BERKELEY, CALIF. —
Apple has agreed to let developers of iPhone apps email their users about cheaper ways to pay for digital subscriptions and media by circumventing a commission system that generates billions of dollars annually for the iPhone maker.
The concession announced late Thursday, which covers emailed notifications but does not allow in-app notifications, is part of a preliminary settlement of a nearly 2-year-old lawsuit filed on behalf of iPhone app developers in the U.S. It also addresses an issue raised by a federal court judge who is expected to soon rule on a separate case brought by Epic Games, maker of the popular video game Fortnite.
Apple announced the news in a “background” briefing with reporters in which it insisted on anonymity for participating executives and would not allow any direct quotations.
Under long-standing Apple rules, makers of iPhone apps were forbidden to email users with information on how to pay for services outside the app, which would circumvent Apple commissions of 15% to 30%.
The concession now opens one way for app developers to more aggressively encourage its users to pay in other ways, so long as the companies obtain consumer consent.
Apple will also set up a $100 million fund to pay thousands of app developers covered in the lawsuit sums ranging from $250 to $30,000. App developers will get more flexibility to set different prices within their apps, expanding the options from about 100 to 500 choices.
The compromise addresses a concern that U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers repeatedly raised while presiding over the high-profile Epic-Apple trial. She openly wondered why Apple couldn’t allow developers to display a range of payment options within their apps, much like brick-and-mortar retailers can show a range of different credit cards they accept in addition to cash.
Apple still isn’t allowing developers to use in-app notifications to prod consumers to explore different payment options.
But just being able to email users to explain why they should pay outside the app is a breakthrough for developers who have complained about Apple’s commissions as a form of price gouging for years.
Richard Czeslawski, one of the app developers that filed the lawsuit Apple is settling, hailed the freedom to email users as a “game changer” in a declaration field with the court in Oakland, California. App developers “will take fill advantage of this change in customer communications as a way to further reduce the commissions paid to Apple,”‘ predicted Czeslawski, CEO of Pure Sweat Basketball.
Apple already has been tinkering with its app store commission system in response to legal pressure and mounting scrutiny among lawmakers and regulators around the world taking a harder look whether the company ironclad control of the store is stifling competition and innovation.
Earlier this year, Apple lowered its in-app commissions from 30% to 15% for developers with less than $1 million in annual revenue — a move covering most of the apps in its store. As part of the settlement announced Thursday, Apple is guaranteeing the lower commission for small developers will be extended for at least three more years.
But the lower commissions don’t help the largest app makers like Epic and Spotify, which are the leaders in a coalition trying to topple Apple’s so-called walled garden that prevents outsiders from offering other options. Apple maintains it prevents alternative stores from offering apps on its iPhone to protect its own customers’ security and privacy while its critics contend the company is simply trying to protect a cash cow that that generates billions of dollars in profit annually.
Those tensions are likely to come to a boil when Gonzalez Rogers issues her ruling in the Epic case.
Gonzalez Rogers will also approve or disapprove the proposed settlement announced Thursday. A hearing on that is scheduled Oct. 12.
PSA: Update your new iPhones and iPads to avoid Apple Music bug – The Verge
If you’re an Apple Music user and recently bought a new iPhone 13 model, new ninth-generation iPad, or a sixth-generation iPad Mini, there’s an important update to download to avoid an annoying bug. A new Apple support document says a bug affecting those devices restored from a backup can prevent users from accessing the Apple Music catalog, Apple Music settings, or using the services’s Sync Library feature. My colleague Chris Welch reports that he ran into this bug on iOS 15.
Thankfully, the fix is very simple, according to Apple. Just head into the “General” section of the “Settings” app, select the “Software Update” option and hit “Install Now,” to get the update. MacRumors notes that its release notes don’t explicitly mention the Apple Music bug, but this is presumably the update Apple’s support page is referencing. Apple says applying the update should resolve the problem.
European Union could force all smartphone manufacturers to use USB-C charging – MobileSyrup
Europe could soon require all smartphone manufacturers to use USB-C charging, according to a new EU Commission ruling proposal.
The commission says the proposal aims to reduce e-waste and the “consumer inconvenience” resulting from different chargers. The commission also mentions that it wants manufacturers to stop selling chargers alongside electronic devices to minimize e-waste further.
“With today’s proposal… USB-C will become the standard port for all smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and handheld videogame consoles,” reads the report.
