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The market for applications meant to help people reduce their time spent on their phones has blossomed recently. From parents trying to limit their kids’ screen time to folks just trying to spend less time staring at their phones, apps to restrict smartphone usage have become popular. But after Apple developed its own digital detox app, it’s trying to crack down on other apps in its App Store that help users limit time spent on their phone, according to a New York Times report.
According to the Times, Apple has removed or restricted 11 of the 17 most downloaded screen time and parental-control applications, while also throttling less popular ones. Apps including OurPact, Kidslox, and Qustodio have reportedly been affected by Apple’s crackdown.
“By controlling the iPhone App Store, where companies find some of their most lucrative customers, Apple has unusual power over the fortunes of other corporations,” the Times report reveals.
In the fall of 2018, Apple introduced its own usage tracking app, called Screen Time. Earlier this month, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company is trying to find ways to help customers monitor their attachment their phones.
Apple said that it had removed or limited competing apps because they could gain too much access to users’ data. “We treat all apps the same, including those that compete with our own services,” Tammy Levine, a spokeswoman for Apple, told the Times. But, according to the Times, Apple’s own Screen Time is less restrictive and more difficult to use than previous apps.
This is not the first time other companies have complained about Apple’s monopoly over applications through its App Store. Spotify filed an antitrust complaint in the European Union related to Apple Music. In the U.S., Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) suggested separating the App Store from Apple when discussing her desire to break up massive tech companies earlier this year at South by Southwest.
Stéphanie Fillion is a French-Canadian journalist covering politics and foreign affairs in Montreal, Canada. She has worked for Radio-Canada in Vancouver and was a San Paolo fellow at La Stampa in Turin. In 2015, she won the Eu-Canada Young Journalist Award. She holds an M.A. in Journalism, Politics and Global Affairs from Columbia Journalism School and a B.A. in Comparative Politics, History and Italian Studies from McGill University. Her work appeared in outlets such as Quartz, Vice News, Ipolitics, and PassBlue.