The Protect-Consumers Edition Friday, March 20, 2020

There’s A Fight Raging Over Apple’s App Store. Why Some Regulators And Developers Are Calling It A Monopoly., by Matt Smith, Barron's

Critics describe Apple’s control over its App Store as more anticompetitive than Google’s rival offering, known as Google Play. A study by researchers affiliated with the University of Amsterdam concluded that Apple changes its rules when it releases its own products, whereas there appeared to be no such correlation with Google’s Android software. Android users can obtain apps from various marketplaces, including from Amazon and Samsung Electronics, while iPhone users are restricted to the Apple App Store. Google also makes it easier to set up outside products as the default apps on Android phones, according to Blix’s legal complaint.

In statements to Barron’s and regulators, Apple refuted the idea that its policies and practices are intended to suppress competition. The company says its platforms are managed to promote developers’ products, even in cases when Apple sells competing versions. Rules denounced by officials and merchants as anticompetitive actually protect consumers from fraud, eavesdropping, and other dangers, the company says.

Apple Finally Admits Microsoft Was Right About Tablets, by Tom Warren, The Verge

This careful and considered approach explains why it took Apple so long to bring cursor support to iPadOS. Tim Cook has previously discussed product trade-offs and the idea of converging PCs and tablets. “Anything can be forced to converge, but the problem is that products are about tradeoffs, and you begin to make tradeoffs to the point where what you have left doesn’t please anyone,” Cook said on an earnings call nearly eight years ago. He famously added: “You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not gonna be pleasing to the user.”

Cook was also adamant that Apple wouldn’t converge the MacBook Air and an iPad. “The compromise of convergence — we’re not going to that party,” he said. Cook has stayed true to that vision. Apple hasn’t converged macOS and iPadOS to bring trackpad and mouse support to the iPad. Instead, the message for the iPad now is that it can adapt to be more like a laptop or remain just like a tablet.


Apple MacBook Air Review, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

The focus on portability is a strong selling point, when coupled with the workflow versatility of MacOS (versus iPadOS). The Air looks like it’s going to be sticking around for a bit, and that’s something for Apple users to be thankful for.

MacBook Air Review: $999 Again, But With A Catch, by Dan Ackerman, CNET

Start with the $999 base model, add $100 for the quad-core upgrade. Based on the on-paper specs for far, that's what you should do.

The Best And Worst Browsers For Privacy, Ranked, by Dan Goodin, Ars Technica

The rankings were revealed in a research paper published by Trinity College Dublin computer scientist Doug Leith. He analyzed and rated the privacy provided by Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Brave, Edge, and Yandex. Specifically, the study examined the browsers’ sending of data—including unique identifiers and details related to typed URLs—that could be used to track users over time. The findings put the browsers into three categories with Brave getting the highest ranking, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari receiving a medium ranking, and Edge and Yandex lagging behind the rest.


Apple Pledges Substantial Donation With Medical Supplies To Italy's First Responders And Medical Personnel, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple CEO Tim Cook today announced on Twitter that Apple is making a substantial donation that includes medical supplies to Protezione Civile in Italy, with the funds set to help first responders, medical personnel, and volunteers working to combat the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

A Keyboard Encryption App Used To Skirt Coronavirus Censorship Was Removed By Apple In China, by Jane Li, Quartz

Boom encrypts text, both in Chinese and English, by turning them into emoji or Japanese or Korean characters, as well as rearranging lines of text in random order. The receivers of such messages can decrypt them by copying the emoji or characters using the app, with the original text then displayed automatically on the keyboard’s interface. As China’s blanket online censorship relies heavily on the detection of key words or even pictures containing sensitive words, apps like Boom can help users avoid such scrutiny.

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It feels great to have a good and (relatively) inexpensive Mac laptop to recommend to others again.


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