Archive for August 31, 2021

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Swift Atomics 1.0

Karoy Lorentey:

The public API of Swift Atomics is now considered source stable.


The low-level (pointer-based) atomic boolean operations are now public.


Thomas Tempelmann:

Announcement for Mac developers: - where shared UTIs find a home

It’s also the home of the “.paths” file spec, which is meant to store a list of files and might be supported by any Mac app that can show a file browser or operate on a set of files.


Privacy for Apple Employees

Zoë Schiffer (tweet, Hacker News):

Jacob Preston was sitting down with his manager during his first week at Apple when he was told, with little fanfare, that he needed to link his personal Apple ID and work account.


Three years later, when Preston handed in his resignation, the choice came back to haunt him. His manager told him to return his work laptop, and — per Apple protocol — said he shouldn’t wipe the computer’s hard drive. His initial worry had come to pass: his personal messages were on this work laptop, as were private documents concerning his taxes and a recent home loan.


Employees have been asked to install software builds on their phones to test out new features prior to launch — only to find the builds expose their personal messages. Others have found that when testing new products like Apple’s Face ID, images are recorded every time they open their phones. “If they did this to a customer, people would lose their goddamn minds,” says Ashley Gjøvik, a senior engineering program manager.

Dogfooding leads to better products, but Apple’s systems aren’t designed to do this in a privacy preserving way. Apple work e-mail addresses can’t be used to sign up for iCloud or AppleConnect, so employees are required to use personal accounts. iOS and macOS only let you sign into one Apple ID at a time, so it’s not practical to have separate “personal” accounts for work and personal. Having separate devices for work and personal is also discouraged because it gets in the way of “live-on” dogfooding.

The blurring of personal and work accounts has resulted in some unusual situations, including Gjøvik allegedly being forced to hand compromising photos of herself to Apple lawyers when her team became involved in an unrelated legal dispute.

Underpinning all of this is a stringent employment agreement that gives Apple the right to conduct extensive employee surveillance, including “physical, video, or electronic surveillance” as well as the ability to “search your workspace such as file cabinets, desks, and offices (even if locked), review phone records, or search any non-Apple property (such as backpacks, purses) on company premises.”


It might seem like a company obsessed with secrecy would be sympathetic to its employees’ wishes to have confidential information of their own. But at Apple, secrecy requires the opposite: extensive knowledge, and control, over its workforce.

It’s not clear to what extent the policies are standard corporate ones that elevate the company’s interests over the employee’s—because they can—or whether they date to Tim Cook’s 2012 doubling down on secrecy, or before. But however much Apple cares about privacy for customers, that doesn’t seem to extend to employees. Developers, too, are encouraged to attach privacy invading sysdiagnose logs to each bug report, where they live in Radar “forever.”

The legal dispute that led to turning over Gjøvik’s private data did not even involve her personally, though she is separately fighting the company over discrimination and harassment.

Casey Newton:

Wrote about the twin challenges hitting Apple simultaneously: regulators and lawmakers forcing it to release its grip on the App Store, and employees organizing effectively demanding internal change.

Apple has never seen anything like it.

Zoe Schiffer (tweet, Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Hacker News):

Apple employee organizing took another step this morning with the launch of a website called AppleToo. The goal is to collect stories from workers at all levels of the organization who’ve experienced harassment or discrimination.


Update (2021-09-07): Neil Jhaveri:

The article implies coercion that I didn’t experience. For a while, I used a separate account for work (I did eventually go personal). The tradeoffs were made clear to me, and many coworkers didn’t enable iMessage on their work systems.

Sami Fathi:

In a video broadcasted to staffers days before Labor Day, Apple’s retail and people chief Deirdre O’Brien addressed the growing number of Apple employees voicing their opinions about workplace issues like pay inequality.


In the video, which was seen by MacRumors, Deirdre O’Brien tells staff who are experiencing workplace issues to talk to their managers and “business relations partner.” She says that Apple has a “confidential process to thoroughly investigate, in a way that treats everyone with dignity and respect.”

See also: Decoder.

Update (2021-09-10): Zoe Schiffer (tweet, Dell Cameron, tweet, Hacker News):

Apple has fired senior engineering program manager Ashley Gjøvik for allegedly violating the company’s rules against leaking confidential information.

Update (2021-10-15): Zoe Schiffer (Hacker News):

Apple has fired Janneke Parrish, a leader of the #AppleToo movement, amid a broad crackdown on leaks and worker organizing. Parrish, a program manager on Apple Maps, was terminated for deleting files off of her work devices during an internal investigation — an action Apple categorized as “non-compliance,” according to people familiar with the situation. The files included apps like Robinhood, Pokémon GO, and Google Drive.

Ashley M. Gjøvik (via Scott):

I think the hearing today went very well. Best case scenario was I keep all my claims; worst case is I only keep the 4 claims Apple’s not fighting - but sounds like outcome will be in the middle ground, which is great news. When they’re released I’ll share transcripts & decision!

Apple Store vs. Repair Shop

Sarah Perez (August 2020, via Hacker News):

Apple is expanding its program that provides parts, resources and training to independent repair shops to now include support for Mac computers.


To date, however, the program was only focused on iPhone repairs — not Macs. Going forward, these repair shops and others that qualify will be able to access Apple-genuine tools, repair manuals, diagnostics, official parts and other resources they need to perform common out-of-warranty repairs on Macs, too.


The news of the program’s expansion is timely, given that Apple’s stance on consumers’ “right to repair” their own devices is one of the many topics under investigation by the U.S. House Antitrust Subcommittee.

Colin Cornaby:

The big question is if independent shops can maintain a stock of parts on hand. If you have to order from the depot for each repair as they come, not much sense in just not sending to the depot.

Joanna Stern (video):

💸 $999 to fix a MacBook Pro at Apple.

💸 $325 to fix it at an independent shop.

I spent weeks running around with broken 💻s to figure out what the “Right to Repair” is about.

It’s about giving us choice—and saving us ⏱ and 💰.