During the last week, the reality that US companies often bend the knee to China has been thrown into the spotlight. Apple, one of the biggest US tech companies, has appeased China by hiding the Taiwan flag emoji and ignoring US lawmakers when choosing to ban a Hong Kong protest safety app. Now it’s been discovered that Apple, which often positions itself as a champion of privacy and human rights, is sending some IP addresses from users of its Safari browser on iOS to Chinese conglomerate Tencent – a company with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party. Apple admits that it sends some user IP addresses to Tencent in the “About Safari & Privacy” section of its Safari settings which can be accessed on an iOS device by opening the Settings app and then selecting “Safari > About Privacy & Security.” I’m sure the genocidal totalitarian surveillance state that is China won’t be abuse this information at all. They pinky-promised to Tim Cook, who was busy telling his company not to make any TV shows critical of China – in line with the rest of Hollywood.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Riley Testut, an iOS app developer who has for years worked on mobile video game emulation, just released a project that has the potential to shake up the entire iOS ecosystem. He calls it AltStore, and it’s an alternative to Apple’s App Store that distributes software Testut says may “push the boundaries of iOS.” In particular, it supports Testut’s own Nintendo emulator, called Delta, which will let anyone with an iPhone or iPad play Super Mario and other classics. Also, it doesn’t require you jailbreak your iOS device. Anyone can download AltStore right now. I definitely appreciate the work put into this, and it seems quite slick and usable. It’s been in the works for years, and in a blog post, Testut explains in more detail how it all works. AltStore is a fully native, sandboxed iOS application that allows you to sideload apps by essentially “tricking” your phone into thinking it’s installing apps that you made yourself, when really they can be any apps whatsoever. Since this is an actually supported installation method by Apple, it’s far less fragile than other distribution methods in the past. Similarly, since there’s no single enterprise certificate to revoke (because technically every user now has their own developer certificate using this process), Apple can’t simply shut it down with the press of a button like they have with some 3rd party app stores (until they receive a new certificate in a week or so, of course). To bypass several restrictions put in place by Apple to limit the use of this developer feature, you need to run an AltServer on your PC or Mac, which bypasses these restrictions and pushes new applications to your device using WiFi. It’s quite clever. While I don’t share The Verge’s rather optimistic view that this “has the potential to shake up the entire iOS ecosystem”, it does seem like a very simple and easy way to bring iOS a few steps closer to Android when it comes to being a full, complete operating system.
Swift was introduced at Apple’s 2014 WWDC and it is interesting to measure Apple’s own use of Swift in iOS over the years. iOS 9 released in 2015 included a single application written with Swift: Calculator. Since then the number of applications using Swift in iOS has grown each year with iOS 10.1, iOS 11.1 and iOS 12.0. Now that iOS 13.1 is available, let’s measure how many applications are using Swift this year. Apple is clearly increasing its usage of Swift, and dogfooding it properly around its mobile operating system. That should give developers confidence to use Swift themselves.
The iPad’s device-specific features have been advancing for years, and Apple is finally making the divergence official. Though the first version seems to still be iOS with some iPad-specific components (not all that different from previous versions of iOS on the iPad), presumably this release signals that in the future the iPad and iPhone versions of the OS will diverge more radically. Personally, I hope to see it iPad become more Mac-like, rather than seeing the Mac become more iPad-like. I’d love to see iPadOS evolve to the point that Apple would release an iPad Pro keyboard with a trackpad. Crucially, the iPadOS will be compatible with devices going back to the five-year-old iPad Air 2.
Something atypical for Apple is iOS 13’s notably buggy rollout. Since June, when Apple hosted its annual WWDC software shindig, the company has been releasing developer and public beta versions of its new OS for iPhones. This is usually a fertile time for communities of early users to share notes about their experiences online, and provide useful feedback to Apple on how the software works. This year, some developers say they’re surprised by what feels like a scattershot release. “iOS 13 has felt like a super-messy release, something we haven’t seen this bad since iOS 8 or so,” Steve Troughton-Smith, an app and game developer, tweeted earlier this week. Troughton-Smith frequently blogs about his experiences coding for Apple platforms. “Definitely needs a lengthy period of consolidation and bug fixing,” he says of the new mobile OS. Virtually everyone who’s been testing iOS 13 seems to advise waiting for 13.1. Regardless, it’s iOS/iPadOS release time, which means Federico Viticci’s must-read review has been published. It’s an insanely long read this year, so grab a few coffees and enjoy his excellent work.
The Twitter tirade started after we saw yet another “Apple Blue Line Bar Graph Better Than Android Gray Line Benchmark”. The A12 is more powerful than any Android, and the A13 will beat that! But here’s the problem. I truly believe Apple chips are silly powerful, but for the last four years, Apple really hasn’t let us touch that power. I shared my rendering experiences again, comparing the iPhone XS against the iPhone SE. In iMove, the iPhone SE continues to render video faster than the XS. Rendering the same video, the OnePlus is a LOT faster at the task than the more expensive XS. The OnePlus also delivers a final video at twice the bitrate of the iPhone (which does look better to my eye). Better quality, twice the size, in two thirds the time. The common wisdom is that Apple’s A series chips are considerably faster than their Snapdragon counterparts, and I, too, have highlighted that wisdom here on OSNews a number of times. However, if we leave the world of synthetic benchmarks and Apple’s terrible bar graphs behind and start looking at real-world performance, the common wisdom doesn’t seem to hold up. When even an outdated iPhone SE beats another iPhone that’s years newer and four times as expensive, you know something’s up. Performance is more complicated than a synthetic benchmark that can be gamed or Apple’s entirely meaningless bar graphs.
Ben Thompson, on Apple’s services strategy: Apple also adjusted their AppleCare+ terms yesterday: now you can subscribe monthly and AppleCare+ will carry on until you cancel, just as other Apple services like Apple Music or Apple Arcade do. The company already has the iPhone Upgrade Program, that bundles a yearly iPhone and AppleCare+, but this shift for AppleCare+ purchased on its own is another step towards assuming that Apple’s relationship with its customers will be a subscription-based one. To that end, how long until there is a variant of the iPhone Upgrade Program that is simply an all-up Apple subscription? Pay one monthly fee, and get everything Apple has to offer. Indeed, nothing would show that Apple is a Services company more than making the iPhone itself a service, at least as far as the customer relationship goes. You might even say it is innovative. in a way, iPhones already work this way; you don’t really own your iPhone, as it is entirely locked down and not yours to do with as you please. The financing aspect of the equation seems to also be falling in place now, and I indeed wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple offer the described iPhone leasing program over the coming years.
“Netbooks aren’t better at anything,” joked Steve Jobs when he stood on stage nearly 10 years ago to introduce the first iPad. Apple’s original vision for its tablet was for a new category of device that was focused on browsing, email, photos, video, music, games, and ebooks. “If there’s going to be a third category of device it’s going to have to be better at these kinds of tasks than a laptop or a smartphone, otherwise it has no reason for being,” said Jobs. It wasn’t a giant iPhone, nor was it a full laptop replacement. The iPad has always been something in-between for nearly a decade, but now every iPad wants to be a Surface. The Surface concept has always been a sound concept for many people – it’s the software that’s always been an issue, and will continue to be an issue for a long time to come. Windows is too much of a desktop, and iPadOS is too much of a smartphone operating system. Our software is lagging behind the hardware.
Apple today held its annual iPhone-centric event, which saw the debut of the new iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, Apple Watch Series 5, and 10.2-inch iPad, along with new details on Apple Arcade and Apple TV+. Decent spec bumps to old designs all around, but nothing to get too excited about.
Apple Inc. and manufacturing partner Foxconn violated a Chinese labor rule by using too many temporary staff in the world’s largest iPhone factory, the companies confirmed following a report that also alleged harsh working conditions. The claims came from China Labor Watch, which issued the report ahead of an Apple event on Tuesday to announce new iPhones. The non-profit advocacy group investigates conditions in Chinese factories, and says it has uncovered other alleged labor rights violations by Apple partners in the past. We all know how this tune goes: Apple will claim once again it’s going to fix the issue with a sternly worded letter to Foxconn, nothing will change, and a year from now we’ll have another report of even more violations. It’s as routine as the September iPhone event. Of course, Apple could, you know, use some of its 245 billion dollar stuffed in offshore tax havens to improve the lives of the people building its fancy gadgets, but that would imply a sense of morals and values that we know by now Apple simply lacks.
Top spots in App Store search results are some of the most fought over real estate in the online economy. The store generated more than $50 billion in sales last year, and the company said two-thirds of app downloads started with a search. But as Apple has become one of the largest competitors on a platform that it controls, suspicions that the company has been tipping the scales in its own favor are at the heart of antitrust complaints in the United States, Europe and Russia. Apple’s apps have ranked first recently for at least 700 search terms in the store, according to a New York Times analysis of six years of search results compiled by Sensor Tower, an app analytics firm. Some searches produced as many as 14 Apple apps before showing results from rivals, the analysis showed. (Though competitors could pay Apple to place ads above the Apple results.) The data from The Times’ analysis are clear-cut and quite damning, and just goes to show how easy it is for companies like Apple to effectively shut out competitors simply by artificially pushing their own applications in their own walled-garden operating system. This is the kind of behaviour that net you antritrust complaints. Of course, you can pay Apple to be the top search result in the App Store. That sounds suspiciously like that other “shakedown” Apple bloggers were complaining about only a few days ago. I’m curious to see how – as always – Apple is somehow a special snowflake to whom different rules apply.
Today, Apple responded to Google’s discovery of a major iPhone security flaw with a bristling statement that accused its rival of creating “false impressions.” But Apple did very little to clear up those false impressions, and seems to have created some of its own, as we’ll see by taking a close read. A good point-by-point breakdown of just how awful Apple’s statement really was. Everything about the statement exudes that Apple cares more about the perception of the iPhone’s security among customers than for the lives of the Uighurs in China, who are being systematically eradicated from the country in a state-organised technocratic genocide of which these iPhone hacks were a part. On top of that, Apple is attacking Google, while making no mention of the actual perpetrator of this attack – the Chinese government. Apple is so dependent on China that it can’t condemn anything this totalitarian regime does, including hacking its own primary product as part of a genocide. Only a company as so far up its own ass as Apple could write a statement like this.
A change Apple is making to improve privacy in an upcoming version of its iPhone operating system has alarmed an unlikely group of software makers: developers of privacy-focused encrypted messaging apps. They warn the change, which is already available in public test versions of iOS 13, could end up undermining the privacy goals that prompted it in the first place. Relying on Apple is about as smart a business strategy as trusting a scorpion to carry you across the river.