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iOS 15 Humane (potential.app)
1241 points by uffo on June 10, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 477 comments

If I could ask Apple for one thing it would be to require approval of every push notification that an app developer wants to deliver. That an app gets either cart blanche to send me notifications or nothing at all drives me crazy. I don't want to miss a notification that my delivery food arrived, but I don't want to be bombarded with daily advertising messages from foodpanda trying to get me to change my behavior. Require app developers to submit a template string (and not "\(message)") for each notification the app can deliver for approval in the App Store and let me have an on/off switch for each one.

"Notifications" across every platform drive me crazy, because they usually start out as useful, but because people tend to pay them more attention than all the other channels that have already been tuned out, companies start juicing them for engagement. I use twitter rarely, but every time I do I am perplexed why my "notifications" are full of crap about who recently tweeted. Shouldn't that just be in my timeline?

>I don't want to miss a notification that my delivery food arrived, but I don't want to be bombarded with daily advertising messages from foodpanda trying to get me to change my behavior.

This is exactly what the Android notification channels allow you to do, and it actually works really well.

For UberEats I have the Delivery notification channel enabled, but the Marketing channel disabled. It's really the best of both worlds. And even more surprisingly it seems most apps support this, instead of putting all notifications under one channel.

I'm surprised Apple hasn't followed suit; NIH syndrome maybe?

Apple has made changes in the upcoming iOS 15 where apps have to categorize their notifications into categories like “marketing” and functional categories. Users can then use the more granular controls to block notification categories either for all apps or app by app. This can also be mapped into the new Focus modes where users can setup different modes such a “work”, “sleep”, “driving”, etc. Different apps can be allowed or blocked in different focus modes.



[added additional external reference]

> Apple has made changes in the upcoming iOS 15 where apps have to categorize their notifications into categories like “marketing” and functional categories.

I don't think that's true. They will introduce 4 different priority levels a notification can have. It's still vastly different from Android's notification channels.

Absolutely this. Android's notification channels are a lifesaver for apps like Snapchat, Instagram, or any of the other social media apps that only serve to suck you in. It makes it super easy to disable all notifications except for DM alerts (which is what I typically do for most apps). It's crazy how many apps actually support it, and it's even crazier that Apple hasn't followed suit yet. Even with iOS 15, Apple's notifications are still a last-gen mess.

Not a replacement, but for anyone who doesn’t know about it: you can configure Instagram notification types even in the iOS app. Surprisingly good system.

Would be great if iOS copied Android and had systemwide channels.

That sounds neat. Does the developer chose which message goes into which category?

I don't recall getting marketing notifications from Uber Eats. What infuriates me are the follow up notifications (paraphrased):

"How was $RESTAURANT_NAME? Please rate and tip!"

"How was $PERSON_NAME's delivery? Please rate and tip!"

"$PERSON_NAME says thanks for the tip!"

I imagine Uber Eats would categorize them under Delivery so you can't opt out of these without opting out of the notifications that are actually useful.

In UberEats (and many other apps) you can configure which push notifications you get. Is that functionally different than channels for the purposes of turning off marketing notifications? Both seem to rely on the App developer allowing you to turn off the notifications you don't want.

The problem I have are the apps which don't allow that, which presumably also wouldn't allow to separate them into channels for the same reason they don't let you turn them off.

>Is that functionally different than channels for the purposes of turning off marketing notifications?

I don't think so, it's just built into the OS which I personally prefer.

>The problem I have are the apps which don't allow that, which presumably also wouldn't allow to separate them into channels for the same reason they don't let you turn them off.

I think Apple is in a good position to enforce this though, given how strict their review process can be. They could easily reject apps that didn't use notification channels properly. I'm sure some would find a way to abuse but I think that would be a minority.

As I said I was surprised on Android by how many apps actually used them, despite not being enforced. I can only imagine they would be even better on iOS, which is why I'm so confused as to why Apple hasn't.

>I'm sure some would find a way to abuse but I think that would be a minority.

Like bookface?

A difference is that there's a unified UI for disabling channels, and app developers don't have to do anything except annotate each notification with the channel it belongs to and list the channels somewhere in their manifest (IIRC). If you get a notification you don't like, you long long-press it and a menu appears showing you the different notification channels and prompting you to enable or disable them.

I haven't used Android in a while. What stops a developer from not categorizing notifications and effectively saying "oh they're all General notifications, ha ha ha, you can't get the thing you want without all the slop"?

Bad apps do this. Some even create a new channel for each individual notification so you can't possibly block it. Except for a blanket ban which you can always do. So it does depend on the developers goodwill.

Nominally, the Play Store QA process. (As if there was such a thing.)

> Is that functionally different than channels for the purposes of turning off marketing notifications?

The key feature for me is that, as soon as I get a notification that annoys me, I can long press on the notification and disable that channel or notifications from that app altogether. I don't have to go into the app and dig through a settings menu; it takes me all of 3 seconds to do what I want.

And then there's the Audible app for Android, which puts both ad notifications and their playback control widget into a single "Member notifications" channel, so that you can't disable the ads without losing access to playback controls.

Sounds like Audible believes the benefits outweigh the downsides of abusing their customers

> And even more surprisingly it seems most apps support this, instead of putting all notifications under one channel.

Maybe because developers want to do the Right Thing, and they can implement these notification groups with no effort and without the marketing department noticing it?

Unlikely. Marketing keeps up with its industry. As soon as Gmail introduced the smart inbox thing, their goal was immediately to make sure their messages don’t go to the promotional tab.

> I'm surprised Apple hasn't followed suit; NIH syndrome maybe?

Because this is something apps should have been doing themselves. But I guess Android will prove (or has proven, at least to me) that it's necessary to enforce this.

After all, nothing is stopping apps from providing a single channel, right? It all comes down to providing developers with a basic framework, making it easier to do the right thing.

I've had apps which group all their advertising notifications under useful channels so that you can't disable their advertising without losing functionality. I've had apps create completely new channels out of nowhere in order to bypass my settings.

Looks like a nice feature to have Android 8.0+ for [1]. Just learned about that because my older /e/ [2] phone is based on 7.1.2.

[1] https://developer.android.com/training/notify-user/channels

[2] https://e.foundation/

Wait, so iOS doesn't let you fine tune your notifications? I don't know how I could deal with my phone unless I could turn off, or turn down notifications.

In iOS one can turn on/off notifications per app at the OS level. Some apps have fine grain control for types of notifications, but this type of fine grain control does not exist at the OS level.

Apple is adding a lot more fine grain control in iOS 15


Something really should be done about this. The food delivery apps are worst for this, they seem to know you can't turn alerts off without losing a key feature, but then use it to advertise. They should be made to split this out so you can turn one off without the other.

I'd love to customise the alert level for news apps. I would leave on actually important breaking news, but I have to turn it all off because they bombard me with worthless stuff. I want to know if the PMs head explodes, but I really don't care which royal has had another baby.

> The food delivery apps are worst for this

My bank, which is otherwise great, does this. Critically important push notifications and a pretty steady stream of meaningless advertisement.

What kind of important notifications does your bank send? I don't think I've gotten a single notification from my bank about anything. They do still send paper mail though.

I have my banking/credit card apps push notifications every time a transaction occurs (transfers, deposits, withdrawals).

Sure, 99% of them are expected, but it's nice to confirm deposits from my employer were on time, automated payments triggered as planned, etc. Plus, it catches anything nefarious (we had one card hacked a few years ago).

My credit cards also send reminders when payments are scheduled or due (1-2 are set to autopay, but 1-2 are manual pay).

Edit - none of my banks send junk notices. And most of them are configurable for which notices I want, with $ thresholds as well.

I started using M1 Finance, and while they send useful notifications about when transfers and rebalances occur, they use those same permissions to send marketing type notifications that you can't disable: nagging me to take out a loan from them or refer friends to their platform. It's obnoxious. These should never be notifications, let alone ones you can't even selectively opt out of.

Several of my bank apps will send me push notifications when a payment requires 2fa so I can authorise in app, a much better process than the SMS based 2fa most do.

How often does your bank flag your transactions? I’ve been called once in a decade to authorize a tx.

In my country we confirm every transaction with 2FA, if the site supports secure payments (almost every website)

Sigh. I wish the US would encourage this. It would make me feel so much more confident about fraud prevention.

EU caps card interchange fees (.3% credit .2% debit), so the baseline is lower. US has comparably huge card rewards, those have to come from somewhere, so with 1.5-3% interchange fees the incentive to implement 2FA to cut, say, 0.2% off commission is just not there..

Why would Visa/MC/Discover/AmEx or the banks issuing credit card accounts have to lower commissions? They can implement 2FA to reduce their fraud costs, but they can pocket the difference unless they feel competitive pressure. But if there exists enough savings from 2FA by preventing fraud such that they can offer more rewards to credit card users, then it would be a competitive advantage.

The US doesn't even do chip+PIN, just chip. I have to assume the US is fine with a higher baseline level of fraud than the EU. I don't know how the economics make that work.

And online, the validation/authorization isn't any better - as long as somebody has the card number and my zip code, they can do as they please (until/unless some banking anti-fraud algo picks it up).

It’s crazy to me too. A few years ago, all the card networks told merchants that any in person merchant who does not use chip transactions will automatically lose chargebacks, so whatever in person merchants have not converted to chip are simply not willing to invest in updating their systems.

They've pretty much all moved to chip at this point, at least IME. It's the lack of PIN that confuses me. All the terminals have pin pads already, but whether they request the PIN is pretty spotty (seems to be bank card vs true credit card?).

Not OP, but every time I do a purchase online with a new shop, my bank does this. Also every time I spend more than x euros in one transaction.

Before that they sent an SMS code, I much prefer the app notification.

I get notifications for large or anomalous transactions that must look "weird" but not quite fraud-like to some system.

So far, they've all been purchases I authorized, but I like knowing that I'd get a heads-up if something shady were going on.

Withdrawals using my card. It’s reassuring to see that notification seconds after I use an ATM, knowing that if my card is ever stolen/hacked and used I’ll know about it.

Same for bank transactions over a size I specify.

That’s a great way to get people habitually ignoring the important notifications

Agreed. It seems short-sighted of Apple to let notifications become an advertising channel. It works against their customers. A start could be requiring developers to categorize their notifications as transactional or advertising, but I'd really like the granularity to switch certain types of notifications on and off from the Settings app, or on the "manage" menu of the notification itself have the option to not get notifications like this one anymore.

I get around this by only enabling notifications when I order food, and then disabling notifications after delivery. It's a few extra steps but worth the serenity.

It's more interesting in Android. There's no notification permission, as every app is able to send notifications by default. But, there are notification categories. You can turn them off individually. Yes, the app developer is supposed to specify them themselves. And most actually do. Those who don't drive me nuts tho. I'm very careful with what I receive notifications about.

Apple could definitely copy that. Right now the iOS notification system is useless because of how overwhelmed you get with everything and how notifications disappear by themselves when you unlock the phone.

>notifications disappear by themselves when you unlock the phone

I get a bunch of messages from my friend on Steam, so I tap to read them, but if I tap the wrong way it opens the app instead, makes all the messages disappear, and I have to wait until I get to a place with internet again before I can see what he said.

I've been using Android for around 10 years. I'm very much used to using the notification shade like a to-do list: I often leave non-urgent notifications to hang in there to deal with them later.

Another thing that drives me absolutely nuts in iOS, and that stems form its lack of a usable notification system, is that it considers it okay to interrupt your train of thought with modal alerts. When your battery gets low, you get an alert in your face. When there's a system update, you get an alert in your face when you unlock the device (and then an annoying, very dark-pattern-y "enter your passcode to install overnight" screen). When there's any number of things about Apple services you couldn't care less about, you get an alert in your face, too. On (stock) Android, all these things are notifications that can be ignored for as long as you desire.

I'd partially blame this one on the Steam app too. If it is able to receive the message and give you a notification, it should also let you see that message in-app without internet.

Discord is the same way and it drives me mad, especially considering how fussy it can be about connecting. Snapchat on the other hand handles it right. If I get a notification (for an actual chat at least), I am able to open it anytime later regardless of whether or not my phone is still connected.

