Apple will do what Apple will do — unless government regulations force it to change.
A raft of new European Union regulations has forced Apple to loosen control over its heavily guarded product line. EU rulings have led Apple to set up self-repair programs and will soon require Apple devices sold in the region to use USB-C charging ports. Now Apple allows some users to install app stores and third party programs without going through the official app store.
According to a report by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple’s move is the result of another EU decision, the Digital Markets Act, which bans large companies from forcing users to download apps exclusively through official channels. It’s not yet clear how widespread the ability to access alternatives on the App Store will be. Apple could simply roll it out to iPhones and iPads in the EU where technically required, leaving devices in the US and other parts of the world as restricted as they’ve always been. The new market requirements will come into force in 2024.
Apple and Google keep a tight grip on their respective app stores, vetting every app and reportedly ensuring that any software you download onto your device complies with the companies’ security and content rules. Both companies claim that downloading programs from unverified sources might pose security threats for users. While that’s technically correct, the strategy has also made the companies plenty of money as they charge developers to bring their apps to market. Sure, there are risks when you put an old program on your phone. But Apple’s App Store is certainly not perfect, and malware has wormed its way in before. No matter what device you use, you should still take steps to avoid app store scams.
Here’s some more news from this week.
Covid tests are free again in the US
Hey, do you remember Covid? Not only is the virus still very common, it’s making the rounds again, along with all sorts of cold and flu strains. (You may have noticed that everyone seems to be sick right now.)
To stem some of this virus spread, the US government is once again making Covid testing free for a limited time. Each household is only allowed four free trials, but hey, that’s better than nothing. You can order the tests from the official Covid.gov website or by calling 1-800-232-0233.
Hey Google, what’s up
Google has announced that some of its smart home and Android devices are now compatible with the brand new Matter smart home standard.
In the works for three years, Matter is a collaborative effort of nearly 300 companies calling themselves the Connectivity Standards Alliance. The consortium aims to improve the smart home experience by enabling devices to work together across brands. The interoperability standard was officially launched in October, but only a few devices have implemented support. Now Google says its Nest line of products, Android phones, and Google Home devices will work with Matter.
It’s still not a seamless experience, as users need to ensure their devices can set up a hub to integrate Matter through them.
Lock your coins
Tony Fadell is widely known as “the iPod guy”. His work since the early days of Apple’s mobile business cemented his legacy in the Silicon Valley Hall of Fame. Now, like seemingly everyone else in the technosphere, he has decided to turn his endeavors to cryptocurrency.
Fadell works with Ledger, a French company trying to make crypto chic. The company’s newest device, the Stax, is a slim physical wallet that doubles as a vault for your digital coins. It might seem like an odd time to bet on crypto considering the market has stalled. But Fadell – and a few other tech bigwigs – are convinced that hardware wallets could be the future standard for securing everything from cryptocurrency to passports to concert tickets.