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Why are Apple and Epic going to court over Fortnite currency? | Apple

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Apple and Epic Games will go head to head in court in front of a US federal judge on Monday, the latest stage in the Fortnite maker’s campaign to break open the iPhone’s walled garden.

The feud has been growing since last August, when Epic set in motion a plan – known internally as “project liberty” – to try to get past the restrictions Apple places on software made for iPhones and iPads. Here is what brought the two companies to this point.

What is Epic’s problem with Apple?

The App Store is the only way to install software on iPhones and iPads, but companies have to play by Apple’s rules if they want to be included. Those rules are byzantine, controlling everything from adult content to security practices, but Epic’s main issue is with the rules controlling how it can charge customers for “V-bucks”, the in-game currency used to buy items in Fortnite.

Apple requires large companies to pay 30% of the money they receive for such sales of digital goods – since last December, smaller companies can apply for a discounted rate – a cut which Epic’s founder and chief executive, Tim Sweeney, had long complained was extortionate.

How did Epic kick off the fight?

Sweeney sent Apple a behind-the-scenes ultimatum: allow Epic to run its own App Store for iPhones, where it could take payments without a cut.

Apple rejected Epic’s terms, and on 13 August Epic unilaterally updated Fortnite to allow users to buy V-bucks direct, and offered a discount for those who did. Apple and Google, whose Google Play app store rules were also circumvented, retaliated within hours by removing the game. Epic took the fight public, reworking Apple’s famous 1984 commercial to pitch the company under Tim Cook as the new villain.

Does Epic have history with this sort of thing?

The showdown with Apple has echoes of past Epic campaigns, which have had mixed results. It successfully forced Sony’s hand in 2017 in a nearly identical playbook. Fortnite was updated to allow “cross play”, letting Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo Switch players compete directly, but Sony refused to allow PlayStation owners to join. That autumn, a brief software update – which Epic said was a mistake – enabled the feature for PlayStation owners, proving that it was possible and casting Sony as the sole holdout. The company panicked, fearing it could lose its reputation as the console platform “for the players”, its tagline at the time, and relented.

Another attempt to bypass controls was less successful. Epic launched the Epic Games Store on Android in 2018, using a technical feature of Google’s mobile platform to legitimately bypass the company’s control. The store ran for two years, but was eventually shuttered because, Epic said: “Google puts software downloadable outside of Google Play at a disadvantage, through technical and business measures such as scary, repetitive security pop-ups.”

What has Apple’s response been?

Apple has held fast. The company not only removed Fortnite from the App Store, as Epic expected, but initially tried to go further by threatening Epic’s ability to publish software for Macs too. That would have harmed another wing of Epic’s business, where the company makes the Unreal engine, a popular tool for developing 3D graphics for the gaming, film and design industries. The courts blocked that salvo after Microsoft joined in on Epic’s side.

Apple insists there is no room for negotiation, and that the rules the App Store runs on are there to ensure the safety and security of its users. Requirements to funnel payments through Apple protect users against financial scams, and a ban on installing alternative app stores prevents malware from running rampant on the platform.

Does Epic have any supporters?

A whole load. Shortly after the case was launched, a new body, the Coalition for App Fairness appeared, with members including Epic, Spotify and the Tinder owner Match Group. CAF is firmly aimed at Apple, and argues that the company’s 30% cut “represents an enormous portion of their revenue, in many cases an untenably large one”. The Guardian is a member of the News Media Association, itself a member of News Media Europe, which in turn is part of CAF.

Other CAF members have similar complaints about different parts of the App Store. makes gadgets which can track lost items, a market Apple entered in April. Tile argues Apple has an unfair advantage, because it allows its AirTags software capabilities that Tile was barred from using.

What is the legal case likely to turn on?

According to court filings, Epic will present Apple’s restrictions as the acts of a monopoly player that is extracting unfair payments from companies with no option but to accede. Apple will argue that the success of other mobile phone makers shows that it is not a monopolist, and that the small portion of Epic’s business that occurs on iOS – reportedly less than 10% of Fortnite’s revenues before it was pulled – further supports the idea that the two companies are equals.

Are there any surprises in store?

It is rare that battles between companies this big make it to open court, because the incentive to settle beforehand is so big. The list of executives lined up to testify includes Tim Cook and Tim Sweeney, Apple’s Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi, the former App Store boss Scott Forstall and witnesses from Facebook and Microsoft. Testimony under oath extracted by skilled lawyers could produce some uncomfortable disclosures from everyone.

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China says it has photographed all of Mars from orbit • The Register

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China is claiming that as of Wednesday, its Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter has officially photographed the entire Red Planet. And it’s shown off new photos of the southern polar cap and a volcano to prove it.

“It has acquired the medium-resolution image data covering the whole globe of Mars, with all of its scientific payloads realizing a global survey,” state-sponsored media quoted the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announcing.

Among the images are one of Mount Askra with its crater, shots of the South Pole whose ice sheet is believed to consist of solid carbon dioxide and ice, the seven-kilometer deep Valles Marineris canyon, and the geomorphological characteristics of the rim of the Mund crater.

Mount Askela

Mount Askela. Click to enlarge

Mars South Pole

Mars South Pole. Click to enlarge

Valles Marineris

Valles Marineris. Click to enlarge

Geomorphology of the rim of the Mund Crater

Mund crater. Click to enlarge

Tianwen-1 had been in orbit around Mars for 706 days. The orbiter circled Mars 1,344 times, as of an announcement from CNSA. The space org said Tianwen-1 has completed its scheduled missions.

In conjunction with its rover Zhurong, Tianwen-1 amassed 1,040 gigabytes of raw scientific data through 13 onboard scientific payloads.