>Right now the iOS notification system is useless because of how overwhelmed you get with everything and how notifications disappear by themselves when you unlock the phone.

Who allows those kind of notifications to appear on the lock screen?

I have all but about 5 notifications disabled on my lock screen - I don't need some rando picking up my phone and reading whole convos or anything else

Severe weather alerts I'm fine with people seeing

It looks like they’re adding interruption levels with iOS 15: https://developer.apple.com/design/human-interface-guideline...

See “Helping People Manage Notifications” section.

That will be abused like crazy. Every marketing notification will be accompanied by an "order now to get 5% off your order" message so it can be classified as time sensitive.

Potential abuse is not a reason for not doing this feature. Bad actors will be bad in the current system or the new one.

A couple of years ago: Allow all or no notifications, hard to find settings to turn off

Current: Allow all, but easy to manage from home screen, apps that want to offer a choice of types of notification must figure out how, create config UI, make sure system is stable. Users must find, and each app is different and often report options are not working

iOS 15: A general framework that at the code level, each notification can declare. iOS unifies the UI for managing levels per app. Good actors will have lower costs, bad actors can be detected in device predictions.

I only see benefits, and you can still block apps abusing it

It's not a reason for not adding the feature but I'm sure abuse is something they anticipate. Hopefully there's some way to click on a notification and submit it to Apple as a violation of their guidelines and the app gets pulled from the store once a pattern emerges.

Looks like they address that:

> Never designate a marketing notification as Time Sensitive. For guidance, see Helping People Manage Notifications.

Although I'm not clear on whether this are just HIG guidelines for notifications or if they are enforceable App Store rules.

App store rules are a joke, a lot of apps should be banned for violating them, but apple just doesn't give a fuck - and there aren't even proper channels to complain about it.

Personally, I just want a global setting for "Apps can send notifications" that I can turn off.

Every app that I install, I have to go through the same routine of finding and killing all the various types of notifications it tries to send me. But I don't want apps to notify me of things. Ever. I'll check my email a few times a day, and the various messenger apps once every few weeks, and they will have a list of new messages.

I'm fine with the phone ringing when one of my contacts calls. But that's the full extent of where I'm prepared to allow it to distract me.

Am I misunderstanding? Isn’t this already possible on iOS? You can either disable notifications for individual apps or just turn on Do Not Disturb mode and leave it on. Fairly sure there is a setting to allow phone calls.

On iOS, apps needs to ask permission before they send notifications. If you missed that, there's also a single toggle in Settings -> Notifications for each app. There's no situation where you should have to "kill all the various types of notifications". While I agree a global "Disable Notifications" toggle would be nice, I don't think it's too much work to just tap "Don't Allow" when an app initially prompts you?

The iOS notification ecosystem is actually miles better than it was in the iOS 4-10 days, I think it's fairly user respectful now.

There are also trial notifications, which only show up in notification center. Every app can just do that without any permission.


Apple also abuses push notifications to sell their services so I don’t see this ending any time soon :(

I can't remember an Apple push notification that wasn't transactional or an update notification (which is also transcational I guess).

Do you have an example?

They push Apple Music promos from time to time. They also send notifications via the Apple Store app about new product releases.

To be fair, they don't ABUSE it to the extent that it happens frequently. But they are still promotional messages I didn't want. I'd say they send 6-8 per year.

The Apple "Tips" app sends TONS of messages too. Granted that can be fixed by deleting the app. But people like my Mom still gets those messages to this day because she doesn't realize they are tied to that app and I don't believe they are opt-in, I think they are opt-out, meaning they are enabled on new phones by default (like Messages app and your Phone app). I know everyone here has deleted that app, but I bet most of our parents or children still have it installed and still get those messages.

The funny thing about this comment in general is that many people probably don't realize they get notifications from Apple either. But as I mention examples they probably think, "Oh yeah, I've gotten those too". That is the biggest problem. We get so many notifications that many of us simply forget them. You get a notification that the new Macbook Pro is released and you simply read it on the backthread of your brain and dismiss it without much intentional thought. That is how Notifications have become for people. I tried to get my mom to clear up her notifications recently and she simply doesn't think about it anymore. It is just something you deal with if you own a modern phone. It isn't something you control. Like how you don't really control the billboards that you see while commuting to work. You can't disable billboards (other than actively driving to avoid them). But you brain doesn't dwell on them either. You are aware of their presence, but don't expel energy to digest every one. Notifications have become the same way. But they shouldn't be that way. We can (technologically speaking) disable them and the tools to disable them or control them should be granted to smartphone users.

Every time I get one of those Apple Music notifications I think there must be a way to turn them off and I spend a few minutes poking around in settings trying to find the toggle before I lose interest. Your comment prompted me to figure it out once and for all! They can indeed be turned off but the setting is hidden pretty well and not at all where I would have expected to find it:

1. Launch the Music app.

2. Select the “For You” tab at the bottom (little heart icon) this will take you to an advertisement page trying to get you to sign up.

3. Towards the top of the page and to the right of “$date For You” there’s a profile icon. Select it to bring up a tab called “Your Account”.

4. Select “notifications” and you can toggle “New Music” off.

Oddly enough, mine was toggled off when I checked and I know I’ve gotten these notifications in the very recent past. I wonder if it changed to default-off in a recent update in anticipation of iOS 15’s new “focus” feature and Apple’s newfound commitment to battling notification pollution?

> They push Apple Music promos from time to time.

Ah, I have Apple Music, that would explain why I don't see these.

Yeah, that ain't right.

> That is the biggest problem. We get so many notifications that many of us simply forget them.

And it's a game of whac-a-mole to turn them all off. And keep them off.

"Helpful" tips when you get a new iPhone for one example. I also think I vaguely remember being very surprised that Photos advertised to me about being able to buy printed photo albums or something like that once? But I may be mis-remembering it with Google Photos.

I had to turn these off. They were on by default without permission: https://www.digitaltveurope.com/2019/11/04/exclusive-apple-a...

I've gotten activity challenge notifications about special events, despite me turning off all notifications for activity.

When does Apple ever send push notifications other than software updates?

I recently switched from Android to iOS and it irritates me that Apple push their own product multiple times a week. It might be because my account is new but at least once a week I get notifications of the free year of apple tv and apple arcade without any way to disable this (if you guys know of one please respond)

Besides the notifications I think it's a dark pattern from Apple to actually show a red number badge above the settings app when there is no actionable item except the two things mentioned above.

>Apple push their own product multiple times a week

I call bs - unless you've invited the notifications

I've never gotten such a notification in over a decade of running iOS

I agree that would be a dark pattern, but you can dismiss the offers and the red badges go away.

People say this

Yet in over a decade of owning iPhones & iPads ... never seen it once

This kind of thing is already against the App Store Review Guidelines:

> Push Notifications should not be used for promotions or direct marketing purposes unless customers have explicitly opted in to receive them via consent language displayed in your app’s UI, and you provide a method in your app for a user to opt out from receiving such messages. Abuse of these services may result in revocation of your privileges.

Apple has now introduced a way for developers to report other apps that break the guideiness. Rest assured I will be making reports every time an app sends me advertisement notifications that I did not opt in to.

> I don't want to miss a notification that my delivery food arrived, but I don't want to be bombarded with daily advertising messages from foodpanda trying to get me to change my behavior.

Yeah, this really drives me crazy.

I use Android, which lets you enable/disable particular notification categories.

I've simply uninstalled all food delivery apps that send promotions using the "General" category (IIRC Grubhub was the work offender).

Uber Eats and DoorDash categorize their promotional notifications appropriately, so I never see them (and do get notifs about my deliveries).

Notification pollution is real and I'm glad Apple is taking real steps to address it in the form of the new focus feature which lets the message sender determine whether to alert the user.

I've been asking for this for a long time[1], But it shouldn't be only for 'Do Not Disturb' but rather for every message.

I don't want to be alerted for meme or forwarded messages, Letting the users determine the notification level - Delayed (to be notified when I check the phone) or Immediate can go a long way to habituate message etiquette.

As for non messaging apps like you mentioned, They should be shamed in the 'Notification Pollution' panel.


agreed. my dating apps I obviously want to leave notifications on so I get notified of a new match but the company uses notification to try to get me to use the app more and I can't turn those off.

Similarly the Meetup app has started spamming me with Meetup.com blog type info with no way to turn it off but I need the notifications on for meetups . this one in particular is odd given than the Meetup app has some of the most granular notification settings of any service out there.

The Lyft app does this a few times a year as well.

I just want the ability to time-gate notifications. It's convenient that I can shut off notifications from Teams when I'm on vacation, but why isn't it possible to disable notifications from Teams between 6pm-6am and on the weekends? Why can't I disable push notifications from my work email on Saturday and Sunday? It's the one single quality of life feature I've most hoped to see in every iOS update since they introduced granular notification control.

The Teams iOS app already has this. Go to Settings > Notifications > Block Notifications > During Quiet Time, then specify what hours you want the app to be quiet.

Agreed with this entirely. The worst offender to me is Booking.com which will pop notifications and badges (I'm a compulsive badge clearer) on my device for marketing stuff, when I really only want notifications for messages in app around reservations. It also has added insult to injury during this pandemic season as Booking has continued to run promos and pop them when there's no reasonable way I could travel.

Ooh, I agree. Amazon does this, too. I had notifications enabled in their mobile app for a while. I work in a cottage behind my house, so it’s useful to get a notification when something’s delivered.

Sure enough, after about half a dozen deliveries they started spamming me with promo messages as well. I quickly turned off notifications.

As usual, spammers ruin everything.

Try https://shop.app it’s absolutely great for the use case you described! You can even login to Amazon directly from the iOS shop app.

The food apps are so bad that I typically uninstall them when they send me a spammy notification, and then re-install them when I need to use them again.

The natural outcome of this is that the first app which does NOT send me spam will be the one on my phone when I want to order food, and will be the one I actually use.

What you probably really want is to see a choice right after ordering some food: "Enable foodpanda notifications?" with options "enable", "keep disabled", and "enable for 2 hours".

I was so glad to see iOS offer the ability to grant apps access to a subset of your photo library, rather than your entire photo library or nothing at all. I hope they take this approach with notifications too.

This. I mean, technically (or operationally) that's a challenge, but I hate that they use the same permission to bug me with ads and send me ultra important information.

Oh, and my phone runs android. :)

I really like this idea, but template strings won't work for things like news of any type.

It is called FilterBox on Android. But Apple will never allow such an app on iOS, no way.

How about just making notifications costly?

Maybe even rev-share with users.

This would be an amazing feature!!

> If I could ask Apple for one thing it would be to require approval of every push notification that an app developer wants to deliver.

Personally I would ask them to stop glad-handing with china and using their slave labour. But that is just me.

Okay, fair. I'd ask for an iPhone that was not dependent upon China's labor and supply chains first, then to give me granular control of notifications.

The article wants Apple to save us from mindless browsing, but I see mindless browsing as unavoidable. Not because of some technical or legal thing, but because mindless browsing is a good thing. We need it. Mindless browsing is like a walk through the woods, just looking for what is happening, navigating a huge amount of information that is hardly important at the moment – oh, the cherry tree is blooming – but could be important later.

The 'outside' is made up of myriads of tiny details – wind is moving the leaves, slowly and irregularly, the birds are singing, insects flying through the air, the earth feels soft and damp and smells of freshness after the rain, the movements of clouds and the sun are inexorably changing the lighting. We are, however, spending time in concrete boxes where nothing ever moves, and even seal off the sounds and air flow from the outside. Within those boxes we sit and lie and enter other, flatter spaces of our screens, which nonetheless offer us the possibility of some kind of change, movement in the world.. Of course we will browse those changes mindlessly.

Since mainstream social media has turned into a manipulative toxic landscape, I find myself retreating to more niche and better moderated sites, devoid of hate and over-strained emotions. I also find myself wishing for a digital space, be it a game or a website, that would feel similar to a walk in the woods – where a lot is happening but not much is important. Like watching the breaking of waves on the beach. Like sitting at a campfire. Like watching the tree tops move in the wind.

I like mindless browsing. I enjoy it. Just give me the right space for it.

It's well past midnight, I've been interacting with apps designed to maximize 'user engagement' since 8 PM. I don't have coherent thoughts, I'm opening irrelevant tabs habitually. This is not healthy. I have a problem. That problem is mindless browsing, and it feels engineered.

Not saying you're wrong, just that your ideas don't work for me.

That’s because the internet is no longer a walk through the woods. It’s now a stumble through a confusing poorly-lit casino.

Well said. 100% agreement.

Last year, I found myself in an unusually unhappy place. Partly COVID lockdowns, partly changes at work, partly politics (US resident). My wife noticed and told me to get off Facebook/Twitter/etc - they were making me visibly agitated. As I weaned myself off those platforms, my happiness and stress levels improved.

I'm glad to be (mostly) off the platforms. It's been a massive improvement.

Facebook was the biggest culprit. I unfriended anybody I didn't know in meatspace. I unfollowed anybody I hadn't spoken to live in a year or more. My feed is now mostly photos my parents post, a few cycling groups, plus some marketplace activity. I no longer feel the need to check daily (or more) - once a week is plenty.

I do find I use Instagram more now. But, because it's "just photos", it doesn't stress me out like Facebook.

Twitter only gets visited when somebody links me to an interesting thread from elsewhere (here or other forums). I never go on my own.

> Facebook was the biggest culprit. I unfriended anybody I didn't know in meatspace.

I stopped using it because I was getting cross-ways with people I otherwise highly respected, over political comments which invited open disagreement. I didn't want to be at odds with these people, but Facebook has designed the service to facilitate this, and has engineered the degradation of personal relationships because of it.

That's strike one. We all know how to avoid difficult conversations in real life, because we can feel them creeping up on us, and we change the subject. On social media, you state the whole argument, and then people feel free to do the same, and put their spin on it.

For thousands of years, people have ebbed and flowed through life, met new people, and stopped seeing others. A very large part of the problem with Facebook is that it destroys this natural flow of life, and tempts you to connect with every human being you've ever said 2 words to, and then keep that connection forever.

That's strike two. When you compare this situation to how humans have lived for thousands of years, it's an almost-grotesque abrogation of the natural order of things. There are relationships that SHOULD fade away, and others you should ACTIVELY eliminate once you know where they really stand. All social media platforms are designed to treat your follower number as the end-all-be-all sacred metric.

I don't have a strike three. That was enough for me.

Couldn't agree more - I still have FB but honestly time on it just makes me more agitated than happy, and I should really just get off of it completely.

FB's problem is fundamental in the way that you described but I'd add a few points to it:

Not only does FB artificially try to revive relationships that have run their course (and also gives all of these past relationships permanent access to your thoughts), IMO FB fundamentally misunderstands "connection" - that or they understand it fine but are utterly cynical about it.

In what way is mindlessly thumbing through a high school classmate's wedding photos "connecting" people? People who you haven't spoken to in a decade or more? The primary uses of FB seem to be passively perusing the musings of people you don't care much about, which despite what FB PR insists, isn't making me care much more about them.

The FB news feed is one of the least social things I can think of! It is consumed passively, nearly always by yourself, and doesn't actually create any interaction between myself and others besides simple "likes".

I keep waiting for the arrival of social networks that actually meet their own lofty claims - software that actually facilitates the development of meaningful relationships.

> In what way is mindlessly thumbing through a high school classmate's wedding photos "connecting" people? People who you haven't spoken to in a decade or more?

I'll do you one better. I deleted my account back in 2016, in the run-up to Trump's election (cause I just didn't want to hear it). Just before I did, there was a whole rash of connection requests from my high school classmates. Facebook blasted out that one person had re-connected with me, and a dozen others suddenly thought that would be a good idea too. I graduated THIRTY years ago, and hadn't spoken to ANY of the others since. Most of the requests were coming from people I wouldn't even have called friends AT THE TIME. That's just not normal, but on Facebook it is!

I outright deleted Facebook and Twitter (or at least, my established profiles on 'em, to the best of my ability). Also ditched Instagram while I was at it, as I felt like I 'should' post stuff to it, not because the things I saw there were bothering me.

I made a twitter account specifically to not have any friends and not do anything, and treat it the same way you're treating it.

Same reaction: it's been a massive improvement. I wouldn't go back. Looking at that stuff from the outside now, it feels like a trap. Amazing how they can turn making you miserable, into an addictive behavior.

We are apparently, as a species, more driven by panic than pleasure, and the algorithm optimizes for this.

> I unfriended anybody I didn't know in meatspace

I use Facebook basically the exact opposite way. I don't friend anyone I interact with on a regular basis (family, coworkers, neighbors), and use it exclusively for people I don't have another good way to keep up with - people I've met while traveling, people into the same niche hobbies, that sort of thing...

Reminds me of the song, "Welcome to the Internet":

"Could I interest you in everything

All of the time

A bit of everything

All of the time

Apathy's a tragedy

And boredom is a crime

Anything and everything

All of the time"

Excerpt from a poetry slam I did 2 years ago:

What are we paying, when we're paying attention?

We pay with what we could've done and what we could've learned. We pay with the people we could've met, and the conversations we could have had.

We pay with every future us, that we could've been, We pay with the values we did not live by, We pay with the goals we did not reach, We pay with every opportunity to become more fully alive, that is now gone.

We pay with the moments of joy that never happened, We pay with the peaceful sleep, and the refreshed feeling in the morning, that we didn't get.

Because we were busy paying... attention.

I regret that I have but one upvote to give to this comment.

This features in Bo Burnham's latest comedy special (though with Burnham, maybe comedy belongs in scare-quotes, since his last two specials have leaned much harder on wry commentary than actual laugh-out-loud humor) produced largely on his own and filmed almost entirely in what looks to be a one-room guest house of his. It's on Netflix and I'm sure the part with that song is on YouTube somewhere (hahaha).

Yep- it's totally different from his previous work but I absolutely loved it. Especially "Welcome to the Internet", because I can see firsthand what the song is about.

Here's the video on Bo Burnham's own channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1BneeJTDcU

We'll make a wall with attention poetry and this will be on it

I did the same thing for years, mindlessly browsing well past a sane hour. What changed is I started going to bed early and getting up early, before the sun rises. I still browse mindlessly on occasion, but my after-coffee morning browsing is a lot more directed than my drowsy evening browsing.

Another solution is no phones (chargers) in the bedroom. Have your "charging station" in the living room

Wow I love this idea. I should get an old alarm clock ...

for me listening to audiobooks, music or podcasts is really helpful to keep the mind stimulated but slowly wind down in the evening

Unless it’s a real page turner :p

I totally get it and often find myself doing the same. Mostly when I missed out on winding down in the evening in a better fashion. Then I visit the sites with the 'engineered engagement' and polarizing content and find myself quite literally taken for an emotional ride.

It's hard to find content that doesn't overstimulate you in that state. Sitcoms and chill twitch streams work so well exactly because the extent of what is happening is safe, predictable and confined, yet the process is slightly different every time.

FB may try to maximize whatever appeal they have, but does persuasive design really stack up against persuasive friends? What is the fundamental ammo behind FB's ability to manipulate FOMO?

Isn't it friendship and social delight?

Except that many FB friends aren't really friends. We don't have a word for "People we don't talk to about anything important but who also enjoy cat videos."

If we did, that's where FB would live. It's a kind of friendship surrogacy - noisy and occasionally entertaining, but facile and shallow.

And that's the definitive effect of ad tech. It makes everything facile and shallow.

Politics becomes polarised and infantile and hostile to nuance. Social interactions become gamified ("Follow me and I'll follow you back to help both of us reach 1,000/10,000/100,000/millions!") Clicking Like becomes a displacement activity which avoids real political change. Relationships become performative. Businesses become all about engagement and persuasion - using the same old template of techniques and page designs - and not about social value.

I think it's naive to expect Apple to push against this, because Apple are part of the problem. Apple World is a shiny place which includes exactly the correct number of minorities and age demographics all living the officially approved clean, smiling, sunny, fit, healthy, efficiently organised, and brightly decorated middle class consumer lifestyle that Apple products try to personify.

This isn't even about technology. FAANG (and Microsoft) have created a shockingly undiverse collection of overlapping online worlds which define too many elements of work time and personal space - and all with a 1950s tone of optimised conformist consumption, mandated self-improvement, and transactional time trading.

Facebook/messaging app/etc creates a sense of friendship that minimizes risk. It allows us to control the level of engagement so that it optimizes our own personal Goldilocks zone of immediate comfort.

Because it wasn't an issue yet, our mothers didn't put an arm around our shoulders and say "aw honey, the ingredients of friendship include awkward movements, inconvenience, sacrifice, vulnerability. You can't do it without those essential ingredients."

No, it is not. It is panic and fear of something harmful just out of sight. That drives WAY more engagement than 'friendship'.

A trick that helped me was to put time limits on my apps. Then I set the access code to a random number and wrote that number down and put the paper in an inconvenient spot (eg. My basement cellar).

The result is there is just enough friction that I don’t bother going to get the number. But if ever I need access I can alway go get it.

This was exactly me last night. After four hours I realized I'd had a headache the whole time (from four straight hours of screen-time), and yet, my lizard brain snatched the reigns right back before I could make a decision to put it down or continue scrolling.

Unfortunately, I’m also prone to this. I don’t even notice when I click skip on the time limit setting.

But unfortunately it is a human problem (exploited by apps, but still a human one), and anything done by another app is just treating the symptoms without treating the underlying issue.

I recommend the book titled Atomic Habits. For short term “solution” you may try rearranging app icons like reddit, fb to some obscure position to make it just a bit harder to find them (do not totally hide them since you will just revert it), and I read that turning on grayscale also deceases the “joy” we get from addictive apps. But I found the last one way too limiting on usability.

Even at that, Downtime is already a feature. Personally I'd want the mindless browsing feature on all the time, but it would be fairly trivial to assign it to Downtime same as other quality-of-life features already in the OS.

A walk through the woods is not engineered by Las Vegas casino designers backed by petabytes of user data to be as addictive as possible.

There's taking an aimless stroll and there's compulsively opening reddit or facebook at 3am.

Yes, of course it has a lot to do with information hygiene. We need to be more particular about what we let into our minds, we just don't have the tradition for it yet.

Browsing facebook is more like taking a walk in a dystopian junkyard than a forest, and a sign by Apple saying "you might be browsing a junkyard" would just add to this dystopia. This is why the proposal is to design better spaces for mindless browsing, since we apparently need it.

I disagree wholeheartedly.

Mindless browsing will occupy my attention, keeps me distracted and on the edge, draining my energy and mental capacity, makes me jittery - even if this realization took me quite some time.

A walk in the woods is refreshing and my mind is focused, wandering maybe aimlessly, but well-paced, on its own time, makes me relaxed and open-minded.

We like distraction, our mind craves it, often we don't want to think about what bothers us. But allowing all the random itches that bother us is the only way to address them and let them go.

Also, I have zero, NIL creativity after mindless browsing, I am drained.

Alone with myself and my thoughts on a train or a walk the thoughts are no longer buzzing, they are forming, transforming, becoming real ideas.

I am not sure if this is entirely what you mean, but for a game Red Dead Redemption 2 can scratch this itch. The natural environment, ecosystem, and weather effects are amazing. You can easily just avoid the main game and just wander around the environment, and there are a lot of woods to walk in!

I disagree. Exercise and walks in the woods feel like taking my brain to the dog park. Mindless browsing keeps my mind just busy enough to prevent me from thinking about anything or from being bored. It's like fast food for the mind.

I wouldn't compare it to a walk through the woods, more like walking through a busy street with angry people and advertisements screaming at you all the time ;)

Mindless browsing does have it's place, but it's often not in it's place, and it's certainly not a walk in the woods. A walk in the woods either allows the sounds of your brain to rest or for them to come to light and allow you to work on them. The pointless information cacophony is the opposite imo; it temporarily tranquilizes them, never letting them be addressed. Where a walk in the woods can be stress-relieving and possibly actually social, mindless browsing just throws your stress into a garbage bin, that just gets taken to a dump; you're pretty sure you dealt with it, it's not here anymore right?

Browsing the web without a goal feels to me more like daydreaming than it feels like walking in the woods.

Sometimes I daydream while walking in the woods, but I am more likely to daydream while staring at a blank wall or while waiting for a bus on a boring street with nothing but concrete and asphalt rectangles to look at.

In fact, my whole purpose in walking in the woods is to stop the mental chatter, including the daydreaming. If I find myself daydreaming during the walk, I consider that a failure and tell myself that next time I walk in the woods, I should take along a friend or a dog to make the walk more engaging and consequently more effective at stopping the chatter -- or that I should find more interesting woods.

This comment could be extended greatly by introducing the concepts of "focused attention" and "involuntary attention". Very briefly, focused attention is how we pay the bills and contribute to advancing our civilization and all, but focused attention eventually tires the mind. The best way to recover from the tiredness and to restore the ability to focus the attention is to do things that engage "involuntary attention", e.g., taking a walk in the woods where there are things that attract attention involuntarily (without raising the blood pressure like the sirens and the horns of the city tend to do). That will restore the ability to pay focused attention (to whatever the person choose to focus on) faster than would being in a room alone and staring at a blank wall. Some people advise spending as much time as possible either engaging in focused attention or recovering the ability to focus one's attention and advise against daydreaming and aimless browsing of the web because those are sub-optimal ways of restoring the ability to focus attention. (Spending time with friends or walking in the woods with a dog are much better ways.)

This is why I enjoy hanging out in the tildeverse (https://tildeverse.org/). It's just a loose group of public boxes you can SSH into and chat on (some of them share mailing lists, but others don't). Some people make websites or games or tools or whatever. But none of it is organized. It's just people hanging out online.

Thanks, tildeverse looks fun! Just found the first clear, simple explanation of Makefiles I've read on there.

This seems just wonderful!

When I walk through the woods, it's like the environment scrubs my mind of accumulated exposure to mental poisoning. When I scroll a news feed, the platform tries to jam my mind full of the most saccharine palaver possible. I end up feeling less like a prism, and more like a pack animal.. Perhaps there's a midpoint

> Mindless browsing is like a walk through the woods, just looking for what is happening, navigating a huge amount of information that is hardly important at the moment – oh, the cherry tree is blooming – but could be important later.

Your instinct points to the right direction; mild distraction is actually conducive to insight generation. But we have co-evolved with outside and can have a very intuitive grasp on the hierarchy of information; to dynamically tell apart what is noise what is signal in any moment. In contrast, apps are engineered by an army of experts to hijack those intuitions as a side-channel attack on our attentional heuristics. Browsing becomes mindless because we are oversaturated in our attentional system through the every trick available to keep us engaged and click on ads. E.g. red notification buttons vs. ripe fruit.

This comparison is apples and oranges. Fresh air and sunlight actually has tangible physical benefits. Staring at a dim blue screen while contorting your thumbs isn’t doing you any favors physically.

To say NOTHING of how infuriating anti-social it has made us as a society.

Nature is mostly good. Mindless scrolling is mostly bad.

I don't want fresh air or sunlight. I want to sit in a dark basement with a big Unix beard. I hate this "lifestyle and health" dogma that has poisoned hacker culture.

Mindless browsing is nothing like walking randomly in the woods or on the beach, communing with nature. One thing saps our humanity and the other enhances it.

My argument is that we need some kind of movement, some kind of change that is happening outside of us. It feels great to sit in the backyard and watch the chicken quarrel, but who has chickens anymore? It can be enjoyable to sit in a cafe at the town square and just witness life happening around you, but most town squares are losing this community side.

Since the immediate 'outside' – my home and office – mostly lacks this tiny uninterrupted movements that I describe, this continuous stream of life happening, I begin to feel isolated and turn to the screens around me. They provide a similar feeling of being connected to life, even if much less fulfilling.

Sure, I could work on changing the social life of my city, reviving the town square and planting gardens, but here, on a hacker news site, I like to dream about some technological solution that might fulfill the need of seeing myself embedded in a perpetual movement on life.

Mindless browsing is in no way a walk in the woods. Just observe your mood before and after a walk in the woods, and then your mood before and after mindlessly scrolling through facebook. One makes you feel better, one much worse.

This is the most comforting thing I ever have read (and right now, I needed that).

The article offers you the choice to keep mindlessly browsing. What we have now it's not really an option. This would be like nutritional warnings for apps.

Even though this article is sarcastic(?) I can't help but get genuinely angry at these trillion dollar companies thinking they know what is better for us and trying to control and police everything. This is even worse than govt censoring porn and cuss-words back in the day thinking they know what is moral for the society.

I was just talking to a friend the other day on how badly Apple and Google are trying their best to kill curiosity and creativity. I mean when I first got my 286 the machine was just full of possibilities. I think learning the ins and outs of it was more fun than doing anything productive.

I used to hack away at it all day and night. Learning about interrupts, tinkering with the BIOS settings, hacking the serial port, irq, etc. Now everything is just locked down. In my latest phone I can't even run `fastboot` as that too has been locked down permanently because "security".

Thank god we have Linux created before all this Bullshit started happening. If Apple, Google and Microsoft was in charge of things as they are now, we wouldn't even have any hardware to run anything else than Windows and iOS.

Another peak self-absorbed Hacker News comment, in which we learn that curiosity only means tinkering with devices, learning how they work to the bits, plus some random Linux thrown in. This comment is ignoring that a device that does all that without you having to worry about how it works is a tool way more powerful than one in which you need to at least know how to build everything from scratch with an enormous learning curve. Curiosity can be about design, the arts, literature, drawing, composing music, making and editing videos. All of which you can do so much better and so much more democratically on these “opinionated” devices. So please, enough with this narrative, it’s really outdated and based on such a limited world view.

It's about having choice: Microsoft used to be quite good at making stuff usable but the underlying geekery was still there and could allow control to the max if you wanted it.

It worked for mom & pops and techs alike but corporations new attitude of "We'll decide what's best and remove other options" is a bloody pain in the arse now.

A particularly bad one is this insistence on not allowing me to permanently say "no" to something. It's always "maybe later" or "remind me in 24 hrs" or similar... even Firefox does it now when you set it up - I think it was to do with sending FF to my mobile or something - but the message was "do it now" or "do it later"... I don't want it EVER!

So, no! I don't want anyone else's opinion for stuff like this - let me decide what's best for me and allow me to tinker if I want!

> Microsoft used to be quite good at making stuff usable but the underlying geekery was still there and could allow control to the max if you wanted it.

Windows 10 is the best Windows ever for the vast majority of people who use Windows. Same with Office. But you can still install whatever software you want on your Windows machine. Explain to me again how this is worse than what we used to have; where Microsoft have gone wrong in how they build software? Is it perfect? Of course not - no-one could even agree on what that means. But let’s be realistic about how much progress has actually happened: it’s a lot.

Yes, because it's based on a PC. A quite standard and open specification where you can buy motherboards, CPU, RAM, disk, IO peripherals etc from many different manufacturers and build and install what software you want. However, on a Mac, you cannot install or change the hardware as you like, you cannot install what software you want.

If Linus Torvalds was a teen today and there was no open PC standard, only a Mac, then it would not have been possible to create Linux the way it is today.

Imagine if also Microsoft starts to make their own processors and then sell their own computers with Windows and all locked down, and don't allow anyone else to make computers with Windows or their processors.

Sure Dell, HP and others could still make PC's, based on Intel or AMD CPU's or some ARM processor and then run Linux (or develop their own OS), but it's a hard sell.

The PC's sold to the mainstream thanks to Windows/Word/Excel maybe, but then people who wanted could tinker as much as they wanted and where free so make and sell their software (windows based or whatever) or their HW peripherals.

Now you are at best stuck within an app store if you create something.

> If Linus Torvalds was a teen today and there was no open PC standard, only a Mac, then it would not have been possible to create Linux the way it is today.

Torvalds didn't create Linux as a teen in his bedroom hacking on what he had. He created it at university studying operating systems. He would have created it on Raspberry Pi or some other platform.

Linux is widely deployed on x86 because x86 is available and open enough. It replaced Unix operating systems on dedicated architectures, like Solaris on SPARC.

> Sure Dell, HP and others could still make PC's, based on Intel or AMD CPU's or some ARM processor and then run Linux (or develop their own OS), but it's a hard sell

GNU/Linux was a hard sell in the beginning too. In the olden days, if you put Linux on a laptop you lost special features and you had very limited software support. Web pages were designed to work with IE only and you could only run Mozilla. Your major option for producing printable documents was special purpose programming languages like TeX or using Mozilla Composer. And good luck getting your winmodem/winprinter to do anything!

Today enough exists that you can buy hardware from companies that expect you to put Linux on them and then run them with full features and great intercompatibility. Your phone will be crap but it'll be good enough, and in ten years time it'll have a lot better features. Till then, if you want a great lowlight camera, buy a great lowlight camera.

The inversion of trust is a frustrating aspect of modern business, and it creates many social problems. But it isn't a technical barrier to oldschool hacking about.

Linux War Story:

Back in ~1997/8 I was working at a software manufacturing company - we burned and printed and shipped all the Solaris Software for SUN....

We would receive EDI data from sun to burn to CDs then do the fullfillment shipping - so If you went to SUN.com and ordered Solaris, it was made and shipped by us...

We needed a better way to receive the files from SUN, and so we had a few FTP servers... We hired a group of dudes who knew linux and had them setup our FTP machines, chrooting users and various security measures...

So I, the IT manager, sat down with one of the consultants that we had hired and I told him "You know, If I were you - I would setup a Linux Support company and offer Linux support as a service"

A few weeks later Dave Sifry came back to me and said "Guess what we started, LinuxCare... to offer Linux support as a service"

He was later valued at ~$100 million and LinuxCare was a ~$1 Billion company...

Chris DiBona of google fame was on the team, and I can't recall the two other guys' names...

But yeah - that was when support for Linux was basically non-existent...

Oh yeah - I forgot; SUN wanted us to learn this new thing that they were using to create the EDI files... XML. So we had to accomodate XML when the only people that knew XML at the time were SUN employees...

And finally, I think that SUN had the best logo ever made. And the shittiest firewall, Checkpoint sucked. (sorry Checkpoint team - your lead developers on Checkpoint were friends of mine... but I hated that firewall)

> He would have created it on Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi would be unable without Linux.

> you cannot install what software you want

What? Of course I can. Gatekeeper exists but can be disabled

Try disabling Windows update...

Also, almost every patch has issues these days: that hardly ever used to happen. Their quality has taken a dive.

I am not saying that is isn't the perfect tool for many people: it has been for many years. The issue is that when I wanted to change things and leave them changed, I used to be able to do that. Now, they are doing their best to remove that ability! That makes no sense! Let me break it if I want! I have no warranty anyway!

Disable Windows update and it comes back on due to the Windows Update Medic Service. Ok, disable that then! Oops, you're not allowed. Ok, I can circumvent this by changing permissions on the dll and then deleting it. I'll then run updates later at a time of my choosing. Now I run updates. Oops, it's back again! Microsoft knows best.

By all means make it easy for the "typical" user. But I wish they'd stop taking away the underlying power-user stuff because they think they know best!

Update disabling is still there - gated behind more expensive editions and enterprise policy settings, because Microsoft likely had gotten a bad reputation in the past for systems with updates disabled becoming botnet nodes due to vulnerabilities.

In a way, the restrictions which used to be exclusive to Home are now part of Pro, the more expensive Pro for Workstations is what Pro used to be and Enterprise (also available through a per-user subscription model instead of a per-machine model, cheaper in a way for individuals with 5 PCs nobody else uses) also has some extra toggles not removed.

I think the subscription versions also include an Intune license which is the only supported way (other than installing third-party AV) to disable Windows Defender permanently, as well.

Now, MDM-managed Apple phones still come with a number of core restrictions, though I believe there's more loose side loading on there - however you have to register Apple hardware into MDM at purchase time as only authorized resellers can grant this access to a serial number.

Question, how does an individual go about acquiring an Enterprise license? For the exact reasons you mentioned (features, per-user licensing) I’ve tried in the past to get setup with a license and not had any luck.

These days there's a self-service panel on the Microsoft 365 sign-up/admin page once you've set up a tenant. I've not been asked for any formal business registration numbers via that process, but the old days of needing to acquire these licenses via a partner seem to be somewhat gone.

> Windows 10 is the best Windows ever for the vast majority of people who use Windows

Meanwhile I'm setting here just now, wasting hours hand-holding Windows10 because it's unable to install one of its own big feature updates, without any idea what was going wrong or where to start fixing the problem (because everything is so "user friendly").

If anyone knows where the "I'm happy to control things myself" setting is in Teams, please share.

I'm really tired of it deciding when I should be on mute, or when it should warn me that I am muted. Just let me do it.

> If anyone knows where the "I'm happy to control things myself" setting is in Teams, please share.

It's the X button in the top right corner.

In the olden days we had individual developers who would work out the internal API these applications used to work. I wonder if that's still theoretically possible. Surely it must be? Even if the client app needs a signed certificate, since it runs in an unsigned environment (i.e. Linux) it should be possible to grab the certificate and present that when you need it.

I don’t know. Why can’t we have both? Why can’t we have devices that permit “mucking about” but also when configured appropriately allow us to ignore the low level details and muck about with higher level stuff? They don’t have to be mutually exclusive despite “bt whole home wifi app has detected this is a jailbroken device and for your safety will not run”. It’s my wifi, it’s my phone!

You literally have both, and more.

Right now, I have a nearly uncrackable walled-garden iphone on my desk. And a mac laptop running XCode (learning about Metal programming), and at the same time running an Amiga emulator (tinkering with 68k assembly), and a windows gaming laptop next to it, and a breadboard on the floor with a pile of resistors and capacitors and transistors.

So what's the problem again?

> You literally have both, and more.


When I was a kid I would have killed to have had easy access to things like Raspberry Pi's, microcontrollers, SGI workstations (which is what the Mac is these days), and a zillion free programming languages.

Instead, while I had full access to the family's PC and could learn C and assembly language programming on it (btw I had to pay for those compilers), and learned all about interrupts and writing to VGA registers, I still couldn't do anything super low-level like muck around with the boot sector because my dad needed it for work, the phone system was so locked down that you'd go to jail for "exploring" it, and I had barely any idea how to get started playing around with logic chips because there was nothing like Sparkfun, Adafruit, Hackaday, etc, and Radio Shack in the mid-90s really wasn't much help.

There is still room for improvement - yes it would be nice if all the tech we used was both hackable and secure - but geeks who want to tinker are living in a land of plenty right now.

>You literally have both, and more

I guess it depends on who "you" are. A lot of kids get exactly one device. Some have to share it with their siblings as well. So I do think it matters whether our most widely used devices are completely locked down or not.

It doesn't just matter for kids either. It also matters for democracy how many people only own devices that governments have complete control over.

That said, I do think the problem can be exaggerated. People tend to find ways around restrictions. It can even be a motivation for looking more deeply into how things work.

And not all of those workarounds are terribly expensive. Ironically, the most expensive devices are also the most locked down.

> I guess it depends on who "you" are. A lot of kids get exactly one device. Some have to share it with their siblings as well. So I do think it matters whether our most widely used devices are completely locked down or not.

This is true, but RPi Zeros are so cheap and powerful that I think it's much easier for community organisations (schools, scouts, dedicated groups) to start hacking events. The kid who can't get a 10 USD computer and a phone and access to a shared laptop is the kid who couldn't access to shared desktop in the olden days. In those days entry level could be a month's salary for a professional.

For the households where every kid has their own laptop, a Pi is accessible.

And for those who only have access to single shared machine, the kid today has access to a VM. That means they have options the rest of us didn't have - I couldn't run Linux until I had a paper round, because installing Linux on the family computer was not going to happen.

Perhaps one clear advantage to the old world is that in the 1980s and early 1990s, anyone could write an operating system and eventually get something that could do everything their old computer could do. I mean the idea was tractable. It's not like today where even thinking about creating a web browser filled Microsoft and Opera with such dread they gave up.

To be clear: I don't think it's all rosy today. But I don't think it's all bleak either.

> It also matters for democracy how many people only own devices that governments have complete control over.

You are right that there's social implications here, but I think the social concerns are primary and not a consequence of the technical situation. We arrived at this situation because companies decided they own their customers when we have massive social problems mistrust and distrust. This has come on the back of a generation that learnt abominations like a company's only obligation is to its shareholders. If you want to build trustworthy business, you need to maintain the right culture.

I don't disagree, but I think we're talking about a couple different issues here.

One question is whether a low income but educated and dedicated parent can find a way to acquire some hackable device for a highly motivated kid. I think the answer is probably yes, with some exceptions in extremely poor countries.

But that's not the most likely scenario. A far more likely scenario is a kid that wants to modify the device they're actually using on a daily basis to make it do something slightly different. There are no parents involved, and it would be utterly pointless to hack some completely different device like a Raspberry Pi just because it's more hackable.

So I worry that widespread use of locked down devices and locked down distribution channels makes the path from consumer to power user to hacker to software engineer to entrepreneur far less smooth. Some people who could have been interested in being more than mere consumers are going to be left behind.

You are absolutely right that access to all sorts of devices is hugely easier and cheaper than back in the 70s, 80s and 90s. It's definitely not all bleak. It was a decidedly rich country upper/middle class affair at the time. But we're also having to live with restrictions that would've been unimaginable back then.

Just imagine Microsoft in 1995 attempting to restrict what software people were allowed to install on their PCs. Imagine what regulators would have said if Microsoft had tried to charge 30% on all software and content loaded onto PCs. Or what if Microsoft had been able to issue no-recourse lifetime bans on using any of their software and platforms?

The objection that Microsoft was a monopolist isn't really convicing given that they were replaced by a hugely more powerful and ubiquitous oligopoly that now runs the actual economy, not some tiny niche called "The New Economy".

The problem is that there's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't be able to disable your iPhone's security and mess around with it if that's what you want. Apple owns the device, not you.

Yes there is. I don't want Facebook or Google to move all their apps to side loading or an alternate store with lax controls and opaque privacy disclosure. I need to use their apps, but I want them to have to satisfy Apple's app store policies. Side landing and alternate stores would cripple the effectiveness of those policies.

So the reasoning is "if you allow my phone to be unlocked, so many people will want alternate stores that Facebook and Google will unlist their apps from the App Store and use the alternative stores only, and then they won't be as rigorously reviewed"?

Like how you can't get Facebook on the Play Store because it's only available on F-droid on Android, for example?

That's certainly... interesting.

Epic, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Spotify and a host of other companies are itching to get on to a rival 'Freedom' app store on iOS, with lax controls and weak privacy disclosure. Where they go, users would have to follow. It's not as though users are crying out for weaker privacy disclosure, but they'd go anyway.

Facebook is quite happy on the Play Store because it has weak privacy and disclosure policies, because Google has no interest in enforcing such things.

Nope, you're surreptitiously adding a righteous "the people will freely choose what suits them best" twist to the parent's post. That's a rich assumption, history proves that "the people" just want their shiny toy and will sheepishly accept whatever condition imposed by the manufacturer. Remember IE6?

Then people arguing this should stop being disingenuous that this is somehow about enabling user freedoms, and outright say "your phone should take away your choice because you can't be trusted with it" .

Hundreds of millions of people freely choose to delegate those details to Apple, and we don’t want people like you forcing loopholes in the system so other companies can do an end run around those controls. Arguing that this is all in our interests is what’s disingenuous.

Couldn’t have said it better. Thanks

If you open Chrome devtools on Facebook there’s a huge red warning saying “if someone told you to do this they are trying to scam you and steal your account!”

So there may be a good reason why Apple don’t want this to happen, given that essentially everything is on your phone these days.

There’s still Android

> So there may be a good reason why Apple don’t want this to happen

Yes, this is why the phones are locked by default. This is not at all why the phones aren't unlockable, though. They can be unlockable and still be secure. Apple just doesn't want to give you the choice.

Yes, I can't pwn this device which makes it incredibly hard for anyone else to pwn this device. Very convenient actually, in that my most critical and private communications flow through it and it goes everywhere I do.

Really secure data goes through a seperate device of which I have total control, but which I treat carefully (and less conveniently). It's a very comfortable trade-off.

It's not untrackable unless you opt out of "FindMy" services and disable bluetooth (disable, rather than disconnect).

Why can't I run Xcode on iOS or iPadOS devices? What's the technical limitation? These devices have the capability to render stuff on larger screens wirelessly, and one can connect keyboards to them. The limitation is purely artificial.

The problem is the kid will be given the iPhone and not the breadboard.

Where are the parents? Who is giving kids phone instead of something else? Also, why should kids tinker with computers if they can explore art by painting or music by learning an instrument or literature by reading?

What makes it important for them to use Unix rather than something that works fine the way it is while maintaining some standard of UX?

If kids show an interest in computers, they can just install unix on some computer like a raspberry pi and tinker on that.

> What makes it important for them to use Unix rather than something that works fine the way it is while maintaining some standard of UX?

The concern is whether the device is a piece of paper or a television. A television can show much more complex images under the control of the average child, but it is purely for consumption. A piece of paper lets you display anything you can draw or you can turn it into a paper plane or do origami, but the realism of the resulting products is going to be much less, and they will be relatively static.

An iPhone is, by design, a television. Unix systems are pieces of paper.

Last time I used MacOS, it was a functional piece of paper and it worked as a television too, so there isn't really any dichotomy here. Any television could be built on top of a piece of paper and give you access to the base level too.

The concern is that the television is winning out: even though Android and iOS are built from pieces of paper, their maintainers only bless television-like interfaces. Frankly, I believe a major part of this is because they're built on top of Unix like interfaces, which is based certain assumptions that they don't want to maintain. So I certainly wouldn't say Unix-like is the solution.

Kids might not even know they have an interest in engineering (which is not the same as "interest in computers"). Back in 90s, a lot of kids, myself included, found out that we like that stuff because we were inadvertently exposed to it while playing our video games, and, later on, surfing the early Web. My first programming language was MS-DOS batch files, simply because it was readily available.

> Where are the parents? Who is giving kids phone instead of something else?

The parents might not know better.

> Also, why should kids tinker with computers if they can explore art by painting or music by learning an instrument or literature by reading?

They should be given the chance to do so, as they should be given the chance to explore art or craft or a lot of other things.

> What makes it important for them to use Unix

I don't see how mentioning Unix is relevant here. They should be given the opportunity to play and tinker with the devices, not only the preplanned path with games on the devices, that is all.

But they DO have the chance. They can boot some VM with Ubuntu or get a raspberry pi or a nodemcu and tinker away. They don't have to be able to tinker on EVERY device.

When my kids reach the age that they need a phone, probably sooner than I want to admit right now, I'd rather have them use some restricted device with some level of security checks in place for apps, so an iPhone, than something that is totally open which would make them vulnerable to being phished or persuaded to install viruses, etc. "Best way to play fortnite 10, download here".

For a communications device they will take into school, that they rely on for school work, communicating with parents and teachers, and with each other on social media and contains a lot of private information, that is probably the right choice. An open system with zero security and no guard rails is simply not appropriate for that use.

How about an open system WITH security and guard rails that can be enabled/disabled by, I dunno, the user who paid for it?

It's not either/or. Parents can be the guardians of their children's phone, enabling all the security Apple pretends to enable with a password.

The power of Apples marketing is astonishing.

And most kids given an Amiga or a 286 wouldn’t hack or code it - they’d just load up games.

Sure, but the possibility was there. I was given a ZX Spectrum clone and started coding, my brother only played games. I am not sure I would work in IT if that didn't happen. We were pretty much poor by today's standards and probably could not afford another such device, never mind that we would not know what to buy (as nobody in my family had any IT experience and there was no IT shop in our small town).

Exactly this. My brother only played games on our C64 and Amiga, while I did nothing but program on it.

Games were in some way 99% of my use of the Apple IIc we had, which was my first computer. Original Bard's Tale in glorious green screen. Good times.

However, I also spent a lot of time painstakingly copying BASIC games, line by line from magazines, then figuring out how to expand upon them for additional features. Gaming was just the gateway drug.

You can? There are tons of kits and circuit boards and parts and everything electronic imaginable available for quick delivery right now. Back in the day we had Radio Shack, but it couldn’t hold a candle to all the circuit boards and electronic components available today. It’s an embarrassment of riches.

