Archive for February 4, 2019

Monday, February 4, 2019

Despair, Thy Name Is App Store

Daniel Kennett:

On Wednesday afternoon, I accidentally shipped the worst bug of my career. On Thursday morning, I fixed it, pushed an update to the App Store, and thankfully it got approved quickly.

Unfortunately, there’s currently a glitch in the App Store, and it’s still serving the broken version of my app to the world alongside the release notes and version metadata of the fixed one. “Fixed the crash!” it gleefully claims, cruelly delivering a very much unfixed binary. I’ve since uploaded a second update in the hopes that it’d get unstuck. No dice. The App Store is now serving a build from two versions ago alongside metadata from the current version.

There’s no way to call in to Developer Support that I can find any more, and the old numbers I have don’t work. The contact site is selling me the EU call centres have closed and won’t let me contact the US ones.

Update (2019-02-05): See also: John Siracusa.

Memories of Facebook Paper

Mike Matas:

5 years ago today Facebook Paper was released. So cool to see this incredibly thorough archive of all the little interactions we worked so hard on


My experience with it was that most of the actual FB posts never fit in. It seemed designed for a different kind of content than what fb actually has.

Vincent Bidaux:

User perspective: I felt I was missing even more of my timeline than with normal fb, which was already #1 struggle. Too much editorial/news/organic content vs. what friends were actually doing/saying.

Felix Krause:

When I first used the Facebook Paper app, I thought this would be how UIs are gonna look like in a few years, it felt like from the future. And look where we are now 🙃

Previously: Design Details: Paper by Facebook.

Margins on AirPods, Apple TV, and HomePod

Juli Clover:

On the latest episode of The Talk Show, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber discusses Apple TV and HomePod pricing and whether Apple is charging too much for some of its products.

According to Gruber, Apple is actually selling the 2017 Apple TV 4K at cost, suggesting the device costs Apple $180 to make. As for the HomePod, Gruber said he believes Apple sells it at a loss.


Gruber said that he also suspects the AirPods are priced close to cost as well, though he’s not sure and can’t prove it.

This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me (especially for AirPods), but I take it seriously because Gruber usually has good sources. Maybe it was accidental because the costs ended up being higher than what Apple predicted? I do think he’s right that Apple designed “too good” of a product—“good” in the sense of using high-end components that may not be valued commensurately by customers. If Apple TV 4K actually costs $180 to sell at no profit, Apple really didn’t design the right product.

Mark Gurman:

I’m told Apple is selling HomePods at a profit, not a loss, which wouldn’t make any sense. If it’s losing money, that’s only because it built too many speakers people don’t seem to want, and is now sitting on unsold inventory.

Update (2019-02-05): Joe Rossignol:

Apple’s expensive HomePod speaker accounted for just six percent of the U.S. smart speaker installed base through the fourth quarter of 2018, according to research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

Via Michael Love:

’Struggling’ implies effort, which I suspect they’re no longer applying to this, particularly if you assume that @gruber’s leak about Apple losing money on HomePod/TV was tactical in advance of March and June announcements that make that retreat official.

Previously: Initial HomePod Sales.

Update (2019-02-26): See also: The Talk Show.

Apple Is Indeed Patenting Swift Features

Thomas Claburn (Hacker News):

Here are two of the patents in question: 9,952,841 and 9,329,844.

John McCall:

By licensing its contributions under the Apache license, Apple has granted you a perpetual, royalty-free license to use all of its patents that are necessary in order to use Swift.

Ted Kremenek:

Any company making a contribution to Swift is intentionally licensing implied patents to the project. This is a business decision. Speaking on Apple’s behalf, that business decision is clear and deliberate: we want Swift to be successful and to be used widely. The Apache 2 license provides a form of IP licensing as well as IP protection for the project, and thus its users.

Chris Lattner:

I agree with much of the sentiment that software patents are often silly and the system is broken in many ways. This patent is a reasonable example of that (patenting syntactic sugar for monads, really?). I have no idea if there is prior art, but I wouldn’t be surprised. For sake of discussion, lets assume the patent is valid.

Even if I and others don’t like it, the software patent system exists. As is pointed out upthread, one of the major reasons that Swift uses the Apache 2 license is to provide more certainty for the community w.r.t. licensing and patents. An additional bonus of the Apache 2 license is that the open source project as a whole benefits from companies having and contributing their patents under the terms of the license: to say more directly, it is good for the Swift project that Apple has this patent and has contributed it to the project.


This basically says that if someone sues someone else over Swift then they lose access to the patents contributed to the project, and are therefore subject to countersuits. This is a significant part of the protection that the Apache license provides (it is a big deterent to lawsuits in general) but it only has teeth if there are actually patents in play!


If Apple genuinely intends to use this only for defensive purposes, or as counter-suits against patent trolls, then they should put it under something like Twitter’s Innovator’s Patent Agreement, something that legally enforces the idea of only using the patent for defensive purposes.

Nathan Gray:

Like most software engineers I’m not qualified to analyze what will or won’t infringe on a specific patent, so I’m not going to make any such claims, but attempting to patent programming language features from Swift is certainly a chilling move by Apple. @Chris_Lattner3, @tkremenek, and other (former/present) Apple people have emphasized how great this is for the Swift community, but that’s a very limited perspective. What about other languages? What about other communities? Is a new, from-scratch language design that uses optional chaining open to legal attack by Apple?

UltraViolet Digital Movie Locker Service Will Close

Mitchel Broussard (Hacker News):

Between January 31 and July 31, 2019, users will be able to keep accessing their UltraViolet Library, purchase new movies, and redeem digital codes. After the shutdown date, all UltraViolet Libraries will automatically close, but the company has detailed a way that users will be able to continue accessing their content.

To do this, UltraViolet is advising users to log into their accounts and verify that they have another retailer linked to their UltraViolet Library, which will allow them to watch their movies and TV shows on another platform after July 31.

Previously: Movies Anywhere.