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Apple, Google face continuous accusations of anticompetitive behavior

McKenzie Elyse



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A scathing Senate hearing on Wednesday once again put Apple and Google in the hot seat for alleged antitrust law violations. Apple’s App Store practices and policies took center-stage for the majority of the hearing, with app-makers like Spotify, Tile, and Match claiming that both Apple and Google “hold data hostage” and charge high commissions from competitors, stifling their ability to stay afloat.

The hearing followed the release of Apple’s new item-tracker product AirTag, a direct competitor with the 9-year-old company Tile, by just one day. Tile made the case that Apple gives the AirTag an unfair advantage by not allowing Tile devices to use the same advanced, ultra-wideband frequencies to communicate with iPhones that AirTag uses.

Others, like Jared Sine of Match Group, said that Apple’s crippling 30 percent App Store commissions now accounted for the company’s largest single expense at more than $500 million per year. Apple defended its fees by saying that the costs covered security for both users and app-makers in an ever-expanding online marketplace. Apple chief compliance officer Kyle Andeer also cited that 84 percent of the App Store’s 1.7 million app-makers do not pay any commission fees.

Numerous companies have also complained about Apple’s stranglehold on their payment systems. Though not present at the Wednesday hearing, Tim Sweeney of Epic Games recently shined a light on Apple’s strict App Store payment system policies when he offered Fortnight players a 20 percent discount when they purchased in-game credits directly through Epic. Fortnight was swiftly removed from both the App Store and Google Play store for policy violation; Epic is in private talks with Google to resolve the issue, however they are facing Apple in court in May. Read more about the Epic trial here.

Horacio Gutierrez, Spotify’s chief legal officer, also weighed in on Apple’s restrictive payment policies.

“We couldn’t even email our users to tell them about a way to upgrade that didn’t involve paying through Apple,” Gutierrez said.

Jared Sine argued that Apple and Google “have essentially taken the internet and moved it into the app stores… They’ve set up their gateways, they’ve set up their toll booths; you’ve got to pay the toll if you’re a digital good and service.”

“They give everybody else access onto the freeway, and what we’re saying is, why isn’t the freeway the same for everyone?”

I'm a copywriter, journalist, and web content creator with a strong passion for my work. Crafting narratives of the world around me brings me an incredible sense of joy — there's nothing I would rather be doing. Besides writing, I enjoy cooking, mixology, music, and my weird cat named Marceline.


Apple Was Forced To Turn Over Trump’s Political Opponents’ Data

Colin Edge



According to a shocking New York Times report, Apple was coerced into giving Trump’s Justice Department communications of the former President’s political rivals.

The tech company received a subpoena from the DOJ in February 2018, requesting data from over 100 accounts. As a rule, Apple strives to “regularly challenge warrants, subpoenas and nondisclosure orders,” according to a statement from Apple’s Fred Sainz. They also “inform affected customers of governmental requests about them just as soon as possible.”  

But in this case, the court request came from a federal grand jury. The subpoena offered no details of the nature of the investigation, so Apple had no way of knowing how the data was intended to be used without looking through users’ personal information. The DOJ also placed Apple under a gag order, which means that Apple couldn’t tell anyone about the ongoing investigation.

“Consistent with the request, Apple limited the information it provided to account subscriber information and did not provide any content such as emails or pictures,” Sainz also included in Apple’s statement.

 The gag order finally expired on May 5 of this year. That’s why Apple has only now reached out to its users to notify them.

The Apple users involved reveal a pattern: they politically opposed Trump. Some worked in the media, but most of them were congressional Democrats working on the House intelligence committee. DOJ prosecutors working for Trump were looking for leaks that prompted rising accusations of his infamous Russian collusion.

The subpoena ordered the delivery of information on the members of congress and even their families, including at least one minor. California Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell are notable congressmen affected by the investigation, both of whom have responded on Twitter.

“This baseless investigation, while now closed, is yet another example of Trump’s corrupt weaponization of justice,” Schiff tweeted. 

During an interview with CNN, John Dean, an ex-counselor to President Nixon, called the DOJ’s actions under Trump “Nixon on stilts and steroids.” The investigation certainly echoes another instance in which a sitting president used technology to secretly obtain info on political rivals – the Watergate scandal. 

The current Justice Department has launched a probe to investigate the extent of misconduct by the Trump-era DOJ. Inspector General Micheal Horowitz assured they will thoroughly uncover intelligence “in connection with recent investigations of alleged unauthorized disclosures of information to the media by government officials.”

Apple has gone above and beyond in clarifying their limited, blindfolded involvement in the investigation. But situations like these raise concerns about the inevitable intersection of tech and the government.

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Apple Music Steps Up Its Game with Spatial Audio

Colin Edge



Audiophiles, rejoice! During their WWDC keynote on Monday, Apple announced that both Dolby Atmos spatial audio and lossless audio are now integrated into Apple Music. Spatial audio is also a feature of the new and improved FaceTime in iOS 15, and coming to Apple TV/Mac in the fall. 

These features are not currently offered by Apple music’s major streaming competitor, Spotify. But if you’re wondering, “what’s spatial audio, anyway?” you wouldn’t be the first. Here’s a breakdown:

Spatial audio is how Apple describes their completely immersive listening experience. It starts with the encompassing audio landscape of Dolby Atmos, and enhances it even more. So, let’s start with Dolby Atmos. Best described as a “sound-bubble”, Dolby Atmos is surround sound for headphones. It creates a multi-dimensional soundstage from which audio can be emitted, rather than the simple left/right stereo sound of ye olden days.

But spatial audio uses gyroscopes and accelerometers within AirPods Pro and Max, and places the sound based on where your head is. So if you turn your head away from your phone to the left, you’ll hear the music shift to the left side of your head. It’s as if you’re at a concert and your phone is the stage. 

Only a few thousand tracks are currently mixed with Dolby Atmos spatial audio, with more arriving as artists release new music and remix select songs from their catalogs. Try out Apple Music’s playlists like “Hits in Spatial Audio”, curated to show off what the feature can do.

Spatial audio will be fun for music, no doubt. But it will likely improve FaceTime more significantly. You’ll feel as if you’re in the same room with the person on the other end of the FaceTime call.

The iPhone maker also added lossless audio to its streaming platform. “Lossless” refers to the quality of the audio. When music is compressed, the finer details and textures of the audio are lost. You can now stream crystal-clear, CD-quality audio in Apple Music. (And argue with your friends about whether or not you actually notice the difference.)

While spatial audio is limited to certain tracks, Apple’s entire library is quickly being converted to lossless. Every one of the 75 million+ songs will support it by the end of the year.

To enjoy spatial audio, you need the higher-end AirPods Pro, Max, or one of the several Beats headphone models that’s compatible. 

These features now come standard with Apple Music, at no extra cost. Could they woo listeners away from Spotify, Amazon, and TIDAL? We’ll see. 

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Apple’s Big Reveals at WWDC

Colin Edge



Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference kicked off yesterday, and will last through the week. WWDC usually kicks off with an announcement-packed keynote speech, and this year was no exception to the rule.

With CEO Tim Cook leading the charge, Apple announced major upgrades to its devices. iOS 15 stole the spotlight, as expected. But Facetime, MacOS Monterey, iPad, and many others graced the stage as well.

The tech giant has had a rocky few months in the press, including a highly-publicized lawsuit with Epic Games and app tracking beef with Facebook. New bells and whistles within the Apple ecosystem felt like a welcome distraction from the world outside Cupertino, Calif. 

iOS 15 & FaceTime

iPhone software gets a revamp every year in the fall. During the keynote, Apple previewed features of iOS 15, and promised a public beta version to be coming soon. Messages will be getting a visual facelift, sleeker ways to send photos, and a new element called Shared with You, which organizes links sent to you in their corresponding apps, like Apple Music and News.

But most would agree that the key upgrade within iOS 15 is an improvement to FaceTime. With video conferencing taking an essential place in society over the last year, apps like Zoom and Skype eclipsed Apple’s simple video chatting app. With iOS 15, the tech giant is looking to get ahead in the video call space with a “Zoom-ified” FaceTime app. 

The new FaceTime will be organized into a grid, with an emphasis on whoever is currently speaking, much like Zoom. FaceTime calls can be scheduled, and invitations can be sent. Also, FaceTime can now filter out background images and noise, to create a more natural conversation experience. And Androids/PCs will be able to join a FaceTime call (finally!).

MacOS Update

The next evolution of software for the Mac computer will be called Monterey, fitting right in with Mac’s naming theme: a Californian geography lesson.

The major takeaway from Monterey will be what Apple calls Universal Control – users will be able to sync an iPad to their Mac and use it as a secondary monitor. The mouse will gracefully glide from one screen to the next, and the keyboard/trackpad will also be compatible. This feature is a standout in a list of several improvements that work to create more synergy between your Mac and other Apple devices.

Safari also gets a makeover, to look and feel more like Google Chrome. Tabs can be colored and grouped, for a smoother and more organized browsing experience.


While it has become the darling of audio/visual creators, the iPad has somewhat failed to fulfill the needs of everyday emailers, writers and spreadsheet-ers. The reimagined iPad software will be built around a multitasking menu to remedy that shortcoming. Users can view apps side-by-side, and switch between apps with more ease than ever before. 

…and more

The keynote was stuffed with announcements from WatchOS 8 to AirPods Max with spatial audio. With a huge laundry list of new and improved features for the gadgets most of us use everyday, Apple subtly reminded us why it’s the world’s most valuable company. Stay tuned for more in-depth reviews and commentary on all the new Apple magic releasing in the fall.

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