Amazon today announced that it is teaming up with Tile to add Amazon Sidewalk integration to Tile's Bluetooth trackers. Amazon Sidewalk, for those unfamiliar, is a network of Amazon Bluetooth devices that's designed to improve the connectivity of devices like the Ring and Amazon Echo.

tile amazon sidewalk integration
Tile will now be joining Amazon Sidewalk, and through this integration, Amazon Echo and Ring devices will be able to extend Tile's network coverage to help Tile users locate their lost items.

Tile users will also get the benefit of Amazon Alexa, and those with Alexa-enabled devices can say "Alexa, find my [item]" to have their Tile device start ringing. Multiple in-home Echo devices will allow misplaced items to be found faster around the house, and Tile CEO CJ Prober says the technology will also be useful outside the home.

"Tile helps millions of people every day find their things, and we're always looking for opportunities to enhance the finding experience for our customers. To that end, working with Amazon to extend our finding network by securely connecting to Amazon Sidewalk devices like Echo smart speakers was an obvious choice," said CJ Prober, CEO of Tile. "Amazon Sidewalk will strengthen Tile's finding power for our devices and Find with Tile device partners that leverage our finding technology, making it even easier to find lost or misplaced keys, wallets, or other Tiled items both inside and outside the home."

With Amazon Sidewalk, Tile will be able to better compete against AirTags, which are able to take advantage of the Find My network. The ‌Find My‌ network uses hundreds of millions of Apple devices to help locate lost ‌AirTags‌, allowing them to be found when not in Bluetooth range of an owner's device.

Tile has a similar feature called the Tile Network that takes advantage of other Tile users who have a Tile app, but there are nowhere near as many Tile users out in the wild as there are Apple users, which gave Apple a significant edge. There are, however, tons of Ring and Amazon Echo devices to bolster Tile's network, though people are not carrying these devices with them so it's still more limited than the ‌Find My‌ network.

Tile will join Amazon Sidewalk starting on June 14.

Related Forum: AirTags

Apple today released a new update for Safari Technology Preview, the experimental browser Apple first introduced in March 2016. Apple designed the ‌Safari Technology Preview‌ to test features that may be introduced into future release versions of Safari.

Safari Technology Preview Feature
‌Safari Technology Preview‌ release 124 includes bug fixes and performance improvements for Web Inspector, CSS, JavaScript, Web API, Rendering, Wheel Events, Web Driver, WebGL, WebRTC, WebCrypto, and Scrolling.

The current ‌Safari Technology Preview‌ release is the built on the new Safari 14 update included in macOS Big Sur with support for Safari Web Extensions imported from other browsers, tab previews, password breach notifications, web authentication with Touch ID, and more.

The new ‌Safari Technology Preview‌ update is available for both macOS Catalina and ‌macOS Big Sur‌, the newest version of the Mac operating system.

The ‌Safari Technology Preview‌ update is available through the Software Update mechanism in System Preferences to anyone who has downloaded the browser. Full release notes for the update are available on the Safari Technology Preview website.

Apple's aim with ‌Safari Technology Preview‌ is to gather feedback from developers and users on its browser development process. ‌Safari Technology Preview‌ can run side-by-side with the existing Safari browser and while designed for developers, it does not require a developer account to download.

Back in 2015, a malware-infected version of Xcode began circulating in China, and malware-ridden "XcodeGhost" apps made their way into Apple's App Store and past the ‌App Store‌ review team.

XcodeGhost Featured1
There were more than 50 known infected iOS apps at the time, including major apps like WeChat, NetEase, and Didi Taxi, with up to 500 million iOS users potentially impacted. It's been a long time since the XcodeGhost attack, but Apple's trial with Epic is surfacing new details.

Trial documents highlighted by Motherboard indicate that a total of 128 million users downloaded apps with the XcodeGhost malware, including 18 million users in the United States.

XcodeGhost was one of the biggest attacks against iPhone users to date due to the number of ‌iPhone‌ users that were impacted. The 128 million impacted users got malware from downloads of more than 2,500 affected apps.

Based on emails shared in the trial, Apple worked to determine the impact of the attack and how to best notify those who downloaded infected apps. "Due to the large number of customers potentially affected, do we want to send an email to all of them?" Apple's ‌App Store‌ vice president Matt Fischer asked.

Apple did ultimately inform users that downloaded XcodeGhost apps, and also published a list of the top 25 most popular apps that were compromised. Apple removed all of the infected apps from the ‌App Store‌, and provided information to developers to help them validate Xcode going forward.

XcodeGhost was a widespread attack, but it was not effective or dangerous. At the time, Apple said that it had no information to suggest that the malware was ever used for any malicious purpose nor that sensitive personal data was stolen, but it did collect app bundle identifiers, network details, and device names and types.

Apple's AirTags do not come with a hole or any kind of attachment method, and short of drilling your own, you're going to need some kind of keyring, adhesive mount, or holder to attach the AirTag to various items.

belkin airtag holder 2
In this guide, we've rounded up a list of useful third-party ‌AirTags‌ accessories that you might want to check out.

Apple

Apple makes its own series of AirTag cases, which are available in either silicone or leather and are priced at $29 to $39, plus there are several high-end Hermès AirTag holders priced starting at $299.

Apple airtag accessories 042021 big carousel

Belkin Secure Holder

Available as a Key Ring or a Strap, the $12.95 Belkin Secure Holder is designed to keep an AirTag in place and attached to an item of your choice. It features a twist-and-lock closure with raised edges to keep the AirTag from getting scratched, and it comes in white, pink, black, and blue.

belkin airtag holder
Belkin's Secure Holders can be purchased from Belkin directly or from Apple.

Moment AirTag Mounts

Moment has a range of AirTag Mounts available that house an AirTag and are able to stick on various items. Moment says that you can stick an AirTag mount in bags, on clothes, or on the bottom of different devices, and with the adhesive stick method, ‌AirTags‌ can be hidden from thieves.

moment airtag holder
There's a Fabric Mount, a Hard Shell Mount, and a Curved Surface Mount with prices ranging from $14.99 to $19.99.

Nomad Leather Keychain and Glasses Strap

Nomad debuted its Leather Keychain well ahead of the launch of the ‌AirTags‌, but it's now officially available for pre-order. Priced at $30, it comes in either black or brown and houses a single AirTag. It can be attached to bags or other items, plus Nomad is also offering a $30 Glasses Strap with built-in AirTag holder for keeping track of your sunglasses.

nomad airtag holder

Spigen AirTag Cases

Spigen has a couple of AirTag case options available, including the Valentinus and the Rugged Armor, both of which are available for $19. The Valentinus is a traditional keyring-style case that houses the AirTag, while the Rugged Armor has a carabiner and a more durable design.

spigen airtag holder

dbrand Grip Cases

dbrand has a series of Grip Cases available for ‌AirTags‌ in a variety of colors. Each grip fits over the AirTag and adds a skin and an attachment point to place it on bags and other items. The Grip Cases are priced at $19.95 each.

dbrand airtags case

ElevationLab TagVault

The ElevationLab TagVault is a heavy duty ‌AirTags‌ case that offers total protection and waterproofing for an AirTag. It comes apart in two pieces, allowing an AirTag to be fit in the middle before screwing back together. The TagVault features a minimal design and is designed for situations where the AirTag might experience damage and wear such as on a keyring. TagVault is priced at $12.95 for one and $29.95 for three.

tagvault

Cyrill Vegan Leather Key Ring for AirTags

Spigen's sister brand Cyrill has an AirTag key ring case made from a vegan leather, which is available in black or stone starting at $17. The AirTag snaps into place and then the key ring portion attaches to your keys, a backpack, or other items.

cyrill airtags holder

Silicone AirTags Case with Adhesive

You're going to find endless affordable AirTag housing options on Amazon from vendors in China and other countries, but there are a few unique options worth noting. The Silicone Case is a soft silicone casing that you slide your AirTag into, and then the back has an adhesive so you can attach it to various items like your phone. Something like this might be a good option if you want to attach an AirTag to the Apple TV remote or another item that stays primarily in the house. It's priced at $3, and the vendor says the adhesive is reusable.

airtag silicone case

AirTag Skins

If you want to add some flair to your ‌AirTags‌ or prevent them from getting scratched, you can find a series of custom skin options on Etsy. Skins are priced at right around $5 each.

airtag skins

Guide Feedback

Have other suggestions of great ‌AirTags‌ cases that we should add to the guide? Let us know in the comments.

The ongoing Epic Games v. Apple trial continues to provide insight into Apple's App Store processes, with documents today offering up details on the number of apps submitted to the ‌App Store‌ and rejected by Apple's review processes.

app store blue banner
Apple received an average of five million app submissions per year between 2017 and 2019, and between 33 and 35 percent of apps submitted were rejected by Apple's review team. On average, there were 1.7 million apps rejected per year, though the rejection rate was closer to 40 percent in 2020 based on trial testimony.

app store rejections
Apple's documentation suggests that the ‌App Store‌ sees 100,000 ‌App Store‌ submissions per week, which are dealt with by 500 human experts that Apple has on hand. Prior to getting to a human review, apps are analyzed by Apple-designed tools to check for malware and policy violations.

A testing tool called Mercury runs through static and dynamic analysis processes, with the tool allowing Apple to see inside apps to check for hidden code or abuse, and there are other review tools that Apple has nicknamed "Magellan" and "Columbus." After automated testing, apps receive human oversight.

