Tim Cook makes false claims to rationalise Apple’s China appeasement

Apple CEO Tim Cook has sent an email to employees with a lengthier explanation for why the company chose to remove HKmap.live from the App Store yesterday. Similar to Apple’s statement last night, Cook claims that the app — a crowdsourced mapping tool that’s become useful amid the ongoing protests in Hong Kong — was being misused in ways that could threaten public safety.

Tim Cook’s email is riddled with nonsense, so I’ll let people more knowledgeable than me debunk this weak excuse of an explanation as to why Apple is bending over backwards to please a brutal communist genocidal dictatorship. The claims made by Cook simply don’t hold up, he again refuses to cite which Hong Kong laws are being broken, and countless of Apple’s own services are being used for the same purposes as HKmap.live. Will iMessage be removed next? AirDrop?

Tim Cook is a coward.

New VxWorks release released

From the obtuse press release:

• First and only real-time operating system to support C++17, Boost, Python, and Rust collection of technologies, along with continued support for languages like Ada and SPARK

• New LLVM-based infrastructure that enables support for a broad set of modern and productive tools and frameworks

• New open source board support packages (BSPs) such as Raspberry Pi and TI Sitara AM65x for quick prototyping and flexibility of choice

• OpenSSL 1.1.1 for the most up-to-date cryptography libraries

Very informative headline, I know, but VxWorks isn’t exactly a very approachable topic, so I had to make do.

Apple removes app used in Hong Kong protests after pressure from China

Apple has removed HKmap.live, a crowdsourced mapping app widely used by Hong Kong residents, from the App Store. The app and accompanying web service has been used to mark the locations of police and inform about street closures during the ongoing pro-democracy protests that have engulfed Hong Kong this year.

Apple initially rejected HKmap.live from the App Store earlier this month, then reversed its decision a few days later. Now it has reversed its reversal.

Tim Cook is a coward.

Apple removes Quartz news app from the Chinese App Store over Hong Kong coverage

News organization Quartz tells The Verge that Apple has removed its mobile app from the Chinese version of its App Store after complaints from the Chinese government. According to Quartz, this is due to the publication’s ongoing coverage of the Hong Kong protests, and the company says its entire website has also been blocked from being accessed in mainland China.

The publication says it received a notice from Apple that the app “includes content that is illegal in China.”

I’ve been highlighting Apple’s and Tim Cook’s hypocrisy for years now, but I’ve always felt like a man screaming into the void. It’s interesting to see the media finally waking up to just how much their innate love for Apple and Tim Cook has allowed the wool to be pulled over their eyes.

The modular PC: Intel’s new Element brings Project Christine to life

Way back at CES 2014, Razer’s CEO introduced a revolutionary concept design for a PC that had one main backplane and users could insert a CPU, GPU, power supply, storage, and anything else in a modular fashion. Fast forward to 2020, and Intel is aiming to make this idea a reality. Today at a fairly low-key event in London, Intel’s Ed Barkhuysen showcased a new product, known simply as an ‘Element’ – a CPU/DRAM/Storage on a dual-slot PCIe card, with Thunderbolt, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and USB, designed to slot into a backplane with multiple PCIe slots, and paired with GPUs or other accelerators. Behold, Christine is real, and it’s coming soon.

Anything to compete with the default ATX design of a PC is welcome, and this looks incredibly interesting.

Apple under fire from China over HKmap.live app that tracks police activity amid Hong Kong protests

Chinese state media on Tuesday accused Apple Inc of protecting “rioters” in Hong Kong and enabling illegal behaviour, after the US-based technology giant listed on its app store an application that tracks police activity in the city.

Apple had previously rejected the app, called HKmap.live, but reversed its decision on Friday and made the programme available for download from the iOS App Store on Saturday, according to the program’s developer.

It will be interesting to see if Apple bows to Chinese pressure and removes the application. Apple already bows to Chinese censorship, so I wouldn’t be surprised.

Blizzard failed to make a stand for anything but China and money

Ng Wai “Blitzchung” Chung is a professional Hearthstone player who supported the protests happening in Hong Kong against China during a post-win interview for the Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament on Sunday. Hearthstone publisher Blizzard Entertainment responded with a harsh punishment, banning Blitzchung from the digital card game’s esports for a year and taking his prize money from Grandmasters.

Blizzard also says it will no longer work with the two casters who covered the event, who literally ducked behind their desk when Blitzchung voiced his support for Honk Kong’s protest. Usually, players are banned from Blizzard esports for cheating. But Blitzchung did not cheat.

