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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.

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[…] seems to be taking hits from all sides these days. Following a Senate antitrust hearing, a European Commission investigation, and a lawsuit with Epic Games, the tech giant’s legal team […]

Apple

The Best New iOS 15 Features You Should Know About

Colin Edge

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iOS 15 packs quite a punch. When it comes to added features, this software update is loaded! So much so, that it can be a lot to process (for you, not your phone). For help navigating through some of the coolest new things your iPhone can do from Maps to FaceTime, keep reading!

For starters, you need an iPhone 6s or newer to install iOS 15. Some of these features require an iPhone XS or newer, and others require an iPhone 12 or newer. If you’ve been wondering whether to install the update, buy a younger generation iPhone, or both, these features might convince you.


Focus Mode helps you tune out distractions and pay attention to the task at hand

The iPhone is a culturally revolutionary device. As a society, we’ve become extremely addicted to these small computers we carry around with us. Apple acknowledges the tech-absorbed little monsters they’ve created. And what’s more, they’ve taken steps to help us control our obsession, and use it for good. How generous, right?

Focus is a new feature of the iOS 15 update that allows you to customize notifications based on location, time of day, and even more personalized factors. By creating and customizing Focus Modes, you can allow notifications from certain contacts or apps, while blocking others. So you won’t get a notification from your Dungeons and Dragons group while you’re at work. Find out how to set up a Focus Mode and get… focused!

FaceTime in iOS 15 now includes Shareplay, grid view, Portrait Mode, and more

Finally, FaceTime has caught up with Zoom. iOS 15 makes it more convenient than ever to stay within the Apple ecosystem when video conferencing. Whether watching Ted Lasso with friends over FaceTime or video-chatting your entire family crowded around a single phone, the updated FaceTime enhances your experience with the app. New features include:

  • Shareplay
  • Compatibility with non-Apple users
  • Screen sharing
  • Portrait Mode
  • Voice Isolation & Wide Spectrum

The ability to FaceTime with anyone, whether or not they have an iPhone is an update for which countless FaceTimers have long been asking Apple. And with Shareplay, you can listen to your favorite music or watch your favorite show with fellow fans, even if they’re not physically with you. Find out how to use these new iOS 15 FaceTime features to one-up your video-calls.

Safari gets a facelift, and Tab Groups just might change your life

Safari has a nifty new design. And while some folks are taking a minute to warm up to the revamped look, it’s got some cool new tricks. One of the most notable is Tab Groups. Using Tab Groups, you’re able to organize your tabs into folders. Here’s how it works:


  • Tap the the tabs icon in the bottom right corner (two overlapping boxes)
  • The middle of the tab bar at the bottom of the screen will announce how many tabs are open, with a downward arrow – tap it
  • Tap one of the “+” buttons to either create an new empty tab, or create one from the current open tabs
  • Name your group and save!

Your new tab group will show up whenever you press the tab icon. You can add new pages to it, and delete it if you no longer need it later on. These groups work across your devices, so you can have the same tab groups when using Safari on your Mac.

(P.S. Another great new trick on Safari is simply swiping down on a page to refresh it. You’re welcome!)

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Apple

The iPhone, a Brief History

Colin Edge

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In the iPhone 13 reveal that Apple called “California Streaming”, CEO Tim Cook declared that “iPhone has forever changed the world.” Way to go big, Tim. And in truth, it’s not all hyperbole. The iPhone revolutionized mobile phones, and shaped the global perception of what a smartphone looks like.

Making many small upgrades and a few large-scale innovations over the years, the iPhone has held its place as a trend-setting, industry leading smartphone. It accounts for well over half of Apple’s revenue, making the Cupertino, Calif. tech giant the most valuable company in the world. And it all began with the iPhone in 2007…


The iPhone – the third revolutionary product in Apple’s history

Steve Jobs announced the iPhone at Macworld conference in January of 2007. Smart phones like the Blackberry were already beginning to catch on, and rumors had circulated that Apple would get in on the smartphone game. Master marketer that he was, Jobs artfully communicated the iPhone’s features to a room full of Apple heads beside themselves with excitement. The giddiness was palpable. 

He explained that Apple had been fortunate enough to release three revolutionary products in its time: the Macintosh, the iPod, and now the iPhone. He wasn’t wrong. iPhone boldly ditched mini keyboards, opting for a state-of-the-art touch interface. It included a camera, turning everyone into a photographer. It also put the internet in everyone’s pockets, arresting the attention of smartphone-owners for generations to come. After the iPhone, everyone was trying to catch up to Apple.

3G, the App Store, selfies, FaceTime & Siri – what’s not to love?

The iPhone 3G brought the App Store, busting down the door for millions of apps, not to mention the advent of social media. The iPhone 4 gave us that front-facing camera, so everyone from the President to your great aunt could take selfies. We became instantly and utterly obsessed. FaceTime came at the same time, cementing video chat into Apple’s ecosystem.