Dynamic testing includes everything from battery usage to file system access and privacy requests to access device hardware like the camera and microphone, while static analysis checks app size, entitlements, in-app purchases, keywords, descriptions, and more.

In 2015, Apple discussed acquiring SourceDNA, a company that made a tool to allow companies to see the code inside apps. Apple did end up purchasing the company and using its engineers to design a new tool for app oversight.

Interestingly, Apple documents depict the workstation of one of its human reviewers, featuring a desktop with an iMac, MacBook Pro, multiple iOS devices, several displays, game controllers, and more.

apple human review
Apple marketing director Trystan Kosmynka was questioned for most of the morning, and Epic lawyers visited a favorite talking point - ‌App Store‌ mistakes. Kosmynka was grilled about some of the apps that slip through the review process, such as an app about school shooting that he said in an email he was "dumbfounded" had been missed.

On this topic, Kosmynka was asked if the app review process is unnecessary because of the mistakes that are sometimes made, but said that all it means is that Apple has to "continuously be better." He said that Apple works diligently to close loopholes, and that without app review, iOS would be a "free for all" that would be "incredibly dangerous to customers, to kids."

The Epic vs. Apple trial will continue for another two weeks, with the first week set to wrap up today. Apple CEO Tim Cook and other executives are expected to testify during the third week.

Apple has hired Stella Low as its new vice president of worldwide corporate communications, reports BuzzFeed News. Low was the former communications chief at Cisco, and will report directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

stella low
The role that Low is taking on at Apple has been empty for the last two years after PR chief Steve Dowling departed the company. Apple Fellow Phil Schiller has been handling the PR team since Dowling left, so Low's hiring will free up more of his time.

In a statement, Apple said that Low brings "remarkable experience and leadership" to Apple.

Stella brings her remarkable experience and leadership to Apple's world-class communications teams. Apple has an important story to tell -- from the transformative products and services we make, to the positive impacts we have on our communities and the world -- and Stella is a great leader to help us write the next chapter.

Prior to working with Cisco, Low has also run communication teams at Unisys and Dell. She is joining the company amid a fierce legal battle with Epic Games and with Apple facing regulatory issues over the App Store in multiple countries.

While sharing a Twitter link in an iMessage conversation typically results in a light-blue bubble with an in-line preview of the tweet, and an image if one was included, tweet previews appear to be broken right now.

Twitter Feature
As of Friday morning, Twitter links shared in iMessage conversations appear as basic gray bubbles with the twitter.com domain and no other information. It's unclear if this is an intentional change by Twitter to direct users towards its platforms, or if it is simply a bug. We've reached out to Twitter for comment and we'll provide an update if we hear back.

A similar issue with Instagram links in iMessage cropped up a few months ago, and it ended up being a bug that was fixed thereafter.

Earlier this week, Twitter rolled out support for larger image previews in the timeline in its iOS and Android apps, meaning that tall images will no longer be cropped into a 16:9 layout. Twitter is also rolling out a new Tip Jar feature that allows users to tip eligible accounts held by creators, journalists, experts, and non-profit organizations.

With wireless CarPlay becoming more and more common among car manufacturers, Volkswagen is another brand that has embraced the technology and I recently had a chance to test out the German automaker's implementation in the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan.

tiguan 2021 exterior
The 2021 Tiguan is available in five trims, starting with S trim at a little over $25,000 and going up to the SEL Premium R-Line at just about $40,000. My test vehicle was the SEL trim at a step below the high-end, and it comes in at around $32,500 plus destination.

The Tiguan SEL and SEL Premium R-Line come with Volkswagen's new MIB3 Discover Media system, which includes a primary 8-inch infotainment screen with built-in navigation, as well as App-Connect phone integration. For the driver, there is a Digital Cockpit instrument panel with configurable options for showing an array of information from the traditional speed, fuel, and range data to driving directions, audio details, elevation, compass, and more.

The mid-range SE and SE R-Line trims come with the MIB3 Composition Media system that offers nearly the same features as the Discover Media system with the exception of built-in navigation. The entry-level S trim comes with an older MIB2 system and a 6.5-inch Composition Color screen that only offers wired ‌CarPlay‌ and cuts back in other areas, so you'll need to step up to at least the SE trim to start taking advantage of the latest infotainment features.

tiguan 2021 mib3 homeMIB3 infotainment system home screen

My overall impression of VW's latest infotainment system is that it's a relatively clean and responsive system that works well but doesn't have a lot of flash to the interface. That can be good for minimizing distraction, but I also prefer a little bit more flair to help user interface elements stand out a bit more.

