of apps to the exemption. But they aren’t violating the rules they currently have, and also, as I said, making a rule that would require individual review of such content is impractical for apple - it would be the equivalent of banning those types of apps from the store.

> 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.

The rule apple is asking microsoft to follow isn’t impossible, just inconvenient. There is already another game subscription service on iOS, “GameClub”, which follows the rules by submitting each game individually.


This is bad for Apple’s customers. I don’t think they’ll find it’s too their advantage to keep pushing this, or it will become a clear advantage for android: you can play all your games on android, and not on Apple.

Cloud gaming may be comparatively niche compared to the app market as a whole, but what other use cases will thus extend to? Individual app developers need Apple, but Apple needs apps in aggregate.


I m getting sick and tired of corporate trade wars on top of national trade wars, and the people here who always evangelize these platforms to developers. I hope these platforms die a horrible death and we return to neutral open (and full of spam) protocols.


It seems like this exact logic would rule out any and all of the remote screen control apps that are currently available for iOS.


And of course the Steam Link app, which does everything a game streaming service does except collect subscription fees.


So if Stadia disallowed the "Store" portion of the app, they could be allowed on there technically?


No because I think it would be rejected under the rule that the user has to own the host machine and it be on LAN...

See App Store guidelines section 4.2.7:

"The app must only connect to a user-owned host device that is a personal computer or dedicated game console owned by the user, and both the host device and client must be connected on a local and LAN-based network."


Does the iOS version of Steam Link not allow you to stream remotely like the Android and desktop versions?


Not sure on steam link specifically but I have streamed games from my PS4 remotely using their app.


That section of the rules probably doesn't apply to the PS4 app because they mirror the entire OS of the PS4 instead of just the Steam app.

(iOS steam link is local network only)


> a user-owned host device

So, they can transfer "ownership" to me whenever I use my personal computer that happens to be located in Google's cloud which, through a series of tubes, is in fact connected to my LAN-based network.


I doubt it would be that simple. It seems like Apple's main objection is being able to play games on iOS that you haven't bought from the App Store.


With Plex, I can watch movies I didn't buy from Apple. With Kindle, I can read books I didn't buy through Apple. Hell again with Steam Link, I can play games I didn't buy through Apple.

This is just pure monopolistic behavior, nothing less.


I hope the excellent open source Moonlight doesn’t get banned. It reverse engineered the Nvidia Shield (now a TV box a la Roku) features and allows really high quality low latency gaming from devices if you have an nvidia video card. What’s even better is it works without any outside internet required, just your LAN, which is a rare thing these days.


Nope. This is about limiting apps being distributed by an alternative App Store where the content cannot be reviewed that it meets non-technical Apple guidelines. Remote Screen Control apps and things like Steam Link are different because the content comes from the user's hardware and data, not from the creator of the app.


Xbox Streaming includes Console Streaming (https://www.xbox.com/en-US/xbox-game-streaming/console-strea...)

And I really don't see how there's any sort of difference whether the game console that's streaming the game is owned by the person or sits in some datacenter somewhere. It's practically the same experience from the user's perspective.

Disclaimer: MSFT employee, not in Xbox, all views are my own, etc.


Steam Link wasn't different, they spent a year being rejected from the app store and eventually removed all store functionality when streaming your desktop.

https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/24/17392470/apple-rejects-va...


I don't understand where the line is. There is no good technical place to draw this "we need to review every app".

You can do almost everything the streaming service would do in a browser, but they allow browsers.


Well, they actually criple browsers by forcing them to use their sub-par web engine & don't support key web standards.


Wouldn't Apple's reasoning apply to eg. ssh-clients, screen share etc?

About xCloud I find it quite humourus that a terminal window system's name follows the footstep of the X Window System.


Apple explicitly makes allowances for "generic mirroring of a host device" in their App Store terms. Basically, remote CLI/GUI access to a general purpose computing instance of some sort is fine; remote access clients that are walled in to a specific app experience are generally not allowed unless some very specific criteria are met.

Hence gaming-optimized (but still usable for general purpose) VDI like Shadow.tech is permitted, but Stadia and its ilk are not.


Then Geforce Now should be permitted, since it's just a virtual desktop you can access your game library from. But they're locked out of the app store as well, afaik.


I feel like you can reductio ad absurdum it to a web browser


I can stream games from my PC to my Apple TV, but the second the game comes from the cloud it's not ok? Ok apple. I hope some laws are written that force your hand.


They approved the PS Remote Play app, which lets you stream your entire PlayStation including the store.

They approved Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, etc, which let you stream TV shows and movies.

They approved Kindle, which lets you stream books.

I’m failing to see why a streaming game is a violation when all the above examples are okay.


Not defending it, but in regards to the PS app, the guidelines specifically allow streaming of the users own personal devices.


True...but...

If I rent an EC2 instance, is it a personal device?

If I rent time on a Stadia instance, is that graphical output of that server a personal device?


