Apple will pay $3.4 million in Chile to settle a lawsuit that accused the Cupertino company of programming a limited lifespan into some of its products to force consumers to upgrade.
150,000 iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, and SE owners sued Apple over the same "iPhone Slowdown" issue that Apple has been battling since 2017. Registered participants in Chile can get a maximum of $50.
Apple in 2017 released iOS 10.2.1 with a feature that throttled the performance of older iPhones with degrading batteries to prevent device shutdowns at peak usage times. Apple did not make it clear that mitigating these shutdowns would require device performance to be scaled back, which led to significant consumer upset and a series of lawsuits that Apple is still dealing with today.
The iOS 10.2.1 update and subsequent updates that have introduced measures to preserve battery life are aimed at making iPhones last as long as possible even when battery health declines, but Apple has had a tough time convincing the world that it's not crippling iPhones to make people spend more money.
Apple offered a worldwide battery replacement program with affordable battery upgrades for devices with degraded batteries and it also introduced new battery health features in iOS.
The iTest website is being advertised in New Zealand, according to a MacRumors reader who came across the feature. Visiting the iTest website on an iPhone prompts users to install a web app to the Home screen.
From there, tapping the app launches into a simulated Galaxy smartphone home screen complete with a range of apps and settings options. You can open the Galaxy Store, apply Themes, and even access the messages and phone apps.
You'll get simulated phone calls to tell you about Galaxy features, as well as a series of messages, plus there's a camera tutorial from plumber and photographer Logan Dodds that walks through all of the available photography options.
There are a number of tips that pop up as you navigate through the interface to tell you about all of the features that are inaccessible, plus you can browse through the Galaxy Wearable app with all of Samsung's accessories.
The Gallery app shows off photos, there are tutorials for the Samsung Kids and Samsung Health apps, and the settings app lets you know about some of the customization features available.
Samsung's interactive experience is neat, and there are even a few jokes added in. When you go to the Settings app, for example, tapping on a setting says that the experience was simplified "so our developer could have a lunch break."
Though Samsung seems to be advertising this experience in New Zealand at the current time, anyone can try it out. It's a useful way to get a look at the features that are available on Galaxy devices if you don't own one, and it's definitely Samsung's most ambitious effort yet to attract iPhone users.
Procter & Gamble Co. was one of the companies that worked with the China Advertising Association to test a new data collection tool designed to get around Apple's App Tracking Transparency rules, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The state-backed China Advertising Agency developed a new method of tracking users called CAID to replace access to the IDFA or advertising identifier of an iPhone or iPad. Starting with iOS 14.5, Apple will not let apps access the IDFA of a device without express user permission, which will have an impact on cross-app and cross-website tracking used for ad targeting.
CAID has been in testing in China with major companies like Baidu, ByteDance (TikTok), and Tencent, as well as Proctor and Gamble. Apple in mid-March began warning developers not to circumvent App Tracking Transparency rules with methods like CAID. Apple has told developers that attempting to get around the new ad tracking restrictions will result in removal from the App Store.
"The App Store terms and guidelines apply equally to all developers around the world, including Apple," an Apple spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal. "We believe strongly that users should be asked for their permission before being tracked. Apps that are found to disregard the user's choice will be rejected."
As a major worldwide advertiser, P&G has a vested interest in tracking users, and is the biggest Western company involved in the efforts to create an App Tracking Transparency alternative. P&G owns many major brands that include Gillette, Charmin, Pampers, Tide, Bounty, Pantene, Crest, Febreeze, and tons more.
In a statement, P&G told The Wall Street Journal that it is providing input to the China Advertising Agency in an effort to "deliver useful content consumers want in a way that prioritizes data privacy, transparency and consent." Delivering useful content to consumers "means partnering with platforms and publishers--both directly and through our advertising associations across the globe."
