Apple News

Apple out-of-warranty repair program an ‘improvement’ for consumers, but business holds concerns | The Canberra Times

news, act-politics, apple, right to repair, broken, iphone, shane rattenbury

Apple’s new program to allow more out-of-warranty phone and computer repairs is hoped to boost choice for consumers and has been heralded as a step in the right direction to end the cycle of replace, not repair. However, not all business owners are convinced by the tech giant’s Independent Repair Provider Program. The program, open to all Australian businesses, will allow them to sign up to access Apple parts, tools and training to do out-of-warranty repairs on phones and computers. ACT Consumer Affairs Minister Shane Rattenbury welcomed the initiative as a step forward for the right to repair movement he has been championing for years, which aims to promote the creation of quality products which can be repaired rather than replaced. “This is an improvement on the previous situation, where consumers were locked out of repairing their products because manufacturers don’t allow third parties to repair them,” he said. “The ability for local businesses to get access to parts directly from the manufacturer is a win for ‘right to repair’ … and the ACT’s goals for sustainability. “This will allow small businesses to break into a market previously dominated by bigger companies and provide greater consumer choice.” Mr Rattenbury acknowledged the limitations of the “Apple-controlled regime” and said he was not aware of how it would limit third-party repairers. Zeal Moses runs a dedicated iPhone repair store, Custom Iphones, and said while the program would provide customers more choice, it would corner businesses into using Apple parts. He currently sources third-party parts for repair from a Sydney stockist. He said the parts were cheaper and often sourced from the same manufacturers as Apple. Mr Moses was concerned the program would be “invasive” to third-party repair stores like his. The Productivity Commission launched an inquiry into the right to repair in November. The inquiry is focused on consumers’ ability to repair goods and access services at competitive prices. More than 143 submissions have been lodged so far. “My hope is that a detailed examination by the Productivity Commission will allow the…


Epic cries monopoly as Apple details secret ‘Project Liberty’ effort to provoke ‘Fortnite’ ban – TechCrunch

The Epic v. Apple lawsuit alleging monopolistic practices by the latter will begin next month, and today the main arguments of each company were published, having been trimmed down somewhat at the court’s discretion. With the basic facts agreed upon, the two companies will go to battle over what they mean, and their CEOs will likely take the (virtual) stand to do so.

As we’ve covered in previous months, the thrust of Epic’s argument is that Apple’s hold over the app market and 30% standard fee amount to anti-competitive behavior that must be regulated by antitrust law. It rebelled against what it describes as an unlawful practice by slipping its own in-game currency store into the popular game Fortnite, circumventing Apple payment methods. (CEO Tim Sweeney would later, and unadvisedly, compare this to resisting unjust laws in the civil rights movement.)

Apple denies the charge of monopoly, pointing out it faces enormous competition all over the market, just not within its own App Store. And as for the size of the fees — well, perhaps it’s a matter that could stand some adjustment (the company dropped its take to 15% for any developer’s first million following criticism throughout 2020), but it hardly amounts to unlawfulness.

For its part, Apple contends that the whole antitrust allegation and associated dust-kicking is little more than a PR stunt, and it has something in the way of receipts.

Epic did, after all, have a whole PR strategy ready to go when it filed the lawsuit, and the filings describe “Project Liberty,” a long-term program within the company to, in Apple’s opinion, shore up sagging revenues from Fortnite. Epic does seem to have paid a PR firm some $300,000 to advise on the “two-phase communications plan,” involving a multi-company complaint campaign against Apple and Google via the “Coalition for App Fairness.”

Project Liberty makes up a whole section in Apple’s filing, detailing how the company and Sweeney planned to “draw Google into a legal battle over anti-trust,” (and presumably Apple) according to internal emails, by getting banned by the companies’ app stores for circumventing their payment systems. Epic only mentions Project Liberty in one paragraph, explaining that it kept the program secret because “Epic could not have disclosed it without causing Apple to reject Version 13.40 of Fortnite,” viz. the one with the offending payment system built in. It’s not much of a defense.

Whether Apple’s fees are too high, and whether Epic is doing this to extend Fortnite’s profitable days, the case itself will be determined on the basis of antitrust law and doctrine, and on this front things do not look particularly dire for Apple.

Although the legal arguments and summaries of fact run to hundreds of pages from both sides, the whole thing is summed up pretty well in the very first sentence of Epic’s filing: “This case is about Apple’s conduct to monopolize two markets within its iOS ecosystem.”

To be specific, it is about whether Apple can be said to be a monopolist over an ecosystem it created and administrated from the very beginning, and one that is provably assailed on all sides by competitors in the digital distribution and gaming space. This is a novel application of antitrust law and one that would carry a heavy burden of proof for Epic — and that an (admittedly amateur) review of the arguments doesn’t suggest there’s much chance of success.

But the opinion of a random reporter is not much in the accounting of things; there will have to be a trial, and one is scheduled to occur next month. There’s a lot of ground to cover, as Epic’s presentation of its arguments will need to be as meticulous as Apple’s dismantling of them. To that end we can expect live testimony from Apple CEO Tim Cook, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney, Apple’s former head of marketing and familiar face Phil Schiller, among others.

