Apple is back under the spotlight over labor conditions in its supply chain following an explosive report from The Information on Thursday that revealed new details about the company’s reluctance to cut ties with suppliers who violate its ethics policies. According to the report, Apple learned in 2013 that Suyin Electronics, a China-based company that (at the time) made parts for its MacBooks, was employing underage workers, and despite telling Suyin to address the issue or risk losing business, Apple discovered additional workers as young as 14 years old during an audit just three months later. But rather than immediately cutting ties with Suyin for violating its supply chain ethics policies — which prohibit child labor and which Apple claims are the “highest standards” — Apple continued to rely on the company for more than three years, according to The Information. Any company – and their executives – knowingly and willingly using child labour, slave labour, or forced labour anywhere in the world should be tried as if they are committing these heinous acts in their home countries. The body of evidence that Apple is fully aware of its extensive use of child labour and forced labour in e.g. China’s Uighur concentration camps is extensive, and the fact Tim Cook can get away with this without ever having to face the consequences is disgusting. Tim Cook’s fellow Americans get life sentences for less. Of course, Apple is far from the only company guilty of this – just look at Nestle or Nike, for instance – but being the largest company in the world with the biggest, most arrogant mouth about how “ethical” they are should be the first to end up in court.
Corellium, a mobile device company that supports iOS, this week won a significant victory in its legal battle against Apple. Apple last year sued Corellium for copyright infringement because the Corellium software is designed to replicate iOS to allow security researchers to locate bugs and security flaws. According to The Washington Post, a Florida judge threw out Apple’s claims that Corellium had violated copyright law with its software. The judge said that Corellium successfully demonstrated that it operates under fair use terms. A very unlikely victory, considering the massive financial means difference between these two companies. A good one, though – this was just the world’s largest corporation being annoyed a small upstart made their products look bad by giving security researchers the tools they need to find bugs and security flaws in iOS. Being annoyed your forced Uighur-labour brand might get tarnished should not be grounds for a legal case.
I know all this because I remain a hopeless computer tinkerer who happened to come across a Quadra 700 around the start of 2020. Unlike my road test of the IIsi for Ars back in 2018, the Quadra 700 presented a tantalizing opportunity to really push the limits of early 90s desktop computing. Could this decades-old workhorse hold a candle to the multi-core behemoths of the 2020s? The IIsi turned out to be surprisingly capable; what about the Quadra 700 with its top-shelf early ‘90s specs? The Quadra 700 is such an enticing machine. Clean, elegant, and capable for its time, I’d love to play around with one today.
On Youtube I watched a Mac user who had bought an iMac last year. It was maxed out with 40 GB of RAM costing him about $4000. He watched in disbelief how his hyper expensive iMac was being demolished by his new M1 Mac Mini, which he had paid a measly $700 for. In real world test after test, the M1 Macs are not merely inching past top of the line Intel Macs, they are destroying them. In disbelief people have started asking how on earth this is possible? If you are one of those people, you have come to the right place. Here I plan to break it down into digestible pieces exactly what it is that Apple has done with the M1. It’s exciting to see x86 receive such a major kick in the butt, but it’s sad that the M1 is locked away and only a very, very small number of people will get to see its benefits.
The new M1 MacBooks are fast, beautiful and silent and the hype is absolutely justified. There’s still a lot to do on the software-front to catch up, and the bugs around older iOS Simulators are especially problematic. All of that can be fixed in software and the whole industry is currently working on making the experience better, so by next year, when Apple updates the 16-inch MacBook Pro and releases the next generation of their M chip line, it should be absolutely possible to use a M1 Mac as main dev machine. For the vast majority of people, it’s going to be very hard to resist these new Macs. They’re just so far ahead of the competition in performance, power draw, battery life, and noise (or lack thereof) that any x86-based laptop just can’t compete, unless they go hardcore in on price. I’d love to have one to test and review here for OSNews, but financially that’s not in the cards for now.
Apple, facing growing antitrust scrutiny over what it charges other companies for access to its App Store, said on Wednesday that it would cut in half the fee it took from the smallest app developers. Developers that brought in $1 million or less from their apps in the previous year will pay a 15 percent commission on those app sales starting next year, down from 30 percent, the company said. Good news, but it raises a whole bunch of questions – for instance, are developers going to remove their application from the store as they approach the 1 million dollar mark, since otherwise they’d have to make 1.25 million dollar the next year as to not lose out? Apple developer Twitter is confused as all heck about this. Then there’s this: The change will affect roughly 98 percent of the companies that pay Apple a commission, according to estimates from Sensor Tower, an app analytics firm. But those developers accounted for less than 5 percent of App Store revenues last year, Sensor Tower said. Apple said the new rate would affect the “vast majority” of its developers, but declined to offer specific numbers. In other words, this is a minor change for Apple, and will most likely do little to stave off antitrust concerns.
AnandTech, after benchmarking the M1 in the new Mac Mini: The M1 undisputedly outperforms the core performance of everything Intel has to offer, and battles it with AMD’s new Zen3, winning some, losing some. And in the mobile space in particular, there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent in either ST or MT performance – at least within the same power budgets. Ars Technica on the M1 in the new Mac Mini: Despite the inherent limitations of trying to benchmark a brand-new architecture on a minority-share platform, it’s obvious that the M1 SoC is exactly what Apple told us it would be—a world-leading design that marries high performance to high efficiency. When its power consumption and thermal profiles are effectively unlimited as in the Mac mini tested here—or, presumably, the actively cooled 13-inch MacBook Pro—the M1 puts the smack down on very high-performance mobile CPUs, and in many workloads, even very high-performance desktop CPUs. Apple wasn’t lying. Every review and benchmark is clear: this is insanely good hardware. The M1 is bonkers. And obviously, I was so wrong I don’t even know where to start.
Today, Apple announced its first three ARM-based Macs – a the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro 13″, and the Mac Mini. They are all equipped by the Apple M1 system-on-a-chip, which was, of course, the main focus of the unveiling. Apple made a lot of bold claims about their first ARM-based Mac chip, but sadly, refused to show any real-world use cases, benchmarks, or any other verifiable data, making it very hard to assess the company’s lofty claims about performance and battery life. That being said, AnandTech has done some deep diving into the A14, found in the latest iPhones and iPad Air, and it would seem they boast excellent performance figures. What we do know is that all of these machines – including the MacBook Pro which definitely has Pro in its name – cap out at a mere 16GB of RAM, which seems paltry, especially since that 16GB is shared with Apple’s integrated GPU. This RAM is on-die, and since there’s no SIM slot on any of the new machines, it cannot be expanded. On top of that, the base models of al of these machines only ship with 8GB of RAM, which should be a crime. Just like on the latest iPhones, the two laptop models also do not ship with high-refresh rate displays, so you’re stuck with a paltry 60Hz display – it’s not even available as an option. Much like the 8GB of RAM, shipping such expensive machines with mere 60Hz displays is inexcusable. The MacBook Air is fanless, but the MacBook Pro and Mac Mini are not. This most likely allows the latter two models to sustain their peak performance for longer than the MacBook Air can, which makes sense considering their price points and marketing. The new machines will ship a week from today.
This is my second video about Apple’s Copland operating system, and I plan on doing more coverage on the other builds sometime in the future. Copland, despite being a hilarious failure, is an interesting system to mess around with for fun. This video covers D7E1 which is the earliest leaked build. A very detailed video about Copland, one of Apple’s many ill-fated attempts at modernising and/or replacing the ageing Mac OS back in the ’90s. The maker of the video is running Copland on real hardware, so no virtualisation shenanigans here.
Apple is requesting that Telegram shut down three channels used in Belarus to expose the identities of individuals belonging to the Belarusian authoritarian regime that may be oppressing civilians. Apple’s concern is that revealing the identities of law enforcement individuals may give rise to further violence. Telegram, however, would prefer to keep the channels open, but the company said that it feels it has no choice in the matter. These channels are a tool for Belarus’ citizens protesting the recently rigged presidential election, but, with a centralized entity like Apple calling the shots on its own App Store, there’s little the protesters can do about it, explains Telegram CEO Pavel Durov. That’s what happens when you’re a company with zero morals and values, run by people with zero morals and values. We here in the west just accept that it’s entirely okay for corporations to value money over human lives and our core democratic ideals of freedom of liberty, because we’ve been brainwashed that it’s not just acceptable, but entirely desirable to sacrifice every shred of dignity at the altar of shareholder value. Putting money and shareholders above all else is not a a law of nature, it is not a universal constant – it is a choice. Unless we all shed centuries of indoctrination about the sacredness of shareholder value – from the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, the first shareholder-owned company and arguably the most valuable company in human history, and its institutional use of violence, exploitation, and slavery, all the way to Apple, the current most valuable company in the world, and its role in the Chinese surveillance state and thus the genocide taking place there – we will continue to sit idly by as our fellow men and women on the street in our neighbouring countries suffer and the world we live in gets destroyed.
During our engagement, we found a variety of vulnerabilities in core portions of their infrastructure that would’ve allowed an attacker to fully compromise both customer and employee applications, launch a worm capable of automatically taking over a victim’s iCloud account, retrieve source code for internal Apple projects, fully compromise an industrial control warehouse software used by Apple, and take over the sessions of Apple employees with the capability of accessing management tools and sensitive resources. There were a total of 55 vulnerabilities discovered with 11 critical severity, 29 high severity, 13 medium severity, and 2 low severity reports. These severities were assessed by us for summarization purposes and are dependent on a mix of CVSS and our understanding of the business related impact. As of October 6th, 2020, the vast majority of these findings have been fixed and credited. They were typically remediated within 1-2 business days (with some being fixed in as little as 4-6 hours). Definitely a speedy response by Apple, but seeing the severity of the vulnerabilities found, that seems hardly surprising – the hackers even managed to get access to the source code for iOS, macOS, and other Apple projects. Our proof of concept for this report was demonstrating we could read and access Apple’s internal maven repository which contained the source code for what appeared to be hundreds of different applications, iOS, and macOS. You can bet that they haven’t been the only one snooping around in there.
Apple has released iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, the newest operating system updates designed for the iPhone and iPad. As with all of Apple’s software updates, iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 can be downloaded for free. iOS 14 is available on the iPhone 6s and later, while iPadOS 14 is available on the iPad Air 2 and later. The link contains all the information you’d ever want – including the most prominent new features. As always, Apple manages to release their latest operating system update for quite a few older devices as well – the iPhone 6s is 5 years old, so this adds another year to its useful life span for people who don’t always need, want, or can afford the latest and greatest.
When Apple announced that it was going to be licensing Mac OS to other PC makers, DayStar essentially bet its business on converting from being a manufacturer of high-end upgrades for Apple-built Macs to being a manufacturer of high-end Mac clones. DayStar’s clone was the Genesis MP, and the MP stood for multiprocessing. It was the very first Mac to combine the work of multiple processors toward a common goal. The problem: Classic Mac OS wasn’t built for multiple processor cores. The operating system knew about its processor, and it used it, and that was it. But the engineers at DayStar had been working on something novel for its high-end audience. There was such a wealth of innovation coming out of the clone program that Apple itself simply couldn’t do. As consumers, there’s lessons to be learned from the clone program – artificial limitations do not serve us. They only serve corporations.
I don’t even know what to say anymore at this point. A bugfix update for the WordPress iOS application – which allows you to manage your WordPress website but does not sell anything – was blocked by Apple because WordPress.com separately also sells domain names and hosting packags, and Apple wants its 30% extortion fee, forcing the developer of this open source app to add the ability to buy WordPress domains and hosting. Is Apple seriously asking for WordPress owner Automattic to share a cut of all its domain name revenue? How would it even know which customers used the app? Was this all a mistake? Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment, but Mullenweg tells The Verge he’s not going to fight it — he will add brand-new in-app purchases for WordPress.com’s paid tiers, which include domain names, within 30 days. Apple has agreed to allow Automattic to update the app while it waits. (The last update was issued yesterday.) In other words, Apple won: the richest company in the world just successfully forced an app developer to monetize an app so it could make more money. It’s just the latest example of Apple’s fervent attempts to guard its cash cow resulting in a decision that doesn’t make much sense and doesn’t live up to Apple’s ethos (real or imagined) of putting the customer experience ahead of all else. It’s like Apple is purposefully laying out a breadcrumb trail for antitrust investigators.
