Apple Archive

A brief history of APFS in honour of its fifth birthday

This article is a year old, but I came across it and want to highlight it anyway. On 27 March 2017, Apple made one of its biggest corporate gambles. When it rolled out iOS 10.3 that day, the installer silently converted the storage in each iPhone and iPad to the first release of Apple’s new file system, APFS. Had a significant percentage of conversions gone wrong, Apple would have had a disaster on its hands, particularly as it didn’t admit to doing this until WWDC just over two months later, when it announced that APFS was coming to macOS 10.13 High Sierra that September. The conversion of god knows how many iPhones and iPads to APFS, entirely silently, is one of those moments where Apple really flexed its engineering muscle. Since file systems are a bit of an archaic topic these days, I find that Apple really isn’t getting the recognition it deserves for this silent migration to APFS.

Apple, Foxconn convince Indian state to loosen labor laws

Apple and its manufacturing partner Foxconn were among the companies behind a landmark liberalization of labor laws in the Indian state of Karnataka last month, according to three people familiar with the matter. Their successful lobbying for new legislation means two-shift production can take place in India, akin to the two companies’ practices in China, their primary manufacturing base. The law gives the southern state one of the most flexible working regimes in India as the country aims to become an alternative manufacturing base to China. “We do the right thing, even when it’s not easy.”

Customizing the startup chime on a 1999 G3 iMac

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might remember back in 2012 when I changed the startup sound on my Power Mac G3 (Blue and White). That was a fun introduction to the Forth programming language. I had to reverse-engineer just enough of Apple’s firmware update script to understand what was going on. Recently, Aidan Halpin, a reader of this site, asked me if I could do the same kind of startup sound customization on his iMac. This particular iMac is officially known as the “iMac (Slot Loading)” and has a model identifier of PowerMac2,1. As you can guess from the name, it has a slot-loading CD-ROM drive unlike the original iMac that had a laptop-style tray-loading drive. By the way, Aidan’s iMac is special because it has a PowerPC G4 processor soldered onto the logic board instead of the original G3. He sent me Apple’s last firmware update for this model: iMac Firmware Update 4.1.9. I went to work looking at the update contents to see if I could figure out how to modify the chime the same way I did with my Power Mac G3. I thought it would be fun to take everyone along for a ride and show exactly what was involved in changing the sound. And of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without also sharing the code for the utility I created to inject the new chime into the firmware update file. This is an insane amount of work for something that doesn’t really matter in the end. I love it.

iPhone 15 USB-C cables without MFi badge may have data transfer and charging speed limits

Apple’s iPhone 15 series will officially only support USB-C accessories that have been certified by Apple’s own Made for iPhone (MFi) program, potentially limiting the functionality of accessories not approved by Apple, an established leaker has now claimed. So you’re getting USB-C, but not really. Leave it to Apple to milk even something as mundane as this.

What is the Apple YACC?

Has anyone ever heard of the Apple YACC, or YACCintosh? it was a 68010 prototype mac intended to do colour in 1986. Weirdly enough someone managed to find the ROMs *and* the PALS for it, but no schematics have turned up yet. All of the stuff is on bitsavers. I do not know what to add here. This seems to be one of the most obscure – if not the most obscure – Apple efforts out there, as there are virtually zero references of it online.

Source code for the Apple Lisa released

Happy 40th Birthday to Lisa! The Apple Lisa computer, that is. In celebration of this milestone, CHM has received permission from Apple to release the source code to the Lisa software, including its system and applications software. Access the code here. More of this please.

Emulating an iPod Touch 1G and iPhoneOS 1.0 using QEMU

Around a year ago, I started working on emulating an iPod Touch 1G using the QEMU emulation software. After months of reverse engineering, figuring out the specifications of various hardware components, and countless debugging runs with GDB, I now have a functional emulation of an iPod Touch that includes display rendering and multitouch support. The emulated device runs the first firmware ever released by Apple for the iPod Touch: iPhoneOS 1.0, build 3A101a. The emulator runs iBoot (the bootloader), the XNU kernel and then executes Springboard. This is quite impressive.

