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Apple under Screen Time API pressure ahead of WWDC

At the end of April, Apple took aim at third-party screen time apps on iOS. The apps allow for the tracking and restriction of iPhone and iPad usage, and are an alternative to Apple’s own tools. Apple cut these apps out of the App Store, but now the apps’ developers are fighting back.

Whether it was for your own benefit or managing your kids’ phone habits, OurPact and Balance Screen Time proved to be useful tools. Well, until Apple removed them from the App Store. In response, the companies have now banded together to request Apple allow them back in order to provide you with a new solution.

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Apple claimed the removals were due to the apps risking users’ privacy and security. However, some saw it as a cynical move because of the timing − Apple recently launched Screen Time, its own screen time management and parental control app.

The developers are calling for Apple to release a public Screen Time API, and they’ve launched a website as part of the campaign. A Screen Time API would address Apple’s privacy-related criticisms but it would require Apple to share information with the companies.

The Screen Time API would give the developers access to the same information and controls Apple uses for its own Screen Time app – meaning the developers would no longer have to use their previous methods to get the data.

The proposed screen time API would provide developers with the tools they need [to develop effective screen time management tools] while also prioritising user privacy and security,” the campaign’s website reads.

It adds: “It allows developers to create apps that go beyond iOS Screen Time functionality, to address parental concerns about social media use, child privacy, effective content filtering across all browsers and apps and more.”

The organisations behind the Screen Time API campaign are looking to use another recent story as leverage. The move would show Apple’s commitment to competition, according to the website. Apple recently sought to debunk competition concerns by creating a website dedicated to the topic.

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