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Hong Kong protest safety app banned from iOS store (theregister.co.uk)
841 points by ycombonator 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 505 comments





> FTA: "Hong Kong citizens have highlighted a quirk of local laws that provide a strong counter-argument: under the law, the Hong Kong police are obliged to wave a blue flag at the spot in which they which to declare that an illegal gathering is taking place."

So HK police are required to wave a blue flag so that the general public is aware the police have declared a particular gathering at a particular location illegal. Thus, HK law literally wants the location of the gathering made known, publicly drawing attention to it and the location. I assume this is to inform those gathering about their status and to let others nearby know also, as a warning, perhaps. And also nearby officers. Okay.

So consider an app that shared only this publicly visible information on a map. i.e. "police have raised the blue flag on this gathering, right here", without commentary or calls to action.

Less functional and informative than the existing app, but it may still serve a useful purpose for HK residents and demonstrators and perhaps even police (according to HK law) and then Apple may plausibly allow the app because it doesn't get into choosing sides or facilitating illegal calls to action.


Choosing sides and facilitating illegal calls to action is exactly what a reasonable company does in this situation. The matter of how best to serve humanity is not the slightest bit unclear here.

That's the highest horse I've seen so far on this site.

He expects a company to support basic human rights. That's not a "high horse", it's what everyone should expect already.

We shouldn't be ridiculing people who demand companies support human rights. It's the apologists who should be marginalized.


I don't understand why it's such a high expectation that, in a situation where one party is unambiguously oppressing the other, to refrain from censoring the victimized party.

Why is that so strange?


I misunderstood your post. Sorry. I am actually for helping Hong Kongers.

OK I got to ask. Who is oppressing whom? What have they done exactly?

Have you read the article?

How about the tweet from the developer: https://twitter.com/hkmaplive/status/1179108329240424448


It's pretty high. But far from the highest.

Do you think it is reasonable for a company to instruct and require their employees to break the law?

Yes, absolutely. Something being legal doesn't make it good.

It depends on the law. And on the state claiming its legitimacy.

This. We have placated China and their authoritarianism for too long.

They seem fine doing so when it makes them money. Granted, they find a 'technically not illegal' way to do so, such as setting metrics that can only be met by the majority of workers by breaking the law and then firing those who don't meet it, but without explicitly saying to break the law.

Stuff like this is one of the main reasons I focused my efforts on web apps, not native ones.

https://hkmap.live/#

Looks like the devs were smart enough to make it a web app, so it can still be used.


To be fair, if your app submission is a glorified Web App (leveraging no native iOS features) Apple will reject for that reason alone [0].

"4.2 Minimum Functionality - Your app should include features, content, and UI that elevate it beyond a repackaged website."

[0]: https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/#min...


They didn't remove it for that reason though.

Why is this comment being downvoted? It does contribute to the discussion.

Because it's completely irrelevant.

The point is that having a webapp allows them to continue to serve users if their actual app is removed from app stores. It has no bearing on how their native app functions, whether it is in native code or a web wrapper etc.


This only applies because Apple runs a walled garden that is anti-user. People running actual computers with non-user-hostile operating systems can install whatever software they like. This is entirely apple's fault.

Websites are not applications. The browser is not an OS.


HN has long since been devolving into Reddit in all but name. You will generally get insta-downvoted if you say something that goes against the current bandwagon or that someone doesn't like to hear/talk about.

not relevant here

just tell mobile users to bookmark the page, on iOS that can make an icon on your home screen


Are "website" and "web app" synonymous?

To me a website can be a static webpage, but a web app's more dynamic

Agreed, I would argue that web app implies function above a website.

The government could just block this directly using their national firewall instead of having to get a company to do it, couldn’t they?

Hong Kong does not have a firewall. It seems most people on HN think Hong Kong is governed like the rest of China, but it is not.

(Please) correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that... what this whole protest is about? HK staying under independent rule instead of (forcefully) adopting Chinese rule?

That is indeed the interpretation propagated by the western media, and the one that the protesters present. But not all Hong Kongers believe that that is what the protests are truly about. Underneath, there are aspects related to economy, personal identity and historical context, which, combined, call into question whether the protests are truly good for Hong Kong.

There is nothing more I can say here without getting downvoted. Most people here will not believe me. I advice you to read things for yourself and draw your own conclusions: go to https://quora.com and search for Hong Kong questions. Many Hong Kongers reply there, as well as other groups that are closer to HK such as Singaporeans and even mainland Chinese. Their view on things will fascinate you.


China is not doing anything new to take away freedom in Hong Kong.

To expand on whoevercares' comment, recently someone committed a crime in Taiwan and fled to Hong Kong. To close this loophole and prevent HK from becoming a safe haven for criminals, the Chief Executive of HK proposed a new law to facilitate extradition of these crime suspects from HK to various jurisdictions in the region, including Taiwan and mainland China.

The proposed law even explicitly stated that it's not applicably to crimes political in nature. But some HK people were nevertheless concerned that it might be abused by China to target political dissidents taking refuge in HK.

So they have taken to the streets to protest that law. As a result, the law was quickly suspended before it had a chance to pass, and a few weeks ago the HK Chief Executive officially announced the withdrawal of the law.

However, despite the concession from the HK government, the protesters pressed on, demanding four more concessions from the government, chief among them universal suffrage, or the direct election of the HK Chief Executive, who up to this point have been nominated from a narrow pool of Beijing-approved candidates, then voted on by a committee.

It's not entirely clear that China even had anything to do with the proposal of the law which started this ordeal. But the protesters have shrewdly painted a picture, to great effect, of big bad China stomping on the poor helpless people of HK.

(EDIT: spelling, wording)


>or the direct election of the HK Chief Executive, who up to this point have been nominated from a narrow pool of Beijing-approved candidates

This is only true since the handover from the UK in 1997.


That's true.

Prior to the handover, the executive head of HK had been the governor, appointed by the British government.


Communist China issued invasion threats when the UK proposed introducing self-government in the late 50s and early 60s.

https://qz.com/279013/the-secret-history-of-hong-kongs-still...


Thank you! That's an interesting read.

Directly from the article:

> And when Mao founded the People’s Republic of China in 1949, he and Zhou Enlai decided not to seize Hong Kong—which the British at the time expected

The other side of the story is that China could've easily seized HK from the beginning, and the people of HK would've been under the direct rule of China, and never gotten any of the freedom and autonomy they enjoy today.


To expand on whoevercares' comment, recently someone committed a crime in Taiwan and fled to Hong Kong. To close this loophole and prevent HK from becoming a safe haven for criminals, the Chief Executive of HK proposed a new law to facilitate extradition of these crime suspects from HK to various jurisdictions in the region, including Taiwan and mainland China.

Countries without extradition treaties can still extradite criminals on a case by case basis. It was also very cheeky of them to use a criminal from Taiwan R.O.C - a democratic nation with a strong rule of law - as an excuse for an extradition treaty with the Mainland Area of China, a communist dictatorship where laws are at the whims of party members.


You think the HK extradition treaty will be abused by China.

China already has an extradition treaty with Taiwan, and has had it for years now. With Taiwan of all places. What does that tell us?

None exists between China and HK. And the murderer is still at large.


There is no extradition treaty between Taiwan and China.

https://www.mac.gov.tw/en/cp.aspx?n=FD37619195CF6DA5&s=CED28...

You are probably thinking of this. It's not an extradition treaty. It's also now widely ignored.


> Countries without extradition treaties can still extradite criminals on a case by case basis.

That doesn't seem to be true in this particular case, since said suspect is still enjoying his freedom in HK. An extradition treaty to cover the case seems like a reasonable initiative.

> Mainland Area of China, a communist dictatorship where laws are at the whims of party members.

I agree that's a valid concern, and that the proposed law didn't include adequate protection for HK citizens. And I support the initial peaceful protests against that law. What I cannot support however, are the ongoing and escalating violence from some of those protesters, before and especially after, the announcement of withdrawal of that law.


The protest is directly triggered by the new law that will send murders to China but people fears that it’ll be abused to send anyone to China. They made a whole bunch of extra requirements which is probably against Beijing’s long term vision of HK. I respect their motivation but I wish they could do it more incrementally and with less disruption of normal people’s life(at this point the protesters are almost school students)

Parent is being downvoted because most people on HN cannot fanthom how anyone can genuinely and legitimately not take the extreme opinion of "everything China does is evil", but the parent's opinion is more representative of many Hong Kong people' actual opinions, than HNers think.

That is: not saying China is evil, but also not denying that China is problematic, while focusing more on the practicality of the way the protesters do things.

You don't have to believe my word for it. Go look up Hong Kong related questions on https://Quora.com and read what Hong Kongers think. A whole new world will open for you.

The answers posted there are too detailed and too well-argumented to be simply propaganda by paid Beijing workers. Propagandists are paid by comment, so they are incentivized to write many short comments instead of long and elaborate ones.


> Propagandists are paid by comment

I am curious. How do you know that?


