SAN FRANCISCO — Last yr, Apple introduced that it had created instruments to assist individuals restrict the time they and their youngsters spent on their iPhones. Around the similar time, Apple started purging from its App Store plenty of apps that supplied comparable companies.
Now 17 firms affected by that purge say they’ve a technical reply to the privateness issues that Apple cited for dropping them.
The firms on Thursday proposed the creation of an software programming interface, or A.P.I., a typical little bit of software program that permits laptop applications or apps to work with each other. The firms mentioned the A.P.I. may faucet Apple expertise that will permit them to observe display screen time with out invading privateness.
“Right now, technologically, only Apple has the right to do it on their devices, and we believe Apple should let everybody get a go,” mentioned Viktor Yevpak, the head of Kidslox, a parental-control app that has been focused by Apple.
The firms’ transfer places added strain on Apple forward of its annual developers conference next week, when the iPhone maker interacts with thousands of app makers and lays out its vision for the year.
Apple is increasingly on the defensive over its tight control of the App Store. The high fees for selling services in the App Store and competition from Apple’s own apps are drawing accusations that the tech giant is abusing its power.
Spotify recently complained to European regulators that Apple used the App Store to give its Apple Music service an unfair advantage. Dutch regulators are investigating whether Apple abused its control of the App Store. This month, the Supreme Court allowed an antitrust class action to move forward, saying consumers have the right to try to prove that Apple used the App Store to raise apps’ prices.
And Kidslox and another parental-control app, Qustodio, filed a complaint with European competition officials over Apple’s forcing changes to their apps. Another parental-control app complained to Russia’s antitrust authorities.
Apple declined to comment on Thursday.
Apple has frequently created A.P.I.s to encourage app developers to use its technology. While the 17 app makers released a technical proposal on how it could work, a new A.P.I. would have to come from Apple itself.
Apple said it reviewed about 100,000 apps a week and rejected roughly 40 percent, typically for minor bugs or privacy concerns. (Security experts say the approach has made iPhones safer than Android devices.) Apple stressed that it welcomed competition in the App Store.
Andrew Armour, a developer whose screen-time app was rejected by Apple, said he and the other developers had begun to collaborate after The New York Times reported last month on Apple’s purge. He and Mr. Yevpak said they were upset that Apple had said in its response to the article that it removed their apps because “they put users’ privacy and security at risk.”
Mr. Armour said Apple had never said that when it removed or rejected their apps. “All they said was it went against one of their rules,” he said. “None of us were doing anything malicious.”
The developers said they were encouraged to act by Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive and one of the creators of the iPhone. Mr. Fadell spoke out about Apple’s actions against the screen-time apps and suggested the technology that the companies are now proposing.
Mr. Fadell corresponded with several of the developers. “I will push it out to the world — just make sure it’s done BEFORE WWDC,’” he said in one message seen by The Times, using the abbreviation for Apple’s developers conference next week.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Fadell said he had encouraged the effort but wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Because Apple has demonstrated that it can enable people to track the time they spend on their phones — as well as what their children are doing — without invading privacy, the developers said Apple should give them an A.P.I. that would allow them to do the same.
The companies said they had wanted such an A.P.I. for years but were forced to use workarounds.
Many of them used a technology called mobile device management, or M.D.M., which enables one iPhone to control another. Apple allowed the practice for years but changed its policy last year. Apple said M.D.M. gave the apps too much access to children’s devices.
“This isn’t a matter of competition,” Apple said in a response to The Times’s article. “It’s a matter of security.”
Apple has removed or restricted more than two dozen screen-time and parental-control apps, according to a review by The Times. Still, Apple has left up at least three apps that use M.D.M., according to Sensor Tower, a firm that tracks information about apps.
Several apps that Apple purged didn’t use M.D.M. but were told they had been removed for using a separate technology, virtual private networks.
Apple declined to comment on why it had removed those apps.