P&G maintains its own consumer database that does not rely on Facebook, Google, and other ad platforms. According to The Wall Street Journal, P&G has built a database of 1.5 million customers worldwide using a combination of anonymous consumer IDs and personal information that customers share. P&G largely uses this database in China, where it spends 80 percent of its digital ad buying on targeted ads.
P&G declined to offer additional details on the CAID tool and did not say whether it will use the technology. It is not yet clear how Apple will respond to CAID if some of the biggest companies in the world adopt the ad tracking alternative. When news about the warnings to Chinese developers came out, a Chinese marketing industry veteran said that Apple's actions could "put a stop" to CAID testing.
Other U.S. companies that include Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Nielsen are also working with the China Advertising Agency on CAID.
Update: Proctor & Gamble shared additional information on its discussions with the China Advertising Association. The discussions centered around developing additional ways to reach Chinese consumers with digital ads.
Here are the facts: P&G - along with 30 others - participated in discussions about developing additional ways to reach Chinese consumers with digital ads. Like all our work in this area, our input prioritized data privacy, transparency and consent for consumers - priorities we have long advocated for as the entire industry modernizes the way it reaches consumers with digital advertising. The principles and standards of this effort were also publicly available, clearly stating that the proposed industry effort - called CAID - can be turned on and off by consumers, protect user data, and not be linked to personal information.
Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.
NFL star quarterback Tom Brady is teaming up with entrepreneur Richard Rosenblatt to launch a new NFT company called Autograph this spring, and Apple executive Eddy Cue will serve as an advisor to the company, according to CNN.
As a Senior Vice President at Apple, Cue oversees many of the company's services, such as Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Maps, and iCloud. Once a fixture at Apple Events, Cue has maintained a relatively low profile over the last few years, at least in the public eye. One of Cue's last appearances was in September 2020, when he praised British carrier EE's launch of smartphone plans bundled with multiple Apple services.
It is not uncommon for Apple executives to serve as board members or advisors to other companies, with Cue also sitting on Ferrari's board.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are the latest cryptocurrency phenomenon. A non-fungible token is essentially a digital commodity like an image that has been authenticated with the same blockchain technology behind Ethereum. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey's first-ever tweet sold as an NFT for $2.9 million last month amid the NFT craze.
The TV app available on the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV has an issue with inaccurate price listings for some titles, a MacRumors reader discovered this morning.
The "Movies" section of the TV app has a "Browse by Price" section that lists movies for $4.99, $6.99, $7.99, and $9.99, but many of the movies available in those sections are more expensive.
In the $4.99 section, for example, there are movies that include "10 Things I Hate About You," "Mean Girls," "Napoleon Dynamite," "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Crazy Stupid Love," "The Witch," and many more that are far more expensive than $4.99.
Most of the titles, in fact, are $14.99, with the exception of "10 Things I Hate About You," which is $17.99. There are fewer errors in the $6.99 and up sections, but there are still some issues. "Now You See Me," for example, is listed in the $12.99 section, but is priced at $4.99.
Apple also has pricing errors in other parts of the TV app. In the section "Family Movie Night" that's advertising movies under $10 for a limited time, "Mulan" is listed, but when you click on it, it's priced at $19.99. The same is true of "Onward," "The New Mutants," and several other movies that are shown in the section.
Clicking on the "Family Movie Night" section sometimes displays a different set of movies than are shown on the main page and sometimes it displays the movies with inaccurate pricing, so it's not quite clear what's going on with the TV app, but Apple definitely has some serious errors to address.
These errors are persistent across the TV app on multiple platforms, including Mac, iPhone, and Apple TV.
Update: Apple has now removed the browse by pricing options from the TV app, as well as the Family Movie Night section that was listing inaccurate pricing for movies.
Developers can download the macOS Big Sur 11.3 beta using the Software Update mechanism in System Preferences after installing the proper profile from the Apple Developer Center.
macOS Big Sur 11.3 introduces more customization options for Safari, adding a way to rearrange the different sections on the Start Page like Favorites, Reading List, Siri Suggestions, Privacy Report, and more. Developers also have access to a new integration to develop features for the Start Page.