The quora answers I've seen regarding this were all poorly written, despite being lengthy screeds. This is an attempt at imitation:

WHYYYYYYYY do the protesters think violence is the answer?

Chinese government not perfect but you have to remember how things were like in the 1950s. Maybe young generation does not appreciate what they have? Maybe HK culture wants to be special and needs to learn that that they are not on a separate level from the rest of China?

^ if this is what you call 'fascinating' and 'a whole new world' opening perspective I would question whether you are not a propagandist yourself.


You might be surprised what you wrote look perfect reasonable and make tons of sense to a great portion of native Chinese. Be aware that critical thinking and non-STEM lessons is quite lacking in China’s schools today. In fact what common Chinese will just see the chaos and they will just refuse to have any deeper conversation with you because disorder is just BAD, no argument. In addition, language barrier is also a thing + people in China aren’t that used to western style debate. Are they all defacto propagandist by your definition? I think it just need cultural influence and somehow raises awareness

... it is not yet [until 2047 at the latest].

The great firewall isn't present in HK as part of the one country two systems.

The government can just take the internet down for the protest area.

There is only that far technology can go.


The protesters are using bluetooth mesh apps like Bridgefy and firechat to share data even if internet is down.

It has to hit the wider internet somehow...

Surely the mesh can have edge nodes that are online?

Oh, I now realise you're talking about their local communication

When there is a great evil power in the world, it is impossible not to take a political stance, given the moral duties involved. Inaction, or failing to take a stand, constitutes tacit approval. In this case, Apple granting what I assume was a request from the Chinese government to remove the app is more than tacit.

The human rights abuses by the Chinese government are insanely bad: religious and ethnic persecution, forced abortions, murder of political dissidents, no habeas corpus for many, abuse of prisoners (torture, forced labor camps, harvesting and selling prisoners’ organs), to name a few.

Unfortunately, too many in the West, including Apple, have become heavily economically dependent on China. I think that dependence strongly clouds moral judgment when it comes to decisions like this. Furthermore, it requires far more moral courage to call out evil in the present than it does to identify evil in the past.

To Apple and everyone else: don’t become complicit! Take a stand. History will vindicate you.


It seems to a mostly-lay-person that we have super-military and super-propaganda these days, what can individuals do? Even in groups of 100,000 they're no match for modern methods of control it seems. Am I looking at this incorrectly?

It's all marketing. Apple is a company not a country.

If Apple ups the ante on China, then China comes down and bans the App Store or tariffs Apple devices a ton as retribution - resulting in Apple getting itself into a similar situation Huawei is in with the US. If (this is all hypothetical, btw) that were to happen with Apple, then I would wager Xiaomi or Huawei would only see more investment to become the "Apple of China" and further develop a replica in-house app store.


Apple put themselves in a position where they had the power to clamp down. Obviously they will then be forced to use this power. By western governments, by outrage mobs, by China.

By their own choices and strategy of centralizing power they decided to become a fascist enabler.


I honestly think you are vastly overestimating the power a foreign company is capable of having in China. Any provocation would probably quickly end up in iPhones simply not getting any service in the country anymore and being banned from sale with no legal recourse.

I think GP is saying the opposite, namely that they set themselves up to be an enabler of state control, with their centralised gatekeeping model.

The inevitable result of letting the manufacturer control what may run on the device.

Agreed. However, Android has removed Gab and other free speech apps from it's appstore, too. Although you can circumvent android easier than iOS. This is a tough call -- security versus freedom, and I don't know what the right trade off is. I'd still counsel my parents to use Apple.

> security versus freedom

With the app store you're still vulnerable to state actors and zero day vulns. And on Android you're vulnerable to permissions scope creep. The app stores contain malware.

You're never truly safe.

You can't point to the old days of Windows in the 90s and early 2000s as a case for app stores, either. Installers and downloaded executables were great, but Windows had a broken, unsandboxed model that made it easy to break. History would have played out much better if Windows itself weren't so permissible and was more hermetic back then.

If we invested the same billions of research and development dollars that Apple and Google did into their walled garden platforms, an open web with truly cross platform native wasm apps would work just as well or better than anything on the app stores, and it'd be just as "secure". And cross platform. And couldn't be shut down by Apple, Google, or an angry government.

Imagine going to Netflix.com and getting the native app experience. On any mobile device. Windows Phone. Ubuntu Phone. That's how it should have worked.

Walled gardens must die.


> Walled gardens must die.

No.

As a user, I am grateful for "walled gardens" like the App Store, Steam, etc.

Because I remember the chaos that was before them, with developers/publishers preying on users all the time, which they still try to do by working around App Store restrictions and so on. I'm grateful for curated marketplaces putting the foot down on them.


You mention Steam, which is a steaming pile of poo, along with chaos and devs preying on users. Do have any semblance of the amount of shovelware & asset flips published on Steam daily?

Steam has user reviews, forums and a standard process for refunds. What would you do if you had to purchase all games from each developer's own website? Your only recourse would probably be to file a chargeback with your bank.

What are you referring to when you say “scummy developers preying on users”? Honestly asking.

If you check the news at any frequency it's hard to miss all the reports of this and that software overextending or abusing its privileges to intrude into the user's computer and privacy.

See all the recent news about Chrome, Dropbox, Zoom etc. installing malware on our systems. Steam wiping your disk on Linux when you uninstalled a game. Uber recording your screen.

And those are the big players, caught because they're under constant scrutiny (but still try to act as if they're above the "law").

Life before the "walled gardens" was rife with cases like that, from developers on all scales. There was no single authority for your platform to complain to. It was chaotic and miserable even for techie people.

This is actually what Apple capitalized on during the "I'm a PC, I'm a Mac" days, and it gave them the credibility to carry on to the App Store. Now I see mostly developers complaining about the walled garden, which makes me wary of their true intentions.


I'm sorry, I don't understand the point you're trying to make here. You say it's better now that we have walled gardens but then you make a list of all the players that are circumnavigating these anyway. This to me sounds like the worse of both worlds. Some people are still doing whatever they want and at the same time we're prevented to install software from different sources. I agree that at some level it prevents everyone to do it, meaning you have to have at least some basic knowledge to do that but that doesn't seem much from a freedom/security standpoint. For the most part and for most users, those walled gardens are nice but I still think users should have the option to install whatever they want. Put on seven disclaimers about it, but let me do it since, well, I paid for that device.

> a list of all the players that are circumnavigating these anyway.

Do note that almost all of those examples are of apps that are -NOT- delivered via the App Store.


> App Store

Now you're picking favorites. So the App Store is okay, but Google Play and Steam aren't?

I don't own Apple devices, so I lack familiarity, but I find it hard to believe that Apple is so good this doesn't happen.

Why do we put our faith in corporations to do right by us?

Apple and Google do not care if users are taken advantage of as long as they don't complain in volume. Both platforms allow play to win games that are designed around extorting "whales". They knowingly allow at-risk individuals to pour thousands of dollars into games, which is an outright travesty.

These companies have too much power and they're abusing it.


> So the App Store is okay, but Google Play and Steam aren't?

Apps downloaded via the App Store (and I assume Google Play) are sandboxed.

Chrome on the desktop, Steam, etc. are not sandboxed.

Most malicious activity is not possible from within a sandbox. For example Steam wouldn't have been able to delete the user's entire disk if it only had access to its own folder.

> Why do we put our faith in corporations to do right by us?

Why should we put our faith in random individual developers to do right by us?

I'd rather have to trust just one corporation instead of thousands of developers who may pack up and disappear overnight.

> These companies have too much power and they're abusing it.

See comments above. Much of the recent malware is in apps that are not distributed via the App Store.

Developers have always abused their power, and still do. "Walled gardens" check that abuse.


How would you feel if Apple brought the same philosophy of iOS to macOS (assuming you use mac)?

Can't install anything they don't pre-approve, either from DMG or Brew or whatever, only from the Mac App Store.

I don't know if it's just me and the people i work with, but we think the Mac App Store is fucking useless, to the point we actively go out of our way to download Xcode through other means.

I for one would not be happy with only being able to install apps through the Mac App Store, and I don't see why iOS should be treated any differently.


> How would you feel if Apple brought the same philosophy of iOS to macOS (assuming you use mac)?

I wouldn't be OK with that, and I've said so in other comments here (like when they announced the additional security features in macOS during this year's WWDC - which I appreciate, with concerns), but the iPhone/iPad/etc. are different classes of devices, and I'm fine with their restrictions. They make sense there.

I do prefer the Mac App Store to downloading from random websites or manual updates. How is it "fucking useless?"

Matters of convenience aside, see the Transmission BitTorrent client ransomware fiasco for a grave example.

If someone really really wants to circumvent the App Store on iOS, distribute it via TestFlight, or make the source code available and ask users to compile it on their own Macs.


I feel like Apple users live in a ivory-tower.

> If someone really really wants to circumvent the App Store on iOS, distribute it via TestFlight, or make the source code available and ask users to compile it on their own Macs.

How many protesters in Hong Kong have a Mac to compile source code and even know how to compile something? TestFlight has a user limit. Can people install an app through TestFlight as easily as they can through the normal app store?


