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Epic Games takes Apple fight to EU antitrust regulators – The Globe and Mail

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Fortnite creator Epic Games has taken its fight against Apple to European Union antitrust regulators, ramping up it dispute with the iPhone maker over its App Store payment system and control over app downloads.

The two companies have been locked in a legal dispute since last August, when the game maker tried to avoid Apple’s 30% fee on some in-app purchases on the App Store by launching its own in-app payment system.

That prompted Apple to kick Epic’s Fortnite game off the App Store and threaten to terminate an affiliated account that would have effectively blocked distribution of Unreal Engine, a software tool used by hundreds of app makers to create games.

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Epic Games founder and Chief Executive Tim Sweeney said Apple’s control of its platform had tilted the level playing field.

“The 30% they charge as their app tax, they can make it 50% or 90% or 100%. Under their theory of how these markets are structured, they have every right to do that,” he told reporters.

“Epic is not asking any court or regulator to change this 30% to some other number, only to restore competition on IOS,” he said, referring to Apple’s mobile operating system.

The company also accused Apple of barring rivals from launching their own gaming subscription service on its platform by preventing them from bundling several games together, even though its own Apple Arcade service does that.

Apple said its rules applied equally to all developers and that Epic had violated them.

“In ways a judge has described as deceptive and clandestine, Epic enabled a feature in its app, which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines that apply equally to every developer and protect customers,” the company said in a statement.

“Their reckless behaviour made pawns of customers, and we look forward to making this clear to the European Commission,” it said.

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Apple has been taking small steps in recent months towards changing its practices, including lower fees for some developers and giving them a way to challenge its rulings, both of which have not satisfied the company’s critics.

Fortnite is slated to come back to the iPhone at some point in the mobile Safari browser. Epic and Apple in recent weeks have been trading documents and conducting depositions ahead of a scheduled May trial in the Epic lawsuit filed last year.

The Commission, which is investigating Apple’s mobile payment system Apple Pay and the App Store, confirmed receipt of the complaint.

“We will assess it based on our standard procedures,” a Commission spokeswoman said.

Epic Games has also complained to the U.K. Competition Appeal Tribunal and to the Australian watchdog.

Big companies such as Microsoft Corp, Spotify and Match Group Inc have also criticized Apple’s App Store fees and rules.

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The latest 'Valorant' agent controls space and time – Yahoo News Canada

