Yesterday, US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers decided Epic Games’ antitrust lawsuit against Apple, delivering a ruling in favor of Apple that comes with significant caveats. Although the Judge found that Apple‘s operation of the App Store isn’t an exercise of monopolistic power, she concluded that App Review Guidelines and related provisions of its agreements with developers foster a lack of pricing transparency store-wide that undermines competition under California law. So, while the decision is undeniably a win for Apple in many respects, it’s also a decidedly mixed bag. I’ve taken the time to read Judge Gonzalez Rogers’ 185-page decision and having written an in-depth look at the issues going into the trial, I thought I’d follow up with what the Court’s ruling is likely to mean for Epic and Apple as well as all developers and consumers.
Posts tagged with "developers"
We kicked off the MacStories Summer OS Preview Series on AppStories a couple of weeks ago with interviews of four 2021 Apple Design Award winners. We’ll also publish a series of in-depth first-looks at what users can expect this fall from iOS and iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and watchOS 8. We’ll also be interviewing developers on AppStories, exploring the technical details that we expect will have the biggest impact on upcoming app updates and releases. You can follow along with the series through our dedicated hub or subscribe to its RSS feed.
Today, we wanted to continue the conversations that began with the AppStories ADA interviews by talking to seven more developers about a wide range of topics. Now that the initial excitement has passed and the dust settled from WWDC, we wanted to hear more from the developers who will be using Apple’s latest technologies to bring readers new apps and innovative updates to readers this fall.
This year, we spoke to:
- Vidit Bhargava, the creator of the dictionary app LookUp
- Steve Troughton-Smith, the creator of Broadcasts, Pastel, Grace and other apps
- Malin Sundberg, the creator of time tracking app Orbit
- Ish ShaBazz, the creator of notebook and habit tracking app Capsicum
- Sawyer Blatz, the creator of budgeting app Nudget
- Majid Jabrayilov, the creator of CardioBot
- John Sundell, the creator of Swift by Sundell and co-host of the Stacktrace podcast
The following is a collection of the responses from each of the developers I interviewed on a wide range of topics from new frameworks and APIs to Shortcuts on the Mac, the ability to publish apps built on the iPad, SharePlay, SwiftUI, Swift concurrency, and more. Thanks so much to everyone for sharing their insights on these topics with MacStories readers. We greatly appreciate everyone taking time out of their busy post-WWDC schedules to participate.
I received fantastic, thoughtful responses from all of the developers I interviewed, which resulted in more material than I could use for this story. However, we’ll be featuring unabridged versions of the interviews in the next two issues of MacStories Weekly. It’s an excellent way to get an even deeper sense of the ramifications of this year’s WWDC announcements. If you’re not already a member, you can learn more at club.macstories.net or sign up below.
Sami Fathi, writing for MacRumors on an API change spotted in the second developer beta of iOS 15:
Currently, apps are limited to the amount of RAM they can use, regardless of the amount available on the device. For example, despite the highest-end M1 iPad Pro featuring 16GB of RAM, on iPadOS 14, apps are limited to only use 5GB. 16GB of RAM is the highest amount of RAM ever offered in an iPhone or iPad, and the 5GB limitation means that apps aren’t able to utilize even half of what the iPad Pro has to offer.
In the second betas of iOS and iPadOS 15, released to developers yesterday, Apple is introducing a new entitlement that developers may request that will expose their apps to more memory. Apple says that this entitlement will inform the system that an app “may perform better by exceeding the default app memory limit.” Apple’s developer documentation doesn’t specify how much extra RAM an app may be exposed to and also says this is limited to “supported devices.”
I’ve rarely found myself in a scenario where my iPad Pro needed more than 5 GB of RAM, but I’m also not a professional user of apps such as video or graphic editors that may take advantage of more RAM. This is an entitlement that Apple will need to grant developers who request it, and I’m curious to see how many apps will receive it later this year (or if this option will convince more developers of pro apps to finally bring them to iPad). I find it fascinating – but not surprising at all – that Apple is introducing this possibility while they’re pushing adoption of multiwindow and modern multitasking in iPadOS 15.
