back to article Apple braces for antitrust woes by letting users select and install third-party apps during setup of iOS 14.3

iOS 14.3 will prompt some users to install selected third-party applications during setup, in what is likely an attempt to stifle any allegations of anticompetitive behaviour from regulators. The feature, which is buried deep within the beta version of the upcoming iOS release and was first spotted by 9to5Mac, is believed to …

  1. don't you hate it when you lose your account

    Apple to comment

    So no updates likely then :)

  2. Totally not a Cylon
    Flame

    Time to end this nonsense.

    When an os is installed or upgraded it should just install the default apps for web browsing and email.

    Or keep whatever the user has installed.

    Anything else is just pandering to snowflakes.

    It's not hard to download your favourite email client/web browser.

    Otherwise we'll be back to where we had an internet connection but no programs to download anything.

    Who else remembers trumpet winsock and having to ftp from a command line to download a browser?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Time to end this nonsense.

      Otherwise we'll be back to where we had an internet connection but no programs to download anything.

      Who else remembers trumpet winsock and having to ftp from a command line to download a browser?

      So, er, you had a program to download a browser. In Windows 95 it was FTP. In Windows 7 it was the browser ballot screen. And now in iOS it's the first-run process.

      When an os is installed or upgraded it should just install the default apps for web browsing and email.

      So it should uninstall any other browsers you've downloaded when you update the OS to a later version?

      Finally this screen is shown or not depending on where you are. If they had any confidence in their own apps they would offer it to everyone.

      1. Snake Silver badge

        Errr..

        He mentions FTP. I'm sorry, but FTP is NOT a use option for 85%+ of the computer using population,,witness the removal of support from browsers. Say "FTP" to the average user (as I have) and get a "What is that?" result to prove that users do not know FTP, and do not know how to use it. That makes it a complete non-'option'.

        GUI selection screens are OK, users can handle radio buttons. But then you're still limited by the programmer's selection choices; what happens if corporate decides that Firefox is no longer a valid option because of its currently-small market segment?

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Errr..

          Say "FTP" to the average user (as I have) and get a "What is that?" result to prove that users do not know FTP, and do not know how to use it. That makes it a complete non-'option'.

          Well, yes, I agree. But FTP was an option in the 90s because there were different kinds of user then.

          what happens if corporate decides that Firefox is no longer a valid option because of its currently-small market segment?

          We go back to court. :)

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Errr..

          If FTP is the only tool available, the users will learn it. Trust me, 14 year old boys searching for pR0n figured out how to use FTP in a hurry. It's not like FTP is difficult to use or anything. Even setting up an FTP server is pretty painless.

          Even MeDearOldMum uses FTP to move pictures from her computer to our friends&family server, all by herself no less, and she's one of the most computer illiterate people I know.

          The removal of FTP from browsers was a daft political move, nothing more.

          1. BebopWeBop

            Re: Errr..

            The removal of FTP from browsers was a daft political move, nothing more.

            Apparently teenager rapidly work out how to use ftp via a terminal (I have been told)

    2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: Time to end this nonsense.

      It's not hard to download your favourite email client/web browser

      Actually, with iThings that is exactly the problem. Apple policies are to not allow replacements for built in functions like email and browser. Even where an alternative is available, such as with browsers, Apple still screws them over by prohibiting the use of any rendering engine other than it's own - making an alternative browser little more than different lipstick on the pig.

      It would appear that some authorities have decided that this is "not on" and so Apple are relaxing their grip to fend off regulatory action. I think we can be certain that they are doing the absolute minimum they think they need to.

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: Time to end this nonsense.

      "Otherwise we'll be back to where we had an internet connection but no programs to download anything."

      Actually, we had the programs to download stuff long before most of us had Internet connections. For example, FTP existed in 1971 ... but the TCP/IP Internet didn't exist until about 10 years later.

      Trumpet Winsock was released in the summer of 1992, over a decade after that.

  3. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    We’ve asked Apple to comment

    You're holding the phone wrong.

  4. gobaskof

    Let's move these deckchairs over there!

    The problem with all of these tiny things like browser choice screens is they are a tiny step in the right direction then the battle has to be started again.

    Microsoft which bundled IE into Windows also had an Office monopoly that helped keep people using Windows. Anti-trust achieved a browser selector, Microsoft otherwise was allowed to continue on. Buying other rivals, bundling products together, leveraging their monopoly. This is not an anti-Micorsoft rant, Google did similar things by repeatedly shouting that google would work better on their own browser, leveraging their search monopoly for browser monopoly. And in many ways who can blame them, if you have a monopoly and you make a new product why would you not use the popularity of one to improve the use of the other?

    I just don't see this being fixed with a few selection dialogues, that target a feature or two out of the vast ecosystems of intertwined and ingrained monopolies. These companies grow and grow. Tech news is always full of speculation of which big company will buy any new popular service. We need to split them up and a lot of the big ones need to be split up 3-4 ways. Google is ready, each of their sub companies can still have their own messaging app.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Let's move these deckchairs over there!

      Whether things are "fixed" or not is irrelevant if some countries are discussing mandating certain apps be installed on phones (Russia) or mandating third party apps have some sort of access to be installed (EU I guess?) then phone OEMs will have to go along with it.