No because you don't own the machine. I believe it specifically says "owns" but not sure. I also think the guidelines say that it has to be on a personal network -- which I know makes no sense -- but the language was specifically engineered to allow personal remote desktop apps when the Steam Link app was trying to get unbanned from the store.


Not surprised. Apple will do worse things 6 months from now. And I hate saying that I suspect their customers will just take it. They were ok with a “computer” that has everything glued on. Monopolistic Apps restrictions is nothing compared to that.


This is also why they drag their heels supporting MSE in mobile Safari. They want control.

Technological possibilities be damned. Apple doesn’t give a shit about moving the world forward, they give a shit about moving Apple stock upward.


So Apple claims that Netflix is okay but that new Microsoft service is not, because the former one is a video streaming platform while the latter is a interactive game streaming platform.

Now Apple, please explain me this: Netflix is also a interactive game streaming platform. They have Bandersnatch, Interactive Carmen Sandiego, Interactive Puss in Boots, the Interactive Bear Grylls You vs Wild, and freaking Minecraft Story Mode which for all intents and purposes is a fully real game.

Netflix is a game streaming service, and it's on the app store!

Apple is massively inconsistent here, and has some major explaining to do!


> Apple is massively inconsistent here

The one consistent truth of the app store.


I'm not going to debate whether or not the services violate Apple's handcrafted policies.

I'll just say that Apple has stupid policies. Stop using products that exist solely to lock you into a walled garden.


The problem comes when someone likes 95% of what the Apple ecosystem offers but only 40% of the Android ecosystem. It’s not that easy to say “stop using them” if the person believes the competition is even worse.


The Android ecosystem offers strictly more than the Apple ecosystem, so there is no problem in practice.


But it doesn’t. For what I’m looking for, it offers less. Far less. Less stability, less support from app developers, less support from manufacturers, less support from the vendor, less polish, a lesser tablet ecosystem, less cross-device functionality.

The Android ecosystem “offers strictly more” in the same way a restaurant’s trash can offers more food choice. Technically true, but I don’t want to eat any of it. I’d rather order off the limited-but-actually-desirable menu.


> Less stability

Not my experience at all.

> less support from app developers

There are more apps on Android, and the apps do more things. I'm not sure how you came to this conclusion.

> less polish

The productivity apps on iOS are near useless. Then Apple moved to its own Maps, which was a disaster.

> a lesser tablet ecosystem

Android's tablets are called ChromeOS. They are a strictly better experience than iPad, with a built-in keyboard and Linux support.

> less cross-device functionality

Its default cross-device functionality (installing apps on your device from other devices, phone calling, voicemail, SMS, email composition sync, photo sync, document sync, music sync) is strictly better and existed long before iOS had anything.

All of your perceived disadvantages don't exist, and there are many other advantages that Android has on top like system app updates without rebooting, better security, better privacy, better development for your own devices, better web browsers, better car apps, better multiuser support, more app discounts due to app store competition, better gaming through streaming services and emulation, etc.


Strange. The game isn't running on the phone. It's running on some server elsewhere. The client is just a video player with more controls.


Netflix has interactive videos with multiple story path choices which is by definition a kind of game.

In this context it is the same as a game streaming service.

So they have already allowed Netflix to do exactly what they are banning here.

The only technical difference is you have 1 game input every 2-3 minutes vs inputs every 2-3 ms.


Is there really a game input that runs more than 300 Hz?


If this is Apple's reasoning, then why does SteamLink on iOS exist? I can stream games to my iPhone directly from my library. Is it because I am streaming from my computer?


According to their guidelines, yes. Not that there's any way to really verify this on Apple's end but apps like this are allowed so long as they're used to connect to your own hardware.


What about connecting to hardware owned by Amazon or Google or my employer? Is that ok?


4.2.7 Remote Desktop Clients: If your remote desktop app acts as a mirror of specific software or services rather than a generic mirror of the host device, it must comply with the following:

(a) The app must only connect to a user-owned host device that is a personal computer or dedicated game console owned by the user, and both the host device and client must be connected on a local and LAN-based network.

[...]

(e) Thin clients for cloud-based apps are not appropriate for the App Store.


What is limiting streaming game services from implementing this in the browser? With javascript you can build any kind of controller overlay you want. I guess maybe lack of physical controller support?

It seems like iOS Safari supports the W3C "Gamepad API". However I don't use iOS and I don't play mobile games, so I am not sure how it actually works out.


Apple doesn't allow third-party web browsers on iOS and Safari doesn't have a good track record of supporting new web APIs and standards, so making a successful streaming app might be possible but it'd be a precarious project at the whims of a single company. You'd likely also have a hard time adding new features as iOS users would be holding you back which would cripple all of your other users by association.


This was my question as well. Stadia already does run fully in Chrome, although I realize on iOS, Chrome is basically a shell around Safari's rendering engine. Still, PWA seems to be the best path for these services. Stadia's own controller doesn't even need Gamepad API, since the controller can connect directly to the server through wifi, bypassing your phone entirely. Really, it would be no different than watching a livestream on Youtube, which you can control. The only issue is that they use VP9 I believe, which I'm not sure if Safari supports yet.


