Overnight both @Apple and @EpicGames released hundreds of pages of new documents, containing lots of colour based on discovery and recent depositions. I stayed up reading so you don't have to. Here's what I learnt (couple *bombshells* in here)
Epic argues that Apple’s App Store review process is “cursory” and that Apple doesn’t recruit reviewers with sophisticated tech backgrounds.
When the App Store first began, applicants were considered qualified if they “understood how to use a Mac”, “understood how to use an iPhone”, “understood a little about the Apple brand”, “could breathe . . . could think”.
In current job postings, listed qualifications for App Reviewers primarily include nontechnical skills such as teamwork, curiosity, clear communications and resilience. A thorough knowledge of macOS and iOS is noted as “helpful,” but not a requirement.
Epic said the volume of apps submitted “does not permit robust review."

As of April 2016 the human review process typically took 13 mins per app and 6 minutes per app update.
App Reviewers typically review between 50 to 100 apps per day … "In certain instances, reviews took less than a minute to review apps.”
Certain apps that may have competed with Apple’s apps or features, such as Google Voice, were “rejected on pretextual grounds”.

(that is, competitive reasons)
Former head of App Review says some apps were “remov[ed]” “immediately” because Mr. Schiller and Mr. Cue were “adamant” about (their) removal, despite Mr. Shoemaker’s “protest[s]” that there was no clear justification for doing so under the app review guidelines.
App review had limited ability to detect “Jekyll” apps — malicious apps that can alter their behavior post App Review.
Epic argues Apple has “no evidence” its app review process “screens for security issues better than other methods of app distribution”. It cites many examples of fraudulent apps, eg fake blood pressure detection tools and scams where users have been mislead into buying items
Eric Friedman, head of Apple’s FEAR unit — Fraud Engineering Algorithms and Risk — said in a recent deposition that his team believed the App Review team was inadequate to the risks posed by malicious actors, saying they were “bringing a plastic butter knife to a gun fight.”
In 2015, Apple recognized that Google’s way of automating the screening process had some advantages. It acquired a company called SourceDNA to help detect malicious apps.
However in late 2017 Apple’s FEAR team still called the App Review process inadequate. Friedman said it “was more like the pretty lady who greets you with a lei at the Hawaiian airport than the drug sniffing dog.”
FEAR likened App Review to _TSA employees, “under pressure to move people through” and “not able to deflect sophisticated attackers”.
FEAR believed App Review is judged by, and therefore is focused on, “‘how my apps can we get through the pipe’ and not ‘what exotic exploits can we detect?’”
In 2017 Apple conducted a “case study” of an app fraudulently offering virus scanning. The app was rejected twice, then accepted b/c the human reviewers didn't know about prior rejections.
The fraudulent app offered non-existent “virus scanning” services for $99.99 through IAP. It eventually became one of the “Top Grossing” apps in the App Store.
A TouchID scam is described: An app launches asking to enable TouchID. The screen goes dark so the text can’t be read and a notification appears asking for a $89.99 payment for a premium membership. Users click, money gone.
CEO of Headspace became upset with the level of “egregious theft” on the App Store as copy-cats sprang up, stealing its IP.
“Shockingly, Apple [is] approving these apps, and when the users buy the apps they are left with nothing but some scammy chat rooms in the background."
Epic cites that Apple even approved a “school shooting game” two weeks after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, in Florida, left 17 dead.
App developers complain about Apple’s criteria being unclear “every day,” — Epic cites Shoemaker, former head of App Review from 2009 to 2016
There's quite a bit more but I've run out of time. Story on @FT up soon.
Apple engineer likened App Store security to ‘butter knife in gunfight’ on.ft.com/31USYTC @FT

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More from @PatrickMcGee_

28 Sep 20
Apple-Epic hearing started a few minutes early. “We are going to be hear for hours, I suspect,” says Judge Gonzales, who threatens to mute people if they regurgitate arguments she’s already aware of.

Thread begins...
Gonzales begins by grilling Katherine Forrest - Epic’s lawyer - and says it’s not acceptable Epic hasn’t produced documents for discovery.

“Well, Apple has already produced. So, I find it to be convenient for you, not convenient for anybody else.”
Judge wants to define the relevant market, “the area of effective competition.” Says Clearly “this is where I have the most questions.”
Read 76 tweets
14 Sep 20
Last week I wrote about rampant app inflation in the @Apple App Store. Quick addendum, from the cutting room floor, via thread.

Apple: how app developers manipulate your mood to boost ranking via @FT
Apple claims its store is curated and that they heavily invest to make sure apps work and that reviews are accurate. But it’s simple to find examples where 5-star reviews are bogus and the the star ratings are at best questionable and likely fraudulent.
Eg The 50th (now 63rd) ranked lifestyle app is “Make Money - Earn Easy Cash.” It has 26 one-star reviews in the last two weeks alone, with multiple reviewers calling the app “fake,” “a scam”, “horrible” or citing “terrible customer service.”

Rating? 4.9 stars. ImageImageImageImage
Read 4 tweets
8 Sep 20
Apple counter-sues Epic -- 1/many. *thread from doc* @Apple @EpicGames

"Although Epic portrays itself as a modern corporate Robin Hood, in reality it is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that simply wants to pay nothing for the tremendous value it derives from the App Store."
Epic 'rakes in billions by taking commissions on game developers’ sales and charging consumers up to $99.99 for bundles of “V-Bucks.”'
"Epic has taken advantage of Apple’s support and services more than any other app developer for the past two years..

Fortnite has used 400+ of Apple’s unique API frameworks and classes (such as Metal), as well as five different versions of Apple’s Software Development Kit (SDK)"
Read 12 tweets
30 Jul 20
1/Notes from my quick interview with Apple CFO Luca Maestri. A thread:.

“It’s clear to us our products are very relevant to our customers lives and the pandemic has them more relevant than ever before”

“Working from home, online learning — both trends are helpful.”
“We grew revenue in every product category... Records for Mac, wearables, services ... and each geographic segment.”
3/ “What went better than expected for us was iPhones and Wearables. In both cases April was a tough month for us, very much impacted by C19.” May and June saw a resurgence and the iPhone SE proved successful.
Read 6 tweets
29 Jul 20
Tim Cook's testimony reads like the answer to a question nobody was asking. A quick thread...

@tim_cook @Apple
He noted the smartphone market is “fiercely competitive”, as users can choose from a host of other handset makers including Samsung and Huawei, who each had a higher global market share in 2019 according to Canalys.

These points are valid, but arguably beside the point... 1/?
The antitrust case against Apple has little to do with its market share vs the giants and is more about its role as gatekeeper to the App Store, where it also a rival to much smaller developers who complain that Apple has built an unlevel playing field. 2/?
Read 8 tweets
30 Apr 20
No guidance from Apple for current quarter. Thread:

“We really didn’t feel there was enough visibility and certainty to provide guidance and frankly we didn’t want to do something that didn’t have much value for investors,” finance chief Luca Maestri told the Financial Times.
2. Earnings in March were hampered by “downward pressure” that extended into the first half of April, but in the last two weeks “we’ve actually seen an uptick”, Mr Maestri added, attributing the growth to the new iPhone SE and updates for the iPad and MacBook Air.
“I think people are starting to get more adjusted to the new reality that Covid-19 is not going away any time soon and so they are trying to adjust their spending patterns as well,” he said.
Read 4 tweets

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