Weekly News For You To Stay Updated With The App Industry
The past week saw many stories of antitrust bodies and app developers objecting to Google and Apple’s app store policies. As a tech firm that is committed to user choice and app developer fairness, we take extra interest in stories that speak against the monopolistic practices of bigger companies.
But we had to narrow down the many stories to just a couple for your sake.
And of course, as always we’ve got news from other corners of the tech industry too.
Check it all out in the latest edition of the Weekly News Wr(app)
1. Google is asking EU regulators to waive off a €1.6 billion fine
The European Commission and Google have been constantly clashing over the Big Tech firm’s abuse of its dominant position. EU antitrust regulators found Google guilty of using its dominance to hinder competitors in the online advertising space.
This resulted in a fine of €1.6 billion which Google wants to be written off.
This was back in 2019 and it’s spread over three separate cases. The fines accumulated by Google across these cases were a staggering €8.25 billion.
The result of the court hearing may come out soon but Google is facing increasing flak in Europe. The search engine giants also lost a case in 2021 where they were accused of using their own price comparison shopping service to gain an unfair advantage. They were fined a whopping €2.42 billion as a result of losing the court battle.
2. Elon Musk speaks out against Apple’s App Store commissions
Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur and soon-to-be owner of Twitter expressed his disapproval of the App Store’s exorbitant commissions in a tweet.
He says that Apple’s commissions for each digital transaction are like a “30% tax on the internet”. Musk also went on to say that these charges are “10 times higher than they should be”.
Elon Musk is not the only one giving pushback on Apple’s policies. Antitrust bodies around the world are regularly pulling up Apple and even Google for their policies. Just like Musk, these regulators are “definitely not ok” with the Big Tech duo’s policies.
3. Instagram is making sharing of your date of birth compulsory
If you’re a regular user of Instagram, you may have noticed that the app is asking you to enter your birth date. This is a deliberate move by the Meta-owned company to restrict users under 13 years from using the app. And it’s also meant to protect younger users with better targetted ads.
There’s no escaping this step since Instagram doesn’t you to use the app without sharing your date of birth. Additionally, it has a way to verify your age with AI-backed systems. They’ll also pull up your birth date that’s shared on Facebook to further authenticate your information.
Also, Instagram will scan birthday wishes made to you. So if you put your age as 21 and someone wishes you a “happy 25th birthday”, Instagram will find out and you could end up in hot soup.
4. Paramount+ to make its Indian debut in 2023
Viacom18 and Paramount+ are partnering to bring Indian audiences the goodness of Paramount’s catalog to Indian viewers. The launch, which is scheduled for 2023, is part of Paramount’s global strategy to expand its viewership across the world.
To this effect, they are releasing the streaming service first in many European countries, then in Asia with South Korea by June 2022, and finally in India by 2023.
Raffaele Annecchino, President and CEO of Paramount Global believes that 2022 is “monumental for our streaming strategy as we accelerate our global ambitions,”.
With Paramount+, Indian viewers can expect to see titles like Star Trek, South Park, and the children's favorite Spongebob Squarepants on the platform.
5. WhatsApp is upgrading its sharing features
Last month WhatsApp announced an upgraded group chat feature called Communities. Now WhatsApp is releasing more features that were announced previously like emoji reactions and larger file sharing. With emoji reactions, you can react to a text without actually replying thus reducing the overload in a group chat.
And with file sharing, users can transfer files up to 2GB which is protected by WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption. This feature is particularly useful for school or business collaborations where larger file sharing is necessary.
Lastly, WhatsApp is slowly rolling out 512-people group chats which according to them was the most requested feature.
6. Kindle users are no longer allowed to buy books on the Amazon app
If you’re a person who has tasted the goodness and convenience of a Kindle, we have news that’ll cause you some consternation.
This is the news: you cannot buy Kindle books using the Android Amazon app anymore.
Amazon took such a drastic step due to its clash with Google’s Play Store policies. Firstly, Google requires all app developers to use only Google’s Billing System. That sounds like a reasonable request till you find out that Google charges commissions between 15%-30% for each digital transaction.
Companies that have an annual turnover of $1 million are required to pay the highest commissions, that is, 30%. Amazon, being a behemoth in the business world, unsurprisingly makes that much per annum which lands them in the 30% commission bracket.
Thus, Amazon no longer wants to be in a position to pay so high a fee which is why this story exists.
Now users will have to buy Kindle books by accessing the Amazon website on a browser or through the Kindle app.
This may be new for Android users but those who’ve used the iOS app are too familiar with these restrictions (Amazon removed buying books for iOS users way back in 2011).
7. We may have a passwordless future soon
Apple, Google, and Microsoft are working together to create a future where we won’t need passwords anymore. Passwords are open targets for hackers since most of us use weak passwords or re-use the same password for multiple websites.
To avoid any more password breaches, the three tech giants are supporting the password-free sign-in from the FIDO Alliance and the World Wide Web Consortium.
This means that you’ll be able to use your smartphone to log in to any app or website. It’ll be similar to how you unlock your phone with a fingerprint scan or PIN code.
In a press release, Apple’s senior director of platform product marketing Kurt Knight said that “Working with the industry to establish new, more secure sign-in methods that offer better protection and eliminate the vulnerabilities of passwords is central to our commitment to building products that offer maximum security and a transparent user experience — all with the goal of keeping users’ personal information safe,”.
This passwordless sign-in or “passkeys” will be reportedly rolled out across macOS and Safari, Android and Chrome, Windows and Edge over the next year.