VW does some interesting things with proximity and gesture sensing on its infotainment system, tracking where your hand is in front of the main display and reacting accordingly. For example, at rest, some of the on-screen icons shrink and labels fade away, but as your hand approaches the screen, they expand and some get highlights around them to help draw your attention. It's kind of a neat trick that helps deliver a simple look for the system most of the time and only complicates the visual when you're interacting with the system.

tiguan 2021 radioInfotainment radio screen

Gesture control also allows you to perform some basic tasks without even touching the infotainment screen, such as waving your hand to move between menus and change radio stations or audio tracks. VW isn't the only car manufacturer to try gesture controls, but they still feel like mostly a gimmick to me.

tiguan 2021 statusVehicle status screen

As for the main infotainment screen itself, it's an 8-inch display with a resolution of 800x480, and that's really starting to feel like the bare minimum when it comes to a native infotainment system. ‌CarPlay‌ in particular feels a little bit cramped when it comes to the interface, and you don't get the bonus of extra screen real estate from the native system surrounding it since ‌CarPlay‌ takes over the whole screen.

tiguan 2021 carplay dashboard‌CarPlay‌ dashboard view

I found the system to be responsive both in the native infotainment experience and in ‌CarPlay‌. I also appreciated the dedicated "App" button alongside the screen to make it easy to hop into ‌CarPlay‌ at a single touch from anywhere in the native system. The only minor quibble I have is that I would have preferred the app button to the left of the display rather than the right for convenience, as it was one of the most frequently used buttons during my time with the vehicle.

tiguan 2021 carplay home‌CarPlay‌ home screen

While ‌CarPlay‌ takes over the entire main infotainment screen, preventing single-screen viewing of both ‌CarPlay‌ and any aspects of the native system simultaneously, the Digital Cockpit helps a bit in this regard, allowing for the display of additional data like audio information or turn-by-turn navigation instructions from the native system.

There's one other ‌CarPlay‌ trick up the system's sleeve, and that's the ability to display ‌CarPlay‌ turn-by-turn navigation from Apple Maps in the Digital Cockpit. Dual-screen support for ‌CarPlay‌ was introduced as part of iOS 13 in late 2019, but support for it has only just started rolling out to vehicles, so VW is definitely a leader in adopting it. It's important to note that the Digital Cockpit requires the SEL or SEL Premium R-Line trim, so you will need to step up toward the top end to take advantage of all of the available tech functionality.

tiguan 2021 cockpit apple maps‌CarPlay‌ ‌Apple Maps‌ with turn-by-turn navigation in Digital Cockpit

The graphics for second-screen ‌CarPlay‌ navigation aren't fancy on the Tiguan, but they're similar to those for the native system with directional arrows and distances for upcoming turns, street names, distance to destination, and predicted arrival time. The one area where these ‌CarPlay‌ directions came up a little short compared to the native system was in lane guidance, as the native system displayed them in the Digital Cockpit while ‌CarPlay‌ directions did not.

The convenience of wireless ‌CarPlay‌ pairs nicely with wireless device charging, and VW has things covered in that regard in the Tiguan with a convenient charging cubby at the base of the center stack. It fits my iPhone 12 Pro Max with a little bit of room to spare, and a rubber mat keeps your phone in place.

tiguan 2021 front usb wirelessFront USB-C ports and wireless phone charger

As with many vehicle wireless chargers, it only charges at 5 watts, so it won't be able to quickly recharge a depleted phone battery, but it can help keep your phone topped off on longer road trips. The biggest win here is that the charger is standard, unlike with most manufacturers where it typically requires an upgraded package on lower trims, if it's even available at all without stepping up to a high-level trim.

For wired connections, VW has gone all-in on USB-C with a pair of those ports at the base of the center stack adjacent to the wireless charging pad. A third USB-C port (charge-only) is located on the back of the center console for second-row seat passengers. The SEL trim of the Tiguan also comes with a third row of seating, but there are no USB ports for these passengers.

tiguan 2021 rear usbRear charge-only USB-C port

Overall, I'm thrilled to see wireless ‌CarPlay‌ rapidly expanding across car brands, and the bottom line with VW is that it's done a solid job of integrating it into the native infotainment system. I do wish the main screen was a bit bigger or at least higher resolution with the ability to see more on the screen.

I'm really glad to see early adoption of second-screen ‌CarPlay‌ functionality, as that's a fantastic way to help integrate the two systems and use your preferred system for different functions, though you do need to move up to a minimum of the SEL trim to have access to it. I haven't yet been able to test second-screen ‌CarPlay‌ in a vehicle with a head-up display, but ‌CarPlay‌ does support turn-by-turn directions on those as well.

I also hope we'll see more options from Apple for second-screen ‌CarPlay‌ content, whether it be additional content types like full music support or even being able to expand a more feature-rich ‌CarPlay‌ experience across several screens on vehicles that have multiple large screens.

Wireless charging is always great to have alongside wireless ‌CarPlay‌, so I was glad to see the Tiguan equipped with a convenient charging pad, and it's included on all but the lowest trim that lacks wireless ‌CarPlay‌ anyway.

