Apple Is Pushing Apps Like Spotify From the iOS Dock — What’s Going On?

Apple Spotify iOS dock
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Apple Spotify iOS dock
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Photo Credit: Brett Jordan

An iOS developer claims Apple Music is bumping top competitor Spotify from the dock, but Apple insists it’s a bug.

This behavior would indicate that Apple is promoting its native app over Spotify. Still, developer Kevin Archer says this occurs when any third-party app is in the dock’s fourth slot. The behavior isn’t specific to music apps, and Apple will bump any app for its first-party alternative. However, Apple Music does show priority in the dock and even bumps the company’s other apps from that slot.

When setting up an iPhone for the first time, it comes pre-installed with a set of apps in the four dock slots. Users can delete default apps like Apple Music and re-install them from the App Store if desired. Since the Apple Music app comes pre-installed in the fourth dock slot, it will always default to that location if it is re-installed. Third-party apps such as Spotify do not attempt to re-install themselves in the dock since the OS informs the dock’s behavior. 

This behavior results from a quirk in programming rather than an attempt to oust competitors intentionally. Apple has stated that it is a bug and the company will ‘look into it.’

The company has been defensive surrounding iOS and its App Store, particularly since antitrust complaints culminated in an investigation into whether technology juggernauts are leveraging shareholder power to stifle their competition. Among prominent tech CEOs, Apple’s Tim Cook testified before the US House Antitrust Subcommittee in 2020.

Cook denied that his company participates in a “copy-acquire-kill” strategy, claiming that it does “not have a dominant market share in any market where we do business.” Apple insists they treat every developer on the iOS App Store fairly and that its rules are open and transparent. 

“After beginning with 500 apps, today the App Store hosts more than 1.7 million–only 60 of which are Apple software,” Cook’s official statement before the subcommittee read. “Clearly, if Apple is a gatekeeper, what we have done is open the gate wider. We want to get every app we can on the store, not keep them off.”

He continued, “The App Store evolves with the times, and every change we have made has been in the direction of providing a better experience for our users and a compelling business opportunity for developers.”