But can you get minimal input and video latency with standard web stack though? Even 300ms is going to ruin a lot of gameplay. I haven't really check this, but safari is lagging behind chrome and might not support low latency video stuff, which is probably why stadia is still only supporting chrome-like browsers only.


The Roblox iOS app is entirely populated with non-Apple approved user created games. It also streams/downloads (non-Apple reviewed) code on demand. This seems to be against a number of App Store policies.

Maybe Apple is OK with all of this when they get their 30% cut as they do with Roblox because it uses Apple's in-app purchases?


Agree with this. Roblox is a cross-platform games store and both Apple and Google constantly feature and promote it.


This is so stupid. Every web browser has this same risk...


What's missing from Safari in order to just implement this directly in a browser window?

AFAIK, Apple has never stepped over the line of blocking specific websites.

As soon as it's possible to reliably remote stream an interface through the browser then the App Store and pretty much any native app at all can become totally irrelevant, offline mode aside.

If a device is reduced to a touch interface, video stream decoder, and a bunch of radios... your upgrade cycle becomes essentially driven by the carrier baseband upgrade cycle, which is quite slow. Who care how fast the phone CPU runs Javascript, when the Javascript is running in the cloud?

It's like thin terminals all over again.


This is the first thing that will make me considering dropping from the iOS ecosystem. However, if Microsoft or Google were in the same position, they’d act the same. This has to be fixed at a legal level.


google wouldn't though because they already allow sideloading


Was it also not forbidden to have your app interpret code, which is the reason both for the still prevalent browser monoculture on iOS, originally (successfully) intended as a killer of Flash?

I suppose this is the same, in a way. They can't review what games will be played with a general-purpose game streaming app.

So this is to combat the "Flash" of today. Maybe?

(Not to mention that they can't get the 30% cut from every new game you happen to request via the app.)


I believe you can still interpret code so long as all code that is interpreted is bundled in your app (so no pulling down code from your server at runtime). There was a C64 emulator way back that was allowed in with bundled legal homebrew, but it got pulled once it was discovered there was an "easter egg" to load arbitrary ROMs. A lot of the JS frameworks work this way, as well as Xamarin I think.

If you want to A/B test, both versions need to present in your app and you can use a server side flag to switch between them, but you can't pull them dynamically, though some web view apps seem to get away with ignoring this.


These kind of streaming apps are app stores themselves. They are a window to another world that is not controlled by Apple.

Apple is likely worried that it may not stop at streaming games. Why not stream other apps as well. Usability will be fine if you come up with clever ”codecs” to encode transmission of UI.

It’s true that Safari already enables this, but it has its limitations and Apple is controlling what can be done there.


To be fair, I think both sides are at fault in this specific instance (e.g. XCloud streaming) with some seismic broader impacts.

Microsoft is at fault for not realizing that the existing App Store policies did not include game streaming and working with Apple to resolve it from the beginning. XCloud was first announced 2 years ago so to wait until the eve of launch to realize this is a blocker is laughable. Then to try to publicly escalate this is just playing with fire. Seems eerily similar to Nvidia's GeForce Now fiasco of not having properly having agreements with game studios before the launch.

Apple is at fault for being behind times and being draconian about App Store policies. It's 2020 and streaming is the new norm, so to claim that it's against policy is a bit anachronistic. App Store is no longer some niche platform so this only strengths the antitrust case against Apple. If this is about micro transactions and getting the 30% cut, then it's a short-sighted move since if anything game streaming will drive adoption of iOS devices (e.g. iPad is almost the perfect streaming display).


Do we actually know that Microsoft hasn't been trying to resolve this for longer?

I haven't seen any real indication that they haven't been.


> "It's 2020 and streaming is the new norm..."

Is it really?

While I don't think Apple is doing this for any particularly good reason, I for one would rather streaming of games not become even remotely the norm.

When games become services, all kinds of perverse incentive structures are emphasized, in order to continue to produce revenue quarter after quarter.

Microtransactions, FOMO based season systems, loot boxes, and various forms of applied captology to name a few.

Games, like movies and music, walk the line between commodity entertainment and art. From what we've seen with movies and music, streaming services have tended to shove the balance towards commoditization.

A parallel could be drawn to music streaming. See: https://www.thefader.com/2020/07/30/spotify-ceo-daniel-ek-sa...

What Elk is proposing is essentially what some game developers are already doing. Annual releases of the same IP with minor gameplay changes and different skins (Assassins' Creed, Call of Duty, etc). You can see the seeds of a subscription model in Overwatch's "sequel but not really a sequel". Would it really be better if instead you paid a subscription per franchise you want to play?


I wonder if Microsoft with the xCloud project could just web WebRTC in Safari full screen? There's a gamepad API for bluetooth controllers, It seems like mobile safari supports it from a quick Google search.