The update also includes optimizations for using iOS apps on M1 Macs. When running iPhone and iPad apps on M1 Macs, there's a Touch Alternatives preference pane that allows users to set keyboard commands for touch input alternatives, plus iPadOS apps launch with a larger window if the Mac's display allows it. Touch Alternatives can be enabled for iPhone or iPad apps by clicking on the app's name in the menu bar and then selecting the Preferences option. Touch Alternatives let you customize taps, swipes, and drags.
Apple has also added a "Controller Emulation" feature that can be enabled for iPhone and iPad apps to map game controller buttons to keyboard keys and mouse buttons. Controller Emulation will allow iPhone and iPad games that have controller support built in to be accurately controlled with a keyboard and/or mouse when those games are played on an M1 Mac.
In the Reminders app, reminder lists can be sorted by Due Date, Creation Date, Priority, or Title, and there is an option to print lists by going to File > Print. Reminders can also be moved manually across lists with drag and drop, something that wasn't possible before.
Apple is adding a new "Made For You" library shortcut in Apple Music for finding personal mixes and Replay playlists, and the Listen Now section has been updated with support for highlighting live events.
The Apple Music app also features a new autoplay option that allows the streaming service to continue to play music after a playlist or music queue ends. Apple Music sources music similar to what's in a person's Apple Music library, similar to the autoplay feature added in iOS 14.
With this feature enabled, Apple Music audio will not end even after a playlist or album is over. To check that it's on, play a playlist or album and then click on the three dot/line menu button in the upper right hand corner. From there, make sure the infinity symbol is toggled on.
In the Apple News app, there's a redesigned Apple News+ tab with a dedicated "For You" section and a new Browse tab that makes it easier to browse through available content. The new For You section is designed to help Apple News+ users find favorite magazines and newspapers much faster, plus it adds new tools for managing downloaded issues.
macOS Big Sur 11.3 also adds support for the latest PlayStation 5 DualSense and Xbox Series X/S controllers for use with macOS games.
There's also an updated "Support" interface when accessing "About This Mac." The new design includes details on your warranty and it allows for starting a repair right from the Mac interface.
The tab works similarly to the AppleCare coverage menu in the iOS Settings app, which lets users request repairs, buy an AppleCare plan, and check their coverage.
For HomePod users, macOS Big Sur 11.3 brings support for HomePod Stereo pairs, allowing a set of paired HomePods to be set as the default sound output option, with the two HomePods showing up as a single selectable speaker rather than separate as in prior versions of macOS.
Code in macOS Big Sur 11.3 suggests that the Optimized Battery Charging feature will now make sure the Mac's battery is fully charged before a scheduled calendar event. The Mac will charge to 100 percent three hours before a calendar event's start time.
Optimized Battery Charging is designed to preserve the lifespan of the Mac's battery by limiting the amount of time that a Mac sits at 100 percent battery.
In Safari, there's support for WebM video playback, allowing users to play WebM videos using Apple's browser. WebM is a niche video format designed to be a royalty-free alternative to the H.264 codec used in the MP4 format. WebM allows video files to remain small without sacrificing quality and can be played with little processing power, making it ideal for webpages and browsers.
Code in macOS Big Sur 11.3 suggests that Rosetta could be removed from some M1 Macs in some select regions after the software is released. There's a mention that "Rosetta is no longer available in this region. Applications requiring Rosetta will no longer run," but no additional information is available at this time.
There are also appear to be new assets that suggest a feature for mapping game controller buttons to keyboard layouts, and there's a Game Center toggle to enable or disable connections with friends, which lets games set you up with your friends or prevents apps from accessing that info.
Apple has ordered "The Crowded Room," a seasonal anthology series that's set to star Tom Holland, Apple announced today. A seasonal anthology series is a show where the characters and the storyline change from season to season, similar to "American Horror Story."
"The Crowded Room" will explore the true and inspirational stories of people who have struggled and learned to live with mental illness. The first season, which has 10 episodes, is described as a "captivating thriller" inspired by "The Minds of Billy Milligan."
The biography tells the story of Billy Milligan, who was the first person ever acquitted of a crime because of multiple personality disorder. Holland will play Milligan in season one, and will serve as an executive producer on the series.
Apple TV+ is available for $4.99 per month, though many people continue to have free access through a promotion that gives a year subscription with a device purchase. For those not eligible, Apple offers a seven-day free trial.
With the App Store now home to nearly two million apps, Apple appears to be testing a new feature to make search results more contextual.
As noted in the MacRumors forums and on Twitter, some iPhone users in recent weeks have started to see tags in the App Store after searching for a popular term like "photos" or "wallpaper." After searching for "photos," for example, some of the tags that can be selected include "collage" or "editor" or "storage."
After tapping on a tag, the search results are curated accordingly. If a user searches for "photos" and then taps "collage," for example, the search results will be narrowed down to apps that can be used to make photo collages. In some cases, a second tag can be selected to narrow down the search results even further, as shown above.
As of now, it appears that the tags are only visible to a small number of users. Many users that see the tags are running the iOS 14.5 beta, but a few have claimed to see them on iOS 14.4.2, so it is possible that the tags could be a server-side change that will eventually be expanded to more users on multiple iOS versions.
Apple's website says 70% of App Store visitors use search to find apps, so the search tags should benefit many users. In 2016, Apple introduced Search Ads, allowing developers to pay Apple to have their app listing shown at the top of the search results based on the app's relevance to the user's search query, among other factors.
iOS 14.5 has been in beta testing since February 1, with the seventh beta seeded this week. Apple said the software update will be released in "early spring," and in a recent interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the update will be released in "just a few weeks."
Samsung will release the Galaxy SmartTag Plus on April 16 for $39.99, becoming the first mainstream item tracker with support for ultra-wideband technology, The Vergereports.
In January, Samsung announced the "Galaxy SmartTag," a small squircle-shaped device that can be used to track and locate items such as keys, bags, and more. Samsung announced two versions of the SmartTag, one that uses Bluetooth LE 5.0 technology and the SmartTag Plus variant that utilizes UWB technology.
UWB, or ultra-wideband technology, offers more precise, short-range location tracking compared to typical Bluetooth. The technology has grown in adoption in recent years as the market for supported UWB accessories is expected to grow.
Yesterday, Apple opened up its Find My network for accessories makers to take advantage of UWB in Apple devices. Under the network, accessory makers will tap into the Find My ecosystem, allowing customers to track their items on their iPhones, iPads, and Macs.
Even though the Find My network is tailored for UWB accessories, the Galaxy SmartTag Plus uses Samsung's own "Galaxy Find Network" and will not be compatible with Apple devices.
Notably, while the Find My network is open to third-party accessory makers who manufacture UWB trackers, Apple has yet to release its own. For the past nearly two years, rumors have swirled about the launch of AirTags, circular devices that would offer UWB item-tracking. Apple has yet to announce the tracker, but it is committed to opening up the Find My networks to others.
One aspect of the AirTags experience is rumored to be the ability for users to use AR inside the Find My app to get directions to their item. Samsung's Galaxy SmartTag Plus now offers that same experience, allowing customers to use a viewfinder in their UWB-enabled Galaxy smartphones to get led to the location of their SmartTag, and hence, whatever item it is attached to.
Fresh discounts on Apple's 2020 iPad Air lineup have appeared online this week, offering up to $50 off the 10.9-inch tablet. Both the 64GB and 256GB Wi-Fi models are available on sale at Amazon and B&H Photo.
Note: 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.
Starting with the 64GB Wi-Fi iPad Air, this model is priced at $559.00, down from $599.00. This sale is available in all colors, and they're all in stock and ready to ship today on Amazon, with matching prices on B&H Photo.
