Your good tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily newsletter, for Thursday, April 2.

Apple Tax: Apple bends its own rules

App Store Today

Here’s a big big surprise: Apple has allowed video streaming apps, like Amazon Prime Video, to avoid Apple’s 30% cut for in-app purchases by offering their own payment methods (Bloomberg).

  • What this means is that now, for example, Amazon Prime Video is fully embracing iOS. Its app on iOS and Apple TV now features a built-in content store. Rent from Amazon right from within an iPhone.
  • You couldn’t do this, previously, because Amazon didn’t want to give up the 30% fee to Apple. Now, you can.
  • But only these streaming video apps! For some reason!
  • The catch is that the account renting or buying a video needs to have a pre-existing payment method attached, otherwise the payment flow is still with Apple (and Apple takes its usual cut).
  • Apple’s confirmed the news and hinted at a quid-pro-quo arrangement: streaming apps need to deeply tie-in with Apple’s ecosystem before they get a sweet deal.
  • Full statement to 9to5Mac: “Apple has an established program for premium subscription video entertainment providers and qualifying apps like Prime Video can offer customers the option to buy or rent movies and TV shows using the payment method tied to their existing video subscription. This same program covers features like integration with the TV app, AirPlay 2, universal search and single sign-on integration.

Progress arrives in strange forms:

  • Great: on one hand, Apple is finally opening up its app store without taking a huge cut. Finally.
  • There are many arguments for why Apple should be allowed to take 30% of every transaction made on its platform, the platform it created, on the iPhone/iPad ecosystem it created.
  • There are many arguments to show this doesn’t sound fair at all given how hard it is to even be noticed on Apple’s App Store, Apple might compete with you on whatever terms it wants, you stake everything on Apple allowing you to exist rather than helping you, and so on.
  • On the other hand… Huh? Why now? Why play favorites with video streaming in particular? How did Apple decide to give back its cut to Amazon of all companies?
  • And why not with apps like Spotify?
  • I suspect a partial answer to all three is something to do with Apple’s push into video streaming itself, plus the quid-pro-quo element. The other factor might be something to do with lawsuits.

Google:

  • The Google Play Store also takes a cut from developers: the same “service fee” of 30% of all software sales and in-app transactions.
  • Epic Games had a massive blow-up with Google regarding its 30% cut, yet Google didn’t budge on its right to take its Google tax. That led to Epic Games creating the Epic Games Store on PC and Epic Games app on Android.
  • Fortnite remains unavailable to Android users except as an APK.
  • Anyway, aside from that history: will Google offer its first public exemption to Amazon Prime Video, and follow in Apple’s footsteps?

Ps. You can trial Amazon Prime Video here.


2. Zoom announces 90-day feature freeze to fix privacy and security woes (Android Authority). This comes just after ex-NSA hacker found new Zoom flaws to takeover Macs again, including webcam, mic, and root access from local hack (9to5Mac).


3. Intel has shown off its new 10th-gen Comet Lake H-series CPUs which bring 5.0GHz clock speeds to gaming laptops (The Verge). Intel’s new star for mobile computing is the Core i9-10980K line, but these are not huge leaps forward, but more refined processors. These are still 14nm process chips, not the new 10nm Ice Lake or the 10nm+ Tiger Lake processes that Intel announced at CES. Can Intel dethrone AMD’s new Ryzen 9 4900HS 7nm chips we’ve talked about this week with these?

On that note, new laptops with 10th-gen Intel CPUs from the likes of Razer, ASUS, Lenovo and so on should be out in a few weeks, and then we can see how performance, price, battery life, and laptop size shift with Intel’s new chips and in comparison to AMD (Android Authority).


4. ASUS’ ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 is a gaming laptop with a built-in second screen (Engadget).


5. At least the OnePlus 8 series won’t cost more than $1,000: $999? (Android Authority).


6. The T-Mobile-Sprint merger is complete: What does it mean for customers? (Android Authority).

More: T-Mobile swallows Sprint, leaving three US giants (Wired), and by bringing in Sprint, T-Mobile will finally get to build the 5G network of its dreams (CNET).


7. YouTube ‘Shorts’ is Google’s answer to TikTok, says report (The Next Web).


8. Sony WH-CH710N headphones are out: Sony’s more affordable noise cancelling headphones get an update, $200 covers all the basics. We should see the new premium WH-1000XM4 soon (Engadget). On that note, here’s SoundGuys’ review of the older Sony WH-CH700N – looking forward to them getting their hands on the new model (SoundGuys).


9. A year ago, the US domestic Box Office brought in $204,193,406. The same week this year? $5,179. (Daily Caller).


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