I was talking about a general case (which is still rare), not the situation in Hong Kong.

> the iPhone/iPad/etc. are different classes of devices

I suppose I just don't understand why, they seem just like computers with a different form factor.

"Fucking useless" might have been a bit too passionate, but it's happened multiple times with me and the people I work with that Xcode installed through the App Store updates itself but gets stuck in the update forcing a full re-download.

First time it happens ok it's just a bug, by the 3rd time I'd just given up on the App Store altogether.

> If someone really really wants to circumvent the App Store on iOS, distribute it via TestFlight, or make the source code available and ask users to compile it on their own Macs.

Those aren't really feasible though, external testing on Testflight requires a review (plus it might need the $99 developer fee to put it on Testflight?). And the source code route is the same issue, either pay $99 or reinstall the app every 7 days.

I suppose I just don't see the downside other than "Some people need to be protected from themselves" which I don't agree with in this case.


> Xcode installed through the App Store updates itself but gets stuck in the update forcing a full re-download.

That's a frustration that I share, regarding large downloads/updates on unreliable connections, but that doesn't make the App Store useless. I have received thousands of successful app updates over years and maybe <50 failures.


> iPhone/iPad/etc. are different classes of devices

No, just no.

They're our computers.

This is why I really hoped for the Ubuntu and Firefox phones to happen.


>> As a user, I am grateful for "walled gardens" like the App Store, Steam, etc.

That's nice that you get to experience that. I think the protesters may have a different opinion than you.


I guess that is why everyone just uses Chrome nowadays. /s

Google searches used to present Chrome as an app you should download. Google leveraged its market dominance to get people to download their desktop browser.

And on Android it's the default you can't uninstall.


You don't have to circumvent anything and that's the crux of it.

Android lets you install applications without having to jailbreak your phone or do any other trickery. This should be a prerequisite for any OS (with all the necessary warnings).


There are at least two ways to install apps outside of the App Store: https://www.iotransfer.net/tips/how-to-download-apps-without... In addition you could use TestFlight or HockeyApp to distribute to limited beta testers. HN is a technical forum, proselytizing based on your software freedom beliefs by selectively using facts is very disingenuous. Android works for you, that is great - other people actually have “freedom” to ignore your definition of freedom and do what they want.

TestFlight requires a review process and HockeyApp uses enterprise certificates, AFAIK. They’re both in the hands of Apple.

You forgot that the proposed use case for both TestFlight & HockeyApp is against the ToS of both those services and Apple, and will be immediately flagged if you use it for large scale distribution. Also TestFlight afaik only allows 1000 users, which is not that much.

Your solution is to use an enterprise certificate from Anokiiwin Employment Solutions Inc or NANJING SCIYON SOFTWARE TECHNOLOGY CO., LTD. Both will certainly get revoked soon. HN is a technical forum, so we understand why your solution doesn't actually work.

That’s really funny, trusting my entire data, location, photos all to Google is certainly a big concern for me. I’d rather install that Chinese certificate than give my data to Google. Also, it’s entirely within Googles powers to make Android store closed like the App Store, so can we not speculate on future events? Edit: reworded my comment

Please don't use these types of irrelevant personal attacks on HN. /u/lern_to_spel has a very good point that your mentioned alternatives will likely be shut down by Apple and are not officially supported.

If you are going to argue, do it against the most generous interpretation of someone else's words.


Let's not whitewash Gab, which was created specifically to be a white supremacist social network under the veneer of free speech. We can argue whether or not Google should have removed it from the Play Store, but let's be honest about what it is.

I signed up for Gab about 1.5 years ago. It pegged itself as a "free speech platform", which I found pretty interesting.

The concept of a wild west free speech utopia sounds great (and I would still like to see that), but it's filled with repetitive white nationalist bullshit. That's the early adopter group.

Because of that early group, it's a horrible experience for anyone else.


It's not just their early adopter group; Gab has actively cultivated a white nationalist userbase. See for example https://twitter.com/ClenchedFisk/status/1027690034718224384

I am skeptical of the "wild west free speech utopia" as a lot of people seem to conceive of it, because some forms of speech have chilling effects on others. For example, if I pass a group of angry people chanting "blood and soil", I'm certainly not going to say or do anything that makes me legible as Jewish.


Any early adopter of a technology promising freedom will be the groups who need it the most, which tends to be the groups who are most at odds with current social norms. Just look at who the early adopters are for tor or bitcoin.

Which is sad. Because if everyone tolerates abuse, whether from governments or corporations, we get creeping authoritarianism.

Also, I think you bith are exaggerating a bit about Gabhere is obviously a lot of alt right though.


It's no surprise that people banned from other platforms end up on a platform that accepts them. That doesn't mean Gab was specifically made to promote any specific group or viewpoint.

It's the other way around. Gab was created specifically as a safe haven for white supremacist speech, and so white supremacists flocked to it.

> "Gab welcomes everyone, but sees a unique opportunity to carve a niche in a massively underserved and unrepresented market. We estimate that there are over 50 million conservative, libertarian, nationalist, and populist internet users from around the world who are seeking an alternative to the current social networking ecosystems. These users are also actively seeking out alternative media platforms like Breitbart.com, DrudgeReport.com, Infowars.com, and others," Gab stated in a company filing dated July 11, 2017.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/30/tech/gab-anti-semitic-speech-...

This is in addition to white supremacist statements made by the company's official social media accounts: https://twitter.com/ClenchedFisk/status/1027690034718224384


You seem to be confused about what white supremacy is. It's a small subset of nationalism. There are many other types.

And white supremacy is more authoritarian than libertarian. And it's not conservative in the current political sense and it's populist.

I'm not sure what to make of that Twitter link except that there's a whole bunch of folk so embedded in their own political bubbles that they're incapable of communicating with anyone beyond.


I'm not confused about what white supremacy is. The sites listed are instructive: Breitbart has explicit white supremacist and Nazi ties [1], whereas InfoWars is often a gateway into white supremacy [2]. The Twitter link is a bunch of examples of Gab's official Twitter account making anti-Semitic comments.

[1] https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/josephbernstein/heres-h...

[2] https://www.revealnews.org/blog/the-hate-report-infowars-is-...


Buzzfeed and Reveal are every bit as ideology-laden as Breitbart and InfoWars. I happily disregard most of what they all have to say.

100% freedom, all the time

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Benjamin Franklin

I'm not sure about iOS, but Android still allows installing unsigned APKs (F-Droid and similar platforms work because of this), and what has already been installed stays on the phone until the user removes it.


100% freedom is an absolutely banal phrase.

What does it even mean? I am pretty sure that you don't mean someone is 100% free to murder someone else. So you clearly believe in some restrictions.

I can already imagine the counter argument: "Well, 100% freedom unless your freedom infringes on someone else's freedom!"

Ok, but what does it mean to infringe on someone else's freedom? Murder is the easy case; what about polluting a river? I think we would all agree dumping enough chemicals to kill all life in a river would be infringing on other's freedoms, so lets prevent that... but where do you draw the line? It will take judgement, consensus, and compromise to find out where that line is.

So suddenly we are back to needing rules around curtailing freedoms that some people aren't going to like.


I agree that 100% freedom was pretty hyperbole. AnCap + the NAP is probably a better comparison (but still lacks some nuance).

In the case of user privacy, I'm against any backdoors or outlawing of encryption (pretty much any government intervention in the messaging space)


You kind of can compile and run anything you want, but by default free developer accounts can only run 3 apps for 7 days until they expire. Tools like Cydia Impactor exist for this purpose.

See, that's a dilemma I grappling with right now. I am trying to decide between an iphone and an android phone. And while android does allow me to install any APKs I want which is great. It also seems to be supremely difficult not to share all of my contacts with google, not to share more information than I want with them and to not have my privacy completely invaded.

So, on one hand, android gives me freedom to install any app I want and to install a firewall like netguard, on the other hand, it destroys my privacy.

I'm really looking for a guide about how to properly secure and prevent data leaking an android phone beyond the basics that I've seen online but without that I'm leaning toward Apple despite finding it abhorrent that I cannot install what I want on my own device (I can obviously side load by using my dev certificate but that's still not something I'm happy with)


The only feasible way to avoid sharing data with Google is using a custom ROM like LineageOS, a Google framework replacement like microG, and XPrivacyLua (module for XPosed). Ideally you'd avoid using any Google services at all, but at least these steps largely prevent Google from freely taking whatever data they want if you do use the Play Store or whatever.

Problem with that is that unlocking the bootloader voids the warranty where I live... I think I'll still try to go down that road if I can't find any other solution...

> not to share all of my contacts with google

You can do this even using the Google Contacts app. Just go into the account settings and turn off contacts sync. To be extra sure, just use a different contacts app.

> not have my privacy completely invaded.

Android has strictly less privacy invasion than iOS, even on Google phones. You can set an offline maps app to be your default. Getting your GPS location doesn't have to send it to Google, while doing the same thing on iOS always sends it to Apple, no matter which app asked. You can install your own apps usably without telling Google who you are.