It might be time for Apple to throw in the towel on the Mac Pro

The Mac Pro is one of the few remaining Intel Macs with no Apple Silicon replacement ready to go, even though we’re a little past the two-year deadline that CEO Tim Cook originally set for the transition in summer 2020 (and to be fair, it has been a hard-to-predict couple of years). Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports that Apple continues to work on a new version of the Mac Pro, alongside other as-yet-unreplaced Intel Macs like the higher-end Mac mini and the 27-inch iMac, but that a planned “M2 Extreme” chip that would have powered the Apple Silicon Mac Pro has “likely” been canceled. Waiting for news in the face of uncertainty isn’t new to Mac Pro holdouts; it has been a constant for the last decade-plus. It has been a very long time since the Mac Pro was updated on anything close to a predictable cadence, especially if you don’t count partial refreshes like the 2012 Mac Pro tower or the addition of new GPU options to the 2019 model. And each of the last two updates—the “trash can” Mac Pro in 2013 and the reforged “cheese grater” version from 2019—have reflected a total shift in design and strategy. At this point, I’d like Apple to decide: either commit to a consistent strategy or vision for the Mac Pro and its place in the lineup or retire it. It sure has been a rough time for Mac Pro buyers. The reality of it is that desktop PCs – Apple or otherwise – just aren’t really all that popular anymore compared to laptops, and this probably doubly counts for the very high end. Selling Mac Pros by the thousands simply doesn’t make a whole lot of sense compared to the numbers Apple’s other computers are shipping at.

Apple considering dropping requirement for iPhone web browsers to use WebKit

As part of a larger story about Apple’s plans to allow third-party app stores on the iPhone and iPad in EU countries, Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman claimed that Apple is also considering removing its requirement for iPhone and iPad web browsers to use WebKit, the open source browser engine that powers Safari. Well, well, well. The EU might actually force Apple to turn iOS into a real operating system.

Apple is reportedly preparing to allow third-party app stores on the iPhone

The Verge, reporting on a paywalled story from Bloomberg: Apple is planning to let users install alternative app stores on iOS, according to a report from Bloomberg. The shift would be a remarkable change from the company, which has famously only allowed iPhone and iPad users to download apps from the App Store. The plans are reportedly being spurred on by the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which is meant to enact “rules for digital gatekeepers to ensure open markets” when its restrictions become a requirement in 2024, according to a press release. The law means that Apple will not only have to allow third-party app stores but sideloading as well, where users can install software downloaded from the web. Apple executives have previously called the ability to sideload software “a cybercriminal’s best friend” in response to the act. I’m glad at least one government is doing something to address the blatant abuse of power in the tech industry. This is a major concession by Apple, and one that will have massive consequences. Users will regain a lot of control over their Apple devices, and developers harmed by Apple’s random and opaque “rules” and application thereof will now have alternatives to explore. On top of that, this will force the App Store to compete on merit, something it has never had to do before, and it will enable applications Apple would never allow to come to iOS. And of course, if you’re not interested in any of this – don’t add any third party stores, and don’t sideload. If this is tied to EU Apple hardware, there’s going to be a thriving grey market of people importing EU Apple devices into the US.

Apple adds end-to-end encryption to iCloud device backups and more

End-to-end encryption is coming to most of iCloud with a new optional feature called Advanced Data Protection, according to Apple’s announcement on Wednesday. Previously, 14 data categories within iCloud were protected. This new feature brings that count to 23, including photos, notes, voice memos, reminders, Safari bookmarks, and iCloud backups of the contents of your devices. Not everything is encrypted in this way, though. Critically, calendar and mail are untouched here. Apple says they are not covered “because of the need to interoperate with the global email, contacts, and calendar systems.” Good step, and something every cloud provider ought to be offering.

Why we can’t trust Apple

This is a problem for all of us. Most people who can afford one have bought their iPhone or iPad already. The programmers already have their MacBooks. And while everyone will need to buy replacements at some point, that’s a steady-state or at best low-growth business. When Apple says more, it means the Wall Street kind of “more”: a hockey stick of growth. Which means, Apple needs to find growth outside its usual business. And these days, that means: advertising. And online advertising requires: surveillance. And a surveillance-enabled ad business leads, inevitably, to deceiving customers. It’s already happening, and like the boiling frog (which is not actually how it works – the frog will definitely jump out if it’s being slowly boiled; the tiny detail not part of most retellings is that the researcher had removed the frogs’ brains), Apple users are slowly being prepped for slaughter.

Apple is becoming an ad company despite privacy claims

Apple currently brings in roughly $4 billion from advertising and is forecasted to bring in as much as $30 billion by 2026. While these amounts are an order of magnitude smaller than the $210 billion Google made from its ad services, they represent a change in philosophy for Apple, which only earned around $300 million for ads in 2017. This new emphasis on advertising also undermines Apple’s claims about privacy with its App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature and its “Privacy. That’s iPhone” ad campaign. In fact, it appears ATT may have been more about blocking competitors than protecting user privacy. Since Apple introduced ATT, its ad revenue has skyrocketed, leading German regulators to investigate Apple to see if it’s abusing its power. Apple has one of the most valuable repositories of credit card information and user behaviour data in the world, and after years of sanctimonious lying about how much they care about privacy, all bets are off now. iOs is already infested with ads, and it’s only going to get worse. It’s not like you’re going to switch platforms anyway at this point.

Apple clarifies security update policy: only the latest OSes are fully patched

Earlier this week, Apple released a document clarifying its terminology and policies around software upgrades and updates. Most of the information in the document isn’t new, but the company did provide one clarification about its update policy that it hadn’t made explicit before: Despite providing security updates for multiple versions of macOS and iOS at any given time, Apple says that only devices running the most recent major operating system versions should expect to be fully protected. I mean, this seems like typical for Apple, but the vagueness of it seems problematic. If I’m managing a large fleet of devices, I would definitely prefer the more detailed, structured, documented, and defined update and patching policies of professional Linux vendors or Microsoft.

Apple releases OS updates for basically everything, including iPadOS and macOS

It’s “release everything!” day for Apple – virtually every single Apple platform and operating system is getting updates today. Almost all device releases are point releases to address issues in the major versions released in September, with the exception being iPadOS 16, which was delayed and is accompanied today by macOS 13. Ars’ macOS review, is, of course, the definitive resource for this new macOS release. But it does feel like the software side of the Mac is lacking its own unique direction and identity lately. Overwhelmingly, new features for macOS merely help it keep pace with what is happening on the iPhone and iPad. That feels doubly true in Ventura, where a core system app has been rewritten from the ground up to mirror its iOS counterpart, where a new window management feature is being implemented in the same way on the iPad, and where new apps and updates to old ones are increasingly just iPad apps running inside macOS windows. The throughline for all these features is about making the Mac more welcoming and comfortable for people who come to it through one of Apple’s mobile platforms. This makes some sense. The Mac is Apple’s most powerful, extensible computing platform, both in hardware and software. It’s also the smallest. Maybe some of the first iPhone buyers were coming to it from the Mac, but the balance surely flipped years ago. But when was the last time that the Finder, the Dock, or the Menu Bar was given a substantial, non-cosmetic rethink? When did Apple last make major improvements to the way that windows coexist on a given screen? The Mac does get new under-the-hood features that are specific to it, but the headline features are mostly iOS and iPadOS imports, especially this year. You know where you can get the updates.

My favourite computer: an old Mac

This Macintosh Classic II wasn’t the best computer of its day, it wasn’t even the best Mac available at the time, but 30 years on and as its second owner it has unexpectedly become one of my favourite computers. The Classic II sits on a desk in the corner of my living room, just beside my main front window. It takes up a small amount of space, is unassuming, and always looks happy, ready to serve me whenever I call on it. There’s definitely something to be said about using an old, disconnected computer for certain tasks. Of course, this imposes a lot of limits that may end up frustrating and annoying, but it may also be calming.

Apple plans to sell ads in new spots in the App Store by year-end

Apple plans to release new ad “placements” as soon as the holiday season, according to a message sent to developers on Tuesday inviting them to an online session to encourage them to buy ads. The new spots represent a significant expansion in Apple’s advertising inventory, which is focused on its App Store. In recent years, Apple’s advertising inventory has been limited to one unit in the Search tab on the App Store and one on the search results page. Let the milking commence.

iOS 16 released

iOS 16 brings the biggest update ever to the Lock Screen, the ability to edit and collaborate in Messages, new tools in Mail, and more ways to interact with photos and video with Live Text and Visual Look Up. iOS 16 is available today as a free software update. Unlike in the Android world, every iOS user here on OSNews will most likely be able to install this latest update right away. I’m especially enamoured by the notifications popping in from the bottom instead of the top – this makes a lot more sense, and I hope Android picks it up as well.

Apple faces growing likelihood of DOJ antitrust suit

Justice Department lawyers are in the early stages of drafting a potential antitrust complaint against Apple, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter — a sign that a long-running investigation may be nearing a decision point and a suit could be coming soon. Various groups of prosecutors inside DOJ are assembling the pieces for a potential lawsuit, the individual said, adding that the department’s antitrust division hopes to file suit by the end of the year. The Justice Department has been investigating Apple since 2019 over allegations that it abused its market power to stifle smaller tech companies, including app developers and competing hardware makers. As the investigation has progressed, a suit has become increasingly likely, but the move to drafting sections of the suit is a significant step forward in the process. Finally.