Apple's ongoing feud with Facebook has been largely centered around privacy features in iOS, including an update in the forthcoming iOS 14.5 that will force Facebook's apps to request permission to track users for targeted ads.
According to a new report from Bloomberg, another update from Apple is coming that is going to add fuel to this fire. The company is reportedly planning to extend the functionality of iMessage into something closer to a social network, putting it directly in competition with offerings from Facebook, including WhatsApp.
- Backbone One review: the best iPhone controller yet
- iOS 15 may change the way you use your iPhone: Here's how
- Best mobile phone deals in April 2021
Details regarding the exact nature of these upgrades were not available as part of the report and Bloomberg indicated that the "changes are still early in development," which suggests that the earliest you would possibly see new features is with iOS 15 this fall.
While it doesn't dominate the market globally, iMessage is frequently cited in the U.S. as one of the most significant lock-in features of the Apple ecosystem. That has made it a point of contention for Facebook which feels it is being disadvantaged by the preferential treatment Apple gives its own app which is both pre-installed on all iPhones and uses private APIs and permissions unavailable to third-party developers.
While Facebook is unlikely to elicit too much sympathy on its own, it is hardly the only company facing off with Apple regarding potential antitrust matters. With the long-awaited release of the AirTags, device tracking company Tile has also levied complaints regarding what it deems to be anti-competitive practices from Apple. Also, Epic Games has been embroiled in a lawsuit with Apple over App Store fees that kicked off last August.
While Apple wasn't the sole focus, Congress bug into the matter with a hearing on Wednesday entitled, "Antitrust Applied: Examining Competition in App Stores." All this to say that we will be following any additional leaks regarding a potential update to iMessage with close interest as Apple may need to tread literally considering the intense scrutiny it is already under.