3 Things You Need to Know About the Controversy Over Google’s Quick-Loading AMP Pages

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Ah, the 90s. The clothes were loud, the rom-coms cheesy (but also the best). Oh, and the internet? Insanely slow. Pages loaded line by line — or, worse, pixel by pixel. It was hard to do more than check your email (AOL, of course) or a quick search on Alta Vista or Ask Jeeves.

Today’s internet has proliferated in part thanks to its speed, which is about 100 times faster than it was in the late 90s. Some elements of the internet will get faster still, especially as more people around the world use their phones to access it.

Enter Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). Tech giant and internet overlord Google has been using it for a while. But now the company is saying they want a lot more of the internet to be using them.

“Do I want the internet to turn into a giant AMP-hill?” you may ask yourself. Here’s everything you need to know in order to understand why Google’s plan is actually a pretty big deal.

What is It?

Your friend sends you an article via text. It seems interesting. You try to click it. Instead of reading the article in what seems to be a reasonable amount of time, you’re still staring at the loading screen. That’s because the site your friend has directed you to is cluttered with ads and optimized only for desktop. And you’re on your phone. Sigh.

AMP is designed to change that. It’s an open-source website-publishing technology that site-owners can use without losing the value of having ads on their site. Google spearheads the development of the open-source library.

To use AMP, developers make an alternate version of their site using AMP’s open-source library. It works across multiple platforms and is compatible with most browsers.

With AMP, web pages load faster and appear portable — the way you might have experienced when reading articles from Facebook or Apple News via your phone. AMP provides that lickety-split service for all the sites you’d access via your mobile browser. Some sites use this, but certainly not all.

AMP for All

Google wants to see AMP everywhere. According to a recent blog post, the company wants to convince the group that handles the internet’s web standards to adopt a technology that takes cues from the AMP framework. “We now feel ready to take the next step and work to support more instant-loading content not based on AMP technology in areas of Google Search designed for this,” Malte Ubl, tech lead for the AMP Project at Google, wrote in the post.

“This content will need to follow a set of future web standards and meet a set of objective performance and user experience criteria to be eligible,” the post continued, listing a number of “lessons learned” from Google’s AMP experience.

Speed, At A Cost

That sounds like a wonderful idea. Who wouldn’t want their internet to work faster, especially on the go?

But it’s Google we’re talking about here. As The Verge described, instead of working as “a steward of the web,” Google has become its “nefarious puppet master.” That is, some believe Google is pushing the proliferation of the internet in ways that enrich the company, but don’t necessarily make people’s lives better, all under a facade of altruism. Not cool.

Indeed, some web developers and publishers enthusiastic about an AMP-filled future internet are worried about what might happen if Google takes the lead. One group wrote an open letter that criticized Google AMP as a way to keep users “within Google’s domain and divert traffic away from other websites for the benefit of Google.” They added: “At a scale of billions of users, this has the effect of further reinforcing Google’s dominance of the Web.”

In short, opponents feel Google is strong-arming sites to support a format that might just becoming another way to keep the internet under Google’s control. And the fact that it’s open source doesn’t meant it’s impartial.

Of course, Google find this to be unfair. “This is honestly a fairly altruistic project from our perspective,” David Besbris, Google’s VP of search engineering, told The Verge. ”It wasn’t like we invented AMP because we wanted to control everything, like people assume.”

Well Google said it, so we should take their word for it, right? It is, of course, not that easy. Google has so many proprietary assets controlling how people make content and put it online — it’s not exactly at the cutting-edge of the so-called Open Web. Furthermore, as Ars Technica pointed out, critics of Google’s AMP project believe it’s possible to deliver the same fast content simply by “not doing things that are slow.”

Google will likely continue to invest in AMP, and get others to do the same. We’ll see if their opponents become even more vocal, or whether surfing the web via mobile continues to feel like a 90s throwback.

The post 3 Things You Need to Know About the Controversy Over Google’s Quick-Loading AMP Pages appeared first on Futurism.


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Religious Holidays Mysteriously Reappear in iOS Calendar Amid Controversy

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We recently reported that amid the rollout of its iOS 11.2.5 software update, a number of prominent Judeo-Christian holidays (including Easter and Good Friday) seemed to mysteriously vanish from Apple’s Calendar app — prompting outcry among some religious believers who were under the impression that an anti-Christian bias was afoot up in Cupertino. Now, roughly two […]
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Apple Testifies Before Canadian Parliamentary Committee to Explain iPhone Battery Controversy

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Apple was forced to testify in front of the Canadian parliamentary committee earlier today about its role in the iPhone battery controversy. Continue reading
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Apple testifies before Canada Parliamentary Committee on iPhone slowdown controversy

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Apple continues to face scrutiny over throttling older iPhones as their batteries age. In addition to questioning from lawmakers in the U.S. and other countries around the world, the company today testified in front of a House of Commons committee regarding the iPhone slowdown controversy…



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South Korea prosecutors are investigating Apple’s iPhone battery controversy

Add the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office to the growing list of government units around the world that are investigating Apple over the reduced performance of iPhones with older batteries inside. The company’s poor messaging about an iOS update intended to prevent unexpected shutdowns — a change that required throttling the processor and slowing performance of iPhones with chemically-aged batteries — led to widespread controversy and customer frustration late last year.

As reported by Apple Insider, the new probe comes after Seol’s Citizens United for Consumer Sovereignty filed a complaint against Apple that claimed the company is really slowing down iPhones to sway consumers towards upgrading sooner than would otherwise be…

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Apple’s response to battery controversy: Have a new one for $29


The past few weeks have been tumultuous for Apple ever since the company confirmed it slows down iPhones as their batteries age. In a message posted to Apple’s website today, the company formally apologized to customers while explaining how iPhone batteries age, what Apple has already done to prevent unexpected device shutdowns, and what the company will do to address customer concerns.

“We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize,” the letter reads. “There’s been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we’re making. First and foremost, we have never—and would never—do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.”

The final part of the message is the most important for customers, as it lays out Apple’s plans to help them replace old iPhone batteries and better understand their device’s battery performance. The biggest change is that Apple will lower the cost of out-of-warranty battery replacements for iPhone 6 models and later from $ 79 to $ 29—a discount of more than 60 percent. The program will start in late January and will be available worldwide through December 2018.

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apple – Ars Technica

French government investigates planned obsolescence allegations amidst iPhone slowdown controversy

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The French government is reportedly investigating a recent private complaint against Apple, which charges that the company’s decision to slow down iPhones with weak batteries is a form of planned obsolescence meant to sell new hardware.
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Apple’s response to its iPhone slowdown controversy is good — and a lesson to be more proactive about communicating

In the meantime, here’s a $ 30 battery swap.

Apple’s latest iPhone controversy — that the company was caught slowing down some old iPhones to prevent them from shutting off unexpectedly — has become its biggest stain in years.

But Apple’s response today is a good one. In an unsigned letter to customers posted on its website, the company:

  • Apologized in the first paragraph.
  • Stated on the record that it has “never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.”
  • Provided a transparent, believable explanation of why it was slowing down old phones, including a timeline of the changes and a complete list of the affected devices.
  • Announced it was cutting the cost of getting an old iPhone battery replaced out-of-warranty to $ 29 (seems reasonable) from its previous price of $ 79 (kind of a lot).
  • Announced it would provide more visibility into the health of your iPhone’s battery in an iOS update early next year.
  • Promised its team was “working on ways to make the user experience even better, including improving how we manage performance and avoid unexpected shutdowns as batteries age.”

Clear and good.

And noticeably different than, say, “Antennagate” in 2010, when Steve Jobs’s Apple first responded by telling users they were holding their phones wrong, then changed the way the iPhone’s antenna signal bars looked, then later scrambled to invite a handful of friendly reporters to Apple HQ for a tour of the company’s antenna-testing facilities, and finally offered all iPhone 4 buyers free cases to help fix the problem.

But: Different times, different leaders, different markets.

Apple had only sold about 60 million iPhones at that point. Since then, it has sold more than a billion.

The iPhone is a truly mainstream product, and little smartphone quirks — and the conspiracy theories that go along with them — are now everyone’s reality and daily obsession. It’s not just tech-nerd Twitter that discusses these problems today. Even a short Uber ride in Los Angeles last weekend exposed me to Top 40 radio for long enough to hear the DJ talking about Batterygate, assuming the worst of Apple for slowing down old phones.

So, how to avoid this in the future? In this case, a little proactive communication could have gone a long way, and should be Apple’s big lesson here. If Apple had noted to individual iPhone users that their batteries were getting old — and that it could lead to reduced performance — this probably would have never been an issue.

A simple one-time alert that effectively says hey, your battery is losing its potency so we’re going to manage your phone a little more to keep it stable would have been a good start, in hindsight. Or at very least, the battery info tool that Apple is now building.

It might have spurred some frustration, or complaints, or even some reluctant battery replacements or iPhone upgrades. But it wouldn’t have caused an uproar like this, where Apple’s entire hard-won reputation is being debated for what’s really a pretty minor thing.

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