Disappointed in Apple here :( I'm a fan of them generally, but as someone interested in game development makes me want to use Windows more lately, and the Windows Linux Subsystem seems interesting even though haven't played with it... I think I'd miss magic mouse and swiping between spaces... Not sure what hardware I'd get, I have Windows in Bootcamp and it feels so awkward using it so barely use it.

Kinda irritates me it seems like there's always 2 choices... Windows or Mac, iPhone or Android... Kinda a concern not more competition. Sure you can run Linux on the desktop, but you have limited app support and not as commercially supported.


Using websites instead of apps becomes cooler and cooler.


Not on iOS where the only browser engine allowed is Apple's webkit.


I wonder, if streaming video on the internet was just starting to be a thing now (like Netflix 10 years ago), would they even allow it on the iPhone, or would they use some BS excuse about not allowing streaming apps because they can't vet all the content first.


They shouldn't be dictating such kind of policies, when there are no easy ways to install alternative stores. Same story with ban on non Apple browsers in their store.

Anti-trust should really blast them for it, plain and simple. Apple got away with this garbage for way too long.


Oh, I use RDP and VNC to play minesweeper on my PC with my iPad.... hope they don’t find out!


Whenever a "violation of policy" is cited, a certain language trick is at play. The term "violation" has a negative vibe, its aim is to make the reader feel as if some real violation happened, almost an act of violence. Instead, what it really means in this context, is simply that Apple doesn't like any loophole that would let anyone avoid the fee for any purchase related to any app available in their app store.


The worst part is how they are inspiring the next generation of tech gangsters to behave this way. I seriously doubt Tim Apple could be this moronic and still be brilliant on the process side. The fail idiots will be fine in retirement, really. But in the meantime the kids are thinking this is the way to make my crumb-based startup into the next two trillion dollar company just like Steve Jobs did.


"Before they go on our store, all apps are reviewed against the same set of guidelines that are intended to protect customers and provide a fair and level playing field to developers."

As an iphone customer and an iphone developer, let me just say apple can just go f* themselves... This hypocrisy is making me mad. the OS is secure, the access permissions are secure, at this point the only thing they need to ensure is that the game store isn't a scam and then it'll be fine. So, please, stop pretending it's to protect anyone (or in this case macOS doesn't provide a secure environment, right ?).

Just admit it's for your own personal greed, and that you're leveraging a totally unfair position to impose your app store to win against its competitors.


Just two thoughts.

We do not know if the MacOS store will undergo a similar transformation if not outright rebranding so that it follows the same rules.

It is possible if they continue down this path they will be the only members of their walled garden and this segment of the industry will pass them by; streaming of games and shows and possibly just hosting apps remotely.

addendum, there are times where I think they are asking to be regulated, perhaps just to see how far they can go or to get regulation which prevents or limits future competition


It's really ironic how having suffered from microsoft monopolistic abuses in the past, they now do the EXACT same thing.

And the worst is that higher management probably convinced themselves they're not.

Yeah, i believe only a trial will make them realize what they've become.

PS: planning on buying a non-google non-apple phone in the future, after having had to buy a new iphone just so that i could install ios 13 and keep working (the old one being perfectly fine btw). Any advice ?


The options I know of are the Pinephone and the Librem 5. They're various degrees of open source and secure. They're also slow, lack most software, require constant tinkering, and have terrible battery life. The pragmatic option is to get an Android phone you can install LineageOS on, use the fDroid store, and don't install Google services. This way you can sideload normal apps if you need them.


I guess it depends what you use your phone for, but Mobian[1] on the PinePhone is a surprisingly decent daily driver for me.

1 - https://mobian-project.org


It works for some use cases, I don't mean to imply otherwise. For my use cases... I have more apps installed on my phone than Mobian has in its repository.


>Android phone you can install LineageOS on

What would be good candidate phone for that? Is there a phone that is friendly towards hackers in that way?


I'm happy with my Pocophone F1. It's not the only phone with very good ROM/Free software support, but among the cheapest (around 300€, maybe a bit less by now, it should now also be available used).

It has lots of RAM, an SD card slot, a headphone jack, a high-end processor, a large battery and most importantly is very repairable (a screen costs about 20€).

The initial unlocking process is a bit annoying and stupid, but after that it's quite nice. The only thing you could say it really lacks is NFC.


The list of supported devices is here: https://wiki.lineageos.org/devices/


Looking at the LineageOS downloads page OnePlus has strong support (as a ratio of the number of phones they released to the number of phones that are compatible). Another idea is to check XDA Developers and see which forums are most active.

https://download.lineageos.org/


The OnePlus phones are good and they run on Lineage, but they do bundle google services by default. Of course, you can unlock the bootloader (wasn't too hard on the OP6, or the OPO before that, not sure about newer devices) and flash whatever you want, though, if you want to get rid of google services.


If you intend to flash custom rom on your phone, generally avoid devices with mediatek (or other non-qualcomm) chipsets because they tend to have higher risk of hard-bricking when you messed up which will require sending the phone to a service center to fix.


I just bought a oneplus pro 7 with lineage and microg and i love it !


> It's really ironic how having suffered from microsoft monopolistic abuses in the past, they now do the EXACT same thing.

It is also extremely concerning how little backlash there is for this behavior, because that is what stopped Microsoft.

> Any advice ?

Last I checked, all Google phones (Pixel, Nexus) can be rooted/flashed in a supported manner. There's irony for you. You can't do anything about the binary blobs for the baseband/radio.


It was a different time man.


How so? I didn't get the chance to experience it.


There are also a lot more people playing the stock market now than before.

If one is a shareholder of a company, that gives incentive to defend them no matter what.


The government didn't just bend over and let companies do whatever they wanted every single time. They still fought back some of the time.


Apple has always been like that: https://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?project=Macintosh&stor...

Of course they will relive their desktop experience because some other environment will at some point be better due to fierce competition. It's kind of their omen that the company with the bitten apple from paradise has to created a walled garden. The difference will be that there is no Steve to rescue them again.

Funny thing is, their first logo was Newton's apple. Imagine the difference.


Well, Newton's life was heavily influenced by an intellectual property battle over the invention of calculus, and he spent his later life hunting and executing counterfeiters, so, maybe appropriate after all?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Later_life_of_Isaac_Newton#Ach...


While I see where you're coming from, I think there's a pretty big difference between software and hardware expandability. Anyone can write software for a Mac and run it, then and now. (Nowadays users need to right click to open apps from unidentified developers, but that's not so onerous.)


One plus runs and android fork and pixels. Both have decent support with non bkoatware images that unlocked for a privacy kernel if you want.


> just so that i could install ios 13

Can you install iOS 13 on a non-Apple phone? If not, why not just stay on iOS 12? What software requires that kind of upgrade and is available on a phone OS other than the iOS/Android duopoly?


If I were to guess, they may need to develop against iOS 13. Or an application they rely on only works on iOS 13 now.

But yeah the problem doesn’t get solved by moving devices.


i had to test the app i was developing for a customer on an iOS 13 device for some technical reasons (i used to not care for my previous apps). And my iphone 6 wouldn't install that version (which is another topic).

As i said, i'm both an iphone user AND mobile professional developer. The first is quite easy to change, but the second will take a bit more time for me to get rid of Apple (or google).


Have you considered SailfishOS? It can be run on a number of devices (including the PinePhone if that interests you): https://jolla.com/sailfishx/

And more info about the PinePhone and it's OS support: https://wiki.pine64.org/index.php/PinePhone_Software_Release...


Jolla are selling sailfish for 50 euros and the official support is limited to Sony xperia phones. Personally, i have never paid for my cellphone OS and neither have the vast majority of people out there.

When the instructions involve a bunch of convoluted commands and the terminal, Sailfish doesn't stand a chance. Like, their chances of growing in popularity are literally zero with this model.


I really appreciate having the MacOS app store as a sort of "trusted" alternative to downloading off the web. That said I can't ever see Apple removing the ability to download applications from untrusted sources, like they did with iPhone.


Really? I can absolutely see that. It seems OSX has been creeping towards that for some time, and now they're moving to ARM and stuffing their machines with "security" chips, it's getting more and more locked down. Macintosh computers are steadily becoming iPads with hardware keyboards.


That is just not backed up in the actual events of what they are doing.

If there was ever a time to do this it would be right now as they undergo changing Mac to ARM, but they're not.


I don't think the right time to make that transition is while they're trying to switch to ARM. Right now, they're probably trying to get things switched by making as few changes as possible. That eases the transition for everybody. I'm not sure why they would want to deal with both things at the same time. They are both huge undertakings. Not to mention, the two things are really unrelated. Besides, how does CPU architecture affect the ability to lock the OS into only running App Store apps?


You think Apple could make Adobe, Autodesk, and countless others go through the Mac App Store?


Yes, yes they can.

The real question is if they can convince all the professionals those companies cater to to adopt an ecosystem where software providers have to go through an arbitrarily and closely controlled App Store.

If their hardware and base OS is too attractive to those professionals relative to the loss of freedom Adobe, etc. will follow.

Thankfully, though, I don’t think Mac users will actually be ok with that. There’s been quite an exodus of professionals from Mac to windows based on much smaller things so far.


They've been already doing that for all the iOS version of their apps (which are now way past a simple player or viewer).

Why not ? It's probably only a matter of time.


A couple of points:

1) Apple has much more leverage on iOS because it has a bigger market share and many more iOS users than macOS.

2) macOS has traditionally been an open platform

3) Many desktop app developers wouldn't be able to keep installing and running the products the way their do it now. For example, Adobe has an app called Creative Cloud that manages installs, licenses, active computers, and other things. It's practically malware at this point, but if you want to use Adobe apps there is no other way.


you can't really stop a desktop computer from running arbitrary software. If users can install compilers (which you pretty much have to allow), then all you can do is make them go through extra steps.


> I really appreciate having the MacOS app store as a sort of "trusted" alternative to downloading off the web.

But it's not, the Mac App Store is a dumpster fire.


How come?


Because there's a vibrant marketplace outside the store and Apple provides little benefit but takes 30%.


> provides little benefit but takes 30%

I understand the MAS is not a great fit for all use cases, but IMO this statement is wrong for the use cases where the MAS is a good fit.

I used the MAS as a dev, and it adds other benefits such as updates, cloud storage, etc.

I used it specifically for an education app and it was just great to tell macOS users to simply download it from the MAS and let it handle the updates from there.

Implementing updates on your own is not trivial in a desktop app. Before using the MAS we used Electron with Squirrel. We had to manage a server exclusively for the updates. Squirrel worked great in macOS but in Windows it was a nightmare. Also the Electron apps were huge, as you probably know.

For the MAS app, we kept the web UI but moved to Swift + WKWebView. The app went from a 50MB download to about 4MB. Memory consumption also decreased dramatically, I think the Swift version used something like 10-15MB of RAM.


It’s still far more trusted than buying on the web. That’s a significant benefit for developers.


It's only a benefit for Adobe and Microsoft and Slack who can call someone up at Apple and ask them to hand over the appropriate entitlements so their apps will function.


> there are times where I think they are asking to be regulated

Never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by corporate incompetence.


> As an iphone customer and an iphone developer...

if you really cared, you would vote against them with your dollar.


The problem with that argument is that you don't get a line-item vote. I can't vote security +1, privacy +1, curated app store +1, no streaming services -1. I can't go to Apple and say "I'd love to buy an iPhone, but I want a $50 discount because you won't enable streaming games."


that's absolutely what i intend to do with my next phone. However, as a professional, i'm a bit stuck with that ecosystem (or google's one, which isn't much better, for other reasons)


I think it's implied that they likely will in the future. They just mention their experience an Apple developer to convey that they know more about what they're talking about than average.


Greed. That's the problem underneath all of this issues Apple is having.


> As an iphone customer and an iphone developer, let me just say apple can just go f* themselves

But you keep buying their product, so apparently... you can?


What are they supposed to do, try to return their phone months after buying it?


> "all apps are reviewed against the same set of guidelines that are intended to protect customers and provide a fair and level playing field to developers."

It's impressive Apple so blatantly say this when we know for a fact big companies get a different/better deal.

Everyone is equal, some are just more equal, it seems.

I hope a large company/developer/celebrity with a massive following will pressure Apple/Tim Cook into responding to this hypocrisy. I realize Apple are in the business to make money, but it's insulting for them to say "Everyone gets the same deal" when that is clearly not true.


A better deal (money wise etc) is different than "the same set of guidelines" (code check, features wise).

They've cut apps from big companies like Microsoft (now, with their game platform) and Amazon (Kindle purchases) in the past...


Select developers get special entitlements and access that other developers do not get https://twitter.com/steipete/status/1288156232717606912


Apple does not use the same set of guidelines.


Just as bad is a Dev that feels righteous it don’t understand the finer details on both sides.


You gave them money after they had been doing this for a decade. You can only blame yourself.


While I agree with you from an economical point, I totally disagree because phones are quite a duopoly. Either you go with Apple or you cut your market size in half (depending on where you are, or then it‘s the same with Google).

It‘s not like a car dealer where there are probably more than one in your small town each dealing with different brands. There you can ignore one dealer and one brand and you still have enough dealers & brands to select from. With phones you have exactly 2. And at some point you‘ll also want to eat food and not only don‘t do stuff because of reasons.


Right. Because nobody else will buy an iPhone if I don’t.

As a developer, you can’t have a successful app and not be on the Apple app store.

Anyway, even if neither of those were true, as human beings we certainly always have the right to talk shit about Apple and tell them to go fuck themselves. Even while we’re using their products.

I make sure to cost Apple money by convincing entire companies to not use their stuff. And any Apple products that my family buys aren’t new. We also never buy apps from their app store.


If you want to change the US Government, you don't do it by packing up and moving to Japan. "Voting with your wallet" isn't voting for change; it's giving up. Apple can do better, Apple must do better, and they don't listen to people who aren't their customers. Why should they?


This positions literally made me guffaw.

'"Voting with your wallet" isn't voting for change; it's giving up.'

I love the subtext I'm reading that boycotting companies that are doing bad things is for dirty quitters who lack grit.

This brings to mind a Musashi quote, from the book of five rings.

“You should not have any special fondness for a particular weapon, or anything else, for that matter. Too much is the same as not enough. Without imitating anyone else, you should have as much weaponry as suits you.”


It's possible that GP changed their opinion over time, and that is something to be celebrated rather than chided.


I have kids, and one of my primary difficulties is limiting their screen time, and to a lesser extent, content. I appreciate having Apple as one gatekeeper that I can trust and learn to operate. I don't want a Wild West, and I consider these restrictions one of the reasons I pay Apple's premium.


Apple allows Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, and all manner of other games using addictive psychological tactics onto the App Store.

If you're more concerned about "gamer-centric" titles, there's also Fortnite and F2P versions of Call of Duty.

How is not allowing streaming Xbox games limiting screen time?


The need to filter out content seems orthogonal to Apple not allowing certain content in the first place.


Google's Family Link allows very granular control over what your kids do with their devices. The the extend that you get a notification if you want for every app they try to install and won't get installed unless you permit it. You can set time limits not just for screen time but on on a per app basis as well.

I don't know how this works but from my experience I found that Google's got this one right.


Your kids could now use my linux machine and they wouldn't be able to install or do any harm at all.

Apple's restrictions don't matter at all here.


i'm really having trouble understanding how giving the choice to the people that want to to install a different app store is going to change anything to your situation...

I'm not for removing apple's store...


>So, please, stop pretending it's to protect anyone (or in this case macOS doesn't provide a secure environment, right ?).

Well, ultimately, it is. If a "store within a store" (or a second independent store) gets too much traction, it will hold the platform back.

If such a store/third entity becomes powerful Apple can't direct the future and make the changes it wants (the jump to Apple Sillicon is just a recent example, deprecating Carbon, notarization, etc) but has to placate to that too, or risk the ire of tons of dependent users.

Apple has seen that play out when it gave too much power to Adobe, MS and others, and has been correcting for that ever since Jobs came back...


> Well, ultimately, it is. If a "store within a store" (or a second independent store) gets too much traction, it will hold the platform back.

A better solution would be for the DOJ to force Apple to allow other app stores and open installs.

> If such a store/third entity becomes powerful Apple can't direct the future and make the changes it wants (the jump to Apple Sillicon is just a recent example, deprecating Carbon, notarization, etc) but has to placate to that too, or risk the ire of tons of dependent users.

Where is that a problem in reality? They've changed their desktop architecture, and that's a completely open platform.

> Apple has seen that play out when it gave too much power to Adobe, MS and others, and has been correcting for that ever since Jobs came back...

Apple built something that is now widely used for conducting business, finance, communication, etc. They no longer deserve to have a singular stranglehold on it. The world depends on iPhone, and it needs to be opened up.


>A better solution would be for the DOJ to force Apple to allow other app stores and open installs.

Force them to make a different product that the one users buy on their own volition, despite a more open alternative with double the adoption, and which took Apple from a bankrupt company in 1997 to the largest company on Earth in 2020?

Did it ever occured to anyone that some of the success iOS has is precisely because it does restrict things a certain way (which enable other things, from security to quicker platform tech changes)?

And that as users we like it because of those things, not despite them?


As a former iOS developer and a user, I'm torn. AppStore's rules are frustrating and unevenly applied, and it sucks that AppStore is the only way to distribute apps. On the other hand, as a user I don't want 20 goddamn app stores on my device. Want Portal 2? Go download Steam! Want Fortnight? Go download Epic store! Minecraft? Windows store! It's horrible.


Sure but I prefer that to the alternative of ‘everything is only available on the Windows store’, where Steam doesn’t exist


Most games except the ones you listed are available across multiple stores, and websites like humble bundle. Typically the only limitation is that most stores do not allow publishers to advertise that an item is available on another store. For example, Halo can be picked up on Steam or Windows Store these days. Microsoft realised that people preferred certain stores over others. So much so that Epic is still giving away multiple games every week trying to build up it's user base.


EA tried to play hardball with their Origin store and only recently started selling on Steam again.


What happens to my games when the store I bought them from goes bust?


Depends on the store. GoG and Humble Bundle offer DMR free downloads typically so you can store and keep your own software. Others? Same thing as any other walled garden.


Once a program is purchased from a store, it doesn't need to be launched from that store. GOG Galaxy 2 accumulates the storefronts into one launcher, where you can search, install, and launch any game that you've purchased on any of the platforms. This wouldn't even be possible on an iOS device. I'm in favor of openness and interconnectivity over uniformity.


> as a user I don't want 20 goddamn app stores on my device

Nobody would force anyone to install alternate stores.


> Well, ultimately, it is. If a "store within a store" (or a second independent store) gets too much traction, it will hold the platform back.

Here's the thing. We're talking about objective, concrete examples. Allow Microsoft's and other trusted partners app, but reject others. Apple likes to pretend it sets the same rules for all developers and there's no exceptions, which is categoricly false, as has been documented time and time again[1].

Google Stadia and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate game streaming services are not "alternate app stores" which will hold the iOS platform back. Arguably as these are all streaming services, where there's no code executing on the device, it makes it easier for Apple to make architectural changes to its platform because the games playable within the apps do not require those changes!

Apple can still reject "alternate app stores", but allow specific applications like XGPU because it just seems like the right thing to do? Preventing these services on iOS holds back iOS and ultimately makes the platform less capable and hurts consumers.

[1]: Apple taking only 15% cut from Amazon, letting Amazon use their own payment provider for in-app rentals, extending private entitlements for certain developers


i don't think the game store is using any kind of private apis, so in that regard it's really the same as any other application.