Another charging port in the second row would have been nice to see to help avoid charging squabbles among siblings on road trips, and even a third-row charging port could come in handy, although given the tight fits of third-row seating in mid-size SUVs like the Tiguan, they're mostly for use only in a pinch and I wouldn't ordinarily expect them to get a ton of use on longer trips where charging is more important.

According to Apple leaker Jon Prosser, Apple's upcoming release of the MacBook Air will feature various colors, similar to the colors in the newly released 24-inch iMac.

macbook colors 3d black bezels
In the latest video of his YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Prosser says the same source who accurately provided him information on the first Apple silicon ‌iMac‌ coming in colors has told him that he recently saw a prototype of a blue MacBook. However, Prosser says his source has been "very cryptic" and that he assumes it's the upcoming ‌MacBook Air‌ powered by the M2 chip.

If the information is true, the new colorful lineup of MacBooks would be a throwback to the older iBook G3. Apple first started to offer vibrant color options for its iPad with the iPad Air, released in October, and the ‌iMac‌ followed suit last month.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has reported that a future model of the low-end portable Mac will feature a mini-LED display; however, that shouldn't be in the near future.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has said that Apple is working on a thinner and lighter MacBook Air that could launch in the second half of 2021, however, Bloomberg has not reported that the new models will come in different colors.

Related Roundup: MacBook Air
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Air (Neutral)
Related Forum: MacBook Air

Today we're tracking a handful of deals across Apple's M1 notebook lineup, including a return of all-time low prices on all models of the M1 MacBook Air. For the MacBook Pro, you'll find a new record low price on the 512GB model thanks to an automatic coupon on Amazon.

macbook air dealsNote: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

MacBook Air

On Amazon you can save on the 256GB M1 MacBook Air, priced at $899.99, down from $999.00. This a return to the lowest price we've ever seen for the M1 MacBook Air, and it's in stock for all colors.

You can also get the 512GB M1 MacBook Air for $1,149.99, down from $1,249.00. This sale is available in Silver and Space Gray, and it's a match of the lowest price that we've ever tracked on the 2020 512GB MacBook Air. The price is also valid on Gold models, but they won't ship until mid-June.


MacBook Pro

Similarly, Amazon has the M1 MacBook Pro models at a discount. You can get the 256GB MacBook Pro for $1,149.00, down from $1,299.00. This sale price is available in both Silver and Space Gray.

The 512GB MacBook Pro is on sale for $1,299.99, down from $1,499.00. This sale price will be revealed after an automatic coupon worth $49.01 is applied at the checkout screen on Amazon, and it's a new all-time low price on this model.

You can find even more discounts on other MacBooks by visiting our Best Deals guide for MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. In this guide we track the steepest discounts for the newest MacBook models every week, so be sure to bookmark it and check back often if you're shopping for a new Apple notebook.

Related Forums: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro

On May 3, the Epic Games vs. Apple trial got underway, and every day, new emails between Apple executives and employees continue to be shared by Epic as evidence for its case against Apple.

apple app store page
In the latest batch of emails, the vice president of the App Store, Matt Fischer, claims that Apple features apps made by its competitors "all the time" on the store and rejects the sentiment that it seeks to degrade the exposure of those apps.

According to internal Apple correspondence submitted as evidence by Epic, an Apple employee wrote an email regarding a collection of apps on the ‌App Store‌ that were a part of the VoiceOver collection. In the email, which was forwarded to Sarah Herrlinger, Apple's senior director of global accessibility policy, the employee claims that Fisher feels "extremely strong" about not featuring competing apps on the platform. The email reads:

Hi Andrea,

Just spoke with Tanya about featuring Google and Amazon apps in the VoiceOver collection and she asked us to exclude them from the lineup. Although they may be our best and the brightest apps, Matt feels extremely strong about not featuring our competitors on the ‌App Store‌ store, so Yanta asked us to apply the same filters for this collection. I'm sorry I didn't check this earlier.

Responding to the claim made by the employee, Fischer says that Apple features and promotes competing apps on the ‌App Store‌ "all the time," and cites the specific example of Apple featuring Peacock, Hulu, and Hulu Plus on the platform, despite them competing with its own Apple TV+ streaming service.

Apple has long faced criticism that it decreases the exposure of competing third-party apps on the ‌App Store‌ when compared to its own apps. In 2019, the company adjusted its App Store algorithm after it realized that many of its apps were ranking higher on ‌App Store‌ search results rather than apps made by other developers. Despite the change, research from analytics firm Sensor Tower at the time showed that first-party Apple apps ranked first for over 700 search terms.

