Apple hits back at devs of axed kiddie screen-time apps

It's about privacy, not competition, sniffs Jesus-phone maker

Apple has smacked back at app developers moaning that their parental control apps were chucked off the App Store.

Several app makers went to the New York Times to complain that their applications had been removed without warning from the digital outlet.

Amir Moussavian, chief executive of OurPact, told the paper: "They yanked us out of the blue with no warning….They are systematically killing the industry."

The latest version of Apple's mobile operating system includes tools to restrict access to applications.

Apple insisted that it gave all the app-makers 30 days to alter their applications to bring them into line with App Store rules.

Specifically, Apple said the axed apps used Mobile Device Management: "MDM gives a third party control and access over a device and its most sensitive information including user location, app use, email accounts, camera permissions, and browsing history."

Apple said it began investigating MDM use by "non-enterprise developers" in early 2017 and changed its rules in the middle of 2017.

The company noted what it considers acceptable use of MDM including use by enterprises to track devices and control access to proprietary data.

But Apple described use of MDM for consumer-focused applications as "incredibly risky" as well as being a violation of App Store Ts & Cs. Apple warned that beyond the direct control such an app would have over an iPhone, MDM also creates profiles which could be used by hackers to get control of a device.

Apple said it gave app makers 30 days to update their software or risk being removed.

The company said: "Several developers released updates to bring their apps in line with these policies. Those that didn't were removed from the App Store."

Several app makers are making complaints to the European Union's competition watchdog.

The full statement is available here.

The World Health Organisation released guidelines of child development last week which were widely reported as suggesting restrictions on screen time. Actually, the recommendations were for more physical activity generally along with better quality sleep. For three- to four-year-olds that means at least 180 minutes a day of varied physical activity and between 10 and 13 hours of "good quality" sleep. WHO noted that 23 per cent of adults and a whopping 80 per cent of adolescents are not "sufficiently physically active". ®

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