When consumers fire up the latest iPhones for the first time in the coming weeks, they’ll find the device brimming with Apple Inc.’s home-grown apps, already installed and set as default programs. This prized status isn’t available to outside software, making it hard for some developers to compete, and that’s catching the eye of lawmakers probing potential antitrust violations in the technology industry.
In 2007, the iPhone had 17 pre-installed apps. Today, there are 38. And since the App Store launched in 2008, Apple has never let consumers set a third-party app as a default option, unlike on Android, Windows, and Apple’s own macOS computer operating system… A House antitrust panel wrote to Apple recently to demand executive communications relating to iPhone default apps. The lawmakers want to learn about the company’s policies on whether iPhone users can set non-Apple apps as defaults in categories including web browsers, maps, email and music… Similarly, competing apps in other categories, including mobile payments, coding and secondary displays, are limited by Apple keeping some of its device functionality exclusively for its own software…
Android is more flexible, giving outside developers more access. It offers a central panel in the settings menu to change system-wide default apps for the Google voice assistant, web browser, phone, messaging, and mobile payment apps.
MacDailyNews Take: Government regulators not going to be satisfied until they make Apple’s iPhone the same insecure cesspool as Google’s Android – not in the interest of “competition,” but in the interest of government surveillance.
Obviously, there are security implications here. And privacy concerns. Apple is right to restrict the use of iPhone’s NFC chip, for example, and not allow the likes of Google to access things like the Secure Enclave. Google couldn’t even be trusted not to track Safari users who explicitly told Google not to track them!
As for more innocuous situations, like allowing other music services to be the default, Apple should, and likely will (or be forced to), allow it. Then people who inexplicably pay the same price for a much smaller music library can make Spotify their default instead of Apple Music.
On fact that may save iOS users from feckless politicians in the end: Apple doesn’t have a monopoly in smartphones. Not even close:
Mobile Operating System Market Share Worldwide, September 2019:
• Android: 76.24%
• iOS: 22.48%
Apple clearly has no monopoly, so “monopoly abuse,” which antitrust law is designed to correct, is therefore impossible.
If consumers and developers, who these government inquiries are supposedly meant to protect, do not like Apple’s walled garden approach to their iOS/iPadOS/watchOS/tvOS platform(s), they can purchase and develope for myriad other smartphones. Apple’s iOS and iPadOS users’ security should not be compromised so that a handful of morons can stupidly assign random insecure mobile payment systems as their default.