Archive for March 17, 2016

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Apple Starts Using Google Cloud Platform

Kevin McLaughlin and Joseph Tsidulko (via MacRumors):

Since inking the Google deal late last year, Apple has also significantly reduced its reliance on Amazon Web Services, whose infrastructure it uses to run parts of iCloud and other services, said the sources, who all requested anonymity to protect their relationships with the vendors.

Apple has not abandoned AWS entirely and remains a customer, the sources said.

According to the sources, Google executives have told partners that Apple is spending between $400 million and $600 million on Google Cloud Platform, although this couldn’t be independently confirmed. Also unclear is whether this range refers to an annual spending rate or a set amount of capacity.

Juli Bort (via Hacker News):

The secretive Apple has never publicly talked about being an AWS customer, but its use of it, as well as Microsoft’s cloud, Azure, has been widely reported since at least 2011 and was confirmed by Apple in a security document. Apple uses AWS and Azure for parts of its iCloud services, The New York Times reported.

Last month, Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak estimated that Apple spends about $1 billion a year on AWS.

Mark Bergen:

For Apple, though, the deal might portend a move to cut costs ahead of creating its own cloud storage system. Google’s cloud team is in deal-making mode, aggressively seeking to bring in new customers to use its cloud services, and may have sweetened the deal — or been more willing than AWS and Azure to concede to Apple’s demands.


According to a source familiar with the matter, Apple already has a team working on this; it’s known internally as “McQueen,” as in Steve. It’s unclear if that project will materialize or when. But a source tells Re/code that the codename refers to Apple’s intent sometime in the next few years to break its reliance on all three outside cloud providers in favor of its own soup-to-nuts infrastructure.

I would be shocked if Apple hasn’t been planning a move to its own data centers since before iCloud was announced.

Previously: Dropbox’s Exodus From the Amazon Cloud Empire.

Update (2016-03-23): Jordan Kahn:

Adding to a report from VentureBeat earlier this week, today’s report offers more details on what Apple is doing with “Project McQueen” that could see the company replacing third-party vendors with more of its own cloud infrastructure. The Information reports that Project McQueen is actually just one of at least six internal efforts at Apple including building its own servers, networking equipment, and “systems that could one day help developers to power their apps.”


And when it comes to building its own servers, the report claims that Apple is partly motivated by the fact that it believes the servers it receives from third-parties have been “intercepted during shipping, with additional chips and firmware added to them by unknown third parties in order to make them vulnerable to infiltration.”

Constraint Activation

Daniel Jalkut:

Starting in OS X 10.0 and iOS 8.0, I was intrigued by the announcement that NSLayoutConstraint now supports a property called “active,” which can be used to, you guessed it, activate or deactivate a constraint. I assumed this would be an answer to my prayers: a constraint could now be left installed on a view for safe-keeping, but its impact on layout would be negated by setting it to be “inactive.” I envisioned setting up competing groups of constraints on a view and simply activating or deactiving them en masse when the need arose.

I assumed wrong.


So “active” is not a convenience for easily toggling whether an installed layout constraint has an effect or not, but a convenience for the plumbing of installing and removing them.


Because NSLayoutConstraint supports a mutable “priority” property, you can effectively disable it by setting its priority lower than any other constraints that affect the same view.

iCloud Account Ransom

Thomas Reed:

The hacker had somehow gotten access to Ericka’s iCloud account.

Using this, he was able to remotely lock her computer using iCloud’s Find My Mac feature, with a ransom message displayed on the screen.


Apple designed Find My Mac/iPhone as an anti-theft feature. It is intended to allow you to take a number of actions on a lost or stolen device, including displaying a message, locking it, locating it physically and even remotely erasing it.


It’s also important to realize that an attacker with this kind of access could remotely erase all devices connected to that iCloud account. Worse, if you have Back to My Mac turned on, the attacker could gain access to all the data on your Mac.

In my view, Find My Mac is too dangerous to enable. The benefits it offers are minimal. And there is no reason to turn on Back to My Mac if you aren’t actually using those features.

Charlie Rose Interviews Jony Ive

Shawn King:

It’s always interesting (and even soothing) to listen to Ive talk.

Via Mayur Dhaka:

While watching Jony talk, I kept thinking about how closely his unrehearsed narrative resembles the rehearsed narrative in one of Apple’s ads.


It’s amazing how much one can talk, focused throughout on one topic, and not give away anything that isn’t planned.

Given the speaking styles of Rose and Ive, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to test Overcast’s new uploads feature, so that I could listen with Smart Speed. Unfortunately, it made far less of a difference than usual, perhaps because the audio had a lot of static.

Notification Center Bugs

On the Mac, I cannot prevent Calendar from notifying me with an alert for each event. I keep turning off its notifications in System Preferences, and they keep turning themselves back on. This seems to be a longstanding bug that others are also seeing. I’ve tried remedies such as deleting its database, but nothing has helped.

On iOS, sometimes Notification Center will not appear when I swipe down from the top of the screen. This happens both in apps and on the lock screen. The lock screen even shows the grippy strip, but it won’t budge.