Archive for May 16, 2021

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Epic v. Apple, Day 9

Elizabeth Lopatto:

On the stand is Lorin Hitt, professor of operations, information, and decisions at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton, looking uncomfortable behind his face shield. During his direct examination in the ongoing Epic v. Apple trial, Hitt testified that he didn’t think having to access an app like Candy Crush through a browser instead of the app counted as “friction” for the user — and that it certainly was less friction than “real-world” alternatives, such as leaving a convenience store and then crossing the street to go to another convenience store.


The app developer pages suggest they are not available on PC, despite Hitt’s document to the contrary.


Now, Even raises the “frictionless” process that Hitt had blithely testified to earlier in the day. Candy Crush Saga is the example Even chooses. We go to the website, and press “install,” where we are promptly sent to the App Store. We tab back to the website. The only possible way to play on the web is on desktop.


We try another game, Clash Royale, developed by Supercell. We go to Supercell’s FAQ, where it emerges that payment processes are only through Apple’s App Store or Google play. Supercell itself doesn’t keep payment information “And yet you believe that your team managed to go into a website and buy legitimate Clash Royale money and go back to the app? That’s your testimony?” Even asks.

See also: Adi Robertson.


Apple Suppliers Accused of Using Forced Labor

Wayne Ma:

The industrial park is surrounded by walls and fences with only one way in or out.

And next to the park was a large compound identified by a satellite imagery researcher as a detention center where the factory workers lived. The researcher, Nathan Ruser, from an Australian think tank, said “almost no other factories in Xinjiang have these characteristics except for industrial parks where there is detainee labor.

The Information and human rights groups have found seven companies supplying device components, coatings and assembly services to Apple that are linked to alleged forced labor involving Uyghurs and other oppressed minorities in China. At least five of those companies received thousands of Uyghur and other minority workers at specific factory sites or subsidiaries that did work for Apple, the investigation found.

The revelation stands in contrast to Apple’s assertions over the past year that it hasn’t found evidence of forced labor in its supply chain.

Mike Peterson:

According to The Information, other U.S. and Western companies that work with the seven identified suppliers include Google, Samsung, Amazon, Tesla, Dell, Lenovo, BMW, Cisco, and HP, among others.

Other U.S. companies have taken lobbying action against legislation meant to prevent forced labor in China. Major firms like Coca-Cola, Costco, Patagonia, and Apple were said in November 2020 to be attempting to water down the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.

Apple’s proposed changes to the bill included extending compliance deadlines, making sure some supply chain information is kept from the public, and requiring a U.S. government designation for companies that detain or surveil Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

Jack Purcher:

Back last summer Patently Apple posted a report titled “Apple Denies a report that one of their Chinese Suppliers are using Uighur slave labor on Production Lines.” At the time, a BBC investigative report had claimed that corporate giants including Nike and Apple are facing growing calls to cut ties with suppliers alleged to be using “forced labor” from China’s Uighur people. Yet up to last summer, Apple had responded by stating that it had investigated the claims and “found no evidence of any forced labor on Apple production lines” and plan to continue monitoring the issue. Yet months later Apple was forced to deal with the matter and announced that it had cut off China’s OFilm over using slave labor.

See also: Reed Albergotti (via Hacker News).


Big Sur Really Needs Real Free Space

Howard Oakley:

Many of us have just installed the largest macOS update ever released by Apple (as far as I can tell), and there’s a few Macs which haven’t fared well.

My iMac died while making a copy of the macOS 11.3 installer, before I actually installed it. The spinning beachball showed up, and the Mac became completely unresponsive except for being able to move the cursor. I couldn’t even ssh in. After a few minutes, the display went black. I eventually had to power it off and start it up again, but it got stuck halfway through the boot progress bar, the one that shows the desktop picture. I assume the CPU use was high because the fan got very loud. Eventually it seemed to kernel panic and stopped. Several more attempts at booting all failed in the same way.

Safe Mode, resetting the PRAM, Apple Diagnostics—none of the normal stuff helped. I was able to boot from macOS Recovery as well as a clone. What if this were an M1 Mac that couldn’t boot from a clone? Would I be able to easily sync my files to another Mac while booted from Recovery? Of course, git is not available, so I couldn’t push my work in progress. It turns out that rsync is not available in Recovery, either, although the slower scp is. Unfortunately, despite the network activity, the Mac will fall asleep after about 15 minutes of copying, and scp—unlike rsync—cannot resume a copy.

I wanted to see what caused the problem but couldn’t find any kernel panic log files. Could that be because the SSD was full? No, Finder showed 37 GB free. I thought I remembered having more like 100 GB free, but 37 GB should be plenty to save a log file. Since Safe Mode and a different user account didn’t work, there must be something wrong with the system, despite the Signed System Volume. However, even with the 37 GB, macOS couldn’t be installed because the installer said there wasn’t enough free space. That sounded suspicious, but I offloaded another 20 GB or so of files and tried again. It still claimed not to have enough free space. It still wouldn’t boot.

