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The Paywalled Garden: iOS is Adware (2020) (stevestreza.com)
217 points by tartoran 53 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 126 comments



After the CSAM scanning debacle came out this year, it pushed me towards being far less reliant on any cloud servers and I set up a home NAS, transferred my photos to it, deleted everything off of my iCloud, and discontinued my subscription to iCloud for higher storage, going down to the free 5gb tier.

Ever since then, I've been getting notifications on the settings app about how my iCloud storage is almost out of space because somehow my iPhone backup takes nearly 4.8gb, even though I have disabled the vast majority of app backup permissions.

If you dismiss the almost out of storage notification and the accompanying ad for subscription to iCloud, it comes back a month later.

I feel this author's pain.

Another fishy thing that Apple does is that when I bought this phone, they gave a free year of Apple TV+. Most of my paid subscriptions I keep a close eye on and cancel right after I sign up, so that I won't have to remember at the end of the subscription period. It works fine with any app on the app store, I get the service for the desired period. With Apple TV +, if you cancel your subscription to avoid autorenew, it immediately cancels your access to the service.

Rules for thee, not for me.


> Rules for thee, not for me.

As an iOS developer, this is very true indeed. Apple specifically bars developers from using push notifications for ad purposes yet Apple itself does it to push their own Apple Music ads as the article shows.

The CSAM stuff also made me decide to never buy a brand new apple product again and I will basically buy used devices for my development work so less of my money is going towards them. I also got myself an Android phone and a windows Dell laptop recently which I will be putting linux on for non-work purposes.


I decided to get a bit further and get Sailfish(main reason was because of somewhat closest Nokia succession - the other choices were Pure OS, Ubuntu) compatible phone, because Android Google Play has the same draconic % as Apple store. Though, to be fair there is still a possibility to install apps without using Google Play, but I am not happy, that there are some apps I do not use and they stay in memory and can't be removed permanently.

Also, seems that Windows 10 will go bye bye in 2022 as well and have to decide on which Linux(mandrake seems more user friedly than plain Arch), because W10 disrupts my order of things by consistently rebooting(probably for some small updates) or updating machine during the night, when instead of open apps as I have left them, I have clean log in screen in the morning. Ah, and not going to W11 - not only because of spying, but because I do not wish to spend money for new hardware specifically to Windows, if my old hardware has not been maxed out - in regards to memory.


Go to settings -> iCloud -> storage -> manage storage -> backups.

You can delete the old backups there. It does keep backups of old devices for some reason.

I tend to use this feature though as intended. I dropped my XR off down the front of Stanage Edge. When recovered it was badly damaged. Following Monday in an apple store I recovered the backup onto a new 12 and it was exactly as I’d left the XR configuration wise. Saved me hours of futzing.


At least it was just the XR!

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanage_Edge


That’s the one!

The XR did manage to upload all the photos to iCloud when we got in range of a cell tower. Also the rear glass didn’t break, only the screen. Apple replaced the screen under AppleCare and my daughter still has the phone.


LOL. My brother dropped his off the top of The Big One.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_One_(roller_coaster)


Oops! I nearly lost my lunch on that one :)


Some friends have set a NAS up, and I'm doing the same, but most people seem to replace the cloud with a NAS while ignoring a crucial point that cloud providers do for you: replication. Are you handling that in yours?

It's an upcoming disaster waiting to occur, having their own private NAS but not backing it up somewhere else, only relying on the RAID reconstruction abilities of whatever they bought (and that's for those who bought the much more expensive units with 2 or 3 disk bays... don't get me started with those cheaper single-disk Synology ones)


How well do the NAS-based programs work for search? Can you search for photos with dogs, for example?


The short answer for me is “no.” And that’s why I just can’t bring myself to sever the cord (and never will). I just don’t trust myself (and only myself) with a lifetime of photos of the kids.


You could encrypt and archive everything and back that up periodically with rclone, or get external hard drives with a copy and store them separately


Yes, that's exactly my idea. I recently purchased a pCloud storage offer for Black Friday, and will use rclone to make full copies of the NAS itself. The good thing of doing that, is that the storage provider doesn't ultimately matter, if you want to change providers it's just a matter of uploading a new copy.


