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Apple makes concessions to App Store developers – BBC News

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Apple is to give developers more leeway in disputes regarding apps that have fallen foul of its App Store rules.

The company will allow developers accused of violating its guidelines to launch an appeal.

And updates to apps that fix minor problems will no longer be delayed by these disputes.

The changes follow a public row between Apple and Basecamp, the developers of Hey, an email app at the centre of an App Store dispute.

Their timing coincides with Apple’s week-long Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), at which it is seeking app-makers’ help in switching its Mac platform to a different type of chip.

Strict guidelines

Apple’s App Store is where nearly all iPhone and iPad users acquire apps for their devices.

But Apple has long retained the right to decide when apps should be suspended or even pulled from the App Store, based on its strict guidelines.

And it halted an update to Hey, saying its $99 (£78) annual subscription should be available to purchase inside the app instead of on an external website only.

But Basecamp said it “won’t ever do IAP [in-app purchases]” and neither did other apps, such as Netflix.

And it is now offering a two-week free trial within Hey, to fulfil Apple’s requirement for apps to “work” immediately on being downloaded.

The stand-off also sparked a wider debate about Apple’s pricing policies.

On Tuesday, Basecamp’s chief technology officer, David Heinemeier Hansson, tweeted Apple’s decision to relax its rules was “pretty significant” but the exact nature of its future relationship with developers needed further clarity.

“I really do hope Apple is serious about reform,” he said.

“There’s a path forward here, where Apple goes back to being a friend of developers not a big bully they’re all terrified of speaking out against.”

Many developers have issues with the cut Apple takes from app revenues.

But nearly all, especially the small ones, grumble in private rather than offend the mighty company on which their livelihoods depend.

Basecamp was different, coming out punching when Apple threatened to bar the app, and using words such as “outrageous” and “abuse”.

At another time, Apple might have swatted the company away.

But the risk of the row overshadowing WWDC and diluting its messages was too great.

So before the keynote, it moved quietly to make peace with Basecamp.

And afterwards, even more quietly, it made a few tweaks to its deal with developers.

But this isn’t over.

With the EU mounting an investigation into the App Store and other bigger developers spoiling for a fight, Apple may have to give further ground.

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Shopify, Canadian government launch initiative to help small businesses grow online amid COVID-19 – BetaKit

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Shopify has partnered with the federal government to launch a new initiative called Go Digital Canada, aimed to bring more Canadian small businesses online and support them in the new era of digital transformation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We wanted to provide support to help bring these businesses online, and help future proof that backbone of the economy.”

The initiative is set to be announced Wednesday at Startupfest’s virtual fireside chat between Harley Finkelstein, COO of Shopify, and Mary Ng, Canada’s minister of small business, export promotion and international trade. Go Digital Canada will serve as what Shopify called a “central resource hub,” where entrepreneurs can receive support on growing their business online through tools offered by Shopify, as well as partners and experts.

“From our perspective, small businesses, they are the backbone of the Canadian economy. They make up 98 percent of Canadian companies,” Sylvia Ng, general manager of Shopify’s Start product line, told BetaKit. “The fact that they’re faced with these unprecedented challenges due to COVID right now [made us want] to provide support to help bring these businesses online, and help future proof that backbone of the Canadian economy.”

Go Digital Canada’s educational resources will include coursework, resources, and support from experts, all of which businesses can opt in to use. These resources will be provided by Shopify as well as organizations in Shopify’s partner network.

RELATED: Shopify partners with four Indigenous-led organizations to offer e-commerce education

In addition to free courses, Go Digital Canada will offer a 90-day free trial of the Shopify platform for merchants that register before October 1, 24/7 support, a tap and chip reader (while supplies last), and free access to Shopify’s POS pro plan for brick and mortar merchants, until October 31. Other resources include step-by-step guidance from Shopify Compass and live webinars.

One of the partners on Shopify’s new program is Digital Main Street, through its national ShopHERE program.

​Business owners​ using the hub are able to tailor their stores to suit their individual needs, including setting up online payments, gift cards, and local pickup or delivery options, and launching free email marketing campaigns.

The Government of Canada is not providing any financial backing to Shopify for Go Digital Canada, rather Sylvia Ng said the government partnership is aimed to “amplify and guide” Shopify’s work.

“Shopify is an incredible made-in-Canada success story, and their work to help Canadian entrepreneurs go digital, as we increasingly shift online in response to COVID-19, will help create even more Canadian success stories,” said Minister Ng.

