Apple allows users to change default email and browser apps on WWDC

Apple CEO Tim Cook delivers the opening address during the Apple 2020 World Developers Conference (WWDC) at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California on June 22, 2020.

Brooks Kraft | Apple, Inc. | via Reuters

Apple made two changes to its software on Monday during its WWDC conference that address concerns from competitors that the iPhone maker exercises excessive control over its platform.

When iOS 14 launches this fall, iPhone users will be able to change their default email and browser apps from Apple’s Mail and Safari apps, Apple said on its website. When you click on a link in an email address or compose a new message, your preferred app will appear instead of Apple’s offer.

Apple’s HomePod smart speaker will also support music services from third-party services, the company said in a presentation Monday, addressing one of Spotify’s main complaints to European Union antitrust regulators that Apple unfairly favors its own service. music streaming.

Apple’s WWDC conference takes place virtually as the company’s platform comes under increased scrutiny. Officials in the US USA And Europe is investigating whether Apple’s control of its App Store could be anti-competitive, and leading app makers criticize the practice of cutting digital services by 30%, as well as its approval process.

If the changes are successful in addressing competition complaints, they could point a way forward for Apple as it navigates antitrust scrutiny. An Apple representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last week, dozens of developers rebelled on social media over the App Store rules, after creators of the Hey email app said Apple threatened to remove its service over the requirement that it use the the company’s payment for subscriptions, which would deliver more than 30% sales to Apple. In what the developers called a “truce,” Apple finally approved a Hey update over the weekend.

Apple did not mention the Hey app controversy during its presentation. It also didn’t discuss either the default apps feature or third-party music services for the HomePod speaker.

The ability to set up a default app or play Spotify on a HomePod speaker only addresses some of the issues critics have. Other concerns remain, such as Apple’s cut size, the App Store review process, and Apple’s propensity to launch new features on its platform that compete with third-party developers.

Still, both features announced Monday had been challenged as part of the antitrust proceedings and had been requested by developers and competitors.

Last fall, the antitrust committee of the Judicial Committee of the US House of Representatives. USA He posed questions to Apple, including whether iPhone users can uninstall Safari and whether they could configure another browser, such as Google Chrome or Firefox, as the default browser application on an iPhone. At the time, iOS did not allow users to change the default email or browser app. Developers have been asking for the ability to configure default apps for years.

“IPhone users cannot set another browser as the default browser. Safari is one of the applications that Apple believes defines the core user experience on iOS, with industry leading security and privacy features,” said Kyle Andeer, vice president of corporate law at Apple. in a letter in response.

Ongoing antitrust issues

The committee’s antitrust panel is working to get Apple CEO Tim Cook to testify on competition issues, along with CEOs of Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet, Politico reported last week.

As part of its complaint to the EU last year, Spotify specifically pointed out that its service did not run on Apple’s HomePod speaker while Apple Music did, although its main complaint concerned Apple’s 30% consumption rate.

“Apple also routinely blocks our updates to improve the experience. Over time, this has included blocking Spotify and other competitors to Apple’s services, such as Siri, HomePod and Apple Watch,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek wrote in that moment.

The European Commission announced an investigation into the Apple App Store and Apple Pay last week.

This spring, Tile, the creator of a digital tag to find missing items, stated that he was concerned that Apple would launch a competing product and deny him access to the basic iPhone features necessary to make his product work. Apple announced an accessory program on Monday to more closely integrate lost-trackers into Apple products.

Spotify and Tile representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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