Apple Archive

Apple plans to use its own chips in Macs from 2020

Apple Inc. is planning to use its own chips in Mac computers beginning as early as 2020, replacing processors from Intel Corp., according to people familiar with the plans.

The initiative, code named Kalamata, is still in the early developmental stages, but comes as part of a larger strategy to make all of Apple's devices - including Macs, iPhones, and iPads - work more similarly and seamlessly together, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. The project, which executives have approved, will likely result in a multi-step transition.

This shouldn't be at all surprising. Apple's own Ax chips are quite amazing, but still limited in how far they can be pushed because of the small form factors they're being used in. On top of that, everything seems to be pointing towards the latest Windows-on-ARM devices having multiple-day battery life, with which Intel chips simply can't compete. It makes 100% sense for Apple to put its own processors inside Macs.

iOS 11 bugs are so common they now appear in Apple ads

If you blink during Apple’s latest iPhone ad, you might miss a weird little animation bug. It’s right at the end of a slickly produced commercial, where the text from an iMessage escapes the animated bubble it’s supposed to stay inside. It’s a minor issue and easy to brush off, but the fact it’s captured in such a high profile ad just further highlights Apple’s many bugs in iOS 11.

The fact Apple's marketing department signed off on this ad with such a bug in it is baffling.

A lot can happen in a decade

I came down with a nasty cold last week and this weekend, so I'm a bit behind on some of the stories that made the rounds last week. In other words, forgive the tardiness here.

Whether you’re a developer who's working on mobile apps, or just someone enjoying the millions of apps available for your phone, today is a very special day. It's the ten year anniversary of the original iPhone SDK.

I don't think it's an understatement to say that this release changed a lot of people's lives. I know it changed mine and had a fundamental impact on this company's business. So let's take a moment and look back on what happened a decade ago.

The smartphone revolution - caused by the iPhone - came in two big waves, in my view; the iPhone itself, and, followed a year or so later, by the release of the iPhone SDK. It's easy to forget just how limited the original iPhone really was in terms of software, and I honestly doubt it would've been as big of a hit had it not been for the SDK.

Apple is launching medical clinics for its employees

Apple is launching a group of health clinics called AC Wellness for its employees and their families this spring, according to several sources familiar with the company's plans.

The company quietly published a website, acwellness.com, with more details about its initiative and a careers page listing jobs including primary care doctor, exercise coach and care navigator, as well as a phlebotomist to administer lab tests on-site.

This new primary care group - a group of clinical staff that is run independently from Apple but is dedicated to Apple employees - will initially only serve Apple's employees in Santa Clara County, where its headquarters are located. Initially, it has two clinics in the county.

Scrip healthcare.

This is insanity.

Apple in China: who holds the keys?

With Apple moving its Chinese iCloud data to a company partially owned by the Chinese government, it's natural to wonder what this means for the privacy of Chinese Apple users.

If Apple is storing user data on Chinese services, we have to at least accept the possibility that the Chinese government might wish to access it - and possibly without Apple’s permission. Is Apple saying that this is technically impossible?

This is a question, as you may have guessed, that boils down to encryption.

This article is from the middle of January of this year, but I missed it back then - it's a great insight into what all of this means, presented in an easy-to-grasp manner. Definitely recommended reading.

Head to head, does the Apple HomePod really sound the best?

David Pogue has some reservations about the smart speaker comparison test Apple subjected the tech press to.

Still, when I tweeted about the test, a couple of people were suspicious of the setup, which of course was entirely controlled by Apple. What was the source material? What was the wireless setup?

An Apple rep told me that the test songs were streaming from a server in the next room (a Mac). But each speaker was connected to it differently: by Bluetooth (Amazon Echo), Ethernet (Sonos), input miniplug (Google Home), and AirPlay (HomePod), which is Apple’s Wi-Fi-based transmission system.

Since the setup wasn’t identical, I wondered if it was a perfectly fair test. (Bluetooth, for example, may degrade (compress) the music it’s transmitting, depending on the source and the equipment.)

