Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Apple Abandons Development of Wireless Routers (bloomberg.com)
404 points by james_pm on Nov 21, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 584 comments

What I miss most about Apple was that Apple was the company that made reasonable decisions for you, when it came to security and all those technical details that was/is endemic in any computing. They had Opinions with a capital O - and made sure that every product you'd buy would be guaranteed to work with other products. If you had the money, you could focus on what you were trying to get DONE rather than spend forever learning about the implementation details. Abstract people from the hardware - focus on the use cases.

Now it seems they're leaving people who depended on that behind. No company offers an ecosystem that doesn't require "fiddling" to get things to work correctly. Maybe this is the way it has to be, but I really wonder what Apple's strategy is going forward, because its clear that they've slowed down or stopped development on everything other than their phones/pads and the occasional laptop. What are all their engineers doing? What is the use of having hundreds of billions in the bank if you're not investing it in growing or creating product lines?

>...made sure that every product you'd buy would be guaranteed to work with other products. If you had the money, you could focus on what you were trying to get DONE rather than spend forever learning about the implementation details. Abstract people from the hardware - focus on the use cases.

Looks down at iPhone 7 which cannot be plugged into new MacBook Pro...

That's probably a temporary glitch in the Apple matrix however ...

this is another announcement after the earlier announcement that they do not develop monitor anymore. They won't develop wifi anymore. They are definitively reducing the Mac line ( you may love or not the new MBP, but they are clearly settling down on a single line of laptop with 3.5 models, and at best a status quo with the rest )

So what does Apple still do ? They do iPhone, iPad and Watches with a limited cloud offering. Everything else is shrinking: Professional line of software and hardware, Mac line in general, hardware ecosystem, even the plain first party software are somewhat stable (I mean, yeah there is TV coming and the rest is same old same old)

What is such a gigantic company doing with its boatload of money that they can't even ship 1 pair of headphone on time ? Even their flagship laptop recently announced has a 4 weeks waiting period, after working on it for 2 years ? (yeah this is an exaggeration, of course there are technical difficulties, but again that's Apple, an enormous, ultra-rich company focused on an extremely tiny product line)

We have a very small, cheap, basic 19" black Dell monitor sitting in the kitchen at home. When a new iphone arrived recently, I stuck the sticker that comes with it onto the base of the monitor.

When an Apple loving friend came around I witnessed first hand the value of branding. She was entranced by this cool black Apple monitor and wanted to know where I had got it from. I'm pretty sure she would have paid at least $100 over the Dell price for such a cool Apple product. She was incredibly disappointed that it was a trick when she found out. The monitor no longer had any value in her eyes even though it was exactly the same as before.

Apple can charge outrageous prices for their products, and people love them despite/because of that. Can't understand why they'd stop making monitors.

On first glance thats hilarious, but then it reminds me of the power of marketing and i get sad and worried about the state of humanity. Shit like this makes me wonder how we as a species has gotten as far as we have.

Bear in mind that brand equity is often earned. I feel that Apple have genuinely earned over the years. However, they now risk losing a lot of it due to the fragmentation of their ecosystem.

Maybe. I can't help but feel that Apple would have been long dead if iPod had not gotten USB support, and thus was usable on Windows.

Before that i don't think most anyone outside of USA even knew Apple existed unless you were interested in media production in some sense.

And that in turn lead to a feedback loop because certain celebrities would show up with an iPod (mostly noticed because of those white wires) because they themselves walk the media circles.

Similarly Apple could get the labels and studios to agree to distribute via iTunes because of that inside track in the industry.

And that in turn was what bootstrapped iPhone beyond being a fancy screened featurephone (though whoever talked Jobs down from going "nuclear" on the gray market jailbreakers was perhaps the true genius there).

But that all this then produce the effect that if you slap a fruit logo on a object peoples interest and appreciation is still worrying. What comes to mind is the comedy caricature of an "art critic" that can deliver a spiel of big words that means crap all upon closer scrutiny.

To be fair you can't just call it a "fruit logo". If you try to slightly modify it people will instantly recognize that it's not the Apple logo and it goes back to being a stupid fruit logo. So (of course) the point is not the fruit but the symbol.

I laughed at the Apple Premium Reseller chain on Gran Canaria the first time I saw it: https://i.sli.mg/lMkulH.jpg

You mention 1 experience with 1 person in your kitchen and conclude that this is how everyone behaves...

Another interpretation might be that 'people pay outrageous prices' because Apple's products are of higher quality/last longer, which makes the long term price lower than similar products of competitors; For example, i am still using an iPhone 5 (September 2012) which runs the latest iOS version smoothly...

Thing is in the case of a dell monitor, those are incredibly well built. Over built in some areas. I believe a sudden drop in interest in a product because its not a brand you expected despite clear positive qualities indicates a malformed attachment.

> those are incredibly well built

you know that because (i assume) you have the technical knowledge. Average people don't know which products of which brand may or may not be well built. But they do now that Apple products are generally of high quality.

The problem is in the case of zero-sum thinking with quality. "Oh that's not Apple, well it's crap" is ridiculous a logical fallacy.

Apple being of whatever quality has no bearing on the quality of anything else. Not only do other companies match, many of them exceed quality of apple.

A colleague of mine dropped nearly $3k on a personal MacBook Pro, then cancelled his order when he found out about the new touch bar. Then he started looking at other laptops that were good quality (we were suggesting lenovo X1s or dell XPSs) and he balked at the prices just above $2k.

"But these are considerably less than what you already had paid for a laptop!" -> "Yeah, but they're not Apple, and when people see Apple, they know you have a good laptop". That branding was literally worth almost $1k to my colleague...

I guess he was willing to pay the premium to not have to mentally sift Thinkpads from Ideapads and XPSs from Inspirons. With Apple its just one "brand", Apple. It is perhaps the greatest marketing asset they possess.

Also, resale values are typically very good. Even years after the initial purchase you can recoup much, much more than a Dell or Lenovo.

Why is this even a consideration?

Apple users seems to be the only ones that even care about "resale" of their computers, almost like they are investments rather than tools.

Because Apple hardware costs more. They're trying to make a point that it sorta-kinda doesn't, in the end, if you bother to sell the old stuff.

I upgrade my PC hardware by throwing away/recycling the old one and buying a new one.

I upgrade my Apple hardware by selling the old one on Craigslist and then buying a new one.

In both cases, I spend about $1000 net each time. In the PC case, that's +$0, -$1000. In the Apple case, that's +$1000, -$2000. Either way, it's -$1000 net.

If you prefer Apple products but think they're "too expensive" because they cost ~$1000 more, this is why people tend to disagree. They paid that ~$1000 once, as an "entrance fee" for their first laptop, but they don't have to pay it again.

Because I thought I saved money by buying Lenovos on paper at least as good as the Apples. Only to have a resale value of about $10 after 3 years when time came to buy a new laptop. (If the hinges etc lasted that long.) A Macbook is more expensive, but not only did it last me +3 years, I sold it for about a third of its original price, money I used to pay part of my next Macbook. That's why.

TL/DR - only Apple devices HAVE a resale value.

Enter my annecdata: I had to surrender my work MBP and got an XPS 15, supposedly one of the best non-Apple alternatives. Alas, here I sit, typing this on my 2008 17" MBP. Even though it has worse spec is nearly every way, it's just a much more usable notebook for me. TL;DR: The Apple premium is still [so far] worth it for me.

Anyone want to buy a barely used XPS 15 (top spec)?

Again, what I quoted from my colleague was his rationale. I don't know why people struggle to accept it (and find it amusing that my original comment attracted so much downvoting - apparently people disagree with me about the conversations I was present for...).

It wasn't about 'mental sifting', or 'flexy laptops' or any of the other excuses people will try to insert. It was about paying for the brand recognition. He'd gone 'wow' at my X1 carbon, and gone 'wow' at another colleagues XPS. But he balked on price because of brand recognition, not because "a single product line is easier to deal with than a choice, so I'm willing to pay almost 50% more".

I certainly agree that Apple's greatest asset is their brand reputation.

It's interesting to take your friend's reaction apart into two components. I don't think they were actually scared of spending $3000 for a laptop, since they were willing to buy the Apple laptop. They were scared, I think, of telling people they spent $3000 on a laptop, if it wasn't a "luxury fashion" brand laptop where that kind of price is societally acceptable to splurge on.

In other words: if you buy a $3000 gaming PC, you're a weird nerd who cares too much about computers. If you buy a $3000 MBP, you're a professional and a connoisseur. Your friend wanted a $3000 computer (probably because, to be frank, they are a "weird nerd" who can put $3000 of hardware to good use), but they didn't want to be labelled as such.

I guess people are a bit in denial about the fashion brand aspect of Apples. I've got an Air and a Lenovo X201 and partly switched to the Air because I got negative comments about the Lenovo's looks - "that thing looks really old" etc. Both laptops work fine.

That or he doesn't want a laptop made of flexy plastic.

I don't know if you read my comment or not, but a core part of it was talking to my colleague about his desires in a laptop.

Brand value isn't just a "name", it's built up by a reputation of durability or usefulness.

Apple products generally have a high resale value like BMWs.

>Apple can charge outrageous prices for their products, and people love them despite/because of that. Can't understand why they'd stop making monitors.

My guess is that there's just not enough profit in it. Monitors last a really long time, and while people like your friend will ooh and ahh over them, that doesn't necessarily translate into sales, and since they don't need to be replaced every year, they won't have the built-in profit that their phones have. It's probably the same with their WiFi access points.

With their WiFi access points I suspect it's because WiFi gear gets overheated and break down. (Probably fried capacitors.) I have given up on Apples' and other premium gear WiFi because of this. Now I just purchase 3 new cheap WiFi routes every 12 - 18 months and throw away the ones I have.

I have another Linksys "premium" home router ($200-300) but the WiFi died on that too, but it lives on as an OpenWRT home router but with WiFi disabled. The Apple WiFi routers also lived on for a while with WiFi disabled but acting as TimeMachine backups. Then the disks died and I couldn't be arsed to pry open the case with a hair drier to get at the disk inside and replace it. So for my home, the setup went from Apple all-in-one combo gear with routing, WiFi and backup disk, to specialized functions for WiFi (cheapest off the shelf), routing (openwrt), and backup disks (standard NAS hardware). (For TimeMachine.)

I hope my 15" Macbook lasts for a really long time, because when it's dead I don't know if Apple has any Macbook I want to have. But that's tomorrows sorrows..., no use worrying about that until the time comes. (I guess I can always fall back to Linux and some PC laptop.)

You might want to consider investing in some better gear, like some Ubiquiti APs and a proper firewall appliance (e.g. pfSense or a Ubiquiti firewall as well). For not much more than the cost of your 'premium' home router, you could buy 2-3 APs and a firewall appliance and have a much more reliable configuration (or at least, less to buy when something dies).

I did invest the time and money in a pfSense, but that's WAY more complicated to configure [correctly] than my old and retired AirPort Express. I really can't blame "normal" people for not going that route and I'll join the crowd pining for the Apple that was.

OpenWRT IS a proper firewall appliance and will run on just about anything. I basically have your solution in place already...

OpenWRT is a good-idea firmware running on consumer-grade hardware which almost definitely can't deal with what you're throwing at it.

Just beacuse you paid a bunch of money for it and flashed it with a better firmware doesn't make it good hardware, and custom firmwares often have poor support (and, on more than a few occasions, worse performance) than the default firmwares optimized by the manufacturer for the specific hardware they have.

The fact that you have to keep buying new hardware tells me that you have lousy hardware and should step up to proper hardware rather than expensive consumer-grade stuff.

Yes. Or you know, keep replacing the parts that break, the things with WiFi i them. These run stock firmware. The one with openwrt is now for routing and firewall only and works fine. (Wifi disabled, Ethernet only.) A benefit to replacing wifi gear so far has been to keep one step ahead of the neighbours in the wifi spectrum. Gets crowded signal wise downtown.

My random cheap MSI wifi router is about 10 years old, been on all that time.

My work expensive Cisco access points are so reliable I've never seen some of them in 10 years (they're above the dropped ceiling)

What you call "premium" is in reality just overpriced consumer gear. Ciscos enterprise access points happily sustain 5 years of thorough use without an issue, but they cost more than 300$.

(I typed a reply to this but it doesn't seem to have been saved....)

What the heck are you doing with your WiFi gear to have these problems? I've used all kinds of cheap-o routers over the years, and never had problems with them overheating. Are you living in the desert without A/C or something? My current router is just a cheap TP-Link dual-band I got used on Ebay; it runs DD-WRT and has been working fine for 1.5 years hiding behind my sofa. Before that, I had a cheap Cisco/Linksys e1000 I got used and ran DD-WRT on for probably 3 years. I gave it away to someone, and last I heard it still works just fine. Before that I had some D-Link I think, which I replaced because a firmware update prevented my network print jobs from going through (obviously not a hardware problem). I've also had (about 4 years ago, for work) a Cisco/Linksys dual-band which worked great, and a Cisco enterprise AP which was very reliable though the IOS UI was the worst thing I've ever seen in my life. Honestly, your post is the first time I've heard anyone complain about WiFi routers having overheating problems.

Maybe I'm luckier because I usually run DD-WRT and set the transmit strength a bit lower, but I've only done that with the last couple of routers.

I don't know really. I live in the same country you do. Maybe you could class my closet with a PC and a Mac Mini for remote compilation as a local desert of sorts. It gets pretty warm in there.

> That's probably a temporary glitch in the Apple matrix however ...

No, it's endemic to Apple products in the past five+ years, starting with Thunderbolt so people needed to carry converters to connect DVI and VGA monitors and beamers, wired networks, etc - which are common in most workplaces still. Apple could've alleviated that by providing a universal converter with the MBP, but they decided against that.

They're repeating that step with the new Macbooks using only USB-C, although this time it's a bit more standardized.

They screwed up with the iPhone, again making their own proprietary connector instead of USB-C (which probably wasn't around at the time), and by removing the 3.5mm jack making it incompatible with all existing headphones / earplugs.

Apple could've fixed it with the iphone 7, but they didn't, sticking to their connector in which they probably invested a lot of monies. They could've fixed it with the new MBP by adding a universal converter / docking station, or even supplying an USB-C to Lightning cable, but they didn't.

It's not a glitch in the Apple matrix, because they're not making any efforts in fixing it.

Thunderbolt display was also a massive 'glitch' in the lineup. It still has the old original Magsafe power on it which hasn't shipped on Macs for years! To mitigate this they've been shipping an adapter in the box since then. Crazy! http://www.macrumors.com/2012/06/13/apple-including-free-mag...

Seems to me the easiest way to support both types of MagSafe options (many machines out there from 2009-2011)

Apple will give out dividends.

They're also moving towards everything wireless. I can't remember the last time I plugged my iPhone into my MBP. It syncs to iCloud and updates are all OTA.

> It syncs to iCloud

That sounds great if you want Apple to have all your data. But why do you?

Never mind that wires will always be better and more private than wireless.

> Never mind that wires will always be better ... than wireless.

For some values of "better". For me, not plugging in and needing to carrying around wires is always better.

> and more private

Wireless can be secure and unencrypted wired transfers can be sniffed via the electromagnetic radiation they emit. This isn't as cut and dry as some like to pretend.

Welcome to the difference between "in a security researcher's dreams" and "occurs frequently out in the real world".

I went to a security conference once where a presenter was telling me about a previous conf, where he was demonstrating a 'free wifi' box that snooped on all connections and pulled passwords out of them. He was demoing it on stage when the wifi went out in the other auditorium behind (also part of the sec conference). His magic little box then went berserk as huge amounts of security professionals at a security hacking conference then connected to it to try and re-establish their wifi. [1]

Compare this kind of story to the kind of setup you need to have to sniff EM radiation from a cat-5 cable.


[1] The point of his story was that security professionals love to lecture others on correct tech use, but in reality the sec recommendations come so thick and fast that even the sec professionals don't keep up with them. How is a mere mortal to cope?

I totally agree that in general, wired will beat wireless for security. After all, you can also encrypt your wired connections. I was merely pointing out that it's not a guarantee that wireless is worse. It can be secure.

The "better" argument was my bigger disagreement. Wired isn't "better" in any absolute terms. I'll happily use wireless rather than wired for the convenience of walking across my house with my laptop. Or, you know, actually using my cell phone.

I wish we had some sort of wired equivalent privacy for wifi.

Yeah things are hitting the point where i ponder setting the router to disconnect on inactivity, to approximate the behavior of dialup.

> For some values of "better". For me, not plugging in and needing to carrying around wires is always better.

Ha! I don't believe it for a second. The other day my iPhone went from 100% to dead in less than an hour - in airplane mode using only the music app and strava.

This anecdote seems lacking value. I don't know why your phone died in an hour, but given that you claim to have been in airplane mode, I don't see how "wireless" is relevant.

Given that you were using Strava, I'd guess you killed your battery running GPS, but that doesn't mix with airplane mode.

I hear you. The first I do with anything Apple is to turn off everything cloud, Siri, whatever. Then sync phone with USB or (bleck!) iTunes WiFi sync.

My MacBook doesn't have its own data plan, so when I'm out and can't sponge off someone's free WiFi (or don't trust it), I tether my phone. It's a great thing to be able to do.

And if I'm in that situation (often: in a library, a school parking lot waiting for my kid's basketball practice to end, etc.) I'm stingy about battery power. I turn off the Mac's Wifi (which makes a big difference), and wire tether my phone.

> I can't remember the last time I plugged my iPhone into my MBP.

Yesterday at an airport to charge my phone! But I haven't synched via a cable in ages.

If this is so true, they should have erred in the other direction. Made the cable plug into usb-c by default, and make the wall connector usb-c as well. Then people like you can just keep it plugged into the wall and sync by iCloud, and I can plug my phone into my damn laptop without buying a new cable.

It's worth pointing out that when iPhone 7 came out the only Mac product with USB C was the small little MacBook. It wouldn't make much sense overall to ship iPhone with a USB-C lightning cable.

I would not be surprised if the next iPhone came with a USB-C cable.

You're doing it wrong. Apple wants you to just sync with iCloud; if you want to do things differently than how Apple wants you to do things, then you're not a very good Apple customer. You need to stop trying to think different.

Yep, and that sure is nice if you are living in a country or region that has fast, cheap data.

I don't buy into enough of the eco system, but do Apple devices sharing an Apple ID to sync over LAN/WLAN instead of hitting icloud?

You dont need to use cellular data anywhere in this chain. You just need to be on the same wifi as the iphone

Like the wireless keyboard, mouse and trackpad which you pair by connecting them to your computer with an USB-A to lightning cable, which is not possible with the current lineup of notebooks?

Good luck with that when iCloud corrupts. Always backup to a computer so you have a local copy of your phone for when fort Apple goes rotten.

So, correct... until you buy a $20 cable which doesn't come with the damn phone or laptop. Yes, that is amazingly integrated and user friendly.


Sure, having to purchase an extra cable (after buying your $2000 laptop) might be fairly user-hostile, but the claim made was incorrect - there's not much arguing that.

This is all kind of mitigated by the fact that users's just don't plug iOS devices in computers anymore to transfer stuff - Spotify (and iCloud) has eliminated most need for that. If people are plugging them in, its to charge them (which is pretty important), but you can just use the power adapter IF you have one around.

I guess count me as an outlier. I still plug in to backup. I mean, why not? My computer, phone and cable are literally sitting right there next to me.

So, after dropping $3,000+ in the Apple ecosystem, another $20 must be spent to get two Apple devices to communicate.

But Microsoft and Google aren't as user friendly somehow?

No money is needed to get the devices to communicate, because the devices are no longer expected to communicate. iOS has been fully independent of macOS (to end-users) for half its life.

I'm sorry, but that's simply not true. Millions of iPhone users have been migrating their phones from 4, to 4s, to 5 or 5s up to the iPhone 7. They have all their photos since 2010 stored in there and have inherited all the crap from every single unexpected reboot, failure and app residues, building up gb's of 'other files' as shown in iTunes. Most of iPhone users have a 5Gb iCloud account where not even a whatsapp backup fits, and they still need a computer to migrate all the data. Tell me again how are you going to migrate a 64 or 128 gb of data from one phone to another without using USB. That, and the fact that you're still unable to put music inside an iPhone if you don't a) buy it from the app store or b) using iTunes

you can connect to itunes over wifi just fine, you can do everything you can do with USB except wirelessly

ahh haha come on. I mean, I never transfer data between iPhone and computer any more, but iTunes WiFi Sync just does not work nearly as reliably as it should.

It fails so frequently that it's just not able to be used.

Don't you first have to make a wired connection to enable this?

Last time I checked it isn't possible to deploy from Xcode to an iPhone wirelessly

At some point it was but they scratched it.

They have all their photos since 2010 stored in there and have inherited all the crap from every single unexpected reboot, failure and app residues, building up gb's of 'other files' as shown in iTunes

Meh. They should just copy their photos off their idevice using USB PTP mode. That's USB config 1 when an idevice plugs into a PC. No macOS required. No iTunes required. Done. Solved. As for the crap, isn't that an argument to NOT migrate via iTunes?

Most of iPhone users have a 5Gb iCloud account where not even a whatsapp backup fits, and they still need a computer to migrate all the data

ICloud storage is super cheap, especially compared to the price of a smartphone every 2 years. If you're not using this, you're cheating yourself out of one of the biggest advantages that iOS has over other computing platforms. iCould backup is the one thing in iCloud that really just works.

Plus there's dropbox. Solved.

But it still isn't strictly necessary.

That, and the fact that you're still unable to put music inside an iPhone if you don't a) buy it from the app store or b) using iTunes

Wat? Who still does this?

Also, they talk fine over WiFi, which is built into both. There's some Bluetooth stuff too, but I never figured that out.

But it's very important not to allow your iPhone to talk to your Mac because that means iTunes will run and make everything worse.

Me: I need to charge my phone, I'll just plug it into this handy USB port on my Mac...

iTunes: Hello!

Does either the phone or laptop come with that cable?

Yeah, it's a shame they gave you a cable that:

- they don't expect you to plug into a computer at all except in emergency

- can be plugged into the provided charger

- can be plugged into a computer you're statistically more likely to have than a new MBP with only USB-C ports

> - can be plugged into a computer you're statistically more likely to have than a new MBP with only USB-C ports

With regard to the Apple ecosystem, I think it's valid to complain that the cable included with the new iphone does not connect to the new macbook, when they were announced at the same time. Even if it's only supposed to be used in an emergency, does that mean in an emergency you should be punished for staying within the Apple ecosystem?

I think Apple has been pretty clear that they are moving their ecosystem to wireless connectivity. The iPhone connects to the new MBP over wifi quite well.

And yet after the iOS10 update a lot of people had to plug the iphone in to restore it. I was also affected and was glad that I had a computer ready. I know about others who just didn't have a device close by they could use (iPad/iPhone only) and had to go to an Apple store.

Next time there will be people who had a laptop but not the adapter, because you are never supposed to need it.

That's of course just an edge case, but the fact that it just happened shows that it can be important. And Apple used to be known to always deliver a great user experience, not just in 95% of the cases.

If they were though, they could've made wireless charging a thing five years ago. (although that conflicts with their aluminium devices)

It was almost 2 months before USB-C appeared on the MBP line. The announcement came a full month after the iPhone 7s landed in people's hands.

Yet the MacBook line has been USB-C only for a year and a half.

So you're saying that it was even less statistically likely (before the release of the new MBPs) that an iPhone owner would have a computer with USB-C exclusively.

One of the advantages of plugging in your iPhone to your Mac is the easiest zero configuration cellular tethering on the market.

Android and Linux is (shockingly) also automatic. I plugged my phone into my laptop because I didn't want to run down the phone battery while using it as a mobile wifi hotspot. I was shocked to notice that I had Internet access on the laptop before I even enabled the mobile hotspot functionality.

It turns out that when I plugged the phone into the laptop USB, it showed up as a USB ethernet device, which NetworkManager then happily auto-configured.

So clearly 2016 is the year of the Linux laptop.

This has been true for a while now. I remember being equally surprised when this worked on Ubuntu in (I think) 2013.

It's super easy to tether to an iPhone nearby. In fact right now, I click the wifi icon and 'personal hotpot: iphone' appears within .5 seconds.

Instant Hotspot fails more than half the time between my 6s+ and 2013 rMBP (Sierra). And to get the WiFi hotspot to work you have to have the setting app open to the hotspot page.

This may seem stupid, but do you use it when both devices haven't been connected to the internet recently? Seems like it works better if the laptop was recently able to access your iCloud account.

I've not had issues with it using my 6 and 2015 rmbp. It works when my comp is not on wifi and my cell has a cellular connection.

He's OK with the cable. He's not OK with only USB-C ports.

How often do you plug your iphone into your mac? Honestly? Once I setup wifi-syncing I've maybe plugged in the usb cable to the computer to the iphone 3 times this year.

Pretty often when I'm in a coffeeshop or using tether mode, in order to keep the phone battery charged from the much beefier laptop battery.

That can be solved with an external battery, but using a short USB-Lightning cable has been easy and great. Now we'll just need to make sure we buy yet a different cable if we use a new-new laptop, which isn't that upsetting.

Also amusing to me, this is the same thing people were talking about when Apple moved from the 30 pin connector to lightning.

And Firewire to USB, and VGA to DVI to Displayport to HDMI, and...

I'm just surprised that apple did the thing everyone wanted: switch to a standard. And now bam, nope this is horrible. Its time for usb c, sucks now but it'll pass. Be more worried about usb c incompatibility more than usb c.

The coolest thing about USB-C is that it's the same in both ends...

Doesn't mean all USB-C is compatible with all USB-C sadly. So we'll have lots of my $BRAND cable didn't work with $OTHERBRAND problems.

I never heard of this. Sounds really bad. :-/ Any examples in the wild?

Daily — for charging and tethering on the go.


I tether for internet access and backup the device.

I can live with my phone not being able to be connected with my computer with a cable. The new keyboard, mouse and trackpad however pair by being connected through their lightning port.

So when you buy a new macbook and the new external keyboard and mouse by apple you need an adapter additionally to be able to connect them with each other.

Not being able to connect to your laptop... without the right cable? [1]

Obviously you're going to need at least one of these [2] in your carrying case for any number of reasons.

Equally obvious is in a couple years you won't need it, and you won't miss it.

I mean this is the classic Apple playbook, and every time it ends the same way; Apple led the pack, too early for some, but ultimately they led.

[1] - https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01G1SKCPC

[2] - https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01AUKU1OO/

Disclaimer: I work for Google.

FWIW, having played around with Google's routers, they work pretty well, even from iOS. Chromecasts "just work" in the old Apple sense of the term: you plug it in, you find the thing you want to watch online that you want on your TV, press the button in Chrome and hey presto, you got your cat video on your OLED.

If you're OK with having Google store data on you[1], I'd say the Google hardware division has a lot of what you talk about here.

[1] Before the flood of angry HN replies come in, I get that is not everyone, but knowing what I know about Google's privacy practices, I am perfectly happy with that.

I spent about an hour last weekend getting a Chromecast working again but I agree that they're mostly pretty simple to setup and "just work."

I also really love the idea. TVs should mostly just be big monitors and decoupled from the source of content. Especially in conjunction with both tablets and web browsers on a laptop/Chromebook, this is precisely what Chromecast enables. I don't think I've used any of my "smart TV" features since I got a Chromecast. It was always painful to enter things like passwords anyway.

I use Google services where there’s clear value in them storing my data, but I’m yet to see an explanation for the value proposition in Google’s routers so I can make a choice as to whether it’s worth it to me. How will they use that data to make a better experience for me?

Unfortunately I've had a lot of trouble with the quality of the first and second gen Chromecasts (haven't tried the newest 4k ones). Whether audio cutting out or endless buffering over wireless its always felt a bit janky and unreliable, even after I got the wired ethernet adapter plug. The Chromecast Audio however has worked very well.

Last I checked, the google router thing didn't support IPv6. Has that changed? I've been using IPv6 at home with a previous-generation Airport Extreme for over four years.

> Chromecasts "just work" in the old Apple sense of the term: you plug it in, you find the thing you want to watch online that you want on your TV, press the button in Chrome and hey presto, you got your cat video on your OLED

I wish. Chromecast could not mirror or could not stream audio. Eventually, I was fed up and I bought an Apple TV.

Couldn't mirror in what sense? I know that you can cast your entire screen from a desktop or from an Android. Unsure about iOS devices.

On iOS, chromecast support is up to the app. This means no streaming movies you got from Amazon or Apple. This kind of behavior might make sense from a service, but not from an appliance.

That said, chromecast has probably my favorite interface for interacting with the set-top box. I mourned moving on to the apple tv.

I couldn't mirror my MBP due to audio issues. Apparently, it is a known bug on MBPs.

> What is the use of having hundreds of billions in the bank if you're not investing it in growing or creating product lines?