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The Canadian Press

What’s in an adjective? ‘Democrat Party’ label on the rise

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two days before the assault on the U.S. Capitol, Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, a Republican, said supporters of then-President Donald Trump’s claims of election fraud were basically in a “death match with the Democrat Party.” A day later, right-wing activist Alan Hostetter, a staunch Trump supporter known for railing against California’s virus-inspired stay-at-home orders, urged rallygoers in Washington to “put the fear of God in the cowards, the traitors, the RINOs, the communists of the Democrat Party.” The shared grammatical construction — incorrect use of the noun “Democrat” as an adjective — was far from the most shocking thing about the two men’s statements. But it identified them as members of the same tribe, conservatives seeking to define the opposition through demeaning language. Amid bipartisan calls to dial back extreme partisanship following the insurrection, the intentional misuse of “Democrat” as an adjective remains in nearly universal use among Republicans. Propelled by conservative media, it also has caught on with far-right elements that were energized by the Trump presidency. Academics and partisans disagree on the significance of the word play. Is it a harmless political tactic intended to annoy Republicans’ opponents, or a maliciously subtle vilification of one of America’s two major political parties that further divides the nation? Thomas Patterson, a political communication professor at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, said using “Democrat” as an adjective delivers a “little twist” of the knife with each usage because it irritates Democrats, but sees it as little more than that. “This is,” he says, “just another piece in a big bubbling kettle of animosities that are out there.” Others disagree. Purposely mispronouncing the formal name of the Democratic Party and equating it with political ideas that are not democratic goes beyond mere incivility, said Vanessa Beasley, an associate professor of communications at Vanderbilt University who studies presidential rhetoric. She said creating short-hand descriptions of people or groups is a way to dehumanize them. In short: Language matters. “The idea is to strip it down to that noun and make it into this blur, so that you can say that these are bad people — and my party, the people who are using the term, are going to be the upholders of democracy,” she said. To those who see the discussion as an exercise in political correctness, Susan Benesch, executive director of the Dangerous Speech Project, said to look deeper. “It’s just two little letters — i and c — added to the end of a word, right?” she said. “But the small difference in the two terms, linguistically or grammatically, does not protect against a large difference in meaning and impact of the language.” During the “Stop the Steal” rallies that emerged to support Trump’s groundless allegations that the 2020 election was stolen from him, the construction was everywhere. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel accused “Democrat lawyers and rogue election officials” of “an unprecedented power grab” related to the election. Demonstrators for the president’s baseless cause mirrored her language. After Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia was removed from her House committees for espousing sometimes dangerous conspiracy theories, she tweeted: “In this Democrat tyrannical government, Conservative Republicans have no say on committees anyway.” Trump’s lawyers used the construction frequently during his second impeachment trial, following the lead of the former president, who employed it routinely while in office. During a campaign rally last October in Wisconsin, he explained his thinking. “You know I always say Democrat. You know why? Because it sounds worse,” Trump said. “Democrat sounds lousy, but you know what? That’s actually their name, the Democrat Party. Right? The Democrat Party. So I always say Democrat.” In fact, “Democratic” to describe some version of a U.S. political party has been around since Thomas Jefferson and James Madison formed the Democratic-Republican Party in the 1790s. Modern Democrats are loosely descended from a split of that party. The precise origins of Republicans’ truncated phrasing are difficult to pin down, but the Republican National Committee formalized it in a vote ahead of the 1956 presidential election. Then-spokesman L. Richard Guylay told The New York Times that “Democrat Party” was “a natural,” because it was already in common use among Republicans and better reflected the “diverse viewpoints” within the opposing party — which the GOP suggested weren’t always representative of small-d democratic values. Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who had just led his notorious campaign against alleged communists, Soviet spies and sympathizers, was the most notable user of the phrase “Democrat Party” ahead of the vote. The current RNC did not respond to emails and phone messages seeking comment for this story. The construction was used sparsely in the following decades, but in recent times has spread to become part of conservatives’ everyday speech. At the height of last summer’s racial justice protests, the group representing state attorneys general criticized “inaction by Democrat AGs” to support law enforcement. In explaining its rules for cleaning Georgia’s voter roles, the office of Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said it was following a process started in the 1990s under “a Democrat majority General Assembly and signed into law by a Democrat Governor.” Asked recently what he would think of his former health director running for the U.S. Senate in Ohio, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine responded, “I’m going to stay out of Democrat primaries.” Using Democrat as a pejorative is now so common that it’s almost jarring to hear a Republican or conservative commentator accurately say “Democratic Party.” Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said she wishes both parties would abandon their heightened rhetoric toward each other. She spoke out forcefully in September after the Ohio Republican Party maligned a “Democrat common pleas judge” who had ruled against them. The party later apologized. Her objection was the politicization of the judiciary, which she has fought against, and not specifically the GOP’s misuse of the word “Democrat.” But in a later interview, she said the language was a reflection of today’s hyperpartisan political environment. “It’s used as almost like a curse word,” said O’Connor, a Republican. “It’s not being used as a compliment or even for purposes of being a benign identifier. It’s used as a condemnation, and that’s not right.” For their part, Democrats rarely push back, even when the phrase is used in state legislative chambers or on the floor of Congress. It wasn’t always that way. Then-President George W. Bush departed from his written remarks and used the phrase “Democrat majority” in his 2007 State of the Union address. He was swiftly rebuked and apologized. “Now look, my diction isn’t all that good,” a rueful Bush said. “I have been accused of occasionally mangling the English language, so I appreciate you inviting the head of the Republic party.” Bush’s self-deprecating joke highlighted a key issue around Republicans’ use of “Democrat” as an epithet, says political scientist Michael Cornfield, an associate professor at George Washington University. Democrats don’t have a comparable insult for Republicans. “It’s a one-way provocation,” he said. In the 1950s, Democrats toyed with a tit-for-tat approach in which they would refer to Republicans as “Publicans,” the widely despised toll collectors of ancient Rome. Republicans scoffed at the effort, which they rightly noted no one would understand. Republicans also could turn it around as a way to burnish their brand: In British usage, a publican is someone who owns a pub. Meanwhile, “Republic” — without the “a-n” — isn’t derogatory. It’s known as a “God word” in American politics, just as small-d “democratic” is, meaning a revered cultural concept that’s universally understood. The truncated “Democrat,” on the other hand, “rhymes with rat, bureaucrat, kleptocrat, plutocrat,” Cornfield said. “‘Crats’ are bad. So you can see why they do it.” David Pepper, a former Democratic Party chairman in Ohio, says Republicans’ phrasing has “clearly been thought about.” Even so, he doesn’t see trying to erase it as a good use of Democrats’ time as the party seeks to reset the national agenda after four years of Trump. He said that while President Joe Biden has pledged national unity, “the other side is literally trying to make the other party sound like rodents.” “To me,” Pepper said, “that’s absurd and disturbing at the same time.” ___ AP news researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report. Julie Carr Smyth, The Associated Press

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Abbotsford Airport had 4th highest traffic in Canada in 2020, and its number are down – Chilliwack Progress – Chilliwack Progress

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Abbotsford International Airport (YXX) became the fourth most active airport in Canada during the pandemic – and its total traffic was down from 2019.

December ended what was described as a “devastating year” for air travel, according to a Statistics Canada report (Feb. 25) on the total air movements at the 90 airports under NAV Canada.

Statistics Canada defines air movements as any “take-off, landing, or simulated approach by an aircraft as defined by NAV Canada.” The numbers show Canada’s major international airports are seeing comparable runway activity as smaller airports.

Total aircraft movements at top 10 Canadian airports, 2020. Statistics Canada report.

Vancouver International Airport, for instance, had the third most traffic with 156,540 total aircraft movements in 2020 (down 53 per cent from 2019), while YXX had 137,265 (down just 17 per cent).

