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US regulator seeks to probe Apple over Beeper Mini app shutdown

IANS | February 13, 2024 10:56 AM

WASHINGTON: US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner Brendan Carr on Tuesday sought a probe into Apple over the Beeper Mini app that briefly enabled message interoperability between iOS and Android.

During the 'State of the Net Conference' event, Carr said the regulator should look into whether Apple's move "complies with the FCC's Part 14 rules" about accommodating users with disabilities.

"I called for the FCC to investigate whether Apple violated our Part 14 rules by blocking Beeper Mini -- an app that enabled interoperability between iOS and Android messaging, " she posted on X.

Beeper bridged the "blue bubble - green bubble" divide that Apple maintains as part of a broader set of walled garden practices that inhibit competition.

"Apple's wider set of exclusionary practices warrant scrutiny by antitrust and competition agencies, but the FCC should also examine this particular incident through the lens of our Part 14 rules on accessibility, usability, and compatibility, " Carr further posted.

Beeper Mini was launched last year, allowing Android users to gain access to iMessage features.

However, Apple blocked Beeper Mini users and continued to shut down attempts to make the app work.

The FCC’s Part 14 rules lay out requirements that “advanced communications service, ” such as iMessage, must follow to ensure they’re accessible.

“Apple made changes to iMessage to disable the functionality of Beeper Mini, ” Carr said.

“There are many negative consequences that flow from Apple’s iMessage decisions, ” she added.

Apple was yet to react to Carr’s investigation call.

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