Apple releases updates, right to repair moving forward and products designed for obsolescence.

That was rather unexpected, a week after the iOS 14.7 and maOS 11.5 were released, Apple released another update within the last 24 hours in the form of iOS 14.7.1 and macOS 11.5.1 with the update of iOS 14.7.1 weighing it at 128MB where as macOS 11.5.1 weighed in at 2.2G. Given the size of the macOS update I have to wonder whether the correction in the IOMobileFrameBuffer required recompiling of all the frameworks that are based off that. I also wonder whether this was a fix for the much reported pegasus spyware but we’ll need to ‘wait and see’ given that there is currently a whole lot of political fall out that is occurring such as Emmanuel Macron an enquiry into NSO spyware concerns (link).

Personally I find the whole industry a bit unsavoury when one considers ‘In July 2001, Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov was jailed for several weeks…’ (link) because he is researching the technology behind technology (and help create software that would enable customers who had purchased Adobe ebooks to convert them into PDF so then it is possible to read them on devices without an special reader) but nothing is said about shady businesses that find vulnerabilities, create malware kits and then sell them to the highest bidder? Aaron Swartz bulk downloaded articles off JSTOR and had the legal system thrown at him which resulted in him taking his own life – yet nothing is said or done about these shady purveyors of malware and spying kits?

Regarding the matter of ‘right to repair’ which I raised towards the end of my last post, there was an interesting video from Louis Rossman (link) being interviewed by Krystal & Saagar (formally from ‘The Hill’):

It is important to keep in mind, it isn’t just the right to be able to get something repaired and for the repairer to be able to order the part, it also is about ensuring that there is the ability to repair without having to deal with proprietary firmware and software which make repairs impossible (link). Part of this trend has been pushed by the industry so that you’re dependent on their network of repair agents in much the same way that razor vendors will sell you a pack with a couple of ‘free’ blades but they make up the money on replacement blades or when printers sell a printer at a low margin and make up for it on the ink sales.

With all that being said, it is important not to let the consumer off the hook for a lot of what exists in the technology space at the moment. I’d argue that a fair amount of the push has been from consumers wanting thinner, lighter and valuing convenience over longevity and efficiency. Check out any discussion on forums of people whining about how their iPhone was ‘slightly heavier’ when Apple responded to demand for a larger battery, or the complaints by reviews of a laptop that is ever so slightly heavier but has the the added bonus of upgradeable memory and other components.

As I raised earlier regarding wireless keyboard and mouse on a desktop computer – to whose benefit? imagine the batteries that one goes through and made worse that some don’t even include replaceable batteries (see Apple’s own wireless keyboards) – you’re using your keyboard at your desk all the time so what is the purpose of having it wireless? It appears to be an example of a trend within technology which I’ll call “wires are old fashioned, wireless is sleek and modern” – the fetishisation and commodification of certain technologies as representing something ‘more modern’ even though if someone stood back they would realise that in the long term it is worse for the consumer and the environment.

The question is how does one educate consumers about what they’re forfeiting – to move people away from this idea of treating what they own as disposable to one where they value what they’ve bought and demand that devices are repairable and long lasting – that a pair of earphones that only last 2 years but cost NZ$249 is bordering on the ridiculous if the battery isn’t user replaceable.

One of the things I would love to see is a requirement that hardware companies have to open source the driver source so that it can be merged back into the Android master tree so then there isn’t the situation of Android phones being sold and they stop receiving security and bug fixes 6-12 months after being launched. At the end of the day when you have a smart phone you are running a minicomputer that is connected to the internet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so it makes sense that you need to receive regular updates as security holes are found or as general bugs are found. Many of these devices have good enough hardware specifications to last 2-3 years minimum so why isn’t there an effort to ensure that those devices keep receiving updates even after they’re launched and the OEM has lost interest. Google could provide the compile farms and I’m sure there will be enough enthusiasts willing to keep things working.

Mandate that batteries are user replaceable – we used to have user replaceable batteries. Will it add to the bulk? sure but I’d sooner have the additional bulk with the freedom of being able to replace my battery rather than having to go through the inconvenience of having to take my phone to a store or find yourself in the middle of nowhere with no ability to get a replacement. This also goes for parts because as Louis Rossman noted in his interview, the vendor which supplies Apple has the part but Apple forbids that company from selling it to him so he can complete a repair – which is particularly important when the device is out of warranty or something that Apple has decided is beyond their scope (aka, telling the customer ‘just buy a new one’ but the customer needs the content of what is on the device since it may have not all backed up to the cloud).

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