Apple’s iMessage dodges tough new EU regulations – and Google isn’t happy

Apple won't be forced to open up iMessage to rival messaging services, after the European Commission decided that the app – alongside Microsoft's Bing and Edge –won't be subject to tough new EU regulations. And Google isn't particularly happy about the decision.

Bloomberg (via BGR) reported that the inbound Digital Markets Act (DMA), which comes into play in March 2024, will not affect Apple’s messaging platform, nor Microsoft’s Bing search engine or Edge browser, as none of the services hold enough share in their respective markets.

In short, after a probe which went on for five months, the European Commission has concluded that these digital properties simply aren’t a dominant enough presence to require regulation, and therefore they’re flying under the radar of the DMA.

Unsurprisingly, Apple and Microsoft welcomed the announcement from the European Commission. Ducking the regulation obviously means avoiding headaches around compliance with the DMA, and these apps can carry on as they were with no interference.

iMessage updates in iOS 17.2

(Image credit: Apple)

But Google, which has been calling on the EU to make Apple's iMessage play fair with Android phones, is less happy with the decision. A Google spokesperson told us that “excluding these popular services from DMA rules means consumers and businesses won’t be offered the breadth of choice that already exists on other, more open platforms”.

Apple has previously said that it will support RCS messages from Android phones in 2024, a compromise that seems to have worked in its favor with this European Commission decision. But Google and others clearly wanted EU regulations to go further.

The Coalition for Open Digital Ecosystems (CODE), a group that Google helped to set up with Meta, Qualcomm and several other tech giants, also stated that “today’s surprising decision undermines the objectives of the DMA, as well as its potential to improve choice and contestability for all Europeans.”


Analysis: A good decision for consumers?

imessage editing patent

(Image credit: Apple Inc)

So, is this a good thing, a bad thing? Perhaps the best place to start is asking: what’s the aim of the DMA itself?

The Digital Markets Act is all about ensuring that digital markets are “fair and open” to all-comers. To do this, it intends to regulate so-called “gatekeepers” or large online platforms, providing stipulations to adhere to, and various dos and don’ts for them. 

A key part of this is ensuring interoperability with the gatekeeper’s own service, free access to data pertaining to the service, and a whole gamut of regulation, frankly – including preventing companies from prohibiting uninstallation of an app.

After this ruling, none of this will apply to iMessage, Edge or Bing. This isn’t really a great surprise in the case of iMessage, to be fair, because while it’s big in the US, most folks use WhatsApp in Europe, and iMessage isn’t actually all that popular (relatively speaking). 

Therefore, iMessage isn't regarded as a gatekeeper, and thus not subject to the regulations. The same is true of Bing and Edge, which are still leagues behind Google and Chrome for market share. Incidentally, if you were wondering, WhatsApp will be regulated under the DMA.

Woman using iMessage on iPhone

(Image credit: Shutterstock / DenPhotos)

If you think Apple is getting a free pass with the DMA, though, think again. As you may have seen recently, the company is being forced to make some major changes to its mobile operating system. 

iOS 17.4 will show you more prominent options for choosing your default browser and will let you download from alternative app stores (not just Apple’s own ecosystem), for starters – which is all huge, of course.

Similarly, Microsoft has been forced to make changes with Windows 11 for the European market, like the ability to uninstall Edge if you want to be rid of the browser, or to be able to unhook Bing from the operating system’s search bar (and more besides).

So, while these individual apps – iMessage, Bing, and Edge – won’t fall under the regulating hammer of the DMA, Apple and Microsoft’s widely-used operating systems most certainly do.

There’s another specter on the horizon for iMessage, though, and that’s the possibility that this kind of regulation may be passed in the US, where Apple’s messaging app does have a big presence.

Furthermore, there’s already mounting pressure from rival browser makers who aren’t happy about the way Apple has dealt with the DMA here, allowing for the aforementioned greater choice and freedom in iOS, but only in Europe – which means that those browser developers must juggle two different versions of their clients for Apple’s mobiles, not just one.

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Google Maps now looks more like Apple Maps – and a lot of people aren’t happy

Google Maps has had a rejig of the colors used to denote different elements, and a significant portion of its regular users aren't happy about the change.

As you may have seen, this change in color palette was first spotted back in September, but now it’s widely rolling out to users of Google’s navigation app.

Google Maps now has gray roads like Apple, rather than white or yellow roads as before, and forests are a darker green. On the other hand, the shade of blue used for water is lighter.

However, the active route is a much darker blue, with alternate routes shown in lighter blue (these used to be gray).

See the pic above for a comparison of the old (left) and new (right) design, and the one below (in the tweet) for another look at the freshly revamped colors.

These may not sound like massive changes – and to be fair, they aren’t, they’re essentially tweaks. But they have rubbed a number of users up the wrong way. As Android Authority points out, there’s some quite spicy feedback on the new Google Maps on Reddit, X (formerly Twitter) and other online forums.


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Analysis: Lacking clarity?

Some of this is unfamiliarity, as no one likes change, and it takes time to acclimatize to a new look – but there are some consistent and well-observed pieces of feedback on the redeployment of colors for Google Maps.

One common thread is criticism of the new colors lacking clarity, and making it trickier to see what’s what at a glance (and when driving obviously you will just be glancing at the display).

As one Redditor put it: “I’m finding it a little hard to read as quickly as I used to. The toned down look is cute but not practical.”

Another problem highlighted by multiple users on Reddit is that the new alternate routes being blue – as well as the main route, albeit that’s a darker blue – is an issue. It can be difficult to tell those routes apart on a phone at a bit of a distance (and with other potential factors thrown into the mix like sun glare).

Overall, Google may want to have a rethink, particularly around the alternate routes. That said, not everyone is unhappy with the changes, but the majority seem to be at least according to a poll Android Authority is running.

This shows that 44% of respondents don’t like the new colors, compared to 28% who do (with the rest abstaining). So, that doesn’t look great for Google, though of course, it’s a limited sample of around 800 people (at the time of writing).

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Microsoft axes Video Editor in latest Windows 10 Photos app update, and users aren’t happy

Coming in hot on the heels of a freshly updated Photos app in Windows 10, which has sparked discussion about its merit among users, Microsoft seems intent on stoking the fire. 

The new Photos app is missing some of the editing tools of its predecessor, has some new ones, and now no longer has a built-in Video Editor. Instead, the Editor will be replaced with a web-based app called Clipchamp.

According to Windows Latest, you may be able to open the old Video Editor, but if it’s been updated (probably through the most recent Windows 10 update), you’ll be met with a pop-up saying the following: 

“Microsoft Video Editor is no longer available in the Photos app. Your previous video projects can be accessed by downloading the Photos Legacy app in Settings. For new videos, unleash your creativity with Clipchamp.“

So, what can you do now?

You can still download the Photos Legacy app in the Microsoft Store, like the pop-up says, and restore the original Video Editor. Yet Windows Latest speculates that this might signal the beginning of the end for this generation of the Photos app and its editing capabilities. Eventually, we may not even have a Photos Legacy app at all (along with its Video Editor feature).  

The Photos Legacy app is similar to the Windows 11 version of the app, and it differs from the previous Windows 10 Photos app. Some of the changes that angered users are the removal of the Clarity slider and the Spot fix feature. This change was warned about shortly before it happened as Windows 10 users were notified ahead of the changes.

The move is presumably because Microsoft wants to usher users away from the Video Editor feature and over to the web-based Clipchamp, which was acquired by Microsoft back in 2021. Windows 11’s Photos and Windows 10’s Photos will still include video editing for now, as confirmed by an engineer at Microsoft to Windows Latest. 

Microsoft Store in Windows 10

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The new video editor in town: Clipchamp

So what’s Clipchamp? It’s a free video editor that allows users to make as many videos as they like in high definition (1080p). It’s a browser-based app that you can access at clipchamp.com and to access it, all you need is a Microsoft account and to log in on the website. You can find our review of Clipchamp here.

This app might remind you of a relic of the recent past – Windows Movie Maker. Movie Maker is also no more – officially decommissioned back in 2017 – and Microsoft is propping up Clipchamp as a replacement for it. 

Clipchamp is a more capable video-editing app, and allows any user to make a video that looks pretty professional. It also has a user-friendly interface and quick setup process. However, many still liked the old Video Editor, perhaps for its even more straightforward simplicity. 

