Archive for November 21, 2016

Monday, November 21, 2016 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Apple Abandons Development of Wireless Routers

Mark Gurman (Hacker News, MacRumors):

Apple Inc. has disbanded its division that develops wireless routers, another move to try to sharpen the company’s focus on consumer products that generate the bulk of its revenue, according to people familiar with the matter.

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Apple hasn’t refreshed its routers since 2013 following years of frequent updates to match new standards from the wireless industry.

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Exiting the router business could make Apple’s product ecosystem less sticky. Some features of the AirPort routers, including wireless music playback, require an Apple device like an iPhone or Mac computer. If the company no longer sells wireless routers, some may have a reason to use other phones and PCs.

John Gruber:

The question is, are they really out of the router game (and will start selling Belkin or Eero routers in their stores), or are they working on something new, a HomeKit hub, that will include the functionality of a router?

Just seems like Apple is abandoning a lot of stuff without having replacements ready these days.

Nick Heer:

Back when Apple did the iPhone, it was partially because all cellphones sucked; now, all cellphones work similarly to iPhones. I’d like to think that they kept supporting their AirPort models for as long as they did because routers still suck. Look at the routers recommended by the Wirecutter: their picks have antennas sticking out and pointing everywhere, and really crappy web-based control panels. I’m not looking forward to the day that I need to replace my AirPort Extreme.

Mark Munz:

Apple working hard to convert its synergistic eco system into something more akin to PC/Android market of hodgepodge components.

Brent Simmons:

And when we start looking elsewhere, we customers who have been in the habit of just buying the Apple thing get in the habit of looking outside Apple for things.

I can’t help but think that it’s a kind of an anti-halo effect. I can’t help but think that once we start looking elsewhere, we’ll look elsewhere more and more. We’ll get used to it. We’ll find out that other companies make things that work and are, in some cases, delightful.

Jeff Johnson:

Wireless routers are not like external displays. Every major Apple device needs to connect to a wireless router. It’s essential.

Wade Cosgrove:

Apple seems to be running the company “by the numbers” lately. If they can’t sell X many millions of units at 40% profit they just kill it.

Or perhaps it’s a matter of attention and deploying their employees where they think they can make the most difference. In any case, it seems like this change will reduce the quality of the Mac and iOS experience. One issue is the ecosystem with technologies such as AirPlay, Back to My Mac, and Time Machine and the easy-to-use apps for configuration. Another is simply that AirPort was an easy choice. You pay a little extra, but you don’t have to do any research to be sure that it will work well. And you know that help is available from Apple.

On the plus side, lots of people seem to have great things to say about the Wi-Fi products from Eero and Ubiquiti.

Update (2016-11-21): Kirk McElhearn:

Frankly, it’s about time. They’ve been limping along, unable to keep up with new technology. I used to really like Apple’s AirPort hardware, but somewhere in the past few years, it started to suck. They never updated the AirPort Express for 802.11ac, making their hardware useless in any but the smallest setups.

This said, the AirPort Express is still a useful tool for people who want to stream music using AirPlay. I’d recommend buying one or two if you use it for that. I’m not aware of any other device – other than the Apple TV – that works like this.

Update (2016-11-22): Benjamin Mayo:

I hope that Apple evaluated the AirPort roadmap, decided there was little scope for improvement over the status quo, and then shuttered the division. Whether I believe that Apple could add value to the router space is irrelevant; I have to trust Apple is in the omniscient position here about its own lineup.

On the other hand, if AirPort development was cancelled simply because it ‘only’ made a few million dollars, I would be deeply disappointed. Accessories support the core products — it is unreasonable to expect them to make money. Apple has the privilege to make choices that aren’t constrained by financials. Abandoning products that don’t make money is what companies on the brink of bankruptcy do.

Tom Bridge:

I have yet to find a device that I like more than the current AirPort Express, just in terms of what it does: Home Router, Home Wi-Fi, AirPlay speaker, remotely managed. There isn’t anything I’ve found that is as easily-managed as the AirPort line is. But there are some good options[…]

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None of the solutions above carry with it the user-friendly function-focus of the AirPort, and that makes me sad. But, new companies like eero and Luma are making wireless do things that Apple has decided not to do, and so the future lives with them, or with the professional access point manufacturers who work down market like UniFi and Xclaim (Ruckus). I think we’re in good hands, even if they’re not Apple’s.

Update (2016-11-27): See also: Core Intuition.

Dave Hamilton:

I’ve tested three currently-available mesh offerings: eero, Netgear’s Orbi and Ubiquiti’s AmpliFi. While they all solve the same problem in basically the same way, they each have strengths and weaknesses. If you’re finished reading and just want to buy, my TL;DR advice is that, at this very moment, I feel like eero is the best product to recommend to most users. That said, it’s worth watching what Netgear does with Orbi over the next six months. If they keep adding features to it, Orbi could easily take the lead due to its tri-band Wi-Fi hardware. Still, even today Orbi or AmpliFi might be right for you, and I’ve listed more than a few points of comparison to help you make your choice.

Update (2016-12-01): Joe Rossignol:

Apple ranks highest in customer satisfaction among wireless router manufacturers, according to a new study released by J.D. Power today.

The accolade comes just nine days after a report said Apple has ceased development of its AirPort routers and reassigned engineers working on the products to other teams. Apple continues to sell the AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and AirPort Time Capsule, last released in 2013, but future updates appear unlikely.

Colin Cornaby:

Apple has been on a cutting spree recently, sending display production outside of Apple, cutting the Airport base station line, and neglecting Mac desktops. It’s tempting to cut everything that isn’t a massive line of profit, but if Apple isn’t careful with their removal of supports, they’ll bring the whole house down on top of them.

See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

Constexpr-8cc: Compile-time C Compiler

Keiichi Watanabe (via Hacker News):

Constant expressions in C++ are expressions that can be evaluated at compile-time. In C++14, by relaxing constrains, constant expressions became so powerful that a C compiler can be implemented in!

In constexpr-8cc, the main routine for compilations of C programs is implemented in a C++14 constexpr function. Therefore, if you compile 8cc.cpp to a binary file by g++, compilation of a C program will be performed as a compile-time computation and the result of this C compilation will be embedded into the generated binary.

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When you see 8cc.hpp, you will know this program was not written by hand. Actually, I used ELVM Compiler Infrastructure to generate it. I just implemented a translator from ELVM IR to C++14 constexpr here.

The Monkey and the Apple

Steve Yegge:

A lot of people have asked me why I did my first mobile client in iOS rather than Android. The answer is monetization. iOS is straight-up easier to monetize. Android has cultivated a frugal audience, through both marketing and hardware choices, and that cultivation has been a success. Android users tend to be frugal. That doesn’t mean they don’t spend money, but it does mean they are more cautious about it. I have friends who’ve done simultaneous iOS/Android releases for their apps, and invariably the iOS users outspend the Android users by anywhere from 4:1 to 10:1 -- anecdotally, to be sure, but a little Googling is enough to support just about any confirmation bias you like. So I picked iOS.

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And as a result, the Android APIs and frameworks are far, far, FAR from what you would expect if you’ve come from literally any other UI framework on the planet. They feel alien. This reddit thread pretty well sums up my early experiences with Android development.

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The story of my app’s rejection is epic enough for an opera, but in a nutshell, Apple requires that all apps support ipv6-only networks. But none of the major Cloud providers supported ipv6 at the time of my submission, in late September. […] Fortunately, after a mere six weeks, and me finally sending them an angry-ish (but still cravenly and begging) note asking WTH, they granted me the exception for 1 year, backdated so it was really only 11 months, but whatevs. I was approved!

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I’m really worried about In-App Purchases. I offer them in my game (though it’s definitely not pay-to-play), but Apple’s testing for IAP leaves a lot to be desired. You have to sandbox it, and this requires setting up separate accounts. It’s not possible to enable production IAP (with real money) before the actual launch. But their sandbox environment makes it really easy to screw up a transaction, after which your device will prompt you for a store login every 5 minutes for the rest of your miserable life, and likely into the hereafter. It’s a mess.

“Designed by Apple in California” Video

Stephen Hackett:

Apple’s new coffee table book “Designed by Apple in California” features many products the company has produced over the last 20 years. Turns out, most of what it is in the book is a part of my collection. Here are the actual products alongside the book: