Archive for February 19, 2018

Monday, February 19, 2018

How iFixit Became the World’s Best iPhone Teardown Team

Motherboard (video, via Dave Mark):

The iPhone teardown, undertaken by third-party teams around the world, provides a roadmap for the life of the iPhone X: Is it repairable? Who made the components inside it? The answers to these questions shift stock markets, electronics design, and consumer experience.

Every year there’s a race to become the first to tear down the phone, with teams from around the world flying to Australia—where it’s first released—to compete to be the first to look inside the world’s most coveted new phone. Motherboard embedded with iFixit, a California-based company whose primary mission is to make it easier for the average person to disassemble and repair their electronics, for its iPhone X teardown.

We went inside iFixit’s office, the “headquarters of the global repair movement, which features a tool laboratory and a parts library with thousands of electronics parts and disassembly tools. Then we went to Sydney, Australia, as iFixit tried to become the first team to tear down the iPhone X.

See also: HomePod Teardown (Hacker News).

Previously: Apple Fighting New “Right to Repair” Legislation.

Lightning Charge/Audio Dongles

Almost 1.5 years after Apple removed the headphone port with the iPhone 7, it still doesn’t seem like there’s a good solution for playing audio and charging at the same time.

The Wofalodata adapter that I bought for $15 stopped playing audio after a few months, with the iPhone intermittently complaining that it’s not a certified accessory. The Amazon reviews indicate this is common. I contacted the company, who said they would send a replacement unit, but two months later it hasn’t arrived.

I then tried the $14.50 Zerkar, but it also failed after a few months, again confirmed by reviews.

A year after the iPhone 7 was released, Belkin shipped its $35 adapter, which is the only one I’ve seen that’s MFi certified. I haven’t tried this one yet, but it, too, has lots of Amazon reviews indicating unreliability.

I don’t understand why this is such a hard problem to solve. And with over 100 million eligible iPhones, and increasing, you’d think there would be a market for a good product.

In a way this is like the situation with Macs and USB-C. The problem with removing a port isn’t so much that you have to buy and carry a dongle as that the dongle/hub is never as reliable as having the port built-in.

Previously: Removing the iPhone’s Headphone Jack, iPhone 7, Apple’s Lightning to Headphone Adapter.

Update (2018-02-19): To be clear, I use AirPods rather than headphones. The reason I have the dongle is to play audio from the iPhone in my car.

See also: Marco Arment’s tweet and replies.

Is APFS Fully Supported Yet?

Howard Oakley:

In his presentation to WWDC in June 2017, Pavel Sokolov, a File System Manager, stated unequivocally that APFS was the official replacement for HFS+, Fusion Drives were fully supported as boot volumes, APFS stored all its metadata on the SSD part of a Fusion Drive, APFS automatically defragments on hard disks[…]


However, when High Sierra 10.13 was released on 25 September 2017, not only did it not convert Fusion Drives to APFS, but Apple made it clear that APFS was not then supported on Fusion Drives. There were reports at the time that Apple staff stated that such support would be provided in a future update to High Sierra, but I did not see any written release from Apple making that clear, nor was there any promised timescale.


APFS has been updated several times since 25 September, the last being in the 10.13.3 update of 23 January 2018. I have not come across any release notes which have claimed any change in the storage supported by APFS.


Support from third-party tools remains more patchy. For example, DiskWarrior 5.0 does not support any operations on APFS, but Prosoft claims its Drive Genius supports all features apart from defragmentation and repartitioning of APFS containers/volumes.

I also haven’t been able to get VMware to compact APFS volumes.

Previously: How to Disable macOS High Sierra Upgrade Notifications.

Update (2018-05-01): Colin Cornaby:

Boot Camp doesn’t support browsing/using Startup Disk with APFS drives, and doesn’t support eGPU. Is anyone still working on it at Apple? Or is it going to be AirPorted?

Update (2018-06-02): Juli Clover:

Apple is planning to share news on APFS support for Fusion Drives “very soon,” Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi told MacRumors reader Jonathan in an email this afternoon.

Update (2018-06-05): Howard Oakley:

Apple has just announced that, at long last, its Fusion Drives will soon support its new file system, APFS – but not until the release of macOS 10.14 Mojave this autumn/fall.

Lightroom Classic CC 7.2

Priya Alexander:

We are pleased to announce the latest update of Lightroom Classic. We have made some significant performance enhancements and added a few key features that will help optimize your photography workflow. When customers talk about performance enhancements, there are generally two categories of improvements requested: Interactive (how quickly the interface responds to your actions) and batch processing (how efficient Lightroom is at utilizing system resources and completing batch tasks). This update is focused on batch processing improvements and we’ll continue to focus on both Interactive and Batch Processing improvements going forward.

We have made significant strides with our partners at Intel to optimize CPU and memory usage so that performance will scale better across multiple cores on computers with at least 12 GB of RAM.

DL Cade:

Our own tests also showed a noticeable speed boost when it came to exporting files, and a massive increase in performance on import.


Adobe was adamant that this update is just the beginning. The company is “pleased with these performance improvements” and believes Lightroom Classic users will be please as well, but Adobe also told us it is “far from done.” The company promises continued performance optimizations and improvements in future releases of Lightroom Classic CC.

It does feel quite a bit faster to me. Additionally, the database schema has changed—at least compared with the 6.x version that I was using—and that shrunk my 2 GB catalog by about 500 MB. There are also some new features.

See also: Why Lightroom CC Is a Big Step Up from Apple’s Photos.

Previously: New Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC.

Trusting SDKs

Felix Krause (tweet):

Third-party SDKs can often easily be modified while you download them! Using a simple person-in-the-middle attack, anyone in the same network can insert malicious code into the library, and with that into your application, as a result running in your user’s pockets.

31% of the most popular closed-source iOS SDKs are vulnerable to this attack, as well as a total of 623 libraries on CocoaPods.


The previous example injected malicious code into the iOS app using a hijacked SDK. Another attack vector is the developer’s Mac. Once an attacker can run code on your machine, and maybe even has remote SSH access, the damage could be significant[…]

See also: How to Protect Your App From Hijacking.

Update (2019-08-21): Felix Krause:

And now it happened, one of the most popular Ruby gems ‘rest-client’ got hijacked due to lack of 2FA.

Affected servers now

- Leak all ENV variables and API keys
- Allow the attacker to run any code on your server
- Steal all entered user credentials

Smart Speakers, Speech Recognition, and Accessibility

Steven Aquino:

Smart speakers are a unique product, accessibility-wise, insofar as the voice-first interaction model presents an interesting set of conditions. You can accommodate for blindness and low vision with adjustable font sizes and screen readers. You can accommodate physical motor delays with switches. You can accommodate deafness and hard-of-hearing with closed captioning and using the camera’s flash for alerts.

But how do you accommodate for a speech impairment?