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The Dutch competition regulator, the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), has fined Apple €5 million (around $5.6 million) for failing to let dating app developers use third-party payment methods, the ACM has announced. The regulator says that Apple will continue to be fined €5 million a week until it properly complies with the order, which was publicly issued on December 24th.
With a market cap of well over $2 trillion and revenues last quarter of $83.4 billion, Apple’s bottom line is unlikely to be impacted by these €5 million fines. But the Dutch regulator’s actions, like South Korea’s before it, could embolden others to take action against Apple’s App Store policies, as well as Google’s which are also being scrutinized.
Apple made some effort to comply with the ACM’s instructions. Ahead of the January 15th deadline, the iPhone manufacturer announced that it would allow dating apps to offer third-party payment options in the Netherlands. Developers would be allowed to direct customers to a website to complete their purchase, or offer in-app purchases within their apps that don’t use Apple’s own in-app purchase system. “We are obligated to make the mandated changes which we’re launching today and we will provide further information shortly,” the company said at the time.
But the ACM has taken issue with Apple’s approach. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, it says Apple hasn’t actually rolled out support for third-party payment providers in the Dutch App Store. The ACM notes that developers are now able to express their “interest” in using alternative payment systems, but that they’re not actually able to use them in their apps. “Apple has failed to adjust its conditions,” the regulator writes, “as a result of which dating-app providers are still unable to use other payment systems.”
Secondly, the ACM says that Apple appears to be forcing dating app developers to choose between pointing users to make payments outside of their app, or using an alternative in-app payment system. “Providers must be able to choose both options,” the ACM says.
When it announced the changes earlier this month, Apple said it still intended to collect a commission on payments made using external payment processors. It also indicated that developers would need to offer a separate version of their app for the Dutch market to access this functionality. The ruling relates specifically to dating apps rather than apps more generally, following a complaint from Match Group (owners of Tinder and other dating services), Reuters reported last year.
Apple did not immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment on the ACM’s fine. But earlier this month it said it would be appealing the ACM’s decision. “Because we do not believe these orders are in our users’ best interests, we have appealed the ACM’s decision to a higher court,” the company said. “We’re concerned these changes could compromise the user experience, and create new threats to user privacy and data security.”
The decision was welcomed by Epic Games’ CEO Tim Sweeney, who called Apple’s earlier response to the order a “sham solution.” Epic Games is currently embroiled with a long-running dispute with Apple over its App Store policies.
Apple’s policy of forcing many developers to use its own in-app payments system, for which it often collects a 30 percent commission, has been a consistent focus of antitrust scrutiny around the world. Last year, South Korea passed a law preventing major platform owners like Apple from forcing developers to use their own in-app payment systems (Apple said it intends to comply earlier this month). Meanwhile, in the US a judge forced Apple to allow developers to link out to other payment processors, although this ruling was subsequently put on hold pending appeal.
There are many ways to get your weekend started right and, unsurprisingly, one of our favorites here at Verge Deals is with some quality tech deals. Teeing off first is the Google Nest Wifi mesh router system. Wellbots has a few different configurations of the Nest Wifi available with special discounts, including the standalone router for just $119 ($50 off when you use code 50VERGE at checkout), the router and one additional Point to extend the mesh network for $189 ($80 off with code 80VERGE), and the router plus two Points for $249 ($100 off with code 100VERGE).
The important thing here is to pick the right setup for your home depending on how much space you need to cover. The Nest Wifi router by itself is rated to cover up to 2,200 square feet, and adding just one Point to the mix extends that to 3,800. A home with a tricky layout or thicker walls may benefit from a Point or two to extend the mesh network, even if it’s not massive space. There’s a further benefit to adding a Point to the equation — each one acts as a smart speaker for playing music, podcasts, and accessing the Google Assistant. So when it comes down to picking which of these Wi-Fi 5-capable setups is just right for you, consider the factors of coverage, convenience, and cost that are right for you. Read our review.
There’s a great deal happening on 1Password’s subscription of services. New customers can sign up for one year of 1Password’s password manager service and get 50 percent off an individual plan or 50 percent off a family plan. Both are billed annually, with the family plan offering especially good value if you require more than one account.
The individual plan deal gets you one personal account with access across unlimited devices that costs just $17.94 for the first year of service, as opposed to the regular $36. As for the family plan, you get five accounts for $30 for the first year instead of the usual $60. We’ve seen these 1Password deals drop as low as 60 percent off before, so while this one is not the very best it comes pretty close. If you’re in need of protecting your personal data with an easy way to generate secure passwords (and we all are), it’s a good way to go.
If you’ve got an Xbox Series X or Series S and you like to keep lots of games installed at once, their built-in storage can start to feel a lot more limiting than it sounds on paper at first. Many AAA-titles are 60GB or more each, with some like Call of Duty Warzone taking up nearly 100GB on its own. Yes, you can plug in a USB hard drive and offload some games into cold storage, but they have to moved back to the internal SSD when it’s time to play.
So, if you really want more storage, the 2TB Xbox Expansion Card from Seagate, which usually runs $399.99, is currently discounted to $380.90 at Amazon. I know that is still a pretty penny for 2,000GB (or roughly 21 more copies of Call of Duty Warzone), but these little expansion cards rarely go on sale. They’re also just as fast as the internal storage of the Xbox Series X and S, and they plug into the rear of the console — so there’s no ugly USB cable and disc drive sitting alongside your Xbox.
Planning a fun getaway or excursion for the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend holiday? If you want something to help you record some memories while doing fun, outdoorsy activities, the GoPro Hero 10 Black with an additional battery and a dual battery charger is down to $399.99 at Amazon.
This is the latest action camera from GoPro, and while it looks a lot like the previous Hero 9, it’s much faster, thanks to its GP2 processor. The Hero 10 Black captures up to 5.3K 60fps footage and even 120fps slow-mo at 4K resolution. It also maintains that front-facing screen from its predecessor, so framing up your shot when mounting the camera on something like a bike is much easier. One of the few drawbacks to the Hero 10 is its mediocre battery life, but that’s one of the reasons this deal is so great — for about $400 you get an extra battery included, as well as a dual charger to easily keep both packs topped-up and ready. Read our review.
What happens when animation geeks get the greenlight to produce whatever they want? You get Netflix’s Love, Death and Robots, an anthology series that’s meant to remind viewers that cartoons aren’t just for kids. You’d think that would be a foregone conclusion in 2022, decades after anime has become mainstream, Adult Swim’s irreverent comedies took over dorm rooms, and just about network/streaming platform has their own “edgy” animated series (Arcane and Big Mouth on Netflix, Invincible on Amazon Prime).
Still, it’s all too common to see the medium being diminished. At the Oscars this year, the best animated feature award was introduced as something entirely meant for kids, prompting the filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), to demand that Hollywood elevate the genre instead. Even Pixar’s library of smart and compelling films still aren’t seen as “adult” stories.
Love, Death and Robots, which just released its third season on Netflix, feels like a crash course in the unlimited storytelling potential of animation. It bounces from a cute entry about robots exploring the remnants of human civilization (the series’ first sequel, 3 Robots: Exit Strategies, written by sci-fi author John Scalzi), to a near-silent, visually lush game of cat and mouse between a deaf soldier and a mythical siren (Jibaro), to a harrowing tale of whalers being boarded by a giant man-eating crab (Bad Traveling, the first animated project directed by series co-creator David Fincher).
Jennifer Yuh Nelson, supervising director for Love, Death and Robots, tells Engadget that the animation industry has certainly made progress when it comes to telling more mature stories. “Everyone that works in animation has been talking about trying to get more adult things done because it’s [about] the freedom of exploring the whole spectrum of storytelling,” she said. “You’re not trying to do things for a certain age group.”
But, she says, animators were also told the audience for mature projects wasn’t necessarily there. “I think it takes a show like [this] to prove that it can [work], and that makes the whole business and the whole company town basically look around and say, ‘Oh, this is a viable thing that people actually want to see.’”
Series co-creator Tim Miller (Deadpool, Terminator: Dark Fate) also points to the power of video games, which has been telling mature narratives with interactive animation for decades. That’s another industry that was initially seen as toys for kids, but has matured significantly with rich storytelling from indie projects, like Kentucky Route Zero, to big-budget blockbusters like The Last of Us. Games and animation are practically evolving together, with audiences demanding more complex ideas and creators who were raised on earlier generations of those mediums. You don’t get to the excellent Disney+ remake of DuckTales, or Sony’s recent God of War, without a fondness for the simple joys of the originals.
“Animation has grown so much and reflects a taste of the people making it and the people that are watching it,” Nelson says. “It’s a generational shift. People demand a certain level of complexity in their story, and so it’s not princess movies anymore.”
With every season of Love, Death and Robots, Nelson says that she and Miller are focused on finding stories that evoke a sense of “nerd joy.” There’s no overarching theme, instead they look out for projects with scope, emotion and a potential to be visually interesting. And while none of the shorts have been turned into standalone series or films yet, Nelson notes that’s a possibility, especially since some authors have explored other ideas within those worlds. (I’d certainly love to see those three quirky robots poking fun at humanity for an entire season.)
The series also serves as a showcase for a variety of animation techniques. Some shorts show off meticulously crafted CG, while others like Bad Traveling use motion capturing to preserve the intricacies of an actor’s movement or face. Jerome Chen, the director of military horror short In Vaulted Halls Entombed, relied on Unreal, which makes his piece seem like a cut-scene from a game I desperately want to play. And there’s still plenty of love for more traditional 2D techniques, like the wonderfully bloody Kill Team Kill (directed by Nelson, a far cry from her playful Kung Fu Panda sequels).
“The tech doesn’t replace the art, but the experimentation allows these studios to find ways of doing things better,” Nelson said. “[The show gives] freedom for all these different studios to try their own language.”
Miller has a slightly different view, saying on some level it’s like “tech is the art and they somehow mixed together.” While he agrees with Nelson, who was quick to point out “artists can make art with a stick,” Miller said you’ll still need a certain level of sophisticated technology to create photorealistic stories.
The great thing about an anthology series like Love Death and Robots? Both of those philosophies can co-exist while equally demonstrating the power of animation.
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In George Miller’s upcoming Three Thousand Years of Longing, the key to getting the most out of magical wishes without suffering repercussions isn’t being clever or trying to outsmart the ancient djinn that’s been trapped in a bottle for countless lifetimes. It’s stalling.
Three Thousand Years of Longing — an epic fantasy based on novelist A.S. Byatt’s short story “The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye” — tells the story of Dr. Alithea Binnie (Tilda Swinton), a solitary mythography scholar who’s almost entirely thrown herself into her work. The movie’s new trailer finds Alithea on her way to Istanbul both for a conference and a bit of shopping at a bazaar where she just so happens to purchase the bottle containing a djinn (Idris Elba). Being the expert of myths and legends that she is, Alithea knows that taking the djinn up on his offer of three wishes is a surefire way to inadvertently end up ruining her life, and so she instead implores the djinn to tell her about the people he’s granted wishes for in the past.
Questionable as some of Three Thousand Years of Longing’s optics are, the trailer’s fantastical visuals are both striking and sumptuous, both of which are promising signs for the film’s ability to make the most of its fairytale conceit.
Three Thousand Years of Longing hits theaters on August 31st, 2022.
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