iPhone App Makers Questioned by U.S. Department of Justice in Apple Antitrust Probe

DOJThe United States Department of Justice is continuing with its antitrust investigation into Apple and has recently reached out to developers who create apps for Apple's iOS devices, reports Reuters.

Suren Ramasubbu, CEO of app development company Mobicip, was interviewed by a U.S. investigator in November and questioned about Mobicip's interactions with Apple. Mobicip makes parental control software that parents can use to monitor and control what their children are doing online, similar to Screen Time.

The app was temporarily removed last year for a failure to meet App Store requirements put in place by Apple, which is why its CEO was contacted. A "handful" of developers are said to have been in touch with the Justice Department.

Apple declined to comment on the news of the interview with Mobicip's CEO, but highlighted a statement on its website that says that Apple expects apps to adhere to a "high standard for privacy, security, and content."

Apple, along with Facebook, Google, and Amazon, is facing a government query into whether the way it operates stifles competition. Launched in July, the probe is examining information from industry participants to determine whether there are antitrust problems that need to be addressed, but when it kicked off, it had no specific aim.

Apple has been accused of anticompetitive business practices when it comes to the ‌App Store‌, as some developers and companies believe that Apple's own apps, features, and services have a significant advantage over third-party apps. Investigating claims from third-party companies who operate on the ‌App Store‌ appears to be the first part of the Department of Justice's investigation into Apple.

Screen Time, which was introduced in 2018 with iOS 12, has led to disputes with developers who make similar software. Screen Time offers parents built-in controls for limiting access to apps and monitoring app usage, a set of options previously handled by third-party apps.

apple screen time screen icons
When Screen Time came out, Ramasubbu was told by Apple that the Mobicip app violated ‌App Store‌ rules with features that had been allowed in the past. The app was eliminated from the ‌App Store‌ for approximately six months and has been available since October 2019, but Ramasubbu believes his business has shrunk in half.

According to Reuters, six other executives from companies that create parental control apps had a "comfortable" relationship with Apple until mid-2018 when Screen Time came out.

Apple said that it was cracking down on parental control apps because they were using Mobile Device Management (MDM) technology for device monitoring, which is not what MDM was designed for.

Multiple parental control app developers petitioned Apple to release a Screen Time API that would allow them to match the functionality provided by Screen Time, ultimately leading to Apple allowing parental control apps to once again use Mobile Device Management technology.

Apple has faced other accusations over its ‌App Store‌ apps, including complaints from Spotify that Apple Music has a distinct advantage because Spotify has to pay Apple a portion of its subscription fees. Spotify's complaints have led to an investigation of Apple's ‌App Store‌ policies by the European Commission.

Apple is also facing a lawsuit over its anticompetitive ‌App Store‌ business policies related to ‌App Store‌ fees taken for subscriptions, which has been allowed to proceed by the Supreme Court.

It's not clear how the Department of Justice's antitrust investigation will go, but it's clear the government is looking into Apple's ‌App Store‌ practices. Apple in September was asked to provide the U.S. House Judiciary Committee with details related to its policies for the ‌App Store‌, with a specific focus on parental control apps, search rankings, in-app purchase revenue split, in-app links to non-Apple payment systems, and more.

Note: Due to the political 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.

Top Rated Comments

Cosmosent Avatar
17 months ago
Apple's Upper Mgmt pulled our Timmy app, the planet's ONLY per-Qtr, per-Device "iPhone Unit Sales Estimator," on Sept 9th, 2019, the day BEFORE their BIG 2019 iPhone announcement.

Their reason for pulling it was total BS !

They said it didn't have sufficient value.

In fact, earlier versions of Timmy were partly responsible for why Apple decided to Stop Reporting iPhone Unit Sales at their Quarterly Earnings Releases !

Timmy's estimates were very-likely getting too close for comfort for Cook !

We asked for a public debate with Tim Cook on the app.

Apple never got back to us on that !
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
firewood Avatar
17 months ago
The Justice department really needs to investigate the removal of social network and communication apps catering to those Apple customers whose social and political views could differ significantly from those of Cook and others on Apple's board.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
justperry Avatar
17 months ago
This case smells...


I would use only them, glad they included it with iOS and Mac
I think you missed the point, Microsoft got fined over including internet Explorer, so why not Apple...

There's a whole story to it, not going into it here.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Wanted797 Avatar
17 months ago
Weren’t most these parental control apps taking and selling data about minors and got unhappy when Apple said no?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Dave-Z Avatar
17 months ago

some developers and companies believe that Apple's own apps, features, and services have a significant advantage over third-party apps.
The developers and companies believe it because it's true. Apple's own stuff does have advantages over third-parties'. The way MacRumors presents this is as though it's an opinion; it's not, it's fact. Whether it's right or wrong is another matter.


because they were using Mobile Device Management (MDM) technology for device monitoring, which is not what MDM was designed for.
Imagine using mobile device management to, you know, manage a device. Of course I get what Apple's saying, and I understand that some third parties were exploiting this, but Apple's approach to these situations is far too heavy handed. They give Facebook a free pass time and time again but indie developers get nothing of the sort.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
EvilEvil Avatar
17 months ago
Apple should be investigated for including Safari with MacOS and iOS ?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

apple music change forever

Apple Music Teaser: 'Get Ready – Music is About to Change Forever'

Sunday May 16, 2021 2:39 pm PDT by
The Browse tab in the Music app across Apple's platforms has started displaying a prominent teaser hinting at an upcoming major announcement for Apple Music. Under the heading "Coming soon," the headline says "Get ready – music is about to change forever." An accompanying "Tune-In Video" simply shows an animated Apple Music logo. Rumors have indicated that Apple is preparing to launch a...
m1 ipad pro early customer

M1 iPad Pro Arrives Early for Lucky Customer

Saturday May 15, 2021 11:57 pm PDT by
Days ahead of their expected launch and seemingly before official review embargoes lift, one lucky customer has already gotten their hands on the brand new 12.9-inch M1 iPad Pro. Reddit User PeterDragon50 Posted on Reddit, u/PeterDragon50 has already received their 12.9-inch iPad Pro through retailer Nebraska Furniture Mart. The Reddit user says they placed their order when pre-orders...
2021 mbp hdmi slot 3d

2021 MacBook Pro Leaks Confirm Returning MagSafe and Ports

Friday May 14, 2021 3:06 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming MacBook Pro models are expected to feature a number of major changes such as larger display options and powerful new Apple silicon chips. Among the more surprising updates to this year's MacBook Pro models is the return of three ports that have been missing from the machines for over five years. Expected to come in 14- and 16-inch sizes, the 2021 MacBook Pro models are...
Twitter Feature

Twitter's 'Blue' Subscription Service May Cost $2.99, Will Offer Undo Tweet Option

Saturday May 15, 2021 11:08 am PDT by
Twitter has been working on some kind of subscription service since last summer, and Jane Manchun Wong, who often digs into new features coming in apps, has shared details on just what Twitter is exploring. Twitter's subscription service could be called Twitter Blue, and at the current time, it's priced at $2.99 per month. There will be a "Collections" section that allows users to save and...
AirPods Lineup Not Lossless Feature

AirPods, AirPods Max and AirPods Pro Don't Support Apple Music Lossless Audio

Monday May 17, 2021 10:44 am PDT by
Apple today announced that starting in June, Apple Music songs will be available to stream in Lossless and Hi-Resolution Lossless formats, but lossless audio won't be supported on the AirPods, AirPods Max, or AirPods Pro. Apple's Lossless Audio is encoded as Apple Lossless Audio Codec files, with lossless quality ranging from 16-bit 44.1 kHz playback to 24-bit 48 kHz playback and Hi-Res...
Top Stories 60 Feature

Top Stories: M1 iMac Benchmarks, iPhone Battery Life Tips, Colorful MacBook Air?

Saturday May 15, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
Anticipation is building for the new iMac and iPad Pro models, which have started shipping out ahead of a launch around May 21. Benchmarks for the new machines are starting to come in, and the M1 chips inside of them are registering at around the same figures seen with other M1-based Macs, making for significant upgrades over previous-generation models. This week also saw some rumors about...
apple music spatial audio

Apple Music Launching Spatial Audio With Dolby Atmos and Lossless Audio in June at No Extra Cost

Monday May 17, 2021 6:06 am PDT by
Apple today announced that Apple Music will be gaining support for Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos at no additional cost starting in June. At launch, Apple Music subscribers will have access to thousands of songs in Spatial Audio from artists like J Balvin, Gustavo Dudamel, Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Kacey Musgraves, The Weeknd, and many others. Apple says this feature will provide a...
General Music and AirPod 3 Feature

Rumor: Apple to Announce Third-Generation AirPods and HiFi Apple Music Tier on May 18

Thursday May 13, 2021 10:32 pm PDT by
A new rumor suggests that Apple will announce the third-generation AirPods and the recently rumored HiFi, or high-fidelity Apple Music tier, on Tuesday, May 18, via a press release on its website. The new rumor comes from Apple YouTuber Luke Miani who shared the alleged exclusive news with the AppleTrack website. According to the YouTuber, Apple plans to release the next-generation AirPods...
apple music logo

Apple Music Teaser References 'Hi-Res Lossless' and 'Dolby Atmos'

Sunday May 16, 2021 4:04 pm PDT by
Earlier today, Apple Music began teasing a special announcement with the tagline "Get Ready – Music is About to Change Forever." This teaser comes amid a rumor that Apple is preparing to announce the third-generation AirPods alongside a HiFi, or lossless audio streaming tier for Apple Music on Tuesday, May 18. Now, references to "Apple Lossless," "Free Lossless," "Hi-Res Lossless," and...
tile amazon sidewalk integration

Apple Says Tile Trackers Sold Poorly in Apple Stores

Friday May 14, 2021 4:53 am PDT by
Earlier last month, Spotify, Tile, and Match (owner of Tinder), testified at an app store antitrust hearing spearheaded by the U.S. Senate. During the hearing, Spotify called Apple's App Store "an abusive power grab," while Tile said Apple uses its platform to "unfairly limit competition for its products." Now, in response to their testimonies, Apple's vice president and chief compliance...