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An anonymous source close to Spotify has also explained why the same complaint hasn’t been levied against Google, which also takes a cut from in-app purchases …
The dispute could conceivably lead to Apple taking a triple hit:
Fines from antitrust investigations
Loss of App Store commissions if it is forced to change its policies
Reputational damage if the matter becomes a big public battle
An investor’s note from analysts KeyBanc Capital Markets seen by Business Insider says that the complaint poses a ‘significant financial risk’ to Apple because the policy of not allowing Spotify to point app users to direct subscription options is likely to be seen as an unfair business practice.
“We believe this holds no practical purpose other than to force competitive services into higher cost structures and unfairly tax service activity on the iOS platform,” KeyBanc Capital Markets’ Andy Hargreaves and Tyler Parker said in the note published on March 13. As such, the firm believes Spotify’s complaint has merit and could “carry significant weight” in the eyes of regulators.
If Apple were forced to change its terms as a result of the complaint, it could pose a risk to the revenue Apple earns from subscriptions and in-app purchases.
“We believe the most significant financial risk to Apple would come from a forced requirement to allow first party and other third party payment processing from within apps,” the note read. “This would create competition for subscription and in-app payments that would likely drive the current 30% rate Apple collects down substantially.”
That would naturally hit Apple’s Services income at a time when the company increasingly depends on it as hardware sales are flat or declining.
Business Insider’s Troy Wolverton argues that Spotify could win the argument because there’s precedent to support the company’s complaint in Europe – and a ruling there could lead to a similar antitrust investigation in the US.
The streaming music company would seem to have a legitimate complaint. In fact, what Apple is alleged to be doing isn’t all that different from what got Microsoft in trouble with antitrust authorities 20 years ago and what led to a $5 billion fine against Google just last year.
If history is any guide, Spotify’s complaint could lead to a similarly large fine against the iPhone maker. It might also lead to restrictions that could hamper Apple’s services business, which the electronics giant has been touting as its future. And the complaint could spur a parallel antitrust investigation here in the US.
Both also believe that, if the issue turns into a public battle, that could result in reputational damage to Apple.
It could create a prolonged period of negative Apple headlines which may in turn “negatively impact Apple’s retention rate at the margin,” according to the KeyBanc note […]
Perhaps more importantly, Spotify’s allegations — any investigation that truly digs into them — could sully Apple’s reputation with consumers. That could be extraordinarily costly for a company that has long benefited from public adulation and the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free publicity that’s come hand-in-hand with it.
As to why Spotify is not making the same complaint against Google, one source says that although the Play store also takes a cut of in-app subscriptions, there’s one crucial difference: Google doesn’t prevent Spotify’s Android app from pointing users to its own website to subscribe.
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Apple is announcing a trio of updates to the App Store Guidelines today that focuses on giving developers more flexibility for communicating with their customers. One of the changes specifically comes to address Apple’s settlement in a class-action lawsuit from small developers in the US, first announced back in August.
As background, Apple promised a handful of small App Store changes back in August as part of its settlement with small developers in the United States. One of the most notable changes announced at the time was that developers would be able to communicate outside of their applications about alternatives to Apple’s in-app purchase system.
In line with this settlement, Apple says that it is updating guideline 3.1.3 to remove its previous restriction on using customer communication information obtained with an application to communicate outside the application about payment methods other than in-app purchase. Apple says this update satisfies the terms of the settlement.
Here is the wording of guideline 3.1.3 prior to today’s update (emphasis ours):
The following apps may use purchase methods other than in-app purchase. Apps in this section cannot, within the app, encourage users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase. Developers cannot use information obtained within the app to target individual users outside of the app to use purchasing methods other than in-app purchase (such as sending an individual user an email about other purchasing methods after that individual signs up for an account within the app). Developers can send communications outside of the app to their user base about purchasing methods other than in-app purchase.
And here is the wording of guideline 3.1.3 following today’s revision:
The following apps may use purchase methods other than in-app purchase. Apps in this section cannot, within the app, encourage users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase. Developers can send communications outside of the app to their user base about purchasing methods other than in-app purchase.