Month-over-month since May, Abbotsford Airport has consistently been in the top five for aircraft movements, even reaching number two for July and August when their traffic surpassed 2019’s numbers.

Other international airports are seeing similar declines. Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson Airport – Canada’s busiest airport historically – experienced the largest drop at 62 per cent, having over 280,000 fewer take-offs and landings in 2020.

“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, other international take-offs and landings nosedived to levels not seen in 20 years,” the report says.

Across the country, international flights were down 58 per cent for the year, flights to the U.S. fell by 68 per cent, while domestic movements declined 36 per cent, according to the report.

Year-over-year change in aircraft movements, by sector. Graph from Statistics Canada.

More restrictions were announced by the federal government on Jan. 29, 2021 to curb the spread of COVID-19 and the new variants. Airlines have since suspended all flights to and from Mexico and other Caribbean countries until April 30.

As of February, all international flights are being funnelled through four Canadian airports, and passengers have to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test before departure, and must quarantine for three days at a government approved hotel.

RELATED: New travel rules leave flight options on U.S. airlines for Canadian sun seekers

RELATED: Abbotsford Airport hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic


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patrick.penner@missioncityrecord.com

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Microsoft .NET Conf: Focus on Windows – InfoQ.com

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Earlier this week, the first edition of the .NET Conf: Focus series for 2021 took place, featuring Windows desktop development topics. The event targeted developers of all stripes, covering both existing functionalities on .NET 5 and upcoming projects such as .NET MAUI and Project Reunion. The focus conferences are free, one-day live-streamed events featuring speakers from the community and .NET product teams.

The focus series is a branch of the original .NET Conf, an annual event organized by the .NET community and Microsoft that showcases the latest developments for the .NET platform. Each focus event targets a specific .NET-related technology, providing a series of in-depth, hands-on sessions aimed at .NET developers.

.NET Conf: Windows was different from the other past events in the series because it was focused on a single operating system (OS) – which may seem strange considering the ongoing unification plan towards a cross-platform, multi-OS .NET framework. However, the focus was justified, considering the importance of upcoming projects such as .NET MAUI and the ongoing efforts related to ARM64 development.

The conference started with an overview of the latest developments related to .NET and desktop development. In this context, Scott Hunter, director of program management at Microsoft, talked about existing .NET 5 features related to desktop app development, such as self-contained single executable files and ClickOnce deployment. He also talked about the latest performance improvements and features in Windows Forms and WPF, assisted with live demonstrations by Olia Gavrysh and Dmitry Lyalin, both at Microsoft.

The following session, presented by Cathy Sullivan (program manager at Microsoft), featured the preview release of the .NET Upgrade Assistant, an automated tool to assist developers in upgrading existing .NET applications to .NET 5. While not being a complete upgrade tool (developers will still have to complete the upgrade manually), its GitHub repository includes a link to a free e-book on porting ASP.NET apps to .NET Core that covers multiple migration scenarios.

The remainder of the sessions were short (approx. 30 minutes), covering topics mentioned in the keynote (such as WPF and Windows forms – including the recent support for ARM64 released with .NET 6 Preview 1), app deployment with ClickOnce, and specific coverage of WebView2, Microsoft’s new embedded web browser control used by Windows Forms. Other interesting sessions included demonstrations on building real-time desktop apps with Azure SignalR services (presented by Sam Basu) and accessing WinRT and Win32 APIs with .NET 5 (presented by Mike Battista and Angela Zhang, both at Microsoft).

The last three sessions focused on features and projects expected to ship with .NET 6 later this year. Daniel Roth, program manager at Microsoft, talked about building hybrid applications with Blazor. Hybrid applications are native apps that use web technologies for the UI, and support for cross-platform hybrid apps is an important feature of both .NET 6 and .NET MAUI.

Zarya Faraj and Miguel Ramos explained the concepts behind Project Reunion, which provides a unified development platform that can be used for all apps (Win32, Packaged, and UWP) targeting all the Windows 10 versions. The event was closed with a presentation by Maddy Leger and David Ortinau (both at Microsoft) on the future of native applications development in .NET 6 – which focused on .NET MAUI.

A relevant takeaway from the conference is how the recent efforts on developing native device applications targeting multiple platforms are revolving around .NET MAUI. However, it is important to notice that .NET MAUI does not represent a universal .NET client application development model, merging both native and web applications. This is an important distinction, especially in light of the many cross-references and mentions of Blazor Desktop, another highly anticipated feature in .NET 6. Richard Lander, program manager for the .NET team at Microsoft, recently approached this topic in multiple comments and posts:

I think folks may be missing the narrative on Blazor desktop. It is intended as a compelling choice for cross-platform client apps that enable using web assets. […] Blazor Desktop and MAUI are intended to be separate. Blazor Desktop will be hosted via a MAUI webview. MAUI will provide the desktop or mobile application container. MAUI will enable using native controls if that is needed/desired.

The next focus events are still undefined. The complete recording of this event is already available on YouTube. Recordings of all .NET Conf and .NET Conf: Focus events are available in curated playlists on MSDN Channel 9.

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