Apple is facing increasing pressure over its App Store practices. It is facing lawsuits from developers over its insistence that apps only use its subscription model under heavy fire from Facebook for forcing apps to disclose their data privacy practices. It’s also deep into an antitrust investigation after more complaints from developers over its “Sign in with Apple” option.
“Sign in with Apple”
For a period of time, you would open new iOS apps and would be faced with options to sign in with Google and Facebook. Apple and other developers wanted in on that action too.
Starting with iOS 13, Apple started offering “Sign in with Apple” (or “Continue with Apple” as in the screenshot provided below) next to the options to sign in with Google, Facebook, and other apps. There are some great advantages of using the Apple option. One is the obvious ease of signup, as you don’t have to type in your email and password.
The other advantage is that if desired, Apple will mask your email and provide the developer with a burner email, protecting the privacy of your email. For obvious reasons, developers aren’t happy with this.
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the complaints of developers about “Sign in with Apple.” Where the developers feel the antitrust comes in is Apple’s demand that apps that offer the option of signing in with Google, Twitter, and Facebook must also offer signing in with Apple.
Sources who spoke with The Information said that after developers complained last year, antitrust regulators are now investigating. They are considering the “Sign in with Apple” button and “other App Store rules that make it difficult for users to switch to a rival device maker.”
The “other App Store rules” include the fees developers are charged and restrictions on location and other tracking that Apple’s default apps aren’t subjected to.
Fred Sainz, Apple spokesman, said the “Sign in with Apple” option provides its customers with a privacy-focused alternative to the other options.
Where It Stands Now
The Department of Justice is still investigating and has not yet decided whether it will fill an antitrust lawsuit against Apple. Facebook and Google have their own issues and antitrust probes. Those lawsuits have already been filed.
The antitrust regulators of the U.S. House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommitee opened their investigation into Apple last year. It joined other tech heavyweights – Google, Facebook, and Amazon – in being compared to oil barons and railroad tycoons.
The subcommittee released a 450-page report. It recommended new antitrust laws, arguing that Apple had a monopoly over the distribution of apps on its devices.
Apple has multiple antitrust probes in other countries as well. It’s working on putting out fires right now, as it also just made a change to the beta version of iOS 14.5 that will make zero-click attacks much less successful.