I count five logical fallacies here:

> Another peak self-absorbed Hacker News comment

Unnecessarily inflamatory - perhaps an ad-hominem attack, or appeal to emotion.

> in which we learn that curiosity only means tinkering with devices

Strawman argument - this is a blatant misrepresentation of GP's point.

> This comment is ignoring that a device that does all that without you having to worry about how it works is a tool way more powerful than one in which you need to at least know how to build everything from scratch with an enormous learning curve

False dichotomy (there's no reason you can't have an opinionated device that works flawlessly OOTB while also being extremely hackable) and another strawman (OP never advocated for you having to do everything yourself, only have the ability to tinker).

> So please, enough with this narrative, it’s really outdated and based on such a limited world view.

Another appeal to emotion.

I encourage you to take a class on logical argument, because this ain't it.

Someone got a lot out of their high school debate club

Why do you make the assumption that a device with freedom would be a device to worry about? This is exactlty what the op is saying. The Apple narrative of "we have full control over your device and your software for your own good" is horrible and worrying. I'm not gonna make a parallel about Apple source of inspiration but it doesn't scream creativity, freedom and certainly not democracy.

Apple’s approach is pragmatic. If they offered anyone the ability to jailbreak, you would see major app makers manipulating naive users into jailbreaking in order to bypass security, payment restrictions or similar. Even the limited options Apple provides are already abused, such as Facebook convincing users to install VPN profiles with their Ovano product and abusing it to spy on users.

Having the option defeats the fundamental advantages their approach offers.

There are a lot of problems with Apple’s approach from an antitrust perspective and fair competition should be regulated through legislation, but there are good reasons for closed ecosystems to exist and plenty of great alternatives for people who want something more open.

> Apple’s approach is pragmatic. If they offered anyone the ability to jailbreak, you would see major app makers manipulating naive users into jailbreaking in order to bypass security, payment restrictions or similar.

The problem is a social one and hasn't been properly solved by technical measures as you note. Instead of acting like the digital world is somehow separate from the rest of the world, we should have enough strong and effective laws and regulations that if a person steals from me, they can reasonably expect to spend a few years in prison.

The result of discovering a person has released a fraudulent product to the Google Play Store is currently that they get get their Google account shut down, maybe. The actual result should be that they find out what the inside of a prison cell is.

The result of discovering that a company tracks a user without effective permission through the use of dark patterns that meant a user pressed "I agree" under the misapprehension that this was the only way of using the app should have their shares acquired by the justice system at a penalty rate - or some other effective penalty so that companies don't balance the cost of obeying the law with the cost of the fine.

If Apple believes that their users want protection from digital thieves, Apple has a responsibility to lobby for better laws and regulations. They can't use halfmeasures as a pretense in the hope that some amorphous other will get laws that protect their users passed.

> If they offered anyone the ability to jailbreak, you would see major app makers manipulating naive users into jailbreaking in order to bypass security

This is FUD. Linux works flawlessly despite giving all the freedoms. Typical users don't install anything outside the repositories. Apple has countless problems with security and privacy in their App Store.

> This is FUD. Linux works flawlessly despite giving all the freedoms.

eyebrows raise to the ceiling

> Typical users don't install anything outside the repositories.

head tilts nearly horizontal with the floor

"Flawlessly" is here being stretched beyond the breaking point, and anyone who is OK with only installing software from the official repos for any major Linux distro is not a "typical user", very obviously.

I've been using Linux exclusively since the mid 90s. I've run so many different variants. I was a attended the church of Slackware for a long time. There has never been a time in my many years of using Linux that anything has been "flawless" and I _definitely_ have to install things "outside the repositories" pretty regularly. Even if that's a broad statement meaning "any type of repository anywhere, including but not limited to git."

Right, I'm struggling to think of a user profile that would be OK with just software from major distro repos.

"Normal" users? They're going to want several proprietary programs, some of which will surely not be in even the non-free repos, unless they're an only-uses-the-browser type who'd be fine with a Chromebook (or, more realistically for that user profile, just their phone).

Power users? I have to assume my experience of often wanting or needing something outside official repos, or a newer version of something in official repos, is far from unusual. I'm not even that demanding a power user, and that's still a very common situation for me. What's worse is the more one chases system stability, the worse this problem becomes, since Linux distros mix the base system and user-facing applications all together (and the structure of x-window-system/wayland/drivers/GTK/QT makes it hard not to do this)

That is because Linux is not used by general public.

Unfortunately you can't even find a Linux computer in shops anywhere, which could be the reason few people use it. It's actually harder to find malware there.

See also: Android is Linux used by the general public.

Funnily, you can find various somewhat-Linux devices in stores mostly, except they're called 'Chromebooks'. This is the same device series that uses Coreboot as a boot loader and usually had an internal screw to remove to disable firmware write protections and fully unlock the device, as well as other visually and auditory (they make a large beep on boot) tamper-evident 'developer unlock' modes. Nowadays instead of the 'unlock screw', there's a mandatory security chip that can be unlocked into a less visibly tamper-evident mode in which it is disabled via a special USB-C cable for sale on the open market with a reference schematic available as well, which is a much more fun solution to assert physical access. [1]

Many older models also would run mainline Linux fine, and the default Chrome OS install usually has a container and a Wayland to Chrome adapter behind a toggle.

[1]: https://unrelenting.technology/articles/FreeBSD-and-custom-f...

I don’t think it’s relevant for the general public.

At what point do we need to start worrying about Apple holding too much power over their closed ecosystem and can potentially abuse it?

Until we leave in a capitalistic system? Apple should be scrutinized, but I prefer a world in which a company with strong values polices the ethical limits of technology, to one where companies like Facebook (and Google, to a lesser extent) hypocritically push an open agenda just to exploit such technologies to milk our data.

Democracy is about choice, including the right to make choices you disagree with. You can choose to use an iOS device, or you can chose not to. I choose to use one, and I like the way it works. You or others like you want to take that choice away from me.

It's not about you. It's about the direction that technology has been taking where a big chunk is controlled by very few companies that are more powerful than a lot of countries.

I want to be able to chose a device I control, with software I control because I have strong concerns on privacy, freedom to create and waste management. My choices are quite limited and things are hardly moving in the right direction.

Do your concept of democracy being all about your own choices and seeing anybody with different point of view as your enemy kinda reinforce my point. This is not about your specific choices and personal freedom. This is about everybody choices and freedom.

Yes, authoritarianism as a business freaks me out, seeing people embracing it and embracing the fake sentiment of safety it provides is freaking me out. And yes, I do think it's time the Apple and Google duopoly is broken down and people are actually given choice.

This is such a tired argument. Nobody is arguing that iPhones should be rooted by default, only that they should be rootable.

I don't want my kids rooting their phones. Also I use facebook, but I dislike it and don't trust them, but I use it and Messenger occasionally to keep in touch with some friends. I also use WhatsApp fair bit.

I like the fact that Facebook can't pull their apps from the store, put them on a rival store with lax standards, or otherwise circumvent the app store controls. These controls clear benefits for me, but side loading and alternate stores would cripple their effectiveness. In fact crippling the effectiveness of these controls is the purpose of side loading and alternate stores.

If you want a phone you can root, buy one. There are options out there. Why do you want to take my choice away from me?

> Why do you want to take my choice away from me?

You keep repeating this disingenuous argument. If you don't want to root your phone, don't root it. If you don't want your kids to be able to root their phones, don't pretend like you aren't taking away their choice.

If you don't want rival stores with lax standards, don't install them. Just don't keep telling people who want to be given a choice that they're somehow "taking your choice away from you".

If you want to be in prison, go ahead, but don't pretend that having the option to leave is somehow "taking your choice away".

This is unrealistic. If it were easy to root an iPhone, then we would reach a situation where app developers would stop releasing necessary apps in the App Store because they want to bypass all the ethical behavior it requires. It would effectively force everyone to the lowest common denominator.

If it were possible to root an iPhone, Facebook would have never agreed to give users the option to stop tracking them across apps; they would have instead said “please watch this video and do what it says to continue using Facebook/Instagram!” and guide naive users into rooting their phones.

Closed ecosystems have many advantages (and disadvantages) over open ones. However, a closed ecosystem with a gaping hole in the wall is no longer a closed ecosystem; you can’t have it both ways.

I don't know what to tell you if you believe that, while conversions drop off a cliff if the "signup" button isn't prominent, asking users to unlock their bootloader and install a third party app store just to get Facebook working on their phone is a thing that would get a nonzero amount of users.

It wouldn't just be facebook though, it would be all facebook's apps (Messenger, WhatsApp, etc), plus all Google's apps, Amazon, Fortnite, Spotify, etc, etc. A single 'Freedom' store with all that on it would have huge pull and would completely undermine the effectiveness of the App Store's privacy policies. No thanks.

This doesn't happen on Android because Google has no interest in enforcing strict privacy policies on the Play Store.

Epic literally did this with Fortnite on Android, one of the largest mobile games in existence - they taught users how to download the APK and sideload the app to avoid the Google Play store.

This isn't very relevant to the current discussion, though, as you don't need root or an unlocked bootloader on Android to do that.

It's directly relevant. It's an example of a large company forcing its users to learn how to implement a somewhat complicated bypass to an app store to avoid having to follow its rules, something that no one tries on Apple because of how tightly Apple controls its ecosystem.

So you agree that iPhones should be used in whatever way the user wants, including using a different app store? I mean, it is a choice that you disagree with but for some reason it should be taken away. Why?

You missed his point. BigTech is trying to make open computer hardware and software illegal, because "security".

That is a loss for everyone, even if tinkering with computers is not your hobby.

> BigTech is trying to make open computer hardware and software illegal, because "security".

I wonder what they stand to gain from this, since they wouldn't bother if there wasn't a benefit.

Android I can possibly understand, what with Google being an ad-company and expecting to track users. But Apple doesn't seem to be doing that all that much anymore.

For the tractor situation, John Deere & friends expect to capture the business of independent repair shops, so there's a gain in their locking down the devices.

If I buy an iPhone to run myOS on it, how's this a loss to Apple? Especially since they don't charge for IOS updates, and they also support their phones for a long time, so if I don't buy a new iPhone every year it's not because I'm running some custom OS. My iPhone 7 still has all the latest updates and I haven't paid Apple one cent ever since I bought it used more than four years ago.

Apple is not in biz of selling phone or laptop. They sell complete ecosystem. If you own an iPhone, airpod are magical, AirTag/iCloud makes sense. Why not also buy Macbook to tinker with own apps and an iPad when you need pencil/touch. And not just current, you also capture all future innovation, so you can charge for digital downloads. You can make new rules to charge for all digital transactions across all apps.

What you are suggesting is to allow 3rd party to join in the ecosystem.

If IBM had been smarter and launched PC as a closed platform it would have been a 10/100 trillion dollar enterprise.

> What you are suggesting is to allow 3rd party to join in the ecosystem.

Not necessarily. They could still continue to charge for every download, just as I can, and already do, listen to music on my iPhone without an Apple Music subscription and without purchasing from the iTunes store.

If I want the whole Apple experience, I will continue using macOS / IOS. Hell, that's the reason why I started buying MacBooks when I could afford them: the "apple experience".

But I also run Linux on my work PC, because for that I don't care about the Apple experience. But I hate my HP laptop, for comfort reasons. If I could buy a MacBook and have Linux run on it as well as it does on the hp, I would (because I love the hardware) and that would be a net gain for Apple, wouldn't it?

I get the whole point of the "experience" and "ecosystem", etc. Up until a few years ago I absolutely loved it. Still love my iphone and wouldn't switch to android.

But now I can't stand macOS anymore for my work needs. I'm looking to buy a new laptop to use Linux on it. The offers from Lenovo / HP / Dell don't look all that great to me. I would absolutely buy an MBP if I knew Linux worked perfectly on it, but I know it doesn't, so Apple doesn't get to make a sale.

The point is: If I want to tinker with an iPhone and would not buy one if I couldn't, why is it a loss for Apple to sell an extra phone, even if the buyer won't consume their other digital products? The seller wouldn't have consumed them anyway, especially without buying the iPhone.

