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From Delivery to Dine-in, Apps Have Changed How Canadians Eat

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It’s no stretch to say that apps have radically changed the lives of Canadians. Instead of flipping open the morning paper, you open a news app as you drink your coffee. Rather than ringing your friend on their birthday, you tap the social media app of choice and type a few kind words (and maybe a birthday cake emoji). All the things you once kept tucked away in a drawer – your calculator, camera, calendar and notepad – are safely stored within the confines of a 5.5-inch display.

It should come as no surprise, then, that apps have changed the way Canadians eat as well. Companies are rethinking the way you receive food and make food, teaming with mobile app developers in Toronto to create products that combine smart UX (user experience) with stylish graphic design. The results are apps that make day-to-day life easier and make information more accessible.

Anything, On-Demand: the Rise of Delivery Apps

Delivery apps have perhaps had the most significant impact on Canadians’ eating habits. A study from the University of Waterloo found that the percentage of Canadians who feel pressed for time has risen steadily over the past 25 years. Between work demands, familial obligations and busy social schedules, the average Canadian has a full plate – before they’ve even thought about what’s on their dinner plate.

Delivery apps offered, and continue to offer, a simple solution: anything you want to eat, on-demand. Delivery isn’t a new concept, but it has mostly been confined to a few takeaway standards, like pizza and Chinese food. Delivery apps, like UberEats and Foodora, or the Canadian-made Skip-the-Dishes, grab your grub from almost any restaurant and bring it right to your door.

In 2019, Canadians spent over $2 billion in online food delivery, a number expected to grow 10 percent annually. Figures haven’t yet been released for 2020, but one presumes, in light of the COVID-19 lockdown measures, that Canadians have spent a lot more on food delivery this year. Statista predicts that by 2024, revenue in the Canadian online delivery segment will balloon to US$3.5 billion.

In summary: as a response to time pressure and facilitated by the rise of easy-to-use apps, more Canadians are reaching for their phone when they get hungry.

A Library of Cookbooks at Your Fingers

Although online delivery continues to boom, Canadians are still cooking at home. 42% of Canadians say they eat out more than once a week, which still leaves a comfortable majority toiling over a hot stove from Monday to Sunday.

But even when they aren’t delivering your food, apps continue to influence the way you eat. In 2015, Google published a consumer insights study called “Cooking trends among millennials: Welcome to the digital kitchen.” In it, they report that 59% of 25 to 34-year-olds cook with a smartphone or tablet handy.

Mobile apps like Tasty, Yummly and Epicurious offer what amounts to a whole library of cookbooks, localized in a phone you can prop up against the toaster while you cook.

This unprecedented access to information may be a motivating factor in Canadians’ growing appetite for ethnic food. A Mintel survey of 2,000 Canadians found that 72% turn to international dishes to break up the monotony of mealtime. With easy access to a plethora of recipes via smartly designed apps, it’s easy to see why.

Canadians order more online delivery and cook more with their phones. They respond to time pressure by expediting mealtimes, and they break up the monotony of mealtime by expanding their recipe repertoire. And they do it all through an app.

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US judge says Epic was dishonest when it added direct payments to Fortnite – MobileSyrup

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A U.S. judge criticized Epic Games for being dishonest during the first court hearing in the ongoing antitrust lawsuit between the Fortnite maker and Apple.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California heard arguments from both companies during a three-hour Zoom hearing Monday. Gonzalez Rogers expressed skepticism about Epic’s arguments, especially its claim that it didn’t pose a security threat to Apple.

According to a report from CNN, the judge said that Epic lied and “that’s the security issue.” Gonzalez Rogers went on to say that “there are a lot of people in the public who consider [Epic] heroes for what [they] did, but it’s still not honest.”

Epic has long argued that it was standing up to Apple’s “monopoly.” The game maker says that Apple’s control over iOS and the App Store allows it to force developers into using its payment method and thus hold up monopolistic control over apps.

It all started with a payment system

Back in August, Epic introduced a direct payment method in its popular Fortnite game, which allowed it to bypass Apple’s 30 percent App Store fee. Apple charges the fee for any payments that use its in-app payment method, and also restricts developers from using other payment methods with its App Store guidelines.

Because Fortnite‘s new direct payment directly violated Apple’s rules, it kicked the game off the App Store. Epic responded in turn with a lawsuit. It’s worth noting similar events took place with Google’s Play Store on Android devices. However, a significant difference between the two is that Google allows third-party app stores and the installation of apps from sources outside of the Play Store. As such, Fortnite fans could still get the game on Android by downloading it from other places. Players on iOS can only get the game through the App Store.

After Epic sued Apple, both companies engaged in back-and-forth attacks on each other, ranging from petty to serious. For example, Epic said Apple threatened to terminate its Unreal Engine developer account, which isn’t associated with Fortnite. Gonzalez Rogers previously ruled that Apple can’t terminate that account, but was free to terminate the developer account Epic used for Fortnite. At the same time, the judge ruled Apple didn’t have to return Fortnite to the App Store.

Likewise, Epic also engaged in a public relations campaign positioning itself as the good guy with an ad mimicking Apple’s famous ‘1984’ commercial. Epic added a playable character called ‘Tart Tycoon’ to Fortnite as well. Apple sued Epic seeking damages for harm to its reputation over the campaign. These are just a few examples of the fight between the two companies.

Throughout the lawsuit, Epic petitioned the courts to force Apple to allow Fortnite back on the App Store. That included arguing that the game’s removal caused it irreparable harm. Apple responded in turn, saying Epic used the lawsuit to draw attention to the game as interest waned.

Judge feels the antitrust questions deserve a jury

The hearing didn’t answer any of the looming questions about the antitrust allegations or whether Apple would have to return Fortnite to the App Store. For the latter, the New York Times reports a decision will arrive in the coming days. I don’t expect it to be in Epic’s favour, considering Gonzalez Rogers previously ruled Apple didn’t have to reinstate Fortnite and seems unconvinced by Epic’s arguments.

As for the bigger questions about antitrust, Gonzalez Rogers believes the they are important enough that the case be taken to a jury trial in July 2021.

However, CNN reports that Gonzalez Rogers wasn’t persuaded by Epic’s argument that Apple’s bundled App Store and payment method violate antitrust law. The judge also didn’t completely agree that Apple harmed Epic’s ability to distribute Fortnite through control of the App Store.

“Walled gardens have existed for decades. Nintendo has had a walled garden. Sony has had a walled garden. Microsoft has had a walled garden. What Apple’s doing is not much different… It’s hard to ignore the economics of the industry, which is what you’re asking me to do,” Gonzalez Rogers said.

Epic isn’t the only company taking issue with Apple’s policies

However, Epic’s lawsuit has become something of a rallying cry for many developers who feel they’ve been wronged by Apple’s App Store guidelines. Last week, several companies formed the Coalition for App Fairness, which aims to “defend the fundamental rights of creators to build apps and to do business directly with their customers,” according to Epic CEO Tim Sweeney. Along with Epic, the coalition includes Spotify, Tile and Match Group, which owns several dating services including Tinder and Hinge.

Many developers have accused Apple of applying its App Store rules unfairly, especially in the last few months. For example, a group of news publishers sent a letter to Apple seeking a deal that reduces the 30 percent cut the company takes from subscription services. The letter cited a similar deal Apple gave to Amazon, which CEO Tim Cook testified in a congressional hearing was available to any developer that met the criteria. Apple has not shared what those criteria are.

Epic has also pointed out that Apple’s in-app payment rules differ from app to app, and listed several other services that aren’t forced to use Apple’s system. Finally, there was an instance where Apple blocked updates to the WordPress iOS app until the developer added in-app payments. The company later back-pedalled on the move.

Source: CNN, New York Times Via: The Verge

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Google announces crackdown on in-app billing, aimed at Netflix and Spotify – Ars Technica

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With a lot of focus lately on how smartphone app developers are treated on Apple’s and Google’s app stores, Google has decided right now is a great time to announce more stringent app store billing rules. A new post from the official Android Developer Blog promises a crackdown on in-app billing that sounds like it’s targeted at big streaming services like Netflix and Spotify.

Google’s post really beats around the bush trying to sugar-coat this announcement, but it starts off by saying, “We’ve always required developers who distribute their apps on Play to use Google Play’s billing system if they offer in-app purchases of digital goods, and pay a service fee from a percentage of the purchase.” This rule has not been enforced, though, and a lot of big developers have just ignored Google’s billing requirements. Today, Netflix and Spotify don’t use Google’s in-app billing and instead kick new accounts out to a Web browser, where the companies can use PayPal or direct credit card processing to dodge Google’s 30-percent fees.

“We have clarified the language in our Payments Policy to be more explicit that all developers selling digital goods in their apps are required to use Google Play’s billing system,” Google continues. “For those who already have an app on Google Play that requires technical work to integrate our billing system, we do not want to unduly disrupt their roadmaps and are giving a year (until September 30, 2021) to complete any needed updates.”

That’s basically the meat of the blog post: everybody needs to use Google billing by this time next year. A look at the “Payments Policy” shows examples like “subscription services” that offer things like “music” and “video.” It also warns readers at the top that “changes are coming to this policy!” and that “any existing app that is currently using an alternative billing system will need to remove it to comply with this update.”

Google draws a clear distinction between Android and iOS by pointing out that on Android, developers have a “choice of stores” and that most Android devices ship with multiple app stores. Google mentions twice that “each store is able to decide its own business model and consumer features” with the implication being that if developers want to be on Google Play, which has 2 billion active users, they’re going to have to start following the rules or look elsewhere.

Better third-party app store support in Android 12?

One other tidbit in this post is news of an Android 12 feature: “We will be making changes in Android 12 (next year’s Android release) to make it even easier for people to use other app stores on their devices while being careful not to compromise the safety measures Android has in place. We are designing all this now and look forward to sharing more in the future!”

Currently, installing a second app store requires a few extra checkboxes, but given that stepping outside of Google’s walled garden really does expose users to more threats, the two warning messages don’t seem excessive. Google regularly publishes stats comparing the malware rate of Google Play-only devices versus devices that have installed apps from outside the Play Store. While Google Play is by no means perfect, Google is one of the few app store operators big enough to put every app through some kind of vetting process, and as a result, users have been anywhere from 5 to 10 times more likely to get malware outside the Play Store than inside it for the past two years.

The current app store install process is not that arduous. If you’re downloading something like F-Droid (an open source app store), first Chrome will give you a warning that this type of file (an APK) can harm your device, which you can click through. If you’ve never installed an app from the browser before, you’ll be forwarded to the device settings so you can flip the “allow installs from source” checkbox for Chrome. Then you can install the app store. Android requires any app that installs apps to be given the “install unknown apps” checkbox, so you’ll also need to flip this setting to allow the new app store to install apps.

Android 11's alternative app store install process.
Enlarge / Android 11’s alternative app store install process.
Ron Amadeo

This move to make third-party app stores easier to use makes a bit more sense as a response to Fortnite‘s developer, Epic, which is currently suing Google over its alternative app store policies. “Directly downloading Fortnite on an Android device can involve a dozen steps, requiring the user to change default settings and bravely click through multiple dire warnings,” Epic’s antitrust lawsuit reads. “And even if a persistent user manages to install a competing app store, Google prevents such stores from competing on equal footing with the Google Play Store by blocking them from offering basic functions, such as automatic updating of apps in the background.”

Like any lawsuit, Epic’s filing is a bit blustery. By my count, installing a third-party app store takes five taps, not “a dozen steps.” While any pre-installed app store (in the locked-down system partition) can install app updates, Epic is right that user-downloaded app stores can’t automatically update apps. Letting downloaded apps install new code in the background without user consent sounds just a little scary, but maybe Google could add a highly privileged “app store” permission for downloaded apps to make companies like Epic happy. Epic also says it doesn’t like “dire warnings” attached to these permissions either, though, and correctly informing users of how powerful an app store permission would be would require a pretty scary-sounding warning. Epic was already caught irresponsibly using these powers once, when the Fortnight Installer opened up Samsung devices to a security vulnerability.

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Microsoft says disruption to Teams, Outlook resolved – Reuters

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FILE PHOTO: The Microsoft logo is pictured ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain February 24, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

(Reuters) – Microsoft Corp has resolved a major outage to its Microsoft 365 services that impacted users of business products including Outlook and Teams, the company said on Tuesday.

The company said it has rolled back an update to its services, which had likely caused the disruption.

Microsoft did not disclose details on how many users were impacted, but outage tracking website Downdetector.com showed that at its peak nearly 8,000 individuals reported issues with Teams and Outlook on late Monday.

The issue, which persisted for several hours Monday night, had caused an uproar on Twitter, with several users complaining that the outage meant they could miss their job interviews and deadline for college assignments.

Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Arun Koyyur

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