The mission has allowed CNSA to observe solar occultation and solar wind together with international observatories – including those in Russia, Germany, Italy, Australia and South Africa – to improve the accuracy of space weather forecasts. Good news for Matt Damon.

CNSA said it will share more scientific data with the international community in due course.

In December, Zhurong and the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft performed an in-orbit relay communication test to demonstrate it was possible to relay data from Zhurong back to Earth via Mars Express. The demonstration was successful, if a bit complicated – Mars Express had to “listen” for Zhurong since the rover was unable to communicate directly because the frequencies used don’t match.

Even though the mission is officially over, the orbiter and rover are still in working order. The orbiter will stay in orbit and continue its remote sensing and data relay activities while Zhurong will hibernate until weather conditions improve – likely in December. ®

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Collisons join A-list backers of Entrepreneur First’s $158m Series C

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Founded in 2011, Entrepreneur First’s portfolio has grown to more than 500 companies, which together are worth more than $10bn.

London-based scale-up investor Entrepreneur First has raised $158m in a Series C funding round, with backing from some of the world’s biggest tech founders.

The funding round included participation from Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison. They were joined by Wise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus (who also launched a new VC fund this week), LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg, Monzo co-founder Tom Blomfield, Nested co-founder and CEO Matt Robinson, and many others.

There was also investment from longstanding institutional backers such as Transpose Platform, Vitruvian Partners, Encore Capital and Isomer Capital.

“It feels right that this round of funding comes from the most successful technology founders of today,” Entrepreneur First CEO Matt Clifford said. “Their support will build their counterparts of tomorrow.”

Founded in 2011, Entrepreneur First describes itself as “the best place in the world to meet your co-founder”. It says the best companies come from co-founding partnerships, but that finding the right person can be hugely challenging.

Entrepreneur First invests in early-stage founder talent. It works to bring people together from all walks of life to help meet potential co-founders, while giving them access to advisers in a three-month programme.

The company currently has 120 employees with offices in London, Toronto, Paris, Berlin, Bangalore and Singapore.

Its portfolio now includes more than 500 companies, which together exceed $10bn in value. These companies include computer vision unicorn Tractable, employment platform Omnipresent and advertising infrastructure platform Permutive.

“We built a way for the world’s most talented people, from all walks of life, to come together to find co-founders and build from scratch,” Clifford said. “Now, that fix has introduced co-founders who wouldn’t have otherwise met, to build companies that wouldn’t have been built.”

Entrepreneur First aims to see the value of companies built from its platform cross $100bn and beyond in the years to come.

“What we do may no longer seem crazy, as it did 10 years ago,” Clifford added. “But we’re just as committed to keep innovating to serve entrepreneurs better – and be the best place in the world to find a co-founder.”

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Kira Puru: the 10 funniest things I have ever seen (on the internet) | Culture

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Never in my life have I felt more unfunny than I did while compiling this list. There is nothing that’ll give you the ick faster than someone whipping out their phone to show you something “funny” they’ve seen on the internet, thrusting you into the longest three minutes of your life. Oh and that keen, wide-eyed look they give you after, practically begging for validation? Gross. And somehow, despite knowing this, here I am, desperately hoping that you’ll laugh and think I’m cool.

Look, I’m not in the business of being funny. I make music. And that’s the excuse I’ll be sticking to if nothing on this list appeals to you. But if you’re feelin’ frisky, let me whip out my proverbial phone and show you a thing or two …

1. @rhyleep95 on TikTok

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I think creating this list has made me realise that a lot of what I think is “funny” is actually just earnest expressions of joy and people at play. Rhylee is a natural comedian who is genuinely talented across multiple disciplines, but her account is perfect comfort-watch territory because it’s just truly nice to watch someone have fun.

2. Nina Oyama on Twitter (@ninaoyama)

I’m doing cry july

— nina oyama (@ninaoyama) July 9, 2021

I’m a depressed queer with a penchant for dry, grubby humour, so naturally I’m a Nina Oyama stan. If you’re on Twitter and not following Nina, you’re misusing the platform.

3. @mignonettetakespictures on Instagram

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More amusing than literally funny, but @mignonettetakespictures serves up bittersweet tearjerkers, unhinged absurdity, belly laughs and everything in between.

4. @gnomeboys on TikTok

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I could have just submitted 10 Gnome Boys clips for this list tbh. A supremely balanced mix of comedy, talent, and wholesome celebration of friendship in equal measure. Slay.

5. Ziwe interviews Chet Hanks

I don’t know what this says about me, but Ziwe making people uncomfortable is something I find thoroughly enjoyable.

6. @grandma_droniak on TikTok

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Grandma Droniak is a modern feminist icon. And if you don’t like it, leave.

7. @aureliastclair on TikTok

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If there’s one thing I’m into, it’s deeply specific memes about Melbourne’s inner north, and Aurelia handles this masterfully. I’ve chosen this particular clip cuz I live in Brunswick and I’m very attached to my putrid bucket of rotting food scraps that literally goes into the general waste bin every week.

8. Dirty Bird #2: Dads

Uh. I’m not sure what to say about this. Please enjoy some vintage Sam Campbell, where he and his friend Henry run into their dads while on a “chicken eating tour of the suburbs”.

9. @janemckennan0 on TikTok

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Jane’s body of work is very dynamic and thrilling. A cutting edge artist in the peak of her prime, in my humble opinion.

10. @lostmymarblesagain on TikTok

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Look, we’re this deep into the list and I don’t know what’s funny any more. But if Brittany Broski has one million fans, I’m one of them. If she has one fan, it’s me. If she has zero fans, I’m dead.

  • Kira Puru is part of Southside Live, a free, family-friendly event presented by City of Port Phillip in Victoria, 24 June – 3 July



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