Archive for September 11, 2017

Monday, September 11, 2017

Oral History of Avie Tevanian

Computer History Museum (via Michael Nordmeyer):

Avie begins by discussing how the acquisition of NeXT occurred from the perspective of NeXT, including the OS bakeoff against Be. Avie also goes into his personal relationship with Steve Jobs over the years, what it was like to work with him, and how one might convince him one was right. He then moves on to discussing the early years of the turnaround, working initially under Gil Amelio and then under Jobs, and Jobs’ return as CEO of Apple. During this period, Avie’s main priority was to turn Apple’s software group into a world class development organization and to direct key technical decisions in the development of Mac OS X, sometimes over the objections of entrenched interest groups at Apple, such as the decision to embrace TCP/IP and other open standards over continuing to use Apple proprietary technologies. Avie also discusses collaborating with Jon Rubinstein’s hardware division, Apple’s ups and downs in the early 2000s, the transition of the Mac platform to Intel processors, the sunset of Newton, Mac OS 9, and WebObjects, the balance between use of open source and proprietary technologies, the development of iTunes and the digital hub strategy, and his testimony in the Microsoft anti-trust trial.

In 2003, Avie moved into a new role as Chief Software Technology Officer, out of day-to-day product responsibility, and into a strategic advisory role with Steve Jobs, during which he helped set in place the software strategy for the iPhone. After three years in that role Avie retired from Apple in 2006.

Highly recommended. There is also a Part 1, covering the period before Apple acquired NeXT, which I have not listened to yet.

Previously: Interviews with Scott Forstall and Mike Slade.

Animoji Rejected From the App Store

Benjamin Mayo:

We are continuing to dig through the leaked iOS 11 GM firmware. We’ve found a brand new feature for the iPhone 8 called ‘Animoji’, which uses the 3D face sensors to create custom 3D animated emoji based on the expressions you make into the camera.

Users will be able to make Animoji of unicorns, robots, pigs, pile of poo and many more.

Ryan Jones:

For the last year I’ve been battling App Store rejections - we made an app called Animoji with animated I know why.

Apple (incorrectly) repeatedly rejected it for IP violation. The emojis look nothing like Apple’s and the name wasn’t taken.

We drew them all, not a copied pixel. At the start they looked similar...because 1,000+ apps did! So we changed to flat style...Nope 🤷

I even suspected it and changed the name to “Animatimoji”...Nope.

Ultimately I think rejections were because we actually made a good app! Clear UI, pro animations, great name... Too close to home. 😔

Apple Legal said “Apple owns all derivatives to our Emoji set”.

How that applies to only us and not 100,000 other Emoji apps...🤷

Colin Plamondon:

That Apple is still doing that 8 years after the App Store launched is insane. 6 month review cycle “soft vetoes” since the beginning.

I wish I could say this behavior from Apple is in any way surprising.

Update (2017-09-13): Ryan Jones:

Animoji © Sept 2016

Update (2017-11-09): Ling Wang:

iOS apps cannot use Apple emoji because it violates Apple’s Trademarks and Copyrights. Are you fucking kidding me!🤦


PDFXKit (tweet):

Today, we are open sourcing PDFXKit, a drop-in replacement for Apple’s PDFKit that uses our industry-proven PSPDFKit SDK under the hood.

Peter Steinberger:

Current impact per arch is ~25MB. Of that around 11MB are language translation tables because PDF.

Previously: PSPDFKit for macOS, More macOS Preview PDF Trouble.

An Apple Support Experience

John Risby:

Ultimately the fault lies with them, their generally terrible customer service policies and a design/manufacturing fault with the late 2016 15" Macbook Pro touch bar model. A fault that I’ve yet to see them publicly accept despite the fact it is accepted internally, has a fault code, and internet forums and youtube are full of people reporting the same problems.

Many of these people are being forced to pay out of their own pockets for expensive repairs even though there is, what seems to be a secret, repair programme in place.


The short version of this story is if you have a late 2016 15" touch bar model and you have problems with noises or the screen, go to Apple and, unless you know you’ve done something stupid like dropped it or put a hammer through the screen, demand they fix it or replace it.


Sadly Apple seem to have stopped trying to be the Porsche or Ferrari of computers, while keeping the same prices — or, in the case of this Macbook range, actually putting the prices up — but decided to adopt the customer services policies of a dodgy used car lot.

I’m not sure how much can be generalized from one experience. My own have been mixed and not frequent enough to infer a trend. Many interactions have been really great, exactly what you would expect from a reputable company that cares about its customers. Some were positive in the sense that multiple levels of advisors were caring and motivated to help, but the problems were left unresolved due to software bugs out of their control. With a few, the advisors seemed to want to help but didn’t have much knowledge of the product or seemingly any way of looking it up.

