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Apple offers small concession in easing App Store rules for Netflix, others – Financial Post

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SAN FRANCISCO/TOKYO — Apple Inc further loosened App Store rules on Wednesday, allowing some content companies like Netflix Inc to provide links to their websites so customers can sign up for paid accounts.

The concession was part of a settlement with Japan’s anti-trust regulator, which said the change was enough for it to close a five-year investigation into Apple that focused on video and music apps but did not consider games.

The U.S. tech giant, however, must still contend with a raft of other legal and regulatory challenges to rules it forces game makers to follow, including a closely watched antitrust lawsuit https://www.reuters.com/technology/apple-faces-down-fortnite-creator-epic-games-major-antitrust-trial-2021-05-03 brought by “Fortnite” creator Epic Games.

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The ban on providing separate links was lifted for so-called reader apps which provide content such as e-books, video and music that don’t offer a free tier of service, instead requiring payment at sign-up.

The change is set to take effect early next year and will be applied globally, said Apple, which will retain ultimate say over which apps qualify as reader apps.

Some companies said the concession was not enough.

“A limited anti-steering fix does not solve all our issues,” Spotify Technology said in a statement. The music streaming company is pursuing an antitrust complaint https://www.reuters.com/technology/eu-antitrust-regulators-charge-apple-over-app-store-restrictions-2021-04-30 against Apple with European Union competition authorities.

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Apple’s App Store forms the core of its $53.8 billion services segment, and it collects commissions between 15% and 30% from in-app purchases.

Its rules for game makers have been among its most contentious, particularly the practice that Epic Games is contesting of not allowing developers to take other forms of payment inside apps.

That case may determine whether Apple can retain control over what apps appear on its devices and whether it is allowed to charge commissions to developers.

Responding to Apple’s latest announcement on its App Store, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney accused Apple of trying to appease with insufficient piecemeal measures.

“Apple should open up iOS on the basis of hardware, stores, payments, and services each competing individually on their merits. Instead, they’re running a literally day-by-day recalculation of divide-and-conquer in hopes of getting away with most of their tying practices,” he said on Twitter.

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An official with Japan’s Fair Trade Commission stressed that the scope of its investigation did not cover games.

“There is a possibility of there being an investigation into games too,” he told a media briefing.

Apple has a 46.5% share of Japan’s smartphone market in which more than 30 million are sold annually.

The iPhone maker’s latest concession is the second in as many weeks. It reached a deal last week with a group of developers in the United States in a class-action lawsuit, ending a ban on them telling users in email messages about payment alternatives.

In one of its latest challenges, South Korea on Tuesday banned major app store operators including Apple from forcing developers to use their payment systems, effectively stopping them from charging commissions on in-app purchases.

The company is facing similar legislative action in the United States and Europe.

It is also facing a new similar antitrust challenge in India that has been brought by a non-profit group, according to a source and documents seen by Reuters.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco and Tim Kelly in Tokyo; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Writing by Sayantani Ghosh; Editing by Peter Cooney and Edwina Gibbs)

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In-depth reporting on the innovation economy from The Logic, brought to you in partnership with the Financial Post.

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Use the new Google Illustrations tool to create a custom Gmail profile picture – XDA Developers

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If you use any of Google’s services, which we’re pretty sure most if not all of you do, you would be aware of the small avatar that’s displayed next to your name on Google’s homepage and other services. This is also the avatar that shows up next to your name when you email someone. It probably shows an old profile picture for most people that they set up back when Google+ was still a thing. But Google wants you to change it, and the company has released a new Illustrations tool to help you create a custom Gmail profile picture.

google illustrations tool

As per a recent report from 9to5Google, the Google Illustration tool is baked into the dialog box that appears when you select the option to change your profile picture in the Gmail app. It sits along with the options to upload a new image from your computer, choose an existing photo from Google Photos, or click a photo from your camera. As of now, the feature is rolling out on Gmail for Android, and you can try it out by tapping the avatar icon on the top right corner of the app.

You will then have to select the Illustrations tab to see hundreds of illustrations that you can use as your profile picture. This is a helpful feature for those who do not wish to reveal their identity online or make their photographs public. If you have privacy concerns with uploading your picture online but do not wish to see just your initials as your avatar, you should try out the Google Illustrations tool right away.

