Apple is removing some apps that let users monitor their mobile phone usage from its App Store. This is likely in line with the mobile phone giant’s plan to release its own Screen Time feature.
In 2018, Apple expressed its commitment to help customers and patents limit their technology usage. The iOS 12 came with a Screen Time feature in its settings that enabled users to track usage statistics. This is also in line with the company’s commitment to combat iPhone addiction.
Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke on the topic earlier in April. He said it was never the company’s intention to make people addicted to their phones. He explained,
“It is clear that there are certain apps that people can get in the mindset of just scrolling through mindlessly and continuously picking up their phones and looking to see what is happening this second.”
Now, Apple has restricted about 15 most downloaded parental-control and screen-time apps from its app store. However, some reports suggest that this move raises some concerns over Apple’s anti-competitive behaviour.
Meanwhile, some apps like Kidslox and Qustodio are already filing a complaint against Apple with the European Union. This is coming after Spotify filed a similar suit against Apple in March 2019.
Phil Schiller explained in a statement that Apple’s crackdown on the apps was due to non-personal reasons. Schiller is the senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple. He said it was because of their use of Mobile Device Management (MDM) technology to monitor the user’s phone.
“Over the last year, we became aware that some parental management apps were using a technology called Mobile Device Management or “MDM” and installing an MDM Profile as a method to limit and control the use of these devices.”
Behind the screen
On how the technology works, Schiller says,
“MDM is a technology that gives one party access to and control over many devices. It was meant to be used by a company on its own mobile devices as a management tool, where that company has a right to all of the data and use of the devices.
“The MDM technology is not intended to enable a developer to have access to and control over consumers’ data and devices. But the apps we removed from the store did just that. No one, except you, should have unrestricted access to manage your child’s device, know their location, track their app use, control their mail accounts, web surfing, camera use, network access and even remotely erase their devices.”
He highlighted that this was very dangerous for security reasons, explaining:
“Security research has shown that there is a risk that MDM profiles could be used as a technology for hacker attacks by assisting them in installing apps for malicious purposes on users’ devices.”