Inside Apple - March 6th, 2020

Inside Apple (Mar 6th, 2020)

Foxconn reports big revenue drop / Apple’s manufacturing struggles in India / The best way to read email newsletters

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$AAPL (11:00 AM EDT March 6): $287.85 (-1.73%) // More info

Dear readers,

This is my last issue as the writer of Inside Apple. It has been a tremendous pleasure bringing you each day’s Apple news, and I’m so grateful to Inside for the opportunity and the platform. I’ve decided to pursue other pursuits, but I will terribly miss the Inside Apple audience. Y’all have been so responsive and fun, and I hope you’ll keep in touch.

You can find me on Twitter at @ablaze, and if you still want to get email from me sometimes, you can sign up for my personal list on my website.

And hey, if you are interested in writing Inside Apple next, hit reply and tell the team about yourself!

Thanks so much for reading,

— Jon

1. Foxconn reported its largest year-over-year revenue drop since 2013 resulting from Apple production cuts during the coronavirus outbreak. The key iPhone supplier reports that it has returned to 50% capacity, but it will still be a few weeks before it’s back to full production. Apple, Google, and Microsoft are all reportedly looking for ways to diversify their hardware production beyond China, an idea Apple operations staff proposed years ago, but which was rebuffed at the time for being too difficult. Meanwhile, the virus is no longer just a China problem for tech companies; Apple’s home county government is asking tech companies to cancel upcoming public events. — CNBC

2. For several years, Apple has been investigating the possibility of manufacturing iPhones in India at large scale, but it has been impossible so far for a variety of political and logistical reasons. Many suppliers were unable to meet Apple’s environmental, health, or safety standards, and others had intractable labor problems. Some suppliers have been able to manufacture some models of iPhones in India, mostly for domestic consumption, and India’s government is working on ways to make the country more hospitable for high-tech manufacturing, but the idea of Apple making India a global device manufacturing hub the way China is seems unattainable for now. — THE INFORMATION (paywalled)

3. A newly discovered flaw in Intel chips that can’t be patch makes it possible to break Apple’s FileVault encryption on Macs without T1 or T2 security processors. Code injected quickly and early enough in the Mac’s startup process can take control of a security system that handles the encryption keys for the machine’s drives, so the attacker can then decrypt the disks’ contents. Shamefully, security researchers found this flaw just by reading the official documentation of how the startup process works. — THE REGISTER

4. In January, Apple was ordered to pay $838 million to Caltech for patent infringement, and Thursday an appeals court declined Apple’s petition to invalidate one of the patents on “obviousness” grounds. The patent relates to circuitry for encoding and decoding Wi-Fi signals, and Caltech has claimed iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, Macs, Apple TVs, AirPort routers, and Apple Watches all infringe on it and three other patents. Apple still plans to appeal this verdict. — MACRUMORS

5. A coalition of tech companies including Apple has backed a new set of 11 international government principles for preventing child sexual abuse and exploitation online. The principles cover techniques for identifying and tracing abusive content used by many companies, as well as procedures for reporting abuse to authorities, in an effort to standardize the way platforms take responsibility for this problem. The proposal stops short of addressing encryption, though, a critical sticking point between law enforcement and tech companies. Law enforcement agencies around the world argue that encryption makes it difficult to enforce laws online. Tech companies respond that strong encryption without exploitable backdoors is a protection fundamentally necessary to maintain financial and communications security for everyone, even the governments themselves. — CNBC

6. The Banker, Apple’s first big-time movie, is finally hitting theaters after a scandal-plagued development, but the critics aren’t loving it. The overall message is not that the film is bad but rather just a little safe and boring. The film has garnered some positive reviews, but given the importance of the subject — the systemic racism African-Americans faced from the banking industry in the 1960s — it feels like this film should be drawing a stronger response. — BUSINESS INSIDER

7. The latest beta of iOS 13.4 shows specific information about Apple services purchases in the Apple Card transaction history, rather than a generic “Apple Services” charge for everything. This was one of the most mind-boggling and annoying things to me about Apple Card, which I otherwise love. The whole point of this card is to get 3% cash back when paying for Apple stuff, and yet Apple transactions are the most opaque things on the statement. You either have to scan your email for the receipt or enter the terrifying labyrinth of Apple ID settings to find out where the charges come from. When 13.4 comes out, the Wallet app will finally show the icons of the specific things you’re paying for, whether it’s App Store apps or in-app purchases, iTunes media, or a service subscription. — 9TO5MAC

8. People who have been reading Inside Apple since last year’s gadget cycle already know this, but the 2019 5G hype cycle meant virtually nothing in the market, and Apple did not miss out by not jumping on the bandwagon last year. A whopping 1% of phones sold in 2019 had 5G, 74% of which were made by Samsung. Way to go, Samsung. The problem, of course, is that cellular carriers haven’t actually built 5G infrastructure at any meaningful scale yet. Don’t worry, hypebeasts: Apple will make a 5G phone this year. — COUNTERPOINT RESEARCH

9. Housing Trust Silicon Valley has launched the Apple Affordable Housing Fund, a low-income housing development project for the San Francisco Bay Area funded by Apple’s $2.5 billion housing pledge from November. The nonprofit will loan this money to developers for housing projects that all have “long-term affordability restrictions” and will support a mix of income ranges. It also encourages the developers to use sustainable construction methods. — APPLEINSIDER

10. I just want to leave you amazing newsletter fans with a relevant tip: I don’t actually read newsletters in my email app. I use Feedbin, the web-based RSS reader and sync service where just about all my reading material comes in. It provides an email address you can give to newsletters, and the emails come in as nicely formatted articles right alongside other RSS items, rather than as emails mixed in with communication, notifications, and spam. Federico Viticci wrote a great deep dive about it, giving me a nice note to end on here. Newsletters are awesome, aren’t they? I may be signing off here, but I want to leave you with the best newsletter-reading experience I possibly can. Use Feedbin. Support great web publishing! — MACSTORIES

Jon Mitchell has been a tech journalist since 2010. He covered Apple, Google, and the societal effects of social media for the storied blog ReadWriteWeb (now ReadWrite). He co-hosts Internet Friends, a podcast about life online with occasional lengthy digressions into Apple news. He’s the author of In Real Life: Searching for Connection in High-Tech Times from Parallax Press. He has recently, reticently returned to Twitter at @ablaze.

Edited by Inside staff writer Elizabeth Barr.

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