"I'm not sure about iOS, but Android still allows installing [unsigned APKs likely hacked with spyware integrated courtesy of the Chinese government]"

The kind of "freedom" you're talking about generally has a high cost. At times, that cost is, well, "freedom".

Frustrating actually. There is no platform out there that delivers on the promise of getting you security and freedom. Certainly none that get you privacy. Right now it's all marketing and fanboys, but where the rubber meets the road, there's just no grip.


An untrusted APK is just an APK that isn't signed by Google. They can still be signed by third parties and verified to be correct. It's a shame that more open source platforms haven't taken off, but I'm not too surprised.

I don't understand what you mean by the first sentence. Can you be more specific when you say freedom?


The corollary to this quote is that there are people who do not deserve Liberty. Or Safety.

[flagged]


Personal attacks will get you banned here, and you've unfortunately done this before as well (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21034818). Please edit such swipes out of the comments you post to HN.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Android has multiple stores though and even if none of them carry the app you can still side load it.

> security versus freedom, and I don't know what the right trade off is

That is not a trade off at all, if you believe that you have already fallen for the propaganda. Security in and of itself has no value that you could trade off against freedom, only the freedom part of that pair is valuable. Security is a means to the end of freedom: You may need a certain kind and/or amount of security to gain and maintain freedom. But security is also a means to authoritarianism if you do it wrong. Which means: Security is only valuable in so far as it causes a net increase in freedom. If you are actually giving up freedom to make space for more security, that is, you are trading off freedom against security, you have failed.


> Android has removed Gab and other free speech apps from it's appstore, too

Gab was removed for hate speech, not free speech.


Hate speech is protected under free speech.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech_in_the_United_Stat...


The First Amendment says:

"Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech"

A company removing an app is not Congress making a law that abridges anyone's freedom of speech. This isn't a First Amendment issue.


And Apple is the one who choose to ban the application from the iOS store. The distinction between corporation and government is not clear cut in the modern era.

You say that as if a meaningful, non-political distinction can ever be made between "hate speech" and "free speech".

Do you consider the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to be political?

If so: you are equipped with the necessary building blocks to define hate speech in a non-political way.

If not: your definition of “political” is so broad as to be meaningless.


>Do you consider the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to be political?

Well yes tbh. The fact that a certain group of people in power at a certain point in history made a "universal declaration" about something says very little about whether I or anyone else should care about it or agree with it. In other words it is the epitome of political. I am happy to make up my own mind on the nature of "human rights".


It is clearly political, and not so universal either by the way:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cairo_Declaration_on_Human_Rig...


If the Cairo Declaration in and of itself gives us all the building blocks that allow us to define hate-speech in a non-political way, then what was the purpose of the Rabat Plan of Action, with all its rapporteurs and its workshops on four continents? Do you believe that process was not a political process?

>>However, Android has removed Gab and other free speech apps

Gab is not a "free speech app". In fact, the term "free speech app" is itself laughable.


What prevents a website from offering the same service? Honest question.

Guessing: Got to have a system that is resistant to single points of failure and where the costs of knocking out a communication node is high relative to the benefits the government gets. A website is quite centralised.

At least on the iPhone websites can’t do peer to peer or notifications.

Removing the app from the app store doesn't actually stop the app from running on the device?

"The poor can put whatever they want in their refrigerators - we don't control that. We just control the food they can buy in stores."

:point_up: That.

Ok... this is giving me pause for thought.

I programme .NET on Windows. Have done for years. Never owned an Apple device until I took my wife's old iPhone 6S at the start of the year.

I switched from Android to Apple for a few reasons:

1. Constant spying and data-gathering for profit by Android 2. Ethics 3. I only use a handful of apps so the platform wasn't that important

Apple's public stance is that they take privacy seriously. Like incredibly seriously. Above all things and stuff. And as another commenter pointed out, they told the FBI to go fish when they wanted access to a phone. That resonated with me. That told me they are a company that (appears to) genuinely believe in something other than just profit at all costs. That they may just have my interests fairly high up their agenda.

This latest episode has made me rethink that. From the ground up.

I understand they need to follow the law but so do the law enforcers: Have Apple been watching the footage from HK?

I thought that Apple, with all the power they have, could perhaps say to the Chinese gov... "No, the app stays!"

My faith in Apple has been shattered.

As an aside... Apart from Librem, there isn't really any choice now.

I feel like a dad here... I'm disappointed in Apple.


> 2. Ethics

The ethic ends where the money-loss (or missing profit) begins. I don't understand why so many people are surprised when Apple (or whatever) pulls something like this.

I don't mean to be rude (I don't know you, where you're from, what's your age), but I though at this point in life people would be already aware that ethics doesn't fit very much into corporatism culture.

In simple words, they will (at very least) plainly lie to you in order to make you buy their products. Every one of them.

Or have you ever heard a company saying "Yes, our product is inferior to the competition", "Yes, we will sell your data", "Yes, if avoiding it gives us much problem, we will side with higher powers against you" or "Yes, we're burning forests to give you cheaper burgers"?

They'll picture them as nice and responsible, but at the end of the day what matter most is dollars. They'll never lose.


I'm from the UK in my 40s and I understand the concept of ethics and that mega-corporations are driven by money. At all costs.

That being said...

I suppose I let my guard down a bit and got slightly starry-eyed about Apple but I genuinely believed they saw profit in NOT being assholes like Google. That being different and taking a stand was going to make them vast sums of money.

Plus, Google does not align with my vision at all and there was an Apple phone going free so I made the leap.

Clearly it's all marketing and they are no different to any other mega-corp and if there is profit to be made in feeding people through a woodchipper then they'll do it... like the rest of them.

*takes rose-tinted glasses off


Well, I guess this is a chance you (all of us, actually) can profit from and learn that ethics is a convenience feature, just like the headphone jack.

   I genuinely believed they saw profit in NOT being assholes like Google
Even Google saw profit in "don't be evil", or at least the public perception that they were trying not to be. Unfortunately, history shows that as soon as the public has no viable alternatives, evil is the way to go.

>I thought that Apple, with all the power they have, could perhaps say to the Chinese gov... "No, the app stays!"

China and Apple and (with all the power), the power discrepancies are so far in China favor that - China would just block Apple entirely and not blink.

W/o China's blessing Apple won't produce a single phone...

About being disappointed - Apples holds one of the most abhorable practices when it comes to repair and maintainability. For instance I still don't understand how their laptops don't have conformal coating.


https://www.fairphone.com/en/

Vote with your wallet.


I hadn't heard of this before but it appears to still run Android :(

They support the use of alternative OSes. They may also bring back a version of their OS without the G-Apps.

Apple is at fault here, not for moderating their store, but for disallowing people to install software of their own choice on their own devices. This is completely unacceptable as a user and I do not understand how apple users put up with this.

"I do not understand how apple users put up with this"

You do not understand because lots of apple users clearly have different usage requirements for their phones.

I tinker with stuff 8+ hours per day for a paycheck; when I'm using my phone, I don't want to tinker with it, I want it to just work, and my iPhone does exactly that. Someone has made a bunch of intelligent design decisions about the way things work— much better than with android phones— and I agree with them often enough that I don't care that I can't change them. My brain is busy; the fact that I don't have to think about changing them is great. It's an appliance to me. I don't try to reprogram any of my electronic kitchen appliances either, and I'm a software developer that used to be a chef. I'd much rather spend my time concentrating on the output than the tools. I get that it's not everybody's workflow— you do you.

I also really don't care if I can't install apps that aren't available through the app store. I use a teeny, tiny fraction of what is available through the app store... the chance of app store availability being a limiting factor in my phone usage is pretty much non-existent. I use a computer for everything I can't use my phone for, and it's usually better for those tasks, anyway.


I worry about the legacy we're leaving gen Z, and all of the people just coming online in developed countries, for whom mobile is their native computing environment. We can put our phones away and retreat to our "real computers" to scratch our tinkering itch, but that's not accessible or appealing to everyone. When I was a kid, just clicking all the things opened up new vistas of topics to explore, like clicking "view source" in Netscape Navigator leading to getting a book to learn about HTML. There's no "view source" option in Chrome or Safari for mobile.

> [W]hen I'm using my phone, I don't want to tinker with it, I want it to just work, and my iPhone does exactly that. Someone has made a bunch of intelligent design decisions about the way things work— much better than with android phones—

So you consider an iPhone works so much better and its design is so much better than Android phones that you allow Apple to choose what you can install? I hope you never end in a situation like in Hong Kong where freedom matters more than design.


> So you consider an iPhone works so much better and its design is so much better than Android phones that you allow Apple to choose what you can install?

Yeah. Lots of people do. Giving up control means a lot, I get it. However I give up control with loads of devices, appliances and services every day. In exchange I expect my iPhone, my gmail account and my Samsung TV to make my life easier. They (hopefully) can’t read my mind, so my choices will always lie on a spectrum between: Taking all control, but having to do all the work myself vs. giving up control (and risk being betrayed) but not having to do the work.

