Archive for April 16, 2019

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Qualcomm and Apple Agree to Drop All Litigation

Tripp Mickle and Asa Fitch:

Apple has called Qualcomm a monopoly and said Mr. Mollenkopf has lied about settlement talks between the companies. Qualcomm has accused Apple of deceiving regulators around the world and stealing software to help a rival chip maker.

For two years, the companies have bickered over the royalties Apple pays to Qualcomm for its patents. Discord between the CEOs, who bring different management styles and principles to the table, has deepened the divide. They have dug into their positions as the dispute has escalated.

The feud heads toward a showdown this coming week, when Apple’s patent lawsuit against Qualcomm is set to go to trial—with both CEOs expected to testify in a case where billions of dollars are at stake.

Via Shaun Maguire (and Benjamin Mayo):

The most interesting part to me is that Steve Jobs personally negotiated the QCOM deal and thought it was fair, but then one of the first things Cook did when he took over was rip it up.

Apple (MacRumors):

Qualcomm and Apple today announced an agreement to dismiss all litigation between the two companies worldwide. The settlement includes a payment from Apple to Qualcomm. The companies also have reached a six-year license agreement, effective as of April 1, 2019, including a two-year option to extend, and a multiyear chipset supply agreement.

Ben Bajarin:

At the FTC trial, we discovered Apple never actually had a formal license with QCOM and they just went through their manufactures. So this is a first time license for Apple with Qualcomm.

Previously: Apple Sues Qualcomm.

Update (2019-04-22): Dan Masters:

This highlights the fact that Apple was (and has been) willing to offer a degraded experience to customers of their $1k+ phones due to their unreasonable demands (i.e. greed).

It seems clear that there was also a long-term strategic element in developing another supplier. But it’s an interesting point that Apple chose to ship a worse product, despite their platitudes about being guided purely by what’s best for the customer experience.

Ben Bajarin:

The Apple Qualcomm settlement now makes even more sense as Intel announces their exit of the 5g modem business.

Ian King and Mark Gurman (tweet):

Throughout the fight, which centered on Apple’s accusations that Qualcomm overcharges for patents on its technology, the iPhone maker played down the importance of the modem and Qualcomm’s inventions. Just before the settlement was announced on Tuesday, Apple’s lawyers were in a San Diego courtroom saying the component was just another method of connecting to the internet. In reality, Qualcomm’s modems are leading a potential revolution in mobile internet -- and Apple could have been forced to play catchup without them.

Ben Bajarin:

Apple pays less than $10 for all of Qualcomm’s stuff that was before this deal. So they already pay a low rate.

Prakash Sangam:

I can guarantee that U.S. govt will block @Huawei s bid. Also, if $AAPL was interested in buying, $INTC wouldn’t have announced existing business though. I suspect @Apple will get @Intel modem talent by attrition, and may buy #IP later for a bargain price..

John Gruber:

Intel’s 5G modem efforts were so behind schedule that it looked increasingly likely, if not certain, that Apple wouldn’t be able to use them for 5G iPhones in 2020. Forget about 2019 — I think Apple determined that even 2020 was increasingly in doubt if they sourced 5G modems from Intel.


Fast Company has reported that Apple has a “team of between 1,000 and 1,200 engineers working on the modem chips for future iPhones” — but that team’s work is obviously not going to be ready for a few years, at best.

John Gruber:

My initial guess is it’s the former: Intel decided to get out of this market, and Apple got squeezed.

Ben Bajarin:

Knowing Apple curates Apple News it is interesting there is no article on the Qualcomm settlement. There is one about Intel exiting smartphone modems and some coverage of their short lived trial but nothing on settlement.

At least in my feed in News.

Some people replied saying that they do see some articles. But this raises questions about why people see such different Apple News feeds, and whether Apple can be trusted to curate news about itself.

Charlie Demerjian (via Meek Geek):

That same 600Mbps Qualcomm modem in the iPhone ran at 1Gbps in Android devices. The Intel modem ran at 600Mbps max and there were no other customers to make a comparison to. Apple crippled their Qualcomm parts to match the delivered Intel specs. Worse yet those Intel parts were only 600Mbps on paper, in practice they had 30% lower throughput. On top of this the Intel modems consumed vastly more energy to do their slower work than Qualcomm[…]

Reed Albergotti (via Hacker News):

The sealed documents, obtained by Qualcomm through the discovery phase ahead of the trial, offer a rare window into the decision-making process of one of the most secretive and powerful companies on the planet, and how Apple’s internal discussions about Qualcomm differed from what it said publicly. Apple’s criticism of Qualcomm underpinned more than 80 lawsuits around the world and influenced governments to change laws and regulations in Apple’s favor.


The documents also raise questions about the methods Apple used to inflict pain on Qualcomm and whether Apple really believed its own arguments to lawmakers, regulators, judges and juries when it tried to change not just its long-standing business agreement with Qualcomm but the very laws and practices that have allowed inventors to profit from their work and investments. Apple has argued that Qualcomm’s patents were no more valuable than those of competitors like Ericsson and Huawei, but Qualcomm argued in court that the documents show otherwise.


In one internal document cited by Qualcomm’s lawyers, Apple said it sought to “create evidence” by scrupulously licensing other less expensive patents to make Qualcomm’s look expensive.

Update (2019-04-28): Chance Miller:

More details continue to emerge this weekend about the behind-the-scenes drama of Apple’s dealings with Intel and Qualcomm. According to a report from The Telegraph, Apple poached Intel’s lead 5G modem developer earlier this year.

Sandboxing Makes Quarantine Flags Almost Meaningless

Howard Oakley:

When quarantine xattrs start appearing on files which have only ever been stored locally since their creation, is it time to get worried?

It would appear not.

Thanks to Thomas, who drew my attention to the fact that opening any movie in the QuickTime Player app (the latest ‘X’ version, not the old QuickTime 7) results in a quarantine xattr being attached to it.

A little further exploration revealed that this isn’t the only such case: Preview attaches quarantine xattrs to several of the file types which it opens, including PDF. The high-end PDF editors PDF Expert and PDFPenPro, and Nisus Writer Pro also attach quarantine xattrs to the PDFs which they create.

Erik Schwiebert:

Yep. The OS adds the quarantine xattr to any file created by an app that has been sandboxed. I don’t know why; you’d think they would trust a sandboxed app more, not less.

Rich Siegel:

It’s pretty crazy. We’ve seen a lot of this with customers opening/editing +x files. Simply opening the file causes it to grow quarantine, and then the user can’t run it in Terminal or programmatically with NSTask. (Gatekeeper and Terminal don’t really mix.)

Howard Oakley:

The quarantine flag, an extended attribute (xattr) of type, used to be one of the most meaningful and important of all the xattrs attached to files. It meant that item had been downloaded from the Internet. In the case of apps, it’s used to determine whether that app needs to undergo full first-run checks by Gatekeeper before being allowed free run on your Mac.


Since Apple introduced sandboxing for apps, the quarantine xattr has been used for a quite different purpose: to flag which document files have been opened by sandboxed apps.


This behaviour appears consistent across almost all apps which run in a sandbox, even if they’re not supplied by the App Store. One exception that I have found is the latest version of BBEdit: although sandboxed (and notarized), the non-App Store version doesn’t appear to attach quarantine xattrs to text files which it opens or writes, even when they are PDFs, for example.


For file types like JPEG, PNG, Movies and PDF, which are specific targets of this behaviour, the rules for attaching a quarantine flag by a sandboxed app appear to be[…]

Update (2019-08-13): Craig Hockenberry:

If you think the dialogs in Catalina are annoying, just wait until you discover that any script you edit with BBEdit or TextEdit get thrown into a quarantine and won’t execute until you use xattr at the command line.

You’re going to see a lot of “operation not permitted”.

Erik Schwiebert:

So far as I know, macOS adds the quarantine xattr to any file created by a sandboxed app. This happens to Office files, and was resolved as By Design by Apple several years ago. It isn’t new to Catalina.

Rich Siegel:

Check and see whether sandbox access is allowed (in BBEdit’s “Application” preferences). If it is not, allow it and I think that will solve this for you.

That worked for me. So apparently it doesn’t add the quarantine flags when saving into a folder that the app already has access to due to a security-scoped bookmark.

See also: Quarantine: Apps and Documents and Advances in macOS Security.

Update (2019-08-15): Craig Hockenberry:

It looks like is the secret sauce in this:

$ codesign -dvvvv --entitlements :- /System/Applications/

And it looks like it’s not generally available.

Craig Hockenberry:

The irony here, is that thanks to the entitlement, developers are better off using non-sandboxed native apps.

Apps like Visual Studio Code have an a distinct advantage with lesser security.

Core Image Filter Reference

Noah Gilmore (via Ryan McLeod): is a project I’ve been working on for the last few months, and today it’s open source. It has two parts:

  1. A website,, which lists all the available CIFilters, their information and examples of applying them
  2. An app which allows you to apply each CIFilter to various inputs, tune their parameters, and apply them to camera and photo library images


Apple has a page listing about 85% of the available filters, but it’s “no longer being updated”, and no new filters which were made available in iOS 10, 11, or 12 are listed there. If you Google CIThermal, for example, most of what you’ll find is iOS header dumps.

For the filters which are listed, many have incomplete documentation - for example, the inputSharpness parameter to CICheckerboardGenerator says[…] but doesn’t tell you what the parameter actually does. The examples on this page are also limited - for example, CISourceOutCompositing takes an inputImage and a backgroundImage. The page shows two images being composited, but doesn’t specify which image is which[…]

Twitter’s Complicated and Messy Verification Process

Nick Heer:

In November 2017 Twitter announced it would be suspending its public verification process[…] However, the company never actually stopped verifying accounts. Cale Guthrie Weissman reported in 2018 for Fast Company that users were still being given a checkmark; and, today, Karissa Bell reports for Mashable that the process has continued[…]


Twitter seems utterly confused about what its verification program ought to be. Should it be just a simple way to communicate that an account is run by a real person or company, rather than an impersonator or a robot? Should it be only for public figures? What is a public figure anyhow, in Twitter’s view?

All the Streaming Video

Mark Hughes:

In which I compare some of the thousands of streaming media services[…]

Ben Thompson:

Look no further than that Disney investor event: while most of the time and subsequent attention was given to the new Disney+ offering, the company also spent time talking about ESPN+ and Hulu. At first glance, it might seem odd that the company has three distinct streaming services; why not put all of the company’s efforts behind a single offering?

In fact, I just explained why: in a world where distribution mattered more than anything else it made sense for Disney to put all of its television properties together; that offered maximum leverage with the cable companies. On the Internet, though, it is best to start with jobs.


Traditional TV will be dominated by news and sports, with ESPN, Fox, and Turner the biggest players. All have very strong assets in sports and/or news, and will remain dependent (and why not!) on the traditional TV mix of advertising and ever-increasing affiliate fees.

The long tail of content, including most information and education, will continue to be dominated by YouTube and its advertising-based model.

That leaves the specialists and the resellers, who will have a symbiotic relationship[…]


Update (2019-04-17): Josh Centers:

The only clear shot Netflix has is to sell. It cannot survive as an independent company.

Let’s examine how screwed Netflix is. They’re 8 billion in debt. Their biggest stars are either plagued by scandal or rapidly outgrowing their cuteness. They have no fallback plan. The largest companies in the world are coming after them.