Everyday Robots, a podcast by Jonathan Ruiz, released a two-part episode today featuring developer reactions to WWDC. Ruiz’s guests include Becky Hansmeyer, Frank Foster, Marc Aupont, James Thomson, Zack Becker, Kim aka kaydacode, Ish Shabazz, Christian Selig, and Jeff Rames.
In a year without an in-person WWDC, it was fun to hear which of the announcements this year excited developers and what they felt was missing. I always enjoy Apple’s keynote, and there are a lot of additional details in the WWDC sessions, but there’s nothing like getting a sense of both the big announcements and practical everyday updates that developers are excited about to get a sense of where apps will be headed in the fall.
For the first time, Apple has announced the finalists in the running for its annual Apple Design Awards. The awards ceremony revealing the winners will be held during WWDC at 2:00 pm Pacific on June 10th.
The finalists have been divided into six categories that include six finalists each:
Delight and Fun
Visuals and Graphics
The selections include a lot of games and entertainment apps, including several Apple Arcade titles, and a mix of apps from smaller developers like CARROT Weather, Craft, Nova, and Pok Pok Playroom as well as bigger publishers. Panic’s Nova also stands out from the rest of the finalists as the sole app that is not available in one of Apple’s stores.
I like that Apple has announced the finalists in advance. Winning an ADA is a big achievement for any developer, but it’s also nice to know who the finalists are because it, too, is quite an honor among the many apps that could be chosen.
Apple has updated its developer forums in the lead-up to WWDC with several new features. Last year, the developer forums got a complete overhaul just before the annual conference, improving developers’ ability to ask questions, interact with other developers and Apple engineers, and follow topics that interest them. This year, the company is adding the ability to:
- Post comments on questions or answers to provide context or ask for clarification.
- Search for content across multiple tags.
- Add and manage favorite tags.
- Upload images to your question or answer to provide supporting visual details.
- See tag descriptions when choosing tags for your question so you can quickly select the most appropriate ones.
- Subscribe to RSS feeds for tags you’re interested in.
- See your authored and watched content, favorite tags, and trending tags on the newly designed home page.
I expect I’ll use the new tagging tools a lot this summer as I work on my macOS review. The developer forums have always been an excellent resource but haven’t always been the easiest to navigate. Armed with a collection of tags and RSS feeds delivering updates automatically, I’ll be using the forums a lot more than I did in the past. There’s still room for improvement, though. For example, as nice as the addition of RSS feeds is, they only apply to individual tags, not search results.
Shortly after announcing WWDC will be held online again this year from June 7 - 11, Apple released a significant update to its Developer app, which serves as a hub for news and watching WWDC sessions.
The sidebar of Developer is now easier to navigate. On the iPhone and iPad, content categories, such as Design, Frameworks, and Graphics and Games, can now be collapsed, greatly reducing the amount of vertical scrolling when browsing news and sessions. The iPhone and iPad versions of the app use a more compact, tile-based layout for the Discover tab, which allows for more items to be featured too. The design works well on the smaller screen of the iPhone, but where it really shines is on the iPad and Mac’s larger screens.
The iPad app’s tab bar has also been eliminated, moving what was previously there into the sidebar. Combined with the collapsible sidebar sections, the app is both easier to navigate and has more room for content on the iPad than ever before.
The update also includes a dedicated Search tab. Instead of a vertical list of results in the sidebar, the results are displayed in the app’s main view organized by videos, articles, and news, showing top results with the ability to ‘See all’ if more results than can fit onscreen are available. I used Developer’s search functionality a lot last year and looking at the results pulled from last year’s WWDC, I can already tell it will be easier to find the videos I want. Also, ‘Favorites’ have been replaced by ‘Bookmarks,’ although the functionality of the two appears to be the same in my limited testing.
The Developer app has always been a useful companion app for WWDC, but with the event being remote last year and again this year, it has taken on greater importance as one of the primary ways developers access sessions and news about Apple’s frameworks. Although I haven’t spent a lot of time with the app yet, it’s clear that a lot of thought went into adapting it to fit in with Apple’s modern iPad and Mac design vision and providing a better experience when sifting through the deep catalog of videos and other content that is available to developers.
Today, Apple announced a reduction in App Store commissions that will substantially benefit a large part of the developer community. Starting January 1, 2021, developers who earn up to $1 million per year from their apps will have the commission paid to Apple cut in half, reducing it from 30% to 15%. Apple CEO Tim Cook said of the new App Store Small Business Program in an Apple press release:
Small businesses are the backbone of our global economy and the beating heart of innovation and opportunity in communities around the world. We’re launching this program to help small business owners write the next chapter of creativity and prosperity on the App Store, and to build the kind of quality apps our customers love.
The App Store has been an engine of economic growth like none other, creating millions of new jobs and a pathway to entrepreneurship accessible to anyone with a great idea. Our new program carries that progress forward — helping developers fund their small businesses, take risks on new ideas, expand their teams, and continue to make apps that enrich people’s lives.
Apple says that it will provide additional details about the new program in December, but here’s what we know so far:
- Developers who made up to $1 million on all their apps in 2020 after subtracting Apple’s commissions will qualify for the program and its reduced commissions beginning January 1, 2021.
- New developers are eligible to participate in the App Store Small Business Program beginning January 1, 2021, too.
- If a developer who is part of the App Store Small Business Program makes more than $1 million during a year, the commissions paid for the remainder of the year will be at the 30% rate paid outside the program and the developer won’t be eligible for the program the following calendar year.
- A developer that is not eligible for the App Store Small Business Program will be eligible the calendar year following any calendar year that they earn less than $1 million.
For example, a developer that earns less than $1 million in 2020 on all of their apps after subtracting the amount paid to Apple for App Store commissions is eligible for the program and would pay a 15% commission on App Store earnings beginning January 1, 2021. Hypothetically, if the same developer has post-commission earnings of greater than $1 million in aggregate on all of their apps by, for example, September 1st, their App Store commission rate (assuming a paid-up-front app) would increase to 30% for the remainder of the year. That same developer would continue to pay 30% in 2022 but would be eligible for the 15% rate again in 2023 if their 2022 post-commission earnings fell below $1 million. It is our understanding that App Store earnings of all kinds count toward the $1 million total regardless of whether the source is a paid-up-front app, In-App Purchase, or a subscription.
Last month, GitHub removed the code repository of the popular media tool
youtube-dl following a DMCA takedown request by the Recording Industry Association of America. This move was met with widespread criticism, including the EFF stepping into the fray.
Today GitHub has responded decisively by reinstating
youtube-dl, revising its DMCA takedown policies, and establishing a $1M developer defense fund. The new policies seem designed to extend more of the benefit of the doubt to developers, and will hopefully put an end to repositories being taken down by frivolous claims before any investigation has occurred. Make sure to check out GitHub’s post (which explains all of this quite well) to see exactly what policies they’re adjusting. As for the developer defense fund, GitHub has this to say:
Developers who are personally affected by a takedown notice or other legal claim rely on non-profits like the Software Freedom Law center and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to provide them with legal advice and support in the event that they face an IP claim, under the DMCA or otherwise. These organizations provide critical legal support to developers who would otherwise be on their own, facing off against giant corporations or consortia.
Nonetheless, developers who want to push back against unwarranted takedowns may face the risk of taking on personal liability and legal defense costs. To help them, GitHub will establish and donate $1M to a developer defense fund to help protect open source developers on GitHub from unwarranted DMCA Section 1201 takedown claims. We will immediately begin working with other members of the community to set up this fund and take other measures to collectively protect developers and safeguard developer collaboration.
I’m pleased to see GitHub take these sweeping actions in response to this issue. Hopefully developers can now feel more at-ease when hosting their code on the industry’s largest version-control platform.