Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

Facebook Is Mad at Apple Again

Illustration for article titled Facebook Is Mad at Apple Again
Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP (Getty Images)

There is seemingly no end to the ways that tech companies—and there are many of them—will yell at Apple these days. Some of the ire comes from small developers who are rightfully frustrated that they have to fork over a big percentage of their revenue to Apple, the gatekeeper of the iOS App Store. But what’s still sort of surprising is the number of other tech giants who have clambered up onto their soapboxes to point a finger at Apple. One company in particular is Facebook.

Advertisement

An exclusive report from The Information reveals just how deep Facebook’s animosity toward Apple goes. According to Facebook’s head of Messenger, Stan Chudnovsky, Apple refuses to allow iPhone users to set Facebook’s Messenger app as their default messaging tool.

Chudnovksy revealed that Facebook asked Apple several times over the years to consider letting its users change their default messaging app, like Android owners can do. But Apple has always said no.

Advertisement

“We feel people should be able to choose different messaging apps and the default on their phone,” Chudnovsky told The Information. “Generally, everything is moving this direction anyway.”

Some people might want to use the messaging app that comes with their phone. Some might want to replace it with Messenger or another service. Either is fine, and that’s the ethos of the Android platform. But Apple’s fixation on security and privacy creates a walled garden that limits consumer choice.

Chudnovsky told The Information that if Apple took a more Android-like approach to its iPhone, then Facebook could compete more fairly in the messaging app space.

I know, I know. It’s tough to muster any sympathy for Facebook. But the social networking giant isn’t the only one that has issues with Apple’s walled garden.

Advertisement

A new nonprofit coalition dedicated to fair, competitive practices across the app ecosystem launched this week, comprised of several companies who have gone toe-to-toe over Apple’s policies (cough, Epic Games, cough).

Advertisement

Facebook did score a minor win over Apple today, though. According to The Verge, Apple will temporarily stop taking a 30% percent cut of Facebook event fees. Facebook has contested the revenue share with Apple ever since it rolled out the events feature, which helps individuals and business recoup some of their loses from not being able to hold in-person events due to covid-19. On the other hand, Apple still will not let iPhone users play games via Facebook Gaming, citing its App Store guidelines regarding cloud streaming. Facebook had to launch its app without games on iOS just to be allowed in the App Store.

But Facebook is not only under an antitrust investigation by the Department of Justice, along with Apple, but also facing many, many other problems: censoring its employees’ free speech; not taking action against violent groups organizing events; routinely ignoring efforts to manipulate elections; and collecting and storing users’ biometric data without their consent, just to name a few.

Advertisement

If this tech giant vs. tech giant thing is starting to wear on you a little bit, you’re not the only one. Does Facebook have the right to be frustrated with Apple? Sure. But Facebook itself is so plainly awful that it’s probably not the best representative to battle Apple over its unfair policies.

Staff Reporter, Reviews at Gizmodo. Formerly PC Gamer, Maximum PC.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

idelaney
Iain.Delaney

Here’s the thing: the ‘walled garden’ is supposed to protect the user from malicious apps. But, Apple has a way to do this on the Mac that doesn’t involve the Mac App Store. Any developer with Xcode and a developer’s account can run their program through ‘App Hardening ‘, which blocks the app from running arbitrary code, or accessing files or devices it doesn’t need to.

Then, the developer submits the app to Apple for ‘notarization’. This checks the app for malware and improper behaviour, and signs it with a cryptographic key. Then the developer gets it back, and can distribute it in any way they want. None-notarized apps won’t run, or you have to go through hoops to get them to run.

There’s no practical reason that Apple couldn’t provide a similar service for iOS apps, they could even charge for the service. But because they set up the App Store as the single source of software for iOS, they’ve got total control, and nothing short of a court order will make them give that up. There’s too much profit involved, plain and simple.