Apple has released updates for macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS and tvOS – there are a tonne of security updates included with it particularly when it comes to the Webkit framework (link) as well as the firmware on my iMac and MacBook Pro both being updated to 429. – the firmware includes microcode updates for bugs found in the CPU and can be worked around via a microcode update (it gets loaded onto memory before the operating system starts). There are also a sizeable number of updates for drivers, kernel, imageIO and numerous other parts. Apple is already testing macOS 11.5 (along with iPadOS/iOS 15.7, watchOS 7.6, tvOS 15.7) – I just hope that by the time WWDC arrives that we’ll be seeing a renewed commitment to the Webextensions API by fully developing it beyond the bare essentials to at least make it compatible with Firefox – uBlock Origin coming back to Safari would be a godsend.

There are rumours that with WWDC this year Apple maybe launching a MacBook Pro refresh. When I heard the rumour I was sceptical since WWDC tends to be a software focused event with hardware being introduced as primarily focused on developers – the trash can Mac Pro was shown off as if to say, “yeah, we can innovate’ given there had been a 7 year gap since it was last updated. Another example would be the introduction of the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule to give an insight into the direction Apple is seeing the industry is heading in – giving a hint to developers ‘be prepared for a change in how users consume your products’. That being said, it could be possible for a MacBook Pro and Mac mini refresh as to launch a chip that supports ARMv9 and wanting to get developers ready to take advantage of SVE2 when it becomes widely available in the Apple Silicon SoC’s when they start shipping.

This week Microsoft is having their Build 2021 conference with many promises of improvements coming to Windows 10 but nothing has been shown off at the conference which leads me to wonder whether we’ll be seeing a conference towards the end of the year dedicated to the changes in store for Windows 10. For me, who has been let down all to often, I wouldn’t put too much stock in the exaggerated improvements being promised having heard promises in the past but never delivered. If Google has “products that they keep killing off” then I think Microsoft has their own shtick with amounts to “start a product then get bored half way through only to give up and move onto something else” – the most recent example of that was Windows 10X which has since been mothballed – any opportunity to give Windows a much needed spring clean is undermined by a lack of leadership with some testicular fortitude from within Microsoft.

ARM has announced its ARMv9 microarchitecture (link) which builds on the earlier release of their ARMv9 ISA (which is the part that Apple licences since Apple has their own in-house microarchitecture). The interesting part is how this all fits into next year’s Samsung product release which will use AMD GPU as part of the Exynos SoC which will also hopefully make use of the new ARMv9 microarchitecture – there are also rumours of Microsoft working with Samsung on affordable Exynos based laptops and other devices as well. I think long term both AMD and Intel are in for competition coming from unlikely sources particularly if the cloud based future puts the focus by consumers on energy efficiency with all day battery life at the front and centre of which device to buy vs. which laptop or desktop is the super duper fastest computer on the planet.

I’m looking forward to seeing the the ARMv9 based Apple M series emerge – that’ll be the time I’ll decide to upgrade my MacBook Pro and iMac – I’ll upgrade my wifi access point to Wifi 6 because by that time all the equipment in the house will be Wifi 6 compatible (upgrading before then doesn’t make much sense plus upgrading later means one gets to benefit from a more mature technology).

Google had their big I/O conference today (link) – a lot of the details have been getting leaked over the last few weeks but there wasn’t much announced but this may change once there is the Wear developer session is made available. The information that was announced was pretty much an acknowledgement that Samsung’s attempt to ‘go it alone’ has yielded next to no third party support (same can be said for Fitbit) so it makes sense that we’re seeing a merging of the best features so that rather than having three weak platforms trying to take on watchOS, there is one strong platform that does the job. From what I can ascertain from presentation is that Wear has been given an overhaul in terms of optimisation to work more efficiently work on low end SoCs, there will be features that Samsung has built on Tizen that’ll be adopted and I’d say that Fitbit will eventually become an app that runs on the phone alongside other apps – I wouldn’t be surprised if in the long term we end up seeing Wear being adopted by Fitbit (which was announced at the keynote) – there is the potential to offer paid for services for Fitbit customers.

When it comes to Android 12 – the new UI is very much inspired by the OneUI from Samsung, I think Google is quickly realising that they’ll never match the reach that Samsung has around the world so it is best that they work with the largest Android vendor – particularly when you look at the work being done with Wear. What I thought was rather interesting was the interview with the platform lead (in ‘The Verge’ video – first link in the first paragraph) was the question raised regarding privacy and whether Google would adopt what Apple has adopted in their own platform. The interviewee was tight lipped although he did cover the work being done on Chrome, FLoC along with technology but what was telling is there being a split between what the platform group would like to do (my impression is that they would like to adopt the stance Apple took) vs. the rest of the organisation whose business model is in part dependent upon ad revenue to pay for the services they deliver free. What will be interesting is seeing what happens when it comes to the proposed privacy laws (link) (link) which will ultimately force the hand of Google and others to change their business model.

For me, everything came unstuck the moment when people started demanding things for free or incredibly low cost without first asking ‘at what cost’. We have a decline of traditional print media and a reluctance for people willing to pay for content – just because it is on the internet and the product is virtual doesn’t magically make it free to deliver, there are real people working behind the scenes researching and working contacts to get information, and all of that costs money. Sure, YouTube provides a platform to provide commentary but that talking-head’s information has to be sourced from somewhere and more often than not it is sourced from traditional print media. So what happens? the quality of the media drops as clickbait heads get the eyes then the clicks to then fund the business and down the spiral it goes.

When it comes to the likes of social media, an over dependence on advertising results in the sort of out of control data mining – you get the data to create the profiles to then allow higher prices of advertising because you promise to deliver pin point accuracy of those interested in ones product. A social networking product that might have gotten away with zero ads and a privacy respecting policy if users were happy to pay US$12.99 per month insteads goes down alleyways that even their own employees have ethical questions about. Again, this is the high price of wanting something for free. Don’t get me wrong, it makes sense to maybe have a freemium version where you get a limited version with ad support but the focus should be always moving those users to full paying members rather than promising them more while trying to make out that it doesn’t come at a cost of their privacy or at the cost of social cohesion within countries that have been negatively. impacted by the impact of social media.

How does this relate to privacy? if the outrage expressed by some is genuine then there needs to be a willingness to start demanding ad free privacy respecting services and buy them combined with demanding strong privacy protection legislation – possibly creating regulatory compacts (such as what I suggested on my twitter feed a while ago) given that Facebook has ignored New Zealand’s privacy commission because there are no consequences given the lack of leverage New Zealand has over Facebook. One option is maybe proposing a compact with the European Union to piggy back on the existing GDPR laws (I’m sure other smaller countries would be happy to join up) which would strengthen the EU regulatory muscle because of the larger market it would regulate “so you’re going to pull out of a market this large with this many consumers?” is the question posed to such organisations – 9/10 they’ll suck it up, stay and follow the rules.

Such a change in thinking would also hopefully result in a revival of quality journalism – if you’re tired of clickbait headlines and opinion pieces swamping newspapers online then make it worth their while to produce quality journalism by supporting those that do – either through a subscription or support via Patreon. The move to advertisement supported content and services creates the very sort of unhealthy culture that not only results in data mining but it also encourages making people consume more and more through amplifying content that has a negative impact not only on the end user but wider society, creates a pipe line to more and more extreme content, along with manipulation through algorithms and use of reward/punishment that excite the brain to keep consuming more.

The question is whether the general public is willing to break that cycle. Social media isn’t bad as a concept, what is bad is how it is funded, how the business model is sustained which lends itself to amplifying the worst in human nature. These platforms are tools and they have to generate income to keep the lights on – let’s hope that like like the emergence of music subscriptions, movie subscriptions and software subscriptions (to name a few) that it is a matter of people getting used to it rather than a resistance to paying for things.

Apple has released the release candidate builds of the next updates to macOS, watchOS, iPadOS, homeOS and tvOS – it’ll be interesting to see what changes have been made beyond the publicly announced ones. The reason I say that is Apple tends to focus on the visible changes where as there are lots of changes under the hood that eventually make their way to the surface as people use it – Safari for example receives regular updates. The last update to macOS 11.3 included a fair number of updates to Safari which bumped the version number from 14.0.x to 14.1 (link).

Google I/O will be kicking off but the rumour mill is already at top speed with rumours of a new version fo Wear (formally known as Wear OS which was formally known as Android Wear), combine that with Samsung working with Google on Google Fuchsia and the rumour that Samsung will come back to the Wear platform with the next watch refresh – I’ll add to the speculation. My guess is that Google Fuchsia is going to be the eventual replacement for the current Linux core with the first device receiving it being wearOS which will use the Android framework sitting upon the Google Fuchsia core. Long term I think we’re going to see Google replace bionic (the code name for the libc that Google uses in Android) with the LLVM Libc that they’re working on (the LLVM libc++ is already used in Android). The benefit of having a microkernel is the ability to allow handset to rely on a stable set of interfaces meaning they can push out updates for Android faster and because the drivers sit in user space they can pushed out through the PlayStore in a piecemeal fashion rather than big updates once a month (which involve risk due to the nature of pushing out big updates all at once rather than a piece by piece approach).

When it comes to Android on the phone, the move away from the Linux kernel will take longer due to it’s wider deployment and greater diversity in SoCs (when compared to wearables which has a limited number of SoCs being used) so you’ll still see vendors shipping Android on the Linux kernel but my guess given how close Google and Samsung working I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up seeing it ship on Pixel and Samsung phones first before anyone else (rumour has it that the Whitechapel SoC will appear in the next Pixel – Google have been working with Samsung on it). It’ll be interesting to see long term whether Samsung Pay has a future or whether we’ll eventually see Samsung Pay merge with Google Pay so it has the same depth and breadth of reach that Apple pay has.

Getting back to the Samsung watch adopting Google Wear, it appears that it’ll also include the adoption of the OneUI sitting on top (link) which makes me wonder whether we’ll eventually see the same when it comes to the built in OS for televisions, moving over to Android TV with a uniquely OneUI look and feel while giving Samsung customers access to a larger array of applications via the play store. I think Samsung is quickly realising the burden of trying to go your own way – nothing gained when it came to delivering a better experience for end users and very little gained when it comes to ‘being less dependent on Google’.

Damn it has been ages since I last updated my blog lol A dents amount of stuff has occurred since I last updated – Apple has released macOS 11.3.1, iOS 14.5.1 (plus others) to fix up a pretty serious security hole found in the webkit rendering engine. To be honest, I have a lot hate relationship with Webkit and although I praise its strengths I cannot help but get the feeling that apple is deliberately holding back development as to ensure that web based applications don’t become a viable threat to their App Store revenue model. I remember when the App Store was first launch, the idea of revenue sharing was to keep the lights on but it was never way to generate profits but it appears that the current Apple executive team, rather than seeing the App Store as a means to an end, are now viewing it as venue generating opportunity which is influencing the priorities when it comes to the allocation of resources to any given project.

I thought I was going crazy thinking this but it appears that zI am not alone (link) and many others in the discussion who are programmers for the iOS platform are also seeing the patter as well (link).As the article outlines, although improvement are coming (the update with macOS 11.3 made some big improvements – bringing Skype Web support) it still lags behind Chrome/Edge in some areas by months. I really do wish that Apple would go out and hire another 50 programmers to work on Webkit – to fully implement Webextensions API so that there is at least parity with Firefox so then popular extensions like uBlock Origin can be used. If Safari can get to parity in both implementation and correctness of the various open standards I would be a happy lad.

I tend to follow things closely but in the case of the Epic vs. Apple law suit (link) I haven’t had much of an interest but I thought it was interesting how Epic has bought up Apple making it exclusive to the iOS platform – I thought I might as well throw my 5 cents worth into it given that almost everyone else seems to have done the same thing. I’m assuming that they’re making the same argument that the DOJ made against Microsoft using its operating system monopoly as leverage to enable them to monopolise the browser space which in turn would enable Microsoft to advance proprietary technologies on the internet at the expense of interoperability and platform diversity.

The argument that Epic is trying to demonstrate (I’m assuming that they’re focusing solely on the United States market) that Apple is trying to leverage its dominance in the mobile space to expand into the messaging space which they would argue that 1) Enable Apple to retain customers because how leaving the platform means giving up iMessages (which would be a big inconvenience) and 2) Win over new customers by iMessage because friends and family use it so one obviously doesn’t want to be the ‘odd man out’ when it comes to being the one that doesn’t use iMessage.

Through that example the attempt by Epic is to show a pattern of behaviour which underpins their argument regarding Apple’s monopoly when it comes to software distribution on the iOS platform – the Apple AppStore is monopoly on that platform and because software isn’t portable (cross grade) between Android and iOS it creates additional friction if a customer wishes to move from an iOS device (as with the case of iMessage) which creates a capture audience and because of that captured audience combined with Apple’s AppStore monopoly, Apple has a lot more leverage over users when compared to a scenario of allowing a competing store or side loading of applications on the platform (maybe employing the notarisation which is employed on macOS. So once the user has sufficient investment they’re locked into the system (they can leave but not without significant a cost of repurchasing all their application again via the Google Play Store) and any avenue for software companies to contact a customer has to be through the store – you cannot even mention something along the lines of, “you’ll need to have an account and subscriptions can be bought through the website” is considered a big no no.

There is a problem with the argument that Epic has put forward which is the fact that Apple outside of the United States the global marketshare that iOS has is only 13% when compared to 87% being android. All Apple has to do is point to the fact that outside of the United States iMessage is minor player when compared to WeChat, WhatsApp and other messaging platforms – in fact making it exclusive to iOS has been more of a hindrance to iMessage growth and for many buying an iOS device iMessage is probably a non-factor when purchasing one since they’ll probably download one of the other messengers anyway. Maybe the iMessage platform might be a larger factor inside of the United States but outside of the United States I don’t hear people even talk about iMessage – it’s always “do you have Facebook messenger” or “do you have WhatsApp”, which is where Epic’s theory falls down.

With all that being said, there are technical benefits to the App Store being the sole distributor but if Apple wishes to maintain it then at the very least they should concede when it comes to pricing – the comparison between physical products doesn’t make sense. The reason why it doesn’t make sense is because Apple isn’t keeping physical copies where they’ve got inventory of the product for the display shelf and thus have to generate sufficient return to not only cover the direct costs but also the opportunity cost of the money being tied up. Governments in the past have recognised that sometimes a monopoly is required but with that comes regulation – power generators and lines companies are two which are regulated since it wouldn’t make sense to have competing lines companies and the cost of creating new power generators is costly which block new entrants so it makes sense to keep them in their current state but regulate them.

The end result maybe that the App Store maintains the monopoly but third parties who want to provide in app purchases can use their own payment provider, another option could be to cap at 10% which would still being in enough revenue to cover the costs while maintaining control over the payment process. The question is whether this is all show, whether Apple will make some sort of move that Epic is happy with or will politicians push forward a solution that ultimately ends up making no one happy – this an opportunity for Epic to consider, if Apple does make changes to their policies whether they’re better off taking the deal and dropping the case or whether Epic is willing to take a chance and possibly end up with a solution that makes neither side happy.