Archive for March 30, 2021

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

More Apple Repair Providers and Lobbying

Apple (MacRumors, Hacker News):

Apple’s Independent Repair Provider program will soon be available in more than 200 countries, nearly every country where Apple products are sold. Launched originally in 2019 and expanded to Europe and Canada last year, the program enables repair providers of all sizes access to genuine Apple parts, tools, repair manuals, and diagnostics to offer safe and reliable repairs for Apple products. There are now more than 1,500 Independent Repair Provider locations serving customers across the US, Canada, and Europe.

Sami Fathi (tweet):

Apple, HP, and Honeywell are lobbying against a bill in the Nevada statehouse that would require electronic hardware manufacturers to provide device schematics, device parts, and instructions to third-party repair shops for device repairs, according to the Associated Press.


The bill aims to remove the requirement for customers to go to authorized dealers for repairs by allowing them to use smaller independent repair shops as well. Apple has long faced pressure to expand accessibility to device parts and schematics, and it’s previously put up battles to maintain its tight control over device repairs.

Cameron Demetre, the regional executive director of TechNet, a trading group representing Apple, HP, and Honeywell in committee hearings on the bill, says that his clients are concerned about the potential exposure that third-party repair shops will have to personal users’ data when repairing devices.

I get that Apple repeats the word “privacy” a lot, but is there actually any reason to believe that its repair subcontrators are more likely to treat users’ data well? And we already know that it requires its IRPs to report customers’ personal data back to the mothership.


WWDC 2021 Announced and New Developer App


Apple today announced it will host its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) June 7 through 11, in an all-online format. Free for all developers, WWDC21 will offer unique insight into the future of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS.


We’ve made improvements to the look and feel of the Developer app across iPhone, iPad, and Mac to help you enjoy articles, videos, news and announcements, and past WWDC content. You can browse content more easily on iPad with a new sidebar (iPadOS 14 or later), enjoy fullscreen video content on larger Mac displays, and discover content to watch and read using the new Search area.

John Voorhees (also: MacRumors):

The sidebar of Developer is now easier to navigate. On the iPhone and iPad, content categories, such as Design, Frameworks, and Graphics and Games, can now be collapsed, greatly reducing the amount of vertical scrolling when browsing news and sessions. The iPhone and iPad versions of the app use a more compact, tile-based layout for the Discover tab, which allows for more items to be featured too. The design works well on the smaller screen of the iPhone, but where it really shines is on the iPad and Mac’s larger screens.

The Mac version crashes at launch on Catalina. I also tried it on Big Sur, where it’s better than before but still just a bad app. This is Apple’s example to developers of how to make a universal app using Catalyst. It’s been almost two years now since Craig Federighi said the Catalyst apps were going to get “really good.” Are any of them good now? I see Maps praised a lot, but the arrow keys don’t work properly in its sidebar, and its preferences look funny.


Update (2021-04-16): Russell Ivanovic:

Mac development must be so damn hard. Not even Apple can get a simple view resize to work without animation glitches. Where did those black flying tiles come from, where are they going? Who knows? 🙃

Also, the sidebar doesn’t animate when you change the font size, like in regular Mac apps.

The app now works on Catalina.

Update (2021-06-18): Tom Harrington:

Apple’s Developer app has a feature called “copy code” for some videos that displays code used in the video. Despite the name, there’s not actually any way to copy the code. I don’t know why it’s called that.

You also can’t copy text from the Code tab, and other text in the app is not selectable or copyable. Additionally, there’s no way to select or download more than one video at a time.

Sparse Files Are Common in APFS

Howard Oakley:

Increasing numbers of files written by all sorts of different apps and services consist of large voids, between islands of meaningful data. Storing lots of void data is wasteful, so what APFS tries to do is store only the real data.


Sparse files are kept in sparse format as much as possible, and when copied or duplicated within the same volume should be kept in sparse format. Copying them between different volumes and disks isn’t so predictable, and sometimes leads to them ‘exploding’ to full size. That is normal when they’re copied to file systems like HFS+ which don’t support sparse files, and to iCloud.

You should expect all sparse files to be expanded fully when they’re backed up to HFS+ disks, as with Time Machine prior to Big Sur, which may not estimate their expanded size correctly either, as I have described. Expansion takes place at the source of a copy: for example, if you copy a sparse file from your internal APFS disk to an external disk in HFS+ format, the full expanded size of data will have to be copied across to the external disk.


Throughout my quest for these elusive sparse files, I had assumed that only certain apps could create them. That isn’t true: macOS now defaults to creating all files in sparse format when certain conditions are met.


When you use the FileHandle class to create a new write handle, a sparse file is created automatically. For example, if you write a block of data, then seek one block by calling seek(toFileOffset:), and then write another block, the data stored on disk is organized as follows:

ExpanDrive and File Provider Framework

Jason Snell:

Long-time Mac storage utility maker ExpanDrive has launched StrongSync, a $50 utility that… sort of does what ExpanDrive already does? Like its big brother, StrongSync allows you to view cloud storage services as if they were hard drives mounted on your Mac.


For storage providers the alternative to using kernel extensions is macOS Big Sur’s File Provider framework. This framework basically allows third-party apps to provide a bridge between the Mac’s filesystem and their cloud-storage providers of choice.


What this means for you: files get downloaded and open when you need them. They don't suck up any free space while not in use. It is fast as if it was local, because it's all on your SSD - not network drive or kernel extension. Strongsync support Sharepoint, OneDrive for Business, Google Drive and Google Workspace, Box with more clouds (Dropbox!) coming soon.

There’s also an S3 Pro app.