Apple today seeded the first beta of the upcoming macOS 11 Big Sur update to its public beta testing group, allowing non-developers to give the software a try ahead of its public release this fall. This is really the optimal moment to test the upcoming release. The iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 public betas have also been released.
Apple has been told it will not have to pay Ireland €13bn (£11.6bn) in back taxes after winning an appeal at the European Union’s second-highest court. It overturns a 2016 ruling which found the tech giant had been given illegal tax breaks by Dublin. The EU’s General Court said it had annulled that decision because there was not enough evidence to show Apple broke EU competition rules. The European Commission will more than likely appeal the decision, bringing the case to the European Court of Justice, the EU’s supreme court. This case will drag on for a few more years.
Apple has announced iOS 14 onstage at WWDC 2020, giving the first (official) look at the latest version of its software for the iPhone, and it’s bringing the biggest change to the iOS home screen in years: widgets. Widgets come in a variety of sizes and can still be viewed in the Today view, but in iOS 14, Apple allows widgets to be added to the main Home screen to live right alongside your apps. To add them, there’s a new “widget gallery” where users can easily add and customize widgets. There’s also a new “Smart Stack” widget that automatically shows relevant apps based on the time of day. iOS 14 will be a big update, but a lot of it is catching up to features other platforms have had for a decade now, such as the above-mentioned widgets, which look virtually identical to live tiles on Windows Phone. It also comes with an application drawer (like Android), divided into various application categories (like the Palm OS launcher), and the ability to set your own default browser and email application (like every other operating system since the dawn of time). There’s more, of course, such as picture-in-picture support, something called App Clips where parts of applications can be displayed for quick access (Android has had a similar features for a few years now), and a number of other, smaller things. All in all, it seems like a decent update, bringing a number of features to iOS that most of the world’s smartphone users have been enjoying for a decade or more now. Good news for iOS users, I suppose, but nothing groundbreaking.
The European Commission has opened two formal antitrust investigations into Apple. The first investigation concerns “the mandatory use of Apple’s own proprietary in-app purchase system and restrictions on the ability of developers to inform iPhone and iPad users of alternative cheaper purchasing possibilities outside of apps.” The second investigation concerns “Apple’s terms, conditions and other measures for integrating Apple Pay in merchant apps and websites on iPhones and iPads, Apple’s limitation of access to the Near Field Communication (NFC) functionality (‘tap and go’) on iPhones for payments in stores, and alleged refusals of access to Apple Pay.”
Apple Inc. removed podcast apps Pocket Casts and Castro from its App Store in China at the request of the Cyberspace Administration of China, the apps’ developers said this week. “We believe podcasting is and should remain an open medium, free of government censorship,” Pocket Casts wrote on Twitter. “As such we won’t be censoring podcast content at their request.” The developers said that Apple contacted them on behalf of the Chinese regulator and that the app was removed two days later. The developer wrote that Apple said Pocket Casts includes “content that is illegal in China as determined by the CAC.” It turns out the developers behind these two small podcast applications have a stronger and bigger backbone than Apple – because Apple censored its own podcasts application when the Chinese government ordered them to.
It’s April 1, and that means it’s both April Fools’ Day and the anniversary of the founding of Apple Inc. While this year is a sober one due to current events, I think a lot of people still appreciate what people are creating and sharing to keep spirits up, whether that be music or art or… Impractical programming projects. And while pranks on April Fools’ seem less and less fun, obvious jokes and whimsy, not at anyone’s expense, are still something I believe in… And even better if they actually work. Last year I implemented the world’s best code visualizer. This year I decided to seriously attempt something that I’d thought about in the past: getting a Swift program to run on Mac OS 9. This is not an April Fools joke, but a real project that really works. An absolutely outstanding effort and great technical write-up.