Blizzard is partially owned by the Chinese company Tencent, and the Chinese market is hugely important for the game maker – as such, it does not want to offend the Chinese government. Like the NBA, yet another American enterprise subjected to Chinese censorship.

Collapse O: bootstrap post-collapse technology

I expect our global supply chain to collapse before we reach 2030. With this collapse, we won’t be able to produce most of our electronics because it depends on a very complex supply chain that we won’t be able to achieve again for decades (ever?).

[…]

Among these scavenged parts are microcontrollers, which are especially powerful but need complex tools (often computers) to program them. Computers, after a couple of decades, will break down beyond repair and we won’t be able to program microcontrollers any more.

To avoid this fate, we need to have a system that can be designed from scavenged parts and program microcontrollers. We also need the generation of engineers that will follow us to be able to create new designs instead of inheriting a legacy of machines that they can’t recreate and barely maintain.

This is where Collapse OS comes in.

That’s one way to introduce an operating system. This is a very unique project aimed at creating an operating system that can run on microcontrollers and which can self-replicate.

macOS Catalina: the MacStories review

macOS Catalina has been reviewed, and taking over from John Siracusa’s legendary Mac OS X reviews at Ars Technica is MacStories.

The Mac isn’t in crisis, but it isn’t healthy either. Waiting until the Mac is on life support isn’t viable. Instead, Apple has opted to reimagine the Mac in the context of today’s computing landscape before its survival is threatened. The solution is to tie macOS more closely to iOS and iPadOS, making it an integrated point on the continuum of Apple’s devices that respects the hardware differences of the platform but isn’t different simply for the sake of difference.

Transitions are inherently messy, and so is Catalina in places. It’s a work in process that represents the first steps down a new path, not the destination itself. The destination isn’t clear yet, but Catalina’s purpose is: it’s a bridge, not an island.

You know where to get Catalina, but it might be a good idea to wait a few point releases before diving in.

Apple hides Taiwan flag in Hong Kong

The change, first discovered by iOS Developer Hiraku Wang, means that users with an iOS device region set to Hong Kong will see one less flag on the emoji keyboard than if the region is set to anywhere else in the world (other than China mainland, which also hides this flag).

Notably, the emoji 🇹🇼 Flag: Taiwan is still supported by iOS in Hong Kong. As of iOS 13.1.2, released last week, this is now hidden from the emoji keyboard but remains available by other means.

Geopolitics on your emoji keyboard.

What the heck is Windows 10X?

If we consult years of insider whispers about Microsoft’s alleged internal strategy for Windows, many from The Verge’s own Tom Warren, there’s a simple reason why you shouldn’t care whether Windows 10X ships on just a few devices or thousands. That’s because Windows 10X is likely just a modular shell that gives the core Windows operating system a new user interface to do the tricks you see in these videos.

And it all comes back to the philosophical question of what “Windows” really is now.

[…]

As Tom and fellow reporters have discovered, Microsoft has been building a new Windows Core OS (WCOS) that will serve as the new modular backbone of Windows. It can be paired with a different user interface for different types of displays by adapting what Microsoft’s calling a Composable Shell, or CShell (say it out loud), to each new interface.

I hope Microsoft will eventually give users the choice to switch between the various shells whenever they so desire. And if not – the community will take care of it.

Windows Phone was never on the table for Microsoft’s new Surface Duo smartphone

Those dual-screened experiences Panay describes are just as reliant on the software working well as they are on the two screens existing side by side. And that’s where Android comes in. At some point Microsoft determined that if you can’t beat them, you need to join them and try your darnedest to differentiate. It will attempt to make Microsoft apps the best Microsoft apps you can get on an Android device.

When I ask him if he ever considered reviving a Windows mobile OS, Panay says no. Twice. And he says it firmly. “At the end of the day, where the applications sit today, the opportunity that people have already leaned into, that developers have already taken advantage of—it’s right there. And there’s a reality to that. To ignore that would be silly.”

Of course they never considered using Windows for a mobile phone. That ship has sailed, crashed, and sunk, and the market just isn’t open to any new entrants, as the lack of response to this change.org petition illustrates.

Attorney general Bill Barr will ask Zuckerberg to halt plans for end-to-end encryption across Facebook’s apps

Attorney General Bill Barr, along with officials from the United Kingdom and Australia, is set to publish an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking the company to delay plans for end-to-end encryption across its messaging services until it can guarantee the added privacy does not reduce public safety.

A draft of the letter, dated Oct. 4, is set to be released alongside the announcement of a new data-sharing agreement between law enforcement in the US and the UK; it was obtained by BuzzFeed News ahead of its publication.

The forces are closing in on end-to-end encryption, and with the bizarre constitutional crises both the US and the UK are experiencing, I would be even more worried about this than I’d be under normal circumstances.

Chrome for Windows on ARM is ready, but Google isn’t releasing it

I’ve heard this from multiple sources now, and it was confirmed again at yesterday’s Microsoft event, where the company announced the ARM-based Surface Pro X. What’s unclear is why Google isn’t releasing Chrome for ARM64. There seems to be some kind of disagreement between Google and one of the other companies involved (either Qualcomm or Microsoft), and last I heard, it will likely be resolved some time in the February timeframe.

At this point this doesn’t seem to matter much – how many ARM Windows 10 devices are out there, really – but with Microsoft really going all-in on ARM now, it’ll really want this issue resolved quickly.

Hong Kong protest safety app banned from iOS store

Apple has banned an app that allows people in Hong Kong to keep track of protests and police activity in the city state, claiming such information is illegal.

“Your app contains content – or facilitates, enables, and encourages an activity – that is not legal … specifically, the app allowed users to evade law enforcement,” the American tech giant told makers of the HKmap Live on Tuesday before pulling it.

[…]

Apple has made defense of citizens’ rights a key differentiator in its technology and painted itself as a business that will stand up to unreasonable requests by the authorities who wish to use its technology to bypass current laws – in the US at least. That Cupertino chose to ban the app without discussing the issue with the app’s developers and has given a very limited, and quite possibly incorrect, explanation as to why, has infuriated many.

Is anybody really surprised by this? Apple is entirely beholden to the genocidal, oppressive, totalitarian Chinese regime, and they care more about money than they do about human lives, as was recently evidenced by their entirely tone-deaf response to the iPhone 0days that were used to aid in the Uighur genocide. Insular American and European media and Apple bloggers aid in maintaining this facade, and are complicit in Apple’s unwavering support of the murderous Chinese regime.

Day in day out, Apple shows its true face, and every single time, American and European media and westerners act all surprised. When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

MorphOS 3.12 released

This new version introduces brand new dual-monitor capabilities to various Powerbook laptops as well as G5 desktop systems, and features improved thermal management, fan control and dynamic CPU frequency switching, which provide increased energy efficiency and reduced noise levels. Additionally, the Helios Firewire stack has been fully integrated into the core OS and we added support for hundreds of modern printers and scanners.

Furthermore, the Odyssey web browser has been upgraded and now utilizes newer and more modern components for handling connections, encryption, spell-checking, and low-level drawing operations. Plus, it features a redesigned and more adaptive user interface.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, as reading through the release notes reveals a massive number of changes, improvements, and fixes. It’s definitely time to dust off my MorphOS 17″ PowerBook G4 and get this new release up and running.

Apple’s default iPhone apps give it growing edge over App Store rivals

When consumers fire up the latest iPhones for the first time in the coming weeks, they’ll find the device brimming with Apple Inc.’s home-grown apps, already installed and set as default programs. This prized status isn’t available to outside software, making it hard for some developers to compete, and that’s catching the eye of lawmakers probing potential antitrust violations in the technology industry.

Aside from possible antitrust issues, it’s just a user-hostile setup designed not to bring the best possible user experience to users, but merely to boost Apple’s own applications and services. Not being able to set your own default applications and link handlers in 2019 is entirely indefensible.

Microsoft announces Windows 10X, Android-powered Surface Duo, and more

Microsoft held its Surface hardware event today, and there’s quite a few surprising things they announced. Let’s start with the least interesting, which are updates all across its Surface Pro and Surface Laptop lines. You know, newer processors, design changes, that sort of stuff. Most interesting is probably that the new 15″ Surface Laptop model comes not with an Intel processor, but an AMD Ryzen chip AMD and Microsoft worked on together.

But the real new thing with the Laptop 3 is the 15-inch model. Not only is it larger — it has a 15-inch screen and weighs 3.4 pounds — but it also has a brand-new processor for Microsoft’s Surface computers. The new chip is an AMD-based Surface Edition of the Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7, with an extra core on the graphics processor over the standard Ryzen chips. It can be paired with up to 32GB of RAM, which is 16 more than the maximum you can get in the 13-inch model. Oddly, the storage options top out at 512GB. (The 13-inch model can be equipped with up to 1TB of storage.)

Microsoft opted for AMD’s Ryzen processors because the company rightfully assumed that on 15″ laptops, people are more likely to do graphics-intensive work than on a smaller 13″ display. It’s also, of course, a huge boost for AMD, and a deserved one for all the amazing progress the company has achieved these past few years.

As a very important and interesting sidenote – Microsoft highlighted the serviceability of its new Surface Laptops, but showing on-stage how by removing four screws, you can remove the entire top cover (where the keyboard rests) to access every internal component of the laptop. This is normal for larger, bulkier, and thicker laptops, but it’s quite rare to see it touted as a selling point for such a thin and light laptop.

The processor inside the 15″ Surface Laptop is not the only processor Microsoft co-engineered with a partner. Microsoft unveiled the Surface Pro X, an ARM-based Surface Pro that runs on a processor Microsoft worked on together with Qualcomm.

The new SQ1 processor is a custom Qualcomm processor that runs at 7W to offer great performance. The new Microsoft SQ1 processor pushes 2 teraflops of graphics processing power, and is the fastest Qualcomm processor ever created for a PC. There is also a new AI engine that can enable new class of Windows applications on the new Surface Pro X. On the connectivity front, you have got two USB-C ports and Surface Connect port. Microsoft also mentioned that the new Surface X has removable hard drive.

Moving on, we get to the two most interesting announcements. Before we get into these, I want to stress that these two devices won’t ship until the 2020 holiday season, so we’re talking about early announcements here. The reason for these early announcements will become clear – these are devices that would greatly benefit from 3rd party developer support.

First, the Surface Neo is a dual-screen device that looks very similar to Microsoft’s older Courier concept. It has two 9″ screen connected by a hinge, and it’s running on an as-of-yet unreleased Intel processor.

Like most Surface devices, there’s an intricate hinge that allows the Surface Neo to switch into a variety of modes and the typical high build quality you’d expect from Microsoft’s hardware. There’s also a clever Bluetooth keyboard that flips, slides, and locks into place with magnets, which can be stowed and secured to the rear of the device. There’s even a new Surface Slim Pen that attaches magnetically, and it’s the same stylus Microsoft is using on the new Surface Pro X.

To make the magic between two displays work, the Neo runs on Windows 10X, which is the same as any other Windows 10 version except for the shell – desktop environment, if you will, in Windows parlance – which is designed specifically for dual-screen use. The UI automatically morphs and adapts to various ways of using and holding the device, including showing a trackpad above of beloew the Bluetooth hardware keyboard when it’s magnetically attached on top of the ‘bottom’ display when in laptop mode.

Windows 10X allows you to run classic Win32 applications, but they will be run inside containers, and the operating system will update seamlessly in the background. It seems like Windows 10X might be the containerise-Win32-version of Windows we’ve been talking about for more than a decade now.

Developers who want to make more optimal use of the dual-screen configuration will need to developer specifically for the form factor, which explains why they’re announcing it and Windows 10X ahead of time.

As my girlfriend and I were watching the Surface event, I walked into my office, opened a drawer, and took out my pristine day-one purchase Surface RT, in its original box and wrapping, and showed it to her, just to illustrate that any time Microsoft makes hardware with versions of Windows that aren’t real Windows, I get a little apprehensive.

Second, there’s the long-awaited Surface phone, which you’re not supposed to call a phone. It’s the Surface Duo, and at first glance, it looks exactly like a smaller version of the Surface Neo. However, upon closer inspection of the software, you quickly realise the Duo isn’t running Windows – it’s running Android. Yes, Microsoft worked together with Google to develop a unique Android phone, complete with Google Play Services and everything else you come to expect from an Android phone, albeit with the software is heavily skinned to look like Windows 10X.

This means that a year from now, Microsoft will be selling a device running Google Android, powered by a Linux kernel – a consumer hardware device from Microsoft based on Linux. I know the world has changed, but this realisation still blew my mind.

These are some solid device announcements from Microsoft, and throughout the event, the sense of confidence from the presenters was palpable. There was subtle jab after jab at Apple – about keyboards, the lack of trackpads on the iPad, the lack of servicability on Apple’s laptops – and overall it felt like Microsoft really believes in these products, which hasn’t always been the company’s strong point.