> I hope you never end in a situation like in Hong Kong where freedom matters more than design.

Absolutely, but I wouldn’t trust most alternatives out there either. I honestly don’t know what I’d do in that case.


If you think the fact that your phone runs Android is going to save you if and when the government crackdown comes, I have some bad news for you.

you realize android has custom ROMs, right? IOS doesn't.

Actually, it's a trade off. How much freedom vs how much control. A prime example is government regulators, they are there to 'protect ' consumers vs pure freedom of capital ventures. Pure unadulterated freedom never exists because one persons freedom can trample on another persons, e.g the freedom to be racist

All my Android phones 'have just worked'.

Mine haven't. Samsung's flagship Galaxy Note 3 got so laggy I couldn't even pick up a phone call before it went to voice mail, as one of many examples. My stack of iPhones have had their occasional problems, too. But waving our phone penises at each other isn't the point of the article, eh?

+1 for having no issues with android phones thus far. I've switched back and forth between android and ios/apple phones and while my apple phones would start great it would take them a year or so before they were almost useless. Plus my headhpones just work in my android phones.

Admittedly, the headphone jack thing on iPhones is f'ing BS. I hate it. Just give me the damned headphone jack, Apple.

I have Airpods and a set of Sony bluetooth noise-cancelling cans and I do not miss a corded headphone whatsoever, I don’t get what the big deal is here

Try taking a packed subway where everyone else is also wearing Bluetooth headphones.

Alright then. I have a little lightning adapter that goes to a headphone jack.

"just works" is different than works in ideal conditions or special proprietary adaptors.

https://www.amazon.com/Apple-Lightning-Headphone-Jack-Adapte...

You're right, $8.79 is a RIDICULOUS price to expect apple users to pay for the former ability to use wired headphones!


Except when you want to upgrade to the latest Android OS. Then, unless you have a phone made by Google, you have to deal with the sluggishness of Samsung or your cell provider... if you ever get an OS update at all!!

Unlike literally 100% of iPhone owners, who can upgrade the second a new OS is available (if they’ve had a phone made in the last 5 years or so)

This is especially ridiculous considering the adverse security environment we currently inhabit.


All of mine just didn't. I had to install alternate mail clients, alternate messaging clients, alternate web browsers, etc. etc. etc. The defaults looked terrible and were absolutely non-intuitive. With Apple I get a consistent, well designed interface consistently across any of their devices I purchase. Replace the phone? Don't have to think about it. Just sign in.

Same thing applies to me and my google branded phones (first nexus, now pixel). Just sign in after changing the phone and works like a charm.

There is no tinkering with android phones, not sure if you have ever used one.

Can you elaborate on that? Many Android phones can have their bootloader unlocked, allow installing alternate operating systems, have alternate app stores, and allow sideloading of applications.

100% of that is optional and entirely unused by most people, excepting maybe a single side-loaded app if they actually care about certain things.

This is of course scoped to here in the US, where most of the time Android phones have their OS entirely locked down apart from sideloading apps, ie no running different ROMs, upgrading out of what you're allowed by the network, rooting, running super user apps, etc


Can being the keyword. None of that is even close to required. You have the option to tinker, you aren't required to.

what planet are you living on? you can install custom launchers,dialers,sms, third-party app stores, & pretty much whatever else even without root or flashing a ROM. Not to mention the ability to sideload apps. The sky is the limit with root. There's widgets too, something completely foreign to isheep. There is plenty of tinkering available on android.

I meant in the sense of setting it up initially.
guelo 13 days ago [flagged]

You're an obedient citizen that sees no need to go outside the box. China would have no problem with you.

Personal attacks will get you banned on HN. We've warned you about this multiple times before. Please don't do it again.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Ok. I shouldn't have made it personal. I won't do it again.

The fact that you think you can intuit that based solely on a brief description of how I interact with my phone indicates that a) phones probably play a much more significant role in your life than mine, and b) your ability to extrapolate people's behavior based on limited information isn't quite as impressive as you think it is.

The whole point is that phones are playing "a much more significant role" in the protesters lives than yours. You live in a place where you don't have to worry about that, but what does that have to do with the article??

I agree with you, but 'users put up with this' because >99% just couldn't care less, Facebook and Snapchat are in the App Store, why do I need to install a different way?

Apple helps Chinese government, not the first time. Jailbrake or android, no another way for HK people.

About Android - don't be crazy to buy Huawei/Xiaomi/etc.


Because their target audience is not always power users. They need to protect those who don’t understand the difference between app and virus. There is a peace in knowing that anything comes from the app store will be safe and free of malice.

Installing your own software is not a power user thing, it's how computers have worked since they were invented.

Hence why

mobile computing market size >> desktop computing market size


That's not true, or at least not a major component. A workable phone is about the same as a low-end desktop or laptop, but being mobile and internet-connected by default is a huge functionality win. If you can only afford one device and one ISP, the smartphone is the superior option.

There are 3G+ enabled laptops.

Certainly there are many apples to oranges differences, but I don't think it's fair to discount the "managed" nature of mobile devices as a component of their success.

The uptake in Chromebooks would be semi-supporting as well.


Chrome books are also very cheap, bust still no where near as popular as phones.

Also, laptops with wwan cards are a thing, but they also coat more, aren't a default, and can't just be bought at a conveniently located store. It also doesn't fit in my pocket or last nearly all day on a charge.


That's actually another approach some have on the meaning of the word "free" in the computer world:

free of malicious software, without virus/malware/Trojan/bot/worm/etc., free of endless searching for the right app to do the job, free of complicated procedures and user interfaces, etc.

And if these mean that the company (Apple in this case) must impose certain limitations on their software (and hardware), then so be it. People are always free to choose which product they want to purchase and for the majority of Apple's users, it seems Apple's definition of freedom has been more appealing than that of the others. It's not like people are not aware that buying an iPhone brings with it some "quirks" (remember you couldn't send/receive files by Bluetooth on iPhone, or in the beginning, third-party apps were not even allowed on iOS, ...).

Disclaimer: I'm not defending Apple here. Just saying that I understand their reasons.


Also this is a Company, they can decide whatever policy for their market. If you don't like it don't be on it. This is why Android has overtaken apple in market share but its stupid to expect them to be god almighty savior in every public situation. Their policy works perfectly for their user base, it is crazy to expect them to change for your opinions. Apple is one of the few companies who is taking privacy related mater seriously. I enjoy their ecosystem for this reason and I will take other things that come with it.

[flagged]


Is wanting my mom to not be presented with the option of installing malware on her phone (which she will do, and then later ask me to remove), totalitarianism?

Let me ask a similar question: is preventing con artists from contacting the elderly with varying degrees of cognitive decline (i.e. people who would easily be tricked by them), totalitarianism? Maybe when it’s the government doing it, but how about when it’s a feature of some, but not all, phones?

Apple isn’t a monopoly†. You buy into their curated walled garden, by choice. Just like you see a movie by choice, or enter an art gallery by choice. At that point, you are intentionally handing control over your experience to the person or organization who curates the experience. But you can always revoke that control: just leave the ecosystem.

Analogy: City parks exist. National parks exist. National wildlife preserves exist. The former does not preclude the latter. If you visit the former and don’t like the curated nature of it, you can always leave, and go visit the latter, where things are less curated. But there is value and functionality in the curation of a city park. For one, you can take small children and pets to city parks and not have to watch them very hard.

(† If something is a monopoly, such that it’s hard to avoid using it, then this argument doesn’t apply. Facebook, for example.)


I get where you're coming from, but you do need to realize that short of the Librem phones that only recently came into production, there was no non-city park unless you were a developer.

Case and point. I did not burst from the womb computer-savvy. I had to learn. Part of that was supported by the fact there were not highly technical barriers to entry in regards to expanding my computational toolset.

Getting something working on Android and iOS on the other hand, is over and again more complicated.

I can at least side-load to Android, but I must understand Sal and encryption enough to grok code-signing. That is not a trivial barrier to entry. For iOS, I essentially have to sign up as a member of a registry in order to even get something on the phone/tablet for development purposes.

My love of computing and figuring out how things work carried me to where I am today; but the high degree of friction that is increasingly implemented for no other reason than being good for business presents a form of computing that I'm still amazed anyone partake in as a pastime at all.

Hell, Android is specifically set up to prevent you as a User from doing anything you would conventionally do as a User of a computing system. It is very much a computing platform for the developer's and not the user's benefit.

It's a precarious balance to maintain admittedly, but what Apple has illustrated through their actions is that their Phones and AppStore are meant as an extension of themselves to do business first, and to be useful for what you deem fit second. Even if Hong Kongers ended up getting developer accounts to run the safety app, Beijing is well within their authority to use that list of "developers" as a basis for a crackdown by demanding Apple hand it over as a condition of doing business.

