Apple is quietly waging war against independent screen time apps

Apple has responded to accusations of stifling independent screen time apps that empower parents to control their children's phone usage. The prevalence of smartphones and their potential negative impact on our hyper-connected world have sparked the rise of digital wellness and a corresponding industry offering solutions to monitor and limit online time, particularly for young people. However, some companies claim that Apple is "systematically killing the industry" by imposing restrictions or banning these screen time apps from the App Store.

In a recent article in The New York Times, the CEO of a popular parental-control app for iPhone, called OurPact, expressed frustration after being unexpectedly removed from Apple's online store, which reportedly accounted for 80 percent of the company's revenue. Amir Moussavian stated, "They yanked us out of the blue with no warning." Other apps were forced to remove features enabling parental control over children's devices.

According to analysis by The New York Times and app data firm Sensor Tower, Apple has eliminated or limited at least 11 out of the 17 most downloaded screen-time and parental-control apps in the past year.

Both Apple and Google, the owner of the Android operating system, have embraced the concept of digital wellbeing by launching their own apps and tools last year. However, Apple appears concerned about third-party parental control apps that grant excessive power to individuals who do not own the devices.

In response to the allegations, Apple stated, "We recently removed several parental control apps from the App Store, and we did it for a simple reason: they put users' privacy and security at risk." The company emphasized its belief in providing parents with tools to manage their children's device usage, highlighting their creation and ongoing development of Screen Time.