Well, we already know that with APFS the free space that Finder shows is a lie. Maybe the SSD really is full, and the files that I just deleted are being retained by an APFS snapshot. Unfortunately, tmutil is not available in Recovery. Is there another way to see and delete snapshots? It turns out that diskutil can also do this. You can’t read the man page because man is not available in Recovery. But it does show some usage information if you invoke it without any arguments, or as diskutil apfs to see the APFS commands.

Here are the steps that I used:

  1. Even though Disk Utility showed my SSD’s Data volume as mounted, it was not actually available to the diskutil snapshot commands in Terminal. I had to mount it using diskutil apfs unlockVolume.
  2. To find the APFS Volume DiskIdentifier, use diskutil apfs list.
  3. To see the snapshots, use diskutil apfs listSnapshots [volume identifier]. This will also show you the disk number.
  4. To delete a snapshot, use diskutil apfs deleteSnapshot [disk number] -uuid [snapshot identifier]

After deleting a bunch of snapshots, enough real free space was created that I was able to boot the iMac normally. Unfortunately, the problem has repeated twice with macOS 11.3 over the last few weeks. The same fix always works. Most recently, Finder was showing 250 GB of free space, yet apparently the disk was full. I’ve now set a reminder to periodically delete old Time Machine snapshots, since macOS is not doing this automatically when it runs out of space, and I can’t trust how much space is shown as available.


Update (2021-06-29): Sean Heber:

Well I got the computer to boot. Careful examination of those boot errors suggested it was out of space. Incidentally I had checked free space in Finder before rebooting it when it had first started acting odd. Finder reported like 100gb free so I had ruled that out.

After my reboot attempt, however, it would just hang at the apple logo screen. After wasting an hour waiting on it I rebooted in verbose mode and saw all the errors. Then I rebooted into recovery mode and used Terminal where “df” reported no free space whatsoever.

Epic v. Apple, Day 8

Adi Robertson (tweet):

Apple says iOS users benefit from a locked-down, curated platform. It rejects “stores within stores” like the Epic Games Store, which could allegedly expose users to harmful and unvetted software. It’s also, however, fighting Epic Games’ claims that there’s no meaningful competition on its platform. So this morning, an Apple attorney grilled one of Epic’s witnesses about a slew of iOS-hosted gaming apps. The move might have helped rebut Epic’s complaints, but it also highlighted just how arbitrary Apple’s policies can seem.


Apple is right to call these apps gaming services, but as testimony continued, it wasn’t clear they make good App Store alternatives.


Apple hammered Epic for offering access to, a storefront featuring adult content. But Steam has a nearly anything-goes policy on porn, and Steam Mobile and Link put those games a few taps away on iOS. Conversely, an App Store executive testified that Roblox user-built “experiences” were fine because they couldn’t sneak new, malicious code onto iPhones. But it’s said cloud gaming services threaten the iPhone’s “safe and trusted” model, despite being essentially just streaming video.

Juli Clover:

As outlined by Bloomberg, there was a discussion about Apple’s rules that prevent app developers from directing users to make purchases outside of the App Store, such as through the web, as an alternative to in-app purchases.

Speaking to Epic expert witness Dr. David Evans, an economist specializing in antitrust, Gonzalez Rogers asked him if whether removing this rule would solve the problems that Epic and other developers have with App Store rules. “If Apple didn’t have these rules, would the problem be solved?” she asked.

Evans said that while it “wouldn’t eliminate the market power that Apple has,” it would “certainly diminish it.”

Leah Nylen:

We’re now switching to Apple’s experts. Apple lawyer Daniel Swanson calls MIT’s Richard Schmalensee, their main economic witness

Adi Robertson:

As an aside, Schmalensee insists “there are other browsers available” on iOS and says he’d be “surprised” if Apple had ever barred them. Which doesn’t really reflect the reality of iOS


Update (2021-05-18): Matthew Humphries (via Hacker News):

Schmalensee also pointed to the US Supreme Court throwing out a lawsuit in 2018 accusing American Express Co. of preventing competition by prohibiting merchants from “steering customers to cards with lower fees.” Gonzalez Rogers didn’t believe the situation was the same and pointed out customers can see signs for other credit card options in stores, whereas in the App Store, “visual indications of options don’t exist in this circumstance.”

Gonzalez Rogers posed a similar question to Epic’s expert witness and economist David Evans. She asked, “If Apple didn’t have these rules, would the problem be solved?” He responded by pointing out that on its own, it wouldn’t be enough. “That wouldn’t eliminate the market power Apple has here, but it would certainly diminish it … it would not be much of a solution at all.”