Clipchamp

(Image credit: Sofia Wyciślik-Wilson)

What's the actual problem?

Not just known for its simple approach, Windows 10’s Video Editor could also encode much smaller-sized videos than those of Clipchamp. In Microsoft’s Feedback Hub, where users give feedback directly to Microsoft as outlined by Windows Latest, one user asked: “Why is the Clipchamp exported video 5 times the size of the photo “legacy” video editor?”

Yikes. 

The user details their complaint and outlines their comparison between Clipchamp and Photos Legacy’s Video Editor, and they aren’t happy. I understand why; there's a big difference, especially if you’re making a video for personal reasons instead of commercial purposes. File storage isn’t free, after all!

It makes you think – does Microsoft have plans to present a repackaged Video Editor elsewhere? Maybe it could enjoy a new lease on life as a paid download if it still maintains such popularity.

If you have similar thoughts or your own opinion you’d like to share, Microsoft does often repeat that they’d like to hear users’ thoughts on the matter. The uproar was so loud when it tried to do something similar with Paint that the beloved app was brought back as a optional download via the Microsoft Store, so maybe the tech giant will listen to users this time around too. 

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Microsoft’s browser rivals aren’t happy after it made switching defaults easier

Microsoft's rivals have hit back against the company's recent change to its stance on picking a default browser

The company that got into so much trouble in the 1990s for trying to squeeze rivals made an interesting change with Windows 11: obscuring the option to change the default browser, limiting it to only technically capable users and the very motivated. 

Anyone using Windows 10 could easily change the default with a single click, something that a lot of people did. But that all changed for anyone updating to Microsoft's latest OS. 

All change

While Edge isn't a bad browser, making it the default and then hiding the settings to change that does kind of stink, a point made loudly by its rivals. 

Microsoft even took it a step further and began funnelling links from its services, including the Start Menu, into Edge as well. 

All of that changed in a recent update, however, when Microsoft reintroduced an easy one-click process for changing the default – but instead of being pleased, some of the biggest names in the browser market have now hit back.

Old grudges, widely held

Speaking to The Register, Microsoft's rivals were still not happy with the company and its attempts to make Edge into a dominant browser.

“It has always been our stance that Microsoft, and others like them, should make it easy for users to choose to use the products that suit them,” said Vivaldi CEO Jon von Tetzchner. “This should apply to all users, not just the ones who are technically competent enough to realize that they need to install an optional update, and know how to actually do so. It should be installed for all users.” 

“While they have made an attempt, the fact that it has been done the way it has leads to the assumption that it is only being done to avoid being prosecuted for anticompetitive behavior, not to actually solve the underlying problem.”

Mozilla, which actually found a way around the changes, was similarly critical.

“People should have the ability to simply and easily set defaults and all operating systems should offer official developer support for default status,” the company said.

“In practice, we'd like to also see progress on reducing the number of steps required to set a new browser as default, and on opening and making APIs available for apps to set default that other Microsoft applications use.”

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Microsoft’s browser rivals aren’t happy after it made switching defaults easier

Microsoft's rivals have hit back against the company's recent change to its stance on picking a default browser

The company that got into so much trouble in the 1990s for trying to squeeze rivals made an interesting change with Windows 11: obscuring the option to change the default browser, limiting it to only technically capable users and the very motivated. 

Anyone using Windows 10 could easily change the default with a single click, something that a lot of people did. But that all changed for anyone updating to Microsoft's latest OS. 

All change

While Edge isn't a bad browser, making it the default and then hiding the settings to change that does kind of stink, a point made loudly by its rivals. 

Microsoft even took it a step further and began funnelling links from its services, including the Start Menu, into Edge as well. 

All of that changed in a recent update, however, when Microsoft reintroduced an easy one-click process for changing the default – but instead of being pleased, some of the biggest names in the browser market have now hit back.

Old grudges, widely held

Speaking to The Register, Microsoft's rivals were still not happy with the company and its attempts to make Edge into a dominant browser.

“It has always been our stance that Microsoft, and others like them, should make it easy for users to choose to use the products that suit them,” said Vivaldi CEO Jon von Tetzchner. “This should apply to all users, not just the ones who are technically competent enough to realize that they need to install an optional update, and know how to actually do so. It should be installed for all users.” 

