Apple Slammed For Clamping Down On Apps Competing With Screen Time

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The launch of Screen Time in iOS 12 was apparently considered a big help for parents and anyone else who wants to keep a lid on the use of their devices, however, there are some concerns that it is actually cracking down on apps that compete with the said feature. Apparently, Sensor Tower and The New York Times have discovered that Apple has either pulled or requested some feature limitations for “at least” 11 of the 17 most popular screen time and parental control apps, and leaders at those developers claim that it is trying to discourage apps that rival the functionality of Screen Time. Reportedly, the creators of the two apps, Qustodio and Kidslox, already filed an EU competition complaint on the 25th of April.

Some of the said apps had some more advanced features, including support for managing Android devices and blocking websites in some browsers besides Safari. The Times also noted that developers only received brief notes that are demanding changes, with no reasoning or information to help them modify their apps or explain why their apps were at risk of disappearing. Effectively, firms had to modify their business models with only little warning.

In a statement, Apple’s Tammy Levine said that the tech giant treats “all apps the same, including those that compete with our own services.” She added that the goal of Apple was to create an ecosystem that offered access to “as many quality apps as possible.” She also dismissed the notion that the apparent crackdown of Apple was connected to the introduction of Screen Time.

That statement is not likely to satisfy the critics. Reportedly, Spotify filed an EU complaint accusing the iPhone Maker of various anti-competitive practices, including limiting the services that challenge with its in-house music service. For instance, the users will not be able to use Siri to control Spotify. There is also a long-running perception that Apple muscles into the territory of third-party apps, intentionally or otherwise — the term “Sherlocked” apparently refers to those times when Apple launched a feature that renders an app largely irrelevant. Clearly, the developers of Screen time management feel that they are under similar pressure, and might be hesitant to back down.