To go along with this update, Apple is also adding a new guideline saying that apps may request basic contact information from users, with some restrictions:
Apps may request basic contact information (such as name and email address) so long as the request is optional for the user, features and services are not conditional on providing the information, and it complies with other provisions of these guidelines, including limitations on collecting information from kids.
In practice, this means that developers will be able to collect contact information from users (as long as it’s not required), then use that contact information to communicate outside of their application (such as with email), about more purchase and payment options that are perhaps cheaper than in-app options.
It’s important to keep in mind that changes are solely in response to the class-action lawsuit from US developers that Apple settled in August. These changes do not put Apple in compliance with the Epic Games ruling or the ruling from the Japan Fair Trade Commission. While the Epic Games case is being appealed, Apple says that it will update its App Store guidelines to accommodate the JFTC ruling in early 2023.
Apple is also making tweaks to the App Store guidelines to accommodate In-App Events, as we reported earlier this week. You can read the full App Store Review Guidelines on Apple’s Developer website here.
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Apple has announced its lists of the best apps and games on its platforms in 2023. On the iPhone, the company picked an AI-based photography app, while a sketching app took the honors on the iPad. A professional publishing software, meanwhile, came out on top on macOS. The company also announced winners on Apple Arcade and Apple TV.iPhone App of the Year – Spectre Camera
‘Spectre Camera’ uses AI to enable users to snap long exposure photographs. It claims to be able to remove crowds, turn city streets into rivers of light, make waterfalls look like paintings and much more. The app comes with a price-tag of Rs. 249, and is currently the number 1 Photo and Video app on the platform. Check out Spectre Camera on the App Store.
‘Sky: Children of Light’ is a groundbreaking title that comes from the award-winning creators behind ‘Journey’, the 2013 Game of The Year. The top-ranked RPG (role-playing game) on the App Store, Sky enables users to play as the Children of the Light, spreading hope through the desolate kingdom to return fallen Stars to their constellations. It is free to play, but offers in-app purchases. Check out Sky: Children of Light on the App Store.iPad App of the Year – Flow by Moleskine
‘Flow’ brings back the legendary Moleskine notebook experience to iOS, offering an all-new way to create simple drawings, complex works of art and beautiful notes on your iPad and iPhone. It offers a free 7-day trial, but requires a paid subscription to use thereafter. Check out Flow by Moleskin on your iPad.iPad Game of the Year – Hyper Light Drifter Mac App of the Year – Affinity Publisher Mac Game of the Year – GRIS
Gris is a hopeful young girl lost in her own world, dealing with a painful experience in her life. Her journey through sorrow is manifested in her dress, which grants new abilities to better navigate her faded reality. As the story unfolds, Gris will grow emotionally and see her world in a different way, revealing new paths to explore using her new abilities. GRIS is a serene and evocative experience, free of danger, frustration or death. It costs Rs. 399. Check out GRIS on your Mac right now.Apple TV and Apple Arcade
Apple also announced the best apps and games on its TV and game-streaming platforms. On Apple TV, an Earth exploration app called The Explorers emerged on top in the app category, while the remake of a 1980s’ classic called Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap was selected as the game of the year.
Finally, a neon-filled fantasy arcade game called ‘Sayonara Wild Hearts‘ was judged to be the best title on Apple Arcade this year. It’s all about “riding motorcycles, skateboarding, dance battling, shooting lasers, wielding swords, and breaking hearts at 200 mph”, according to the developers.
Apple says that the winning apps and games were picked by its App Store editors from around the world after combing through new releases to find those that were “the most beautiful, culturally interesting and fun”. The winning entries “stopped us in our tracks. They helped us create, encouraged us to explore and unleashed new ways of working, playing and doodling”, said the company.
The new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar has been out for a few weeks so you’ve probably seen the early reviews and know all the initial takes. The USB ports changed, the Touch Bar may be gimmicky, and some pros are feeling left out.
My own machine (base 15-inch with upgraded 1TB SSD) arrived three weeks ago as my new work computer, giving me plenty of real-world use with it. My main observation from time spent using the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is that early impressions don’t necessarily last.
My colleague Ben Lovejoy had a similar conclusion in his MacBook Pro diary series. For me, it’s a mixed bag of praise and complaints and a lot of discovery along the way.
Take the new Touch Bar for example. I believe it should be judged as being either more or less useful than the physical function row of keys that it replaces. Personally, I don’t rely on the function keys much beyond play/pause toggling and adjusting volume, but my very first thought when using the Touch Bar was that the virtual keys offer the same or possibly less control without benefit.
Then I discovered the ‘tap and drag’ behavior of volume and brightness controls. You can tap the virtual volume button to activate a slider or you can tap and drag left or right in one quick motion. Any time Touch Bar uses this tap and drag gesture, it feels good. I hope we see more of this as Touch Bar implementation becomes more defined.
Back to first impressions being wrong: the main emoji picker that you see demoed in marketing is actually kind of worse than the on-screen grid picker in my opinion.
Picking emoji from the Touch Bar is useful for frequently used characters and when you know which category has the emoji you need, but it requires way too much swiping for casually viewing all emoji.
In general, I enjoy the dynamic nature of Touch Bar. It’s an area on my keyboard that changes based on context with a fair amount of customization. The old function row for me was basically play/pause and volume.
Safari and Mail have OK default setups by default, but Touch Bar got much more useful in both apps for me after discovering customization options. I believe customization is key to making Touch Bar useful for your own needs.
One odd thing about Touch Bar and Safari: open tabs appear as thumbnail previews that you can scrub through, but pinned tabs which are arguably the most important are left out.
This is one of those behaviors that wasn’t immediately clear to me but proved useful after discovery. Physical playback control keys just can’t make this distinction and with visual clarity. Does the last app you controlled takeover or are they mapped to iTunes? Touch Bar’s implementation spells it out for you.
Apple’s fingerprint reader is top-notch on iPhone and iPad. Now it’s great to finally have Touch ID on the Mac.
I was half-hoping it would somehow be integrated with the trackpad, but the placement at the right edge of the Touch Bar where the power button is usually positioned is surprisingly convenient. You don’t accidentally authorize it, and it’s easy to access when you need it.
I typically use my thumb for Touch ID on iPhone and iPad. My right index finger is used most for Touch ID on the MacBook Pro because of its position. I love that Apple integrates fingerprint sensors in places that already exist versus making a new area that stands out as a fingerprint sensor.
Just like on iOS, Touch ID makes having a passcode or strong password much easier because you usually just rely on your fingerprint. For me, Touch ID beats entering a passcode every time in terms of speed, and it’s easier than auto-unlock with Apple Watch which insists on sending an alert with sound or a tap each time it’s used.
Having Apple Pay on the Mac is also terrific. I’ve made purchases on my MacBook that I otherwise might have held off on simply because it’s so easy. If you sell something online, you should accept Apple Pay if at all possible.
Any time you can use Touch ID to authenticate a payment or avoid entering a password, it’s a win.
I use 1Password as my secure password manager and its Touch ID support is something I use multiple times each day. Entering your master password less often makes using an even stronger one still convenient.
There are some instances where macOS still insists on using a password over Touch ID. Some of these instances make sense like after a reboot, but other times I’m not certain why Touch ID isn’t an option.
Like on iOS, you’ll sometimes see that a password is required for something like iTunes or the iBooks Store, but Touch ID can be turned on after your first download.
Reaction to the I/O shift in general has been played out extensively by now so I’ll just offer observations from my own experience. It’s a transition, but for me it is one worth having.
MagSafe is replaced by USB-C. This has downsides, but being able to charge from either the left or right side of my MacBook Pro is a benefit that I’m appreciating daily.
Moving from USB-A to USB-C cables takes some effort up front but for me it was a fast and relatively cheap transition.
I purchased four USB-B to USB-C cables for my mic, printer, guitar pedal, and MIDI keyboard; a Lightning to USB-C cable for connecting my iPhone and iPad to my Mac; a micro-USB to USB-C cable for charging my headphones and camera; a USB-C SD Card reader, and a USB-A to USB-C adapter.
I also bought a three-pack cable pouch to keep up with these essentials in my backpack and around the office. The last annoyance of the transition is already having a decent supply of USB-A battery packs and wall adapters. I’m not itching to replace those immediately, but over time it’ll happen.
Your own experience may vary, but this has been a mostly painless transition for me. My biggest complaint on a day-to-day basis is having to pull out the SD Card reader now when I want to import photos and video. It’s definitely a setback but not one worth using an older machine over.
I prefer the new keyboard style to the previous MacBook Pro keyboard; I like the tighter feel it offers and it leaks backlighting way less than the old style. I used the 12-inch MacBook for 10 months, then the Magic Keyboard paired with my desktop Mac mini before upgrading to the new MacBook Pro so I’ve sort of been conditioned for it.
The Magic Keyboard is probably my favorite Apple keyboard right now, but I definitely prefer the new MacBook Pro keyboard over the old sloshy one.
My one complaint here is that backlighting behind keys is noticeably uneven on certain keys like Command, Return, and Caps Lock. This was an issue on the 12-inch MacBook last year, and Apple hasn’t fixed it on the new MacBook Pros. With the rest of the machine so well crafted, it stands out as a defect.
The giant trackpad feels really nice. I used the massive Magic Trackpad 2 on my Mac mini desktop, and the 15-inch MacBook Pro trackpad feels comparable.
I’ve also experienced software bugs on the new trackpad that I haven’t experienced on other MacBooks including the 12-inch version. Three-finger drag can be unreliable and drag-and-drop in general has been buggy here and there.
My guess is this is related to palm rejection needed when such a large trackpad takes up so much of the lower half of the notebook. Assuming these glitches get worked out, the new trackpad will be a win but more attention is needed here for now.
A Few More Things
Battery life issues have been widely reported and I’ve heard mixed results from my colleagues. Apple promises up to 10 hours of battery life, but I haven’t experienced anywhere near that duration. I rarely use my MacBook to leisurely browse the web — my iPhone and iPad handle that — so I don’t expect to get the longest possible battery life with real-world use.
Without changing up my workflow, I expected to get around 5-6 hours of battery life. Instead, I measured just over 3 hours when playing Apple Music over the built-in speakers and 4.5 hours when not playing music.
For context, I’ve tested on both macOS 10.12.1 and macOS 10.12.2 beta; no testing occurred during the first week when Photos and Spotlight were settling; and my usual workflow involves these apps: Safari, Mail, Notes, Messages, Preview, Photos, iTunes, Slack, Spark, Reeder, Wunderlist, TweetDeck, Byword, Tweetbot, and 1Password.
It’s not a light load with two Twitter clients and tons of browser tabs but the same workflow would get me a guaranteed 4 hours on the 12-inch MacBook; 3 hours is not what I was expecting. I’m hoping battery life improves with future software updates or else that will be a defining flaw of this hardware.
My 15-inch MacBook Pro also gets uncomfortably warm when used in my lap. It’s OK on a desk, but the ventilation along the back seems to be unfriendly with casual lap use. I’d like to be able to browse Safari from my MacBook Pro in the living room like I do my iPad, but the discomfort caused by warmth makes that less than ideal. I don’t recall this being an issue on the fanless 12-inch MacBook. To remedy the heat issue, I ordered this lap desk that remedies the problem.
I’ll wrap up by mentioning a few things we didn’t get this year that would make me regret investing in this MacBook Pro.
This is the first MacBook Pro in any color that isn’t silver; the darker option is space gray. I was hoping we’d see the more premium-looking matte black like the new iPhone 7. That’s a personal preference and not a functional one, but I’ll be very jealous of matte black MacBook Pros if they ship next year (and color alone isn’t something worth upgrading over).
Also on color: my wife likes the Touch Bar and would benefit from a MacBook display larger than 12-inches, but she would want gold or rose gold. Too bad those are 12-inch MacBook colors only this year.
The FaceTime HD camera could stand to be upgraded from 720p to at least 1080p. The iPhone 7 is leading here, but it may not be possible to fit a higher resolution sensor in a display as thin as this lid. 720p is certainly better than the 480p camera on the also thin 12-inch MacBook.
Haptic feedback on the Touch Bar like you get from the trackpad would be a nice. For example, you get a nice bump from the trackpad when you pass 0º while adjusting the angle of an image in Photos, but you miss this when doing the same task on the Touch Bar where it otherwise feels more natural.
Apple still hasn’t made a 15-inch notebook that puts portability totally ahead of power — a 15-inch version of the 12-inch MacBook is still something that I would love to own — but the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar does make gains in portability over the prior generation.
For me, I’m not upgrading from the old 15-inch MacBook Pro to the new 15-inch MacBook Pro. My recent Mac history looks like this: 2009 13-inch MacBook Pro, 2012 13-inch MacBook Air, 2012 Mac mini, and 2023 12-inch MacBook.
It’s harder for me to appreciate the gains in portability that the 15-inch MacBook Pro made this year, but without that comparison it’s clear that this is a very portable 15-inch notebook. Side-by-side comparisons with the 12-inch MacBook show how similar they are in design even if the weight is noticeably different on a notebook with a display 3.4-inches larger.
Aside from portability, Touch ID is an easy win and I wouldn’t trade Touch Bar for function keys. Both make me feel good about upgrading to this MacBook this year.
The other specs are suited well enough for what I need to do for work: writing, opening way too many tabs, following two streaming Twitter timelines, editing photos and video, podcasting, and running about a dozen apps in general.
Aside from battery life which I hope improves in future software updates, I’m generally satisfied with the new MacBook Pro. Barring any surprises in the future, I plan on using this machine as my work computer for the next four to five years with an external Retina display being the only thing I’m missing for now.
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Motif canvas prints are the latest product to be offered by the company who provided Apple-branded print products from 2005 to 2023.
It was never clear why Apple decided to exit the business, but the good news is that you can continue to buy the same products in the same way, just under a different branding.
We explained the background when I tested the company’s photobooks.
Back in 2023, it was announced that RR Donnelley – the same company used to produce Apple-branded print products – was launching its own Photos plugin, under the Motif branding. This launched in 2023.
RR Donnelley has some impressive creds. It’s the largest commercial printer in the world, and the company Apple trusted for its own branded print products from 2005. In that time, RRD printed more than 75 million photo products for Apple. It also offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee, refunding or reprinting if you’re not completely happy with the result.
Although you now need to install a third-party plugin, the experience you get is almost identical to the old one. You can still create all your print products directly through Apple’s own Photos app on the Mac, and it still uses the smarts built into that app for the image analysis used to help create the finished result.Motif canvas prints
Since then, the company has occasionally added to the print products available, and its latest offering is canvas prints. Here’s what the company has to say about them:
Motif’s photo canvas prints are high-quality, gallery-wrapped canvases that come fully finished and include a wall mounting bracket. Each canvas is printed on a high-quality poly-cotton canvas and is stretched over a solid pine frame, preventing wrinkles from appearing over time.
Canvases can be simply made using a single image or a collage of images.
Motif offers these in four sizes, which can be hung vertically or horizontally:
8 x 10 inches
10 x 14 inches
16 x 20 inches
24 x 36 inches
Prints wrap around the edges of the canvas, which can be either 3/4-inch deep or 1.5 inches. If you have important content at the edge of your photo, you can instead use the full size of the canvas and opt for your choice of solid color for the edges. In my case, I wrapped the photo.Creating your canvas
As with any Motif print, the process is somewhat unintuitive, but very easy once you know how.
First, you need to install the Motif app – this is a free download from the Mac App Store. Run this app before you open the Photos app.
That opens a new window that allows you to choose your canvas size. As I’m in the UK, my options are shown in centimeters and pounds, while in the US you’ll of course see inches and dollars.
For my test, I opted for 20 x 16 inches, and chose a Portrait mode photo of Charlie, a cat who is sadly no longer with us.Pricing
I’ve had a lot of wall-mounted photos over the years, and have tried everything from very high-end art printers to mass-market consumer ones. What I learned from this is that the cheaper consumer ones are pretty poor, and that the high-end ones aren’t noticeably better than the middle-range ones.
