Apple Archive

Apple’s cooperation with authoritarian governments

Over the past few years, Apple seems increasingly willing to cooperate with authoritarian governments, uninterested in protecting its own users, and unwilling to actually standup for human rights in broad terms, as often portrayed by its marketing department or direct statements from CEO Tim Cook. The company is quick to position itself as a prominent human rights advocate in the corporate world, especially regarding issues like user privacy and security. Although, as Ole Begemann has aptly pointed out, this is increasingly disingenuous to the point of deliberately deceiving its customers and the general public. There are even (unconfirmed) reports that the lack of end-to-end encryption that Ole criticizes is actually due to willful coordination and cooperation with the FBI. And like most companies in the industry, Apple employs a highly problematic supply chain, which makes its human rights crusade seem even less authentic. A good overview of Apple’s and Tim Cook’s incredibly close ties with genocidal, totalitarian regimes, and how the company seems to have zero issues selling out their users as long as they’re not in the west. I guess for Apple and Tim Cook, western lives simply matter more.

Apple agrees to offer government-approved pre-installed apps for devices in Russia

According to the report, citing a source within the Ministry, Apple struck a deal with the government that will show users a prompt when first configuring a device in Russia to pre-install apps from a list of government-approved software. Users will have the ability to decline the installation of certain apps. The new legislation is an amendment to the existing “On Consumer Protection” law that will require the pre-installation of software on all devices sold in Russia, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and smart TVs. The pre-installed software will include antivirus and cartographic apps, social media apps, and “Public Service” apps for payments and civil services. Apple bending over backwards to please Putin’s totalitarian regime will open the (back)door to countless other governments – western or not – demanding the same thing. As always, it seems Apple only cares about privacy and user experience if they can pull the wool over the eyes of gullible westerners – but as soon as the choice comes down to money or values, Tim Cook is jumping at the opportunity dump his proclaimed values in a ditch by the side of the road. Speaking of bending over backwards to please totalitarian regimes and dumping proclaimed values in a ditch by the side of the road, Tim Cook will attend the Chinese government’s China Development Forum, despite the ongoing Uighur genocide and crackdown on the democratic rights of the citizens of Hong Kong. Classy move, Tim, but then, anybody with even a modicum of pattern recognition skills is not surprised by your never-ending quest to please dictators.

Apple M1 microarchitecture research

This is an early attempt at microarchitecture documentation for the CPU in the Apple M1, inspired by and building on the amazing work of Andreas Abel, Andrei Frumusanu, @Veedrac, Travis Downs, Henry Wong and Agner Fog. This documentation is my best effort, but it is based on black-box reverse engineering, and there are definitely mistakes. No warranty of any kind (and not just as a legal technicality). To make it easier to verify the information and/or identify such errors, entries in the instruction tables link to the experiments and results (~35k tables of counter values). Amazing work, but the fact this kind of work is even needed illustrates just how anti-consumer these new Macs really are.

The Macintosh Application Environment

Thanks to Twitter, here’s an interesting footnote in computing history. As A/UX development was winding down, Apple was working on another project called the Macintosh Application Environment. This was an emulator that allowed users to run Mac software under Sun’s Solaris or Hewlett Packard’s HP-UX. A great deal of A/UX technology went into the design of this ill-fated product. This page is a pictorial tribute to the Macintosh Application Environment, running under Solaris 8 on an Ultra 10 workstation. If you want to try the MAE, you’ll need a Sun box running Solaris 9 or below – The software does not appear to work under Solaris 10. This is absolutely fascinating, and I had no idea this existed.

Apple’s App Store is hosting multimillion-dollar scams, says this iOS developer

Mobile app developer Kosta Eleftheriou has a new calling that goes beyond software development: taking on what he sees as a rampant scam problem ruining the integrity of Apple’s App Store. Eleftheriou, who created the successful Apple Watch keyboard app FlickType, has for the last two weeks been publicly criticizing Apple for lax enforcement of its App Store rules that have allowed scam apps, as well as apps that clone popular software from other developers, to run rampant. These apps enjoy top billing in the iPhone marketplace, all thanks to glowing reviews and sterling five-star ratings that are largely fabricated, he says. I’ve been saying it for ten years: the application store model is fundamentally broken, because the owner of the application store benefits from people gaming and cheating the system. In this case, Apple profits from every scam application or subscription sold, and since the App Store constitutes a huge part of Apple’s all-important services revenue, Apple has no incentive to really tackle issues like this. Here’s what going to happen, based on my immutable pattern recognition skills: there will be more press outcry over this developer’s specific issue until Apple eventually sends out a public apology statement and sort-of addresses this specific issue. American tech media – which are deeply embedded in Apple’s ecosystem and depend on being in Apple’s good graces – will praise Apple’s response, and claim the situation has been resolved. Their next batch of review units and press invites from Apple are on their way. And a few weeks or months later, another developer suffers from the same or similar issues, rinse, repeat. The problem is not individual App Store rules or App Store reviewers having a bad day – the paradigm itself is fundamentally broken, and until the tech industry and us as users come to terms with that, these repetitive stories will keep popping up, faux press outrage and all.

What color was “Apple Beige”?

Apple’s second computer — its first to have a case — launched in 1977, and that boxy beige Apple II was soon everywhere: in classrooms, living rooms and offices. At the vanguard of a generation of personal computers to come, it featured a particular and carefully-chosen beige. But what did that look like? Those first machines — the ones that have escaped landfills anyway — have shifted in color over 40 years. The documented public record is sketchy and confused. But I stumbled upon a way to investigate what Apple Beige was like. Fascinating bit of sleuthing, and a fun read to boot. Maybe not the most important aspect of computer history, but every bit of information we can preserve is worth it.

Apple knew a supplier was using child labor but took 3 years to fully cut ties

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.

Apple loses copyright claims in lawsuit against Corellium

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.

Working from home at 25MHz: You could do worse than a Quadra 700

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.

Why is Apple’s M1 chip so fast?

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.

Apple Silicon M1: a developer’s perspective

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 halves its App Store fee for the smaller companies

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.

Apple M1 benchmarks roll in

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.

Apple unveils first ARM-based Macs

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.

Revisiting Apple Copland (D7E1 build)

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 tells secure messaging app Telegram to take down protestor channels in Belarus

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.

We hacked Apple for 3 months: here’s what we found

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.

iOS 14, iPadOS 14 released

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.

The DayStar Genesis MP

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.