The timing and nature of that testimony or questioning will not be known until later, but it’s likely there will be some interesting interactions worth hearing about. The trial is scheduled to begin May 3 and last for about three weeks.

Notably there are a handful of other lawsuits hovering about relating to this, such as Apple’s countersuit against Epic alleging breach of contract. Many of these will depend entirely on the outcome of the main case — e.g. if Apple’s terms were found to be unlawful, there was no contract to break, or if not, Epic pretty much admitted to breaking the rules so the case is practically over already.

You can read the full “proposed findings of fact” documents from each party on the invaluable RECAP; the case number is 4:20-cv-05640.


‘Greyhound’ audio crew explain how it sound-mixed the Apple TV+ drama

The Apple TV+ film “Greyhound” required some lateral thinking from its sound team, with a profile on how the audio mix during a key battle scene revealing the lengths the production went to make it dramatic.

Apple’s acquisition of the Tom Hanks naval drama “Greyhound” for the Apple TV+ streaming service was well received by users and critics, with the film depicting the drama of the high-stakes mission. A large part of this was due to its audio mixing, which was a challenge for all involved.

In a profile of rerecording mixer Michael Minkler, supervising sound editor Warren Shaw and sound mixer David Wyman by Variety, the team revealed what went into putting the audience in the middle of the action.

During the third-act climactic scene featuring an attempt by USS Greyhound to avoid torpedoes, Minkler brings up the different elements at play, beyond dramatic music and dialog. “There are sound effects with the engines, the high seas, the explosions coming from both sides,” said Minkler.

The audience has to “hear where it ramps up the speed and pulls down,” Minkler said of the ship’s noises. Sounds of torpedoes were hyper-dramatic, with their movements in the water meant to be heard to give the idea of the warheads heading to the boat.

As research, Minkler and Shaw visited the USS Kidd in Louisiana and talked to veterans about how a captain’s orders are given and repeated throughout a crew. This was to get a better understanding of how communications worked in that sort of situation, to increase accuracy.

To give the actors an immersive experience, and to get around not being able to use a boom operator, microphones were placed throughout the ship to capture sound and dialog. “We had a lot of microphones in plain sight, and they were painted the same color as the inside of the ship,” explained Shaw.

Playback speakers were also located throughout the vessel, to help the actors “feel the urgency and danger.”

“Greyhound” is considered a successful purchase for Apple, as awards season continues. The film has already picked up two nominations for Special Visual Effects and Sound for the British Academy Film Awards, following previous nominations from the Visual Effects Society…


In Praise of the Apple iPad Air (Premium)

Some will be amused by this, and I suppose some will even be outraged. But there is just something special about the new iPad Air.

I wasn’t planning to write about the iPad Air. I mentioned it last week in New Year, New Travel Tech (Premium), in which I described a few of the travel and tech items that I recently purchased now that my wife and I are vaccinated and travel can happen again. And it will pop up in future “What I Use” columns, of course. But what can I possibly add to this discussion? I use the iPad only for entertainment (or “content consumption”) purposes, meaning reading and watching videos, mostly. So, much of the magic of this device, from its ability to replace a laptop, sort of, to its Apple Pencil 2 support, is just not of much interest to me day-to-day.


Epic accuses Apple of using security as a pretext, enabling fraud

Today saw the publication of court filings by both Apple and Epic Games, and in them we see that Epic accuses Apple of using app security as a “pretext” for its commission. The company also argues that Apple enables fraud by app users.

In the run-up to the antitrust trial between the two companies, both sides were required to submit documents known as Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. Each company presents the facts it considers relevant to the case, and the legal arguments on which it intends to rely …

This follows disclosure of documents by each side, as well as depositions, in which lawyers from one side get to question witnesses from the opposition.

We earlier summarized Apple’s side of the case. The Cupertino company argues that developers are free to create apps for a wide range of devices, as well as web apps, and therefore Apple has no monopoly powers. Apple goes on to say that Epic created a PR campaign designed to make Apple look bad in the eyes of both developers and the public.

According to Apple, Epic Games has hired PR firms in 2019 to work on a media strategy called “Project Liberty” aimed at portraying Apple “as the bad guy.” In October 2020, Judge Yvonne Rogers had concerns that Epic knew exactly what they were doing with the controversial Fortnite update, so this doesn’t come as a surprise.

Epic makes four main arguments against Apple.

Ecosystem lock-in

While Apple claims there are many app markets, Epic argues that iOS is a key market in its own right, as there are many customers who can only be reached on this platform. Epic accuses Apple of going to great lengths to ensure this is the case.

It seems Epic did manage to track down Scott Forstall’s phone number and depose him, as the former iOS senior vice president is cited as the source of one piece of evidence presented.

In an agenda for a 2010 executive team meeting, Apple founder and late CEO Steve Jobs wrote that he wanted to “tie all of our products together, so [Apple] further lock[s] customers into [its] ecosystem” [Forstall]

Eddy Cue also talked about what Apple does “to get people hooked to the ecosystem,” and Epic also presents evidence that this is…