Yes, there's the support side of things, but again, they could have some sort of warranty voiding system in place.

Simple - close the door to any possible competition or disruption in the future.

A future with only one or two computing monopolies is a desired end state for history to BigTech.

I mean, that point was in there, sure. But I get the comment you replied to regarding how the OP comment reads.

No. It's not just that individuals can't tinker with hardware. It's also startups having this problem. Apple is integrating the entire supply chain. What we need is better "modularization" of the market where everybody has access to important components.

> Another peak self-absorbed Hacker News comment, in which we learn that curiosity only means tinkering with devices, learning how they work to the bits, plus some random Linux thrown in.

Totally unnecessary generalization.

This has to be the least charitable reading of Crazyontap's comment. Couldn't you have just inserted the implied:

> I was just talking to a friend the other day on how badly Apple and Google are trying their best to kill curiosity and creativity [with regard to the computer they're using].


> So please, enough with this narrative, it’s really outdated and based on such a limited world view.

You'll have to explain how it's a "limited world view" to suggest that we can have our cake and eat it too: that we can have open, hackable platforms that are also popular and easy to use.

Creative professionals gained immensely through Apple's approach. If I'm a music producer, a film maker, a writer, a graphic designer, and so on, I gain immensely from a computer that just works 99% of the time. I don't need or want to spend time on thinking what's the best set of drivers I should install, or worrying about all the dependencies of this new open source program with no hint of UX-design I've just installed. And yet, anything that isn't exactly that is often dismissed as lower class by people who have learned that over years and years, and don't seem to understand that there's an entire world of good people who just want to apply their curiosity at a different level. That is, in my opinion, a limited world view. In my experience, it also does not happen both ways. People that can't do that (but maybe can master film coloring post-processing -- I invite you to give a stab at that, if you dare) have enormous respect of the low level tinkerers. The opposite is very often not through.

How does being able to get root access to an iPhone (the way you can on a Mac) limit creativity?

They are claiming the exact opposite of that: not having root access isn't a limit on creativity.

They're replying to a comment arguing for open devices. Saying "I'm fine with a closed device" is at best irrelevant. "I'm fine with a locked-down computer" is no argument against "I want my computer to be more open", as, in the end, if you're fine with your locked-down computer, just keep it locked down.

I program DSP software, but I find DaVinci Resolve SUPER daunting. I completely agree (and am also a Mac user, for what that's worth)

There are so many domains where you can dive incredibly deeply into 'em. Some of them are computer augmented, and benefit from a stable, predictable computer host. There's been a lot of instances over the years where Macs served that role of 'creativity toaster' and did it well… now we've got the same thing, except for phones.

Anybody who's used to that situation doesn't find the status of iPhone ecology shocking. A bargain is being made. Or a service is being hired, from effectively a computer administrator.

> it also does not happen both ways. People that can't do that (but maybe can master film coloring post-processing -- I invite you to give a stab at that, if you dare) have enormous respect of the low level tinkerers. The opposite is very often not through.

This feels related to the saying that it’s easier to innovate down the stack than it is to innovate up the stack. It’s far easier for Apple to design and fabricate its own chips than it would be for Intel to make its own consumer OS.

> I gain immensely from a computer that just works 99% of the time

Are you implying that Linux doesn't work 99% of the time? If so, you are mistaken. I'm running Linux for me and my relatives without issues for years. I'm not a programmer/hacker.

Just choose the hardware designed for it (exactly like in the case of Apple).

Ohh come on. I am not against linux but to say it works flawlessly is ridiculous. My last try with it a few years was the most ridiculous. If i plugged my bamboo stylus, the screen would just go all crazy, as soon as i unplugged it, back to normal. Stylus worked on windows and mac, but on linux (ubuntu lts) i couldn’t even plug it in (and took me a while to find out that was the problem as it installed everything fine, then after the reboot this happened, only when i decided to disconnect everything but the monitor and try plugging one by one did i find this out

And lets not even go over the ux disaster that is the mix and match of uis from various apps.

> Stylus worked on windows and mac, but on linux

Here comes your problem (which I actually mentioned in my above post). Choose hardware designed for Linux if you want it to really work. Why don't you complain that your Windows installation does not work well on a Macbook?

If I plug a non supported device on my macbook, the screen doesn't go all scrambly.

And even so, how can you say it works 99% of the time if you have to go and research each piece of peripheral that you want to use? Normal users go to bestbuy or amazon or whatnot and buy a microphone, they don't want to go and see if it works on ubuntu or whatnot or have weird behaviours at home. you can blame manufacturs for not supporting linux while they support win/mac, but again, normal users experience just isn't that great.

You said you are running linux for you and your relatives. Who installed it on your relatives machines? Who checked the compatibility of each hardware and maybe even bought some replacement things to work on linux? I know most users/relative I know wouldn't go to websites to try to find out if this or that works well with this and that. They just want to go to a shop, buy a laptop+accessories and plug them in when they get home

Yes, the actual problem is the lack of preinstalled Linux on retail products. You can find that in online shops though. My laptop came with Linux preinstalled and I can’t recommend it enough.

Because we also need sophisticated, powerful internet communications devices that contain our personal data, private photos and video, social media information, etc, etc and that we also rely on for a huge range of creative tasks.

These are not the right tools to also have completely exposed with no security or guard rails, where we can easily open up or broadcast everything to the world.

You can have your cake and eat it too, there are devices available that work just how you want, but that doesn't mean every device has to work that way. It certainly doesn't mean that my device has to work that way, just because you want it to.

There is no reason the machine can't do everything you said and everything the parent said.

There are fundamental engineering trade-offs here. The amount of effort required to secure a device AND make it accessible to "tinkerers" would be an effort worthy of an MIT research lab. It's not trivial, and a huge security risk to satisfy 0.01% of the user base. Especially when such users will likely just buy an open source device anyways. Seems like a huge waste of effort to me.

The engineering effort is entirely surmountable; we already have a pretty decent solution in Chrome OS's Developer Mode.

"Security" has become the excuse big companies use for everything they foist on users. Better update to that new OS version that ruins the user interface -- it comes with security patches! Better make sure you can't play any games that aren't approved by Apple -- it's the only way to make iPhones secure! Better centralize the entire Internet so it all depends on four or five giant corporations to run -- they're the only ones who can be trusted to implement security!

I'm not overly familiar with the low-level details of iPhones and Android phones, but it's not clear to me why it would be such a big effort to allow one to install whatever OS they like on an iPhone.

Maybe display a big, scary "unofficial OS, you're on your own, don't bother us if your iPhone becomes unusable". Maybe have one jump through some hoops, like getting an "approval" code by signing some mile-long EULA on the iCloud account stating you forego any software-related warranty / support.

This should be enough to deter "regular users" from messing with their phones, and Apple wouldn't have to go to any length to guarantee that a "restored" device isn't compromised. Kind of like the KNOX thing on Samsung phones used to work.

And this actually seems to be possible, since people are having success with running Linux, a non-apple sanctioned OS, on the M1 Macs, which have the secure enclave, etc. My understanding is that whatever issues they are experiencing are related to hardware support.

I think the point there isn’t a technical challenge, but rather a business challenge. Namely, Apple probably actually cares about how satisfied their customers are. They probably could easily make their iPhones support following instructions from some forum about how to install Fortnite hacks, but some of those hacks are going to cause problems for their customers, either accidentally (bugs) or maliciously (spyware, random ware, etc.). The typical response from a HN thread might be “well if the user installs something that’s their problem,” but Apple probably actually cares about their customers’ satisfaction more than they care about assigning moral culpability.

Apple probably actually cares about their customers’ satisfaction more than they care about assigning moral culpability.

This is it right here. Power-users will blame the user for having their device compromised. Users, on the other hand, will blame Apple. Apple will do anything they can to avoid negative PR like that.

And the media will amplify that into oblivion.

> They probably could easily make their iPhones support following instructions from some forum about how to install Fortnite hacks, but some of those hacks are going to cause problems for their customers, either accidentally (bugs) or maliciously (spyware, random ware, etc.).

I don't know what the state of the world is today, but I've installed custom OSes (mostly Linux) on every Mac I've owned (my most recent was a 2012 Retina which I really liked).

Installing a custom OS isn't easy and it's pretty obvious to everyone it means thinking "Yes, it's a good idea to lose support for almost every program I run". By "everyone", I really do mean that: I've never heard of an anecdote of someone who's mother wiped MacOS and threw Ubuntu on their box and encountered some bugs. Technical knowledge about security isn't out there, but we do get "Apple makes the system that is an iPhone, going away from Apple's product means abandoning my iPhone" seems to be there, even if they don't understand what it means for something to be an operating system.

Do you think Apple engineers don't have access under the hood? Simply provide that access to those who request it, everyone else can keep it locked. Problem solved.

In which reality where Facebook doesn't exist do you write from? :D

This program exists to get that level of access: https://developer.apple.com/programs/security-research-devic...

"The initial application period ended August 24. Applicants will receive an update this fall."

This is not at all what we are looking for.

I think you are mixing up "not having to worry about how it works" with "having the freedom to tinker". We should demand both. One reason is for our curiosity. The other is to have checks and balances on the big companies.

The big companies have all the technical resources, and profoundly strong motivation, to apply their own malware and harm the user.

You do NOT check and/or balance big companies by allowing them the freedom to tinker alongside the little guy. They will wrest the machines to their purposes every time, and they are Not Happy about obstacles in their path.

Having checks and balances on big companies is a very good argument but it points the opposite direction from how you're seeing it…

We should. What I'm saying is that we still have that, and more. The suggestion is mostly the opposite, from comments like yours. That we should have less things like the Apple ecosystem, which has been fundamental in creating an entire generation of creative tinkerers, exactly because of its opinionated and broadly simplified nature.

We have an either-or choice, and there's no reason for it to be like that.

You can learn about design, arts, literature, drawing et al without having to sacrifice the freedom to own your device. Apple devices deliver great UX despite their walled garden. They can have their ecosystem without locking people out of running their own software or making it difficult to repair it. Don't create a false dichotomy.

Ah well, you are basically replying to a limited world view by another limited one.

Notice how you say "Curiosity *can be* about design, ..." but then the tone of your comment reads like you mean "Curiosity *should only be* about design, ...". Please don't do that.

Curiosity can be about anything, lets just leave it at that.

These are sad times when someone who wants to "hack" and learn and disassemble and reassemble and just "understand" gets shit on "hacker news". "Limited world view"? Really? They are the one with the "Limited world view"?

The notion that computing devices that aren't wide-open are "kill[ing] curiosity and creativity" in anything other than a very restricted sense is a limited world view, yes. That such devices being available as an option at all rankles people so and drives them to insult anyone who likes them as mindless consumers (very common in discussions like this, on this site) is downright parochial.

I don't think the article is sarcastic given the nature of their app.

Where does one draw the line though? ESG[1] is becoming increasingly important to investors and I already see financial institutions instituting controls in their apps around gambling [2].

When should large companies with sufficient reach implement opportunities to address social harms?

[1] https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/environmental-social-an... [2] https://monzo.com/blog/2018/06/19/gambling-block-self-exclus...

It is not and it is worrying. I think Apple is doing a great job about privacy, but it’s a fine line the one between user advocacy and the ethical state model…

Using "security" in air quotes diminishes the significant effort Apple and others put into making devices secure, and this does have fundamental trade-offs for the end-user. Some of us actually care a great deal about security, and appreciate the trade-offs and effort put in to making that happen.

I sympathize with the tinkerer mindset, but this mindset exposes serious lack of empathy in exposing REAL risk to REAL people by allowing anybody to hack devices simply to satisfy 0.01% of users who want to run a custom bootloader. This is not a valid engineering trade-off for a "trillion dollar company". The world doesn't revolve around you. There are other products on the market for tinkerers that don't involve exposing everyone from your grandma to politicians to serious security and privacy breaches.

Sometimes one in that 0.01% end up creating a world changing operating system like Linux.

I shudder to think what the world would have be if Andrew Tanenbaum/Linus/Wall/etc had to wait for a week long review after creating their software and got rejected every time because Apple support told them.. "Are you out of your freaking mind!? You possibly can't think we will let you do anything remotely like that on our hardware. P.S. Also your account is now permanently banned."

Is that 0.01% really deterred by one particular OS and hardware platform being restricted? There's alternatives.

What is the equivalent phone today to the X86 Linus did his work on? Neither iOS or Android is anywhere near this, so what are the alternatives?

The great news is that we had options then and we still have options now.

I keep reading this. What alternative do we have today that is as open to tinker and invent on as x86 hardware that is also widespread enough that it actually makes any difference at all?

> What alternative do we have today that is as open to tinker and invent on as x86 hardware that is also widespread enough that it actually makes any difference at all?

x86 hardware.

There’s plenty of hardware that runs Linux just fine, and allows deep tinkering.

In the mobile world, Android allows tinkering, but also achieves much worse privacy and security guarantees

Linux became as popular as it is because it could run on the most widespread desktop hardware: IBM PC compatibles. And that was possible because it was an open ecosystem.

Librem 5 and Pinephone both allow deep tinkering without privacy problems.

That is a disingenuous comparison though. Compare X86 market share when Linus started coding Linux and Librem/Pinephone market share today. The difference is that to have a snowball's chance in hell to grow and spread you need to be able to thinker and invent on the hardware most people use.

I'm not suggesting that we don't need more freedom for hardware most people use. I just say that if you want to support freedom, consider abandoning Apple and choosing other phones.

Your case of curiosity is a very very specific one, and while most people are curious in different ways, for those who are curious in the same way as you, anyone with an Apple device and an Apple computer can sit down and start tinkering with code and running stuff on their own iOS devices, it’s fun and pretty easy to get started. If I was just a child or a teenager today, I think I’d have just as much fun, probably a whole lot more, playing around with iOS and learning how it works and building really interesting applications using its extraordinary range of technologies, things that were never possible in the old days of tinkering.

i started programming in 94, i've passed through all the phases. honestly, what i want now is a phone that just works, without needing to hack anything. i presume i'm not representing the miniroty of ios users here. i don't think it's possible to do both of those things (stability vs hacking) in the same time, without a compromise and i voted with my wallet for what apple did.

there are options for everyone, if you want to hack it, good, there's android for that. there are even phones that you can customize. if you want a stable black box, there's ios, this is well known before you buy it. there are options for every one of us...

i think you guys forget that this is an echo chamber and the real users out there are not tech savy. i

> I don't think it's possible to do both of those things (stability vs hacking) in the same time

Why is it not possible, exactly?

let me come back to you with a question: do you have an example where this works?

being hackable means exactly the opposite of stability: you can change low level features and break things. if there is a chance to do it, people can be tricked to do it. of course, i'm excluding here people who have knowledge, as i continue to belive that they are a minority.

> do you have an example where this works?

Yes. On my laptop, Linux is extremely stable, and yet extremely hackable. What, Linux doesn't work for you flawlessly? 99% chance it's drivers, which has nothing to do with stability and everything to do with the limited amount of effort that people have poured into drivers on that particular platform.

> being hackable means exactly the opposite of stability

False. "Stability" implicitly means "without modifications". There's no product or (human-made) system in existence that remains stable once you start making arbitrary modifications to it.

> if there is a chance to do it, people can be tricked to do it

Yes, and "freedom" (which is a core tenet of the United States Constitution, where most HN commenters are based) includes the ability to do things that will hurt yourself. "We know what's better for you than you do" leads to tyranny the majority of the time (as it does here, where Apple has full control of their devices and regularly makes decisions that hurt their users).

Moreover, it's relatively easy to design a system that prevents the vast majority of users from shooting themselves in the foot (by making root(-adjacent) access difficult to acquire by accident and fairly difficult to be tricked into doing), and coupled with actual education would keep the levels of this particular kind of computer fraud (where someone convinces you to bypass your computer's security features) well below the rates of other computer fraud (such as falling prey to scam emails).

> being hackable means exactly the opposite of stability

Any computer with preinstalled Linux will "just work". Typical users will only install apps from the repositories, and those are more secure and private than App Store.

I know many people using Android devices, with no problem "getting tricked into" breaking things. And yet, on mine, I can easily enable side-loading, or even unlock the bootloader.

ChromeOS is a similar story - even more so, actually, given that it can run a full fledged Linux distro within the system.

What a weird take. It completely ignores the massive impact that addictive apps have on people, how incapable governments are at regulating malicious/predatory behavior by companies like Facebook and others, and those tradeoffs.

This article is actually genius, and I truly believe they're good recommendations. Apple in these mockups wouldn't be forcing you to turn off addictive behaviors - it's just letting you know they exist, and giving YOU the power to help control it.

The jist of your post is that you want the freedom to smoke cigarettes without the oppressive government health warnings on the packages.

Your comment entirely misses the point of the article, and your frustration is completely backwards.

The current situation is that Facebook is not limited in their use of patterns that increase your engagement. The author of the comment is proposing some extensions to iOS that mean that Facebook is able to use patterns that increase your engagement, but you're also able to turn it off.

From your perspective of wanting more control over your devices, isn't this a win? It isn't injecting javascript into a running webapp with an extension that monkeypatches it. But you gave that up by using a native app on iOS. It gets you back a huge amount of control. If you want more, there's LineageOS (self compile it with patched source code by using robotnix) and PinePhone. The jump from trusted to trustless is a big one now but it's not insurmountable.

And yet you can get a raspberry pi (which is way faster than your 286) for less than the price of a mediocre restaurant meal and learn all this stuff. Or an Arduino microcontroller to go even deeper low level. There are so many ways to tinker with electronics right now - but my main computer and phone are not "games", they are tools that I expect to work in a secure way.

This x 1000!

I remember back in my DOS days as a kid tinkering with autoexec.bat, himem and all that just to get an addition 10Kb or memory to run a game.

Now, with Windows in particular, they're slowly removing my ability to dick about and do what I want.

The defaults are all pretty much set to "we know best" and you have to jump through more and more hoops to disable stuff (Windows update, I'm looking at you!).

I'm moving to Linux (again) at the end of the month (got uni exams coming up... want to get them out the way). Had issues with it in the past but I will try and live with them this time as I want my freedom back.

This is why I ended up moving over to Linux many years back. I had run it on an off since about 1998 but about 5 years back there, I had blown away my install of Windows and for reason in particular I simply never reinstalled it.

It is just one of those things were very rarely I realize that I am running (by ratio) a fairly rare OS as just a daily desktop. To that, don't try and force your self onto Linux, eventually you may just sit with it and never go back to Windows. If you do, that's fine if that works for you. If you stay on Linux, cool power to you.

Happy hacking!

>I mean when I first got my 286 the machine was just full of possibilities.

When I got my first 286 very little was available to me because it all had a cost. Want to learn C then get your wallet out to buy a C compiler. Want to learn Pascal then get your wallet out for Turbo Pascal . Want to learn UNIX, well hard lines, that stuff is only available in ivory towers.

The 286 was a little before my time, although I did spend a lot of time in the early 90's hacking on a 8086. It is always amazing to me that even in the 80's, Unix used to be considered an astoundingly heavy handed OS. Now with it legacy mostly living on via Linux, it is considered the light weight alternative. Funny the path these things take.

Exactly, I don't want to be at the mercy of a tech corporation to decide what's "healthy" for me or what exact degree of privacy I deserve.

Allow real browser extensions, I just want to be able to use uBlock origin. Not some overengineered "system extension" that can only check the network.

“Actually, I have never even checked 386BSD out; when I started on Linux it wast available (although Bill Jolitz series on it in Dr. Dobbs Journal had started and were interesting), and when 386BSD finally came out, Linux was already in a state where it was so usable that I never really thought about switching. If 386BSD had been available when I started on Linux, Linux would probably never had happened.“

Linus Torvalds, 1993


If Linux hadn’t been created, 386BSD and its derivatives would be correspondingly more popular. Or Hurd would have happened. Or both. Maybe BeOS would be a contender amongst commercial OSes.

If Linux hadn’t been created things wouldn’t be that different in all likelihood.

This comment fails to see the real reason that Apple, Google, and Microsoft lock down their hardware and software, ease of use.

A vast, vast majority of the population could care less about learning about interrupts, tinkering with BIOS settings, etc. They want a device that is easy to use, and as simple as possible. So companies therefore abstract away 90% of the "creativity-inducing" components because a computer is a lot less intimidating when the user clearly knows what they can and can't do with it.

Apple and Google are not sitting in a meeting room pitching the best ways to stifle creativity. They are selling a product to a population that wants their highly complex device to be as simple as possible.

> They want a device that is easy to use, and as simple as possible.

I'd add "reliable" or maybe more accurately "repeatable".

When my mother runs into technical problems, she will literally get frustrated to the point of tears. She doesn't give a single fuck whether she can change the OS or install unapproved software to tinker, she just wants the stuff that was working yesterday to still be working today.

When she wakes up and an OS update has broken some app she uses, she's never gone "Let me dig into why this happened, maybe I can fix it." and she never will. That's simply just something that has gone wrong in her life and ruined her day and now she needs to find a new way to do the thing that she wants to do.

But you're wasting your breath. A very vocal segment of HN are effectively fundamentalists about this. The fact that there exists a market segment best served by devices which do not conform to their fundamental ideals because they have different priorities is simply unacceptable regardless of any other consideration.

Both can coexist, they are not for the same usage. When I want to do something creative (i.e. create music), I don't want to tinker with a computer, I just want an appliance that works. I spent decades toying with computers, but there are others creative endeavors in life for me now. Apple (at least Jobs) was always about the idea that the general purpose computer was a mean not an end. An iPhone is not locked down if you see it for the appliance that it is. I'm glad that Linux exists and use it everyday at work though, it's just not the same thing.

You're looking at the past through rose tinted glasses. I remember those times also. I remember when there was no internet, so your only source of information were these thick technical manuals, which often you had to pay a lot for. Developing software was also gated by expensive commercial compilers. Nowadays you get access to the wealth of documentation online and compilers for all major languages are available for free.

The lovely old 286 did not have a human's bank/card details and neither did it had any "sensitive" photographs. Devices nowadays have a lot of private information about their user and most of the people do not know how it keep it safe and secure.. to top it all, several bad actors are consistently after this private information.. hence the lockdown.

I understand your point and yes, low-level hacking has become increasingly difficult due to both locking down and increased complexity.

There's still many ways to be creative though and I think there's also more potential than before due to increased resources for developing other kinds of applications.

It's not all bad.

Sounds like a business opportunity ...

Yes, just imagine the billions of people eagerly awaiting a blank smartphone that they can tinker the BIOS settings of.

Reminds me of the "women want pockets in all their clothes" angle. If it were vital, someone would be making buckets of money from that exact solution. That you don't hear about it suggests that fashion-first is king in the sort of clothing you wear out.

Every year there's a new pitch from a modular laptop or a hackable smartphone. Never met anyone who uses one though.

To be honest, windows let you hack away a lot. It's the new OS that are incredibly locked down.

> Even though this article is sarcastic(?)

I don’t think it is

How many smartphone users want to use interrupts, tinker with firmware settings, hack the port, and so on?


The two things are not mutually exclusive. We can have hardware and software that's open to tinker with but still come ready to use out of the box.

Apple's job doesn't end when you open the box.

Unless you want a rootkit installed when you charge your phone with a public charger, it needs to be locked down. These restrictions are made for security and stability. If the average user doesn't need them, then don't enable them. Simple logic.

iOS alone has far, far more tools for creativity than Linux has ever had.

"Creativity" doesn't mean "tinkering with kernel settings".

I doubt it. Every single time I have to do something more complicated on one of these GUI only devices, I get to appreciate how GNU/Linux ecosystem allows me to actually combine the power of multiple tools to achieve what I want quickly and my way.

Combining simple apps together like lego building blocks to build something, is where it shines.

That is not creativity, that is just wanting to do things your specific way, which is a way most people do not really prefer.

There's no "my specific way". And people prefer to defer some things to me, because I can usually find some way to do tings in batches, rather than them doing those same things individually using common tools.

Again, though, that is not "creativity".

"Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something somehow new and somehow valuable is formed."

Not sure how this does not apply.

Quoting the dictionary? Seriously?

Better than not providing any argument whatsoever, other than "this is not creativity".

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