(Via iMore)

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has published an in-depth report looking at how the product repair restrictions that manufacturers put in place negatively impact consumers and small businesses in various ways.

apple independent repair program
Titled "Nixing the Fix," the report covers a litany of methods that companies use to limit the ability for customers and independent business to repair their products.

Focusing on mobile phone and car manufacturers in particular, the report found that even when a warranty does not explicitly require that repairs be performed by the original manufacturer, many manufacturers restrict independent repair and repair by consumers in the following ways:

  • Product designs that complicate or prevent repair
  • Unavailability of parts and repair information
  • Designs that make independent repairs less safe
  • Policies or statements that steer consumers to manufacturer repair networks
  • Application of patent rights and enforcement of trademarks
  • Disparagement of non-OEM parts and independent repair
  • Software locks and firmware updates
  • End User License Agreements

Manufacturers including Apple have argued that these repair restrictions exist to protect intellectual property rights and prevent injuries and other negative consequences, and that opening up repair access would undermine the safety and security of their products.

However, after evaluating manufacturers' explanations for the repair restrictions via a workshop and requests for research, the FTC found "scant evidence" to support them. The report continues:

Many consumer products have become harder to fix and maintain. Repairs today often require specialized tools, difficult-to-obtain parts, and access to proprietary diagnostic software. Consumers whose products break then have limited choices.

Furthermore, the burden of repair restrictions may fall more heavily on communities of color and lower-income communities. Many Black-owned small businesses are in the repair and maintenance industries, and difficulties facing small businesses can disproportionately affect small businesses owned by people of color.

The report cites one study which found that the appearance of electronic goods was only "moderately" important to consumers, as opposed to longevity and reliability, which were "extremely" important, and suggests that the lack of information regarding repairability causes "an asymmetry in the market balance and leaves consumers unable to make the best buying decisions regarding to their own needs."

In addition, the report notes that given a choice between a low-cost repair and buying a new mobile phone, many consumers will opt for the former. In defence of this claim, it cites Apple's 2017 battery replacement program, which was introduced after Apple was found to be throttling the performance of some iPhone models to compensate for degrading batteries. In a letter to investors, CEO Tim Cook said that ‌iPhone‌ sales were lower than anticipated due to "some customers taking advantage of significantly reduced pricing for ‌iPhone‌ battery replacements."

In the conclusion of the report, which was carried out at the direction of Congress and submitted with unanimous consent, the FTC pledges to address what it perceives as unfair restrictions by pursuing "appropriate law enforcement and regulatory options, as well as consumer education, consistent with our statutory authority."

The FTC also suggests that consumers can help to redress the balance by reporting when manufacturers aren't obeying the existing rules regarding repairs.

"This is a great step in the right direction," said iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens, commenting on the report. "The bi-partisan report shows that FTC knows that the market has not regulated itself, and is committing to real action."

"We're glad to see the FTC acknowledge the scope of the problem, and the real harm to consumers. We're also happy to see the FTC's pledge to undertake enforcement and regulatory solutions to repair restrictions, and fully support them in doing so—these actions are long overdue."

Apple continues to lobby against state-level legislation that would require electronic hardware manufacturers to provide device schematics, device parts, and instructions to third-party repair shops for device repairs. A "right to repair" bill currently being contemplated in Nevada is one of many bills that states across the US are considering to put into law, although none have yet been successful.

Outside of the U.S., the European Parliament in November voted to support the recommendations of the EU Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection on the "Right to Repair," including a system of mandatory labelling on consumer electronics to provide explicit information on the repairability and lifespan of products.

Apple supplier Foxconn, which serves as the main iPhone manufacturer, is taking measures to expand its workforce by offering increased bonus pay to new recruits in Zhengzhou, China, ahead of when production of the iPhone 13 is set to get underway.

iphone 13 yellow
According to the South China Morning Post, the newest raise in bonus is the third instance this month where the supplier has attempted to attract recruits. In a company-wide announcement on Thursday, Foxconn said new recruits would receive a $1,158 bonus if they work for 90 days and are on duty for at least 55 days.

Each new recruit will receive a 7,500 yuan (US$1,158) bonus if they work for 90 days and be on duty for at least 55 days, according to the latest announcement posted by iDPBG on Thursday.

That amount is up from 6,500 yuan offered on April 26 and 6,000 yuan on April 15. It is also more than double the 3,500 yuan bonus offered at the end of March.

Foxconn declined to comment on the reasoning behind the new bonuses, saying that "as a matter of company policy and commercial sensitivity," it does not comment on operations or client work.

However, the new bonuses can be seen as a sign that the supplier is beginning to prepare for the ‌iPhone 13‌, set to launch in the second half of this year. Unlike the iPhone 12 lineup, which was delayed due to the global health crisis, the ‌iPhone 13‌ is set to launch in the normal September timeframe.

