Friday, June 28, 2024

Longevity, by Design

Joe Rossignol:

Apple today published a lengthy whitepaper that highlights the company’s approach to device repairability and longevity. In the document, Apple revealed that iPhones will better support third-party displays and batteries later in 2024.


First, Apple said True Tone will work with third-party iPhone displays later this year[…]


Second, Apple said battery health metrics such as maximum capacity and cycle count will work with third-party iPhone batteries later this year[…]


Apple Diagnostics for Self Service Repair — a software tool that enables users to troubleshoot issues — is now available in 32 European countries, including the U.K., France, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Nick Heer:

The paper is worth a read to understand what role Apple sees repair playing in the lifecycle of a device, and why it is so keen on parts pairing. For example, it says the charging port is part of a more complex module, and separating it would actually create greater carbon emissions if you account for both the total emissions from manufacturing and the likelihood of repair. This is fair though, it should be said, based entirely on an internal case study, the results of which are not readily available, and which appears to be isolated to only carbon emissions — what about other environmental costs?


It also makes me wonder about Apple’s attitude toward batteries in general. There should be no need to replace the trackpad, keyboard, and a square foot of aluminum in order to install a new battery in a laptop.


Update (2024-07-04): Howard Oakley:

Where Apple’s case is weaker is with macOS support. Although the white paper states that “a key pillar of product longevity is software support, especially security updates and bug fixes,” it avoids stating Apple’s longstanding macOS support policy of 1 + 2 years. This is strange, as this policy is well-known, but has (as far as I’m aware) never been articulated in writing.

The paper then boldly goes where macOS doesn’t, in claiming that “macOS Sonoma is compatible starting with Mac computers introduced in 2017. But even after an Apple product can no longer be updated with Apple’s newest OS, we strive to provide our customers with critical security updates”.

What it doesn’t say is that the sole Mac from 2017 that’s still supported by Sonoma is the iMac Pro, then top of the range, and the only Mac released that year that is still supported, and will be by Sequoia. The situation changes again this autumn/fall with macOS 15, which is dropping support for two more recent MacBook Air models.

18 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

Longevity is a joke thanks to activation lock.

Apple could do a lot to increase long-term functionality by providing standalone Safari/WebKit updates longer than they do OS updates. I have a number of Macs and iPads which would be fine for my needs if browser functionality weren't so handicapped.

Old Unix Geek

@NaOH: Basilisk works pretty well for browsing on older Macs.

@Old Unix Geek: Thanks. I’ve found Mac workarounds, notably upgrading the OS some (to Mojave) when I didn’t want to, which meant a couple hundred dollars to upgrade other software, and where Safari still comes up short I’ve been using Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release). Of course, no similar options exist for iPads or old iPhones I use like an iPod Touch. And I lose the benefits of one browser across platforms (history, bookmarks, etc.).

I’m sure there is some limit to how long/far older devices can have WebKit kept viable. But there’s ought to be some alternative for the fact that devices border on useless when there’s no available, working browser engine. It’s the only situation which has ever made me wish other browser engines were permitted on iOS/iPadOS.

From what I’ve seen, Apple hardware easily outlasts Apple software, and they don’t seem to recognize this or consider it worthwhile to better balance this discrepancy.

Old Unix Geek

@Kristoffer: Thanks for that video. Making stuff last doesn't seem to be a real priority -- lying about it does.

@NaOH: AFAIK, there's no hardware reason a modern web browser couldn't work on Mac OS X 10.0. It would probably be slow because of the stupid sizes and amounts of Javascript Web pages use these days, but a 2Ghz PowerPC 4-8Mb machine should still be able to do it, if someone bothered to port the browser to it.

The sad thing is, it's not just Apple. The whole software industry seems enamored with breaking things on older OS's / older browsers, because externalizing the costs onto users is cheaper for them. Since machines aren't actually getting much faster anymore (only GPUs still are), it's pretty silly.

Beatrix Willius

The whitepaper is for future "right to repair" legislators. Those will carefully study the whitepaper and say "yes, Apple, we trust you to do the best for the environment". Or some such nonsense Apple believes.

@Kristoffer: thanks it’s a great video. My Macbooks suffered from many of the issues Louis mentiones. I’ve had to GPUs fail, one backlight failure and the screen connector issue.

I did have more luck with iPhones, but still, I think Louis got strong argument here. Seems like the Apple’s repair program is not that great either.

I can’t find the article mentioning this but here’s another example of how mitigating climate change doesn’t come without significant environmental costs.

"Apple could do a lot to increase long-term functionality by providing standalone Safari/WebKit updates longer than they do OS updates."

I know a bunch of people who finally had to get rid of old, but perfectly fine MacBooks simply because there were no browsers that supported their bank's website anymore.

My neighbor, an 86 year old lady, had a perfectly fine iMac that she inherited from her brother.

She used it to stay in touch with a friend of hers that was too ill to be out and about. They used Skype.

Then Skype dropped support but the web version worked. Then the web version stopped working, needed later version of the browser and that in turn needed a layer version of Mac OS but that didn't support the old iMac and a perfectly fine computer(for video calling) became useless.

Many parties share the blame in this, but it's such a waste.


"I can’t find the article mentioning this but here’s another example of how mitigating climate change doesn’t come without significant environmental costs."

So what? A lot more species than one desert tortoise are going to go extinct due to climate change. And lots of humans.

If we wanted to avoid that, we should have acted decades ago.

It's now too late for NIMBY nonsense and precious twits clutching their pearls and demanding perfect solutions that don't exist rather than good but imperfect mitigation efforts. Tough cookies. It's too late to be picky.

Finally, I don't see any reason to assume that tortoises and their food sources aren't compatible with solar panels.

@Plume which country, year of expiration, and MacBooks were involved?

What I've seen on the mobile side with banks in France:
- 2020, iPhone 4s on iOS 9
- 2023, some Samsung on Android 7

> My neighbor, an 86 year old lady, had a perfectly fine iMac that she inherited from her brother.

I don't know about Skype, but for a current browser Ubuntu would work great. For this kind of basic user (not meant disparagingly!) if you make a few tweaks like setting up the dock to look like theirs on MacOS they may not even notice the change.

"which country, year of expiration, and MacBooks were involved?"

They're mostly 17" MacBook Pros. People tried to hold on to them as long as possible, but a few years ago, I could no longer find any browsers that were actively updated and ran on them, and older browsers stopped being supported by banking websites due to some encryption issue.

In full agreement with everyone else here who wishes Apple's software would support older hardware. I think it would do as much (if not more) for the environment as making hardware easier to repair.

Older hardware doesn't need to get every new OS feature, but browser and security updates would go a long way. My father still uses a 2007 iMac I gave him years ago. It still works fine for his needs, but he's already running into issues with websites (especially SSL issues) and I do get nervous about browser exploits.

Longevity by design is a joke when coming from Apple as they are only making this argument because of the hostility they have for repairable devices. The first iPhone was not water or dust resistant in the slightest, but replacing the battery still wasn't super simple. I double checked to make sure I didn't misremember, very difficult replacement which required soldering. The battery! You know the thing guaranteed to die…

This is an ethos that is dictated by the upgrade mentality required by these companies to meet their earnings expectations. This was never about a benefit to the customer. Apple is far from the only offender.

Leave a Comment