Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes an Epic battle over Fortnite, streaming games in the App store, a surprise new iPhone 12, stunning Apple benchmarks, delays to the MacBook Pro and iPad Air, iOS and macOS updates, and Apple’s subscription bundle leaks…
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
Apple And Epic In Massive Fortnite Battle
Epic Games added the option to purchase V-Bucks – the in-game currency of Fortnite – to the popular gaming app this week… an option that goes against Apple’s App Store regulations. Apple promptly removed Fortnite’s listing. Epic then promptly sued Apple (and Google, because it had made the same play in the Google Play Store). Epic has long pushed back against the mandatory thirty percent rake going to storefronts, arguing both for a smaller cut and the ability to offer consumers more choice.
This is going to run for some time, and the end result will have a significant impact on how apps an sold and monetised. Forbes’ Paul Tassi walks us through it:
“Epic states that the 30% cut is unreasonable and anti-competitive, pushing apps out of the market because of the unavoidable tax, and there are no possible alternatives to get your games on these phones with Apple and Google iOS.
“The main parallel they draw is between mobile and PC, where Microsoft and Apple own the OS, they are not charging people 30% for everything bought through a PC.”
There’s another clock ticking alongside the legal move. In two weeks time, August 27, the next content update for Fortnite (Chapter 2 Season 4) will launch. That requires every Fortnite client to be updated to continue playing the game. As Forbes’ Dave Thier points out, that’s the point when Fortnite stops working on every iPhone and iPad:
“When a season drops, it’s a big deal, offering all sorts of new goodies to pursue, new items, new challenges, and generally just sort of the most exciting stuff that happens in the game. Naturally, all that stuff means that users must download a big update, and that’s the rub. If Fortnite isn’t listed on Google Play or the App Store, that means neither iPhone users nor a large portion of Android users will be able to update the game and play the new content. If that happens, players will be furious.”
Apple Takes On Xbox And Stadia
This isn’t the only time Apple has crossed swords with the gaming world. Policy decisions around Apple demanding to ‘sign off’ on content available via the App Store has seen the potential game streaming clients of Google and Microsoft rejected from the store. Lucas Matney reports:
“There are a few things about cloud gaming apps that seem at odds with some of the App Store’s rules, yet these rules are, of course, just guidelines written by Apple. For Apple’s part, they basically said (full statement later) that the App Store had curators for a reason and that approving apps like these means they can’t individually review the apps which compromises the App Store experience.
“To say that’s “the reason” seems disingenuous because the company has long approved platforms to operate on the App Store without stamping approval on the individual pieces of content that can be accessed. With “Games” representing the App Store’s most popular category, Apple likely cares much more about keeping their own money straight.”
More on this at TechCrunch, including Apple’s statement on the decision:
“Before they go on our store, all apps are reviewed against the same set of guidelines that are intended to protect customers and provide a fair and level playing field to developers.”
Surprise Fifth iPhone 12 Appears
Everyone expecting four new iPhone 12 models are in for a surprise. Apple could be launching a fifth model early next year. This would be a model using the iPhone 12 design, but skipping on one of the most expensive components. Lisa Eadicicco reports:
“Apple may release a cheaper version of the iPhone 12 that comes with 4G connectivity instead of support for 5G networks, says a new research note from Wedbush Securities written by analysts Daniel Ives, Strecker Backe, and Ahmad Khalil.
“Wedbush initially expected Apple to launch a mix of 4G and 5G-enabled versions of its iPhone 12 this fall. But the firm revised its predictions after its most recent Asia supply chain checks, now saying that it expects to see multiple 5G iPhones in the fall and a cheaper 4G model in early 2021.”
Sounds like a follow-up to the successful iPhone SE. More at Business Insider.
Apple Discovers Even More Power
No doubt the iPhone SE successor will also use the new processor that will be found in the iPhone 12 (ust as this year’s iPhone SE uses the A13 from the iPhone 11). The performance metrics are starting to leak out, and they look ready to trump the competition. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly reports:
“The iPhone 12 range is not just going to be fast, it’s going to blow the rest of the industry away, according to new information provided by prolific industry insider Komiya. The tipster reveals Apple’s new A14 chipset inside the range will offer CPU and GPU gains of 40% and 50% respectively. That equates to a multi-generational increase on the iPhone’s A13, which is already the fastest smartphone chipset on the market.”
Apple Delays Radical MacBook Pro
While the 16-inch MacBook Pro is expected to get a small bump in specs later this year (no doubt with a tenth-generation Intel Core processor to bring it in line with the smaller Pro and the MacBook Air), the excitement around the first ARM-powered MacBook has taken a small hit this week with news of a delay into 2021. I looked at the issues earlier this week:
“Every manufacturer, not just in consumer electronics, is having to deal with delays in the supply chain… Apple itself is facing issues with the iPhone 12 and is expected to stagger the release of the handsets on top of pushing back the retail release date of the new handset family.
“Disappointing as it may be the geekerati, it come as no surprise that the ARM-powered MacBooks will be running behind the no doubt carefully planned schedule that was in place at the start of the year.”
Wait For The iPad Air
Also picking up a delay, and presumably for the same supply issues, is the next iPad Air. Tom Bedford reports:
“According to this leak, the iPad Air 4 will be unveiled in early March next year, not by the end of this year as we thought, and with a price starting at around $649 (roughly £500, AU$900). Depending on your region, that’s more, or a lot more, than the iPad Air 3’s starting price of $499 / £479 / AU$779, though that converted price might not accurately reflect costs in various regions.
“So people who were hoping for a bigger version of an entry-level iPad might end up being disappointed, because according to the specs provided alongside the release information, this is more like an ‘iPad Pro Lite’.”
A Raft Of OS Updates
Software updates all round this week, with minor releases of iOS, iPadOS and macOS to consider. These are in the main bug fixes and addressing small issues. Samuel Axon has the breakdown, starting with iOS 13.6.1:
“The mobile device update fixes a problem that prevented storage for being cleared as intended, addressed a bug that could cause “some displays to exhibit a green tint,” and fixed an issue “where Exposure Notifications could be disabled for some users.” As for macOS, just two changes are named by Apple: a fix for a “stability issue” related to virtualization apps, and a wake-from-sleep problem unique to the brand-new iMac that just released.“
Apple’s various subscription services could well be bundled up in the near future, allowing consumers one easy payment to reach Apple’s content and services. Best guess is tho wwill be part of the iPhone 12 launch. Mark Gurman reports:
“There will be different tiers, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private plans. A basic package will include Apple Music and Apple TV+, while a more expensive variation will have those two services and the Apple Arcade gaming service. The next tier will add Apple News+, followed by a pricier bundle with extra iCloud storage for files and photos.”
Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.