The ‌iPhone 13‌ lineup consisting of four separate models is expected to include matching sizes to the current ‌iPhone‌ offerings. The new handsets are rumored to feature improved cameras, a faster processor, and a number of minor, yet significant design changes.

Related Roundup: iPhone 13
Tag: Foxconn
Related Forum: iPhone

An early look at an ongoing analysis of Apple's App Tracking Transparency suggests that the vast majority of iPhone users are leaving app tracking disabled since the feature went live on April 26 with the release of iOS 14.5.

tracking disabled ios 14 5
According to the latest data from analytics firm Flurry, just 4% of ‌iPhone‌ users in the U.S. have actively chosen to opt into app tracking after updating their device to iOS 14.5. The data is based on a sampling of 2.5 million daily mobile active users.

When looking at users worldwide who allow app tracking, the figure rises to 12% of users in a 5.3 million user sample size.

att opt out flurry analytics1
With the release of iOS 14.5, apps must now ask for and receive user permission before they can access a device's random advertising identifier, which is used to track user activity across apps and websites. Users can either enable or disable the ability for apps to ask to track them. Apple disables the setting by default.

Since the update almost two weeks ago, Flurry's figures show a stable rate of app-tracking opt-outs, with the worldwide figure hovering between 11-13%, and 2-5% in the U.S. The challenge for the personalized ads market will be significant if the first two weeks end up reflecting a long-term trend.

att opt out flurry analytics2
Facebook, a vociferous opponent of ATT, has already started attempting to convince users that they must enable tracking in iOS 14.5 if they want to help keep Facebook and Instagram "free of charge." That sentiment would seem to go against the social network's earlier claim that ATT will have a "manageable" impact on its business and could even benefit Facebook in the long term.

Flurry Analytics, owned by Verizon Media, is used in over 1 million mobile applications, providing aggregated insights across 2 billion mobile devices per month. Flurry intends to update its figures every weekday for the daily opt-in rate as well as the share of users that apps cannot ask to track, both in the U.S. and globally.

Related Roundups: iOS 14, iPadOS 14
Related Forum: iOS 14

Apple introduced the new Apple Card Family feature at its April event, unveiling the new functionality that will let two people share an Apple Card and build credit together and that will also let children use a family ‌Apple Card‌ for purchases.

apple card family
Ahead of the ‌Apple Card‌ Family launch, Apple has shared some specifics on how it will work in a new support document.

For account co-owners, each participant must be at least 18 years old and will have their credit reported equally in their own names. Each person shares full responsibility for an account balance and all payments. Credit reporting includes positive and negative payment history for both users, in addition to credit utilization. There are several other features available as well:

  • They can immediately use their shared ‌Apple Card‌ to receive unlimited Daily Cash back on their transactions
  • They can add or remove participants and order a titanium ‌Apple Card‌ for participants who are 18 years or older
  • They can view participant activity and account co-owner activity
  • They can set transaction limits for participants, lock a participant's ability to spend, and receive notifications on participants spending
  • They can request a credit limit increase
  • They can close the shared ‌Apple Card‌ account at any time, but are still responsible for paying any remaining balance

Participants, aka ‌Apple Card‌ family users who are not co-owners, can use a shared ‌Apple Card‌, but won't be responsible for payments. Participants must be at least 13 years old, and Apple has additional info on how participants work:

  • They're not responsible for payments
  • They can view their own transactions and information
  • They can spend up to the credit limit on the account and may have an optional transaction limit set by an account owner or co-owner
  • They can immediately use their shared ‌Apple Card‌ and get unlimited Daily Cash on all transactions
  • If they're 18 years or older, they can order their own titanium ‌Apple Card‌
  • If they're 18 years or older, they can opt-in to build their credit and be reported on the account (as a co-owner)

Apple makes it clear that everyone on ‌Apple Card‌ Family can be impacted by payment history and credit utilization, which can affect their credit file. Both ‌Apple Card‌ co-owners will see the ‌Apple Card‌ on their credit reports, but participants who are 18+ might too if they're reported as an authorized user.

It's important for everyone on ‌Apple Card‌ Family to understand how credit reporting can impact their credit file. Information about the ‌Apple Card‌ Family account, such as payment history and credit utilization, are reported to credit bureaus and shown in credit bureau reports for account owners and co-owners. This information may also be shown in credit bureau reports for a participant if they're being reported on the ‌Apple Card‌ Family account as an authorized user. Being credit reported can assist with building credit history for account co-owners and participants. Generally, accounts that have been established for a while, show consistent on-time payments, and have low balances (e.g. below 30% of the total credit limit), may result in a more positive credit impact.

To use ‌Apple Card‌ Family, Family Sharing must be in place and one of the family members must have an ‌Apple Card‌ account. Customers are required to have an iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch with the latest version of iOS, iPadOS, or watchOS.