So I decided to set up my own test at home.

I'm not really interested in the HomePod or Google Home Max or any other "smart" speaker, but I love how Pogue basically laments much of the technology press for not questioning Apple's test and test setup. A good read.

How Apple built a chip powerhouse

For several years, Apple has been steadily designing more and more of the chips powering its iPhones, iPads, Macs and Apple Watches. This creates a better user experience and helps trump rivals. Recently the company got a fresh incentive to go all-in on silicon: revelations that microprocessors with components designed by Intel Corp., Arm Holdings Plc and Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. are vulnerable to hacking.

That original “system-on-a-chip” has since been succeeded by increasingly powerful processors. Today, Apple packs its devices with custom components that process artificial intelligence tasks, track your steps, power game graphics, secure Face ID or Touch ID data, run the Apple Watch, pair AirPods to your phone and help make Macs work the way they do. The result: a chip powerhouse that could one day threaten the dominance of Qualcomm Inc. and even, eventually, Intel.

Apple's chip business really puts the company in a unique position. No other phone or PC maker can rely on such a powerful chip division, with the exception of Samsung, but Samsung's own ARM chips are nowhere near as powerful as Apple's. Assuming Apple manages to turn their chip prowess into real-world advantages for users, it'll be hard for competitors to catch up.

Apple changed the future of laptops 10 years ago today

"It's the world’s thinnest notebook," said Steve Jobs as he introduced the MacBook Air 10 years ago today. Apple's Macworld 2008 was a special one, taking place just days after the annual Consumer Electronics Show had ended and Bill Gates bid farewell to Microsoft. Jobs introduced the MacBook Air by removing it from a tiny paper office envelope, and the crowd was audibly shocked at just how small and thin it was. We'd never seen a laptop quite like it, and it immediately changed the future of laptops.

The unveiling of the original MacBook Air was a watershed moment for laptop. Sure, the first model wasn't exactly a speedy machine, and it had an incredibly hefty price tag, but it changed the entire market. Later models became incredibly successful, and for years it formed the backbone of Apple's laptop lineup. Every other manufacturer would eventually copy most of its design and construction, to the point where every laptop in the €800-1200 range sported the MacBook Air-like design.

It became the benchmark every other similarly priced laptop was compared to.

It's still for sale today, but it's an outdated machine mostly kept around for its low price, ironically enough. Interestingly enough, just today, I bought a new keyboard for my iOS laptop (a 2017 iPad Pro 12.9"), which gives it a look very similar to a MacBook Air - just without the legacy operating system. The spirit of the Air definitely lives on in laptops of the future.

Apple’s iOS security document

Apple designed the iOS platform with security at its core. When we set out to create the best possible mobile platform, we drew from decades of experience to build an entirely new architecture. We thought about the security hazards of the desktop environment, and established a new approach to security in the design of iOS. We developed and incorporated innovative features that tighten mobile security and protect the entire system by default. As a result, iOS is a major leap forward in security for mobile devices.

This document provides details about how security technology and features are implemented within the iOS platform. It will also help organizations combine iOS platform security technology and features with their own policies and procedures to meet their specific security needs.

Some light reading over the weekend.

Apple is moving its Chinese iCloud operations to a local firm

Apple is moving its Chinese iCloud operations from its own datacenters to a local Chinese company run by the government.

The firm is called Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD). It's based in Guizhou Province and supervised by a board ran by government-owned businesses. In emails to mainland Chinese customers, Apple says that the move enables "us to continue improving the speed and reliability of iCloud and to comply with Chinese regulations."

But there's also the chance that closer ties with the Chinese government might mean more regulation, which Apple has a record of abiding closely to in the past. Last July, Apple deleted VPN apps from the App Store that had helped netizens evade Chinese censorship, "because it includes content that is illegal in China." Those who aren't happy with the move at least have the option of closing their iCloud accounts.

Read into it what you will, but the ties between Apple and the Chinese government are strengthening. One has to wonder how long until Apple has to open up iMessage's encryption.

