Archive for August 4, 2020

Tuesday, August 4, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

iMac 2020

Apple (MacRumors, Hacker News):

Apple today announced a major update to its 27-inch iMac. By far the most powerful and capable iMac ever, it features faster Intel processors up to 10 cores, double the memory capacity, next-generation AMD graphics, superfast SSDs across the line with four times the storage capacity, a new nano-texture glass option for an even more stunning Retina 5K display, a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, higher fidelity speakers, and studio-quality mics.

[…]

And now the stunning Retina 5K display on the 27-inch iMac features True Tone technology, which automatically adjusts the color temperature of the display to match a user’s ambient lighting.

The new iMac offers a nano-texture glass option — first introduced on Pro Display XDR — for even better viewing under various lighting conditions, such as a bright room or indirect sunlight.

Nick Heer:

Maybe the best news here is that it is no longer possible to get a spinning hard disk in any Mac. Recent versions of MacOS, whether because of system changes or APFS, simply do not work acceptably when running on hard disks. Fusion drives are not much better, but I understand why it is an option.

Alas, storage is still way overpriced. The $1,800 base model has a 256 GB SSD, and upgrading to 1 TB costs $400. Quality 1 TB SSDs retail for around $100 these days.

Rory Prior:

You can get 128GB worth of DDR4 for around £600 on Amazon, Apple basically wants to charge you the cost of another whole iMac for it – £2400!!

Really hope repairability laws will compel Apple to make RAM and storage user upgradable across their line, a 4x markup on retail prices for commodity parts like RAM is just not right.

Previously:

Update (2020-08-05): Marc Edwards:

With the new iMacs released, I think my default answer to “which external display should I buy?” is now “get an iMac”. It’s a shame there’s no decent external displays for developers and designers using Macs. The iMacs are great though.

Unfortunately, there’s no more target display mode.

Previously:

Tim Hardwick:

OWC offers 128GB of DDR4 PC4-21300 RAM that’s compatible with the 27-inch iMac . The total cost on Amazon is $599.99, or $2,000 less than Apple charges its customers.

Will the next iMac support easy RAM upgrades? iMac Pro doesn’t.

William Gallagher:

Unfortunately, it’s also not as if Apple did that much to the iMac Pro in the last few years. The iMac Pro you can buy today is the same as one you could have bought three years ago.

Michael Potuck:

Below we’ll look at a detailed iMac comparison of the 2020 and 2019 27-inch models as well as the 16-inch MacBook Pro for those who may be weighing a desktop setup with a larger display vs the portability of a notebook (if you need the power of an iMac Pro, you probably know if an iMac won’t work for you).

Update (2020-08-07): Hartley Charlton:

The lowest spec 27-inch i5 iMac from 2020 performs about 20 percent better in multicore than the lowest spec 27-inch i5 iMac from 2019.

[…]

MacRumors reader Stefan tested the high-spec 2020 iMac with 3.8GHz 8-Core Processor with Turbo Boost up to 5.0GHz, giving a single-core score of 1141 and a multi-core score of 7006. This is approximately 36% higher than the equivalent chip from the previous generation.

[…]

A source with access to Apple’s repair manuals tells MacRumors that the SSD is in fact not soldered to the logic board but is connected to a proprietary Apple slot on the board.

Tim Hardwick:

A support document updated overnight advises that those who purchase the iMac model with nano-texture glass must use the polishing cloth that Apple provides. No water or liquids should be used to clean the glass either. iMac owners can at most moisten the cloth with a 70-percent isopropyl alcohol (IPA) solution to deal with hard-to-remove smudges.

So probably no nano-texture touch-screen coming soon.

Benjamin Mayo:

The iMac has limped along for a decade on the same industrial design and last-gen technology. I think that will be a permanent blot on Apple’s record. It is a poor showing for the company’s only consumer desktop to lag behind the curve so much.

[…]

Predicting a Retina future for every Mac also seemed obvious in 2012, and yet incredulously the base model 21.5-inch iMac display is a very much non-Retina 1920x1080 resolution.

It’s too bad since recent versions of macOS have regressed on non-Retina screens.

Apple Remote-Kills Long-time Developer’s Apps

William Gallagher (also: Charlie Monroe):

As Apple continues to face controversy over its App Store policies and fees, software developer Charlie Monroe has told AppleInsider that the company has killed all his apps with no warning. Each of his ten macOS apps, and two that are also iOS, remain available to buy in the App Store, but Apple has stopped them launching.

[…]

“Looking into it, I found that Apple revoked my distribution certificates, which generally kills the apps remotely.”

“When I sign in to my developer account, it asks me to enroll to the Apple developer program and I don’t seem to be in the Apple developer program anymore,” he continued, “even though the apps that I have on the App Store are still available.”

Daniel Jalkut:

Every Apple platform developer’s worst nightmare. It’s bad enough that a seemingly innocuous developer has been effectively banned from development, his apps rendered non-functional, but ... no explanation? That is just cold.

Charlie Monroe:

In the morning no one got back to me. They did now, but only said on the phone they have no idea what’s wrong and are passing the issue to internal team... 🤔

Charlie Monroe:

macOS displays a message that the app “will damage your computer” just because the certificate was revoked, which IMHO is bordering with slander. Damages your name and brand. Aside from users unable to use your apps, of course.

Craig Hockenberry:

The wording for the dialog and intent behind signed code is to protect from malware.

If this action isn’t based on that, Apple is the one that’s damaging their name and brand.

And if it is? At least give the developer a chance to rectify the situation.

Thomas Tempelmann:

Can’t run the long-installed app any more. Can’t open the downloaded installer, not even with right-click + option key, even on High Sierra.

This means for us Mac devs that Apple not only has the power to make it near-impossible (at least for the layman) to run your publically available app, but they actually assume the right to do so as they please. They’re judge, jury and executioner. Doesn’t that scare you?

Apple’s dev account was originally meant to be necessary only to sign your app, to ensure it can be checked against malicious modification. But now, it’s become the stick by which Apple alone controls which apps can run on a Mac.

Nick Lockwood:

I wish I could be a fly on the wall when decisions like this get made. Was this a snap judgement made in response to some automated alert, or an executive decision? Did someone suggest contacting the developer but get overruled? Or did nobody even consider it? So many questions.

Previously:

Update (2020-08-05): See also: Hacker News.

Andy Ihnatko:

THIS is what sucks about Apple’s iron gatekeeper approach. One of my favorite apps suddenly fails to even launch, via a “Binary is improperly signed” error, apparently because Apple pulled the developer’s account, and apparently without a word of explanation. EXPLAIN, Apple.

Why was there no human review or due process?

Charlie Monroe (tweet):

After more investigation, I found out that the distribution certificates were revoked – evidently by Apple as no one else has access to them and I was sound asleep when all this happened. Each macOS app these days needs to be codesigned using an Apple-issued certificate so that the app will flawlessly work on all computers. When Apple revokes the certificate, it’s generally a remove kill-switch for the apps.

[…]

This is the message macOS shows to all users who try to launch my app. That it will damage their computer with a checkbox to report malware enabled. Average user immediately goes nuts.

[…]

Fortunately, possibly thanks to the traction the story got and all the support from everyone I got (for which I am infinitely grateful), after almost 24 hours after 10PM, I got my account re-instated.

Apple has called and apologized for the complications. The issue was caused by my account being erroneously flagged by automated processes as malicious and was put on hold.

JTWilliams:

I want to believe you, and I do believe you, but @Apple absolutely needs to say publicly and explicitly that they were wrong when they said it would damage the computer.

Alastair Houghton:

Apple really needs to provide emergency telephone contact details to people whose accounts are put into this state. Ideally it’d proactively get in touch to explain.

Dave Wood:

Sounds like @Apple needs to look into their process for this. Make sure there are checks in place to prevent this happening to anyone else.

Ben Lovejoy (tweet):

It seems incredible that all this could happen without human intervention. Apple does, of course, have to act swiftly when there is a chance of malware in the Mac App Store, but you would have thought it would have pinged a human being to verify the situation before inconveniencing significant number of Mac users, and potentially doing permanent damage to a developer’s reputation. Most app users will never know the story behind this, only that they bought an app, Apple told them it was malware, and they deleted it as instructed.

Joe Cieplinski:

This was a big goof on Apple’s part. I’m glad it only lasted a day, but it should not have happened in the first place.

False positives happen with automated systems. Apple needs a faster way to detect and reverse them. A lost day of revenue can be A LOT of money to an indie.

Charlie Monroe:

The lost revenue is not that big of a deal IMHO. One can deal with one day of revenue falling out. As I note in the blog post, the more damaging is the alert notifying a user that the app will damage their computer. I’ve worked hard to earn some reputation and this damages it.

Dan Moren:

Apple might like to disingenuously compare itself to a brick and mortar store, but is there really an analogous case where something like this happens overnight to an independent supplier, with little ability for recourse?

Update (2020-08-10): Howard Oakley (tweet):

There’s also the curious question as to why Apple revoked the certificate, rather than pulled one or more of Charlie’s notarizations. When it introduced notarization, one of Apple’s justifications was that it would provide finer control, rather than the huge and heavy-handed kill switch of revoking a certificate and blocking everything signed with that. Perhaps Apple didn’t really mean that after all, but just wanted another level of control over your Mac?

Apple has since apologised to Charlie Monroe for its error. It hasn’t released any statement to reassure other developers that it’s changing anything which might prevent such as catastrophe from happening again, nor has it explained to the billions who run third-party software on Apple products how it’s going to prevent a recurrence – which could readily prevent any Apple user from using their software on their computer or device.

[…]

Apple will no doubt try to ride this one out in silence, as it usually does in matters of security. For developers and users, that doesn’t answer these fundamental questions.

I’m not convinced that notarization-based blocking would work in case like this (but with actual malware), so it’s not clear what Apple was referring to when it said that notarization “provides a much better experience” than revoking the certificate.

There were so many failures here:

Jeff Johnson:

The crazy thing about the Charlie Monroe situation is that not only is there no phone # to call Apple to find out why your Developer ID cert is revoked, there’s no # to call to report your cert was compromised! You can’t even revoke it yourself, unlike your Mac App Store cert.

Mike Zornek:

I can’t help but think not only should Apple turn off its automated execution of such bans but they should also move to a more nuclear-launch type system where at least two people need to turn their key. This is an incredibly destructive event for the third-party vendor like Charlie. It’s unprofessional of Apple to have this connected to an automated system.

Additionally, if Gatekeeper is truly about protecting the users, I don’t see why we can’t have a transparency report listing the identifiers that have been disabled and why. A lot of people keep saying Apple does not abuse this power, but there is no proof to this; it is a closed system. We only know of Charlie’s situation because he posted it on Twitter. Considering it wasn’t too long ago when the App Store Guidelines down right threatened you about going public I don’t know if we can give Apple the benefit of the doubt here.

Emrakul2002:

This happened months ago with the game League of legends as well

A.J. Potrebka:

Can’t wait for Apple to accidentally revoke BMW’s certificate so no one can open or start the cars.

Update (2020-08-12): Charlie Monroe (tweet):

Here is a quote from Apple:

We appreciate your patience while we continued our investigation into why your Developer ID certificate was erroneously revoked and to examine ways in which we could assist you. We determined that your app Downie 4 was erroneously identified as malicious due to invalid logic in our malware detection system. This triggered the revocation of your certificate under Section 5.4 of the Developer Program License Agreement. This should not have happened and teams across Apple have been working diligently to figure out a solution.

Earlier today, we successfully un-revoked your Developer ID certificate. Users who were affected by the initial revocation will have app functionality restored when their OCSP cache refreshes (typically within 2 hours).

See also: Core Intuition.

Update (2020-08-24): Nick Heer:

Apple said in an apology email to Monroe that it is “taking action to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future”, but what does that mean? Why isn’t this being communicated more broadly to developers who might reasonably be spooked by this incident?

Phil Schiller Steps Down From SVP

Apple (MacRumors, Hacker News):

Apple today announced that Phil Schiller will become an Apple Fellow, continuing a storied career that began at Apple in 1987. In this role, which reports to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Schiller will continue to lead the App Store and Apple Events. Greg (Joz) Joswiak, a longtime leader within the Product Marketing organization, will join the executive team as senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

[…]

“I first started at Apple when I was 27, this year I turned 60 and it is time for some planned changes in my life. I’ll keep working here as long as they will have me, I bleed six colors, but I also want to make some time in the years ahead for my family, friends, and a few personal projects I care deeply about.”

Running the App Store is a big enough job by itself. It didn’t make sense to keep it under Services, and combining it with Marketing only made sense to the extent that Apple wanted Schiller in charge of it. It will be interesting to see how long he continues in that role and who will be next.

Jacob Kastrenakes:

Marketing is a huge role inside of Apple that goes beyond simply advertising products, so this marks a significant change within the company.

John Gruber:

Best way I can put it is that Schiller is the most Apple-y of all Apple executives.

Chris Espinosa:

Congratulations, @pschiller, on being promoted to Apple Fellow, joining Steve Wozniak, Rod Holt, Al Alcorn, Bill Atkinson, Steve Capps, Rich Page, Gurshuran Sidhu, Gary Starkweather, Alan Kay, Don Norman, and Guy Kawasaki.

Nick Heer:

Please enjoy this classic video of Schiller dropping in at Macworld 1999.

Previously:

Update (2020-08-05): Brendan Shanks:

I’ll bet that this is the oldest @pschiller video you’ll find on the internet: the WWDC 1997 Hardware Roadmap. (Phil was VP of Desktop and Server Product Marketing)

Update (2020-08-11): Adam Engst:

The main thing I remember was asking [Schiller] if Apple was considering adding Bluetooth support to the iPod to enable wireless earbuds because I felt the wires were awkward and fussy.

[…]

At the time, Apple was running the Silhouettes ads that featured black silhouettes of people dancing to music piped from their iPods through Apple’s iconic white earbuds, and Schiller had pointed out that the wires were an integral part of the look.

Update (2020-08-17): Ken Segall:

Today only Tim Cook and COO Jeff Williams remain. The original Big Guns of hardware, software, retail, marketing, finance and legal have all checked out.

[…]

Fortunately, despite his title, Phil was was never involved in ad development. He was present only when we showed finished work to Steve.

Absolutely, he had good thinking to share in our meetings. Steve trusted him for a reason. But he also contributed some highly questionable ideas, like “MacMan.” (Phil’s big naming idea for the computer that became iMac.)

[…]

Shortly after Phil took over the marketing reins, the 2012 Summer Olympics presented a big ad opportunity.

The result was the Apple Genius campaign.

Update (2020-08-24): See also: Upgrade (tweet).

Update (2020-10-09): Dave:

Apple just updated their Leadership page to include Joz.

They even list his nickname.

It’s interesting how Phil is still on the page in his role as ‘Apple Fellow’, and it specifically says he’s still in charge of the App Store & Apple Events.

Big Tech’s Showdown With Congress

Josh Centers:

CEOs Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Tim Cook (Apple), Sundar Pichai (Alphabet/Google), and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) were (virtually) brought before the House Judiciary Committee for a hearing ostensibly about antitrust concerns regarding big tech.

[…]

If you have most of a day to kill, you can watch the entire hearing on YouTube.

[…]

If you want something even more concise, the BBC breaks the five-hour ordeal into five key points[…]

Ben Thompson:

The only thing more predictable than members of Congress using hearings to make statements instead of ask questions, and when they do ask questions, usually of the “gotcha” variety, refusing to allow witnesses to answer (even as those witnesses seek to run out the clock), is people watching said hearings and griping about how worthless the whole exercise is.

[…]

Lina Khan, who rose to prominence with her 2017 law review article Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox, and who served as counsel for the antitrust subcommittee over the course of the investigation that culminated in Wednesday’s hearings, summarized the New Brandeis Movement of antitrust in 2018[…]

Previously: