APPLE HAS BEEN put on the back foot after a New York Times piece revealed the extent to which screen time and parental-control apps have been hobbled since Apple put its own version in iOS 12.
The report states that 11 of the top 17 most-downloaded apps in the genre have either been removed or severely restricted, causing some of the developers to bite the hand that used to feed them.
"Their incentives aren't really aligned for helping people solve their problem," said Fred Stutzman, chief executive of screen-time app Freedom. "Can you really trust that Apple wants people to spend less time on their phones?"
Amir Moussavian, chief executive of OurPact, was equally scathing after seeing his team's app removed without warning. "They are systematically killing the industry," he claimed, although a cynic would point out that they also kind of created it.
Apple was clearly rattled enough at the report to respond, which is by no means guaranteed, as anybody who has ever approached Apple for comment on anything will know all too well. "We treat all apps the same, including those that compete with our own services," Apple's Tammy Levine told the NYT. "Our incentive is to have a vibrant app ecosystem that provides consumers access to as many quality apps as possible."
But the company went further still, publishing an extended reply on the Apple website. "We recently removed several parental control apps from the App Store, and we did it for a simple reason: they put users' privacy and security at risk," it reads.
"Over the last year, we became aware that several of these parental control apps were using a highly invasive technology called Mobile Device Management, or MDM. MDM gives a third party control and access over a device and its most sensitive information including user location, app use, email accounts, camera permissions, and browsing history."
That sounds like a pretty good reason, as explanations go. The real question, perhaps, is why did Apple only notice once its own version was safely installed on iPhones and iPads around the world? µ
And it'll even undo the damage
Affected employees have 60 days to find a new home at the company
Doesn't inspire confidence in HongMeng's appeal
But don't get too excited if you've already got one