Is this an accurate characterization of Apple's strategy over the last 12-24 months? A lot of stuff has happened:

- Expansion of their cloud services. Apple Music, iCloud, HomeKit, Health are all vertically-integrated services that (in theory) just work across your Apple devices. Siri improves little-by-little every day; Maps is low-key excellent in major US cities.

- Release of the Apple Watch and (soon) Airpods. Note that the Airpods (and new Beats) include the W1 chip, which qualifies as the "no-fiddle" type of innovation you mentioned before.

- Their vision of personal computing in the iPad Pro. iOS is stale on these devices (and I suspect we'll see an overhaul this year), but Tim Cook sells these as "computers" for a reason.

- Continued growth along their main product lines. The iPhone is still the best smartphone for most people, the iPad is the best tablet available for anyone, the MBP was redesigned. These are boring points that produce crazy $$$ for Apple.

- Many rumored projects: AR, self-driving cars, a redesign of the iPhone, the ongoing play for streaming TV, a near-certain redesign of their desktops.

It's difficult to judge Apple at this point because computing has changed. Capital-O Opinions mattered more when the alternative was a muddled computing ecosystem. Since then, other companies have copied the Apple playbook, and we see well-designed, vertically-integrated products everywhere. Apple is the tide that raised the fleet of "tech product" ships, for better or worse.

Agreed. The entire reason I got my parents to get an iMac and an AirPort Extreme was because I knew they'd never have to worry about them (meaning I'd never have to worry about them).

I buy airport extremes for the exact same reason.

Between this, the refusal to make another 17 inch laptop, making those laptops unupgradeable via soldering storage in and the assortment of other decisions that are out there like this one I'm getting much closer to full abandon ship mode.

I was already planning a Linux laptop but this might accelerate things.

I do the same for my parents, but I stopped buying Airport routers a while ago. The reason I did has nothing to do with Apple or a deficiency in the product and everything to do with my parent's broadband provider. The broadband modems they rent out suck. And because my parents have pets, the modems die regularly. And when they do, they can't just send a replacement unit, they have to send a technician out.

I handle all the phone support and leave my mom a script for when the repair person comes and in both I'm making sure that the replacement unit is a simple modem and not a combination modem/router that they like to give out. And yet each and every time, if I'm not personally present when the technician visits, I find that the technician set up the combo router and the nice, expensive Airport is sitting idly by, useless until I can figure out how to make their PoS combo router operate as a bridge, which isn't easy considering how poor the web UIs are on those boxes. After repeating this process many times, I gave up on buying stand-alone routers...it's just too frustrating.

So if my mom, who has a techie son who knows the difference between a modem and a router, can't reliably get her broadband provider to give her a simple modem without router functionality, what are the chances that other people with her level of acumen who don't have a son like me can get them to do it? I never like to generalize my own experience to explain larger trends, but I think in this case it might be apt. I imagine Apple has trouble with Airports from the broadband companies pushing their own inferior solution to people who don't understand enough to push back. Apple probably has a lot of angry feedback from people who don't realize that the Airport they paid a bunch of money for is sitting unused next to a crappy, inferior box that has been setup and connected to their internet, which is actually the box causing the problems.

> No company offers an ecosystem that doesn't require "fiddling" to get things to work correctly.

In modern times you rarely have to fiddle with wireless routers or displays to make them work correctly with different devices. There's not much left there for Apple to add any unique value to and if there's no benefit to consumers they won't pay a premium for the products.

I think their strategy going forward is to sell overpriced phones and watches to people who don't know any better.

Their computing platform has effectively been left behind: from five-year-old chips in laptops which haven't received a substantial update in almost as long, to their flagship prosumer "desktop" PC which is as unremarkable as it is unexpandable, nothing seems competitive anymore, let alone the bleeding edge upon which a lot of their products used to be positioned. The fact that the UE from their phones and tablets is being lifted and shoehorned into OS X (whoops, "MacOS") at the expense of usability and stability is more than a little off-putting, too.

It seems like all they care about these days are their mobile phones and tablets, and the iTunes universe that goes with them. I couldn't care less about any of that.

Their computers were never quite "bleeding edge", but there was a few years where they hit a really great sweet spot:

1. Top quality industrial design and components (trackpads, screens, etc.).

2. Reasonably competitive specs (never as cheap as building an equivalent PC from parts, but close enough that you didn't feel totally ripped off)

3. An OS that provided Unix compatibility with a nice GUI that Just Worked.

Now, in all three areas, they've either fallen back, or their competitors have caught up.

1. The design and build quality of the best ultrabooks matches that of the Mac, and individual components like screens are often better. Meanwhile, Apple refuse to introduce real touch-screens on their laptop, presumably due to internal pressure from the iPad division, so they settle on the touchbar as a compromise. Or they want better sound, but can't make it work internally, so they just add fake speaker grilles instead.

2. The specs have stagnated, while the prices have increased dramatically.

3. The OS has gradually been locked down, and its Unix roots eroded. Meanwhile, Desktop Linux has improved, and Microsoft has added Linux compatibility to Windows.

HiDPI laptops?

The thinness?

Early use of UEFI, and PCIe and NVMe SSDs?

The first use of the Core 2 processors in anything was the MBP, which had been PowerPC before.

Plus all their interconnecticity protocols.

Seems reasonably bleeding edge to me. Completely fair to hold them to it.

The short of it is they lack an end user at the top to call the shots and dictate to every facet of the company what works best for him.

Is Faraday / Electric Apple Car still a thing?

It looks like they're scaling down their car project (Project Titan):


Apple's car project was called 'Titan'. Faraday is from a Chinese firm.

no. it was confirmed dead.

Was it ever a thing?

Wasn't thin enough.

No, it had the wrong connectors: it didn't work with anything else.

>but I really wonder what Apple's strategy is going forward, because its clear that they've slowed down or stopped development on everything other than their phones/pads and the occasional laptop.

Their strategy is simple and obvious, and straight out of a modern American business school textbook: reduce or eliminate product lines that aren't making big profits, and continue milking the product lines that are making big profits. This means bigger profits company-wide.

>What is the use of having hundreds of billions in the bank if you're not investing it in growing or creating product lines?

Why bother doing that when you can just continue milking your cash cow product lines when you have hordes of cultish buyers happy to give you all their money for your overpriced products? Obviously, they've found that this works great with some products (phones, tablets), and not too well with other products (WiFi APs), so it's perfectly sensible for them to drop the latter.

Will this bite them in the ass later? Looking at Apple customers, I seriously doubt it.

For the past decade I've been blindly buying Apple products (but been using Macs since late 90s), while looking at alternatives with disdain. Paying the Apple premium allowed the tech to get out of the way. Very happy to continue paying, but it seems like Apple is forcing me to leave. In this relationship, I'm the one getting dumped. I'm not sad about it, but from a business perspective why they are actively pushing me away? Canceling product lines (routers, mac pro), not updating the active ones (mac mini, iMac), and being difficult with the products they do update (MBP, iPhone).

On a relative basis, Apple has infinite resources. It has cash, the brand and can attract the right people to run the business. Each product line, like the routers and mac pro can be focused on because they have the resources to do it. Most companies re-focus on core products because they are spread too thin - Apple is not.

From its actions, it's becoming quite clear that Apple does not know what to do with its financial muscle or no longer knows how to do things in parallel. The recent product abandonments seem to point to a future where only iPhones and iPads exist along with one laptop model (Apple TV may also disappear in a few years if Apple cannot or does not want to somehow get into large content production). Everything else is useless in the eyes of Apple and is easily dispensable. I wouldn't be surprised at all if by this time next year the only "computers" from Apple one MacBook Pro w/Touch Bar and one single iMac.

To a lay person, this doesn't look like better focus. It looks like:

* Incompetence in management, because of all the outdated stuff still being sold at high and old prices

* Inability to attract and/or retain good talent, because Apple is not expanding teams to sustain its product lines. It's instead closing down and collapsing them into the iPhone/iPad/MBP lines.

* A complete lack of vision, because nothing is being done for years on several product lines. If that's not shameful, I don't know what is.

It's very sad to see this unfold, but I guess all good things come to an end, and this is happening sooner than expected.

Tim Cook was supposed to be a logistics guy. "In parallel" should be his thing. To have years in between updating products is the opposite of what I expected to happen. Thought he'd put Apple on a schedule with periodic updates, like ducks in a row. This plus the lack of vision is sad for a company that had both.

EDIT: And look at Tim's wikipedia page, there's a quote: "You kind of want to manage it like you're in the dairy business. If it gets past its freshness date, you have a problem"

That's why you can't have administrators leading an innovation company. Administrators and beauracrats lack creative vision, and that's what sustained Apple all those years.

The sad thing is that creative vision is one of those things that all of us start out with, but then it gets beat out of us through the course of childhood and mandatory education.

Referring to Tim Cook as an "administrator" or "bureaucrat" betrays a stunning level of ignorance of his achievements. His significant optimizations of Apple's massively complex supply chain is the reason the company has been able to sell over one billion iPhones (and countless other devices) to date. So he has plenty of innovations under his belt. They are just operational innovations, so most techies tend to either not be aware of them or take them for granted (since it's not their domain of expertise).

What made Steve Jobs different was that he was a product guy and an incredible visionary to boot. He had the rare ability to care about details of individual products while also having a solid grasp of the big picture in terms of how those products should come together to form an ecosystem. I think Tim Cook tries to delegate those things to people who just aren't as good as Steve Jobs (naturally), which explains the questionable decisions Apple has made recently regarding their products.

So he's a supply-chain dynamo. Vastly different skill set than that of a strong-willed and opinionated designer. You are right though, he is delegating the 'vision' parts of his assignment to his inferiors and Apple suffers for it.

I don't know if you have ever hang around supply-chain people, but with the ones I know, I would not want them designing stuff.

You make it sound as if he single-handedly sold over a billion phones. What else helped sell over a billion iPhones? Saccharine, simplified, cheery, brain-dead UI; an army of Apple loyalists, explainers, and apologists (still mourning the loss of their Beloved Leader); several metric fuck-tons of marketing and advertising spend, a panoply of factors that result in a once-per-year or once-per-every-other-year purchase cycle, and a phalanx of impeccably-decorated retail locations, among other things. Sure, Mr. Cook plays his role, and Apple's SCM is best-in-the-world, but I think there are more Tim Cooks out there than Steve Jobs.

That quote is about Inventory and Just-In-Time production.

Not product freshness.

> no longer knows how to do things in parallel

Doing things in parallel isn't how the org is setup: instead of vertical feature groups like most other companies (a Mac division, a phone division, accessories, etc), the company is split into design/hardware engineering/software. Means you get more integration with each part and less cross-org battles that Microsoft was famous for back in the day. Downside is that when the next iPhone was all hands on deck, they were pulling people off of Mac OS to work on it.

>A complete lack of vision

Actually its the complete opposite. They have a strong vision of the future and are shaping whole company to be ready for it. That means dropping all the things that will become irrelevant/commodity in ~5 years. Personal computer is one of those things.

In Apple vision future iteration of iPhone will replace _everything_. Small portable gateway to the cloud.

Yes, this means dropping all the pro-summer products. Apple doesnt need top 5% consumers anymore, the Final Cut Pro/Aperture fanatics, the DTP market, education, software devs. This was important in early 2000 to establish leading brand thru influencers. Today all of it gives marginal return on investment, so why bother when you can concentrate on volume?

The impression i have is that Apple under Jobs was about pitching products to one guy, Jobs. If he wanted to use it, it went on sale, if not then forget about it leaving the lab.

Apple are clearly abandoning the concept of an all-Apple solution, and the concept that all their products are part of an ecosystem. I've said it before, iPhone and iPad are successful because "there's an app for that" and if Apple doesn't look after developers and content creators, how is that going to work? If they don't own the whole experience then how do they deliver "it just works"?

People go Apple because they want the integrated experience, but if that's not on offer anymore, if you have to actually research which is "the best" of any component in your setup, why not re-evaluate everything? Eventually it will get to the point where it's as much hassle to use Apple as it would be to use Windows or Linux and at that point, it will boil down to a decision on price, and Apple will lose heavily. Those HP Mini Workstations look pretty sweet, compared to a Mac Mini...

Yes, Apple shouldn't have given me any reason to look elsewhere, because I might like what I see. Which I did recently - for less money as a MBP, I bought a near top of the line desktop (dual boot Win 10 and free linux) and still have money left over for an ultrabook (which I might not buy because I'll try my iPad for mobility)

For all we know Apple is just canning Airport and launching a new product that replaces it and does other things.

It seems kind of silly for Apple to sell a handful of separate products --each replaceable by outside companies' offerings -- when they could instead sell one integrated Apple TV/Airport/Time Capsule/MacMini/whatever. Slap a touchscreen on it call it (Apple icon) Home and sell it for $299 (or $499 if you want a decent SSD).

Apple Airport Time Capsule is now $399, with 3 TB HDD.

"The Time capsule doubles as a backup storage hard drive for Mac computers."

It seems that they won't offer even anything like that, when the "people familiar with the matter" are right. From the article:

"Apple began shutting down the wireless router team over the past year, dispersing engineers to other product development groups"

"Apple hasn’t refreshed its routers since 2013 following years of frequent updates to match new standards from the wireless industry. The decision to disband the team indicates the company isn’t currently pushing forward with new versions of its routers."

> Time Capsule is now $399

Yeah maybe add $x00 to my examples above.

> "Apple began shutting down the wireless router team over the past year, dispersing engineers to other product development groups"

It specifically says they put some of them on the Apple TV team and Apple is generally pretty secretive about entirely new offerings. "Apple is getting out of the router business" is clearly an extrapolation from "Airport is not going to get future updates". That may be correct but it's not a 'matter' that the sources are likely to be 'familiar' with unless they are senior executives.

Yeah I'm starting to get disappointed in the direction they're moving. My mb pro is from early 2013 and runs fine, but I'll be looking to upgrade in the next couple years. Nothing I'm seeing in the product line is very encouraging at this point. I'm very disappointed if this router news is true. Router firmware updates on most products are non-existent, but with my Apple router I haven't needed to worry about that.

I'm guessing because when it comes to beefy desktops and chubbier but port friendly laptops, the Windows ecosystem beats them out on price. They don't want to get in a price war with anyone as they will drive down their famous 30-40% margins. I also think Apple is dedicated to stop being a traditional computer company entirely and to become a mobile-only entity in the long run.

I think Cook and other leadership are really focused on Jobs' vision of the post-PC period. The problem here is that the PC's never went away. We just stopped updating them as often. I'm afraid Jobs died when it was looking like PCs could ultimately be replaced by mobile devices in most circumstances. I imagine Cook is under pressure by the board to "fulfill Steve's last bullet points" which was an email that was famously leaked recently. It seemed very 2007-2010-ish level of thinking, when the mobile revolution was in full force, but come 2011-2016, suddenly tablet sales stagnated and PC sales didn't bottom out and have recently gone up.

Sadly, with VR and AR possibly being the new big thing, a beefy video-card is all but mandatory and not the kind of thing that can be shoved into a 3-5 watt SoC. That's another big thing Apple is going to ignore because it goes against its mobile-only vision.

Apple is in a strange position because no one there seems to have the political clout to say "Steve was wrong, the post-PC world isn't happening and we need to beat Lenovo, MS, and Dell on laptops, desktops, and accessories. PC's arent going away guys!" Jobs as a dead prophet is unquestionable. This is the problem of having a cult of personality instead of proper flexible leadership. Cook has become a caretaker to Jobs' vision and Jobs' vision is probably wrong. The moves they are now making are probably wrong.

AFAIK Jobs' vision of the post-PC era never meant the PC died or was abandoned. It simply was no longer the only tool in the box. iPads are great. iPhones are great. I have both. But I (and many others, not just developers) need capable and performant desktop computing devices.

> the Windows ecosystem beats them out on price

Just from a "Apple Laptop" vs. "Windows Laptop" perspective, the MS Surface laptops are a bit pricy if you're only looking at the lower end of Apple's offerings.

That's the beauty of it though. If you want something slick and powerful, there are options. If you want a $250 piece of shit laptop, there are options. If you want to build a workstation taylored to your workload, there are hundreds of companies making parts you can incorporate into your build.

You have backup plans for your hardware, and your software. If either one starts to reek, you can replace it without losing the other.

I think the answer is margins.

If you're not making 40+% profit margins you're bringing the company's overall margins down and have to go.

That's the bean-counter mindset that ruins companies. (See the auto industry.)

Apple had an integrated vision for computing. Wireless routers were never going to be more than a round off error on their balance sheet, but they did it anyway because they wanted it done right.

With apple giving up on monitors, it's been a sad year: the bean counters are clearly in control.

>That's the bean-counter mindset that ruins companies.

I was laid off from a semiconductor company years ago because the product we were supporting was aging, and their projections for the successor product did not show a 40+% profit margin, so they decided to simply exit the market altogether and dump their customers, who were really pissed.

Its not about margins (well, it is, but not primarily): its about story.

The AirPort line was born during a time when your ISP only provided you with a modem, if that. Wireless connectivity was a brand new world that required new hardware.

We're not in that world anymore: ISPs set up (and support!) wireless access with their networking at no extra charge. To most consumers, the AirPort went from being the simplest gateway to wireless coverage to being an accessory for the Apple-centric household. That's why you saw so many features added to the AirPort over time (hard drive, print server, airplay server). Bluetooth speakers, airplay receivers, AirPrint, etc. have over time obsoleted these uses.

There's another story for the Mac Pro - although many professionals who look to the Mac as an option among many systems probably won't like it.

The ISP story you're talking about does not apply to the entire world. There are hundreds of ISPs who still charge for a WiFi router separately. No firmware updates coming in is a huge concern for all these routers and devices.

Indeed. And where I live, pretty much everyone has municipal fiber. There is no ISP-provided default router—just an ethernet jack in your wall.

All of this makes sense if the routers they give you worked well. They don't. I find it impossible to airplay to the apple tv over the default comcast gateway, for a couple different reasons. So the idea that their products will 'just work' with the default setup is STILL laughable.

Not that their Airport Extreme is the best on the market, but it's still something substantially more reliable than whatever ships with your cable modem.

As others have said, ISP wireless routers are terrible and many charge you monthly. A big, still unsolved issues with wifi is coverage. Most people only have one router and dead spots. Wifi repeaters exist, but have issues of their own and aren't user friendly. My ISP charges me monthly and my neighbor wanted my WiFi password because his won't reach the other side of his house.

Acquiring something like Eero would help improve that story. Integrate it into a bunch of Apple devices would help the ecosystem.

I feel like Apple has given up a bit on Wifi and moved to out of band wifi and Bluetooth. I wish they had stuck to Wifi. I can't really use AirDrop because my laptop is too old and doens't support out of band wifi. I was very confused why two AppleTVs showed up when trying to use AirPlay until after googling I found out one was Bluetooth and the other was WiFi.

Yeah, but it's not just AirPort that's shrank. Apple appears to retreating on a whole bunch of fronts.

ISPs also charge you monthly for these services on top of your already existing service.

Usually for very mediocre equipment, and (if you have Comcast) it broadcasts publicly by default.

You're probably right, but if so, Apple is taking a short-sighted view.

We're moving on from product and platform wars to ecosystem wars, and the core feature of Apple's ecosystem is all Apple software and hardware working together (preferably to the exclusion of non-Apple products, but not always). Having control of everything gives you the best chance of making everything just work.

Dropping products (X-Serve, monitors, routers etc) and neglecting products (Mac Pro, Mac mini etc) makes the whole ecosystem weaker.

For comparison, the main rival ecosystems are Google and Microsoft. Google's is based on doing everything online and creating a complete Google stack. Microsoft's is based on supporting everything cross-platform (Windows, iOS, Android, MacOS and increasingly Linux) both online and offline.

You could also argue that it makes the ecosystem smaller and easier-to-manage. It can make it so small that the ecosystem fails to be an ecosystem at all.

Maybe it's the margins. But I prefer cash in the bank. Revenue dollars up, net income up. If you add up all the "mini product lines" together that will move the needle. They can't continue to have blockbuster products and too risk to rely on that. Samsung can burn their phones and be OK since they have other product lines.

Margins don't matter. What matters is ROI and ROA.

When was the Mac Pro line cancelled? I can't find any reference to this.

No updates for 3 years and the product page still points to Aperture, another canceled product. I'd say the MP is as good as dead at this point.

Actually, I stand corrected. It appears they updated the page to use Pixelmator benchmarks instead of Aperture. This update must have just happened because a friend of mine and I were joking about it a week or two ago.


I wouldn't be surprised to see it cancelled sometime in the near future either. They've all but given up on their pro software - they're not exactly promoting Logic Pro or Final Cut X with any vigour.

Top end Macbook Pros are capable enough for their current audience for running the likes of Logic or FCP. So what's the point in maintaining top end hardware if they don't have the software?

I'm sure Apple will continue to do well with what it is these days, a fashion house. I'm not sure what my next laptop will be but I fear I've dug myself into a hole with OSX/MacOS. I spent most of last night and half of yesterday toying with Ubuntu and sadly it didn't do it for me. Sure, I was running it on my Macbook Pro and so the keyboard was all out of whack, which I'm sure is solvable, but I found it unstable.

So who knows. I'll keep this early 2013 Macbook Pro until it gives up the ghost (I think I'll have another couple of versions of MacOS in it before it's resigned to the scrap pile) but after that, no idea. Things don't look especially bright for Apple users outside those who are only interested in iOS devices.

oh sorry, I thought when the MBP touch bar was released the Mac Pro was no longer available from the Apple Store. I swear I confirmed that myself, but it's up for sale now. My mistake.

But, Mac Buyers Guide says hasn't been updated since Dec 2013.

Rumours to ATP.fm podcast (very close ties with apple employees) has heard a bunch of stuff including "No one is working on the Mac Pro"

Well, I can't imagine what they would be working on with the Mac Pro if they had people working on it for 3 years without any sort of update.

This restriction of their efforts on only the most profitable offerings like this seems like a continued step backwards for a company which used to do so much innovating. If all you work on is the iteration and merging of existing devices, you're going to be left in the cold as you're out-innovated by your competitors.

This is what happened to Microsoft, and it took many years and a major internal upset to get them back on a positive track. And now look at Microsoft since they've started diversifying and innovating again: they are providing an OS (and hardware) which is genuinely interesting to professionals in a variety of fields. They are going to steal Apple's thunder here soon, unless Apple really makes an effort.

Or someone else will come around to do the same. I really think we need a very solid and paid-for desktop Linux OS.

Something that is well designed and innovative. I for one would pay for one.

A commercial Linux distro aimed at consumers would be cool, but things aren't so bad as it is. Making the switch will surely require some adaptation and getting used to, but when you get settled, things are pretty smooth, and only getting better. I've been happily running Debian as my primary OS for 8 years now, and I spent a few of those years running Linux exclusively.

The way I see it, Apple excels on the whole overarching synergy thing, while Linux excels on individual component quality. Considering that each component is an independent project, the Linux ecosystem will never be as homogenous as Windows or Mac. That said, it's a trade many of us happily make for the power of choice.

So what is Apple working on now?

• iPhone 7 looks like iPhone 6 sans the headphone jack. So no design changes for 3 years. To me, 7 does not feel like a significant update over 6.

• Macbook Pro got a touch bar. Otherwise, minor design changes since last revision. Does not feel like a significant update.

• iMac not updated for 12 months. No significant design changes for years, but the screen resolution is now Retina.

• Macbook Air not updated since March 2015 (still low resolution). No significant design changes since introduction.

• Mac Mini not updated since 2014. No design changes since 2011.

• Mac Pro not updated since 2013.

• iOS 10 and macOS are minor revisions.

• Thunderbolt display and now Airport extreme/express are dead

• The iPad Pro 9.7" looks like iPad air (1 or 2). iPad pro 12.9" looks like any existing iPad but bigger. The iPad minis all look alike.

• They didn't release new iPads this fall. Isn't that a first?

It feels like the hardware line-ups are getting more confusing: Two different iPad sizes called Pro as wells as "Air 2" and the minis. It made sense that the Pro was the largest one, but they confused us by releasing a smaller Pro that looks like an Air 2, but has a better display than the large Pro. How many iPads do we need?

There is the main iPhone line (... 6 6S and 7) that comes in two sizes, and then the evil cousin called iPhone SE which looks like a 5.

The laptop line is getting more messy too. The Macbook is like a slower Macbook Air but with higher resolution and 12". They killed the 11" Air, but we now have 3 laptops at 13" (Air + two types of Pro). Is the 13" Pro without touch bar option really necessary?

All these series ("", Air, Pro, SE, Mini) which pop in and out of existence feels like they are trying different names for marketing reasons (especially for the iPads).

I appreciate the yearly impressive but predictable CPU/GPU and software improvements, but it is really starting to feel like they are either struggling a bit, or working on something that takes a lot of resources from non-essentials and focus.

They released a watch line which is marketed largely as a fashion accessory, and an online radio station. Neither is of interest to me at all, but took a bunch of people and investment to execute.

Unless they've got something wonderful up their sleeves, it seems like they really did become a 'lifestyle brand' instead of making the technically best stuff they can.

The release of the stupidly expensive gold watch was a watershed moment. Literally no functionality improvement over the base model and several hundred percent more expensive. A big long-term error in positioning and philosophy in my opinion.

... I completely forgot their watch :-). It has never interested me.

In any case, the Watch 2 looks almost identical to the Watch 1, so from a design point of view, even that is stagnant.

They're working on services. From the Q4 earnings call,

"What should we read into the fact that R&D has more than doubled over the past three years while sales growth was sort of a fifth of that? Are R&D investments just less efficient than they were in the company's history, or should we think about that as incremental spend for products that haven't yet come to market?

Timothy Donald Cook - Apple, Inc.

There's clearly some amount of R&D that are on products that today are in the development phase that have not reached the market, and so that's a part of it. And we feel really great about the things that we've got. We've also put a lot of emphasis on our Services business as well and on making the ecosystem even better. And so we're very much, we're confidently investing in the future, and that's the reason you see the R&D spend increasing."

My super informal analysis of where Apple's priorities are:

  Term      Count
  iPhone    64
  Mac/macOS 17
  Services  16
  iPad      15
  Watch     8


But surely the overlap between the people who used to work on routers and the people working on services must be minimal.

However, maybe some of the hardware guys who used to work on the router are now busy with the watch. It would make sense that they would sacrifice the routers in favor of the watch (although I would prefer the routers).

Generally yes, but another quote from the call: "We are making important investments in data centers because we want to support our services business." Maybe that's taken some of their hardware resources.

This reminds me of when Jobs came back to Apple and the first thing he did was clean house. At the time they have tons of different computer models (Performa 2xx, 3xx, 4xx, 5xx, 6xx, 63xx, 65xx, etc.) built specifically to cater to dealers. Jobs came in and said that they only needed 4 computing devices; home desktop, home portable, pro desktop, pro portable. This made is much easier to decide what to purchase - everyone loved it! Except the dealers, I guess.

Anyway, it just feels like there are way to many different models now. Are they trying to please the bean-counters and not the customer? What advantage is there is having so many different types of computing devices that really are very similar?

That's exactly how I feel too.

The worst part is that the old Macbook Pro was my go-to model previously, but the new one just feels like a more expensive step in the wrong direction.

I don't really want a touch bar (I use an external keyboard 75% of the time), and I do actually like to have the earphone jack, SD card, Magsafe, and traditional USB ports.

... So despite the messy list of models, there isn't really one that I want anymore.

Oh, well. Maybe it will make sense in a year or two.

Except Cook went sideways by renaming standard laptop to Pro and getting rid of the real Pro.

I really don't get it either. They killed the car project as well...

Ugh, this is the first news that I've seen that I feel is really bad. Monitors were ok, that seemed understandable since they were for professionals to go with the mac pro. Apple's monitors were at best "prosumer".

Wifi though has always been a very big PITA for consumers, and Apple's hardware/software integration has always been a better bet for ease of configuration, and honestly, reliability.

The optimist in me hopes that maybe they'll have something better for us, or are making an acquisition to replace their current product lineup completely.

The pessimist in me thinks that maybe they're leaving this market to avoid needing to develop hardware that meets its publicly stated standards for protecting consumer privacy. Potentially they have been approached/mandated to enable some kind of backdoor in it, and they chose to stop producing it, rather than comply. /tinfoil_hat

If you really want high performance networking, use wired. It is stupid to connect a television set, for instance, via WiFi. You should plug in anything that doesn't move around, and leave the limited bandwidth WiFi for those who need it.

People won't listen though because in 2016 it seems most people think wires are ritually unclean.

> People won't listen though because...

... they don't particularly want to lift floorboards, and drill through floors and ceilings if the wireless solution is 'good enough'.

I think it is mostly because they don't understand how much better wired internet is than wireless. I've basically forced many people to connect their devices with Ethernet as a "temporary" measure to solve their problems. For the most part, every single person has decided to leave whatever it is connected. Almost all my friends rent too, which is a huge barrier to using wires, since the wires can't be hidden in the walls or ceilings.

One of the big things that people don't realize is that bandwidth of wireless is split between every device on that channel. So if you are streaming to your TV/roku/xbox/etc over wifi, you are killing the bandwidth for your laptop and phone as well. Plus, if you live in a city your wireless bandwidth is pretty much guaranteed to suck because every ISP includes wifi with their modems, destroying the noise floor. Comcast modems are a particularly notable example, as they have a "public" 2.4 ghz network in addition to the "private" 2.5 and 5 ghz networks. There are no fewer than 30 wifi networks available inside my house when I check on my phone, and I live in a row house with metal lathe under the plaster, which greatly attenuates wifi signals.

I think the biggest barrier to wiring things is that patch cables are incredibly expensive if you buy them at Best Buy, etc. Most non-technical people I know only own the patch cable that came with their modem. Once I get them wired up, they are astounded by how much faster their internet is. They don't have buffering issues, the internet doesn't drop randomly, and it just seems "faster" (which I attribute to lower latency). I toss extra patch cables in my Monoprice orders now and sell them to my friends at-cost. To be honest, it's partially for my own sanity as well, because watching Netflix at 480p on a 50/15 connection drives me nuts.

I think it is mostly because they don't understand how much better wired internet is than wireless. I've basically forced many people to connect their devices with Ethernet as a "temporary" measure to solve their problems. For the most part, every single person has decided to leave whatever it is connected.

Yes. Same here. Ethernet is an oddly underrated technology. And Monoprice is one of these things that nerds know about and no one else does. There may be other companies like that—someone above mentioned an enterprise router company that sells better stuff than most consumer companies. Yet I've already forgotten its name.

Probably Ubiquiti and the Edgerouter Lite. It's an amazing router, but it doesn't have an integrated switch like most consumer-grade routers. It's not quite as user-friendly either, but the performance is unmatched. It costs about ~$90 and can handle gigabit internet, and a billion packages per second. I bought one recently because I was having issues with bufferbloat and extreme latency with my run of the mill 75/15 internet service.

Ubiquiti also makes a great series of wireless APs that are worth checking out.

My network right now is a Edgerouter lite, 2 Unifi AP AC Lites, and a used Dell 2816 managed switch.

We had a Ubiquiti wifi router in-office that would constantly refuse to allow certain devices on, or randomly drop devices and not let them back on. Apparently it was a known issue between those routers and Apple laptops so I was told.

I could see that. Their implementation of zero-handoff is really strange. For instance, all the APs have to be on the same channel. I could see that causing issues.

I didn't even understand how much better my laptop's wireless could be than my wireless, much less Ethernet. I was using a WiFi repeater to get to the old WiFi router, and eventually got frustrated with the random disconnections/freezes and began messing around. I was shocked to see my Internet speed (speedtest.net) go up substantially with a new WiFi router, and then go up to a total of 6x when I cut out the repeater using a big directional antenna - and it still wasn't equal to the numbers I was getting from plugging directly into the router with an Ethernet cable. So now despite the bother, I'm just going to run 200-feet of Ethernet cable from the router to my laptop. I knew Ethernet was better than WiFi but if I had realized just how much, I would've bitten the bullet years ago.

> I'm just going to run 200-feet of Ethernet cable from the router to my laptop.

Don't do that. Instead get a ethernet powerline adapter:


There is no powerline connection, the router is in another building.

I'm surprised a software developer doesn't know basic stuff like that a typical Ethernet connection is 1Gb/s, and WiFi around 20-200, depending on conditions.

This is like an engineer not knowing the mains voltage is 230V, or a baker not knowing about standard grades of flour.

I knew perfectly well that Ethernet goes up to 1000 megabit/sec and WiFi generally 50-200 megabit/sec, but my reasoning was that the LAN shouldn't matter because my ISP only gives us ~6 megabytes/sec (or ~45 megabit/sec) and as far as I knew, all possible configurations easily saturated that as my laptop and repeater were the only things on WiFi with no interference from neighbors. In performance, you usually focus on the weakest link, and here the weakest link (ISP/Internet) was by far weaker than the other links.

Apparently I was grossly wrong, and I still don't understand why I was wrong and why the changes made such a large difference. Something to do with network protocols and response to packet loss or something, I guess.

I'm not. Software developers are generally pretty ignorant of things like network latency. You often see things like caching used to improve n+1 database performance problems which doesn't really help when the cache is also on another machine.

I'm always posting latency numbers every programmer should know: https://gist.github.com/jboner/2841832

> Ethernet connection is 1Gb/s, and WiFi around 20-200, depending on conditions

I had no idea that WiFi was that much better than Ethernet!

( this is why units matter, kids ;)

Exactly. I have a few things wired in the house where they're actually close enough to a switch. But for phones and tables and laptops (we have several), wired is not an option.

This is also shitty news because I had very high confidence that an Apple router would not ship with any kind of malware or other crap I don't need. Now, I have to find something better, comparable in price, and works well with Mac household.. Sad face.

It's important to note that wiring what you can makes the WiFi that much faster for everything else as well.

But when wifi is faster than 1Gbps, does it matter anymore? Obviously if you're talking servers and enterprise equipment, faster is better. But does my smart TV or iPad really need that extra little bit of speed? Netflix only streams as fast as my Internet connection, which is 60Mbps. I could have 15 devices on my network streaming Netflix each on their own dedicated Internet connection and still not saturate an 802.11ac router (theoretically).

I don't know anyone who even approaches the theoretical speed of any 802.11 technology. Your neighbors on the same channel reduce your bandwidth, and neighbors on channels which overlap yours raise the noise floor a lot. I have a Moto X Pure and a Ubiquiti Unifi AP AC Lite, and I should theoretically get 867 mbit/s. I never even approach that in practice, even if I'm in the same room. There are more than 30 available networks nearby when I look on my phone. Even if I achieved the theoretical rate, the bandwidth falls off a cliff once you leave the room, as 5ghz signals are significantly attenuated by walls. I can max out my internet (75 mbit) if I'm in the same room as my AP, but I can't stream 1080p content on the 5ghz if I have 2 walls between me and my AP.

That being said, the Apple APs are the fastest consumer-grade APs out there. If you are going to hit the theoretical maximum, an Apple AP is your best bet. I don't think streaming is where people notice issues with their internet though. In my experience people tend to notice issues in video games, skype, facetime, and other applications where there isn't a buffer to hide issues with dropped packets first.

My Airport Extreme hits 750-800 mbps pretty routinely, despite my devices being able to pick up about 10 other neighborhood wifi networks.

However, I get ~950 mbps over the wire (on a 1 gbps connection), so I still plug in when I'm sitting at my desk and need to transmit large files.

> I don't know anyone who even approaches the theoretical speed of any 802.11 technology.

I max out my cable modem's connection. I pay for 50mb/s, and 802.11n on a 5Ghz channel is more than sufficient.

At work however, yes, that gigabit wired ethernet connection is really nice. :)

You'll get 4K Netflix eventually. Plus, theoretical speeds, not actual. Plus you'd want to buffer quickly…

Good luck getting any range with 1GBS :-)

The new Google WiFi product uses the same secure boot procedure as Chromebook. I really like AirPort for it's simplicity, performance, and lack of a web stack. I think my new WiFi router(s) will be Google WiFi as they seem to have upped the bar on all those points.

I'm not thrilled about the autoupdate feature of Google WiFi. I wouldn't be surprised if it's leveraged to benefit Google's analytics, or for government snooping. But the greater risk at this point is from criminal hackers. And I prefer running my WiFi routers in bridging mode, anyhow, making it less likely Google will bother tracking my family's browsing from the LAN.

Maintaining my own homegrown router isn't appealing, though. For one thing, all the hardware available for that is sub-par. Solid support for MIMO and beamforming is mostly non-existent except for proprietary stacks; even simultaneous multi-channel is iffy using open source solutions. AirPort always shipped with better than average support for the latest tech, and I'm not keen on going backward in that regard, especially for what should be a performance upgrade.

> I wouldn't be surprised if it's leveraged to benefit Google's analytics, ...

https://support.google.com/wifi/answer/6246642 has a tl;dr version: "Importantly, the Google Wifi app and your Wifi points do not track the websites you visit or collect the content of any traffic on your network. However, your Wifi points does collect data such as Wi-Fi channel, signal strength, and device types that are relevant to optimize your Wi-Fi performance." and a full explanation of everything it does (or does not) collect, and why.

Which can be changed at any time.

> and works well with Mac household.. Sad face.

Apart from Apple's and Google's idiotic antics, what routers require anything more than a browser to configure?

Requiring a browser implies that the device has a full web stack on it, including one of Perl, PHP, or Node.js. That's the last thing I want on my WiFi router, or any router!

As annoying as it is for some, the configuration interface for Apple AirPort used a simple SNMP interface. Now, lots of SNMP software has had bugs and remote exploits, but all things being equal it's a much simpler interface to export and requires shipping less code, not least because it doesn't have to support a GUI, directly or indirectly.

That said, I always configure my WiFi router (AirPort or w'ever) in bridging mode and put them behind my gateway. And I try to disable any web GUI entirely if at all possible. People who use the built-in WiFi capabilities of their Cable or DSL modems are begging to be hacked.

> Requiring a browser implies that the device has a full web stack on it, including one of Perl, PHP, or Node.js.

Not really, CGI can be written in anything, shell scripting, C, whatever. But security-wise, it doesn't much matter the language because the programmers working on the web interfaces of such embedded devices rarely do a good job.

> That's the last thing I want on my WiFi router, or any router!

Considering the amount of crappy C most routers have, that's probably the least of your concerns.

I've seen a disturbing number of routers which have web interfaces that only work with old versions of IE.

Good luck configuring that with a mac....

I dunno. iTunes is close to malware in my book.

One neeed not lift floorboards, or drill through floors and ceilings to run wires. What I have done in my apartment, and what friends have done in their houses is run the wires along the base or tops of walls, tucked out of the way. Then one need not worry about pets or vacuum cleaners getting at the wires to chew them up, or getting tripped up by wires laying loose across the floor. There's a 100' meter limit for copper cables for ethernet. In my experience, that's plenty for most homes and offices, even when running along the walls.

Can you recommend something for attaching cables to ceilings in a nondestructive manner? I also live in an apartment and this is a concern.

Google "nail in cable clips." A small nail makes a small hole but if you run the cable along a wooden baseboard or molding, the holes aren't really noticeable (not like a hole in the wall from hanging a picture). There are adhesive cable clips but I've never used them, they're probably more expensive especially if they're the "Command(tm)" adhesive that's supposed to come off cleanly.

Properly setup command strip based hooks can work.

However most apartments let you 'hang pictures'; anything that leaves so small of a hole that painting over it effectively patches it.

If your rooms are carpeted, there is actually a gap between the baseboard and the floor. With care you can fit coax or cat5 in there no problem. It ends up completely hidden.

People seem not to be very rational about it though. I know people who spend $20K and several weeks redecorating the kitchen and yet they keep futzing around and complaining about poor internet connectivity in their house that a professional could fix for well below $1K.

Spending $20k on your kitchen can be rationalized into the resale value of your house. The wiring less so.

While obviously not as good as Ethernet, the internet-over-power-cable (powerline) solutions aren't a terrible option.

In my apartment, the biggest issue I face is interference from other wireless routers. Because of this, the powerline performance is about 40% faster on my desktop (right above the router one floor) and much more consistent. It also does help with wireless congestion, and really helps with using my desktop as a PLEX server. Before, higher bitrates would cause serious issues, and now it just works.

I'm not sure if the tech has matured recently or I just had a good use-case for it, but it's miles better than WiFi. I'm using TP-Link's product.

One current high-speed option is a MoCA 2.0 network through the existing coax, which has bandwidth up to 1 Gbps. I have a MoCA adapter next to each TV, wire the television through Ethernet from the adapter, and hook up a WiFi repeater as well.

I'm a network engineer so I have a "proper" setup at home: fiber-to-the-home, enterprise-class network devices (access points, switches, etc.), and so on. We were at Best Buy a while back and, while browsing around, I saw some of these "powerline" adapters on the shelf and, mostly out of curiosity, decided to buy a pair [0] of them to see how well they worked; I was doubtful of the "1200 Mbps" claim on the box.

For testing, I plugged them into AC outlets along the same wall in the same room, with ~14 feet separating them. After getting them linked up (very simple), I connected laptops to each unit, manually assigned IP addresses to the laptops, and used iPerf [1] to run throughput tests.

I'll spare you my rant about them but peak speeds were extremely disappointing, just shy of 50 Mbps. I honestly didn't expect anywhere near the advertised 1200 Mbps but I was expecting speeds relatively close to what I can get over my existing wireless. 50 Mbps may be quite acceptable to some, especially if one's Internet connection isn't that fast, but it was far from acceptable for me. They would also randomly "freeze" or "pause" for 20-30 seconds at a time but I didn't really investigate that issue.

[0]: https://www.netgear.com/home/products/networking/powerline/P...

[1]: https://iperf.fr

Yeah, they have been very unreliable in my experience as well. Totally not recommend.

Also the idea of willingly putting noise in the electrical grid seems sketchy to me. I used to live in a house where I could not get good noise-free audio because the line was not a pure sine wave and most consumer PSUs were crappy to let noise through.

I've had powerline everywhere in the house and ended up ripping it out and just putting in ethernet cables everywhere. Powerline is really great for 99% of users, but I wanted to stream games from one PC to another, and use Remote Play form my PS4 - and over powerline, packets just had some weird random latency from time to time, making local streaming impossible. It runs very smoothly over ethernet now.

I remember seeing an Ethernet like network that used infrared lasers bounced off of a particular spot on the ceiling. It should be possible to get multi-gigabyte rates out of something like that, and it should be immune to interference from the neighbors. For a game machine, you'd want to be careful where you placed the transmitter and the ceiling spot. Also, I wouldn't put it past a teenage competitive gamer to mess up a rival with an infrared laser pointed through a window.

Or find that when you pay a pro to do it tidily they actually do even more of a hack job.

powerline is an option as well

Pulling cable simply isn't an option in many houses, particularly in Europe. It really isn't very unusual here to live in a >400 year old house. If you don't have conduits or accessible cavity spaces, it can cost thousands of dollars to pull cable. I'd have to replaster and repaint practically every room in my house. A mix of Powerline and WiFi is a far more practical proposition, even if it's occasionally unreliable.

