Apple’s $15 billion in back taxes won’t help Ireland during COVID-19

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International governments plan to rethink tax rules for the ‘digital age’
The cash is right there -- but not for the taking.
Photo: Pixabay/Pexels CC

Ireland is not allowed to use the 14 billion euros ($15.1 billion) in disputed back taxes it collected from Apple to help boost its economy during the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

Yesterday, the leader of the opposition Sinn Féin party, Mary Lou McDonald, said the Irish government could “right this minute” reach into the escrow account where the funds are held and use them to help workers. However, Taoiseach politician Leo Varadkar says that simply isn’t the case.

Disney+ will launch with reduced video quality in Europe, delayed 2 weeks in France

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Disney+.standalone.logo
Coming to Europe this week. France a bit later!
Photo: The Walt Disney Company

Disney has delayed the launch of its Disney+ streaming service by two weeks in France. This is as a result of a request by the French government.

Disney has also agreed to a European Union request for streaming video providers to scale back streaming quality by “at least” 25%. This is to “ensure the smooth functioning of the broadband infrastructure” at a time when the internet faces the strain of more heavy traffic while people are stuck home due to the coronavirus crisis.

Apple TV+ cuts streaming quality in Europe to lower stress on internet

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Apple TV app Samsung
Apple appears to have heeded the E.U. request to lower quality of its Apple TV+ service to reduce the strain on the internet.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Following a request to streaming services to switch from high definition to standard in an effort to reduce the strain on the internet, indications were Friday that Apple has followed suit of other major services and slowed down its Apple TV+ streaming service.

Cult of Mac has confirmed through two Apple TV users – one in Great Britain and one in southern France – that the quality of content on Apple TV+ has been lowered. Subscribers described the differences as primarily fast-moving content that is slower to refresh, heavily compressed and more pixelated.

YouTube, Amazon Prime Video follow Netflix in throttling video quality throughout Europe [Update]

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YouTube and Amazon Prime Video cut streaming bitrates in Europe.
YouTube and Amazon Prime Video cut streaming bitrates in Europe.
Image: Brad Gibson/Cult of Mac

YouTube and Amazon Prime Video confirmed Friday they will will start throttling video quality in Europe in an effort to reduce the strain on network infrastructure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The temporary measure will see all YouTube videos displayed in standard definition by default, though, it is still be possible for viewers to select a higher resolution.

Netflix reduces streaming bit rates in Europe to fight internet congestion

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Netflix is making some big changes to help lessen the impact of COVID-19 on networks.
Photo: Brad Gibson / Cult of Mac

Quarantine and chill is about to get a noticeable quality drop for Netflix users in Europe.

Netflix announced Thursday it would begin to reduce bit rates on all streams in Europe starting today. The move came shortly Netflix CEO Reed Hastings called a European Union official to discuss how to stop the internet from getting congested as more people are being told to work from home.

EU regulators move closer to banning Lightning cable

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The bottom of the XR: The Lightning port isn't perfectly aligned with the speaker holes, and of course, there's no speaker jack.
The days every iPhone has a Lightning port may well be numbered.
Photo: Kristal Chan/Cult of Mac

In a move that seems squarely aimed at killing Apple’s Lightning port, a large majority of the European Parliament voted in favor of establishing a common charger standard for mobile devices.

This is only a step in a process that is likely to see the Lightning connector banned from devices sold in Europe, but it’s a significant one.

Apple says EU’s potential charging cable mandate ‘stifles innovation’

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iPhone Lightning connector
New regulations could force Apple to ditch Lightning cables in Europe.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple today argued against the European Union’s demands for standardized charging cables for smartphones and other devices.

New regulations being considered by the EU could force Apple to ditch the iPhone’s familiar Lightning connector for an industry-wide alternative. Apple said the move “stifles innovation” and hurt smartphone buyers.

“Apple stands for innovation and deeply cares about the customer experience,” Apple said in a statement to Cult of Mac. “We believe regulation that forces conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, and would harm consumers in Europe and the economy as a whole.”

European Commission could get even tougher on tech in 2020

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European Commission could get even tougher on tech in 2020
Tech giants might be in trouble next year.
Illustration: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The European Commission famously handed Apple a massive $14.5 billion bill in 2016. But from the sound of things it’s only going to get tougher with Silicon Valley’s biggest tech giants.

According to a new report, EU antitrust regulators are “considering taking a tougher line” against companies. This could affect the likes of Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google.

EU antitrust regulators start Apple Pay inquiry

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Norwegian Apple Pay
Apple Pay is available in many European countries, including Norway.
Photo: Apple

Apple Pay, the iPhone’s built-in payment system, is reportedly in the sights of EU investigators. They are looking into whether Apple is giving its system an unfair advantage over competitors.

Apple will get an early indication of its EU tax case outcome this week

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International governments plan to rethink tax rules for the ‘digital age’
Fiat and Starbucks cases will offer Apple advance warning (or good news) about its ongoing EU tax battle.
Photo: Pexels

Apple could get an early indication about the likely outcome of its giant European Union (EU) tax case early this week.

Apple was in court last week protesting its 13 billion ($14.4 billion) tax bill from the EU. Although the case is likely to drag on for months, two related cases will be ruled on this week. They may offer Apple some clues about its chances of success.