The T2 chip makes the iMac Pro the start of a Mac revolution

The T2 processor isn't doing the heavy lifting in the iMac Pro - that's the Intel Xeon processor with between 8 and 14 processor cores. The T2 is the brain behind that brain, running the subsystems of the iMac Pro from a single piece of Apple-built silicon. The result is a simplified internal design that doesn’t require multiple components from multiple manufacturers.

On most Macs, there are discrete controllers for audio, system management and disk drives. But the T2 handles all these taks. The T2 is responsible for controlling the iMac Pro's stereo speakers, internal microphones, and dual cooling fans, all by itself.

It's a fascinating chip that certainly puts Apple ahead of its competitors, but at the same time, it's going to make installing non-approved operating systems on Macs ever harder. Sure, they're allowing it for now, but for how long?

How the iPhone X home button works

As soon as I saw iPhone X home indicator replacing the physical button, I got interested in its behavior: it has to be visible both on the lock screen with an arbitrary wallpaper as a background and in any 3rd-party app showing arbitrary content, which in case of videos or games can also change quite quickly.

Obviously, UIKit doesn't expose anything remotely similar, so let's figure out how it is built!

Cool look at how the home indicator on the iPhone X works.

Apple to open source the Lisa operating system and applications

Apple will be releasing the code of the operating system and applications of the Apple Lisa.

Just wanted to let everyone know the sources to the OS and applications were recovered, I converted them to Unix end of line conventions and space for Pascal tabs after the files using Disk Image Chef, and they are with Apple for review. After that's done, the Computer History Museum will do a CHM blog post about the historical significance of the software and the code that is cleared for release by Apple will be made available in 2018. The only thing I saw that probably won't be able to be released is the American Heritage dictionary for the spell checker in LisaWrite.

Merry Christmas everybody.

Apple plans to unify iPhone, iPad, Mac apps for one user experience

Mark Gurman:

Starting as early as next year, software developers will be able to design a single application that works with a touchscreen or mouse and trackpad depending on whether it's running on the iPhone and iPad operating system or on Mac hardware, according to people familiar with the matter.

Developers currently must design two different apps - one for iOS, the operating system of Apple's mobile devices, and one for macOS, the system that runs Macs. That's a lot more work. What's more, Apple customers have long complained that some Mac apps get short shrift. For example, while the iPhone and iPad Twitter app is regularly updated with the social network's latest features, the Mac version hasn't been refreshed recently and is widely considered substandard. With a single app for all machines, Mac, iPad and iPhone users will get new features and updates at the same time.

Apple currently plans to begin rolling out the change as part of next fall's major iOS and macOS updates, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss an internal matter. The secret project, codenamed "Marzipan", is one of the tentpole additions for next year's Apple software road map. Theoretically, the plan could be announced as early as the summer at the company's annual developers conference if the late 2018 release plan remains on track. Apple's plans are still fluid, the people said, so the implementation could change or the project could still be canceled.

This is a massive change in Apple's direction. The company and its supporters have always held fast to the concept that there should be two distinct and different operating systems with two distinct and different user interfaces, very much the opposite of what Microsoft is still trying to do with Windows Metro applications and their Surface line-up. This change is basically a complete embrace of Microsoft's vision for the future of computing.

This will have tremendous consequences for both iOS and macOS. For iOS, it probably means we get more advanced, fuller-featured applications, and I think this also pretty much confirms we're going to see a mouse pointer and trackpad/mouse support on iOS in the very near future - just as I predicted earlier this year. For macOS, it might mean a broader base of applications to choose from, but also possibly a dumbing-down of existing applications. A number of Apple applications already work very much like the article states, and they certainly lost functionality on the macOS side of things.

