network engineer, cloud infrastructure fluffer, fascinated with the machinations of the tech industry, friend to Cthulu and animals everywhere
7713 stories
·
27 followers

AmpMe

1 Comment

John Gruber:

Kosta Eleftheriou has found another apparently multi-million-dollar-grossing app that’s been on the App Store for over three years: a shitty music “volume boosting” music player named AmpMe that costs $10 per week after the three-day trial. Thousands of obviously fake reviews, millions of dollars “earned”. Even worse: Apple has repeated featured this app in the App Store.

Thread.

There’s apparently no motivation to vet even the relatively small number of apps that are making millions, even before featuring them.

Harry McCracken:

15 years after the iPhone was announced, the fact that the App Store is both a walled garden AND a wild west is one of the great disappointments of this whole era.

Previously:

Read the whole story
MotherHydra
213 days ago
reply
Shit like this should be the basis for regulating the App Store. Apple can’t (or won’t $$$) police their store, it should be brought under intense scrutiny since that’s all they respond to.
Space City, USA
Share this story
Delete

After ruining Android messaging, Google says iMessage is too powerful | Ars Technica

2 Comments and 4 Shares

Google took to Twitter this weekend to complain that iMessage is just too darn influential with today's kids. The company was responding to a Wall Street Journal report detailing the lock-in and social pressure Apple's walled garden is creating among US teens. iMessage brands texts from iPhone users with a blue background and gives them additional features, while texts from Android phones are branded green and only have the base SMS feature set. According to the article, "Teens and college students said they dread the ostracism that comes with a green text. The social pressure is palpable, with some reporting being ostracized or singled out after switching away from iPhones." Google apparently feels this is a problem.

"iMessage should not benefit from bullying," the official Android Twitter account wrote. "Texting should bring us together, and the solution exists. Let's fix this as one industry." Google SVP Hiroshi Lockheimer chimed in too, saying "Apple's iMessage lock-in is a documented strategy. Using peer pressure and bullying as a way to sell products is disingenuous for a company that has humanity and equity as a core part of its marketing. The standards exist today to fix this."

The "solution" Google is pushing here is RCS, or Rich Communication Services, a GSMA standard from 2008 that has slowly gained traction as an upgrade to SMS. RCS adds typing indicators, user presence, and better image sharing to carrier messaging. It is a 14-year-old carrier standard though, so it lacks many things you would want from a modern messaging service, like end-to-end encryption and support for nonphone devices. Google tries to band-aid over the aging standard with its "Google Messaging" client, but the result is a lot of clunky solutions which aren't as good as a modern messaging service.

Since RCS replaces SMS, Google has been on a campaign to get the industry to make the upgrade. After years of protesting, the US carriers are all onboard, and there is some uptake among the international carriers, too. The biggest holdout is Apple, which only supports SMS though iMessage.

Apple hasn't ever publicly shot down the idea of adding RCS to iMessage, but thanks to documents revealed in the Epic v. Apple case, we know the company views iMessage lock-in as a valuable weapon. Bringing RCS to iMessage and making communication easier with Android users would only help to weaken Apple's walled garden, and the company has said it doesn't want that.

In the US, iPhones are more popular with young adults than ever. As the Wall Street Journal notes, "Among U.S. consumers, 40% use iPhones, but among those aged 18 to 24, more than 70% are iPhone users." It credits Apple's lock-in with apps like iMessage for this success.

Reaping what you sow

Google clearly views iMessage's popularity as a problem, and the company is hoping this public-shaming campaign will get Apple to change its mind on RCS. Having Google give other companies advice on a messaging strategy is a laughable idea though, since Google probably has the least credibility of any tech company when it comes to messaging services. If the company really wants to do something about iMessage, it should try competing with it.

As we recently detailed in a 25,000-word article, Google's messaging history is one of constant product startups and shutdowns. Thanks to a lack of product focus or any kind of top-down mandate from Google's CEO, no division is really "in charge" of messaging. As a consequence, the company has released 13 halfhearted messaging products since iMessage launched in 2011. If Google has anyone to blame for the iMessage's dominance, it should start with itself, since it has continually sabotaged and abandoned its own plans to make an iMessage competitor.

