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Apple CEO Tim Cook. Photo: Christoph Dernbach/picture alliance via Getty Images

While not heavily touted by Apple on Monday, the company made several moves designed to address some key criticisms leveled by developers and antitrust authorities in recent weeks.

Why it matters: The moves likely won't end all the grumbling or stop regulators in their tracks, but they might turn down the heat for Apple over charges that it is increasingly behaving like a monopolist.

Driving the news: At its developer conference, Apple announced it would:

  • Allow customers for the first time to set a different email program or web browser as the default option on the iPhone.
  • Enable the HomePod speaker to work with streaming services beyond the company's own Apple Music.

Apple is also making some changes in how it handles disputes with developers:

  • In most cases, Apple will now not hold up bug fixes even when it has found an app violates its rules.
  • Developers will also have a process to challenge whether an app violates a specific rule, as well as to challenge a rule itself.

The big picture: The moves come as Europe has launched an antitrust probe and the chairman of the House Antitrust Subcommittee has criticized the company.

  • They also follow a very public spat with Basecamp over Hey, a new email application.
  • That dispute also appears to have reached a detente, with Hey agreeing to a limited free trial in an effort to remain in compliance with Apple's terms.

Go deeper

Sep 29, 2020 - Technology

Scoop: Lawmakers tee up hearing with academics ahead of antitrust report

Big Tech CEOs testify before the House Judiciary antitrust panel in June. Photo: Mandel Ngan/Pool/AFP via Getty Images.

Mostly academics will be testifying at Thursday's House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee hearing, which will reveal where its year-long investigation into Big Tech and competition is going, a source familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: The hearing is the next step following testimony from Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Google's Sundar Pichai, Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Apple's Tim Cook before the committee in July. A showing of academics and think-tank types signals the lawmakers are still sorting out competition theories and possible legislative fixes to perceived antitrust abuses.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.