Apple coronavirus/financial update

Apple issued an investor update today about the financial effects of the current coronavirus on the company’s operations and profits:

Investor update on quarterly guidance
As the public health response to COVID-19 continues, our thoughts remain with the communities and individuals most deeply affected by the disease, and with those working around the clock to contain its spread and to treat the ill. Apple is more than doubling our previously announced donation to support this historic public health effort.

… Work is starting to resume around the country, but we are experiencing a slower return to normal conditions than we had anticipated. As a result, we do not expect to meet the revenue guidance we provided for the March quarter…

Swift Playgrounds

Swift Playgrounds is Apple’s iPad game for learning how to write software code in the company’s Swift programming language. Apple says,

You solve interactive puzzles in the guided “Learn to Code” lessons to master the basics of coding, or experiment with a wide range of challenges that let you explore many unique coding experiences.

See “A Swift Tour“, Swift Playgrounds documentation, and Swift resources for more details.

Swift Playgrounds 3.2 is a free download for iPads running iOS 11 and later.

Swift Playgrounds 3.2 has just been released for macOS, but only for macOS 10.15 Catalina, as it apparently depends on Apple’s Mac Catalyst iPad software conversion subsystem.

Apple Maps update

Apple Maps got a server-side update today for users in the United States, promising improvements with Apple’s pre-existing Maps client apps.

  • better maps and navigation
  • Favorites, Collections and sharing (including ETA)
  • “Look Around” and “Flyover” for some cities with “interactive streel-level imagery with high-resolution 3D photography”
  • real-time transit information for selected cities
  • “Flight status uses on-device Siri intelligence to scan for information stored in Mail, Calendar or Wallet and proactively serves flight information for terminals, gate locations and departure times, as well as flight changes or cancellations for upcoming travel.”

Apple also claims privacy protections as a competitive advantage:

With Maps, no sign-in is required and it is not connected to an Apple ID in any way. Personalized features, such as suggesting departure time to make the next appointment, are created using on-device intelligence. Any data collected by Maps while using the app, like search terms, navigation routing and traffic information, is associated with random identifiers that continually reset to ensure the best possible experience and to improve Maps. Maps goes even further to obscure a user’s location on Apple servers when searching for a location through a process called “fuzzing.” Maps converts the precise location where the search originated to a less-exact one after 24 hours and does not retain a history of what has been searched or where a user has been.

There is an Apple support document for Maps problems:

If the Maps app isn’t working on your Apple device
If you can’t find your location or you notice incorrect results while using Maps on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac, learn what to do.

Apple software/security updates

Apple issued bug fixes, software and security updates today for the Mac, mobile and media systems that it still supports (which no longer include macOS 10.12 Sierra nor anything earlier), plus Apple Windows software:

Apple’s downloads page is often out of date and misleading, but there’s at least a bit more information about bug fixes and downloads available elsewhere, if you search hard enough:

Apple financials

Apple reported its most recent quarterly financial results today, with a press release touting quarterly revenue of $91.8 billion with earnings per share of $4.99.

“Our very strong business performance drove an all-time net income record of $22.2 billion and generated operating cash flow of $30.5 billion,” said Luca Maestri, Apple’s CFO. “We also returned nearly $25 billion to shareholders during the quarter, including $20 billion in share repurchases and $3.5 billion in dividends and equivalents, as we maintain our target of reaching a net cash neutral position over time.”

Apple’s Consolidated Financial Statements [PDF] demonstrate its continuing transition from computer company to media/services/etc.

Net Sales
category
2018 Q4
($billions)
2019 Q4
($billions)
iPhone $ 52.0 $ 55.9
Services 10.9 12.7
Wearables, Home and Accessories 7.3 10.0
Mac 7.4 7.2
iPad 6.7 6.0
Total ($billions) $ 84.3 $ 91.8

2019 Mac Pro rack-mount model

Apple’s 2019 Mac Pro rack-mount model is now available for ordering, starting at $6,499 plus tax in the barest, stripped-down configuration:

3.5GHz 8‑core Intel Xeon W processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.0GHz
32GB (4x8GB) of DDR4 ECC memory
Radeon Pro 580X with 8GB of GDDR5 memory
256GB SSD storage
Rack mounting rails, Magic Mouse 2, Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad

Delivery time for this entry-level model is listed as 3-4 weeks. Upgrades, storage, display, etc. can push the price well above $50,000 and create additional delays, depending on the item(s).

Apple Smart Battery Case defect

Apple has acknowledged defects in one of its iPhone accessories.

Smart Battery Case Replacement Program for iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR
Apple has determined that some Smart Battery Cases made for iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR may experience charging issues. An affected Smart Battery Case may exhibit one or more of the following behaviors:

  • Battery case will not charge or charges intermittently when plugged into power
  • Battery case does not charge the iPhone or charges it intermittently

Affected units were manufactured between January 2019 and October 2019. This is not a safety issue and Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider will replace eligible battery cases, free of charge. … The program covers affected Smart Battery Case for 2 years after the first retail sale of the unit.

Apple notarization warning

Apple warns about upcoming notarization demands in macOS 10.15 “Catalina” for third-party software:

Update to Notarization Prerequisites

In June, we announced that all Mac software distributed outside the Mac App Store must be notarized by Apple in order to run by default on macOS Catalina. …

If you haven’t yet done so, upload your software to the notary service and review the developer log for warnings. These warnings will become errors starting February 3 and must be fixed in order to have your software notarized. Software notarized before February 3 will continue to run by default on macOS Catalina.

As a reminder, all installer packages must be signed since they may contain executable code. Disk images do not need to be signed, although signing them can help your users verify their contents.

Apple Platform Security guide

Apple has published an updated security guide that promotes and describes its various security mechanisms across hardware, software and network/cloud platforms.

Apple Platform Security, Fall 2019
This documentation provides details about how security technology and features are implemented within Apple platforms. It also helps organizations combine Apple platform security technology and features with their own policies and procedures to meet their specific security needs.

The content is organized into the following topic areas:

  • Hardware Security and Biometrics: The hardware that forms the foundation for security on Apple devices, including the Secure Enclave, a dedicated AES crypto engine, Touch ID, and Face ID.
  • System Security: The integrated hardware and software functions that provide for the safe boot, update, and ongoing operation of Apple operating systems.
  • Encryption and Data Protection: The architecture and design that protects user data if the device is lost or stolen, or if an unauthorized person attempts to use or modify it.
  • App Security: The software and services that provide a safe app ecosystem and enable apps to run securely and without compromising platform integrity.
  • Services Security: Apple’s services for identification, password management, payments, communications, and finding lost devices.
  • Network Security: Industry-standard networking protocols that provide secure authentication and encryption of data in transmission.
  • Developer Kits: Frameworks for secure and private management of home and health, as well as extension of Apple device and service capabilities to third-party apps.
  • Secure Device Management: Methods that allow management of Apple devices, prevent unauthorized use, and enable remote wipe if a device is lost or stolen.
  • Security Certifications and Programs: Information on ISO certifications, Cryptographic validation, Common Criteria Certification, and the Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) Program.

Apple Security Bounty program

Apple has an updated program for paying security researchers “who share with us critical issues and the techniques used to exploit them.” Promised payments extend as high as $1,000,000 for “zero-click kernel code execution with persistence and kernel PAC bypass.”

Apple Security Bounty

Eligibility
In order to be eligible for an Apple Security Bounty, the issue must occur on the latest publicly available versions of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, or watchOS with a standard configuration and, where relevant, on the latest publicly available hardware. These eligibility rules are meant to protect customers until an update is available, ensure Apple can quickly verify reports and create necessary updates, and properly reward those doing original research. Researchers must:

  • Be the first party to report the issue to Apple Product Security.
  • Provide a clear report, which includes a working exploit (detailed below).
  • Not disclose the issue publicly before Apple releases the security advisory for the report. (Generally, the advisory is released along with the associated update to resolve the issue). See terms and conditions.

Issues that are unknown to Apple and are unique to designated developer betas and public betas, including regressions, can result in a 50% bonus payment. Qualifying issues include:

  • Security issues introduced in certain designated developer beta or public beta releases, as noted on this page when available. Not all developer or public betas are eligible for this additional bonus.
  • Regressions of previously resolved issues, including those with published advisories, that have been reintroduced in a developer beta or public beta release, as noted on this page when available.

2019 Mac Pro upgrades/add-ons

Now that Apple’s taking orders for the 2019 Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR, we finally have prices for many upgrades and add-ons

A few examples:

2019 Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR debut

Apple’s new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR are finally available for ordering today, having been announced way back in June at far more extravagent price levels than prior products. Apple had neglected both its display and modular/expandable computer product lines for years and years prior to these updates.

Stripped to its very barest, lowest minimums, the new computer/display combo costs $10,998 plus tax and shipping. Getting a stand to hold up the display costs another $999, while the screen’s special anti-glare glass treatment adds another $1000 on top of that. Moving from a tiny 256GB SSD to 2TB adds another $800 to the Mac Pro price. Wheels cost an extra $400. A Radeon Pro Vega II graphics card adds $2,400, and Apple’s Afterburner card costs an extra $2000. The top processor adds $7,000, while maximum memory adds $25,000, and a top-level package hits $59,597 plus taxes, etc.

iWork

iWork is Apple’s app suite for macOS, iOS and iCloud, comprising Numbers, Pages and Keynote for spreadsheet, word processing and presentations, respectively. iCloud requires an Apple ID account and certain system requirements. (See also: iCloud Help and Web-only access.)
  Apple’s latest updates bring only vague “stability and performance improvements.”

macOS 10.14 and up:
  • Pages 8.2.1
  • Numbers 6.2.1
  • Keynote 9.2.1

iOS 12 and up:
  • Pages 5.2.1
  • Keynote 5.2.1
  • Numbers 5.2.1

iCloud:
  • iWork for iCloud [requires Apple ID login]