Today, we take Siri for granted. But this friendly voice-assistant was a giant breakthrough in its time. Included in the iPhone 4S, Siri arrived in 2011 (Alexa wouldn’t come for three more years). And who could forget the first time they learned that Siri could tell a joke?

Going from a curved, to straight-edged, back to curved, and back to straight-edged design, the iPhone’s style has always kept us on our toes. And we have Apple’s ever-savvy marketing and cult-like following to thank. Moving the headphone jack from the top to the bottom then taking it away altogether made big waves too. 


The iPhone 6/6 Plus generation broke sales records and remains the best-selling touchscreen phone to this day. It was also the first generation that included two models of the same phone release, a trend that Apple has continued and even built upon. 

iPhone X sets the standard for the modern iPhone

iPhone went straight from generation 8 to the iPhone X (aka iPhone 10). So I guess seven really did eat nine. iPhone X reimagined the smartphone once again. As Android competitors began to rival Apple in both quality and innovation, Apple undertook an ambitious new project that would future-proof the iPhone. Released in 2017, the iPhone X was a giant leap forward.

Apple had consistently asserted that it envisioned a device that was all display. Ditching the home button altogether, the entire iPhone X was one big beautiful screen. Its camera captured better quality images than anyone thought you could get out of a phone camera. It introduced OLED to iPhone hardware. And it also unapologetically asked a hefty $999. Apple had always been known for pricey stuff, but a grand?! The X’s indefatigable performance indeed justified the price.


The iPhone 11, 12, and (now) 13 models have all basically built upon the X’s breakthrough design. The cameras have only gotten better. The chips inside have only gotten more powerful. And they continue to fly off the shelves. The iPhone remains a torchbearer for elegant form, dynamic function, and marketing phenomenon. 

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Apple

Why Macs Don’t Have Touchscreens

Colin Edge

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Apple first introduced touchscreens for their devices in 2007 with the iPhone and iPod Touch. Since then, they’ve added the iPad and Apple Watch as touchscreen devices. But one Apple product has never integrated a touchscreen – the Mac. And by the looks of it, they may never. 

Rival computers like the Microsoft Surface Pro and HP Spectre have made laptops with touchscreens somewhat of a normal thing, but Apple doesn’t seem to feel pressure to follow suit. Why not? It’s a deliberate choice based on the company’s history, users, and product lineup.


Steve Jobs shot down the idea of a Mac with a touchscreen.

In 2010, Jobs addressed this question head-on. “We’ve done tons of user testing on this, and it turns out it doesn’t work. Touch surfaces don’t want to be vertical. It gives great demo, but after a short period of time, you start to fatigue, and after an extended period of time, your arm wants to fall off. It doesn’t work, it’s ergonomically terrible,” Jobs said.

More recently, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi also denounced the idea. Federighi said ​​”we had designed and evolved the look for macOS in a way that felt most comfortable and natural to us, not remotely considering something about touch.”

Keeping ergonomic concerns in mind, Apple actually did attempt to integrate a form of touchscreen tech into Macbooks. The Touch Bar was added to the Macbook Pro in 2016. Replacing the function keys, this OLED strip above the laptop keys is meant to allow for greater diversity and efficiency of functions across different apps. 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t. User feedback has been mostly negative since the Touch Bar’s rollout, and Apple has been slowly walking back from the idea, with rumors suggesting they’ll completely do away with it before long. Perhaps this serves as greater proof that touchscreens and laptops just don’t jive for Apple.

Do Apple users even want touchscreens on their Macs?

For iOS and iPadOS, software is built from the ground up with touch in mind. So the functionality of iPhones and iPads is mostly smooth and intuitive. Although most PC laptops offer touchscreens now, the touch feature can feel more like an afterthought than an intentional design choice.


You can make great arguments for and against touch screen notebooks. There’s the ease of app-switching and note-taking, versus the constant struggle with a smudgy screen. Many PC owners who have laptops with touch admit to rarely using their touchscreens, while others find the feature indispensable. 

In any case, it seems that if a loud enough majority of Apple users wanted a Mac with touch, Apple would listen. And since it hasn’t happened yet, Apple appears justified in their claim that Apple users simply don’t want to lift their arm to touch a screen when they can use a trackpad.

While the iPad is more productivity-driven than ever, Apple still draws a hard line between Macs and iPads.

With the M1 chip, Apple is pushing the new iPad Pro as the most powerful tablet to date. Typically, computing power and performance is a key distinction between a tablet and a notebook. But if your iPad is strong enough to handle your work apps, why not work on it?


Loads more features enhance the latest iPad’s productivity. From a thunderbolt port that supports external hardware/storage, to the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil. But it’s still been marketed as a high-functioning tablet, not a replacement for a Macbook. There’s still one key difference between the two – a touchscreen.

If Macs had touchscreens, why would you need an iPad? For Apple’s business model, it’s apparent that these products need to stay in their own lanes. While the line of distinction between tablet and notebook continues to blur in the PC world, Apple remains committed to keeping the two separate. At least for the foreseeable future.

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