      That's not really a problem for Android as OEMs have been adding their own crapware for years, the laws will change just what crapware is included. For Apple though it requires some changes to the OS, so that the third party stuff can be automatically downloaded during the setup process, because they aren't going to make third party stuff part of their OS image.

    2. drd

      Re: Let's move these deckchairs over there!

      Monopoly.

  5. Social Ambulator

    There was a time.…

    …when Mac users had to rely on Microsoft or Firefox for a web browser, and, surprise, surprise, it always lagged behind the Windows version, and often (yes, you Firefox) didn’t conform to the Mac interface guidelines. But the s***s in Brussels didn’t care. So that’ when Apple liberated us from that with Safari, and installed on the mobile platform they invented and took steps to prevent the security nightmare that was/is Windows, we Apple fanboys all cheered. I think Brexit was crazy, but more and more frequently Brussels makes me wonder. Perhaps Apple should have built a serial port into the iPhone. After all we (actually the 1984 Windows droids) all have one of those.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: There was a time.…

      That was a lovely incoherent rant.

      Thanks.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: There was a time.…

      That's not the point, though. Whether safari is good or bad, the issue is about choices. I see exactly why Apple decided to write Safari. I like it, if only because it has stuck with its own rendering engine while most others have given way to Chromium. If people use it a lot because they really like it, that's fine.

      The issue is that, on IOS, users have no choice. They must use a browser that uses WebKit whether they'd prefer to or not. The mobile versions of other browsers just change the skin. This means that users don't get the option to switch to anything else. In many ways, it's similar to the situation you describe on OS X in the 2000s--they get a single choice which might not always be to their liking. In the 2000s, someone could write a browser to run on OS X, just like Apple did. Today, the same is not necessarily true with IOS.

      I don't really care whether Apple puts a choice screen into the setup process or just lets people download their desired apps later, but I would like them to reduce the restrictions they place on developers and users. Appealing to security is in many cases a cheap tactic which has little or no factual basis; there are bugs in every rendering engine, but there are also bugs in every similarly-sized codebase and plenty of those get accepted. The restrictions on rendering engine or on payment methods just serve to prioritize Apple's services over user choice. I don't think that should be allowed, and I frankly don't think they need it anyway.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: There was a time.…

        "They must use a browser that uses WebKit whether they'd prefer to or not."

        And therein lies the point - if I have a site that trips Safari up, I cannot switch to a different browser because that different browser is basically a skin over the same rendering engine that will trip up in exactly the same way.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: There was a time.…

          Then vote with your wallet, stop using an emasculated system, and start using a general purpose computer that works like an actual general purpose computer instead of emulating the advertising and marketing departments of the company that manufactured it.

          1. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: There was a time.…

            I don't use iOS any more. I use Android, with the stock browser, Opera, and a slightly older (non-broken) version of Firefox.

            But therein lies another point. Firefox's changes, and the payola to the Mozilla Foundation. Coincidence? Or is everything ultimately corruptible?

          2. needmorehare
            Linux

            Pick your poison...

            We can go on about emasculated mobile operating systems (being limiting) as much as we like but the developers behind these systems have gone through great pains to apply API restrictions throughout the stack with the goal of eliminating legacy security issues, ensuring that phones/tablets continue to work even when an application misbehaves. End users generally don't need to be educated in how to use their devices safely and the inherent limitations are accepted as a consequence of device choice.

            By comparison, desktop operating systems are still every bit as fragile as how things started out and overall application software quality for Windows and Linux alike has been regressing of late, even in situations where features have been correctly limited or scoped. People (like me) get paid a lot of money to make general purpose computers less usable in order to protect users from themselves while attempting (often in vain) to keep malicious entities out.

            The former is starting to slowly but surely open up in ways which are designed with safety/security in mind, while the latter is littered with many failed attempts at providing basic IT security. Eventually, both will converge on a happy medium but for now you gotta pick your poison!

  6. COMPUTERJOCK

    Walled Garden? Really!

    It's dead easy to do a Google/Microsoft makeover to an Apple device. Google Photos, Drive, Maps, Mail, etc. all work fine. Same for Office apps, including Outlook. I use Bing search, Roboform password repository and Edge browser. I use Spotify instead of Apple Music, Libby and Kindle for books. Google Maps is way ahead of Apple's Maps version, and works great on iOS. Same for Google News. Apple Messenger has great features, but works with all carrier text systems regardless of destination OS.

    I was a bit afraid of the "Walled Garden" when I bought my first Apple device. My family uses Android, Windows and Apple devices. My iPhone and iPad work seamlessly with all those systems. I know other individuals who also have used numerous 3rd party apps instead of Apple's defaults.

    The Walled Garden has many exit doors. Just use them.

    1. parperback parper

      Re: Walled Garden? Really!

      No, you have just opened the gate from the walled orchard into the walled garden.

      Apple still has veto permission on what you can install by what it allows into the app store.

      Apple's great at selling the image of thinking outside the box, but all they do is provide a slightly bigger box. And then tape it shut.

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Walled Garden? Really!

      "The Walled Garden has many exit doors."

      It might have a few pre-approved exit doors, but it has no entry doors. You can't install the apps you might want, only the ones that are chosen to be placed in the central, and only, repository. So long as they follow arcane rules that may change and/or be applied randomly.

      Or, as the above poster says, it's a bigger box taped shut.

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