Dear Apple: please quit it with the sabotage

One of the worst things about Apple is how they sabotage their own products with software updates. The update for wrecking unlocked iPhones is a recent example, but there are plenty of others. I remember when they restricted iTunes so that only five people could access your library every time you booted up. That made sharing music on big local area networks (like university residences) a lot less effective. Also, I remember when they forced a volume limitation on my iPod Shuffle by means of an update. I don’t think there has been a useful feature added to iTunes for years, except maybe the automatic downloading of album art for songs in your existing libraries.

Now, I only install security updates on my Mac. Anything promising new features is just too risky.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

78 thoughts on “Dear Apple: please quit it with the sabotage”

  1. This is a standard part of the process of maturation. Going from “Hey, a new version. You know this will be better!” to “If it is working fine, don’t mess with it.”

  2. Apple is completely within its rights to modify the phone in any legal way that maximizes the revenues for its shareholders. We need to divide the hacks into 2 categories: those that ‘unlock’ the phone to different networks, and those that allow 3rd party applications.

    The network unlocks undermine the whole funding basis of the phone – the company signed a contract with each cellular network where they recieve a proportion of the revenues. Without this, Apple would have sold the phones for more. This is standard practice in the IT industry – another example is Microsoft and the Xbox, where the machine is sold at a loss (at least in the earlier periods, when components are more expensive), and this is later re-couped through licensing fees on the games. Apple is completely entitled to a) update the phone to stop this b) engineersufficient havok to sufficiently de-incentivise unlocking in this way. Permanently disabling the phone is probably too far, and possibly illegal, but at the same time the company can’t be expected to support all unauthorised modifications to its products.

    However, I agree that unlocking the iPhone to allow 3rd party applications is in Apple’s best interests. An open platform allow functionalities to be extended and added without Apple spending a dollar, which should increase the number of units bought, and create a better experience. There is an argument that a closed platform increases security, but I think that overall blocking hacks such as these is conter-intuitive.

  3. PS. There have been some recent updates to iTunes (Coverflow, downloading of album art from iTMS), however I agree that Apple has rested on its achievements. I suppose Microsoft (WMP) and Real (Media Player) are now no longer the competitor they once were.

  4. Apple is completely within its rights to modify the phone in any legal way that maximizes the revenues for its shareholders.

    The whole point is that these actions are not legal. They are intentionally breaking phones that belong to other people, in order to perpetuate their collusion with particular cell phone companies.

  5. Paul,

    Think about what you are actually arguing.

    Say I own a beer company, and I decide to sell beautiful beer steins very cheaply, in the hope people will buy more of my beer. I am selling the steins at a loss, but my business model calls for me to make a profit overall by selling more beer. Now, imagine that people take the steins, but start filling them with beer made by a competitor. Am I ‘within my rights’ to go to the homes of my customers and shatter the steins with a BB gun?

  6. “InfoWeek blogger Alex Wolfe reports that some iPhone users are mad as heck at Apple for bricking up their device in response to non-Apple-authorized software downloads. In a discussion thread on Apple’s own iPhone forum, one user posts that he’s ‘Seeking respondents for possible class action lawsuit against Apple Inc. relating to refusal to service iPhones and related accessories under warranty.’ Some who have replied to the post agree that Apple is being unbelievably arrogant and is ripe for legal action. But others say Cupertino is well within its rights to control its own device.”

    Via /.

  7. Tom,

    My point is that Apple is allowed to do whatever it pleases, within the law, in order to uphold the business model that it created for the iPhone. In this case, Apple is completely entitled to make it as difficult as possible for people to use the phone with other networks. Obviously, if Apple was in a monopoly position, there should be regulations and legal structures put in place to prevent Apple from doing this. However, both the mobile phone design and manufacturing business and the service provider businesses are relatively competitive (the design and manufacturing perhaps more so). If you don’t like Apple’s product, buy Nokia’s. I think calling it a “collusion” is unfair – as I originally said, this is an established business model for technology companies, who receive a proportion of future revenues from additional services, rather than charging the consumer the full cost price plus a larger markup. If enough people ‘switch’ (geddit?!) Apple might reconsider. Just don’t start saying that anyone has a ‘right’ to use an Apple-produced handset on whichever network they please. They don’t.

    Your analogy about the beer bottle is slightly different – in order to enforced this law a beer manufacturer would need to break into a house, causing damage to both physical property and liberty. In this case, the device is modified remotely. However, if you were a customer that signed a contact promising to use the stein only for that beer, with periodic inspections by the beer police, then the beer company would be perfectly entitled to force you to fulfil that contract. That’s how contracts work.

    However, what I think we both agree on is this: that if Apple is disabling handsets illegally, this is clearly inappropriate. As I said:

    “Permanently disabling the phone is probably too far, and possibly illegal”.

    If this is the case (and it is proven in court), then Apple will be forced to pay damages for breach of contract. And rightly so.

  8. Apple’s contract may permit them to do dodgy things, but I think this is largely the result of how such End User License Agreements have been inadequately scrutinized by regulators.

    Printer companies can sell printers at a loss, hoping to make up the difference selling ink cartridges. They cannot legally break your printer for using third party versions. They should not be legally able to void your warranty for it, unless they can demonstrate that any fault you try to have serviced under the warranty is a direct consequence of the third party print cartridge.

  9. Unlocking an iPhone is legal

    Copyright scholar Tim Wu has a great little piece on Slate about the legality of iPhone unlocking. Bottom line: it’s legal and it’s fun!
    Did I do anything wrong? When you buy an iPhone, Apple might argue that you’ve made an implicit promise to become an AT&T customer. But I did no such thing. I told the employees at the Apple Store that I wanted to unlock it, and at no stage of the purchasing process did I explicitly agree to be an AT&T customer. There was no sneakiness; I just did something they didn’t like.
    Meanwhile, lest we forget, I did just throw down more than $400 for this little toy. I’m no property-rights freak, but that iPhone is now my personal property, and that ought to stand for something. General Motors advises its customers to use “genuine parts,” but it can’t force you to buy gas from Exxon. Honda probably hates it when you put some crazy spoiler on your Civic, but no one says it’s illegal or wrong.

    The worst thing that you can say about me is that I’ve messed with Apple’s right to run its business exactly the way it wants. But to my mind, that’s not a right you get in the free market or in our legal system. Instead, Apple is facing trade-offs rightly beyond its control. When people unlock phones, Apple loses revenue it was hoping for, but also gains customers who would have never bought an iPhone in the first place. That’s life.

  10. Speaking of problematic updates…

    What’s Really Broken with Windows Update – Trust
    By CmdrTaco on yer-kidding-me

    Be Cool writes “According to ZDNet, Microsoft has steered itself into a real trust tarpit with Windows Update: ‘See, here’s the problem. To feel comfortable with having an open channel that allows your OS to be updated at the whim of a third party (even/especially* Microsoft … * delete as applicable) requires that the user trusts the third party not to screw around with the system in question. This means no fiddling on the sly, being clear about what the updates do and trying not to release updates that hose systems. While any and all updates have the potential to hose a system, there’s no excuse for hiding the true nature of updates and absolutely no excuse for pushing sneaky updates down the tubes. Over the months vigilant Windows users have caught Microsoft betraying user trust on several separate occasions and this behavior is eroding customer confidence in the entire update mechanism.'”

  11. iPhone 1.1.3 Update Confirmed, Breaks Apps and Unlocks

    By Zonk on peak-into-the-itech-future

    An anonymous reader writes “Gizmodo has gathered conclusive evidence which confirms that the iPhone Firmware 1.1.3 update is 100% real. It installs only from iTunes using the obligatory Apple private encryption key, which nobody has. The list of new features, like GPS-like triangulation positioning in Google Maps, has been confirmed too. Apparently it will be coming out next week, but there’s bad news as expected: it breaks the unlocks, patches the previous vulnerabilities used by hackers and takes away all your third-party applications.”

  12. Lock-In

    By schneier

    Buying an iPhone isn’t the same as buying a car or a toaster. Your iPhone comes with a complicated list of rules about what you can and can’t do with it. You can’t install unapproved third-party applications on it. You can’t unlock it and use it with the cellphone carrier of your choice. And Apple is serious about these rules: A software update released in September 2007 erased unauthorized software and — in some cases — rendered unlocked phones unusable.

    “Bricked” is the term, and Apple isn’t the least bit apologetic about it.

    Computer companies want more control over the products they sell you, and they’re resorting to increasingly draconian security measures to get that control. The reasons are economic.

  13. Lock-in isn’t new. It’s why all gaming-console manufacturers make sure that their game cartridges don’t work on any other console, and how they can price the consoles at a loss and make the profit up by selling games. It’s why Microsoft never wants to open up its file formats so other applications can read them. It’s why music purchased from Apple for your iPod won’t work on other brands of music players. It’s why every U.S. cellphone company fought against phone number portability. It’s why Facebook sues any company that tries to scrape its data and put it on a competing website. It explains airline frequent flyer programs, supermarket affinity cards and the new My Coke Rewards program.

    With enough lock-in, a company can protect its market share even as it reduces customer service, raises prices, refuses to innovate and otherwise abuses its customer base. It should be no surprise that this sounds like pretty much every experience you’ve had with IT companies: Once the industry discovered lock-in, everyone started figuring out how to get as much of it as they can.

    Economists Carl Shapiro and Hal Varian even proved that the value of a software company is the total lock-in. Here’s the logic: Assume, for example, that you have 100 people in a company using MS Office at a cost of $500 each. If it cost the company less than $50,000 to switch to Open Office, they would. If it cost the company more than $50,000, Microsoft would increase its prices.

  14. Another annoying bit of Apple sabotage:

    Whenever there is a firmware update available for my
    AirPort Express Base Station with 802.11n I am absolutely forced to install it. If you don’t the router simply refuses to do anything. It is quite possible that some future update will disable a useful feature, because of some whim of Apple.

  15. Really? The router stops working until updated? That’s crap!

    Score one for the venerabe linksys 54g router and tomato. With the mlppp version of tomato and teksavvy I can even get around Bells throttling of torrents. When I am ready to move to N speeds I hope there is a suitable alternative, but nothing in a standalone device is available that can run tomato mlppp.

  16. Apple blocks rival smart phones

    The latest update of Apple’s iTunes has included a fix to block devices such as the Palm Pre that use the program for synchronising music and content.

    The Palm Pre smartphone is seen by many as a direct rival to Apple’s iPhone because of its innovative interface and web based software.

    Marketing for the new Palm Pre touted “seamless” synchronisation with iTunes, because it appeared as an Apple device.

    Palm called the move a “direct blow” to Apple’s users.

  17. How Apple’s App Review Is Sabotaging the iPhone

    By kdawson on race-to-the-bottom

    snydeq writes to recommend Peter Wayner’s inside look at the frustration iPhone developers face from Apple when attempting to distribute their apps through the iPhone App Store. Wayner’s long piece is an extended analogy comparing Apple to the worst of Soviet-era bureaucracy. “Determined simply to dump an HTML version of his book into UIWebView and offer two versions through the App Store, Wayner endures four months of inexplicable silences, mixed messages, and almost whimsical rejections from Apple — the kind of frustration and uncertainty Wayner believes is fast transforming Apple’s regulated marketplace into a hotbed of bottom-feeding mediocrity. ‘Developers are afraid to risk serious development time on the platform as long as anonymous gatekeepers are able to delay projects by weeks and months with some seemingly random flick of a finger,’ Wayner writes of his experience. ‘It’s one thing to delay a homebrew project like mine, but it’s another thing to shut down a team of developers burning real cash. Apple should be worried when real programmers shrug off the rejections by saying, “It’s just a hobby.”‘”

  18. Why The FCC Wants To Smash Open The iPhone

    Erick Schonfeld
    Saturday, August 1, 2009; 6:27 AM

    Right about now, Apple probably wishes it had never rejected Google Voice and related apps from the iPhone. Or maybe it was AT&T who rejected the apps. Nobody really knows. But the FCC launched an investigation last night to find out, sending letters to all three companies (Apple, AT&T, and Google) asking them to explain exactly what happened.

    On its face, it might seem odd to some people that the FCC is investigating the rejection of a single iPhone app. After all, iPhone apps are rejected every day. But the Google Voice rejection caused an unusual amount of uproar, and there is nothing like a high-profile case to make an example out of in pursuit of pushing a bigger policy agenda. The FCC investigation is not just about the arbitrary rejection of a single app. It is the FCC’s way of putting a stake in the ground for making the wireless networks controlled by cell phone carriers as open as the Internet.

  19. Apple Working On Tech To Detect Purchasers’ “Abuse”

    “Apple has submitted a patent application for technologies which would detect device-abuse by consumers. The intent presumably being to aid in determining the validity of warranty claims. ‘Consumer abuse events’ would be recorded by liquid and thermal sensors detecting extreme environmental exposures, a shock sensor detecting drops or other impacts, and a continuity sensor to detect jailbreaking or other tampering. The article also notes that liquid submersion detectors are already deployed in MacBook Pros, iPhones and iPods. It does seem reasonable that a corporation would wish to protect itself from fraudulent warranty claims; however the idea of sensors inside your portable devices detecting what you do with them might raise eyebrows even beyond the tinfoil-hat community.”

  20. Cellphones (including iPhones) already contain liquid sensors, I’ve ruined an old Nokia 3310 by having it in the pocket of my raincoat while it was raining. The phone was otherwise functional, but the sensor triggered the software to disable the phone. This was annoying, as to me it seems like this is a case of “if the water didn’t break your phone the first time, we’ll make sure it’s broken!”

    It’s been reported that iPhones can easily be disabled by a sweaty workout.

  21. Such moisture sensors were also used to deny warranty claims at Staples, in products including laptops, cameras, graphing calculators, and various other electronic gizmos.

  22. Snow Leopard Drops Palm OS Sync

    “It’s been just a little over a month since Apple blocked iTunes sync with Palm Pre, and now Apple takes that strategy one step further by blocking Snow Leopard sync with Palm-OS powered smartphones. Even though Palm has officially retired Palm OS and is now focusing hard on its next-generation WebOS in the Palm Pre, the company is still selling Palm OS-powered smartphones; two current models are the Treo Pro on Sprint and the Centro.”

  23. Poll: Has iPhone OS 3.1 screwed up your phone?
    By Darren Murph on ShutDown

    It’s pretty much as reliable as the sun: a new iPhone OS update generally leads to at least a handful of issues. But iPhone OS 3.1, which was made available on September 9th, seems worse than most. We’ve seen tip after tip pour in, and we’ve watched Apple’s support forums grow increasingly ugly with irate iPhone users dealing with horrid battery life, random shut downs and the occasional screen freeze. A few of our own have also experienced some of these quirks, though others have escaped without a scratch. So, we’re putting it to you all — has the latest iPhone update borked your handset? If so, in what way?

  24. USB-IF Slaps Palm In iTunes Spat

    “The USB Implementers Forum has finally responded to Palm’s complaints that Apple is violating its USB-IF Membership Agreement by preventing the Pre from syncing with iTunes. It’s found in favor of Apple. Worse, it’s accused Palm itself of violating the Membership Agreement by using Apple’s Vendor ID number to disguise the Pre as an Apple device.”

  25. Apple Pushes Unwanted Software To PCs, Again

    “Blogger Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols wags his finger at Apple for indiscriminately pushing the iPhone Configuration Utility 2.1 update out to Windows users, since it is a tool for business system administrators to set up and administer corporate iPhones — the blogger himself (and practically every other iPhone user) not being of the corporate iPhone user persuasion. But more than just unnecessary, the update actually puts him and millions of other iPhone owners/Windows PC users at increased risk by installing ‘not just a configuration program, but the Apache Web server as well,’ says Vaughan-Nichols. ‘A Web server like the one Apple [is] adding to your PC… [is] a gateway just asking to be hammered on by an attacker. Managed properly Apache is as safe a Web server as you’ll ever find, but ordinary PC users shouldn’t try to manage it, and even an expert can’t do anything with it if they don’t know it’s there.'” Reader CWMike notes that Apple pulled the iPhone Configuration Utility from the update list after a few hours.

  26. Free iTunes!
    Apple’s hypocritical move to block competitors from accessing its software.
    By Farhad Manjoo
    Posted Monday, Sept. 28, 2009, at 3:44 PM ET

    In May, Palm announced that its new phone, the Pre, would do something that only a single other smartphone in the world could do—”synchronize seamlessly with iTunes.” For years, manufacturers of digital music players had been trying to compete with Apple’s dominant music app. They’d all failed. iTunes is one of the most popular downloads in the world and one of the main reasons people love the iPod and the iPhone. Palm—whose CEO, Jon Rubinstein, is a former Apple executive who’d been instrumental in creating the iPod—understood that it couldn’t beat iTunes. So why not join it?

    There’s a simple reason why not—Apple doesn’t allow third-party devices to sync with its software. But Palm found the restriction easy to circumvent: Every device that connects to a computer’s USB port identifies itself with a specific vendor and product code. Palm simply copied Apple’s USB codes. It’s the digital equivalent of telling a bouncer that you’re McLovin: When you hook up the Pre to your PC, it identifies itself as an iPod. iTunes thinks you’ve just connected something made by Steve Jobs—and it syncs your music and movies just as it would if you’d purchased the gadget from the Apple store.

  27. “The USB-IF didn’t say whether it would try to enforce its ruling; Palm says that it’s reviewing the decision. I hope the company continues to search for ways to sync with iTunes, because the fight—silly as it seems—is important, and Palm is clearly in the right. Apple may have the USB-IF on its side, and it may also be protected by copyright law. But by blocking non-Apple devices from its music app, Apple is violating a more fundamental principle of computing—that unalike devices should be able to connect to one another freely. The principle underlies everything we take for granted in tech today: It’s why the Internet, your home network, and the PC function at all. And it’s why Palm should keep storming the iTunes fortress.”

  28. Apple Wants Patents For Crippling Cellphones

    “Evil is in the eye of the beholder, but there’s certainly not much to like in the newly-disclosed Apple patent applications for Systems and Methods for Provisioning Computing Devices. Provisioning, says Apple, allows carriers to ‘specify access limitations to certain device resources which may otherwise be available to users of the device.’ So what problem are we trying to solve here? ‘Mobile devices often have capabilities that the carriers do not want utilized on their networks,’ explains Apple. ‘Various applications on these devices may also need to be restricted.'”

  29. Palm Ignores USB-IF Warning, Restores iTunes Sync

    An anonymous reader writes “Palm’s cat and mouse game with Apple continues. Ignoring the warning from the USB Implementers Forum, with its WebOS 1.2.1 release this morning Palm has restored iTunes media synchronization in its new Pre smartphone — and gone so far as to extend sync to photos. And, according to Digital Daily, it has done this, once again, by using Apple’s USB vendor ID. Does the USB-IF have any recourse here? Does Apple?”

  30. Snow Leopard Update Blocks Intel Atom, Kills Hackintoshes

    Mac OS X Leopard 10.6.2 will break your hackintosh. The forthcoming OS update will not run on the Intel Atom processor, a rather petty move from Apple which, if true, will break many netbooks which have been hacked to run as more than passable Macs.

    This news comes from Stellarola, the hacker who helped us out extensively with the original (and still the best) Gadget Lab hackintosh. Here’s what he has to say:

    “In the current developer build of 10.6.2, Apple appears to have changed around a lot of CPU related information. One of the effects of this is Apple killing off Intel’s Atom chip.”

  31. Apple Not Disabling OS X Atom Support After All

    bonch writes “Contrary to previous reports, Atom chip support is working fine in the latest 10C535 build of OS X 10.6.2. Apple’s EULA still states that OS X is licensed to run only on Apple hardware, but it looks like OSX86 hackers can breathe easy … for now.”

  32. Psystar Crushed In Court

    We’ve been following the case of Mac cloner Psystar for some time now. Apple was just handed a summary judgement over Psystar, and as usual Groklaw has the scoop. Here is the order (PDF), though PJ supplies it in text form at the link above. “Psystar just got what’s coming to them in the California case. … It’s a total massacre. Psystar’s first-sale defense went down in flames. Apple’s motion for summary judgment on copyright infringement and DMCA violation is granted. Apple prevailed also on its motion to seal. Psystar’s motion for summary judgment on trademark infringement and trade dress is denied. So is its illusory motion for copyright misuse. … So that means damages ahead for Psystar on the copyright issues just decided on summary judgment, at a minimum. The court asked for briefs on that subject. In short, Psystar is toast.” Reader UnknowingFool adds, “There are still issues to be decided but they are only Apple’s allegations: breach of contract, induced breach of contract, trademark infringement, trademark dilution; trade dress infringement, state unfair competition, and common law unfair competition. Even if Psystar wins all of them, it is unlikely to help them very much.”

  33. The Apple Paradox, Closed Culture & Free-Thinking Fans

    “The secrecy surrounding the expected Apple tablet computer is only the latest example of the company’s famously closed and controlling culture. Yet millions of designers, musicians, and other creative professionals love their Apple products, and the Apple brand is almost synonymous with free-thinking creativity. How can a company whose philosophy of information sharing is so at odds with that of most of its customers be so successful? This Xconomy essay explores three possible explanations. 1) Closed innovation, overseen by a guiding genius like Steve Jobs, may be the only way to build such coherent, compelling products. 2) Apple’s hardware turns out to be more ‘open’ than the company intended — Jobs originally wanted to keep third-party apps off the iPhone, for example. 3) Related to #1: customers are pragmatic about quality, and the open source and free software movements haven’t produced anything remotely as useful as Mac OS X and the iPhone.”

  34. Apple’s Trend Away From Tinkering

    “Having cut his programming teeth on an Apple ][e as a ten-year-old, Mark Pilgrim laments that Apple now seems to be doing everything in their power to stop his kids from finding the sense of wonder he did: ‘Apple has declared war on the tinkerers of the world. With every software update, the previous generation of “jailbreaks” stop working, and people have to find new ways to break into their own computers. There won’t ever be a MacsBug for the iPad. There won’t be a ResEdit, or a Copy ][+ sector editor, or an iPad Peeks & Pokes Chart. And that’s a real loss. Maybe not to you, but to somebody who doesn’t even know it yet.'”

  35. I remember ResEdit.

    Back in high school, we used it to alter the computer program the administrators used to lock down the machines. ‘Foolproof control,’ I think it was called.

  36. iPhone developers angry as Apple purges adult apps

    Developers have expressed anger at Apple’s decision to ban some adult-themed applications from its iPhone.

    Thousands of apps with adult-themed content have been removed from the store since Friday although some, such as one from Playboy, remain.

    Apple has said that certain apps were removed following customer complaints.

    Developer Jon Atherton is angry that previously-approved apps have been pulled, and accuses Apple of “experimenting with our livelihoods”.

    Apple said it had to respond to its customers.

    “It came to the point where were were getting customer complaints from women who found the content getting too degrading and objectionable, as well as parents who were upset with what their kids were able to see,” Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of product marketing, told the New York Times.

  37. “Apple is a schizophrenic company, a self-professed revolutionary that is closely allied with establishment forces like the entertainment conglomerates and the telecommunications industry. To understand this contradiction we need to look back to Apple’s origins. Let’s go back to a day in 1971 when we find a bearded young college student in thick eyeglasses named Steve Wozniak hanging out at the home of Steve Jobs, then in high school. The two young men, electronics buffs, were fiddling with a crude device they’d been working on for more than a year. That day was their eureka moment: Apple’s founders had managed to hack AT&T’s long-distance network. Their invention was a “blue box” that made long-distance phone calls for free. The two men, in other words, got started by defrauding the firm that is now perhaps Apple’s most important business partner.

    Wozniak’s design was open and decentralized in ways that still define those concepts in the computing industries. The original Apple had a hood, and as with a car, the owner could open it up and get at the guts of the machine. Although it was a fully assembled device, not a kit like earlier PC products, Apple owners were encouraged to tinker with the innards of Wozniak’s machine—to soup it up, make it faster, add features. There were slots to accommodate all sorts of peripheral devices, and it was built to run a variety of software. Wozniak’s ethic of openness also extended to disclosing design specifications. In a 2006 talk at Columbia University, he put the point this way: “Everything we knew, you knew.” To point out that this is no longer Apple’s policy is to state the obvious.”

  38. “While I understand the financial reasoning behind iAds, the move is still galling. Apple’s move into the ad game highlights the many hypocrisies surrounding the locked-down App Store. In February, Apple banned “sexy” apps from the iPhone, including most apps that feature scantily clad women. The company said it did so in response to complaints from customers who considered the apps “degrading and objectionable.” This seemed an odd justification at the time—Apple didn’t kick out the Playboy or Sports Illustrated swimsuit apps, reasoning that they were from “well-known companies” and thus, apparently, less objectionable. But the iAds announcement further weakens Apple’s claims that it’s wary of customer complaints. iPhone users are bound to cry foul when they see their favorite apps launch “interactive” ads. How will Apple respond to those complaints? I’m betting we won’t see apps blocked because they feature too many annoying ads.

    I know I’m not breaking any news in suggesting that Apple sees every iPhone user as a never-ending stream of revenue. Apple doesn’t just make money when it sells you a phone; it gets a cut of your cell contract, apps, music, books, and now even the ads inside the apps. At the same time, it is continuing to lock down app development; as part of a new developer agreement released Thursday, the company prohibited developers from using third-party programming tools to create apps, including Adobe’s Flash and Novell’s MonoTouch. Apple’s rationale is obvious. iPhone customers are a captive, spendy bunch, and the company wants to make sure that all those billions go in its coffers and not to Google, Adobe, or anyone else.”

  39. Apple Patents Remotely Disabling Jailbroken Phones

    “Apple yesterday applied for patent to allow remotely disabling electronic devices when ‘unauthorized usage’ is detected. The patent application covers using the camera to take pictures of the unauthorized user and using GPS to determine location, and it involves ascertaining whether the phone has been hacked or jailbroken, using that as criteria for detecting ‘suspicious behavior.’ The patent would allow the carrier or any other ‘authorized’ party to disable or restrict the functionality of the device. Is this Apple’s latest tool to thwart jailbreaking?”

  40. FP Tech Desk: Apple wins ‘anti-sexting’ patent

    Apple Inc. wants to give parents the ability to maintain the content of their kids’ text messaging at PG or below.

    Having just been granted United States patent #7,814,163 on Tuesday, the iPhone maker can now offer exactly that. According to an online copy of the patent, the new control “evaluates whether or not the communication contains approved text based on, for example, objective ratings criteria or a user’s age or grade level, and if unauthorized, prevents such text from being included in text-based communication.”

    Simply put: try to send a naughty text (or sext to use the technical term), and Apple can now automatically block out the suggestive bits.

    An abstract of the patent filing says the new control “may require the user to replace the unauthorized text or may automatically delete the text or the entire communication.” It could also have an educational application for students using smartphone applications in their studies.

  41. Apple dumps Flash from Mac OS X

    New Macs come without Adobe’s Flash, leaving users to install the software and security updates themselves

    Computerworld – Apple will stop bundling Adobe’s Flash with Mac OS X, the company confirmed Friday.

    The new MacBook Air, which debuted earlier in the week, is the first Flash-less system from Apple. Other systems will follow suit as the company clears out inventory of Mac desktops and notebooks that include Flash.

    Mac users will still be able to install Flash themselves, and Apple has done nothing to block Flash from running.

    “We’re happy to continue to support Flash on the Mac, and the best way for users to always have the most up to date and secure version is to download it directly from Adobe,” Apple spokesman Bill Evans said in reply to questions on Friday.

  42. The Ottawa Apple Store has decided they are sick of serving as a free internet cafe, at least as far as Facebook is concerned.

    Attempts to access Facebook on their machines now lead to being automatically re-directed to Apple’s website.

  43. Apple is switching to a new type of tamper-resistant screw across their product line. It is not a standard Torx, and there are no readily available screwdrivers that can remove it. They chose this “Pentalobe” fastener specifically because it was new, guaranteeing repair tools would be both rare and expensive. The iPhone 4 originally shipped with Phillips screws, but Apple has transitioned completely to this new security screw. Shame on them.

    This screw head clearly has one purpose: to keep you out. Otherwise, Apple would use it throughout each device. Instead, they only use it at the bulwark — on the outside case of your iPhone and MacBook Air, and protecting the battery on the MacBook Pro –so they can keep you out of your own hardware.

    That’s bad enough on its own, but Apple’s latest policy will make your blood boil: If you take your iPhone 4 into Apple for any kind of service, they will sabotage it by replacing your Phillips screws with the new tamper-resistant screws! We’ve spoken with the Apple Store geniuses tasked with carrying out this policy, and they are ashamed of the practice.

  44. Economics and philosophy arguments aside, the fact is that if you take apart a pair of $199 Sennheiser headphones you can instantly upgrade them to a model that is sold for $350.

    Aside from the aesthetic differences, the only physical difference was an additional piece of foam inside the cheaper HD555 headphones, blocking about 50% of the outside-facing vents. Since both the HD 555 and HD 595 are designed to be “open” headphones, reducing the vent with foam would not be in the designer’s original interest and this is where the HD 555′s have been “crippled”. So to save yourself $150, open your HD 555′s up and remove the foam. Done.

  45. Jailbreak your iPhone? iBookstore purchases may be unreadable

    As hackers push to crack Apple’s iOS security checks, Apple appears to be pushing back. One user recently discovered that, after applying the latest greenpois0n jailbreak code on an iPhone running iOS 4.2.1, Apple has built checks into the system that prevent iBooks from opening DRM-protected e-books on a jailbroken device. While this user described the checks as a “screw you” to jailbreakers, they are likely a concession to publishers concerned about piracy.

    After jailbreaking an iOS device and attempting to open content purchased from the iBookstore, the blog Social Apples noted that users now receive the following error message: “There is a problem with the configuration of your iPhone. Please restore with iTunes and reinstall iBooks.”

    The process that handles verifying and decrypting FairPlay-protected content, fairplayd, is performing a number of checks before decrypting protected e-books. It tries to execute several small, specially crafted binaries—each one made to fail on a standard iOS install but likely to run on jailbroken devices. If these binaries can run—one is unsigned, for instance, while another is improperly signed—then fairplayd can assume the device is jailbroken and refuse to decrypt the content. That triggers iBooks to display its error message.

  46. The new features in iOS 5, iCloud and Lion tightens Apple’s vertical integration of its software ecosystem by amplifying its “lock-in” goal. The vast majority of the new iCloud tools introduced Monday are exclusively for Apple customers, designed to bridge the iOS and Mac operating systems to make the experience more seamless, convenient and irresistible than ever.

  47. Apple patents mobile camera that other people can shut off

    An Apple patent describes a system for allowing venue owners to override compliant cameras. The patent describes using an infrared signal that compliant cameras would detect; in the presence of this signal, the device would not allow its owner to activate its record function. It is intended for use at live events and galleries and museums, and it will be a tremendous boon to policemen who shoot unarmed subway riders, despotic armies putting down revolutions as well as anyone else who is breaking the law or exercising coercive power.

  48. ‘Reading List’ in the newest version of Safari is a terrible ripoff of Instapaper.

    Apple should have had the decency to buy them, rather than just steal their technology. It’s not like when Apple and Nokia and Microsoft steal from one another – those are all big companies that can survive competition. Little startups probably cannot manage if a huge tech company just takes their idea and makes it into a normal feature of their ubiquitous browser.

  49. Is Apple turning its back on professional users to focus on consumers? That’s the argument in this article, which claims Apple is alienating the creative professionals who have supported the company for 20 years or more. Fury over the dumbing down of Final Cut Pro, Apple’s refusal to sell non-glossy screens and poor value hardware is fueling anger from professional Mac users. ‘People will get hacked off. I’m only Apple because I want the OS, but if I could come up with a ‘Hackintosh’ with OS X, I’d be so happy,’ claims one audio professional.

  50. But Jobs was being more than a little disingenuous. Apple never had any quarrel over letting Flash work on its Macintosh computers. So, Jobsís objection was not really about buggy software causing needless crashes – though, heaven knows, Flash certainly causes its share. Of far greater concern was the likely loss of revenue. Had iPhone or iPad users been allowed to install a Flash player on their devices, they would have promptly stopped buying games and other animated software from Apple’s App Store and got their Flash equivalents for free from elsewhere on the web.

  51. Apple has extolled its new iMac for being slimmer and more stylish than ever. But if you like to tinker with your system’s innards, or your iMac ever needs repairing, there’s a definite downside to a more attractive Apple all-in-one desktop.

    According to iFixit, the leading teardown artist of Apple products, the latest iMacs have nothing on the new Mac Mini models when it comes to being easy to repair. In the site’s dismantling of a base configuration, the iMac was given a measly 3 out of 10 on the iFixit Repairability Score scale. In comparison, the Mac Mini earned an 8 out of 10.

    By its very nature, an all-in-one is going to be a tougher nut to crack than a traditional tower desktop, given its space-saving mission. But the 2012 edition of the iMac takes it to a new level with its slimming innovations. Most notable is how Apple has fused the glass front panel and the LCD together (instead of attaching them with magnets), forcing iFixit to use not only a heat gun to remove the adhesive, but also low-tech guitar picks to pry the two pieces apart. The result is that the original tape is ruined, requiring replacement adhesive to reseal the machine.

  52. iOS 7 Update Silently Removes Encryption For Email Attachments

    “Apple has removed encrypted email attachments from iOS 7. Apple said back in June 2010 in regards to iOS 4.0: ‘Data protection is available for devices that offer hardware encryption, including iPhone 3GS and later, all iPad models, and iPod touch (3rd generation and later). Data protection enhances the built-in hardware encryption by protecting the hardware encryption keys with your passcode. This provides an additional layer of protection for your email messages attachments, and third-party applications.’ Not anymore.”

  53. Error 53 has the best and worst intentions
    A error that indicates your iPhone has been bricked is a good thing done wrong.

    The TL;DR appears to be that if the Home button containing the Touch ID sensor on an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, or 6s Plus is replaced, on installing an iOS 8 update (as Daily Dot reported) or an iOS 9 update the phone becomes “bricked,” or permanently unusable, and the device only reports an error numbered 53 if you try to restore it via iTunes. The phone can never be used again. This becomes more troubling because some people with this problem never had a repair, or, if they had one, it didn’t include the Home button.

    Apple’s reply to Jared Newman was, “When an iPhone is serviced by an unauthorized repair provider, faulty screens or other invalid components that affect the Touch ID sensor could cause the check to fail if the pairing cannot be validated. With a subsequent update or restore, additional security checks result in an ‘error 53’ being displayed.”

  54. The integration loop is complete. Apple’s, admittedly very fast, PCIe storage modules are now built right into the main boards of their 15-inch, Touch Bar-equipped, Retina-screened, Thunderbolt 3-ported, MacBook Pros. A few forum posts over at MacRumors reveal the skinny on the quiet removal of the last user-upgradable component of their professional-series laptops. From the report: “MacRumors reader Jesse D. unscrewed the bottom lid on his new 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar and discovered, unlike the 13-inch model sans Touch Bar, there is no cutout in the logic board for removable flash storage. Another reader said the 13-inch model with a Touch Bar also has a non-removable SSD. Given the SSD appears to be permanently soldered to the logic board, users will be unable to upgrade the Touch Bar MacBook Pro’s flash storage beyond Apple’s 512GB to 2TB built-to-order options on its website at the time of purchase. In other words, the amount of flash storage you choose will be permanent for the life of the notebook.”

  55. Apple hasn’t put out a new desktop since it refreshed the iMacs in October of 2015, and the older, slower components in these computers keeps Apple out of new high-end fields like VR.

    This is a problem for people who prefer or need macOS, since Apple’s operating system is only really designed to work on Apple’s hardware. But for the truly adventurous and desperate, there’s another place to turn: fake Macs built with standard PC components, popularly known as “Hackintoshes.” They’ve been around for a long time, but the state of Apple’s desktop lineup is making them feel newly relevant these days. So we spoke with people who currently rely on Hackintoshes to see how the computers are being used—and what they’d like to see from Apple.

  56. “People used to build Hackintoshes because they were a good bit cheaper than an equivalent Mac you could buy from Apple,” writes Rundle. “Now though, since the Mac Pro hasn’t been updated in three years (and the components on the board were already about a year old), people are building Hackintoshes because you can build a Mac that is faster than the fastest computer Apple can sell you and, oh yeah, it costs $1,000+ less than even the base Mac Pro model.”

    Finally, people continue to embrace Hackintoshes because they’re expandable and upgradeable. To the extent that any modern Macs are user-serviceable, the RAM is usually the only thing you can easily upgrade yourself with standard components (and this is only true of the Mac Pro and 27-inch iMac). Everything else is either proprietary or soldered to the motherboard.

  57. Apple’s control-freakery is making the Internet of Shit shittier

    The anonymous individual behind the must-follow Internet of Shit Twitter account now has a column in The Verge, and has devoted 1,500 words to documenting all the ways in which Apple’s signature walled-garden approach to technology has created an Apple Home IoT platform that is not only manifestly totally broken, but also can’t be fixed until Apple decides to do something about it — and once you opt for Apple, you can forget about plugging in anything Apple hasn’t greenlit, meaning that your choice of smartphone will determine what kind of toaster and lightswitch you’re allowed to connect to your smarthome.

  58. Apple may be the worst offender when it comes to refusing to sell service parts or provide repair information to anyone but its authorized service providers. The company doesn’t even provide such information for equipment that Apple won’t repair anymore (Apple has a long list of “vintage and obsolete” devices it no longer supports) or for repairs that its “Geniuses” aren’t skilled enough to do, like fixing a computer’s motherboard.

    In 2015, the company went even further—remotely disabling iPhones whose screens had been repaired outside of Apple’s authorized network. One of those dead devices belonged to Antonio Olmos, a photographer for The Guardian. He broke his screen while covering the refugee crisis in the Balkans. There’s no Apple store in Macedonia, so Olmos had a local repair shop replace the broken screen with an aftermarket part. It worked great. Months later, though, after a routine software update, Olmos’s phone stopped working simply because of that screen.

    At first, Apple defended “error 53” (as the problem was identified) as a security measure. The company blamed unauthorized repair shops: “When an iPhone is serviced by an unauthorised repair provider, faulty screens or other invalid components that affect the touch ID sensor could cause the check to fail if the pairing cannot be validated. With a subsequent update or restore, additional security checks result in an ‘error 53’ being displayed,” an Apple spokesperson told The Guardian.

    But that explanation didn’t fly with owners. Independent repair shops didn’t break these phones; Apple did. And the aftermarket screens hadn’t been faulty; they just hadn’t been made by the original equipment manufacturer—because Apple refuses to sell OEM screens to independent repair shops.

    Bowing to public pressure, Apple apologized and fixed the broken phones with a new update. But a precedent had been set. Previously, Apple had made it difficult for people to fix its products by restricting access to parts and service information. Now, to those owners who dared to repair their equipment without the company’s blessing, Apple could dole out punishment—with software.

  59. Apple Confirms iPhone With Older Batteries Will Take Hits On Performance

    Reddit users have noticed that Apple appears to be slowing down old iPhones that have low-capacity batteries. While many iPhone users have experienced perceived slowdowns due to iOS updates over the years, it appears that there’s now proof Apple is throttling processor speeds when a battery capacity deteriorates over time. Geekbench developer John Poole has mapped out performance for the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 over time, and has come to the conclusion that Apple’s iOS 10.2.1 and 11.2.0 updates introduce this throttling for different devices. iOS 10.2.1 is particularly relevant, as this update was designed to reduce random shutdown issues for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S. Apple’s fix appears to be throttling the CPU to prevent the phone from randomly shutting down. Geekbench reports that iOS 11.2.0 introduces similar throttling for low iPhone 7 low-capacity batteries.

  60. Apple’s T2 Security Chip Has Created a Nightmare for MacBook Refurbishers

    As predicted, the proprietary locking system Apple rolled out with its 2018 MacBook Pros is hurting independent repair stores, refurbishers, and electronics recyclers. A combination of secure software locks, diagnostic requirements, and Apple’s new T2 security chip are making it hard to breathe new life into old MacBook Pros that have been recycled but could be easily repaired and used for years were it not for these locks. From a report:

    It’s a problem that highlights Apple’s combative attitude towards the secondhand market and the need for national right to repair legislation. “The irony is that I’d like to do the responsible thing and wipe user data from these machines, but Apple won’t let me,” John Bumstead, a MacBook refurbisher and owner of the RDKL INC repair store, said in a tweet with an attached picture of two “bricked” MacBook Pros. “Literally the only option is to destroy these beautiful $3,000 MacBooks and recover the $12/ea they are worth as scrap.”

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