I can understand the luxury in just being able to get your Gram a mobile phone and not have to worry so much. I worry even more at the consequences in store a few generations down the line where the bunch of we Free Software nutters who remember what flying by the seat of our pants as root, damn the torpedoes, are not guaranteed to be around for to protest when increasingly large and entrenched models of proprietary software distribution networks and OS architectures lock users out of even being able to leverage honest-to-God General Purpose Computation.

The more decisions are left to the industry and supply chain, the more rights will be lost by the wayside in the name of doing business.


Hyperbole much?

I really don’t understand this complaint. Gaming consoles have long used the same model to great effect. Limit what software can run and you vastly improve most people’s experience. Freedom is not just about letting people do anything, it’s also a question of what contracts they can enter.

If you have some burning desire to hack the hardware, get a dev account and you can lode arbitrary code. Or just buy a different phone.


Games consoles are for one thing only entertainment. A phone is much more personal, it more accurately fulfils the role personal computers claimed to as a digital extension of the user. As a personal communications device any limitations or controls placed on it are limitations and controls on the persons speech / access to knowledge.

Who ever owns the phone owns the person and their speech, this is why the complaint over who actually owns the phone and what that means is so important.

> Or just buy a different phone.

The complaint goes beyond Apple and iPhone, Android does a better job of pretending you own the phone but all that really means is Google owns you instead of Apple. The problem is political not technological, all the common person can do is bitch and moan about it.


I agree with your whole comment except for the last sentence. The people will be owned by their phones until they align their desires with their capabilities such that they have control over that technology. That's not a political problem, it's a technical one.

Mobile phones are like 3D printers: the technology isn't new, but within the last decade the price of 3D printer components dropped, and the availability of open source software to drive them rose, and an equilibrium was found where they entered the domain of non-professional tinker types, at which point we saw an explosion of creativity in that space. The only difference is that that equilibrium hasn't happened for mobile phones yet.

But people are working on it: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2103809433/wiphone-a-ph...

It's gonna take a while, but once the DIY approach is a viable alternative, even for just the tech savviest 1% of the population, Apple and Google will have something else to be compared against, and that will effect their choices in a nice way. Or at least I hope so.


>The complaint goes beyond Apple and iPhone, Android does a better job of pretending you own the phone but all that really means is Google owns you instead of Apple. The problem is political not technological, all the common person can do is bitch and moan about it.

Isn't the answer to that just buy an easily rootable phone and flash an OS without spyware? There's a few manufacturers out there with official unlock tools and presumably supporting that practice would only lead to more adoption. (although, admittedly, this does require the hardware to not have spyware or backdoors built into it)


I am not sure how a comparison between gaming consoles is relevant here. If you are going to mention gaming consoles, I'll take the liberty of mentioning personal computing devices such as laptops or desktops. Imagine not being able to install the apps of your choice and being restricted to Apple approved apps.

Also, you haven't made clear how giving users the freedom to install apps of their choice contributes to a negative user experience.


Consoles are a fairly direct comparison so the link is obvious. Still, if you’re talking about running arbitrary software then try loading “Uncharted: The Lost Legacy” on your PC or laptop. It’s not going to work, because you’re always limited to a subset of software on any platform PC or otherwise.

As to a negative user experience, console gaming won largely due to the lack of software issues. There are several reason for this, but inability to install random software really is one of them.


> if you’re talking about running arbitrary software then try loading “Uncharted: The Lost Legacy” on your PC or laptop.

See https://pcsx4.com/compatibility/

The fact that consoles don't allow side-loading apps is a relatively common criticism of consoles, and one that hackers regularly try to fix. I'm grateful for that. I rather like being able to run emulators on my 3DS, or being able to back up save files from the Switch.

Of course, people don't get as upset about locked down consoles, because consoles are a superfluous entertainment device -- consoles don't really matter for anything. Phones are a lot closer to a laptop in functionality than they are to a console, and the effects of restricting software on a phone are more directly equivalent to restricting software on a computer than on a pure entertainment device.



Very nice catch, thanks.

That being said, substitute out this program for something like Dolphin with the Wii, and I think the point still stands.

There are people working on circumventing cross-platform restrictions for just about every console out there, even in cases where the restrictions are technological and not just policy.


> Consoles are a fairly direct comparison so the link is obvious.

It's not obvious to me, please elaborate with reasoning.

> Still, if you’re talking about running arbitrary software then try loading “Uncharted: The Lost Legacy” on your PC or laptop. It’s not going to work, because you’re always limited to a subset of software on any platform PC or otherwise.

This is due to Sony trying to push sales for PS4 by developing games exclusive to PS4. It's not the same thing at all. If Sony wanted to support Windows as a platform, they are free to do so.

> There are several reason for this, but inability to install random software really is one of them.

What are you basing this claim on?


> Elaborate reasoning

Mass market internet capable consumer devices, with significant compute hardware used to run a wide range of software. That’s a rather narrow list of device categories.

> What are you basing this on?

Malware for one thing. But, also things like driver compatibility, it’s simpler to develop software for well defined ecosystems which consoles provide. Many non exclusive ports don’t happen because it’s surprisingly expensive to port triple A games the PC.

> It's not the same thing at all.

If you want to nitpick that then fine, Red Dead Redemption is on PS4 and XBox box, but never made the PC jump. Porting AAA games to PC is surprisingly expensive, even if getting it to almost work is cheap.

But, it’s vastly more widespread than that. Just try to load some of that realtime software running inside your car on a desktop it’s simply not designed for it.


> Mass market internet capable consumer devices, with significant compute hardware used to run a wide range of software. That’s a rather narrow list of device categories.

I am not sure what you're trying to say. I asked you to elaborate on your claim:

> Consoles are a fairly direct comparison so the link is obvious.

Also

> But, also things like driver compatibility, it’s simpler to develop software for well defined ecosystems which consoles provide. Many non exclusive ports don’t happen because it’s surprisingly expensive to port triple A games the PC. If you want to nitpick that then fine, Red Dead Redemption is on PS4 and XBox box, but never made the PC jump. Porting AAA games to PC is surprisingly expensive, even if getting it to almost work is cheap. But, it’s vastly more widespread than that. Just try to load some of that realtime software running inside your car on a desktop it’s simply not designed for it.

Yes I agree that it can be expensive to port games to different platforms. Not sure how that goes to support your assertion that closed ecosystems are better. Platform makers want people to write stuff for their platform. It's the prerogative of the game/app makers to support the platforms based on their target demographic.

All I am saying is that:

> Limit what software can run and you vastly improve most people’s experience. Freedom is not just about letting people do anything, it’s also a question of what contracts they can enter.

This doesn't make sense, and nothing you have thus far stated helps to further your argument. Apple has incentives outside the user experience to have a tight hold on the iPhone ecosystem. Were they to do the same thing to the Mac, they'd face a strong backlash. No platform maker wants to deny people access to their platform willy nilly.


>> That’s a rather narrow list of device categories.

> I am not sure what you're trying to say.

Try listing out what fits that description. (Consoles, tablets, pc’s, and...). Then add a checkbox near the so called open platforms. My point is it’s a short list including PC’s, tablets/cellphones, consoles, and not much else. Smart TV’s are another possibility, though these tend to be even less open.

Anyway, it’s not that it costs money, it’s that it costs more money to make the port. Consoles take a significant cut of every sale and it’s often not worth it to port to windows due to the bugs associated with arbitrary code running on a users machine.

TLDR: Windows open nature results in more bugs and thus a worse user experience. It’s an inherent issue with open platforms relating to increased surface area for bugs to occur.


> Windows open nature results in more bugs and thus a worse user experience. It’s an inherent issue with open platforms relating to increased surface area for bugs to occur.

I think you are making an unsupported, and likely wrong, logical leap that windows' open nature results in a poorer user experience. I think by far the most likely reason an app/game maker wouldn't decide to support windows is the associated cost of supporting another platform. But many triple A titles do support windows and absorb the cost because in the long run it opens up the use of their product to a wider range of people. And Sony for instance is incentivized to not support windows in the games they produce because they have a competing platform, the play station. By making games exclusive to ps4, they incentivize users to buy their platform. But most games and apps are supported in windows because not supporting windows would result in missing out on a huge chunk of people.

Also BTW Mac OS is also open, you can install stuff outside the app store. Why don't you mention that? Is osx also buggy and provides a bad user experience due to its open nature? I ultimately don't understand the argument at all because no one is forcing the user to install anything, they can pick and choose between apps that they want. There are bad actor apps out there, sure. But if the user only installs well known and reviewed apps the chances of malware are low. Also Windows defender also goes a long way in protecting the system from bad actor apps. Finally, the only reason why you might be more likely to encounter more bad actors in the windows ecosystem than osx for example is due to how popular and ubiquitous windows is. And so I just don't buy the argument that open ecosystems result in a poorer user experience. Even if you write off windows as buggy and terrible, osx is a great counterexample to this argument, imo.

And finally, I'd pick the possibility of accidentally installing a shitty app on my computer over only being able to install apple/Microsoft approved apps any day of the year. This is primarily the reason I use android. Locking down the platform simply drives off a lot of users.


