Archive for March 14, 2024

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Nitro 2024.1

Gentlemen Coders:

Flexible storage options, camera support, and editing tools unmatched by any app.


Create smart albums, and organize your Apple Photos library. Nitro reads RAW Power edits. Everything syncs over iCloud!

Prefer to manage your files yourself? You can use Nitro with the file system too. Rate and edit non-destructively using XMP sidecars.

Nik Bhatt:

If you like RAW Power, you’ll love Nitro’s fresh interface and immense power. I have been fielding emails from many of you for some time, asking for features like gradients, brushing, cloning, XMP sidecars, synchronized zoom, and more. All of those (and a lot more) are in Nitro.


[The] underpinnings of RAW Power have become an obstacle to advancing the app. For example, the RAW Power engine is simply not able to handle features like masking and synchronized pan and zoom. I decided some time ago to start fresh, even though that would take a long time, because it provides the best foundation for a great photo app in the future.


DealMachine Subscription Cancellations

John Gruber (Mastodon):

I downloaded the app and signed up; immediately after confirming your email address, you get sent to a screen in the app where you choose from account tiers to begin a free trial. The lowest tier is $100/month, the highest is $500/month. And after making your selection, you get sent to this page on DealMachine’s website to pay using Stripe.


I don’t think DealMachine is a scam. Stripe is as legit as it gets. But when you handle payments on your own, you handle refunds and subscription cancellations on your own too. […] So DealMachine offers a taste of what our friends in the EU may be getting from marketplace apps soon.

I’m not sure what to think about this. The external payment is apparently allowed here, because of the nature of the service, but he expects Apple to remove the app due to the poor subscription management. I only see two critical reviews mentioning cancellation, so it’s not clear how widespread the problem is. Maybe there’s no real story here. Or maybe this is not exactly a ringing endorsement of the App Store that this has gone on for years and the ratings average 4.7 stars.

Subscription management overall should be easier, but I don’t see the App Store as the place to solve this. And I don’t understand the fear with external payments for apps, specifically. Everyone buys all sorts of stuff on the Web, problems are rare, and the credit card companies already offer a backstop where it’s easy to get your money back if there’s any funny business. In fact, customers already use this for purchases that Apple doesn’t want to refund.

If some company offered consumers a service, where they could pay an App Store–like extra fee to get App Store–like buyer protection features for all the random stuff they buy online, I don’t think people would find that deal very attractive. They’re already paying the credit card companies a few percent for a system that basically works.

Craig Grannell:

Which infers third party marketplaces will by default be bad actors (they won’t) and ignores the fact this app is on the App Store, which has rules (broken here) Apple claims is supposed to protect us and is why we shouldn’t have third-party App Stores.

Dave Nanian:

This is happening in Apple’s own app store, not in some 3rd party store. And 3rd party stores are, themselves, “managed” by Apple. Wouldn’t those 3rd parties have at least the same desire to prevent abuse, if not more, since Apple can deprive them of…everything, with a click.

On top of that, do we find that this is some sort of big problem with, say, macOS or Windows apps? Even those managed by subscriptions?

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Having seen what third-party app marketplaces have to go through just to be approved by Apple, I wouldn’t be surprised if third-party stores end up being safer than the App Store; the App Store is the marketplace full of scams, exploitation and dark patterns, where third-parties can focus much more on curated collections of trusted apps.

Nick Heer:

A few things can be true:

  1. Apple’s in-app purchasing system is a particularly nice way to buy digital goods and manage subscriptions.

  2. Apple requires most developers to use in-app purchases for many types of transaction. It does not compete independently in the market of digital payment systems. This is probably in part because Apple wants a consistent experience in third-party apps. But its 15–30% commission cannot be ignored, and Apple’s mandate implies little faith in IAP’s niceness and familiarity to convince developers to use it.

  3. Easy cancellation of subscriptions can be the domain of consumer protection authorities if you want it to be. You can just pass a law. This sort of stuff is a political slam dunk across the spectrum, except for weird libertarians. It is possible to just require things to be better for everybody regardless of what they bought or how they bought it.

Drew McCormack:

Have seen some pretty scammy practices in apps lately. Straight up tricks to get people to accidentally pay for a subscription they don’t want. And these are apps that Apple accepted into its store. As is, the situation is worse than downloading from a dubious third party store or web site, because most people have learned to be wary there. When you download from the App Store, you just assume it will be fine. You don’t expect to be scammed. It’s the perfect con.