“While they have made an attempt, the fact that it has been done the way it has leads to the assumption that it is only being done to avoid being prosecuted for anticompetitive behavior, not to actually solve the underlying problem.”

Mozilla, which actually found a way around the changes, was similarly critical.

“People should have the ability to simply and easily set defaults and all operating systems should offer official developer support for default status,” the company said.

“In practice, we'd like to also see progress on reducing the number of steps required to set a new browser as default, and on opening and making APIs available for apps to set default that other Microsoft applications use.”

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DoorDash is about to make cash-strapped students very happy

Cash-strapped students might start thinking about delivery that still fits within their limited food budget after DoorDash launched a new low-cost subscription plan for its DashPass service.

The aptly named DashPass for Students will run you back $ 5 per month, half of the cost of a normal subscription and it’s a more budget-friendly alternative for students to get food delivery, groceries, and more from partnered retailers. There’s also the Annual Student Plan, which is $ 48 annually.

DashPass Perks

With the subscription service, you won’t have to pay any delivery fees so long as you hit the minimum subtotal, though that only applies to certain orders. The minimum isn’t a very high threshold; it’s $ 12 for restaurant orders and $ 25 for groceries. You will also get 10 percent off orders in the form of reduced service fees.

Students will also get five percent credit back on Pickup orders, but only for certain restaurants. There will also be members-only promotions and exclusive menu items like the blindingly red Flamin’ Hot Nacho Wings from Buffalo Wild Wings. These wings are meant to promote the new subscription tier.

All undergraduate and graduate students at an accredited college or university in the United States are eligible to become members. There’s also a 30-day free trial of DashPass for Students so people can try it out before committing.

Brand new market

It appears that DoorDash is capitalizing on a new market as the announcement cited a recent survey conducted by Wakefield Research, which found that 70 percent of college students order food on a delivery app an average of four times a week. DoorDash goes on to note that, according to the survey, 27 percent of students spend more than $ 100 a week on delivery alone.

Other services have done the same thing or, at least, something similar. Grubhub has its own paid subscription service for students called Grubhub+ Student in conjunction with Amazon.

That service launched back in 2021 and students don’t have to pay extra to use the service or pay for delivery. All you have to do is tie an Amazon Prime Student account to your Grubhub+ account to become eligible.

Grubhub+ Student is still available and shares the same $ 12 minimum on orders, but there’s nothing for groceries and no standalone service.

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iPhone 6 users can no longer access Twitter, and they’re not happy

The latest update to the Twitter app has killed off support for iOS 12, with the latest version of the app now requiring iOS 14 or later in order to function – and that means users of the iPhone 6, which can’t be updated beyond iOS 12, can no longer access all of Twitter’s features. 

While we can’t get hold of an iPhone 6 to see for ourselves, users across Twitter have been complaining about losing access to many features on their phones, following the update.

Without the option to upgrade beyond iOS 12, it’s plain to see why iPhone 6 users, along with owners of the iPad Air and 6th-generation iPod Touch, are a bit miffed about the Twitter app's latest requirement.

Users stuck on iOS 12 report that while they can still see tweets on their timeline, the rest of the app no longer functions correctly. 

Thankfully for users who are still clinging to their iPhone 6, it is not a completely lost cause, as it is still possible to use Twitter on the device, as the web client still functions without issue, but it’s hardly a perfect solution/it’s no substitute for the full app experience.


Analysis: a shocking twist that was a long time coming

Although the loss of full app functionality has come as a shock to many iPhone 6 users, the demise of Twitter on iOS 12 has been a long time coming, as the social media giant officially dropped support for the nearly four-year-old operating system in early 2021. 

Even after official support for the app stopped on iOS 12, iPhone 6 users were still able to enjoy the core functionality of the app, albeit without the new features of the latest versions. 

Looking at the numbers though, it’s no surprise that Twitter will have wanted to scuttle the older version of the app. According to Apple, only 2% of iPhone users are still using a version of iOS that’s older than iOS 14, which makes maintaining an aging version of the Twitter app a largely worthless but nonetheless costly endeavor. 

Regardless of the fact that this decision only affects 2% of Apple’s users who have stuck with their seven-year-old devices, it’s nevertheless a reminder that planned obsolescence is very much an issue that will come for all our devices eventually. 

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