The report then says that it has reduced the number of mobile chargers in Europe from 30 to just three, with Apple’s proprietary Lightning port part of the smaller list. The report states that roughly 20 percent of devices sold in Europe feature the Lightning port, but that the EU wants to change this — possibly by forcing Apple to adopt USB-C.
EU executive vice president Margrethe Vestager made the following statement in the report:
“European consumers were frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers. We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger. This is an important win for our consumers and environment and in line with our green and digital ambitions.”
As you may have already guessed, Apple has resisted the shift to USB-C in the past concerning the EU’s efforts. For example, last year, when the organization voted on the concept of a standard charger, Apple released a statement stating that adopting USB-C would “stifle innovation.”
In a statement to the BBC, Apple said, “We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world.”
With the release of the iPhone 12, Apple stopped including a charging brick in the box of its smartphones, citing environmental concerns related to materials and shipping costs. This move also likely saved the tech giant a lot of money. The company has also shifted to USB-C charging with several of its other devices, including Macs, most iPad models and its accompanying ecosystem of accessories. Some Android devices from companies like Samsung, for example, also no longer include chargers in their boxes.
It’s unclear if this law will go through, given it’s still in the proposal stages and must first be passed by lawmakers and several governments. However, it’s possible that in a few years, Apple could be forced to adopt USB-C for the iPhones it sells in Europe.
Nintendo Switch Online will add N64 and Mega Drive games with a new subscription plan – Video Games Chronicle
Nintendo [2,050 articles]” href=”https://www.videogameschronicle.com/platforms/nintendo/”>Nintendo has announced that Nintendo 64 [151 articles]” href=”https://www.videogameschronicle.com/platforms/nintendo/nintendo-64/”>Nintendo 64 and Mega Drive / Genesis games will be added to Nintendo Switch [1,941 articles]” href=”https://www.videogameschronicle.com/platforms/nintendo/switch/”>Switch Online in late October.
A new membership tier called the Expansion Pack will be introduced that adds selections of games from each system.
Special controllers for each system will also be released at $49.99 / €49.99 / £39.99 each.
The Japanese Mega Drive controller will have six buttons, whereas the North American and European version will be the 3-button controller released alongside the console when it originally launched.
Nintendo Switch OLED Model Trailer
The full list of games at launch will be:
- Super Mario 64
- Mario Kart 64
- Star Fox 64
- Yoshi’s Story
- The Legend of Zelda (Series) [110 articles]” href=”https://www.videogameschronicle.com/games/the-legend-of-zelda-series/”>The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
- Mario Tennis
- Dr Mario 64
- Sin & Punishment
- Castlevania Bloodlines
- Contra Hard Corps
- Dr Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
- Ecco the Dolphin
- Golden Axe
- Gunstar Heroes
- Phantasy Star IV
- Shining Force
- Shinobi III
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2
- Streets of Rage 2 [37 articles]” href=”https://www.videogameschronicle.com/games/rage-2/”>Rage 2
Nintendo has also confirmed some of the Nintendo 64 games that will be added after launch, including:
- Banjo-Kazooie [66 articles]” href=”https://www.videogameschronicle.com/games/banjo-kazooie/”>Banjo-Kazooie
- Pokémon video games [230 articles]” href=”https://www.videogameschronicle.com/games/pokemon/”>Pokémon Snap
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
- Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
- Mario Golf
- Paper Mario
- F-Zero X
There was no mention, however, of Game Boy and Game Boy Color games on Switch Online, which had been reported in the past few weeks.
Nintendo discussed expanding the Switch Online library with other platforms as far back as 2019, 12 months after it launched.
During a 2019 shareholder meeting, president Shuntaro Furukawa [145 articles]” href=”https://www.videogameschronicle.com/people/shuntaro-furukawa/”>Shuntaro Furukawa was asked specifically if the company had plans to re-release Nintendo 64 and Nintendo GameCube [174 articles]” href=”https://www.videogameschronicle.com/platforms/nintendo/nintendo-gamecube/”>GameCube software.
“At this place we cannot tell new information about future classic hardware among others, but we are thinking about providing an extension of the online service which is currently providing Famicom [NES] software, as well as other methods of providing them,” he said.
“We also recognise that there are opinions wanting to play past titles.”
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PSA: Update your new iPhones and iPads to avoid Apple Music bug – The Verge
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