Two recent lawsuits against Google’s App Store have brought information to light regarding the company, its success, and future endeavors.
Google is swimming neck deep in quite a few lawsuits. While lawsuits are commonplace for nearly every major corporation, they don’t always loom so large. A total of 37 states in the US are suing the company over antitrust violations. The government of Australia has threatened legal action over a lack of supporting local journalists. Epic Games recently started a legal battle with the company. And finally, consumers have launched an unsealed lawsuit over the cut that Google takes from applications on its store. Now, this is far too much to take in at once, so we’ll take a look at the first and last lawsuits.
The reason we’re paying attention to these lawsuits is because they’re identical, if not the same, in nature. As it so happens, Google has a monopoly over app markets in Android devices. Considering the popularity of said devices, this is no small feat. While Google has repeatedly stressed that other options are available to the general public, most of them prove limited, impractical, or even banned in certain regions. The Google Play Store is Android’s definitive stop for applications. And while the company doesn’t make a habit of posting its sales figures online with a lot of pomp and grandeur, certain numbers have been un-redacted for the lawsuit.
Google apparently earned a whopping USD $11.2 billion in the year 2019, solely generated via Play Store revenue. Other than this, Google’s income came from two sources: first being, gross income, with the second being operating costs. The former generated USD $8.5 billion, with the latter stands in at USD $7 billion. All of this accumulates to an operating margin of 62%. Now, with such an obscene amount of money being generated with just a functional app store, users began to take note of certain factors that Google was not being upfront about.
Apple’s App Store takes 30% of an app’s generated revenue. This is not something the company shies away from, despite receiving criticism for it. What would, however, be worse is if this were not made crystal clear from the get go. It seems that Google, by retracting their earnings and revenue, have tried to ensure the opposite of crystal clear. Another concern of these lawsuits is that Google is actively engaging in anti-competitive action, in order to maintain its monopoly. Information by both lawsuits has been unearthed, revealing that Google has actively offered the likes of Netflix and Riot Games incentives, along with certain restrictions, to make sure they never leave the Play Store. Such monopolization unabashedly goes against the concept of a free market.
Whatever the results of these lawsuits may be, one thing is clear: no company needs the insane amount of money that Google is generating. By reducing their cut of the earned profits, the company could cut developers indie and otherwise across the board some slack, while losing a bare minimum of their profit. Information uncovered by the lawsuits has also revealed that Google only needs 6% of all app revenue in order to break even. 30%, along with incentives to monopolized the market, is overkill.
Photo: Charles Platiau / Reuters
Smartphone cameras are moving past their point-and-shoot identity – MobileSyrup
With the launch of Apple’s iPhone 13 and several advancements in its camera systems, I think I’m reevaluating how I feel about smartphone cameras.
Since using the OnePlus 8T and an iPhone 11, I’ve really started to fall for mobile phone cameras. That feeling was solidified in 2020 after spending time with the iPhone 12 Pro and the OnePlus 9 Pro, which both feature impeccable camera systems and have snapped some of my favourite pictures from the past year.
The pictures are so good in some wide shots that I’d even compare them to my mirrorless DSLR — as long as you don’t zoom in too much, of course. Still, in the back of my mind, I’ve always just told myself that using a smartphone camera is acceptable in a pinch and that they’re just modern-day point-and-shoot cameras.
Well, the other day, I found an old Canon Sureshot 76 zoom point-and-shoot film camera. While it’s a lot of fun to use, it’s also an excellent reference point to show how far above point-and-shoot cameras the modern smartphone has come in the last few years.
Over the past weeks, my partner Alex and I have gone on a few photo walks, but two, in particular, stand out. One time, I went out with just my Canon film camera, and in the other instance, I had the OnePlus 9 Pro. While both times I had fun, I actually enjoyed the photographic experience more when using the smartphone.
This is because, like my mirrorless, the phone gave me control over composing and exposing my images. There’s still definitely something to be said about the feel of a film image, but in terms of taking structured shots that nearly always look great, the smartphone won every time.
You can use a mobile phone camera just like a point-and-shoot if you want, and it still works great, but if you want to take things a step further and get more out of it, you can by diving into a slew of settings, apps and accessories.