Digital Services Act Compliance: App Store


You’ll be asked to disclose whether or not you’re a trader under the European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA) in order to stay compliant across regions when distributing on the App Store. If you’re distributing content as a trader, the DSA requires that you provide certain identification information, including address and contact details, to be displayed on your App Store product pages to consumers in the European Union (EU).

Steve Troughton-Smith:

TL;DR since this is confusing a bunch of folks: If you make money on the App Store, you are a Trader, and under the DSA are required to provide a postal address, email address, and phone number, that will all be displayed publicly on the App Store

Michael Love:

Successfully completed Apple’s DSA verification thing with a newly-created Google Voice number, FWIW - $10/month for up to 10 of them, though if I find a cheaper option I’ll cheerfully switch.

(physical address they got from DUNS, so I couldn’t do much about that, but it’s already in a bunch of other public databases anyway thanks to our government contracting business)

If you’re registered as an individual, Apple lets you specify the postal address directly. If you’re registered as an organization, I guess the only choice for privacy is to use a registered agent for your business. A post office box is not enough because businesses need to list a physical address. It’s unclear to me how much this really matters since in most cases the information is publicly available, anyway, if you know where to look.

See also: Jim Ye, JetBrains, Amy Worrall.


Update (2024-03-17): Matthias Gansrigler:

So, I got a new phone number, and a post office box, and now it turns out I cannot complete the “Compliance Requirements” because they fail to send me the SMS confirmation code, and calling doesn’t work either 🤦‍♂️

Matthias Gansrigler:

Days I could have spent working. But no, I have to deal with this bureaucratic EU nonsense (and Apple’s forms don’t work).

Jeff Johnson:

The irony is that even if I published my phone number and home address in the App Store for EU consumers, it’s impossible for me to offer them a refund, because Apple does not allow that. App Store developers don’t even have individual customer transaction information.

See also: Brent Simmons and John Gruber.

Update (2024-03-20): Aaron Pearce:

Well I can’t fill out the DSA form.

Apple is pre-filling it with an address I have never had linked to my DUNS number or my business entity. Seemingly they are incorrectly pulling an address from when I was an individual developer.

Helge Heß:

I don’t think it is about a basic principle, it IMO really is an oversight. Usually EU laws are scoped at company sizes and such for that specific reason. No idea why this doesn’t have that. E.g. Germany has such rules for people doing minor business (covering hobbyist devs well).

Ryan Jones:

What’s the best Registered Agent for just the very basic LLC stuff, USA?

Tom Royal:

Today in Apple developer land:

Developer demanding Digital Services Act verification, but then crashes at the end of the process[…]

Update (2024-03-22): Apple:

To align with the Digital Services Act (DSA) in the European Union (EU), Account Holders and Admins in the Apple Developer Program can now enter their trader status in App Store Connect.

Jacob Eiting:

The European Commision defines trader extremely broadly as any business or person “acting in his or her name or on his or her behalf, for purposes relating to his or her trade, business, craft or profession.” We are not lawyers at RevenueCat, but it seems pretty clear that if you are transacting with any European consumers, you fit this definition.

Update (2024-03-29): Jeff Johnson:

The crazy thing about my DSA compliance situation is that it was only after uploading my documentation to Apple (for a third time) while the senior advisor was still on the phone with me that I could get some semblance of a reason for why they rejected it. They otherwise refused to give me a reason, but they wanted me to try again to upload it, which would have caused repeated rejections, because it was the exact same documentation that they already found unacceptable.

DMA Compliance: Google


Changes to Search results: We have now implemented more than 20 product changes, including the introduction of dedicated units and chips to help users find comparison sites in areas like flights, hotels and shopping. We have removed some features from the search results page which help consumers find businesses, such as the Google Flights unit.

Choice screens: When you use an Android phone, you can easily switch your search engine or browser. Under the DMA, we will show additional choice screens, which are built on user research and testing, as well as feedback from the industry.


The DMA requires gatekeeper operating systems to allow users to use third-party apps and app stores. Through Android, we already do this.


User-choice billing (known as UCB) has allowed app developers to offer their own billing system alongside Google Play’s billing. This is the fairest way to offer alternative billing, as it puts the user fully in control of their preferred transaction method, and we’re expanding the program to game developers this week.


While Google Play already allows developers to communicate freely with customers outside their app about offers or lower-cost options available on a rival app store or the developer’s website, we are adding additional options in compliance with the DMA.

John Gruber (Mastodon):

The DMA has crippled Google Search in the EU […] I presume people in the EU can still go to the dedicated Google Flights page, but just typing “PHL to SFO” on Google’s homepage or in your browser’s location field is what most people expect to work.

Robert Watkins:

Correction: Google has crippled search in the EU in response to the DMA, because they don’t want to find a way to comply with the DMA that doesn’t cripple it.

• • •

Steve Dent:

Now, Google has revealed that it will indeed charge developers even if they don’t use the Play Store, just like Apple did with the App Store. Per new details found in the Play Console help section, the company will charge two new fees:

  1. An initial acquisition fee of 10% for in-app purchases or 5% for subscriptions for two years. This represents the value Play provided in facilitating initial user acquisition.

  2. An ongoing services fee of 17% for in-app purchases or 7% for subscriptions. This covers ongoing Play services like parental controls, security, fraud prevention, and app updates.

Developers can opt out of ongoing fees after two years if users agree, but ongoing Play services will no longer apply. “Since users acquired the app through Play with the expectation of services such as parental controls, security scanning, fraud prevention, and continuous app updates, discontinuation of services requires user consent as well,” Google stated.

Michael Love:

Google’s version of DMA compliance demonstrates how much easier life is for them because they don’t restrict sideloading and third-party stores. They can treat their DMA fees as a referral commission for Google Play finding you new customers - something that’s reasonable / familiar, both in software and in many other industries - rather than as the price of shipping on Android at all.

I’m not 100% on board with this, to be clear - my company name appears in pretty much all of my top search terms on Google Play, and I suspect a very large portion of my Google Play customers were not, in fact, referred to me by Google - but it’s nevertheless far far less obnoxious than Apple’s approach.

Tim Sweeney:

Google announced its malicious compliance plans for the European DMA law: The scare screens continue, and it looks like their illegal anti-steering policy will be replaced by a new Google Tax on web transactions.

The biggest travesty is Google’s deceptively-named “user choice billing” and “developer choice billing”, designed to ensure no developer would possibly want to use them. Here, Google imposes a 27% junk fee on transactions they aren’t involved in processing.

No gatekeeper should be allowed to impose fees for services not provided. It’s a transparent exercise in self-preferencing and monopoly rent extraction.

Neither Apple nor Google has a monopoly, as normally defined, but there’s not enough competition to make them do right by customers and developers.

Tim Sweeney:

Here is the most disgusting pro-monopoly thesis yet, put forth by Apple and Google funded Chamber of Progress: government should support Big Tech monopoly maintenance, because Apple and Google can more strongly reinforce US control over information than a competitive market.

Simply put: if Apple and Google maintain absolute control over apps and channels of information dissemination, then they can act as agents of the state to control it. Whereas, if users have freedom and control over their own devices, then government censorship is harder.

• • •


Google will make the following changes to comply with its DMA obligations requiring it to show choice screens: (i) introduce a new browser choice screen during initial device setup in addition to a search choice screen on Android smartphones and tablets; and (ii) show a search choice screen on Chrome on non-Android platforms.

John Gruber:

Not clear to me why Apple did this in a software update for all eligible iPhones, but Google is only doing it for newly-sold ones.


Update (2024-03-20): The Local France:

Now, when searching a specific address on your laptop, you will continue to see a small map in the centre of the screen, but will be unable to click on the map and be taken straight to Google Maps. The ‘Maps’ button that once appeared below the search bar, along with ‘Images’ or ‘News’ no longer appears either.

DMA Compliance: Custom External Link Designs


Developers who’ve agreed to the Alternative Terms Addendum for Apps in the EU have new options for their apps in the EU:

  • Alternative app marketplaces. Marketplaces can choose to offer a catalog of apps solely from the developer of the marketplace.
  • Linking out to purchase. When directing users to complete a transaction for digital goods or services on an external webpage, developers can choose how to design promotions, discounts, and other deals. The Apple-provided design templates, which are optimized for key purchase and promotional use cases, are now optional.

John Gruber:

The second is a bigger concession — effectively, the elimination of mandatory Apple-designed scare sheets for link-outs to the web. It sounds like the second truly eliminates anti-steering provisions for developers who opt into the new EU rules.


That link-out screens may now contain promotional and pricing information, and don’t need to follow Apple’s templates — that’s a mere policy change too, but one I suspect Apple does begrudge. And it’s obviously something developers would want. Do you want a very plain-looking, totally unbranded screen, that emphasizes more than anything that you’re leaving the safe confines of the Apple ecosystem? Or would you like to design your own screen, in your own style, with your own emphasis? This, to me, reeks of a change at the behest of the EC.

US developers will still have to use Apple’s scare sheets.