"risk the ire of tons of dependent users": This argument doesn't hold: the reason an OS is successful isn't for the OS, but for the apps. So, unless you think apple should actually write all the successful apps themselves, to remain in control and easily make deep technical migrations feasible, i really don't see how that could work.


xCloud isn’t a store. It’s a subscription model just like Netflix.

Meanwhile Amazon can sell digital movies à la carte on iOS. A literal store downloaded via a store.


You must be mad a lot. This is how the world works and Apple is nothing to single out here.


This article and thread is about Apple though. Why would they not be the subject of consternation?

The world has worked in many different ways before, and will work in different ways in the future. Let's have a discussion about how we'd like to see it work, ya?


> This is how the world works

It's broken, and the government is going to slap the shit out of Apple.

The App Store eats away more profit than taxes, and is single handedly responsible for teaching the public that an eternity of app updates are for free. They drove the public to expect apps should be cheaper than coffee.


> They drove the public to expect apps should be cheaper than coffee.

While still continuing to charge the developer 99USD a year.


This is the least of the problems of trying to earn money on the App Store.


> It's broken, and the government is going to slap the shit out of Apple.

I doubt it. Apple would get out it like they got out of their European Tax-ish.


> They drove the public to expect apps should be cheaper than coffee.

I don't understand - did Apple set app prices? Or did the app developers?


It's exactly what you'd expect from a low-friction, highly competitive marketplace. They eat everyone's profit in a hurry. That Apple was able to take a 30% cut while this happened leads me to believe they did an incredibly good job of creating a low-friction, highly competitive marketplace.

Now, contrary to econ 101 thought experiments, you don't always want to approach the ideal of perfectly-competitive marketplaces too closely. It can be bad for overall market health and even, ultimately, harm choices available to consumers for exactly the reasons cited.

[EDIT] actually it could also indicate that they've done one part of market-creation really poorly, which is that they're making reliable information other than price way too hard to discover, though again, that the market has not just survived this defect/cost but thrived indicates they did an uncommonly good job at other parts.


How did Apple teach the public this?

My recollection was that if anyone taught this to the public it was the press and the blogosphere.

This argument was had at the time, and review sites vilified anything that wasn’t $1 as greed.

Can you say what Apple did that contributed to this?


I think that the race to the bottom that ended with the domination of the F2P model is not entirely because of Apple, but they contributed by not doing anything against it.

And they were one of the very few companies that could have done something.

They saw it happening and they chose to not intervene.


What intervention would have helped?


Instead of applying a 30% fee, a fixed $2 + 5% would have completely changed the market.


Seems like a conspiracy to raise the price of apps to me.

And a clear violation of anti-trust law.


Couple of things:

* iOS upgrades were free and macOS upgrades turned free a few years after the iOS App Store became available * the lower price tiers available for app developers started with 0 and $1, and in steps of $1 * for many years, the iOS App Store free and paid charts were huge drivers for downloads. It was worth making an app much cheaper and making it up in volume. That strategy worked for many years.

Apple cultivated that environment and developers lived it


I don’t think Apple set the standard for free software updates - they just needed to do that to compete with VC and Adversing funded Browsers and web apps.

That is where the idea that software should be free or cheap came from.

As for ‘allowing’ one dollar apps. It seems like you are proposing that Apple should be punished for not entering into a price fixing arrangement to artificially inflate software prices.

I have some sympathy for wishing they had done this, but this is exactly what they tried with books, and they were subjected to antitrust action.

Keeping prices artificially high is illegal - you can’t blame Apple for not doing it.

Making software free or cheap was already a fait accompli, thanks to the web and VC funded startups.

Apple actually reversed that partially by creating a store that was trustworthy enough for people to spend some money on software again.

It is simply not true that Apple caused the race to the bottom. Look back at media from the time and you can confirm this.


I don’t think they had to do anything illegal. One of the things they could have done much earlier can be felt in the App Store nowadays. Notice the lack of emphasis on charts now. It’s not perfect now, but developer laments that getting featured doesn’t drive sales like it did before (because chatting didn’t have the kind of up front visibility and that features don’t last for an entire week anymore). That’s a good thing.

There is always downward pressure on prices because well-funded startups can provide their product free. But charts and the emphasis on them were very very unhealthy. I don’t think Apple can ever fix it now.

This is a serious problem for the entire consumer and prosumer industry. While competition that drives prices down is often good, but past a certain limit and it can do long term harm to the industry that is irreversible. I fear we might have already crossed that threshold.


I agree that charts are a problem - arguably Google is just a set of charts for keywords, and i think that’s one of the reasons it is so corrosive.

I just don’t think that Apple could have done much about it at the beginning. If they weren’t producing charts, someone else would have been because people want to know what other people think is good, and on a global scale this results in winner takes all dynamics.

I agree with you about everything in this comment except the sentiment that it’s Apple’s fault or that they could have done something about it from the start.

My view is that we actually now do have a chance to do something about it, but anti-trust action against Apple will almost certainly destroy that chance and leave us stuck with this situation for much longer.


Doesn't mean we have to be happy about it or accept it


> This is how the world works

"It is what it is"


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