MASTERCLASSING

Group of app developers team up to take on Apple

Tyrone Stewart

Kid boy iPhone tabletA group of 17 app developers have joined forces to challenge Apple about its approach to managing the screen time of children on devices.

The app makers, which all make screen-time control apps, are taking on the tech giant over its decision to remove or restrict their apps after it introduced its own parental control feature.

The crackdown on the apps was first reported by The New York Times last month. However, Apple quickly responded claiming that the parental control apps weren’t banned due to the introduction of its own screen-time features but because they were use an intrusive technology called mobile device management (MDM).

MDM lets a third-party control and access devices remotely, providing the possibility to see information such as user location, app use, and email accounts. The technology is sometime used by businesses to control proprietary data on devices handed out to staff.

The group of app developers somewhat accept – emphasis on the “somewhat” – Apple’s explanation for removing their apps and are asking that the company fixes the issue by creating a public API for screen-time apps.

“Apple's response to the story was that the timing was a coincidence; the reason the apps were removed or blocked was due to their use of MDM,” said the group on their joint website. “There’s an obvious solution and it’s one that developers have been calling for from the start. Apple should release a public API granting developers access to the same functionalities that Apple’s native ‘Screen Time’ uses.”

Apple has yet to respond this time around, but antitrust cases have become quite familiar to the company recently. The US Supreme Court deemed that a group of iPhone users could bring an antitrust case against the company over it using its power to monopolise the App Store, while Spotify filed a lawsuit against the tech giant with the EU in March.

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