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Apple is accused of removing parental control apps from the App Store; company explains

Polemic! And we, as always, are here to clarify everything. Ready? So let's go there!

Last year, Apple began to lightly wipe the App Store, removing some apps that controlled the usage time of what the user was doing on the iPhone / iPad. How did this happen after the company launched iOS 12 with the native feature? “Time of Use”Many have thought that this removal was directly linked to his implementation.

The thing has gained even more weight in recent days, after the The New York Times published an issue stating that Ma is still in this crusade of remove competing apps “Time of Use” feature, favoring the native iOS solution.

The newspaper article detailed, for example, that in 2018 Apple removed or restricted at least 11 of the App Store's 17 most popular usage control applications in some cases, we had full removals from the store; in others, “only” app features that were forced to be removed.

Some developers disliked this attitude, and two of them, very popular app developers, filed complaints against the European Union; Earlier, Kaspersky Lab had also made a formal complaint in Russia covering the same subject.

The New York Times illustration about Apple removing data-focused apps from the App Store

This attitude from Apple has even made some developers question whether the company is really interested in trying to help the public understand and reduce the use of handsets, also weighing whether their creations are not threatening the company's business model.

Apple has made some statements for the New York vehicle. A company spokesman said: “We treat all applications equally, including those that compete with our own services. Our encouragement is to have a vibrant app ecosystem that gives consumers access to as many quality apps as possible. ”

The spokesman also stated that Apple removed or required application changes because they could get a lot of information from users' devices, and that the timing of the events is not related to the introduction of "Usage Time." By replying to some customers who sent you emails, Phil Schiller (Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing) also said that his company acted with extreme responsibility in this regard, helping to protect our children from technologies that could be used to violate their privacy and security. ”

Official announcement

But "just" that was not enough. To try to end the discussion and make itself better explained, Ma published a statement on its website explaining exactly its attitude. Here is our free translation:

Apple has always believed that parents should have tools to manage their children's device usage. the reason why we created and continue to develop the Screen Time (Time of Use). Other apps on the App Store, including Moment Health's Balance Screen Time and Verizon Smart Family, give parents the power to balance the benefits of technology with other activities that help young minds learn and grow.

We recently removed a number of parental control apps from the App Store and did it for one simple reason: They put users' privacy and security at risk. It is important to understand why and how this happened.

Last year, we realized that several of these parental control applications were using a highly invasive technology called Mobile Device Management, or MDM. MDM provides third-party control and access to a device and its most sensitive information, including user location, application usage, email accounts, camera permissions, and browsing history. We began exploring this use of MDM by non-enterprise developers in early 2017 and updated our guidelines based on this work in mid-2017.

MDM has legitimate uses. Sometimes companies install MDM on corporate devices to maintain better control over proprietary data and hardware. But extremely risky and a clear violation of App Store policies is that a private consumer-driven application company installs MDM control on a customer's device. In addition to the control that the application itself can exercise over the user's device, research has shown that MDM profiles can be used by hackers to gain access for malicious purposes.

Parents don't have to negotiate their children's fear of using their device for privacy and security risks, and the App Store should not be a platform other than that. No one except you should have unrestricted access to manage your child's device.

When we discover these guideline violations, we report these violations to app developers, giving them 30 days to submit an updated app to prevent app store interruption. Several developers have released updates to align their applications with these policies. Those who haven't, have been removed from the App Store.

We created the App Store to provide a safe and vibrant marketplace where developers and entrepreneurs can bring their ideas to users around the world, and users can believe that the apps they want meet Apple's standards of safety and responsibility.

Apple has always supported third-party apps on the App Store that help parents manage their children's devices. Contrary to what the The New York Times reported over the weekend, this is not a matter of competition. It's a matter of safety.

In this application category, and across all categories, we are committed to providing a competitive and innovative application ecosystem. There are many extremely successful applications that offer Apple-like functions and services in categories such as messaging, maps, email, music, web browsers, photos, note-taking applications, contact managers and payment systems, to name a few. We are committed to providing a place for these applications to thrive as they enhance the user experience for everyone.

The speech really makes even more sense considering that Apple's "investigation" began well before "Time of Use" hit iOS. It remains to be seen now what the affected developers will talk about, I have the impression that this story is far from over and that many will rebut this statement from Apple.


Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive (known to many as the father of the iPod), for example, has already rebutted this argument from Apple.

1) This article, if true, deeply disturbing. When it comes to personal digital consumption and our children, users want and deserve more options and access to a variety of applications / controls to meet specific and niche management needs, not the other way around.

2) Apple's Uptime still has many shortcomings and shortcomings. Their 1.0 solution was urgent work and very unintuitive to use. Apple should create true Time-of-Use APIs so that privacy concerns are taken into account rather than limiting app store user choices.

3) We need complete digital health data. The API should also cover data and usage controls. Apple must also provide and enforce APIs for application developers to notify users and parents when a newly created account or logins occur.

4) We need tools that cross devices (Mac, Apple TV, Watch), cross platforms (Android, PlayStation, Xbox, Windows) to help us get a full picture and easier controls of our use. This only comes with each manufacturer supporting a real API.

5) Third party developers can support Uptime and expand our access to new tools. The more we engage in this conversation, the better. We discourage entrepreneurs from creating more bracing solutions than we need and, as a responsible technology community, we can do better.

6) Apple, until you have a real API, allow third party applications to be available to App Store users. These developers are trying to help, not steal data. The only reason they need to do what they do is because you don't provide a proper API.

In a series of tweetsHe basically threw responsibility to Apple and made it clear that the use of MDM is only necessary because the company has not yet provided an API so that it is possible to create complete solutions within this theme.

And Google, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo and Amazon should offer a similar API solution. As always, Apple should lead the way, of course.

Not to be just beating Apple, Fadell also charged a similar position to other companies (which makes a lot of sense given your request for cross-platform solutions).

My friend should also say that he is providing a proper API to address the real-world Gaps in Usage and that we will hear a lot more about this and the WWDC solution in June.

On Schiller's answer, Fadell hinted once again that the problem could only be solved by creating a complete API and that the best place to talk about it would be WWDC19.

via 9to5Mac: 1, 2