Archive for September 24, 2020

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Amazon Luna Cloud Gaming Service

Amazon (via Hacker News):

Introducing Luna, Amazon’s cloud gaming service where it’s easy to play great games on devices you already own. No waiting for lengthy downloads or updates — just play.


Luna is available on PC, Mac, Fire TV and web apps for iPhone and iPad.


Juli Clover:

Luna will be priced at $5.99 per month, and Amazon has designed the Luna Controller, to go along with it. The $50 controller has “cloud direct technology” to cut down on latency, essentially connecting the controller directly to Amazon’s servers.


Apple Explains Benefits of the App Store

Ben Lovejoy:

Apple is today responding to increasing antitrust pressure with an App Store PR blitz. This includes a complete revamp of its main App Store page, a new page promoting the benefits of the App Store to developers, new messaging, and a new program for developers of streaming video apps.

John Voorhees:

Apple has published new online resources about the App Store and its developer program. The new webpages cover a wide range of topics related to the App Store and developing for it, and include several new facts and insights about the Store.


There are 28 million members in the development program from 227 regions


In 2020 over 250 million user reviews were removed for not meeting integrity standards

Hartley Charlton:

Apple boasts that every week over 100,000 apps or updates are submitted and reviewed by an App Review team, which now consists of over 500 experts from around the world.

Jeff Johnson:

That’s 12 minutes per app if 500 “experts” (LOL) spend every minute of a 40 hour work week on reviews, which surely they don’t.


Apple Video Partner Program

Stephen Warwick:

Apple has published new guidance on its Video Partner Program, which caused controversy earlier this year after it emerged some video platforms don't have to pay Apple's entire 30% App Store cut.


The big benefit for providers is that they retain 85% of sales for customers who sign up using in-app purchases. Customers are also still able to sign up outside of the app, but can then still use the payment method for transactions inside of the app, for example, Amazon Prime Video.


Since 2016, the Apple Video Partner Program has enabled premium subscription video providers to participate in a new TV watching experience on the Apple TV app, helping customers discover the world’s best premium video content in one app, across all their devices.

Emphasis added.

Netflix does not participate, having abandoned IAP and AirPlay, but it still enjoys the “reader” clause in the guidelines, which exempts certain types of apps from having to offer IAP. The guidelines incentivize multi-platform apps. If all you have is an iOS version, IAP is required.

Damien Petrilli:

Same rules for all. Well this one was only for big corps er… hidden, but here, now it’s official. We cool?

I LOVE how Apple is basically just trying to legitimate their backroom deals by publishing some “official rules” before antitrust hearings to make a case they existed all along for everybody.


Update (2021-10-05): Internal Tech Emails, quoting Peter Stern (Hacker News):

I also explained that we run a principled App Store, and they [Netflix] have a unique arrangement because it was struck before the existing Video Partner Program came into effect.


Coalition for App Fairness

Coalition for App Fairness (Hacker News, MacRumors):

The Coalition for App Fairness is an independent nonprofit organization founded by industry-leading companies to advocate for freedom of choice and fair competition across the app ecosystem.

App Store Principles:

  1. No developer should be required to use an app store exclusively, or to use ancillary services of the app store owner, including payment systems, or to accept other supplementary obligations in order to have access to the app store.
  2. No developer should be blocked from the platform or discriminated against based on a developer’s business model, how it delivers content and services, or whether it competes in any way with the app store owner.
  3. Every developer should have timely access to the same interoperability interfaces and technical information as the app store owner makes available to its own developers.
  4. Every developer should always have access to app stores as long as its app meets fair, objective and nondiscriminatory standards for security, privacy, quality, content, and digital safety.

Good luck with #3.

30% “App Tax”:

Apple first introduced the 30% fee on apps in 2011, which forced many apps to go completely out of business. Treehouse, an online training platform, developed a reading-based app, iFlow Reader, which was one of many that fell victim to the imposed new tax. “Apple just dropped a nuclear bomb on all of us,” Treehouse declared publicly, stating that the “draconian new rules” had made it “impossible for anyone but Apple to sell books at a profit on iOS.”

It’s important to remind people that, contra Tim Cook’s testimony, the fee has not been the same since the beginning of the App Store. It has been applied to more apps and services over time.

Consumer Freedom:

The idea that a consumer could only use software sold through the same manufacturer as their laptop seems ludicrous. Except that’s exactly the rule Apple has imposed on the personal devices in billions of pockets.

Florian Mueller:

Here’s an overview of the founding members of the Coalition for App Fairness[…]


The diversity of those companies and their interests may appear to be a strength, but it will presumably be a challenge for them to agree on anything other than the benefits to them of reducing Apple's and Google's app distribution fees. That's because their business models are so different.

Marco Arment:

I don’t think I’ll be joining the Coalition for App Fairness because I don’t like other people speaking for me, but I’m glad these big companies are forming a stronger counterforce to the App Store’s policies than any of us could create on our own[…]

Also, one of the founding members is Blix, which has a history of sketchy behavior.


Update (2020-09-28): See also: Core Intuition.

Update (2020-10-01): John Gruber:

What the Coalition for App Fairness is arguing is that Apple shouldn’t get to decide the standards for privacy (or security, quality, content, and whatever “digital safety” is) for its own platform — some other unnamed arbiter (perhaps the Coalition for App Fairness itself) would make such determinations.

Update (2020-10-09): Tom Warren:

Microsoft is making some firm commitments to the future of app stores on Windows today. The software giant has published 10 principles it’s adopting as promises to app developers, including that it won’t block competing stores on the platform or block specific business models an app may use to make money.

macOS 10.15.7

Apple (also: MacRumors, Mr. Macintosh, Howard Oakley):

macOS Catalina 10.15.7 provides important security updates and bug fixes for your Mac.

• Resolves an issue where macOS would not automatically connect to Wi-Fi networks
• Fixes an issue that could prevent files syncing through iCloud Drive
• Addresses a graphic issue that may occur on iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2020) with Radeon Pro 5700 XT

I have not yet heard anything about whether this fixes the remaining Mail data loss bug (dragging and dropping IMAP—and possibly Exchange—messages deletes them) that remains in macOS 10.15.6.


Update (2020-09-28): Howard Oakley:

Among the bundled apps, only Mail has changed, by a small build increment from 3608. to 3608. Accompanying that are similarly small increments in many of Mail’s support files, including the MailMigrator plugin, private Email frameworks, and Mail and IMAP private frameworks. These are strong evidence that this update attempts to fix the remaining bug(s) in Mail, although Apple hasn’t mentioned that in its release notes. Let’s hope it succeeds.

Reader TheGeneralist says that the IMAP bug is still present.

Mr. Macintosh:

A few reports are coming in that the 10.15.7 update is causing problems with the accountsd (sync) process. After the 10.15.7 update, accountsd runs up to 400% CPU viewable in Activity Monitor. Only seems to happen with users that are signed into iCloud Drive Mail or Cal.

Xavi Moll:

Folks, it’s Monday morning and you’ll probably see Catalina 10.15.7 appear as an update. Don’t install it, it seems to cause issues with the Keychain that make the entire system crawl to death.

It seems that signing out of iCloud, rebooting and signing back in fixes the issue, at least for now 🤷‍♂️

Matthias Gansrigler:

I experienced this on my MacBook Pro (mid-2018). I let it ran for a while, force-quit accountsd (which didn’t help), let it run some more, then restarted, now it works as usual.

Update (2020-10-01): Joe Rossignol:

While this [accountsd] issue has popped up occasionally over the years, there has been a noticeable uptick in complaints across the Apple Support Communities, MacRumors Forums, Twitter, Reddit, Stack Exchange, and elsewhere since the release of macOS Catalina version 10.15.7, with users attempting to troubleshoot the issue.


Affected users have offered a wide range of potential solutions, but your mileage may vary.

Mr. Macintosh:

I’ve added 2 new fixes in the workarounds section below. One kills the process and recreates the .sqlite database. The other was to remove Find My Mac then re enable it.

Jason Sims:

In case it helps someone, macOS 10.15.7 update broke Bluetooth for me. Reboot/zap PRAM didn’t help. Had to trash Bluetooth plist (~/Library/Preferences/ByHost/…) and log out to fix it.

Peter N Lewis:

After the latest software update to 10.15.17, my Mac is basically sludge, with kernel_task taking 970% CPU. Sigh. It’s essentially unusable. I guess I’ll just go do something else and hope it eventually clears up. If not, shift-boot will be the next stop.

The recent Mojave security update has also caused problems and was pulled.

Update (2020-10-02): Mr. Macintosh:

Apple has just released a Mojave Supplemental Update that address all the problems that the previous Safari 14.0 and 2020-005 Security Updates!