ShinyShiny tech roundup: Apple dealt blow in Epic Games trial

Apple faces losing billions of dollars in sales after a US judge ruled that the tech titan must allow developers to bypass controversial fees on its App Store. The company was told to lift a rule that forces apps to use Apple’s own payments system, which charges fees of up to 30pc, amid growing opposition from millions of iPhone software creators. In a case brought by Epic Games, maker of the hit video game Fortnite, US judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers declared that Apple was “engaging in anticompetitive conduct” and that its rules “hide critical information from consumers and illegally stifle consumer choice”. But in a partial victory for the company, she did not declare that Apple was a monopolist, which could have opened up the company to more drastic measures. Telegraph 

Houseparty, a video chat app that surged in popularity when lockdowns were first imposed last year, is to close down. The platform allows people to virtually drop in to video chatrooms with friends and experienced a spike in demand during the first wave of Covid restrictions, reporting 50m sign-ups in one month. Houseparty is owned by the same company that makes Fortnite and it was integrated into the smash-hit game last year, allowing users to hold video chats while playing. The app’s chief executive had described Houseparty as “the next best thing to hanging out in real life” and it became even more popular when meeting friends became impossible throughout much of 2020. Guardian 

The Tesla Model S Plaid has set a new fastest lap time for a production electric car at the Nurburgring, according to a tweet from Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The tweet shows the Plaid’s time around the infamous ‘Green Hell’, showing that it lapped the 12.8-mile circuit in 7 minutes 30.909 seconds. Averaging 103mph, this time eclipsed the previous quickest EV lap time – set by the Porsche Taycan Turbo in 2019 – by 12 seconds. Yahoo!

The British government will introduce legislation in 2021 that will require all newly built homes and offices to feature electric vehicle chargers in England. Specifically, all new homes and offices will have to feature “smart” charging devices that can automatically charge vehicles during off-peak periods. New office blocks will need to install a charge point for every five parking spaces. The new law will make England the first country in the world to require all new homes to have EV chargers. It will also boost confidence in helping those who transition from gas cars to overcome range anxiety, as so many homes in England don’t have off-street parking or garages. Electrek

Stickers that claim to protect users against electromagnetic fields (EMF) from phones remain for sale on Amazon. The listings remain eight months after scientists told the BBC the smartDOT stickers had “no effect”. This week the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) also criticised the claims on the makers’ website. The firm has told the BBC it is changing its website, product descriptions, advertising and marketing – including on Amazon. On Wednesday, the ASA found that Global EMF Solutions Ltd had made unsubstantiated claims on the Energydots website that EMF were harmful and that its stickers offered “protection”. BBC 

Chris Price