Apple Inc on Monday said it will offer the ability to store state-issued identification cards digitally on iPhones and that it is working with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to accept the digital IDs at airports, one of several updates to the software that runs on its devices.
It also showed updates to its FaceTime video chat app, adding the ability to schedule calls with multiple attendees and making the software compatible with Android and Windows devices.
The move, which puts Apple in more direct competition with companies like Zoom Video Communications Inc that gained prominence during the pandemic, was the first major announcement from Apple’s annual meeting for software developers.
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It also added features such as background blurring and audio improvements that Craig Federighi, Apple’s software chief, said were aimed at making video calls capture the nuances of in-person conversation.
Apple said users will be able to scan their state-issued ID cards in participating U.S. states and the cards will be encrypted in a user’s digital wallet, where the company currently offers the ability to store credit cards and transit cards in some U.S. cities.
The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, being held online for the second year because of the pandemic, typically attracts thousands of app developers, many of whom hope the company will be listening to their concerns.
Last week, developer and technology-podcast host Marco Arment argued that Apple’s leaders need to acknowledge “two obvious truths”: that apps bring value to Apple and that developers attract customers themselves. It is not just Apple’s show.
“To bully and gaslight developers into thinking that we need to be kissing Apple’s feet for permitting us to add billions of dollars of value to their platform is not only greedy, stingy, and morally reprehensible, but deeply insulting,” Arment wrote in a blog post.
Apple’s control over what apps make it onto its app platform and its 15% to 30% commissions on digital sales have come under regulatory scrutiny and were at the heart of an antitrust lawsuit brought by “Fortnite” creator Epic Games, where a federal judge is considering how to rule.
Apple has said its App Store practices grow the market for mobile software by creating an environment for paid apps that consumers trust.
Not all developers have negative sentiments, said Ben Bajarin, chief executive at Creative Strategies who has been surveying Apple developers and found more than 90% have no plans to stop making apps for Apple devices.
Smaller independent developers that make $1 million or less per year and pay smaller fees tend to feel more positive about the value Apple provides than do developers at larger companies who pay higher fees, according to the results from more than 400 developers so far in the ongoing survey.
However, some complaints are widespread, with more than half of developers saying fees should be capped at 10%, and many wanting more clarity around reasons for rejecting apps from the App Store and how to resolve such issues, Bajarin said.
“Developer support is definitely something that’s a pain point,” he said. (Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Peter Henderson, Aurora Ellis and Nick Zieminski)