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Apple continues crack down on third-party screen time apps, faces new antitrust complaint in Europe

Last year, a report explored Apple’s crackdown on third-party screen time and parental control following the implementation of Screen Time as a native feature in iOS 12. Now, a new report from The New York Times notes of Apple’s continued efforts to push users towards its first-party time tracking feature.

The report details that over the past year, Apple has “removed or restricted” at least 11 of the 17 most popular screen time and parental control applications on the App Store. In some cases, the apps were completely removed from the App Store, while some developers were forced to remove key features.

Following Apple’s harsher stance on these parental control applications, developers of two of the most popular apps have filed a complaint with the European Union. Kidslox and Qustodio filed a complaint with the EU on Thursday, today’s report says. This comes following an antitrust complaint in Russia from Kaspersky Labs last month, which also centered on Screen Time in iOS 12.

Some developers say that Apple’s crackdown on these apps makes them question whether the company really wants people spending less time on their phones:

“Their incentives aren’t really aligned for helping people solve their problem,” said Fred Stutzman, chief executive of Freedom, a screen-time app with more than 770,000 downloads before Apple removed it in August. “Can you really trust that Apple wants people to spend less time on their phones?”

In a statement, an Apple spokeswoman told The New York Times that the timing of the company’s actions against third-party parental control applications has nothing to do with the debut of its own Screen Time feature:

“We treat all apps the same, including those that compete with our own services,” said Tammy Levine, an Apple spokeswoman. “Our incentive is to have a vibrant app ecosystem that provides consumers access to as many quality apps as possible.” She said the timing of Apple’s moves were not related to its debut of similar tools.

The full report from The New York Times dives deeper into how parents feel about Screen Time compared to pre-existing third-party apps. Read it here.

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Avatar for Chance Miller Chance Miller

Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.

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