I'm in the US but my house is still ~200 years old. I've had a couple of major renovations done and have had networking cables pulled when walls were opened up anyway for electrical and other reasons. (WiFi was less widespread and mature at the time.) I added speaker cables as well. But barring real issues with using wireless in conjunction with Powerline or whatever, I'd never want to open up walls just for the purpose of adding Ethernet cables.

Personally I've run CAT5 when I've added sockets or rewired after moving in. I've yet to own a house, esecially older, that's not been greatly lacking enough sockets and I don't want everything hanging off an 8 way adaptor.

With wood floors you can usually avoid much impact and just run cables under the floorboards.

You could do a wireless point to point bridge in most places where running a cable is difficult. It is much more reliable than relying on an omnidirectional wireless access point over that distance.

Do you have data to back up this claim? In my experience, the reliability of the hardware has nothing to do with the antenna and everything to do with the software running on it.

Collisions between a directional link at short distance and other things using the spectrum are minisicule. It is like using megaphones to hold a conversation at a distance of say 10ft. It does not matter whether you are in a crowded area with everyone talking. The megaphones will drown out everything else. Using omnidirectional antennas is trying to talk without with out the megaphones. The difference in signal strength is what makes the wireless link with directional antennas more reliable than the one with omnidirectional antennas.

I don't understand how Americans complain about non-hidden cables, but live with crap like exposed conduits in the hallways, exposed circuit breakers in rooms, and ten layers of ugly paint over everything.

I think you answered your own question! I'm already at a breaking point of "mess" just by virtue of living in this (relatively speaking, pretty decent) apartment. The less mess I'm adding to it, the better.

I wouldn't listen because my wireless network works just fine, even without listening to such strange advice. :)

Can I push 1 Gbps from my phone to my other phone? No... but I don't need to. My TVs and other devices work just fine too (none of them need more than 10Mbps to be usable, even with stable HD streaming).

The few things that do need bandwidth are on a wired connection giving them a hefty 1 Gbps that isn't interfered with by anything.

Maybe you have just had terrible routers?

No, I live in the 99% of America where ordinary people can afford more than 500 square feet of living space.

Also, my phone company refuses to upgrade so I am on high-latency DSL. When a packet gets dropped in my local network, it takes a long time to get a replacement from internet based services.

You don't need high bandwidth to use the internet reliably, but you do need low packet loss, and the effects of packet loss and high latency multiply with each other -- local packet loss is much more painful if your internet is slow than if it is fast. Thus having a reliable local network helps experienced performance, even if you have a 2Mbps internet connection.

That's 99% by volume, not by population, right? Because I would estimate that at least 5% of the US population both chooses to live in high-density urban areas—so must rent apartments—and cannot afford large ones, precisely because of how high-density (and therefore high cost-per-sq-ft) the local area is.

> so must rent apartments—and cannot afford large ones

There may be a unit conversion problem here, but an apartment as small as 500Sqft apartment would be exceedingly rare - that's ~46.5Sq/m.

Many cities don't even allow apartments that small...

500ish sq ft is pretty typical for a 1 bedroom apartment in the cities I've been in.

Studios are usually around 400 sq ft.

According to the internet, the average size of a studio apartment in Manhattan is 550sqft.

Having a big house doesn't mean that you can't use Wifi, it just takes more planning and care in placement of the nodes.

I serve my 1200 sq ft condo with a single node, and it gets good coverage throughout the space, including the front/back patios.

My parent's 2400 sq ft house took 2 nodes in the attic + one in the back of the garage to cover the back yard.

They can hit their ISP's 150mbit/second cap from anywhere in the house or yard.

They use tablets almost exclusively and though dad still uses a laptop from time to time, he has no desire to plug it into ethernet, so a wired network wouldn't really be useful for them.

> No, I live in the 99% of America where ordinary people can afford more than 500 square feet of living space.

If I crunched the numbers correctly, roughly 2.5% of the US population lives in NYC alone. If you add in Boston, DC, San Francisco and other expensive cities I'd bet you can break 10% of the population in the core expensive cities alone.

80% of Americans live in an urban area.

I am also in the 99% of America where ordinary people can afford more than 500 square feet of living space. I just have a good router and fiber to the home. :)

I suspect that your biggest problem is really just your terrible ISP. I've had that problem before too, but my current one is great (and local).

Streaming is one thing. Gaming is another. Dropped packets and big outliers of latency are a huge pain for game developers.

I game on it as well. Granted, I'm not so big into FPS that a trivial increase in latency matters that much. The times that I do play FPS games, they are fine, though.

For everyone one of you, there seems to be someone who will be put out by the poor performance of a game over crappy wifi, then blame the game.

I don't listen because I don't want to drill holes in my nice hardwood floors, my house is 2 story so running a cable up the wall isn't feasible, and cutting holes in my wall every few feet doesn't seem so smart either.

What's wrong with expecting WIFI to work well enough to enjoy low latency high definition/4k content?

> What's wrong with expecting WIFI to work well enough to enjoy low latency high definition/4k content?

You can totally do that in rural areas. I'm talking at least 1/4 mile separation between houses.

If you're not in that kind of area and you still expect it, it's because you don't understand the physics. I don't mean that as an insult, just a statement of fact. I went to school for electrical engineering and that statement you made above is laughable for anyone who knows the trade. To me, a similar statement might be "Why can't I have a car that makes 1000 HP, gets 100 MPG and costs $10k?" Yes someday that might be a reality but with the tech we have now, it's definitely not.

Bandwidth over the air is fixed and it's split between everyone who is within "earshot" and similar to how it eventually gets impossible to hear anyone at a party once the room is packed and everyone is talking, so it goes with wireless. There's just not enough spectrum to go around. That's why people use wires; every wire has (roughly) a whole spectrum all to itself. Pull 100 wires? Get 100x bandwidth. Put up 100 wireless transmitters? Get 1/100 the bandwidth on each one. The math there heavily, heavily favors wires. Ethernet, coax, fiber, whatever. If you make a new signal propagation domain you can use as much of it as it'll allow you. If you use the big signal propagation domain that everyone has access to, prepare to share.

I live in London (my neighbours are a LOT closer than 1/4 mile) with a shitload of devices on my WiFi and I can still happily stream 4K TV while my my entire family uses iPads or laptops. Am I breaking the laws of physics?

>Am I breaking the laws of physics?

No, you're just using subjective feelings rather than objective measurements. 4K doesn't specify a particular bit rate. If there is going to be a productive discussion, it needs to be acknowledged that there is a huge difference between streaming 1080p and Bluray 1080p.

Why would anyone stream a Bluray?

No one would want to stream a Bluray. The point was to highlight that there are very different things that are still described by "1080p" and what is more important is the bit rate and codec rather than the common 4K, 1080p, 720p, or even "HD video" names.

I don't know why you're even talking about 1080p, though I think I vaguely get what you're trying to say.

To play devil'a advocate, a Ruckus Zoneflex R710 ought to work well in such places.

Also, I have gotten wifi working well in non-rural areas using Ubiquiti Unifi AC Lite APs. In suburban New York, a couple of them blanket my home. In my grandmother's Shanghai apartment in a building that is a mix of concrete and plaster, just 1 is sufficient (although for a much smaller volume), despite dozens of nearby APs. Admittedly, I moved to 5GHz there because I was literally the only one using it, but 2.4GHz had worked fine when I tried it. Peak throughout is higher on 5GHz due to higher channel widths though.

I might make an analogy: "I use a dog whistle and no matter how loud people are talking, my dog always hears it"

OK, now take your dog to a place full of dogs and other dog whistles. See how well it works.

Once the spectrum gets noisy, interference happens. Just because you found a quiet spot in the spectrum doesn't mean that spectrum sharing isn't a physical reality anymore. It just means you found some to keep all to yourself! Until someone else starts using 5GHz too.

I said that I was able to use 2.4GHz reliably despite it being crowded. I only switched to 5GHz because I noticed no one was using it and I saw higher bandwidth on it from 5GHz 802.11ac supporting higher channel widths than 2.4GHz 802.11n supports.

In fairness, I had made tweaks to iwlwifi's kernel module options in order to have usable wifi on my laptop. Until a year ago, I was accustomed to have a hellish experience in congested areas until I turned off Bluetooth coexistence support in the iwlwifi driver. That feature would almost always cause severe packet loss on my T520 in crowded environments even when there did not appear to be any Bluetooth traffic.

Anyway, it is possible to get wifi working well for certain workloads in crowded environments. Making it work well in general might require better drivers and better equipment than one might have at first though. For example, I understand that ath9k was a disaster when it was first made, but it is fairly decent now. I ran an AP off an ath9k USB wifi dongle in China at one point and it worked well too. I doubt that would have worked as well with drivers from 5 years ago.

Also, from what I understand, a used Ruckus Zoneflex 7982 off eBay ought to be able to handle just about any environment fairly well. Their proprietary beam forming hardware is special because it attenuates signals coming from other directions than that of the client. The only exception from what I have read is when other wifi equipment is right next to it (e.g. practically touching). Some review of it said that it failed to work until they moved other equipment away after consulting Ruckus. I cannot find a link to it though.

I placed an order with an eBay merchant that I expect to receive soon. $90 per used Zoneflex 7982 (that had a $1099 MSRP when new) is a bargain considering that these still provide some of the best wifi in the world. There are reports of these getting good throughout through multiple concrete walls:


A newer version of the midrange model in their product line (that has inferior radio specifications to the top end model) was able to give a cell phone decent throughput from 225 yards away when the (omnidirectional) AP was in doors:


As far as I know, the only better access points are the newer Ruckus models that replaced it. I am really excited to be getting one later this week. :)

For a large fraction of the population, this post might as well be an advert for Apple-style plug-and-play routers.

Why? I was talking about APs, not routers.

If you meant to imply that I am somehow paid to say such things, I assure that I am not. I am a fairly well known OSS developer and such a thing would be damaging to my reputation. I just happen to be genuinely excited about this topic for the first time in years at this moment.

I just returned from visiting my grandmother in China, who is in the hospital. I stayed at the concrete and plaster apartment complex where my grandmother's apartment is. The horrible pentetration of wifi signals made me think plenty about wifi and that eventually lead me to discover that Ruckus's old equipment would work far better and is selling used on eBay at pricepoints seen in consumer grade gear. There really is not much benefit to Ruckus from the free advertisement of me talking about the used Ruckus equipment on eBay. They are not making any money off the used hardware market while the pricing for new Ruckus equipment is so high that it might as well not exist as far as the majority of people are concerned.

I was not clear enough.

You managed to achieve good network performance by using your specialized skills.

Most people don't have the skills and aren't interested in learning them. This is the market for Apple's APs. The interesting description of what you did to get stuff working is close to meaningless to most people, and hence by contrast makes the trusted-brand easy-peasy gear look even more valuable.

I've wrestled with wireless gear since before 802.11 existed, including writing my own radio firmware, and I have an Airport at home which in practice means I don't need to do any of that awful stuff any more. In my lab we throw away about half the APs we buy due to mystery incompatibilities. Radio is still hard compared to most other things.

Point taken, although a minor counterpoint is that I do all that I can to share my knowledge whenever people ask. Last Sunday, I had advised a complete stranger on how to get cheaper cell phone service. We had started talking after I asked if it was alright if I joined his table at a crowded food court. Upon finding out that I am a software engineer, he started telling me about his problems and I did what I could to help him. It was a nice use of part of my Sunday. :)

Random thought: is there a reason we couldn't construct apartment buildings such that each tennant had a Faraday mesh embedded in their shared walls, but not in exterior-facing walls?

It would do strange things to cellular and broadcast radio, but it wouldn't destroy them, I think.

IMO, cost is a big factor here. Adding things like insulation, EM sheilding, or anything else other than the minimum needed water water and electrical lines to the inside of walls raises the cost of construction. So if it isn't required by the function of the room or building code, you're unlikely to see such fanciness, unless it's some high-end luxury place where the shielding is a selling point. Expect higher rent in such a place to cover the additional costs of constructing those fancy EM-shielded units.

IANAP but I would think such a cage would cause WiFi to reflect internally, causing as much if not more trouble than noisy neighbors.

The "real" solution is for people in dense apartment buildings to just turn their damn Tx power down, but that's a prisoner's dilemma if I've ever seen one.

I actually tried to approach this problem in my own apartment complex. The effort died almost immediately. Very few consumer wireless access points even expose Tx power as a configuration parameter at all, even buried in an "Advanced Settings" section somewhere. You're lucky if they even expose channel selection at all.

So with the craptastic firemware of most consumer wifi APs, the AP hops on channels 1, 6 or 11, and stays there, screaming at full power. And the consumer, even if they know enough about radio to realize such is suboptimal, can't do anything about it without changing the firmware or buying a more expensive device.

From my experiences, lots of these consumer APs frequently end up landing somewhere like channel 4 or channel 9. :/

In a really busy area, what's the issue there? If there are tons of people on 1/6/11, you may as well hop into the middle bits - there's already plenty of interference going on in the usual channels.

With 802.11g you're actually taking up four channels out of the available 12? So people hopping in the middle are messing with people on both sides of them. Sorry for the mobile link. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_802.11g-2003

However, if the 'standard' channels are already congested, people are already messing with each other. Look at the semicircle graph on your link - someone on channel 4 is messing a fair bit with someone on channel 5, and a little bit on 6. However, someone on channel 6 is messing a lot with another person on 6.

So, people on the same channel silence each other (CTS/RTS), but on other channels it is simply seen as noise. If there are lots of people on 1/6/11, you're going to spend a lot of time silenced.

It's one of those things that you just have to try out in your own particular circumstances. Will you get better performance if frequently silenced, or better performance dealing with a high level of 'noise'?

Actually WiFi was designed from the very beginning to do well despite reflections. My thesis advisor knew somebody who was applying ideas from "quantum chaos" to make WiFi robust to various environments at Bell Labs, back in the 1990s, before Carly Fiorina bankrupted Lucent.

It's a prisoner's dilemma in the case where everyone controls their own wireless APs, sure.

In the case where the building is served by one major ISP, and they provide combination gateway+APs, I could see the ISP deciding to "solve" the problem by turning the whole building into one AP mesh (with only one AP actually active per unit sphere) where each client gets a VLAN with tagged QoSing over the last-mile "backplane" back to their own gateway.

Though, if you're going that far, you may as well just call yourself a WiMAX provider and tell people their gateways are just extension picocells for the network, rather than end-user equipment. Which is basically what you get already from the ISPs that offer "public wi-fi for customers at our hotspots" (i.e. broadcast by all APs on our business plan), except that said wi-fi would be the only product, and would be served by residential gateways as well.