Next, you can get the 256GB Wi-Fi iPad Air for $699.00, down from $749.00, and this one is available in all colors except Space Gray. These iPad Air models are shipped and sold by Amazon, and can arrive as soon as this weekend with Amazon Prime delivery. B&H Photo is matching these prices as well.
In terms of comparable past sales, this week's discounts aren't quite the lowest prices we've ever tracked for the 2020 iPad Air. However, the new markdowns are only about $20 off from those all-time low prices, and they remain the best deals available online in mid April.
For even more iPad deals, head to our full Best Deals guide for iPad. In that guide we track the best discounts online for iPad, iPad mini, iPad Air, and iPad Pro.
Facebook is testing the use of Page labels as a way to give people more context about the posts that appear in their news feed, the social network has announced.
Politicians' pages will be marked with the label "public official," while the labels "fan page" and "satire page" will be applied to posts from the relevant pages, with the aim of helping users to distinguish between genuine news reports from satirical stories written by the likes of The Onion.
The labels should also allow users to immediately realize when they are reading news from real authorities or more questionable sources, which could reduce confusion, mitigate the spread of fake news on the platform, and reduce avoidable flame wars in comments.
The new labels will appear below Page names on relevant posts in the news feed, and users can expand them to read more about why they are deemed necessary.
Starting today in the US, we’re testing a way to give people more context about the Pages they see. We’ll gradually start applying labels including 'public official,' 'fan page' or 'satire page' to posts in News Feed, so people can better understand who they’re coming from. pic.twitter.com/Bloc3b2ycb
— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) April 7, 2021
The labels are currently limited to Facebook in the U.S., and the feature has only just started being tested, so the ability to label pages accordingly and see the labels in posts may still be rolling out.
Facebook has been criticized heavily in the past for not doing enough to stop the spread of fake news. A study by researchers at Princeton University in March 2020 found that Facebook is by far the worst social media platform for spreading dubious news content, compared to Twitter and Google.
While the German cities of Cologne, Hamburg, Munich, and Frankfurt have more than one Apple Store, the capital Berlin has only one – Apple Kurfürstendamm, which opened in 2013. That looks set to change soon, however.
Render of 43-45 Rosenthaler Straße by project developer Values Real Estate
Speculation that Apple could settle in the eastern part of Germany's largest city has been around for several years, but recent construction work at a site in the Mitte district purchased by project developers Values Real Estate has offered up concrete evidence to indicate the exact location of Apple's second Berlin store.
iFun.de reports that Apple is preparing a second store in the eastern part of Berlin, at 43-45 Rosenthaler Straße. Values Real Estate announced in 2018 that it would tear down several old GDR buildings in Rosenthaler Straße and create a new three-part building, with office, residential and business shares in the vacant space.
The construction site is close to the Spree river, within walking distance of Alexanderplatz, and was recently covered in the kind of black wood paneling that Apple has used before. The large glass fronts that extend from the ground floor to the second floor of the neighboring buildings are clearly reminiscent of Apple's store aesthetics.
Photos depict the recess in the large glass front above the entrance door that's needed to install the luminous Apple logo. Other shots suggest that while construction is progressing, the opening of the store is likely months away yet.
Apple is facing a global shortage of certain components for some of its MacBook and iPad models, causing the Cupertino tech giant and its suppliers to postpone production of the products, according to a new report from Nikkei Asia.
According to the report, MacBook production is being hindered due to the shortage of chips mounted onto the circuit board before final assembly, which is a key step in the overall production process. iPad production is being impacted due to display and display component shortages, the report adds.
In response to the pushed back production, Apple has postponed component orders for the two devices to the second half of the year. While MacBook and iPad production is being directly impacted, iPhone production is so far not affected. However, industry sources say that supplies for iPhone components are limited.
Production plans for Apple's iconic iPhones have so far not been affected by the supply shortage, although the supply of some components for the devices is "quite tight," according to two sources. Overall, the component shortage remains a supply chain issue for Apple and has not yet had an impact on product availability for consumers, Nikkei has learned.
While Nikkei doesn't specify which iPad and MacBook models are being impacted due to the shortage, it certainly seems plausible that the delayed assembly of the products could result in some form of a delayed product announcement from Apple.
Rumors suggest Apple will release refreshed versions of the iPad mini and iPad Pro models in the first half of this year, potentially as soon as this month, and a new leak today has provided us with a possible preview of what to expect in terms of the devices' overall design and camera prospects.
Tech leaker and Apple blogger Sonny Dickson this morning shared images on Twitter showing dummy versions of the upcoming 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, and a refreshed iPad mini 6. Dummies are usually based on CAD schematics sourced from the Chinese supply chain, and are often used to aid-case makers before the official reveal.
Perhaps the biggest talking point in the photos is the look of the iPad mini, which appears to feature the same general design of the previous model, complete with Home button and thick bezels on the top and bottom, although Dickson suggests the device looks "slightly thicker."
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes Apple will launch a new iPad mini that could measure in at 8.5 to 9 inches, and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has similarly said that the next iPad mini will have a larger display. However, whether the increased screen will mean a larger iPad mini or a bezel reduction has remained unclear, and it's difficult to tell the exact size of the dummy in the images.
Japanese site Mac Otakara has claimed the iPad mini 6 will feature an 8.4-inch display with slimmer bezels and a design similar to the iPad Air 3. But it also claims the new model will continue to feature a Touch ID Home button and a Lightning port, and is therefore not expected to mirror the major design changes seen on the iPad Air and iPad Pro.
That said, Kuo believes Apple is working on a new iPad mini with a mini-LED display, which could be the same iPad mini that is getting a size increase. Again though, it's not clear if that's the same iPad mini that's depicted in these images.
Onto the iPad Pro dummies, the new models appear to have the same dual-lens camera system with LiDAR Scanner. However, the camera bump on the 12.9-inch model appears to protrude less than on the 11-inch model. Rumors suggest the protrusion of the individual lenses in the camera module will be reduced, but the camera itself is still expected to protrude.
Meanwhile, the reduced-bezel designs appear to mirror the current models, bar the Smart Connector that's mysteriously missing on the bottom of the 12.9-inch model. Dickson has confirmed to MacRumors that the connector doesn't appear anywhere else on the dummy, and it's hard to know if its omission is intentional or a mistake. Other than that, it's difficult to tell the exact screen sizes and dimensions of the iPad Pro models from the photos, but there are no major design changes expected.
Gurman has said that new iPad Pro models will have an updated A14X processor that is "on par" with the M1 chip in the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini, along with better cameras. A mini-LED display will be included with "at least" the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro, with the display upgrade bringing improved brightness and contrast ratios. This is in line with other rumors that we've heard, and most of the information suggests the upgraded display technology will be limited to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
Apple has also reportedly tested iPad Pros with a Thunderbolt connector that would make them compatible with additional external monitors, hard drives, and peripherals, plus it brings faster data syncing speeds, but it is unclear if the feature will be included on the final 2021 models. Apple's Mac machines have featured Thunderbolt technology for years now, but current iPad Pro and iPad Air models have standard USB-C ports.
We're still waiting to hear concrete details about a possible April event from Apple, but Gurman has claimed that the company plans to announce new iPads as early as this month, including new 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models. Whether they arrive via press release or are announced at a digital-only event remains to be seen.
Ahead of its upcoming bench trial against Epic Games, Apple today filed 500 pages of documents covering findings of fact and conclusions of law, which basically summarizes the information exchanged between Apple and Epic, presents the relevant facts to the judge, and argues for the logical conclusions that should be drawn when law is applied to the case.
Apple sticks to many of the talking points that it has argued since the beginning of its dispute with Epic Games. The App Store has remained unchanged in terms of general fee structure since it first debuted in 2008, and while policies have been updated, the development principles have remained the same.
Apple sees Epic's challenge as an attack on its fundamental App Store business model of 13 years. Apple maintains that its rigorous review guidelines for apps provide consumers with security, privacy, and reliability, something that its devices are also known for, leading to significant benefits for end users and developers.
The 30 percent fee that Apple charges is in line with the fees charged by other app marketplaces and software providers as demonstrated in a study that Apple had commissioned earlier this year, and Apple recently introduced the Small Business Program to drop fees to 15 percent for developers making under $1 million annually. Apple entered a market where 30 percent commissions were already accepted -- it did not set that rate when the App Store launched.
In response to claims that the App Store is anticompetitive because there are no alternate app stores allowed on the iPhone, Apple points to competition in the device and game transaction markets. There are other platforms that people can choose, along with other gaming options, and web apps are supported on iPhone and iPad as gaming alternatives that Microsoft and Google have already taken advantage of. Apple uses Epic's main title, Fortnite, to illustrate its point.
Epic's flagship game, Fortnite, illustrates the competitive landscape. Apple supports "cross-plat- form" play and cross-platform transactions. The same consumer can make in-app purchases of V-Bucks on her iPhone (through the browser) during a lunch break, and on a console at home in the evening. Apple (unlike some of its competitors) allows "cross-wallet" play, so that in-game purchases--called V-Bucks in Fortnite--can be made on one device and used on another. In other words, an iOS user can purchase V-Bucks on a PC and then (prior to Fortnite's removal) use them in Fortnite on their iPhone or iPad--with Epic owing not even a penny's commission to Apple.
Epic internal documents related to "Project Liberty" suggest that Epic has been plotting against Apple and Google since 2018. Epic began Project Liberty when it saw a decline in its average monthly active users and revenue, devising a strategy to pay less commission while still taking advantage of the benefits of the App Store and the money that Apple has invested into the ecosystem.
Epic Games hired lawyers and a PR firm as part of its plan to launch a lawsuit against Apple, ultimately shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars. Epic outlined its plan to get Fortnite approved with hidden alternate payment options, which was then activated by a hotfix, leading to the current dispute. Epic internal documents described the legal battle against Apple and Google as "fun!" and contemplated how to get Apple and Google to reconsider their fees without Epic Games looking like "the baddies."
This was all part of a pre-planned media strategy called "Project Liberty." Epic retained Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP and a public relations firm in 2019, and this lawsuit is the culmination of that effort. Epic seeks to portray Apple as the bad guy so that it can revive flagging interest in Fortnite. Yet, ironically, when Epic got kicked off the iOS platform, it told players that they could continue playing on consoles, PCs, and other devices--demonstrating the existence of competition and the absence of monopoly.
Tim Sweeney, the CEO of Epic Games, has confirmed Project Liberty in prior interviews and has said that Epic spent months preparing the lawsuit against Apple, though Apple's court filings provide new insight into the lengths that Epic went to in order to rope Apple and Google into an antitrust lawsuit.
Apple argues that an expansion of antitrust law is unwarranted and that Epic's product market descriptions are inaccurate because of the other platforms the App Store is competing with. Apple claims that Epic overstates the App Store's profitability, and that arguments that the review process is ineffective are inaccurate. Last year, Apple rejected 150,000 apps, and malware on iOS devices is almost unheard of compared to the high number of malicious apps found on PCs and Android devices.
Apple says that Epic's claim that the market is only iOS apps will fail, and that the relief that Epic seeks would be harmful for consumers and developers as it would weaken the App Store. Apple also sees the App Store as an integrated feature of the iPhone and in-app purchase as an integrated feature of the App Store that does not allow for third-party payment options, which is what Epic is aiming for.
At bottom, Epic is asking this Court to force alternative terms on Apple so that Epic can make more money. But Epic's request would harm other developers and consumers, in addition to imposing unprecedented obligations on Apple to open its proprietary systems and engineering to third parties.
The Epic v. Apple bench trial is set to start on May 3, and it will conclude the week of May 24. Both Epic and Apple will call high-profile witnesses, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple Fellow Phil Schiller, Apple engineering chief Craig Federighi, and former iOS software chief Scott Forstall, who will be testifying on behalf of Apple.
T-Mobile today hosted an Un-carrier event where the company announced the launch of a a new 5G home internet plan, which is priced at $60 per month and offers unlimited data.
The service is available to more than 30 million Americans across much of the United States, including 10 million households in rural areas not typically able to access reliable broadband. Connectivity will be either 4G or 5G, depending on what's available in a given area.
T-Mobile is promising average speeds of 100Mb/s for "most" new customers, and the company is providing a 4G/5G modem that can be set up in minutes by plugging it in and downloading an app. The service is priced at $60 per month with AutoPay, and T-Mobile says there are no added taxes or fees, no contracts, and no equipment fees, plus data is unlimited. Potential customers can visit T-Mobile's website to see if they're eligible.
To further its availability in rural areas, T-Mobile is launching the "Hometown" initiative to bring 5G to rural America. This plan will include hiring 7,500 employees in small towns and rural communities and providing $25 million in grants for community development projects.
In areas where T-Mobile is unable to open new stores, the company will have "Hometown Experts" that are the official T-Mobile representative in a community. T-Mobile is hiring 2,500 Hometown Experts for small towns.
T-Mobile today also announced a trade-in program for a free iPhone 12 with the trade-in of an iPhone 11, half off an iPhone 12 with the trade-in of older iPhone models ranging from iPhone 7 to iPhone X, and half off the iPhone 12 mini with the trade-in of any older iPhone. Trade-in compensation is provided through 24 monthly bill credits to ensure customers stick with T-Mobile.
For existing customers, T-Mobile is upgrading all T-Mobile and Sprint customers to unlimited plans for free. Customers who have AT&T or Verizon with fixed data plans can also trade-in older smartphones for a free Samsung Galaxy A32 5G.
Starting today, new S3 and E3 electric bikes ordered from VanMoof will be compatible with the Find My app, and will be able to be tracked using Find My right alongside Apple devices.
Once connected to the Find My app, a VanMoof S3 or X3 bike will be listed in the "Items" tab on the Find My app, and will be trackable should the bike go missing. Items that integrate with Find My can take advantage of the networking feature that Apple built into the app, so any nearby iPhone, iPad, or Mac will be able to detect a lost item and securely relay its location to the owner.
New VanMoof models with Find My integration can be ordered today, though it takes months for new bikes to be shipped out. VanMoof's bikes are priced starting at $1,998.
Belkin is also working on a Find My-enabled accessory, the SOUNDFORM Freedom True Wireless Earbuds. Belkin actually announced these earbuds in January at CES, and in addition to Find My integration, they'll offer up to eight hours of play time, environmental noise cancellation, and Qi-based wireless charging.
Belkin's SOUNDFORM Freedom True Wireless Earbuds are only available for preorder and are expected to be released in June, which is also the launch timeline for the Chipolo ONE Spot item trackers with Find My integration that we covered in another article.
Given the long wait times for these new devices, it could be a few months before we're able to get a hands-on look at how Find My integration works with third-party accessories. Apple says that additional manufacturers will be releasing devices with Find My integration in the future.
While it was initially suspected that Find My's third-party accessory support might require the latest software, this is not the case after all. The updated Find My app with a new Items tab is available starting today on devices running iOS 14.3 and later, iPadOS 14.3 and later, and macOS Big Sur 11.1 or later, following a server-side change.
Approved products will feature a "Works with Apple Find My" badge. When a Find My-enabled product has gone missing but is nearby, users can activate a sound on the item in an effort to pinpoint its location.
Apple is widely rumored to be working on its own item tracker called AirTags, and users would be able to keep track of AirTags-equipped products in the Find My app. However, given that AirTags have been rumored for nearly two years now and Apple is promoting the third-party Chipolo item tracker, it's unclear if and when AirTags will be announced.