Technology

What's Up With Apple: Getting Political in Texas and Russia, and More

When the new Texas abortion law went into effect on September 1, only a relative handful of companies spoke out against it. That reaction was far different from the corporate response to the earlier change in Texas’ voting laws.

Among the companies keeping quiet about the new abortion law was Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL). That may change, or not. According to a report in TechCrunch, a message posted to an internal message board claimed that Apple is monitoring legal challenges to the new Texas law:

We are actively monitoring the legal proceedings challenging the uniquely restrictive abortion law in Texas. In the meantime, we want to remind you that our benefits at Apple are comprehensive, and that they allow our employees to travel out-of-state for medical care if it is unavailable in their home state.

Among the first companies to speak out against the law were Texas-based dating firms Bumble and Match.com. Uber and Lyft followed. Salesforce has offered to relocate employees who are worried about their ability to get reproductive care.

Apple employs thousands of people at its Austin campus, and a contract manufacturer employs hundreds more. The company also operates 17 Apple Stores in the state.

Meanwhile, opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin have accused Apple and Google of caving to pressure from Russian authorities after the two tech giants removed a protest-voting app from their online stores in the country. According to a report at Bloomberg, government officials made clear what would happen if the apps were not removed:

Russian authorities had accused the companies of meddling in the elections by offering the opposition apps despite court rulings banning access to the content. The head of parliament’s committee on investigating foreign interference in Russia’s domestic affairs, Vasily Piskarev, said Thursday the companies’ staff could face criminal charges if the apps weren’t removed, the state news service Tass reported. Regulators warned of new fines and other measures.

Neither company commented on the report.

In March of this year, app developer Kosta Eleftheriou filed a lawsuit against Apple alleging that the company was rejecting his FlickType Apple Watch keyboard app, hoping to get him to sell the app to the company. According to a report in The Verge, Eleftheriou had shown his app to Apple engineers in January of 2019. The engineers reportedly loved it, but later that same day, Eleftheriou received an email that the app was being removed from the App Store because it violated an Apple rule against Watch keyboards.

When Apple announced its Apple Watch Series 7 earlier this week, a virtually identical keyboard app was included. And that’s just where the story begins.

Eleftheriou last week discontinued supporting his iPhone FlickType keyboard for the blind, tweeting that “Apple has thrown us obstacle after obstacle for years while we try to provide an app to improve people’s lives, and we can no longer endure their abuse.”