There are quirky vintage photo apps, pro modes that let you take long exposures, clip-on lenses and, even in some phones, reasonably capable video features. I even shot a portion of my iPad mini video with an iPhone 12 Pro just to test this out, and generally, the footage looked great.
Sure, you can usually still tell the difference between an image taken by a high-end camera vs. a smartphone, but the fact the results look so similar in some cases is even more impressive. While I know this example is a little unfair, since the person behind the lens is a professional photographer, this iPhone 13 Pro camera test by Austin Mann that I found while reading the Lux breakdown of the same camera, shows off how powerful Apple’s new shooter can be.
While no phone will replace my Fujifilm X-T3 camera any time soon, it’s nice to know that in a pinch, my handset can still grab some fantastic shots.
Plus, there’s something special about having a device that can pack so much power into such a small form factor, and the fact that you have it on you nearly always.
Blizzard seemingly removes a reference to Jeff Kaplan in Overwatch 2 – Dot Esports
Fans on Reddit have noticed that a reference to former Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan has been removed from the upcoming sequel’s New York City map. Players spotted that the Sept. 25 Bastion Rework announcement video for Overwatch 2 shows the pizza shop formerly called Jeph’s Corner Pizza is just Corner Pizza.
Fans can see the change for themselves around the 1-minute mark in Bastion’s announcement video, which shows the hero’s new ultimate and the pizza shop in the background. The nod to Kaplan doesn’t seem to be on the shop’s sign, however.
The measure is likely a part of Blizzard Entertainment’s push to remove in-game references to its employees in the wake of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s lawsuit against Activision Blizzard.
Since the lawsuit’s filing, the company revealed it would rename Overwatch‘s McCree, named after a Diablo 4 lead game designer. A statement from the World of Warcraft team said the staff would “remove references that are not appropriate” for Azeroth—presumably referring to easter eggs involving Alex Afrasiabi, a former senior creative director for the game who was directly named in the lawsuit.
In April, Blizzard announced that Kaplan was leaving the company. He was replaced by Aaron Keller, a prominent member of the Overwatch team who helped design the beloved King’s Row map. Kaplan’s departure came before the wave of lawsuits filed against Activision Blizzard.
In the official news release, Blizzard said Kaplan “has decided to leave the company after a long and storied career.” At the bottom of the release, Blizzard included a “personal note” from Kaplan, where he says, “It was truly the honor of a lifetime.” Kaplan’s reason for leaving Blizzard remains unclear.
Now, as Blizzard continues to grapple with multiple lawsuits, the company has begun to erase numerous employee-related Easter eggs and references that appear in Blizzard games. The removal of “Jeph” comes as Blizzard makes changes to company policy.
In August, a Blizzard rep told Kotaku that “[Blizzard] will be reviewing the real-world references currently used in our games and making decisions based on how they best represent core values for our games.” That month, the company announced it would change McCree’s name.
Jeph’s Corner Pizza wasn’t the only reference to Kaplan, however. Reddit users also spotted a coffee cup saying “Jeph” in Overwatch 2, a nod to a picture in which Kaplan holds a cup of coffee with a misspelled version of his name. The cup stands on a copy of a book called “The Green Hills of Stranglethorn,” a quest from World of Warcraft also designed by Kaplan, as spotted by a user. It’s unclear if that reference will also remain in the sequel.
Apple to Fix Issue Preventing iPhone 13 Users From Unlocking With Apple Watch in Upcoming Software Update – MacRumors
In a support document, Apple said affected users can turn off Unlock with Apple Watch and use their passcode to unlock their iPhone 13 until the software update is released. The feature, which is designed to let you unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask or ski goggles, can be toggled off in the Settings app under Face ID & Passcode.
Apple did not specify which software update will include a fix, nor did it provide a timeframe. The first beta of iOS 15.1 was released five days ago, but Apple could also choose to release a minor iOS 15.0.1 update with bug fixes.
As we reported, affected users might see an “Unable to Communicate with Apple Watch” error message if they try to unlock their iPhone 13 while wearing a face mask, or they might not be able to set up Unlock with Apple Watch.
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