> Not likening the reasoning does not remove the limitation. But it’s vastly more widespread than that. Just try to load some of that realtime software running inside your car on a desktop it’s simply not designed for it.

This is a bogus argument for the case of the safety app. There is people who wrote a functioning program designed specifically for the iphone, that other people were already using on their phones. Then apple, a third party, removed the right of people to continue sharing a correctly functioning program on their own devices. The iphone is clearly designed to run arbitrary software and it already did in this case, before apple's callous interference.


I edited in Red Dead Redemption as a non exclusive (PC/XBox) example that’s not available for PC.

As to the safety app, that’s the kind of thing I would like to play with. You may or may not actually be able to emulate that stuff on PC hardware, but not all of it, more critically however your not getting the license for it.

PS: The removal of software is an argument about execution not the idea of a restrictive platform. The gatekeeper will prevent some software running on the platform that’s the basic idea, removing previously approved software is a separate question.


There is a huge difference between a software company adding support to run on a device and a hardware company preventing supported software from running on a device.

In that case, run Factorio on a PS4. The CPU and GPU are compatible, so why can’t I run Factorio on my PS4?

For the same reason we are upset at apple, you should be upset at Sony.

Because Sony also runs a walled garden and artificially gates their hardware. The existence of an open pasture software marketplace doesn't magically make other walled gardens disappear.

Tim Sweeney would disagree with you. Though I'm usually critical of his views, but this is one I'm in support of. You use gaming consoles to do fairly specific things: mostly play games and possibly watch movies. And you can view consoles as having a subset of features of a general computing device such as PC or Mac. Developers who can distribute apps on consoles are generally only going to deploy games.

Now, modern smart phones are considered as general-purpose computing devices. And because they are placed in this category (and rightly so for their capability in both hardware and OS), a lot of people are going to expect freeform app distribution.

> If you have some burning desire to hack the hardware, get a dev account and you can lode arbitrary code. Or just buy a different phone.

You see, sometimes it's not just about the end-users. Developers cannot distribute apps to the general public on iOS without going through the App Store. Yes App Store adds friction to the app distribution process and that can prevent some malicious apps, but that's about it. Does it really lead to higher quality apps? Well no, just look at all the garbage apps on there. Quality of the store is always a balancing act; it has nothing to do with being a monolithic walled garden.

And all this comes with severe limitations. Localized developers are forced to conform to a suite of rules and guidelines placed by Apple for a global audience. Developers are forced to use monetization models (and has no say in the revenue split) provided by Apple. If devs can distribute apps freely or choose another app store just like they can on Android devices, I can't say for sure whether the end-user experience or security will be higher or lower, but developers will certainly have more freedom and enjoy it more.


One uses consoles for gaming and movies because those capabilities are the least likely to disappear in the future, as evidenced by the PS3 Linux / supercomputer mess

We had this discussion already decades ago with why free software is important but free games less so.

Banning a "safety app" has entirely different consequences than not being able to play Halo. I don't understand why you think these are the same.


Just out of curiosity are iPhones sold at a loss? From recollection they aren't. In most consoles the console itself is a loss leader for software sales so it wouldn't be a good direct comparison.

> I really don’t understand this complaint.

Well, for starters, I hear it's preventing Hong Kong residents from avoiding dangerous protest hotspots...


I find it unacceptable for my own personal needs and use case, but it's not unacceptable as a business decision in that it's arguably been very successful (profit-wise and brand-loyalty-wise).

That's why there are options (mind you, very few in this case, but that's kinda beside the point).


> disallowing people to install software of their own choice on their own devices.

Yet allowing anything to be installed is the cesspit of Windows virus laden software.

That said, I buy Android because I can side-load if I choose to.


> Yet allowing anything to be installed is the cesspit of Windows virus laden software.

Okay, I have seen this false choice enough times over several years and at this point it annoys me so much that I must speak up. No, Windows is (was? I have not used it for more than a decade) not the mess it is because it allows you to install anything. It is the mess it is because it there was no sensible source of approved software. The choice is not between anything goes and a walled garden, there is the middle ground of providing a solid source of approved software (frankly, I think Google has largely failed with this given the state of their Play store) and still allow side loading for cases such as the one mentioned in this very article. Heck, this was one of the amazing things I experienced when moving to Linux in 2005. You had 98% of your software approved and receiving updates through your OS, and then a game or two, oddball VPN, etc. installed in your home directory – it was endlessly refreshing.


Even more, I blame non-existent sandboxing. Anything could practically be root for a long time.

With proper permission control and isolated storage for apps, installing anything does not equal cesspit of virus-laden software.


> No, Windows is not the mess it is because it allows you to install anything. It is the mess it is because it there was no sensible source of approved software.

I completely disagree.

In particular, if there is a paid version in a store, then users will seek a free version outside of the store, and then receive a free bouquet of viruses. Or they seek a free movie or VPN, and Google suggests an application that isn't in the store: more free flowers installed.

Android has an approved store, and yet I have read articles lambasting the security of Apps, where the underlying reason was that users had gone side-loading. Fear damaging the brand.


What's your proof? The more likely reason for more malware targeting Windows is simply that Windows is by far the most popular operating system for desktops and laptops. In terms of market share nothing even comes close. So if I was making malware, I'd target Windows to maximize my value. On macOS for example you can install whatever apps you want, it's the same as Windows.

In over 20 years of downloading stuff using Windows, I never ever have got a single virus. It's almost as if it had to do with how you use the tool and not how the tool is constructed.

The app developer should release the code ASAP- instructions could be written so that users could install the app by building it themselves, even if it can only persist for 7 days at a time.

this could literally just be a web app and there would be no loss in functionality...

I was going to say this. This looks like a job for an https web app that is difficult to block...

or perhaps just make a massive group text in an existing tool like discord or whatsapp?


The ‘1984’ ad should be re-edited so that the protestor running down the aisle with their hammer stops running when they realise that Apple disabled their hammer.

One advantage of not allowing any user to install any software of their choice on their iOS devices is that iPhones do not end up participating in botnets, get crypto-locked with a bitcoin bounty, or otherwise get compromised.

This is a massive advantage which arguably outweighs the disadvantage.


Not getting crypto-locked should be a consequence of a proper sandboxing system, not a consequence of some dictator stating what is allowed and what is forbidden.

Not for the people of Hong Kong.

> I do not understand how apple users put up with this.

The argument I typically see goes something like:

"I don't want to have to worry about whether I should trust an app or not, so I prefer everything be vetted by Apple. If we allow users to install their own software, then bypassing the app store will become commonplace."

I personally disagree with this notion. In fact, I wouldn't mind a law that says "if a device has an app store, then it must be able to load applications outside of the store".

I think the fears of everybody sideloading malware apps are a little overblown. Many Android phones can have apps sideloaded (and are even rootable), but how many people actually do it?

How did we go from Microsoft getting sued over internet explorer to the situation we're currently in?


> In fact, I wouldn't mind a law that says "if a device has an app store, then it must be able to load applications outside of the store".

this is a great example of a superfluous law we don't need. if you want sideloading, get an Android phone. having no option to get a feature you care about is a problem. not being able to have your dream set of features on a particular phone is not.


Fair enough - a law is overkill.

The issue I have is that phones and tablets are slowly replacing general purpose computers for the majority of people (at least for day to day use), and there's a fundamental difference in how they operate when it comes to software freedom.

Apple can't be considered a monopoly because there's still a choice of Android, but what happens in the future if the ability to sideload applications on Android phones is removed?

We end up in a scenario where every application must be funneled through an app store where the hardware manufacturer can take a cut of the sales, and I'm not okay with that.


"If you don't like being abused, go find someone who will not abuse you."

this is an excessively dramatic take on the situation. apple isn't doing anything sneaky here. their whole brand essentially boils down to a line of locked-down, tightly integrated products that do what they are intended to do (by apple) very well. I don't think anyone is confused/misled about this. if you don't trust apple to do the right thing for you most of the time, or if you don't like the idea of a company deciding what the right thing to do is, this is not the brand for you.

I used to have this exact argument with my dad all the time in the early 2010s; he liked apple and I liked android. I couldn't understand it at the time, but my dad liked how locked-down all his devices were. it removed a major source of anxiety he had using technology. years later, I realized it was pretty cool that we could both have phone OSes the way we wanted them.


What Microsoft got in huge trouble for absolutely pales in comparison to what current tech companies get away with. I'm not sure why that is. A combination of oversight getting extremely weak and consumer apathy are my guesses.

As to Apple, there’s no way monopoly laws apply, so new laws would have to be made. Making new laws takes time, as it might be challenging to phrase a law in such a way that it can’t be circumvented and doesn’t have unintended consequences.

Also, government mills mill slowly. In the anti-trust case against Microsoft (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft_Cor...), where laws and jurisprudence existed, it already took 6 years from (first FTC investigation started in 1992, anti-trust lawsuit started in 1998)

I don’t think it is a matter of oversight getting weak; it just takes time. Certainly, the EU is willing to take action.


