Digital Health – Locking Out The Competition
Apple creates the hardware that other software developers use, like the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. But Apple also creates some of the programs including healthware—that run on these devices, in addition to outside businesses. That conflict creates an uneasy and sun balanced relationship.
This ongoing dispute accuses Apple of unfairly leveraging its position as a hardware and software manufacturer to keep the competition down. And it comes down to technology that Apple is claiming for its own.
The Screen Time Problem
The issue, in this case, centers on digital health apps designed to monitor and control access children have to screen time on mobile computing devices. Parents can’t always be around to supervise a child’s time with a phone or tablet. With screen time healthware the software can either monitor usage or directly intervene according to parameters set by the parent including locking out access during homework time or rewarding more screen access time when chores have been completed.
The issue with Apple and third-party app developers are that Apple felt some of the screen time healthware created by other parties violated their privacy requirements to protect users. As a result, because they owned the hardware that the apps ran on, as well as controlled the online storefront the apps were sold on, they shut down the apps.
But that didn’t stop them from creating an app of their own to take the place of all the others they had shut down for privacy concerns. Now, the creators of those other apps are asking for Apple to share their API, or Application Programming Interface, so that other competitors can offer their services without violating Apple’s privacy requirements.
So far, Apple has yet to announce this decision. Until they do, they currently enjoy a monopoly with healthware on Apple devices.