There is wifi blocking paint and wallpaper. http://www.lessemf.com/paint.html for example. That said, this may not be desirable if you have a cellphone without a local nanocell or voip switching.

There is wifi blocking paint and wallpaper. http://www.lessemf.com/paint.html for example. That said, this may not be desirable if you have a cellphone without a local nanocell or voip switching.

Whatever price I pay in performance by running my Apple TV wireless is totally worth not having an ethernet cable running across my living room floor.

If you are happy with your system don't change it. If you're in a small apartment in a building that has a lot of metal in it, you are fine. If you are in a bigger house or an apartment building which is transparent to radio waves you are not so fine.

Lots of people are complaining about their WiFi and many are discovering that a $200 consumer router doesn't help. What does work is to accept the physics, get a wired router and a $80 ubiquiti access point and run a wire so the access point is in the center of your house.

Let's put it this way: the inverse square law means that if you put the router at the edge of your house, relative to the center, you are going to have a minimum signal strength dropped by a factor of 4; this is on top of any attenuation that you get from going through multiple walls.

Accept the laws of physics or you'll find that no amount of spending on your access point will make your system completely reliable for a wide range of devices.

This is why all attempts to sell differentiated WiFi routers have failed -- the one way you can differentiate yourself in terms of reliablity, never mind performance, is to site your access point correctly.

Everybody thinks the mesh network fairy will save them, but there is a name for mesh networks, and it is "radio interference".

You just said it was stupid. Then you said "If you are happy with your system don't change it." This is contradictory, and your first statement was just inflammatory.

Ya, I live in a small NYC apartment. I grant you that if I lived in a big suburban house I'd do it differently.

This is why you run your ethernet cable inside the wall.

I rent an apartment. That's not feasible for me (or about 35% of other Americans).

Why not "along the skirting board" instead of "across the floor"?

Not feasible with my floorplan:


IMO, it's stupid to rewire your entire house to add connectivity for wired networking when WiFi is more than sufficient - and getting better and better. I have a Roku in my bedroom that works fantastically, I'm really not sure what I'd gain by ripping up walls/floorboards and installing a networking cable just because the TV doesn't move.

> If you really want high performance networking, use wired. It is stupid to connect a television set, for instance, via WiFi.

This is complete nonsense. 802.11N / 802.11AC are perfectly fine for your streaming needs. No need to try and rip up the walls or run ugly cables all over the place. Wireless in 2016 just works for streaming like this.

Unless you're trying to drive some 8K video but even then AC should still be good. I know over 802.11N, on an older generation of FireTV, separate by 1 story and multiple walls our TV streams fast and does native playback on the FireTV for most of our videos at its original quality settings.

Powerline ethernet, where it's available (and it normally will be near a TV) can be great.

In my experience a good rule of thumb is "will this need a lot of upload bandwidth?" Wireless devices running off of my AirPort Extreme typically can get 12-16 mbit download without breaking a sweat, the only real issue is upload speed is typically not nearly as fast or stable as download.

So, Apple TV? It's all download, so wifi is fine. XBox One? About half and half, so that gets a wire. Printer? All download and barely any bandwidth needed anyway, wifi. Desktop PC? Wired, of course.

I dunno where you're seeing this hostility to wired networks, the only hostility I've seen to them are from people who have legitimate reasons to not want to do it (or can't) i.e. renters, people who are not particularly handy, or people who don't have those high demand needs. For your average Joe running a phone, maybe a stream box and browsing Facebook on a laptop, a $40 wifi router will handle that just fine.

Many people don't listen because their stuff works good enough on wireless. If wiring is already in place, or trivial to set up (e.g. because the PC is next to the router) they'll do it, but I can understand that they don't care about the effort if they don't see a benefit. In my experience, people that actually have issues with their WiFi are easily sold on cabling, as are those that really want performance. If stuff doesn't work, tolerance to spending money or ugly cables laying around goes up a lot.

What about mobile phones, tablets, laptops ?

It is a given that wired is a better option, but I cannot imagine any modern SOHO environment without a wireless router/access point.

Using a wired network for things that can be wired frees up capacity for mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. For instance, if you are moving files to and from a server, you get way better performance if the server is wired than if the server is wireless too because the server->hub and hub->client links interfere with each other.

Mesh networks are just going from the frying pan to the fire.

I am not saying that people "don't need wireless" but that if having a reliable WiFi network matters to you, the best way to speed up your WiFi network is to move anything that you can possible move to wired to free up bandwidth for WiFi.

That includes turning off the rouge access points that are created by printers, game consoles, phones, etc.

Noone is saying that, but there's very limited bandwith available in the air (especially in the 2.4GHz band). If you move datahungry devices like TVs, NAS, etc. off the air, you gain a lot of free spectrum for the phones and tablets.

Exactly, the gains from proper engineering are vastly greater than from buying expensive consumer routers, particularly when you consider reliability.

But, I don't "really want high performance networking". What I want is "good-enough performance networking" everywhere in my house.

Wired networking isn't an option with iDevices. And with disappearing ports on a laptop, a bit more challenging now.

I prefer wired connections as well, but surely you understand that many people want network connectivity in places in which they're not at liberty to physically modify the premises in order to run ethernet cable to their computer?

Not to mention security. Wireless is fundamentally less secure than wired and things like smart TV's are rarely patched.

My Apple TV, Chromecast and Xbox all use wifi flawlessly (with an Airport Extreme). I think your logic is outdated.

Are you in your own house with some distance between you and your neighbors? In most apartment complexes you'll have about 30 overlapping wifi networks visible from your computer, so wifi reliability is very much not what you get in a less dense area.

I keep what devices I can on wired, but it's really not feasible for everyone or for all devices. I sometimes have to switch my phone over to LTE because the wireless sucks too much. There's obviously no ethernet port on that.

sure i'll just drill some holes in my rental apartment and start pulling cable

or maybe i'll just nail a bunch of cables up around the corners of the ceiling, that'll be gorgeous

it'll be great, it'll be real convenient to do all that again when i move

> or maybe i'll just nail a bunch of cables up around the corners of the ceiling, that'll be gorgeous

Who says it has to be ugly? Get creative and make some art out of it [1].

> it'll be great, it'll be real convenient to do all that again when i move

This strikes me as a bogus complaint; there's nothing convenient about moving, IMO. The inconvenience of it rises with the amount of stuff you have. If you already have devices that it makes sense to wire them up, the inconvenience of setting up and tearing down cable runs when moving is secondary to having to move that stuff in and out of an apartment to begin with.

1. http://imgur.com/Zn4VKyK

I switched to AirPorts because they're plug and forget. I just want something that works with my other Apple gear. Doubly so when I'm doing tech support for friends and family.

$200 is reasonable, compared to all the time I've spent farting with other brands of WiFi routers, including whatever piece of crap my ISP sent me. Now what's the no-brainer WiFi router choice? ASUS something, Ubiquity (sp?)? Read some reviews, order what seems the best, marvel at the weird new mutant feature set... Oops, that's another afternoon wasted.

Oh darn, my offbrand WiFi router had another security exploit, 6 months ago, and I just found out. And so forth.

Hopefully the silver lining is Apple is anticipating metro WiFi (WiMax?), though I wish they were helping drive that transition. Like I had hoped Google was... Oh well.

Google OnHub, or the newer google wifi are basically plug and forget.

The speed and coverage is also fantastic from my experience.

Aren't they only configurable with a phone app? That's a deal breaker for me.

Ubiquiti is great. They also now have a consumer product, a mesh networking router/wireless AP that's plug-and-forget. https://www.amplifi.com

> Now what's the no-brainer WiFi router choice? ASUS something, Ubiquity (sp?)? Read some reviews, order what seems the best, marvel at the weird new mutant feature set... Oops, that's another afternoon wasted.

Ubiquity. Or in general: stay away from consumer-grade network equipment.

The irony is the Airport Extreme performs better than the equivalent Ubi AP.

Airport is amazing for consistent throughput and reliability.

We switched from the wirecutter's recommended AC router back to an older AirPort Extreme and everything got better immediately. I won't miss Apple's monitors because they cost way too much for what they offered, but Apple has been doing wireless right since they brought out the first airport (a friend of mine worked at Lucent at the time and they were excited that someone had finally shipped a usable implementation of their technology)

Ars Technica's article basically says good riddance, but if you go back to their original review observed that the AirPort Extreme crushes all competing routers on both ease of use and performance.

It really is; I'm going to go buy one as a backup. I purchased the original first gen time capsule, and it ran for over two years straight without even rebooting the damn thing. Short of a hardware malfunction (which is exceedingly rare in my troubleshooting experience, but power surges happen..) they just work.

> The irony is the Airport Extreme performs better than the equivalent Ubi AP.

Consumer-grade routers usually are faster. What they are not is more reliable, or easy to use/manage.

My Airport Extreme goes YEARS without me touching it. It took me a couple minutes to set up. I very much doubt that Ubi's ease of management or use is superior. Equal? Maybe. Superior? Nah.

Have you ever set one up? They are insanely easy to manage and use. Superior? Likely. Ubiquity has amazing software. I set up 2 edge routers recently, they never need to be restarted. Also, the newer firmware has really good setup wizards for the basics. Almost impossible to screw up.

I've had significant issues with both Uniquity and Apple APs, so I wouldn't necessarily say that one is that much better than the other.

How about Eero?

I agree! I have older airport express and airport basestations that have been running for years. I update the software every so often, but other than that never look at them. They truly just work.

I may look into the new google APs, so I can get the latest wireless speeds across the house.

> Apple's hardware/software integration has always been a better bet for ease of configuration, and honestly, reliability.

Meh. I worked at AppleCare for about 1.5 years and when I got calls regarding issues with the MacBooks I'd say 99% of the time the internet connectivity issues was with the AirPort Extreme and it had to be hard reset (I've had to walk through this process so much I could essentially recite it in my sleep back in the day).

That's only an anecdote but consumer grade networking, including Apple's, just always seems to suck. Nowadays I try to spend a little more and get some sort of small business type of router.

So, in my mind, their customers are not missing out on much. Though I'll admit the App for getting it up was nicely than browsing to some IP address like many routers at the time.

Now Comcast and FiOS get those calls because they ship WiFi routers with their modems.

That's the real reason Apple is getting out of consumer WiFi routers: for most consumers it is an optional aftermarket accessory that makes things more complicated, not less.

Even my crappy DSL modem is a WiFi router. To attach my preferred router I had to login and set it to bridge mode. Why would Apple want to sell a product that requires people to do that?

> Now Comcast and FiOS get those calls because they ship WiFi routers with their modems.

The best part of working on fixing an internet issue was the second it looked like it could be an issue with the cable modem we had to get off the call. Even if it's likely turning it off and on would have worked. We were told to have the customer call their ISP and refuse to help with even any ideas let alone walking through something.

Which, I get, you don't want to be diagnosing some third party hardware. But I'd say about half the time when someone made it to me they have already called both Apple Care AND their ISP at least 1-2 times and they continue to blame each other.

I cant tell you how many times I've seen customers that were double NATed thru Airport (with the wifi turned on on both). Eg - Cable Router -> Airport -> Computer.

Totally agree -- these things seem to have major quality problems. Many years ago I spent $200 on an Apple router. It died completely in just over a year, literally a few weeks after the warranty period. It wouldn't even power on.

Granted, just an anecdote with a sample size of 1, but after that experience there's no way I would ever consider buying another Apple router. Especially since my previous router (a Linksys) was still chugging along after like 7 years.

I've had Apple base stations. I don't anymore. Not because I don't like the Apple base stations, but because I just don't care. I almost never interact with my wireless router (the only time I've done it in the past year was to accomplish something that the Airport Express can't even do). I didn't find my current wireless router to be any more difficult to set up than the Airport was.

Also: don't most people get their wireless service from their cable router now?

I don't think Apple has a comparative advantage in providing wireless routers. That's not to say that there's no advantage to be found in producing excellent wireless routers: there are companies trying to do this today, but Apple isn't one of them.

> Also: don't most people get their wireless service from their cable router now?

I think this is the key part: thinking about my friends and family, over the last few years everyone has switched to using the box which came from their ISP except for a few IT people and gamers.

This is generally a good thing since the ISPs are significantly more likely to install security updates, and WiFi speeds exceeded the average home internet connection somewhere around a decade ago so the benefits to buying your own are fairly limited for most people.

> WiFi speeds exceeded the average home internet connection somewhere around a decade ago

Depends where you live. There are ISPs that will get you 250 Mbit downstream via FTTH, but their WiFi supports only 802.11n over 2.4 GHz only. When your neighbors get similar setup, you will not get over WiFi anything that approaches your Internet speed.

Definitely - my point was simply that the annual FCC broadband reports don't show the average U.S. connection anywhere near that speed.

ISPs failing to provide security updates is a specific reason I'm worried about this, I felt Apple was more likely to care about security than ISPs. There's an Australian ISP that issued exactly one firmware patch for the router they sold, and hasn't updated it in over 2 years. Not even post-Mirai....

I kept getting notices from my ISP that I was downloading HBO torrents. Turns out my ISP supplied router was compromised. So much for regular security updates!

ISPs are emphatically NOT "significantly more likely to install security updates" than Apple is. That's hilariously wrong.

That's not what I said: they're more likely to install updates than the average user. It doesn't matter if Apple releases an update if the user just ignores it, and the support lifetime for these devices tends to be years shorter than the interval where most people will pay for a new device.

My go-to fix for crappy wireless for friends and family is to plug a $50 BestBuy access point into the piece of shit Comcast ships. Night and day.

People think they need repeaters, cable installation, all kind of expensive and worrying projects... nope, just use a real wireless router instead of the Comcast box.

> Also: don't most people get their wireless service from their cable router now?

Yes they do, but they shouldn't.

The problem is that you place your all-in-one cable-modem-router-AP at the point where the cable enters your house. This is unlikely to be the ideal position to place an access point.

For example, my fiber connection enters my home at one of the corners of the house. You want your AP in a central location.

I tend to agree. But in my house now, a three story, the AP is in the basement at the corner of the house. Surprisingly, I have zero trouble with all my devices connecting to it.

Are you thinking of other issues besides signal strength?

Exactly, there's almost no benefit to them to push the state of the art as they're not an end user product at present (whether or not that should be the case is up for debate, but since most people don't care).

Apple is nudging consumer behaviour with each product transition - I wouldn't be entirely surprised if we start seeing more devices with mobile data built in (say, with an antenna behind the logo or behind the Touch Bar).

