Archive for October 29, 2021

Friday, October 29, 2021

Apple’s Q4 2021 Results

Apple (Hacker News, MacRumors, TidBITS):

The Company posted a September quarter revenue record of $83.4 billion, up 29 percent year over year, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $1.24.


“Our record September quarter results capped off a remarkable fiscal year of strong double-digit growth, during which we set new revenue records in all of our geographic segments and product categories in spite of continued uncertainty in the macro environment,” said Luca Maestri, Apple’s CFO. “The combination of our record sales performance, unmatched customer loyalty, and strength of our ecosystem drove our active installed base of devices to a new all-time high. During the September quarter, we returned over $24 billion to our shareholders, as we continue to make progress toward our goal of reaching a net cash neutral position over time.”

Jason Snell (transcript):

iPhone sales were $38.9 billion, up 47% versus the year-ago quarter. It was a very good year for the iPhone business. Services were $18.3 billion, continuing their relentless growth pace at 26% above the year-ago quarter.

Wearables sales were $8.8 billion, up 12% versus the year-ago quarter. That’s a good number out of context, but actually the slowest year-over-year growth rate for the category in almost five years.[…]

iPad sales were $8.3 billion, up 21% versus the year-ago quarter. The iPad business has averaged almost $8B in sales per quarter over the last year. We’ve seen six straight quarters of year-over-year growth for the iPad, 10 of 12, and 14 of 18.

Mac sales were $9.2 billion, up 2% versus the year-ago quarter. […]

Joe Rossignol:

Apple today reported Mac revenue of $9.17 billion in the fourth quarter of its 2021 fiscal year, which is an all-time quarterly revenue record for Macs. Apple CEO Tim Cook said there was “strong demand” for the M1 MacBook Air in particular.

Joe Rossignol:

Apple today reported services revenue of $18.27 billion in the fourth quarter of its 2021 fiscal year, which is an all-time quarterly revenue record. The company’s services revenue was up around 25% from $14.54 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Sami Fathi:

Microsoft now sits at a market value of $2.46 trillion, while Apple stands at $2.43 trillion. Apple’s drop in market value follows what Wall Street analysts and experts call disappointing quarterly earnings results yesterday, despite solid growth in product categories.


Larger Files and Smaller Packages on Monterey

Armin Briegel:

I stumbled over this as I was looking for a different new option for pkgbuild in Monterey. In a conversation with the ever awesome Duncan McCracken, he mentioned that the tool had gained an new option, --large-payload, which allows for individual files in the payload to be larger than 8GB.


We have learned that when you use the --compression latest with a --min-os-version of 10.10 or higher the pkg creation uses the Apple Archive compression for the payload, leading to smaller pkg file sizes. I did a few more tests with some other apps and the file compression improvements were between 20% and 25%.

Tesla’s Configurable Floating Point Formats

Tesla (PDF, via Reddit):

Tesla extended the reduced precision support further, and introduced the Configurable Float8 (CFloat8), an 8-bit floating point format, to further reduce the enormous pressure on memory storage and bandwidth in storing the weights, activations, and gradient values necessary for training the increasingly larger [neural] networks. Unlike the IEEE 754R standard, the purpose of this standard is mostly to standardize the formats and not necessarily to provide for portability of code to guarantee identical numerical result across all platforms.

The IEEE Float16 and Bfloat16 formats described above have a fixed number of bits allocated to the mantissa and exponent fields and have a fixed exponent bias. However, eight bits can only accommodate a small number of mantissa and exponent bits, so some configurability is required to ensure high accuracy and convergence of the training models.

One key property enabling this configurability is the fact that different parameters, namely weights, gradients and activations, have different precision and dynamic range requirements to achieve high training accuracy and convergence.


Due to the limited number of representable exponent values, Infinity and NaN encodings are not supported.

See also: James Douma.

Update (2021-11-12): Miguel de Icaza:

We do something like that, with great results[…]

What’s New on the Monterey Command Line

Florian Albrecht:

The other day we found a helpful command line tool option, only to discover later that the option was only available in macOS Monterey. Since we also need to target Big Sur, this would not be an option for us. So we created something to help us overcome similar issues in the future: a way to compare man pages between macOS system versions.


We applied some shell scripting in order to get those man page source files into readable plain text. Then we put the releases we wanted to compare, in this case macOS 11.6 and macOS 12.0, into a git repository. And voilà, out of approximately 3200 man pages, 817 had changes.


We think that our solution can be useful to more people, so we published the formatted results on GitHub. Just clone the repository, and make sure you have Kaleidoscope installed and set up as git difftool. Enter git difftool changeset/macOS11 changeset/macOS12, and you will get this[…]

This is really cool. The GitHub repo is here.


Denis Tokarev’s Four Zero-Days

Sergiu Gatlan:

Proof-of-concept exploit code for three iOS zero-day vulnerabilities (and a fourth one patched in July) was published on GitHub after Apple delayed patching and failed to credit the person who reported them.

Via Andy Ihnatko:

Defenders of a multi-trillion-dollar company can’t whine “But this stuff is harrrrrd…they operate at scaaale” in the face of evidence that Apple crunched all the numbers and found that the company’s DGAF Index on this issue was too high to merit action.

This is another moment when I remind everybody that Apple moved heaven and earth to refit and equip its stores to accommodate the sale of $12,000 solid gold gadget watches. They are capable of properly crediting a security researcher who’s saving our collective asses.

Finally: when they decline to properly recognize the people whose independent research makes iPhones safer, they’re actively discouraging them from disclosing deathly security problems via the route that’s keeps things safest for iPhone users: a confidential report to Apple.

This is why every time Apple defends itself from criticism by claiming that their actions, decisions, policies, whatever are “in the best interests of our users,” I nod and write “Apple responded to the controversy by making a sequence of noises familiar to seasoned observers.”

Denis Tokarev:

I want to share my frustrating experience participating in Apple Security Bounty program. I’ve reported four 0-day vulnerabilities this year between March 10 and May 4, as of now three of them are still present in the latest iOS version (15.0) and one was fixed in 14.7, but Apple decided to cover it up and not list it on the security content page. When I confronted them, they apologized, assured me it happened due to a processing issue and promised to list it on the security content page of the next update. There were three releases since then and they broke their promise each time.

Ten days ago I asked for an explanation and warned then that I would make my research public if I don’t receive an explanation. My request was ignored so I’m doing what I said I would. My actions are in accordance with responsible disclosure guidelines (Google Project Zero discloses vulnerabilities in 90 days after reporting them to vendor, ZDI - in 120). I have waited much longer, up to half a year in one case.

Juli Clover:

Three others remain unaddressed, including a Game Center bug that allegedly allows any app installed from the App Store to access full Apple ID email and name, Apple ID authentication tokens, lists of contacts, and some attachments.

Denis Tokarev (Hacker News, MacRumors):

Only after I had published a post detailing three iOS 0-day vulnerabilities and expressing my frustration with Apple Security Bounty Program, I received a reply from Apple:

We saw your blog post regarding this issue and your other reports.

We apologize for the delay in responding to you. We want to let you know that we are still investigating these issues and how we can address them to protect customers. Thank you again for taking the time to report these issues to us, we appreciate your assistance.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Indeed, I do have questions. The same ones that you have ignored. I’m gonna repeat them. Why was the fix for analyticsd vulnerability quietly included in iOS 14.7 update but not mentioned on its security content list? Why did you promise to include it in the next update’s list but broke your words not once but three times? Why do you keep ignoring these questions?


So in this article I’m going to dispute the claim that the App Store is safe, voice my complaints about the App Store review process and provide a detailed explanation (including source code) how malicious apps on the App Store conceal their functionality from the App Store review team and are able to sneak into the App Store.


Until we have some outrageously horrible events which will affect directly general population, all this facts will be comfortably avoided and “mitigated”.

This is systemic problem derived not only from bad management and absence of responsibility.

Denis Tokarev:

Apple quietly fixed gamed vulnerability in iOS 15.0.2 without giving me credit. Took them 7 months to fix it! Both of my other 0-days are still unpatched.

Denis Tokarev:

After this I’ve sent 2 emails to Apple, complaining about lack of credit for gamed and analytics vulns. They replied to the first one pretty fast (6hrs) saying “We ask you treat the following information as confidential”.


However, they haven’t replied to my second email continuing to ignore my questions about analyticsd vulnerability which I asked exactly a month ago.

Sergiu Gatlan (via Hacker News):

Other bug bounty hunters and security researchers have also reported having similar experiences when reporting vulnerabilities to Apple’s product security team via the Apple Security Bounty Program.

Some said bugs reported to Apple were silently fixed, with the company failing to give them credit, just as it happened in this case.

Thomas Reed:

It’s no great surprise to anyone that Apple has a rocky relationship with many security researchers. Years ago, well-known researcher and co-author of the book “The Mac Hacker’s Handbook”, Charlie Miller, figured out how to get a “malicious” proof-of-concept app into the App Store, and reported this to Apple after having achieved it. His reward? A lifetime ban from Apple’s developer program.

This says a lot about Apple’s relationship with third-party security researchers. Unfortunately, things haven’t changed much over the years, and this is a constant cause of strains in the relationship between Apple and the people trying to tell it about security issues. During the conference, Apple got booed several times by the audience following reports from OBTS speakers of mismanaged bug reports and patches.

What is it that Apple has been accused of doing? There have been multiple offenses, unfortunately. First, a number of security researchers have reported getting significantly lower bug bounties from Apple’s bug bounty program than they should have earned. For example, Cedric Owens (@cedowens) discovered a bug in macOS that would allow an attacker to access sensitive information. Apple’s bug bounty program states that such bugs are worth up to $100,000. They paid Cedric $5,000, quibbling over the definition of “sensitive data.” (For the record: Cedric’s bug absolutely gave access to what any security researcher or IT admin would consider sensitive data… more on this later.)

Other researchers have reported similar issues, with significantly reduced payments for bugs that should have qualified for more. Further, there is often a significant wait for the bounties to be paid, after the bugs have been fixed—sometimes six months or more. Apple also had a tendency to “go silent,” not responding to researchers appropriately during the process of handling bug reports, and has repeatedly failed to properly credit researchers, or even mention important bugs, in its release notes.