On the whole, the support from Apple seems to be worse than nearly all the small companies I deal with but better than nearly all the big companies (except Amazon).

Two paragraphs that resonated with me:

They immediately told me it was my fault. They claimed it had to be. They said once a screen leaves the factory, if it breaks, it is always the users fault.

When my father tried to return an iPhone 4 that had no cell signal at his home or work (with or without a bumper), despite an iPhone 3GS working great in both locations, Apple Store employees kept saying that it was somehow his fault, the phone was perfect, and he was an idiot for not wanting to keep it.

They only had to look at Mac forums or Youtube to see it being reported but that’s one thing I learned through this experience. Even senior advisors at Apple have very limited access to the internet at work, which doesn’t just show a shocking level of trust in their staff, but is a genuine hinderance to their ability to do their job. It’s less surprising they haven’t heard about problems from customers if they can’t read the forums their customers post on.

Almost every hardware issue I’ve encountered has a thread in Apple’s own forum with hundreds or thousands of posts. Advisors are always surprised to hear this and never seem to have a way of looking up other instances of the same issue.

One constant is that, despite every case having a number, it’s rare for someone to look up notes from previous interactions on that case, and I’ve been told it’s impossible when the case is transferred between different departments.

Via Wojtek Pietrusiewicz:

I had two 13″ MacBook Pro Touch Bar devices and returned them both, but not because there was something wrong with them — I just didn’t like the Touch Bar and short battery life.

Update (2017-09-11): See also: Nick Heer. Previously: Apple’s Support Gap.

Update (2017-09-13): See also: Seattle Rex (via Nathan).

Update (2017-09-20): Peter Steinberger:

It took >3 months, but Apple finally replaced the logic board on both MacBooks and also refunded the money for the failed repairs.

Update (2017-11-07): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

Update (2018-01-28): See also: project_2501 (via Nick Heer).

Update (2018-02-20): Nolan O’Brien:

I am spitting mad at the horrible support @Apple store provided my mother in law today.


Her 9 month old laptop won’t boot (folder with flashing exclamation mark flashing) and Apple refused to get the data off her laptop before doing a restore. Some malarky about customer privacy. She doesnt care if they see what she has, just that it’s saved - but they refuse!

On top of that they would not replace her battery to her iphone 6 that doesnt keep more than a 3 hour charge anymore without filling out a tonne of paperwork and she’d have to come back in several weeks to get it done.

Dan Masters:

This is reminiscent of the “customer support” my friend received when trying to get Apple to swap her barely used PowerBeats Wireless, which suddenly split due to a known manufacturing fault.

She ended up having to glue them herself.

Apple even refuses to replace frayed Lightning Cables now – for devices under warranty.

Sarah Perez:

It is unbelievable that @AppleSupport refuses to repair my Apple Watch when all it needs is glue for a loose screen. (Just confirmed in person. They expect me to pay to replace it with a new Watch.) I will never buy another Apple Watch again. I will buy a pretty watch that lasts.

Update (2018-03-01): Peter Steinberger:

I just tried to buy a replacement power cable for the iMac at the Vienna Apple Store. After 5 minute discussion and confusion I was sent up to the genius floor, and then sent away because there’s a 40 minute wait line for appointments.


Update (2018-03-07): Daniel Jalkut:

Pushback at Apple store about having MBP keyboard replaced under warranty for key wear.

Update (2018-10-15): Pye Jirsa (via Rory Prior):

What you are about to read is not doctored or manipulated to get more views — it’s simply my experience this past year with Apple products.

In the past, I respected and held Apple in high regard. However, I am by no means a “fanboy” of anything. I will use whatever it takes to get the job done, and I will tell you the pros and the cons of the tools I use. This is not a sponsored article, nor would Apple pay me to write this. They’d probably pay me not to. But that’s exactly why I feel it is important to share my experience using the new iMac Pro, MacBook Pro, and iPhone X.

Update (2022-08-29): thepoet:

The most recent case was that of my friend who upgraded to a 14 inch Macbook Pro that stopped booting in 7 days. Since there is no return option in 30 days like in other geographies, he took it to Apple’s authorised service centre (there are no Apple owned service centres in my country), and they put a big scratch right across the Apple logo. To add to this, Apple’s customer support final response after more than a week of wasting his time was they would not be able to replace the display even when my friend sent clear voice recordings of the service centre employees accepting their mistake. He had to take the help of the local police who went with him to the shop to get a written statement that they would be replacing the display too along with the mainboard to fix the primary issue of dead laptop.