One of the partners for Go Digital Canada is Digital Main Street through its ShopHERE program, which has a similar mission of helping small businesses move online. Sylvia Ng said Go Digital Canada’s online hub is mostly self-serve, but businesses that need more dedicated assistance in going online will be referred to the ShopHERE program, which will provide one-on-one support.

RELATED: Facebook commits $1 million in ad credits to ShopHERE initiative

ShopHERE was initially a City of Toronto initiative focused on building online storefronts for local independent businesses and artists. Following a Google Canada commitment of $1 million, ShopHERE went national with a goal to set up 50,000 online stores across the country. Shopify is supporting ShopHERE by assisting businesses in getting their online store built and launched within 90 days.

Sylvia Ng said one unique component of the Go Digital Canada hub is that when businesses complete a learning module, Shopify will provide links for businesses to act on what they have learned directly on Shopify’s platform.

“The hub is going to be very rooted in community,” Sylvia Ng told BetaKit. “All the courses that we have there aren’t just by Shopify, but also by our ecosystem, and [by] bringing our partners like Digital Main Street on, we’ll be growing that community further and bringing the trust that these merchants and businesses need in order to understand how to grow their business.”

Image source Unsplash. Photo by Roberto Cortese.

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Google officially shows off new Gmail with Chat, Rooms integration – MobileSyrup

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Google has developed a pattern of announcing things immediately after they leak. The search giant did precisely that with the recently leaked Nest smart speaker, and now it’s done the same with today’s Gmail leak.

Ahead of next week’s Google Cloud conference, the company showed off its new Gmail app. It’s not really Gmail anymore, though. Instead, it’s a unified hub for all of Google’s communication platforms, and it integrates with Google’s productivity tools like Docs.

The Verge reports that the new Gmail will be available as an “early access preview” to G Suite customers this week. Later this year, it will roll out to all G Suite customers.

However, the consumer version of Gmail likely won’t see any significant change in the short term. Google told The Verge it plans to think through “how and when to bring [the] experience to the consumers who might want it.”

The new Gmail’s main goal is to put all of these tools into one “integrated workspace.” In the future, that means that, for example, the chatbox that shows up in a Google Doc or Meet window might integrate with users’ other chats and rooms. For now, however, the integration isn’t that deep.

Instead, the main difference is that all the tools happen to be in the same space. On your phone, that’s the Gmail app — your PC, the Gmail website. That hopefully means less bouncing around between tabs and apps to get things done.

Another benefit of packing all these communication tools into a single app is that setting something like ‘Do Not Disturb’ can apply app-wide instead of managing the setting across multiple tools. Along with that, Gmail’s search will get more powerful as it’ll work across email, chat and more.

The Verge likens Google’s strategy to that of Microsoft with Teams. The Redmond, Washington-based company leveraged its Office 365 — now Microsoft 365 — tools to push Teams. Google is doing the same with Gmail, its most popular platform, to promote these new collaboration tools.

Unfortunately, outside of G Suite customers who will actively use all these tools, the new Gmail may bring a host of functionality that people don’t want or need. As Google tightens the integration between these platforms, it may make it more difficult to avoid some features.

[embedded content]

Hopefully this marks a turning point for Google. The company has developed a reputation for making competing apps and services. Although chat apps stand out as the most prominent example, other apps like Keep and Tasks seem to offer similar services with slight variations.

Javier Soltero, general manager and VP of G Suite, explained to The Verge how Google is moving in a different direction now.

“The history of these products is that they were all built individually and they all had a core set of opinions that were obvious to everyone: multi-user, user collaboration, etc. … They all had the same set of shared ideas but they were not necessarily driving toward a shared end goal,” Soltero said.

At least for G Suite’s communication platforms, the shared goal is a unified front with deep integration across Google’s services that can fend off Teams and Slack.

Source: The Verge

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Google pledges not to use Fitbit health data to target ads – STAT

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With the clock ticking on a European Commission probe into Google’s $2.1 billion bid for Fitbit, the tech giant offered regulators a concession late Monday, agreeing not to use Fitbit’s trove of health data to help target ads.

Google had been staring down the possibility of a sweeping antitrust investigation by European regulators that was the latest in a series of probes into its deal with Fitbit announced last November. But the tech giant had a potential way to avoid the full thrust of the investigation: A promise, in the form of a binding pledge, not to use Fitbit’s fitness data for ad-targeting. Regulators gave the company until Monday to offer such a statement. Google complied late that day, Reuters reported.

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