That being the case, I’ve typically found the mid-range ones to be the sweet spot, so I ended up buying from specialist photo printers, but avoiding their top-end finishes.
Motif isn’t at the very bottom end of the prices available out there, but it’s really not far off. Their canvas prices range from $30 for a slim-edge 8 x 10, to $150 for a 24 x 36 gallery edge.Quality
My expectations at this price level wouldn’t be very high, but for the fact that I’d been really impressed by the company’s photobooks.
I was equally impressed here. The print quality is really good, and the canvas texture looks great. One common problem with cheap canvas prints is that the tensioning isn’t good, meaning you get slight wrinkles or floppiness in the print, but this one is perfect.
If I’d ordered this from the middle range of a professional lab, I would have been entirely happy with the result. In a way, that’s not too surprising – the company is, after all, a commercial printer. But to offer this quality at consumer-friendly prices still impresses me.
It comes complete with a decent-quality hanger, or you can simply hang it from the inside of the wooden frame.
I guess the tl;dr version of my review is: This canvas is hanging on my wall, and will remain there.25% discount for 9to5Mac readers
The pricing is already very competitive for what you get, but if you order by the end of January, you can benefit from a 25% discount. Just use the discount code 9TO5MAC25 when you place your order.
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So, today’s the day: Apple is expected to unveil its oft-rumored tablet computer to the world. The growing consensus is that this device will run the iPhone OS or something close to it, have a 7- or 10-inch touchscreen, and be geared towards displaying all kinds of media content including newspapers, magazines, and videos. The tablet will supposedly have a persistent 3G connection similar to the Kindle, but there isn’t a firm consensus on whether or not the device will have Wi-Fi, a camera, or Webcam. But you know, I just can’t help thinking that the closer we get to Apple’s event, the more the tablet sounds like it’s going to be a glorified iPod Touch.Product Gap Theory
Many tablet prognosticators rely on the theory that Apple’s product lineup is missing something between the iPhone and the 13-inch MacBook. But before the tech world was talking about an Apple tablet, it was talking about an Apple netbook. Non-Apple netbooks have been around for a while, but it really wasn’t until late 2008 and early 2009 that pundits took notice of netbooks as a growing market segment. People loved these mini-laptops because they were cheap, small, and able to run Windows XP.
Just before netbooks became popular, analysts and reporters started asking Apple CEO Steve Jobs whether his company would produce a netbook as other tech companies were starting to do. Jobs’ answer was a resounding no. “We don’t know how to make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk, and our DNA will not let us ship that,” Jobs said in late 2008 during a conference call with Wall Street analysts.
In light of the netbook phenomenon, a lot of people were talking up the product gap in Apple’s lineup and convinced something had to go there. So after Jobs poured water on the Apple netbook idea, rumors of a large iPod Touch started emerging. It didn’t take long before the netbook rumor was gone, and tablet madness had gripped tech writers everywhere.Apple Invasion
The other problem with the tablet is that it’s a big risk for Apple. Well, based on what the tech world thinks it knows about this device anyway. Historically, Apple invades established markets–it does not create them.Content is Big
I’ve said it, Wired has said it, and many others have also said it: content is going to be key for the tablet. Apple is expected to unveil on Wednesday, alongside the tablet, new formats of print media that will supposedly revitalize the publishing industry. Most pundits are saying Apple will deliver these new forms of content via the iTunes Store. But if that’s the case, will this content be accessible on other devices? If content is king it wouldn’t make much sense to restrict new media formats to the tablet, but open them up to as many platforms as possible.Back to Square One
So is there something more to the tablet than all these worn out rumors? Does Apple have a secret up its sleeve that nobody’s been able to discern, leak, or predict? CrunchGear has an interesting breakdown of supposed tablet specs leaked by tech entrepreneur Jason Calcanis.
The most recent Apple events have been ruined by a slew of rumors that leave little to the imagination by the time Jobs & Co. hit the stage. But this time, there just has to be something more to this device than we’ve already heard. Don’t you think so?
Connect with Ian on Twitter (@ianpaul).
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