Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, and Facebook Called to Congress

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Some of the largest technology companies in the USA have yet again been called to testify at the House of Representatives to testify. They have been called many times before. This time it is on competition. Some have alleged that each of these companies has done something to hinder competition and they are being called to speak on it. In a letter written to these companies the House has asked that the CEOs of these companies be the ones to testify. They are also asking the companies to produce documents that were generated in response to competition. If the companies do not produce documentation they may be subpoenaed and obligated to produce it anyway.

For Apple the only way to publish an application is through the Apple App Store. For applications published thay way Apple earns a portion of the sales and subscriptions. Apps sold through the App store cannot advertise paying for services through means other than the App store.

Alphabet (the parent company of Google) has been accused of anticompetitive behaviours along several fronts. This includes giving preference to Alphabet provided serviced in Google searches and having an extensive advertising vertical.

Amazon is a bit unique. Previous anticompetitive cases have focused on consumer welfare. But Amazon’s practices haven’t met past criteria for poor consumer welfare. Amazon has access to lots of sells data and the computational and AI capabilities for profitably using that information and under pricing those that sell through their service.

Facebook has been accused of cutting developers off from their services to serve their own purposes. They have also purchased other services that might have competed with them otherwise (ex:Instagram). Some competitors have described Facebook as an unlawful monopoly.

Whether or not these companies engage in anticompetitive behaviour is a topic of debate. This hearing is part of an ongoing investigation into competition in technology. At the same time the EU is launching an anti-competitive investigation on Apple’s App Store and on Apple Pay. The investigation is based on a complaint from Spotify from last year and a complaint from an unnamed ebook/audio-book distributor. Their complaints are on the fee that must be payed to Apple for services purchased through the user’s iOS device and the prohibitions on communicating to users how they can upgrade their services through other means. For Apple Pay the investigation is on that being the only contactless payment solution that can be deployed to the iPhone. Especially at a time when there is increased interest in contacless transactions in the wake of COVID-19.

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Chrome 74: What is New for Developers


Chrome  74 has been released. The most notable user facing feature is dark mode. It has a number of API updates for developers too. Some of those updates include the following (but there are more)

    • Private class Fields
    • Reduced Motion Experience
    • CSS Transition Event
    • Feature Policies
    • KV Storeage API
    • Buffering of client.postMessage()

Private Class Fields

Fields on classes can now be declared as private by prefixing them with #. Consider the # to be part of the members name. Members marked with this character are not accessible outside of the class.

Reduced Motion Experience

There are people that might experience motion sickness from web pages with lots of scrolling and parallax. A new media query was added so that an experience with less motion can be provided to users that are sensitive to it.


CSS Transition Event

Other browsers have supported CSS transition events. Until now Chrome hasn’t been one of them. With the release of Chrome 74 transition events are now supported. The names of the events are

  • transitionrun
  • transitionstart
  • transitionended
  • transitioncancel

Feature Policies

Some APIs can be selectively enabled or disabled through a Feature-Policy header or through an allow attribute on an iframe. The list of features allowed can be queried with document.featurePolicy.allowedFeatures()

KV Storage API

Storage through localStorage is slow (it’s synchronous). While IndexedDB is asynchronous it’s a more complex API.  To provide a faster API that is easier to use Google has added support for the Key Values Storage API.  There is also a KV polyfill for browsers that do not support KV Storage.

Buffering of client.postMessage()

Messages sent via client.postMessage() are now buffered until a document is ready. a call to postMessage doesn’t dispatch until either DOMContentLoaded is fired, onmessage is set, or startMessages() is called.