On the more speculative side, this could be the next step in deprecating macOS, which is, in my unfounded opinion, still Apple's ultimate goal here. Note how Apple isn't bringing macOS applications to iOS, but vice versa. Make of that what you will, but I wouldn't have too much faith in the long term viability of macOS as a platform distinct and separate from iOS.

iPhone performance and battery age

A Reddit post from last week has sparked a discussion regarding iPhone performance as a function of battery age. While we expect battery capacity to decrease as batteries age, we expect processor performance to stay the same. However, users with older iPhones with lower-than-expected Geekbench 4 scores have reported that replacing the battery increases their score (as well as the performance of the phone). What's going on here? How many phones are experiencing decreased Geekbench 4 score?

To answer these questions I've plotted the kernel density of Geekbench 4 single-core scores for the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 7 running different versions of iOS. Scores obtained in low-power mode are not included in the distribution.

Evidence seems to be mounting that Apple is decreasing the clock speed of iPhones with decreased battery capacity to maintain the advertised battery life.

Apple makes iMac Pro available for order

Apple has made the iMac Pro available to order, but since we already know all the details about its specifications, there's one particular aspect I'd like to focus on: the iMac Pro contains new Apple-developed silicon. It's called the T2, and as described by Cabel Sasser:

The iMac Pro features new apple custom silicon: the T2 chip. It integrates previously discrete components, like the SMC, ISP for the camera, audio control, SSD control... plus a secure enclave, and a hardware encryption engine. This new chip means storage encryption keys pass from the secure enclave to the hardware encryption engine in-chip - your key never leaves the chip. And, they it allows for hardware verification of OS, kernel, boot loader, firmware, etc. (This can be disabled...)

The screenshot he posted shows what the hardware verification dialog for things like the operating system and bootloader looks like. As long as we can turn security measures like this off - as we can on, e.g., Chromebooks - this is a good development. Now all we have to do is hope these companies don't abuse this kind of technology.

We can hope.

Tim Cook backs China’s internet censorship

Reading headlines from the World Internet Conference in China, the casual reader might have come away a little confused. China was opening its doors to the global Internet, some media outlets optimistically declared, while others said Beijing was defending its system of censorship and state control.

And perhaps most confusing of all, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook stood up and celebrated China’s vision of an open Internet.

Say what?

Hardly surprising. This may come as a shock, but with publicly traded companies, you're not the customer; you're the product.

Shareholders are their real customers.

Apple Power Macintosh G5: flame on

Let's have a look at the Apple Power Macintosh G5, a weighty space heater that can also perform computing tasks. Apple launched the G5 in 2003 with great fanfare, but nowadays it has a decidedly mixed legacy. In 2003 it was a desktop supercomputer that was supposed to form the basis of Apple's product range for years to come, but within three years it had been discontinued, along with the entire PowerPC range, in favour of a completely new computing architecture. The G5 puts me in mind of an ageing footballer who finally has a chance to play a World Cup match; he is called up from the substitute's bench, entertains the crowd for twenty minutes, but the team loses, and by the time of the next World Cup the uniform is the same but the players are all different. Our time in the sun is brief, the G5's time especially so.

I've long been a PC person, and from my point of view the G5 came and went in the blink of an eye. I knew that it had a striking case and a reputation for high power consumption and heat output, and for being 64-bit at a time when that was rare in the PC world, but that's about it. Almost fifteen years later G5s are available on the used market for almost nothing - postage is incredibly awkward - so I decided to try one out. Mine is a 2.0ghz dual-processor model, the flagship of the first wave of G5s. Back in 2003 this very machine was, in Apple's words, "the world's fastest, most powerful personal computer".

Once I move into a bigger house (hopefully soon), the PowerMac G5 (and its successor, the tower Mac Pro) are definitely high on the list of computers I want to own just for the sake of owning them. These things are beautiful, and thermally speaking, incredibly well designed. I plan on building my own dual-Xeon machine somewhere next year, and I find it incredibly frustrating that nobody seems to sell computer cases with proper thermal channels, or "wind tunnels" if you will, that physically seperate the CPU airflow from the GPU airflow, PSU airflow, and possibly even hard drive air flow. Proper workstations do this - things like the PowerMac G5, tower Mac Pro, HP Z workstations, and so on - but cases for self-built PCs just do not offer this kind of functionality.

Two Cydia repositories shut down as jailbreaking fades in popularity

The closure of two major Cydia repositories is arguably the result of a declining interest in jailbreaking, which provides root filesystem access and allows users to modify iOS and install unapproved apps on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

Out of all the things jailbreaking makes possible, two are big issues for me that I would love Apple to implement: custom launchers (Springboard hasn't been changed since the original iPhone and is woefully outdated and restrictive) and the ability to change default applications. However, neither of these are reason enough to jailbreak iOS for me. I do wonder - do any of you still jailbreak? If so, why?

Apple let a few YouTubers post the first iPhone X reviews

Update (original story below): the real review embargo has been lifted, and it turns out Apple gave reviewers only 24 hours between handing over the phone and lifting the embargo. This raised another red flag for me, and my red flags may have merit: it turns out Face ID is not exactly without issues. Nilay Patel details that while Face ID works quite well inside, it has issues outside in the sun or under fluorescent lighting. It regularly just wouldn't recognise his face in these environments.

The other problem is actually much more interesting: almost all of the early questions about FaceID centered around how it would work in the dark, but it turns out that was exactly backwards. FaceID works great in the dark, because the IR projector is basically a flashlight, and flashlights are easy to see in the dark. But go outside in bright sunlight, which contains a lot of infrared light, or under crappy florescent lights, which interfere with IR, and FaceID starts to get a little inconsistent.

I took a walk outside our NYC office in bright sunlight, and FaceID definitely had issues recognizing my face consistently while I was moving until I went into shade or brought the phone much closer to my face than usual. I also went to the deli across the street, which has a wide variety of lights inside, including a bunch of overhead florescent strips, and FaceID also got significantly more inconsistent.

I'm not spending a lot more time on iPhone X reviews today, because it's impossible to review a phone in 24 hours. Beware of the reviews you're reading online today, and to Patel's credit, they clearly label their "review" as a work-in-progress draft that they'll be updating based on questions from users. As such, it doesn't carry any advice or grades or anything like that, which is commendable. I haven't had time to dive into other 24-hour "reviews" just yet (it's the middle of a workday here, after all).

All in all, this is a very strange launch and review situation, and while it's too early to tell if Apple is truly insecure, the early signs of Face ID issues definitely don't help to alleviate my red flags.




Apple's iPhone X - its most anticipated new phone in a very long time - goes on sale this Friday, Nov. 3.

So sometime this week, as usual, you'll be able to read and watch a bunch of serious-sounding reviews, as Professional Gadget Reviewers critique everything from bezels to battery life.

But Apple did something different this year. It invited a handful of YouTubers you probably haven't heard of to its fancy penthouse in New York, gave them some early hands-on time with the iPhone X, and let them publish their videos a day or more in advance of the official reviews. (It also let Wired/Backchannel's Steven Levy write a "first first impression of the iPhone X" post because Steven Levy. It also gave one to Axios co-founder Mike Allen, who had his nephew play with it. And Mindy Kaling for Glamour. And The Ellen Show.)

This is quite remarkable. Why would Apple invite a number of relatively unknown YouTubers to a fancy event, hand them a few restrictive talking points and an hour or so of hands-on-time, and allow them to call their videos "reviews", well before the real review embargo is lifted? This is basically just a repeat of the hands-on time journalists, bloggers, and YouTubers got after the launch event a few weeks ago.

This is a carefully orchestrated "control the message" type of thing, and all the videos are practically identical, with the same limited number of talking points, all shot in the same fancy nondescript loft-like Apple Store (?) somewhere in New York City.

Apple clearly wanted this to be the first thing people saw of the iPhone X. No critical reviews by detail-oriented people like MKBHD, Dieter Bohn or heck, even John Gruber (who is not happy with this). No, Apple invited small-time YouTubers who are easily impressed to make the video of their lifetimes to ensure they'd get nothing but shallow, fuzzy good press.

It reeks of insecurity, and if I didn't know any better, I'd be very worried about just what the heck is wrong with this phone.