Google IllustrationsGoogle Illustrations

The avatar you set up will be used across all of Google’s services like Gmail, Drive, YouTube, Contacts, etc. If you want to look for illustrations related to a specific topic, you can search using relevant keywords. You can even customize the illustrations and switch out the background color to something that you prefer. In the coming months, Google plans to expand support for the Illustrations tool to other apps and iOS devices.

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New Pokémon Legends: Arceus trailer highlights character customization, Wardens, Noble Pokémon, more – Nintendo Wire

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Out of the blue a new trailer for Pokémon Legends: Arceus has dropped, and it’s full of new info, from character customization to a brand-new evolution for Scyther – Kleavor!

Check it out below:
 
[embedded content]
 
Pokémon Legends: Arceus launches January 22nd, 2022.
 

Written by Tom Brown

Whether it’s an exciting new entry in a series long established or a weird experiment meant only for the dedicated, Tom is eager to report on it. Rest assured, if Nintendo ever announces Elite Beat Agents 2, he’ll be there.

Tom Brown

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Alberta doctors raise alarm on specialist staff shortages in intensive care wards – Saanich News

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The Alberta Medical Association says the province’s high COVID-19 numbers are behind a desperate shortage of specialized staff to care for critical care patients.

“The demand for (intensive care unit) nurses is currently so high that we need to increase the number of patients assigned to each nurse,” the medical association said in a public letter Monday.

“This reduction in staffing ratio is well below our normal standard of care. This will jeopardize the quality of ICU care that we are able to provide.”

The letter was signed by members of the group’s intensive care section.

Alberta’s hospitals and intensive care wards are overwhelmed by critical care patients, most of them stricken with COVID-19. The overwhelming majority are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

Alberta Health Services has been briefing doctors on criteria to use should the health system collapse and they have to make on-the-spot decisions on who gets life-saving care.

Last week, Dr. Paul Parks, the medical association’s head of emergency medicine, said the staffing shortage is affecting care in other ways. Parks said some critical care patients are not being put on available ventilators because there aren’t enough nurses to monitor them.

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says while typical ICU care is one nurse per patient, an alternative model, known as a hub, is being used to adapt to the pandemic while ensuring care is delivered.

Each hub includes one or two trained intensive care nurses and two to four registered nurses.

“This model partners registered nurses from other areas with existing trained ICU (nurses) to expand the availability of the critical-care nursing skill set to more patients,” said Williamson in an email.

“ICU patients are never cared for by nurses alone. Whole teams work with nurses in ICU, including respiratory therapists and many others. “

In recent weeks, the province has scrambled to create more ad hoc intensive care beds, effectively more than doubling the normal total of 173 to accommodate 312 patients currently receiving critical care.

Staff have been reassigned, forcing mass cancellations of surgeries, including cancer procedures.

Alberta has asked the federal government for help, and the Canadian Armed Forces has said it will respond with eight more intensive care nurses and air transport to take critically ill patients to other provinces.

Almost two weeks ago, Alberta reintroduced gathering restrictions and brought in proof of vaccination requirements for entry to restaurants, bars, casinos, concerts and gyms to try to reduce spread of the virus.

Daily case counts remain well over one thousand and a growing number of doctors and infectious disease specialists are calling for a “firebreak” lockdown, which would include a shutdown of schools, businesses and other activities.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, in a weekend radio interview, rejected a lockdown. He said it would make “no sense for the 80 per cent of the population that is vaccinated” and who are much less likely to transmit the disease and be hospitalized.

Alberta has lagged behind other provinces in vaccination. Kenney and his United Conservative government have been trying to persuade more people to get their shots by offering $1-million prize draws, other gifts and, more recently, $100 debit cards.

About 73 per cent of eligible Albertans, those 12 and over, are fully vaccinated, while 82 per cent have had at least one shot.

Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley said it’s time to partner with community groups and health-care professionals to go door to door and help those who are not vaccinated due to health or work concerns or a language barrier.

Those groups could be “having conversations and offering Alberta vaccines right there on people’s doorsteps,” Notley said in Calgary.

—Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

RELATED: ‘Removing the gift of life’: COVID-19 wave pushing back organ transplants

RELATED: Tensions high between vaccinated and unvaccinated in Canada, poll suggests

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