Inviting a family member to ‌Apple Card‌ Family will be able to be done by tapping on the Wallet app, tapping the ‌Apple Card‌, tapping the "More" button, and then under People, choosing the "Share My Card" option. From there, you can choose whether to make the person you're sharing with a co-owner or a participant.

There's no word yet on when ‌Apple Card‌ Family will launch, but Apple appears to be laying the groundwork in iOS 14.6, so it could go live when iOS 14.6 sees a launch.

Knockoff apps have long been a problem in the App Store, with scam apps sneaking past reviewers to compete with genuine apps and steal sales, and back in 2012, Apple's Phil Schiller was absolutely furious when a fake app made it to the top of the ‌App Store‌ rankings, according to documents shared in the Epic v. Apple trial.

appstore
At the time, Temple Run was a super popular iOS exclusive title, and in February 2012, a fake version of Temple Run hit the ‌App Store‌ charts. Schiller sent out an email to Eddy Cue, Greg Joswiak, Ron Okamoto, Phillip Shoemaker, Matt Fischer, Kevin Saul, and others on the ‌App Store‌ team. "What the hell is this????" he asked. "How does an obvious rip off of the super popular Temple Run, with no screenshots, garbage marketing text, and almost all 1-star ratings become the #1 free app on the store?"

"Is no one reviewing these apps? Is no one minding the store?" he ranted on, before asking whether people remembered a talk about becoming the "Nordstrom" of App Stores in quality of service.


Since that 2012 rant, ‌App Store‌ reviewers have continued to struggle with knockoff apps that mimic real apps. A second document highlighted Minecraft knockoffs that had made it into the ‌App Store‌ not once, but twice, and was eating up Minecraft sales, and in a third 2015 document, Schiller comments that he "can't believe" that Apple doesn't have automatic tools to find and kick out scam apps.


Scam iOS apps that defraud users and mimic real apps continue to be a problem to this day. In recent months, developer Kosta Eleftheriou has taken to speaking out against scam apps and highlighting notable scams in the ‌App Store‌, bringing additional attention to the issue.

Today is the fourth day of the Epic Games v. Apple legal battle, and documents shared in the trial continue to give us insight into the App Store and Apple's business practices.

app store blue banner
‌App Store‌ Vice President Matt Fischer is on the stand answering questions from Apple and Epic lawyers, and one of the emails shared as evidence confirms that Apple has established special deals with major app developers like Hulu.

In 2018, a tweet from developer David Barnard commented about ‌App Store‌ subscriptions being automatically cancelled through the StoreKit API, questioning why there hadn't been more offers to swap billing away from the ‌App Store‌.

Matt Fischer asked Cindy Lin about it, and she explained that Hulu is a developer with special access to a subscription cancel/refund API.

Hulu is part of the set of whitelisted developers with access to subscription cancel/refund API. Back in 2015 they were using this to support instant upgrade using a 2 family setup, before we had subscription upgrade/downgrade capabilities built in.

Apple does not further detail who other developers with special access might have been in the correspondence, but these are not features that all developers have access to.

Apple has long said that the App Store provides a "level playing field" that treats all apps in the ‌App Store‌ the same with one set of rules for everybody and no special deals or special terms, but it's clear that some apps are indeed provided with special privileges.


Fischer was asked specifically whether Apple has given some developers special access to allow them to do things that other developers don't get to do, and Fischer said no, but he said that Apple sometimes wants to test a feature with a small group before providing it to all developers.


Prior to when ‌Epic Games‌ implemented its own purchase options and kicked off this entire legal battle, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney asked Apple for a special deal that would allow it to bypass the in-app purchase system, which Apple denied. Just this week Sweeney also said that he would have accepted special terms from Apple for lower ‌App Store‌ commission.

Apple with iOS 14 introduced App Privacy labels for App Store apps, which are designed to let customers know details about the data that an app will collect about them before they make the decision to install an app.

google privacy labels
Google is planning to follow in Apple's footsteps with the Play Store, introducing a new feature that will require developers to provide transparency into how apps are using data.

On the Android Developers Blog, Google announced a new "safety section" for the Play Store that will "help people understand the data an app collects of shares, if that data is secured, and the additional details that impact privacy and security."

Developers will be asked to share what type of data is collected and stored and how the data is used. Play Store listings will also outline whether apps employ security practices like data encryption, if Google's Families policy is followed, if the data sharing details have been verified by an independent third party, and if an app allows users to request data deletion.

As with Apple's App Privacy labels, Google Play developers must self-report information, and Google will introduce a policy that requires developers to provide accurate details. If a developer violates this policy, Google will "require the developer to fix it" and there could be "policy enforcement" consequences.

Google plans to share additional policy requirements and resources this summer, and all Play Store apps will be required to provide this information starting in the second quarter of 2022.