What's Up With Apple: iOS 14.5 Coming Next Week, Apple Goes to Washington, and More

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) did not reveal any big surprises at Tuesday’s Spring Loaded event, but there was a big surprise nonetheless. The next versions of the iPhone, iPad, MacOS and Apple Watch operating systems will launch next week and include Apple’s controversial App Tracking Transparency feature.

In a press release issued Tuesday, the company spelled out for developers the requirements they’d need to meet in order to get new or updated apps a spot on the App Store’s virtual shelves. The requirements “apply to all apps starting April 26, 2021.” That’s next Monday, and because Apple typically launches operating system updates on Tuesday, most Apple watchers expect iOS 14.5 for the iPhone and the other updates to launch on the 27th.

Among the products introduced at Tuesday’s event, AirTags requires the new iOS. Because those small hardware tracking devices go on sale April 30 and only work with iOS 14.5, well, QED.

On Wednesday, Apple corporate law vice president and chief compliance officer, Kyle Andeer, is scheduled to appear before a U.S. Senate Subcommittee hearing to defend Apple’s tight control over apps sold through the App Store and how Apple takes its cut. In general, Apple charges companies that sell more than $1 million worth of products 30% of the app’s price and forbids the developer from using anything but Apple’s own in-app purchase system to collect payments from people.

Both Apple and Google will appear before the subcommittee to defend the companies against anti-competitive allegations stemming from their app distribution practices. Google is in a little less trouble because it allows people to side-load apps directly without using the Google Play store.

Music app Spotify, dating app Match and hardware tracking device maker Tile will be on hand to argue their cases against the two tech giants. Apple is also defending its App Store policies in a lawsuit brought by Epic Games, makers of Fortnite, and Google is fighting charges in Europe of anti-competitive practices.

Last Friday, we covered a story on FlickType developer Kosta Eleftheriou who revealed that a children’s game was, in reality, just a cover for a casino game for adults. Eleftheriou sued Apple last month seeking damages for alleged fraud, abuse of monopoly power and allowing scam apps to steal his ideas.

In a report Wednesday at The Verge, Eleftheriou is said to have found scam apps that offer free trials and fake reviews of apps available at the App Store and sell for seriously high prices. Eleftheriou commented, “It’s a situation that most communities are blind to because of how Apple is essentially brainwashing people into believing the App Store is a trusted place.” The Verge followed some simple detective steps and found an app that charges $520 a year that some people complained they couldn’t figure out how to cancel.