Technology

What's Up with Apple: More Legal Hassles Here and Abroad, Remote Control Patent, and More

A court in France has, after four years, set a date to arguments in a case against Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), charging the company with anti-competitive practices at the App Store. The case is similar to complaints in the United States from Epic Games and a Spotify complaint in Europe.

According to a report in Politico Europe, the French economy ministry filed the complaint four years ago, but the recent admission of France Digitale as a co-claimant has added heft to the government’s complaint that Apple’s contracts with app makers “harms developers.” In March, France Digitale, a lobbying group that represents European startups and venture capital firms, alleged that Apple does not apply the same ad rules to itself that it imposes on third-party developers.

In Illinois, a federal court has ruled that a state law (the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, or BIPA) can apply to companies that collect but do not have exclusive control of a person’s biometric data. Apple had contested the claim against its Apple Photos app, which creates a faceprint after analyzing a person’s photo.

According to law firm Ulmer & Berne, the plaintiffs were able to establish that Apple did, in fact, possess a person’s biometric data because the company had “complete and exclusive control over the data on Apple Devices, including what biometric identifiers are collected, what biometric data is saved, whether biometric identifiers are used to identify users (creating biometric information), and how long biometric data is stored.”

The court also noted that Apple “uses software” that is able to “create, gather, and harvest faceprints, which Apple stores in facial recognition databases,” and that Apple users “cannot disable the collection of biometric data.” The law firm notes that the ruling “may also ensnare third-party data security vendors who sell or license biometric scanning technology to end users even when the vendors are not storing the data, so long as they control how the data is generated and stored.”

On Tuesday, Apple was awarded a patent on technology that uses Ultra-Wideband wireless protocols to create a single remote control that could interact with multiple nearby devices simply by pointing the controller at one device.

While the remote control may be a dedicated device, the patent application “also hypothesizes that it could be an iPhone,” according to a report from AppleInsider. If the controller had a camera and a display (as does the iPhone), “this could allow for an AR [augmented reality] view to be used, with data overlaid on top of a video feed showing the pointed-at object.” New iPhones, the HomePod mini, and Apple AirTags already have UWB capability.

Finally, rumors are heating up about what Apple might include in its next-generation iPhone, sometimes called the iPhone 13 — although Apple has not confirmed that designation. CNET serves up details on a rumored Apple foldable iPhone, similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Fold and  Z Fold 2. A well-respected Apple analyst suggested in early May that Apple is targeting 2023 to release its foldable phone.