Archive for April 11, 2024

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Used Genuine Apple Parts and Parts Pairing

Apple (MacRumors):

Today Apple announced an upcoming enhancement to existing repair processes that will enable customers and independent repair providers to utilize used Apple parts in repairs.


And in order to simplify the repair process, customers and service providers will no longer need to provide a device’s serial number when ordering parts from the Self Service Repair Store for repairs not involving replacement of the logic board.


Apple will also extend its popular Activation Lock feature to iPhone parts in order to deter stolen iPhones from being disassembled for parts.

Brian Heater (MacRumors):

Components that don’t require configuration (such as volume buttons) were already capable of being harvested from used devices. Today’s news adds all components — including the battery, display and camera — which Apple requires to be configured for full functionality. Face ID will not be available when the feature first rolls out, but it is coming down the road.

At launch, the feature will be available solely for the iPhone 15 line on both the supply and receiving ends of the repair. That caveat is due, in part, to limited interoperability between the models. In many cases, parts from older phones simply won’t fit. The broader limitation that prohibited the use of components from used models comes down to a process commonly known as “parts paring.”


“‘Parts pairing’ is used a lot outside and has this negative connotation,” Apple senior vice president of hardware engineering, John Ternus, tells TechCrunch. “I think it’s led people to believe that we somehow block third-party parts from working, which we don’t. The way we look at it is, we need to know what part is in the device, for a few reasons. One, we need to authenticate that it’s a real Apple biometric device and that it hasn’t been spoofed or something like that. … Calibration is the other one.”

They don’t block third-party parts from working, but they do make sure they’re real Apple parts. I’m so glad to have that clarified.

“Parts pairing, regardless of what you call it, is not evil,” says Ternus. “We’re basically saying, if we know what module’s in there, we can make sure that when you put our module in a new phone, you’re gonna get the best quality you can. Why’s that a bad thing?”

Jason Koebler (tweet):

Seemingly magically and surely not coincidentally, Apple has announced that it will suddenly ease some of its “parts pairing” iPhone repair restrictions just weeks after Oregon passed a law banning this practice and on the same day that Colorado is considering a bill that would do the same.


What this means, practically, is that Apple will let you swap the screen of one iPhone with the screen of another iPhone, something that was impossible for a consumer or independent shop to do under the restrictions it has implemented on recent iPhone models. The current announcement will not allow for aftermarket parts to be used, which is a critical distinction. Aftermarket parts are widely used in other electronics, other companies’ smartphones, and they used to be widely used in iPhones prior to the parts pairing restrictions.

Nick Heer:

This all sounds pretty great and, it would seem, entirely triggered by regulatory changes. But it also seems to me that it is designed to challenge the parts pairing section of Oregon’s right-to-repair law (PDF).


Update (2024-04-12): Matt Birchler:

I find these to be very “the sky is falling” stories about the dangers of user choice, but what makes the part pairing issue interesting is that we have history here. I believe it wasn’t until the Face ID generation of iPhones that tons of iPhone components had the “part pairing” issue, so we have about a decade of iPhone history where third party parts were able to be used to repair broken iPhones.

John Bumstead:

Parts from needlessly Activation Locked devices are EXACTLY the parts that NEED to be allowed and EXACTLY the parts that exist in abundance. If Apple is banning their reuse, they are making the situation WORSE. This is newspeak at its finest.

Apple Alerts Users to Mercenary Spyware Attacks

Manish Singh (via Hacker News, MacRumors, Reddit):

Apple sent threat notifications to iPhone users in 92 countries on Wednesday, warning them that they may have been targeted by mercenary spyware attacks.


Apple previously described the attackers as “state-sponsored” but has replaced all such references with “mercenary spyware attacks.”


Apple threat notifications are designed to inform and assist users who may have been individually targeted by mercenary spyware attacks, likely because of who they are or what they do. Such attacks are vastly more complex than regular cybercriminal activity and consumer malware, as mercenary spyware attackers apply exceptional resources to target a very small number of specific individuals and their devices. Mercenary spyware attacks cost millions of dollars and often have a short shelf life, making them much harder to detect and prevent. The vast majority of users will never be targeted by such attacks.

According to public reporting and research by civil society organizations, technology firms, and journalists, individually targeted attacks of such exceptional cost and complexity have historically been associated with state actors, including private companies developing mercenary spyware on their behalf, such as Pegasus from the NSO Group. Though deployed against a very small number of individuals — often journalists, activists, politicians, and diplomats — mercenary spyware attacks are ongoing and global. Since 2021, we have sent Apple threat notifications multiple times a year as we have detected these attacks, and to date we have notified users in over 150 countries in total.


Although our investigations can never achieve absolute certainty, Apple threat notifications are high-confidence alerts that a user has been individually targeted by a mercenary spyware attack, and should be taken very seriously. We are unable to provide information about what causes us to issue threat notifications, as that may help mercenary spyware attackers adapt their behavior to evade detection in the future.


Update (2024-04-12): Howard Oakley:

The majority of emails and almost all messages purporting to be from Apple are scams.


With one notable exception, Apple doesn’t know whether your Mac or devices have any malware, and can’t tell you if they do. Any message that tries to tell you otherwise is phishing or scam.


Instead, if you think you have received a threat notification from Apple, sign in to, where you should see confirmation that those messages are genuine.

Update (2024-04-26): Kirk McElhearn and Joshua Long:

Let’s examine the reasons why Apple might legitimately contact you (and how they’ll do so), and how to recognize scams.

Humane Ai Pin Reviews

David Pierce (Hacker News):

The AI Pin is an interesting idea that is so thoroughly unfinished and so totally broken in so many unacceptable ways that I can’t think of anyone to whom I’d recommend spending the $699 for the device and the $24 monthly subscription.

AI Pin and its AI OS, Cosmos, are about beginning the story of ambient computing,” Humane’s co-founders, Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno, told me in a statement after I described some of the issues I’ve had with the AI Pin. “Today marks not the first chapter, but the first page. We have an ambitious roadmap with software refinements, new features, additional partnerships, and our SDK. All of this will enable your AI Pin to become smarter and more powerful over time. Our vision is for Cosmos to eventually exist in many different devices and form factors, to unlock new ways to interact with all of your devices.”

As the overall state of AI improves, the AI Pin will probably get better, and I’m bullish on AI’s long-term ability to do a lot of fiddly things on our behalf. But there are too many basic things it can’t do, too many things it doesn’t do well enough, and too many things it does well but only sometimes that I’m hard-pressed to name a single thing it’s genuinely good at. None of this — not the hardware, not the software, not even GPT-4 — is ready yet.


Dunking on the Humane Ai Pin is too easy.

I’d sooner dunk on the Apple Watch because we should be able to point at that, and ask why you’d ever want a lapel pin to do its job.

We should be able to say it’s the perfect device for people who want to live a phone-free life.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Neither Vision Pro nor Humane’s Ai Pin are ‘the future’, but they’re both showcasing aspects that will become the future. A pair of glasses, running an OS like visionOS, with advanced multimodal AI smarts. That’s the next product that can truly change the world, something anybody and everybody can wear all day every day, and give the smartphone a run for its money; what we have now are science projects — really cool science projects — but science projects nonetheless.

See also: Ken Kocienda, Imran Chaudhri, Bethany Bongiorno.


Update (2024-04-12): Julian Chokkattu:

Not being able to fully trust the results from the Ai Pin’s Ai Mic and Vision features (the latter is still in beta) is just one problem with this wearable computer. Unfortunately, there’s not much else to do with it as it’s missing a great many features. The Humane Ai Pin could be an interesting gadget a year from now after promised software updates, but at the moment it’s a party trick.

Cherlynn Low:

Not only is the Humane AI Pin slow, finicky and barely even smart, using it made me look pretty dumb. As it stands, the device doesn’t do enough to justify its $700 and $24-a-month price.


If only voice interactions were the worst thing about the Humane AI Pin, but the list of problems only starts there. I was most intrigued by the company’s “pioneering Laser Ink display” that projects green rays onto your palm, as well as the gestures that enabled interaction with “onscreen” elements. But my initial wonder quickly gave way to frustration and a dull ache in my shoulder. It might be tiring to hold up your phone to scroll through Instagram, but at least you can set that down on a table and continue browsing. With the AI Pin, if your arm is not up, you’re not seeing anything.


It’s not just those of us afflicted with tiny palms that will find the AI Pin tricky to see. Step outside and you’ll have a hard time reading the faint projection. Even on a cloudy, rainy day in New York City, I could barely make out the words on my hands.

Dare Obasanjo:

I continue to believe that the problems that products like the Humane AI Pin and Rabbit R1 are trying to solve are best solved using AirPods and an app on your phone.

The only issue is Apple’s closed ecosystem prevents companies from doing this so they’re inventing superfluous devices nobody asked for.

Louie Mantia:

A team with this collective pedigree is smart enough to thoroughly test their own product, so I can’t imagine a reality in which the people at Humane didn’t know about these issues before shipping it. However, if we assume they did know, the story becomes somehow more troubling.

Ben Sandofsky:

It fits my theory that the product was a late stage pivot…

Founders pitch investors on a hand laser thing when it’s a napkin sketch. They raise too much money, hire too many people.

They build a prototype, but too late. Turns out the laser UI sucks and eats too much battery.

“Hmm. Investors are shopping for AI companies now… voice uses less power… pivot to AI!”

Suddenly tech has a downturn. Can’t raise another round of funding. They launch an alpha.

Update (2024-04-26): See also:

Automattic Acquires Beeper

Eric Migicovsky (tweet, Hacker News, MacRumors):

I’m excited to announce that Beeper has been acquired by Automattic. This acquisition marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter as we continue our mission to create the best chat app on earth.


Given the state of the messaging landscape today, we believe there is a huge opportunity for us to push boundaries and create new experiences in chat. The majority of other chat apps have stagnated, entrenched in their positions, with no significant new players emerging since Discord’s launch in 2015. Given the state of the messaging world, we’ve long felt the need for a strong ally with the resources to support us on our quest. Automattic has a long history of putting user control and privacy first with open source, and great bilateral relationships with Meta, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Matrix and others that we hope can usher in a new era of collaboration.


Matt, Automattic’s CEO, and I have known each other for years. He was an early user, supporter and investor in Beeper. We’re very well aligned on our goal (build the best chat app on earth), approach (open source where possible), and independence (Beeper will operate independently as part of Automattic’s Other Bets division).

Matt Mullenweg:

We’re going to use the Beeper brand, because it’s fun. This is not unlike how browsers have evolved, where solid tech and encryption on top of an open ecosystem has created untold value for humanity.


A lot of people are asking about iMessage on Android… I have zero interest in fighting with Apple, I think instead it’s best to focus on messaging networks that want more engagement from power-user clients.

Sarah Perez:

The deal, which was for $125 million according to sources close to the matter, is Automattic’s second acquisition of a cross-platform messaging solution after buying last October.


Automattic had previously made a strategic investment of $4.6 million in Element (previously New Vector), another company building on Matrix, and it contributes annually to, as does Beeper.

Dare Obasanjo:

$125M for a 25 person team whose claim to fame is getting blocked by Apple for trying to interop with iMessage is a sweet exit.

Automattic’s bet on Tumblr didn’t work out and so it’s looking at messaging as its next growth vehicle. Telegram is valued at $30B and claims to make hundreds of millions in revenue so it makes sense for Automattic to try this. Either that or short form video 😁

Nick Heer:

Seems like a smart way for Beeper to become better resourced, and a bet by Automattic on more legislation like the Digital Markets Act enabling further interoperable messaging.


Update (2024-04-12): John Gruber:

While the Beeper Mini/iMessage thing is where Beeper garnered, by far, the most publicity, it was always a sideshow from their primary goal of building a universal messaging app for multiple (14!) platforms. Think of it like a modern-day Adium.


Now that I’ve tried Beeper for Mac (connecting Twitter/X, WhatsApp, Signal, Instagram, and Slack accounts) — it’s remarkable how similar it is to Texts. They’re both Electron/React apps, and both suffer from a lot of Electron-isms. (What in the world is going on with the keyboard shortcuts in the contextual menu for the text editing field?) Both are just big bloated Electron web apps pretending, by appearance, to be Mac apps.

Update (2024-04-26): John Gruber:



Putting aside the thirstiness of asking for an app to remain running in the background, despite it consuming 1.8 GB of RAM in idle state, “Close” does not mean “Quit” in Mac parlance, and the Cancel button should be on the left.