What do you think is the best router for general home use, given your security expertise?

I'm also not who you asked but I'll jump in anyways.

I'm a network engineer and use pretty much "enterprise" gear across the board at home. A couple of years ago, though, I yanked out my Cisco ASA firewall (connecting my home network to my ISP) and replaced it. I'm now using a (expensive) "RouterMaxx 1106" [0] (PDF) as my home router. It was designed for and shipped with Mikrotik RouterOS but I replaced that with pfSense, initially, and then switched, later, to OpenBSD. It Just Works(TM).

The hardware, for the most part, doesn't matter too much. The software you choose is much more important, in my opinion. Choose something that can be tuned and locked down as needed and, critically, gets updated regularly. I'm a "CLI guy" and quite comfortable with OpenBSD and a terminal so this setup works for me. For those desiring a point-and-click web-based method of administration, pfSense, OpenWRT, and similar may better serve their needs.

n.b.: FWIW, my router doesn't provide Wi-Fi, only (6 x 1000 Mbit) wired Ethernet. I have been using an Aerohive AP330 access point but am currently replacing it with a Ubiquiti Unifi AP AC PRO.

[0]: http://www.balticnetworks.com/docs/routermaxx%206%20port.pdf (PDF)

I am not the one you asked, but I have become a fan of Ubiquiti's ER-X due to the performance of the small queue, its low cost and Swiss Army knife like feature set. I have not run into anything that it cannot do yet (unless pushing more than 180Mbps through the smart queue counts).

there are lots of consumer grade routers just as good or better than Airports. Problem is finding them amidst the sea of absolute crap.

Option 1: look and see what all the DDWRT/tomato/etc... guys are suggesting. Chances are the hardware is decent, and you know it will have support for the good 3rd party firmwares if you ever want to try it.

Option 2: Abandon all consumer grade gear. Just get Ubiquity stuff.

Option 3: Google just released their routers (like last week), which support automatic mesh networking when you use multiple. Way too early to make a call, but its something to keep an eye on.

I'm very happy with the eero APs I got a few months ago. Super simple to set up, auto-adjusting, auto-updating, auto-meshing. We have a big house and a lot of neighbor interference, and these are the first APs I've ever had that "just work".

The problem is most of the router companies have now locked down their update mechanisms on newer hardware, per FCC request... (the FCC wanted to prevent bumping the wattage, but easiest path was to lockdown updates).

Asus was really nice for a while, one of the more open mfg's, my AC3200 unfortunately came out after the lockdown, and is unsupported... would love to get back to tomato-usb or similar.

Anyone know how Eero is?

I have owned three consumer routers the last three years, all of which required a reboot every few days in order to stay responsive. My problem with consumer routers isn't speed, easy of setup or need for mesh networking, but reliability.

I currently have a rock-solid Mikrotik hAP ac lite [1], which has not been rebooted once since I installed it in February. However, it only has an internal antenna, and devices in another room are constantly dropping out, so I'm considering something else, if I can retain the reliability.

[1] https://routerboard.com/RB952Ui-5ac2nD

Option 4: Use Ruckus equipment. I plan to switch from Ubiquiti equipment to Ruckus equipment because I was able to purchase a used Ruckus Zoneflex 7982 off eBay for $90 and I understand that it would allow me to use only 1 AP where I currently use 2.

Option 4: Ubiquiti now has their own consumer mesh networking router/AP called AmpliFi (https://www.amplifi.com).

Why bother? My ISP gives me a decent router with built-in wifi. The wifi is N, but I wanted AC, so I bought a Netgear and put it in access point mode. Took all of 30 seconds.

If you don't trust your ISP provided firewall/router then you probably have bigger problems. Both big ISPs in my area offer to turn the router into a bridge-mode device I can plug into a box running pfsense if I desire it, but frankly, that sounds like a PITA. Their routers work well enough. I think going forward we will just buy access point, not routers. The router problem has been solved for a long time.

>Abandon all consumer grade gear. Just get Ubiquity stuff.

I'd argue Ubiquity is really consumer stuff, just small business friendly. Their performance, price, stability, etc isn't that much better than a Netgear in access point mode. They just have a java-based controller which is handy for managing multiple AP's. Inside, they're kinda crappy.

>Google just released their routers (like last week), which support automatic mesh networking when you use multiple.

Google wifi is actually a latecomer. You can get residential friendlier Ubiquity-style solutions via Orbi or Eero, which is what Google is copying here. I believe Google's 3-pack beats both on price currently.

edit: modems and routers are completely different cases/devices and performance/stability are different than money saving. Regardless, my ISP doesn't charge me for my modem, so there's no incentive for me to buy my own.

After I had fiber installed at my grandmother's apartment in Shanghai, I found a backdoor in router that China Telecom provided. It was similar with Verizon in the US where they have your wifi password and remote access for various things. Then there was Cablevision that turned every router that they provided to people in my area into an access point without permission. Beyond having creepy backdoors, ISP provided routers are junk. There is no good reason to use them.

As for Ubiquiti being consumer grade, it is like an Intel Xeon E3. It is the same chip that is used in consumer stuff with enhancements for reliability. For instance, Ubiquiti equipment supports grounding via STP Ethernet. It generally supports some variant of PoE and is meant to be mounted on walls and ceilings. There are even outdoor models. It also does not require a reboot on every change. In addition, there is a team of engineers working on making the firmware better and their customers are able to report problems to them. Then there are firmware features like VLANs, policy based routing, BGP, ping watch dogs and other things not found in stock firmware of consumer grade equipment.

> Then there was Cablevision that turned every router that they provided to people in my area into an access point without permission.

Comcast does this as well - if you are leasing the Comcast modem then you are putting out a pair of APs. One of them is a public Comcast hotspot. I think you can request that it be turned off however.

It is probably better in the long term to just buy your own modem, router, switch and AP. ISP provided equipment is always subpar in comparison to what you can buy from Newegg and all in one units are bad in general.

Absolutely - I think Comcast charges like $10-15 per month for the privilege of polluting my airwaves with their access point. You can pick up one of their "approved" modems off eBay for like $50, so it pays off in a handful of months. You tell them some hardware ID number, either a MAC address or same idea, and they can auto-provision it for you. Takes literally 5 minutes and you're online.

Right now I have a Cisco DPC3008, which I can't really complain about. I have a Buffalo Airstation Extreme 1900, which has been good so far apart from its minute-long reboot times. I thought I was getting a DD-WRT router though, didn't realize the standard version did not have a supported DD-WRT build.

I have to admit though - when a contractor ripped out the sidewalks and took out my cable, I was glad that my neighbors were running the hotspot. Took almost 3 weeks to get back online.


In Germany, Kabel Deutschland can and does regularly update your cable modem remotely. There's a even a list of "censored websites" pushed down to your own router. They provide a Fritzbox but it's slightly more locked down (feature-wise) than normal so you can't even use it to a full potential.

I bought an Airport and stuck it behind it to at least isolate our home network from this backdoored mess. Good to know that Ubiquity provide a reasonable replacement.

FWIW, your cable modem downloads a configuration file from the ISP every time it boots up. That's just how DOCSIS works.

You're probably paying a monthly rental fee for the router/modem from your ISP. There's a good chance you'll save money in ~12 months or so if you buy instead of rent.

I used to get charged $10 a month for router/modem. Owned my cable modem now for 4 years with no problems and my router for 3. They have more than paid for themselves.

It's not that I don't trust my ISP provided router/modem combo - it's that it was a pile of crap. They almost all are!

Bought my own modem + router and saw my speeds go from ~40mbs to 120+mbs. Upload speed also saw a similar scale increase.

Lack of Airport improvement was one of the biggest reasons why we started eero.

I was curious until I looked at your website and found that it's 1) US only and 2) requires not only a smartphone but a US phone number to set up.

I mean really, this is the kind of thing you can/should be able to log into from a web page, why does this all have to be locked behind an app?

On the other hand, consumers seem to be better at configuring wireless routers today than 5 years ago. I rarely see an unsecured router with the default configuration any more ("linksys" SSID, no password).

I did enjoy using Apple's wireless routers, though.

I don't know that people are getting better at it, rather it seems to be because routers are coming with randomized passwords printed on a sticker on the unit itself. And it's anecdotal but my neighborhood is littered with base Comcast & AT&T SSIDs.

That's certainly what happened in my country - people started getting pre-configured wireless routers with their ISP contract. Nowadays a good third of them even have Fonera enabled, which is nice.

I think the set up has become a bit more consumer friendly and appliance like, which may in part lead to better security. Most of the major vendors are even pretty good about disabling commonly exploited functions of older firmwares; there are fewer and fewer routers that are vulnerable to reaver by default now because the WPS function is either disabled or removed completely. This of course doesn't address lesser known more threatening holes, but still it's a start.

But I do concur - I will miss the ease of the Airport tech (not so much the most recent prices though).

Having never owned or seen the need for an Apple router, can you explain what is so great about them?

Why do you think Apple's routers might be backdoor free but other companies' routers won't be? What makes Apple so special in this regard? I understand they challenged the government on the San Bernardino cell phone, but that's irrelevant as they also cooperate with the government like all other major companies. Is this idea simply based on some public statement or policy and if so why do you believe that given Apple's track record of cooperation that continues to this day?

Who cares? Who uses these? You're provider gives you a free router when you sign up and you plug it in, type in your password on your devices and boom you never think or worry about it again.

There is no need for Apple to be in this market, there is no problem to be solved for 99.9% of people.

> You're provider gives you a free router when you sign up and you plug it in, type in your password on your devices and boom you never think or worry about it again.

Usually, you don't even want to remove the PoS router you get from your ISP from it's box. In my experience no ISP ever gives away decent equipment, it's just the cheapest thing they could order in quantity.

Another issue with an ISP-issued router is that you have no idea what they did and can do with it. I know of several ISP's that have full remote access to the routers they hand out. Basically, you risk exposing your entire home network.

For Verizon Fios you have no choice. I mean sure you can disable the wifi of the router and use an access point like I do but you have to use their router at some point in the chain.

There are have been some guides to try to bypass the router and go strait to the OTN but it is extremely non trivial.

This is false if you're only using Fios for internet service. Verizon asked me if I was providing my own router, and I said yes. The tech who "installed" and activated my ONT confirmed that I was using my own router so that he could activate the ethernet port on the device. There was nothing to bypass—it fell within their expectations.

I hear it's a challenge to avoid the standard Verizon router if you also have TV or phone service through Fios.

It must be because I have TV through them because I literally begged them and offered other pricing to not use their router and they said it was not possible.

I also confirmed this a while back on some forums but perhaps they have changed this. It is good to hear you had success. Do you have a residential or biz plan?


Here is the link (I was mistaken and thought it was on a forum): http://theassociatespress.com/bypass-fios-router-entirely/

Like I said before it is pretty non trivial and you have to plead your case to them to let it happen.

They lied. With modern FiOS equipment, you just need a MoCA 2.0 bridge and for the ONT to be provisioned for ethernet. Their router can even be used as a MoCA bridge or run in an Ethernet configuration. There is at least one guy on Reddit who has the FiOS TV guide working without Verizon's router by doing that.

My own household used its own router with the Verizon router configured as a MoCA bridge almost exclusively from 2006 until 2015 when we cancelled FiOS TV in favor of an OTA TV antenna. There were a few brief periods of time where I tried having Verizon's router be the gateway router, but it turned out to be awful.

Expect to hear the CSR make vague references to advanced features being absent when saying that you want to use your own router over their advice to rent theirs. The only "advanced feature" that would be absent is Verizon's remote management backdoor.

There is no need for Apple to be in this market,

Of course there is a need. Apple has always been one of the first to use new WiFi standards, the Airports made these transfer speeds non-theoretical. My three year-old Airport still beats my 2016 cable modem royally on 802.11 AC. And this is not one of those cheapo cable modems (basically the latest and greatest Fritz!Box).

A large chunk of Apple users that I know have an Airport or Time Capsule for these and other reasons.

> boom you never think or worry about it again.

Experience tells me this is not actually the case. Provider-provided routers are a major PITA if you want them secure and stable.

I had a router from BT that despite having won awards, could not resolve its external IPv4 address internally. It knew what its external address was and knew that it had to DMZ everything to an internal address, but if you attempted to resolve the external address (expecting it to go to your DMZ'd machine), it'd fail.

I also had a router from another UK ISP that would crash and hang if you sent it a malformed IP packet (ie put its respond-to address as itself); it'd go mental replying to itself and then processing the messages it sent to itself. Not quality.

The EE broadband router I had would hand off its internal web admin session to external visitors if they connected whilst a web admin session was in progress. Yes, let's hand our internal web admin session page to an external visitor....

BT sent another hub that looked identical and worked correctly; underneath it was a Siemens instead of a Thompson I think.

So all in all, I have found that the ISP boxes were never really finished, and some (like Sky's box) needed rebooting periodically as I recall, so buggy too.

> I had a router from BT that despite having won awards, could not resolve its external IPv4 address internally. It knew what its external address was and knew that it had to DMZ everything to an internal address, but if you attempted to resolve the external address (expecting it to go to your DMZ'd machine), it'd fail.

to be fair, I've got $1000 cisco hardware that can't wrap the external IP like that...

FWIW, they can... if you configure them correctly.

  same-security-traffic permit intra-interface
  static (inside,inside) ...
should get you most (or all) of the way there.

Does your BT hub still contain a backdoor? https://cryptome.org/2014/10/BTAgent-cpe-backdoor.htm

Mine is now an EE box (so who knows what lurks inside) - that link made for interesting reading!

I use one (Time Capsule), and have used them for years. They have a pretty convincing value add story... let alone the fact that I also have a few Express stations around the place for music streaming.

> You're provider gives you a free router when you sign up and you plug it in

Time Warner charges $10/month for theirs, and they're awful.

some routers provided by ISPs also broadcast public WIFI networks that any customer of the ISP can use. Not something I'm interested in; the last thing I want is more frequency congestion around my house.

If you want a good router, and have a bit of time to spare, I think the best route is to buy a low power machine [1], or assemble one yourself and run BSD or Linux.

Hopefully, in the near future we can have this done with libre hardware. Cheap POWER stuff would be great.

[1] http://www.fit-pc.com/web/products/fitlet/

I did just this in the 90s and into 2000s with an amd dx4-100, FreeBSD, two network cards and a hub. Best firewall I could have asked for, reports out the wazoo, and was very reliable. And it was all free!

Registration is open for Startup School 2019. Classes start July 22nd.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact