Apple punishes screen-time limiting apps

Apple CEO Tim Cook talks about screen addiction among other things at the Time 100 Summit in New York on Tuesday

He also criticised Screen Time, calling it a "rush job" that is "very non-intuitive". The information comes through the NYT's work with app-data firm Sensor Tower, and it includes the statistic that "Apple has removed or restricted at least 11 of the 17 most downloaded screen-time and parental-control apps".

Apple said it removed several parental control apps from its store because of security and privacy concerns, issuing a rare public response to a media report that the iPhone maker was eliminating competition with its own tools.

Apple, however, said that it removed or required changes to the apps because they could gain too much information from users' devices.

Apple has a history of what some may call anti-competitive practices.

"Their incentives aren't really aligned for helping people solve their problem", Fred Stutzman, Chief Executive of Freedom, a screen-time app, was quoted as saying. Tim Cook said a year ago that he thought he used his phone too much (more recently adding, "we don't want people using their phones all the time"), and Screen Time is Apple attempt to muscle in on the countering of "phone addiction".

Hitting the assigned screen-time limit for an app using Apple's tool, the paper added, only returns a prompt to "Ignore Limit".

As the App Store is the only way to maintain officially supported access to Apple customers-and with Apple controlling a huge slice of US market share-rejection by its reviewers can be the death knell for a company.

Last month, music-streaming service Spotify filed a complaint about Apple with European Union regulators, saying the Apple Music purveyor uses its grip on the App Store to stifle innovation, weaken competition and unfairly tax its rivals.

Apple has been taken to court before for anti-competitive practices in the App Store and there is even a case pending with the U.S. Supreme Court claiming Apple's App Store control represents a monopoly.

Apple is also coming heavily on popular apps that help parents to have control over how their kids use iPhones, according to the report. That's a "clear violation of App Store policies". Apps that complied remain on the App Store, while those that did not were booted. The company said it gave the relevant developers 30 days to modify their apps, then removed those that weren't adjusted.

"No reason, no detail", Ramasubbu told the Times. "Our incentive is to have a vibrant app ecosystem that provides consumers access to as many quality apps as possible", she added.



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