Disallowing people to drive while using their phone, in a car that they own using roads that they pay for, is completely unacceptable as a driver. I do not understand how citizens put up with this.

I really don't consider this a big problem. apple doesn't have a majority share of the smartphone market and people who care about sideloading can choose from hundreds of Android phones. of the iPhone users who even know what sideloading is, most consider the fact that it isn't allowed to be a feature.

>I really don't consider this a big problem

In the drive to close up security holes, Apple created a new one that can't be conceivably fixed by the user.

The user is ostensibly prevented from installing apps outside of the Apple Store to protect the data from malicious access, theft or destruction. The thorough app vetting process gives high assurances of that.

However there's a 4th aspect of security: security against service denial. Apple, by being the sole guardian and steward of the iPhone app ecosystem, made all their users vulnerable to service denial (in form of app removal). If there were alternative mechanisms available - ex competing iPhone app stores - the vulnerability would be negligible.

However presently the vulnerability is glaring: all it takes is single legal action - or even just enough of pressure from government on a key market - and the users are denied use of certain apps.


they put up with it because apple products are overpriced - ALL of them — & they incorrectly equate price with quality, the more expensive it is the better quality it must be in their eyes.

Really hard to believe that Apple is the "privacy oriented company we can trust", that the company constantly touts in their advertising as a reason to buy their products mind you, when at the same time, you have news like this constantly coming out.

If you really wanted me to believe that you were serious about this Apple, you would do what Google has done and completely remove yourself from China until issues of blatant censorship and oppression like these improve. Of course, this will never happen, because too much money comes from the revenue stream that Chinese citizens represent.


Apple will fight for the user. In USA, where not only it doesn't really cost them much, but gets them huge PR boost and makes more money.

It's harder to have principles when it could cost you a lot of money, like in China.

I use iPhone, but never for a second believed in Apple PR BS how they're better than other companies. Never believe salesman who works on a commission.


Apple will don't for the user when it's good for their bottom line. When doing so can hurt them, as in defying the wishes of an authoritarian government that just so happens to run the country where the bulk of their manufacturing happens, they aren't quite so altruistic anymore.

Which I don't really have a problem with, except that they market themselves as doing everything for the user, and have cultivated a cult-like image supporting that.


Apple is fighting only for the one thing - the money.

If that means they need to sacrifice some people (especially outside US) - they will do it.


Specifically, Apple only fights for user security because since 2013 or so they've had a giant pile of liquid money and have been determined to get into the banking, payments, and rent seeking business. To make their phones useful payment terminals they have to be relatively secure. It's not about the user. It's about seeking rent from the user.

"Some of you may die, but that is a sacrifice I am willing to make"

I'm not sure about "constantly." The last big disappointment I can remember was the China/iCloud thing.

The problem is that Tim Cook is a bean counter, not a technologist. He talks a good game in scripted keynotes, but he's really in it for the money, like most other CEOs.

That said, Apple is the least of all available evils. When something better comes along, I'll leave. If that thing already exists, please let me know so I can begin the process.


> That said, Apple is the least of all available evils. When something better comes along, I'll leave. If that thing already exists, please let me know so I can begin the process.

This is chicken and egg problem. Companies that develop privacy-oriented devices have to sell very experimental devices for premium price because they neither have production batches large enough to bring price down nor they have enough money to invest into UX. So they can never appeal to mass market.

There is already a company selling desktop hardware that is closest to being backdoor-free [1], there is a phone with isolated baseband [2] and even some experiments with ARM-based laptops [3]. And actually many more examples can be found around internet, but they not going to magically release Apple-grade product.

[1] Talos: https://raptorcs.com/

[2] Librem 5: https://news.ycombinator.com/

[3] Pine64: https://pine64.org/


https://Puri.sm seems relevant as well.

Thank you. I think it's obvious second list should've been it, but I was half sleeping so...


Thanks for sharing this!

> The problem is that Tim Cook is a bean counter, not a technologist. He talks a good game in scripted keynotes, but he's really in it for the money, like most other CEOs.

When has the Apple CEO not done that? Apple is the king of marketing spin.


Accessibility comes to mind. Apple's investment in accessibility cannot be explained through bean counting.

Can't it?[1]

3.2 million people visually impaired in 2015, 8.2 with vision problems, in the US alone, trend hard upwards.

[1] https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/visual-impairm...


I have a completely blind friend. The main reason he uses a Mac and an iPhone is because of their awesome accessibility. He's got a Linux and Windows computer too, Windows because some software he uses is only available on Windows and Linux for when he codes in his free time (you can do basically everything in the terminal anyway).

If Android ever becomes as good at accessibility he told me he'd switch in a heart beat. But, the fact that Apple is so good gives him a lot of brand loyalty and he invests in the newest iPhone on release.


I don't like Apple much but their accessibility is outstanding, putting windows, android and desktop Linux to shame.

I am not saying they aren't doing a great job in that area, just that that great job is not necessarily motivated entirely by altruism ;)

Good point, I may have read too much into your message.

I disagree. With a family member living with ALS, we had to wean them off of Apple products so that we could switch to a supported eye-tracking platform on windows. Apple had no os-level support for this and windows does.

Interesting, I'll admit I know nothing about eye tracking, I'm more familiar with blind accessibility, zooming, that kind of thing. I'll keep this in mind in future.


Unfortunately, no - My family member has lost the ability to speak as this is one of the progressions of ALS - there comes a point where you have to use specialized input equipment, all of which work with USB and none of which work with iOS or MacOS

>> That said, Apple is the least of all available evils. When something better comes along, I'll leave. If that thing already exists, please let me know so I can begin the process.

What do you mean by "better?" More privacy-oriented? You cannot sideload applications and you don't control the iPhone in the least.


Better, meaning not beholden to China.

> That said, Apple is the least of all available evils. When something better comes along, I'll leave. If that thing already exists, please let me know so I can begin the process.

https://puri.sm/products/librem-5/


Yeah -- I think Tim Cook has better instincts than most but that doesn't mean I expect him to always do the right thing.

Big isn't enough to emphasize it. There's a consistency to Apple's actions, and it shows them to be fundamentally hypocritical.


Google isn't available in China. If you attempt to go to the Chinese .cn domain site, it redirects you to the .hk one instead.

The decision to leave mainland China occurred in 2010 after Google announced that, in response to a Chinese-originated hacking attack on them and other US tech companies, they were no longer willing to censor searches in China and would pull out of the country completely if necessary. [0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_China


Yes, this is pretty well known.

What's not well known is that Google still operates in China and makes billions [0] off advertising there. So Google has hardly 'pulled out of China' despite not running a search engine. At this point, they wouldn't succeed even if they tried - so it's more an excuse than anything else that they don't _want_ to operate Google the search engine there.

[0] https://www.theinformation.com/articles/googles-ad-sales-fro...


I can't tell if you're trying to purposefully obfuscate / be antagonistic right now, but I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt.

The Information article you cite, explicitly says itself that this increased revenue comes from "a wave of Chinese tech companies buying ads outside China to promote products like the TikTok video app and the Alipay mobile wallet".

Are you trying to imply that the actions of any Chinese company should be assumed to be an extension of the central government's? I mean, I suppose you could argue that. But otherwise, all this represents is a company with an international presence buying ads to advertise their product/service.


I didn't imply anything about the central government. I was responding to your assertion that "you would do what Google has done and completely remove yourself from China." I don't think Google is the saint you make them out to be if they're making billions of dollars from Chinese sources.

Google has always been a B2B company - their revenue comes from businesses. Even if Google the search engine were running in China, where would the revenue be coming from? Still Chinese businesses. I don't think it's relevant whether the spending is domestic or international in nature.


Okay, but what you're still doing here is conflating Chinese businesses and the Chinese government together into a singular source.

Again, it's totally fine if you want to argue that as I agree there's some merit to the idea, but from your first sentence, it seems like that isn't what you're trying to say.


They are all the same thing, remove my business presence in any fashion because Chinese government has human right issue ABC == not doing business with Chinese people. This approach has also great potential to grow into racism or nationalisms war ground (“sorry you are Chinese not doing business with you because you government did ABC). It’s not a conflation but the fact is they are intertwined under the unified culture of China. You might think China should be pretty divided as US does, no it’s not, its majority mainland population are quite unionized at scale. Its overseas presence were more critical before but Honestly what Western media is doing is pushing them back into supporting the government

Google still operates in China. They help Chinese military develop AI to round up Uighers for future organ harvesting. https://youtu.be/wqWVH38jtQo5

Having an office in China (they actually have several) is different from having a market in China. They pulled out the market.

...and then started working on rejoining it, before terminating the project in July this year.

Fun anecdote: In 2010, it was Sergey Brin (now a president of Alphabet) who drove Google's withdrawal from China. In 2018, in what I'm sure is just a coincidence, the public found out that Google's project shares the name with Brin's yacht: Dragonfly.


They're a B2B company, and they're still selling to their primary market - Chinese businesses - via advertising.

It’ll be interesting to start a discussion if that should also be cutoff(much like a Huawei ban, but this time entire nation)

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