Messaging is important, and even if it isn't directly monetizable, a dominant messaging app has real, tangible benefits for an ecosystem. The rest of the industry understood this years ago. Facebook paid $22 billion to buy WhatsApp in 2014 and took the app from 450 million users to 2 billion users. Along with Facebook Messenger, Facebook has two dominant messaging platforms today, especially internationally. Salesforce paid $27 billion for Slack in 2020, and Tencent's WeChat, a Chinese messaging app, is pulling in 1.2 billion users and yearly revenues of $5.5 billion. Snapchat is up to a $67 billion market cap, and Telegram is getting $40 billion valuations from investors. Google keeps trying ideas in this market, but it never makes an investment that is anywhere close to the competition.

Page 2

Google once had a functional competitor to iMessage in the past, called Google Hangouts. Circa 2015, Hangouts was a messaging powerhouse, which in addition to the native Hangouts messaging, also received SMS and Google Voice messages. Hangouts did group video calls five years before Zoom blew up, and it had clients on Android, iOS, the web, Gmail, and every desktop OS via a Chrome extension.

As usual though, Google lacked any kind of long-term plan or ability to commit to a single messaging strategy, and Hangouts only survived as the "everything" messenger for a single year. By 2016, Google moved on to the next shiny messaging app and left Hangouts to rot.

Even if Google could magically roll out RCS everywhere, RCS is a poor standard to build a messaging platform on because it is dependent on a carrier phone bill. It's anti-internet and can't natively work on webpages, PCs, smartwatches, and tablets, because those things don't have SIM cards. The carriers designed RCS, so RCS puts your carrier bill at the center of your online identity, even when free identification methods like e-mail exist and work on more devices. Google is just promoting carrier lock-in as a solution to Apple lock-in.

Despite Google's whining about iMessage, it seems to have learned nothing from its years of messaging failure. Today, Google messaging is the worst and most fragmented it has ever been. As of press time, the company runs eight separate messaging platforms, none of which talk to each other: there is Google Messages/RCS, which is being promoted today, but there's also Google Chat/Hangouts, Google Voice, Google Photos Messages, Google Pay Messages, Google Maps Business Messages, Google Stadia Messages, and Google Assistant Messaging. Those last couple apps aren't primarily messaging apps but have all ended up rolling their own siloed messaging platform because no dominant Google system exists for them to plug into.

It is an incredible mess, and no single Google product is as good as Hangouts was in 2015. So while Google goes backwards, it has resorted to asking other tech companies to please play nice with it while it continues to fumble though an incoherent, fragmented messaging strategy.

Read the whole story
MotherHydra
213 days ago
reply
Hey Google eat crow. You made this mess yourself. Can’t blame anyone else.
Space City, USA
acdha
214 days ago
reply
Google worked so hard to destroy their reputation, this is just pathetic. If they really wanted to help people they’d either publicly commit to supporting iMessage (and daring governments to make Apple allow interoperability or decouple) or ship a federated Hangouts with a blanket patent release.
Washington, DC
freeAgent
214 days ago
Remember when Google actually DID use XMPP and allowed federation? That was a thing. Google have absolutely no right to complain here. They have tried their own forms of lock-in and their messaging "strategy" is a complete mess.
acdha
213 days ago
Yeap — all they had to do was not break Hangouts and they'd be in a much better place. Their broken promotion system really cost them this market.
fxer
214 days ago
reply
Bend, Oregon
Share this story
Delete

'The Matrix Resurrections' estimated to lose Warner Bros. $100M

1 Comment and 2 Shares
Comments

Comments
Read the whole story
MotherHydra
213 days ago
reply
No surprises here, it was a shitty also-ran for a franchise that needs no more entrants. See also: the complete death of and lack of creativity in Hollywood that basically equates to “let’s make a sequel.”
Space City, USA
fxer
214 days ago
reply
Bend, Oregon
Share this story
Delete

T-Mobile Blocking iCloud Private Relay For Some, But It's Not What You Think

1 Comment and 2 Shares

It seems Apple’s iCloud Private Relay, a service that essentially hides your web traffic from your carrier, has been reported as being blocked by T-Mobile for some customers. However, the truth is a little more complex.

According to internal documents shared with us here at The T-Mo Report, the blocking of Apple’s privacy-focused service is actually due to a conflict with existing content filtering services on T-Mobile.

The internal note, which is shared below, states that certain customers with content filtering and blocking features, like T-Mobile’s Web Guard, will be unable to use the iCloud Private Relay feature.

It also states customers on T-Mobile’s Home Office Internet are likely impacted as well due to the built-in website filtering on that plan.

This seems to indicate that the blocking isn’t actually intentional by the carrier, but merely a necessary step to ensure their own services work properly. The blocking affects very few customers in practice, and it seems that there are currently no plans to expand the blocking of Apple’s service to standard customers.

Impacted customers will receive one of two error messages, shown below (sourced from the same internal document), stating that their plan isn’t compatible with the iCloud Private Relay service.

Apple’s iCloud Private Relay was first announced back in June during WWDC. It encrypts and hides your DNS requests and IP address from destination websites as well as your ISP (in this case the carrier, T-Mobile). It was shipped as part of iOS 15, but is disabled by default as a “beta” feature. At the time, some carriers in the EU, including T-Mobile, voiced concerns about losing vital metadata that was supposedly critical to network management.

Sources say that, as far as they can tell, this is the only blocking T-Mobile is doing of Apple’s iCloud Private Relay service (at least in the US). Most customers should have no issues using the feature on their devices, and if they do, they can likely reach out to support to have whatever conflicting feature is active removed from their plan.

Read the whole story
MotherHydra
213 days ago
reply
Wow check out this propaganda “conflict” with existing services meaning their ability to wholesale customer data. LOL pathetic. But then again, T-Mo is a shit-tier carrier.
Space City, USA
acdha
213 days ago
reply
Washington, DC
Share this story
Delete

Apple’s Private Relay Is Being Blocked

1 Comment

Some European cell phone carriers, and now T-Mobile, are blocking Apple’s Private Relay anonymous browsing feature.

This could be an interesting battle to watch.

Slashdot thread.

Read the whole story
MotherHydra
213 days ago
reply
T-Mo can no longer spy on customers and sell data in aggregate. If this isn’t a sign to VPN all the things I don’t know what is.
Space City, USA
Share this story
Delete

Xbox’s Spencer Would “Love” to Bring In Cross-Network Bans and Block Lists for Toxic Players

1 Comment

Microsoft Xbox Series X and S Next-Gen

Xbox boss Phil Spencer may like to present a friendly face, but his Xbox Live service is anything but. Rampant toxicity has been synonymous with XBL from the beginning, and during the latest episode of the New York Times’ Sway podcast, host Kara Swisher asked Spencer what he’d like to see done to clean things up. His answer was rather surprising and ambitious…

You know something I would love us to [...] be able to do -- this is a hard one as an industry -- is when someone get's banned in one of our networks is there a way for us to ban them across other networks. Or at least as a player, for me to be able to bring my banned user list because I can always block people from my [games]. I would love to be able bring them to other networks where I play, this is the group of people I choose not to play with because I don't want to have to recreate that on every platform that I play video games on.

When Spencer says “networks,” I assume he means individual games. Honestly, ban status carrying over from game to game and/or people being able to build their own block lists probably would help a lot with the toxicity problem. It would also probably set off an absolute firestorm, and thus, is unlikely to actually happen. That said, Spencer also proposed some more workable toxicity solutions, including better AI monitoring of audio chat, video, and images.

Areas where I think we need to continue to make progress, when I think about video and pictures and our ability to detect what's happening in a video conversation. We don't have as much of that, that happens on Xbox Live because it's not what it's about. But just as I think as an industry voice conversations and how do we monitor quickly? That's an investment that we have a lot of work going on right now.

What do you think? What could Xbox do to make online play slightly less soul-crushing? Or is toxicity just an inescapable part of letting people play online?

The post Xbox’s Spencer Would “Love” to Bring In Cross-Network Bans and Block Lists for Toxic Players by Nathan Birch appeared first on Wccftech.



Read the whole story
MotherHydra
214 days ago
reply
Then there would be no one on any online gaming services.
Space City, USA
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories