Archive for September 7, 2020

Monday, September 7, 2020

Awaiting SuperDuper for Big Sur

Dave Nanian:

At present, it’s not possible to make bootable copies of Big Sur, even with asr, Apple’s own built-in replication utility. As such, we haven’t released a Beta, or even an internal Alpha, because it wouldn’t meet our own requirements.


In the meantime, my advice for macOS Betas remains as valid as ever: do not install a macOS Beta unless you have a critical business need to do so. These Betas, even when public, are not for general use, and certainly not for anyone who wants a reliable system for day-to-day work.

Time Machine is itself in beta, and it can’t make bootable backups. John Siracusa found that installing a Big Sur beta on a different drive made his Catalina volume inaccessible, presumably because the beta updated the BridgeOS firmware for his Mac’s T2.


Private Intel Firms Buying Phone Location Data

Joseph Cox (tweet):

A threat intelligence firm called HYAS, a private company that tries to prevent or investigates hacks against its clients, is buying location data harvested from ordinary apps installed on peoples’ phones around the world, and using it to unmask hackers. The company is a business, not a law enforcement agency, and claims to be able to track people to their “doorstep.”

The news highlights the complex supply chain and sale of location data, traveling from apps whose users are in some cases unaware that the software is selling their location, through to data brokers, and finally to end clients who use the data itself. The news also shows that while some location firms repeatedly reassure the public that their data is focused on the high level, aggregated, pseudonymous tracking of groups of people, some companies do buy and use location data from a largely unregulated market explicitly for the purpose of identifying specific individuals.


A Chinese data company boasts that it has its SDK on 1.36 billion devices per month, and has been quietly gathering location data, device ID and other apps on the device without permission, researchers found[…]

Matthew Green:

Apple and Google should inject targeted data into phones running all these apps, then when it shows up for sale they should nuke the developers from orbit.

I find it so strange that Apple and Google justify their app store monopoly with “privacy and security” but practices like this are endemic to their stores.


Japanese Game Developers Complain About App Store

Tim Hardwick:

Bloomberg reports that some developers in the Japanese gaming market have been emboldened by the dispute and are becoming more vocal about their own concerns, which including Apple’s 30% commission rate and inconsistent enforcement of App Store policies.


According to game developers in Japan, Google’s Play Store offers a smoother approval process and better communication than the App Store. Some developers even rely on a third-party service called iOS Reject Rescue, which helps them navigate through Apple’s approval process if their app is rejected.

“Apple’s app review is often ambiguous, subjective and irrational,” said Makoto Shoji, founder of PrimeTheory, which provides the rejection service. “While Apple will never admit it, I think there are times when they simply forget an item’s in the review queue or they intentionally keep it untouched as a sanction to a developer giving them the wrong attitude,” Shoji told Bloomberg.

John Gruber:

For a 30 percent cut of all revenue passing through the App Store, and mandatory use of Apple’s payment processing, none of these complaints should exist. It’s perfectly reasonable to demand better service from a platform that charges high fees.

What I read here is that these Japanese developers expect to feel respected by Apple, and they don’t.

Relations between Apple and developers may be at an all-time low. Developers don’t feel respected by Apple at the moment, which has threatened them and minimized their contributions. And the loss of respect has been mutual, after the recent incompetence, lies to Congress, and misrepresentations to the press.


Update (2020-09-08): Kaushik Gopal:

After dabbling with some iOS development, I can confidently say Android Studio is much better than Xcode. I also think Google as a company listens more closely and cares about improving the developer experience. Many of their recent changes have been in direct response to developer outcries.

Fortnite’s Use on iOS Has Declined

Florian Mueller:

The preliminary injunction hearing on the same two issues--can Epic force Apple to tolerate a version of Fortnite that bypasses its in-app purchasing (IAP) system in contravention of App Store business terms, and can Apple terminate all of Epic’s accounts for distrusting the company after what happened--will take place on September 28. The briefing process kicked off Friday night Pacific Time with Epic filing its motion for a preliminary injunction[…]


With a view to the prelimininary injunction standard, Epic’s motion argues that the court should not force Epic to comply with terms the game maker describes as anticompetitive and, therefore, illegal, given that Apple could always get its 30% App Store cut later.


“Over 116 million registered users have accessed Fortnite through iOS—more than any other platform. […] They have spent more than 2.86 billion hours in the app.”

Frank McShan:

Epic mentions that it’s “likely to suffer irreparable harm” if Fortnite is not made available on the App Store and that “the balance of harms tips strongly in Epic’s favor,” citing that daily iOS active users have already declined by over 60% since the app’s initial removal from the App Store.

The problem for Epic is that it could easily stop that harm by complying with Apple’s rules (for now), lower the prices for everyone, and try to get the money back from Apple later if it wins. Whereas, it’s not so easy to undo the harm to Apple of allowing an app in the store that purposely violates the rules.


Update (2020-09-08): See also: Epic Banned From Apple Development for a Year.

Update (2020-10-01): Florian Mueller:

In its opposition brief (filed a few days back), Apple voiced the suspicion that Epic’s very publicity-oriented approach to this litigation was driven by a marketing communications desire to reignite interest in Fortnite. That is one of various factual questions--which also include the accusation of Epic having bullied Sony into modifying its PlayStation terms--Epic CEO Tim Sweeney seeks to counter in his second declaration in this briefing process[…]


In connection with Fortnite’s popularity, Mr. Sweeney’s declaration--after noting that Google Trends is just about search, not game usage--says “Apple cherry-picked an unusual single-week peak in October 2019 with the average number of searches in July 2020,” and explains that the October 2019 peak was due to a special event called “The End” (where the world of Fortnite was sallowed by a black hole).

Mr. Sweeney says “the number of daily active users on Fortnite actually increased by more than 39%” during that same period (October 2019-July 2020).