> Ever since then, I've been getting notifications on the settings app about how my iCloud storage is almost out of space because somehow my iPhone backup takes nearly 4.8gb, even though I have disabled the vast majority of app backup permissions.

iCloud backup does a really bad job of reclaiming space, back when I was on the free tier every once in a while I'd clear the backup (I think by disabling it?) and then re-doing the backup.


> With Apple TV +, if you cancel your subscription to avoid autorenew, it immediately cancels your access to the service.

My understanding is that if you cancel the trial you lose immediate access. But if you were paying for it and canceled, you’d retain access to the end of your billing period.


This issue with the backups happened to me as well. I managed to solve it by disabling iCloud Backup which deletes all the backups, then re-enabling it. I think essentially what happens is some stuff gets backed up, and even if you delete that stuff from your phone it's still retained in backups for some period of time.


Dark patterns.

An unfortunate side effect of the free market.


Yes, Apple is annoying. But so are all the other big cloud companies. It was only a matter of time until they noticed that if you have 1 billion customers and your competition is similarly evil, you truly don't need to care about your customers. Sure, take their money, but apart from that, who cares if their experience is horrible?

Apple TV spams you with ads. Apple iOS Settings spam you with ads. In general most iOS apps will abuse notifications to send you ads. Android is filled with ads. Android TVs spam you with ads, even the $2000+ ones. Google Chromecast refuses to work if you block 8.8.8.8, or else it'll use it to spam you with ads. Even Netflix will spam you with ads when you're idle for a few seconds. Edge? Ads. Windows start menu? Ads. Lock-screen? Ads.

But guess what, you only get treated like sh*t if you're a paying customer. Torrents for Netflix rips are the same great quality and great content and you can even watch them from USB on a fully offline (read: ad-free) TV. It's only once you start paying Apple or Netflix for their shows that they start abusing you ... And then the same executives that created these perverse incentives get interviewed on TV and whine about people not paying for their content ^_^


> Torrents for Netflix rips are the same great quality and great content and you can even watch them from USB on a fully offline

I end up paying for content and torrenting it anyway in order to get the full HD, no ads, no buffering, no BS experience. Torrenting feels like the 1990s for music (but faster obviously): You bought a tape or CD, you went home and played it, it played, THE END.


I'm not sure I would consider the Netflix ones ads? They're not trying to convince you to buy additional things or otherwise give them money; they're telling you about shows you've already paid for that they think you might enjoy watching.


> I'm not sure I would consider the Netflix ones ads? They're not trying to convince you to buy additional things or otherwise give them money; they're telling you about shows you've already paid for that they think you might enjoy watching.

Encouraging me to consume more of what you're peddling is advertising, regardless of if I'm a customer of yours or not, or if I've consumed similar items before or not.


Sure, there's a reasonable argument to be made at a high level that it's all advertising. However, I think the GP is getting at something important. With enough granularity you can see a qualitative difference. Some of this advertising is only self-serving and some of it is in service to the customer.

When JetBrains gives me helpful tips on how to consume PyCharm, they aren't doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. They want me to keep using PyCharm. However, it also serves me because it makes me more productive when I use PyCharm. When Netflix advertises to me that a new season of my favorite show is on Netflix, likewise: they want me to keep subscribing. But it also serves to help me get more value out of the subscription I've already purchased.

These activities contrast with the game developer using psychological tricks to get me to purchase in-game currencies at unreasonable rates that I otherwise wouldn't purchase.

There's a spectrum with fraud on one end, and, I don't know, something like genuinely helpful information on the other end. Likely different people will place any individual advertisement on a different place on the spectrum.


What I hate on Hulu is clicking to watch an epiode, getting a short network splash animation with sound, then getting a short promo for the show I'm about to watch, and THEN the show starts playing. These are not skippable and this is the paid ad-free subscription.


Where are the ads in appletv and iOS? Could you provide some examples?

I use both and am not sure I’m seeing ads. The appletv is behind a pi-hole so that may be a reason - but don’t think I see ads even at a friend’s house.


I wondered the same thing and opened settings on my iPhone and up at the top was an “Apple Arcade Free for 3 Months” right underneath my name, which made me sad.


Huh, me too. Not ideal.

I’m not defending them, but I at least was able to make it go away by opening it and then clicking “decline”.


Great article. I hadn’t thought about the upsell like this before.

The ad that really drives me nuts on iOS is in the Settings app - saying your phone hasn’t been backed up to iCloud. I consistently have a red bubble on it now that I need to dismiss daily. I then sometimes miss real notifications from Settings because I’ve become blind to it.

On macOS the notifications and prompts got so bad that I finally switched to Fedora 2 months ago. Turns out it works very well for my needs nowadays. I will not see ads for iCloud on my $1,000+ mac, thank you very much. https://t2linux.org was very helpful for the switch.


I don't have this notification. I disabled iCloud backup when setting up phone first time.


I don’t have this and I have iCloud backup off for most things and so the 5gb free plan is more than enough.

Is it possible you’re interpreting the reminder to use the free tier of iCloud to back up essential iPhone data as an ad?

If you don’t back up photos video and email you can likely remain on the free plan indefinitely. I don’t consider this an ad.


I switched to Fedora some 4-6 years back -- and that was the first thing I noticed -- no ads.


iCloud backup is actually quite a handy thing to have had when your phone gets lost / stolen. If you just remove photos from the list of things it's backing up the the rest usually fits in the free 5gb they give you.


I got my first iphone previous year coming from the android ecosystem. All the things the author mentioned are true. Luckily there was a simple solution to it. I deleted all of those apps altogether. Apple music, tv, wallet and even itunes, removed all of them. Also offloaded a bunch of apps. I’m not letting apple off the hook by saying this though, but at least I can delete the unnecessary apps so that’s alright.

Also, slightly off topic maybe but if you’ve seen the show Ted Lasso the advertisement of apple products is so aggressive that it becomes ridiculous after a point. Almost every other scene contains an apple product.


I think deleting wallet will have the unintended side effect that you now cannot use Apple Pay with a 3rd party credit card . So even with an iPhone you would have to take out your credit cards to pay in store and cannot use touch or Face ID to pay in apps.


You can still pay for apps with touch id. That payment system is separate from Apple Pay.

I'm from India. I don't think Apple pay will be a success here anymore. People here mostly make UPI transactions.


Wallet is also good for holding things like boarding passes, Clipper (transit card), passes to things like the SF Conservatory of Flowers, and your Covid Vaccine record. I would think twice about deleting it. It's actually kind of useful.


It’s kind of ironic that the same is true for Google and Android.

Except Apple’s business isn’t built on advertising revenue.


Other than google photos, I haven't seen any other intrusive Google made app like the ones from Apple. And even if there were more, Android is so flexible I can do whatever I want with it.


Google Play, YouTube, Google Books, Google Maps, Google Hangouts, Google Messenger, Google Drive, Google Mail, etc are all extremely intrusive apps.

At least with Apple, you have the flexibility to do whatever you want with it and not have to worry about feeding the Google Advertising machine.


> Google Play, YouTube, Google Books, Google Maps, Google Hangouts, Google Messenger, Google Drive, Google Mail, etc are all extremely intrusive apps.

With the exception of Google Play, you can delete all of them without issue. If you don't use them, then delete them.

> At least with Apple, you have the flexibility to do whatever you want with it and not have to worry about feeding the Google Advertising machine.

No, you're feeding the Apple advertising machine instead. It's not a coincidence that Apple's share of certain advertisements has tripled since they announced app tracking transparency [0]. I'm certain it's only a matter of time before they make themselves the only company that can advertise to iOS users. Apple collects the exact same data about you that Google does only they're less transparent about it.

[0] https://9to5mac.com/2021/10/18/apples-ad-business-windfall/


> No, you're feeding the Apple advertising machine instead.

No, I have personalized ads turned off.

“You have turned off Personalized Ads, preventing Apple from using your account information or interactions with Apple services for serving ads. You may still be served ads based on the criteria listed below. Your personal data is not provided to third parties.

Contextual Information When you search on the App Store, your query may be used to serve you a relevant ad. On Apple News and Stocks, the type of story you read may be used to select appropriate ads. In addition, information about your device's keyboard language settings, device type, OS version, mobile carrier, and connection type may be used to serve ads to you.”

Also, https://www.apple.com/privacy/labels/


None of these you mentioned is showing ads into your mouth (except maybe Photos, but there are tons of alternatives), while Apple's do.


Stocks, News, and App Store are the only things displaying ads…


>Almost every other scene contains an apple product.

Gasp. It's almost like it's paid for by apple.


Is that so! Never realised that when I subscribed to Apple TV to watch it. Lol. Anyways, how does the show being paid by apple have to do anything with what I said? I am talking about advertisements. The number of time we see an apple product on the show kinda get's ridiculous. It was even reported.

https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/ted-lasso-the-morni...

https://www.forbes.com/sites/theodorecasey/2021/03/09/ted-la...


Good for Apple, but when it's so frequent that it's distracting, it degrades the quality of the show.


It's almost like product placement has been a thing for a long time now.

>The popularity of Microsoft’s Surface is the least realistic thing on TV

https://theoutline.com/post/2923/the-popularity-of-microsoft...

Although sometimes these deals blow up in memorable ways.

>Microsoft has had some high profile flubs with its Surface product placement. During election coverage in 2014, CNN pundits were set up behind a row of Surfaces but were spotted surreptitiously using iPads. A partnership with the NFL backfired when Patriots coach Bill Bellicheck blasted them for being “undependable” in 2016.


I mean I’m not a fan of advertisements myself but I don’t find the whole Apple products in Ted Lasso overwhelming compared to most other shows and movies. I mean any time someone is on a phone or laptop obviously it’s gonna be an Apple product. Other shows and movies always find a way to more awkwardly shoehorn something in and call attention to it other than just being a prop. Or the new trend to advertise is to make a joke out of the product as if that wasn’t the plan all along, like Ryan Reynolds hocking his liquor in Free Man or daytime tv shows joking about products.


I do think sending notifications without permission is going too far.

If there is a special free trial (Apple TV for 12 months if you buy a new device, vs 7 days for the regular free trial), inform customers about it in the Settings app (but if they decline, don't continue to show the red notification badge) or by email.

Finally, let people delete the apps. As far as I can tell, macOS still does not allow the News app to be deleted.


Overall I agree with you, however on that last note: iOS has let you delete pretty much whatever you want for a while now. I just deleted the news app from my iPhone to test this out, successfully deleted. Not just removed from the home screen, removed from the phone.


Siri, though... Is still not even possible to permanently disable globally?


Anecdotally, did not have Siri get auto reenabled after system updates in the past few years. Last month after retiring from backup new phone didn't get it reenabled either. At some point I had to go to settings to enable push-to-talk-to-Siri because it's useful.


The problem is that still for newly installed apps, it auto-enables “let Siri learn from how you use this app”.

It’s easy to forget whenever you install a new app.


The flag has no effect if Siri is disabled, as far as I know.


That last note was about macOS, not iOS.


Whoops! You are correct and it looks like OP is right. I am unable to delete the News app from macOS.


I bought a new iPhone and it had the 1 year of Apple TV.

I wanted to trial it but was busy. It reminded me 2 months later and I tried it then. Been using it ever since and even bought an appletv because android tv boxes are such junk.

Sometimes being reminded is good.

Sometimes.


> because android tv boxes are such junk

Which one did you buy? There is a huge variation in quality, e.g. nVidia Sheild/Google TV vs. a Mi Box / FireTV, etc.

I think you have to compare Apple vs Apples. Compare the Apple TV to a equivalently priced Android TV.


I had tried 6 different ones before I ended up on the Apple TV.

MiBox, Fire Stick, few random ones in singapore (testing in store they are super responsive but when you get home they are slow or slow down)

Couldn’t get the shield in Singapore. Saw it here in Taiwan.

The mibox was the best I tried but the issue was when at 4k it’s laggy. Content plays without issue but navigating around is frustrating. And if it’s at 1080 it’s fast but when 4k content displays it goes crazy while it switches.

None of it provides a good experience.


Until Apple's OS reinstalls Candy Crush again after you remove it, they haven't sunk to the anywhere near the level of Microsoft.


That did not happen to me. Windows installs some promoted apps when I installed it, I removed those and since then Windows did not install a single app.


The attempts at upselling sure are a bit icky but calling it "Adware", when all it's advertising are company own services, is a bit weird.

Puts it into the same sphere as a Google or Facebook, both companies that actually heavily rely on ad-revenue from third parties and thus most of their products would easily qualify as actual adware.


I'll be frank: the whole thing reads like bullshit.

The author is imploring you to ignore you personal experience with the platform to accept his interpretation which is purposely devoid of context.

Advertising falls into many categories some of these are useful, some of these are annoying. Useful advertising is a feature. If I search for boots on Google and get an ad for a nearby boot store - that's useful, informative advertising - the fact that payment was made for this to happen is irrelevant: I'm still able to choose something else.

If I visit a store and there are seasonal decorations, again that's useful, informative/educational advertising. It doesn't force me to buy a turkey or a tree.

However if I switch on my phone to find Facebook is preinstalled and difficult or impossible to remove(Samsung devices) - then that is invasive and unwanted advertising. It takes something away from me: storage space, my time, my attention, my patience, my choice.

Apple's advertising aligns with providing services that are useful for whatever the user is doing. In a music app: here's a way to get more music, before Apple Music it was the iTunes store. In the news app? it's premium magazine/news services. In your storage settings, it's cloud storage. Like the boots example, it's irrelevant that these are pay for services, these are merely shortcuts to getting more of what you already want in an app which still functions without payment. (There are also plenty of example where such extensions are entirely free, such as additional desktop backgrounds.)

That's not adware. A good example of adware is packaging a bunch of games into your OS that have no function unless purchased (Windows), adware is including predatory credit providers inside a web browser (Edge).


The "ads" aren't even nearly as intrusive as the author (who works for Microsoft - a company whose operating system basically spies on you non-stop, including sending binaries you run to MS, command line commands, etc) suggests. They make it sound like using an iPhone means being constantly assailed with ads. That's not even remotely true.

I switched to iOS over a year ago. I don't use any of Apple's paid services. I tried Apple Music under their free three month trial; I was totally unimpressed with the featureset and deactivated it. I think in 6 months I've gotten two, maybe three notifications with offers to re-subscribe. The offers were more and more generous.

I use iTunes and Apple Pay, and I can't remember the last time I saw an ad. When I added my cards to Apple Pay, I saw the "sign up for Apple Card" button. I didn't give it more than a second thought, and Apple hasn't "said a word" about Apple Card since. That card, by the way, has one of the strictest personal-data-usage policies of any credit card in the US. They also do something no other CC company does: automatically rotate the CCV code every time the card is used in Apple Pay.

If Apple is so hell-bent on selling their services, why do they have the world's least-painful instant sharing tool that works without even a network connection or any additional apps? I can instantly send a contact, photo, file, whatever to someone else with an iPhone.

If Apple is so hell-bent on selling their services, why do they make it possible to, with one click, automatically and completely painlessly sync your music, photos, videos, and do complete device backups, over WiFi to a Mac or PC, no iCloud subscription required? You don't get pestered in any way when you click that button, by the way.

I use Nextcloud for file sync. It's very tightly integrated into Apple Files; I don't need iCloud for anything. Never get pestered to subscribe to it. Haven't seen an ad for iCloud, ever.

My phone does dictation offline, and if I were on a newer model, Siri would work offline too. The Photos app does some magic like showing me how many Damn Cat Photos I take, but it happens entirely on-device.

Apple lets you turn off all sorts of data collection that Android doesn't. You'll never see a screen like this in Android: https://support.apple.com/library/content/dam/edam/applecare...

Every single Apple-provided App has the same privacy controls as third party apps. Don't want Notes to use your location? Done. Don't want Maps using cellular data, for some reason? Done.

There's also stuff that's just straight-up bullshit. I've never seen an ad in the settings pages. When I bought my phone and synced it for the first time, my music was immediately visible, not "hidden" or blank like they suggest. iTunes isn't even "open" most of the time; I get in the car, iTunes starts playing, I interact with it via steering wheel controls or the lock screen controls.

The article is so bizarre. The author is a senior iOS developer for MS so they damn well know everything I just said; this blog entry seems to be purposefully misrepresenting how the OS behaves.


> There's also stuff that's just straight-up bullshit. I've never seen an ad in the settings pages.

Here's my iOS 15 update experience as someone, who doesn't use any other Apple services:

https://i.imgur.com/bAAePuG.png

The only way to "Finish Configuration" was to click on a "Setup Apple-Pay" link. That isn't even an ad anymore, that's a dark pattern.


What does clicking on that button do? Apple Pay isn’t a subscription service, it’s just allows you to provision 3rd party cards on your device.


Afair (alas it didn't make a screenshot there) it was Apple-Pay onboarding but that dialog had a Abort or Later option.


the author (who works for Microsoft

Holy Fuck, Batman!

Way for the author to bury the lede. Nowhere in that diatribe is the word "Microsoft". You have to go to the About link to find that info. How many people do that?


On the contrary, any reasonable Android device lets you disable far more tracking than iOS. On iOS, you cannot get your location without telling Apple or install an app without telling Apple. You cannot even use your phone without an Apple account. No such problem on Android.


1.) You can disable location access to iOS System Services (Settings -> Location Services -> System Services.)

2.) Haven't tried it in a while, but not long ago it was still possible to setup iPhone without logging in to Apple ID.

However, yes, you cannot install apps outside of App Store, which means contacting Apple servers.


1) Even if you disable location access to iOS system services, you cannot get your location without also sending that location to Apple. https://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/data/en/location-service...

2) You're right. It looks like it's possible to set up an iOS device without an Apple ID, but you obviously won't be able to install any apps. I couldn't find a list of what does work if you don't enter an Apple ID during setup.


» any reasonable Android device lets you disable far more tracking than iOS

I have used Android for a decade now. I recently got a Poco X3 pro. Having had a chance to use MIUI, I immediately unlocked the bootloader and installed Lineage. Nobody uses open camera. I joined a telegram community and installed Google Camera which allowed me access to things like night mode and wide angle lens. If I wanted to use purely AOSP, I'd lose access to the wide angle lens on my phone as far as I can tell.


> the author (who works for Microsoft - a company whose operating system basically spies on you non-stop, including sending binaries you run to MS, command line commands, etc)

macOS does this too. For now it appears mostly possible to disable, although disabling some parts may require you to set up a DNS blackhole.

There's also some software on macOS that you simply cannot install without an Apple ID, because the App Store is the only way to get it. And setting up an Apple ID on macOS doesn't just require an email address, but also a credit card (with billing address) and a verified phone number.

That Apple can seriously be considered a user privacy-oriented company by anyone is a pitiful joke.


Did the folks downvoting me forget about Gatekeeper and trustd or what?

https://sneak.berlin/20201112/your-computer-isnt-yours/

> It turns out that in the current version of the macOS, the OS sends to Apple a hash (unique identifier) of each and every program you run, when you run it. Lots of people didn’t realize this, because it’s silent and invisible and it fails instantly and gracefully when you’re offline, but today the server got really slow and it didn’t hit the fail-fast code path, and everyone’s apps failed to open if they were connected to the internet.

> Because it does this using the internet, the server sees your IP, of course, and knows what time the request came in. An IP address allows for coarse, city-level and ISP-level geolocation, and allows for a table that has the following headings:

> Date, Time, Computer, ISP, City, State, Application Hash

Would anyone care to actually make an argument how celebrating an OS that phones home about every application you run, all but forces you to create online accounts, and pushes you to store your data on the cloud as ‘pro-privacy’ because its chief competitor is truly outrageously bad does not speak to a serious degradation in our privacy standards?


MacOS and iOS do not "force" or "all but force" you to create online accounts, neither pushes you to use iCloud, and "sends a hash of the binary's cert issuer" is not even remotely the same thing as MS sending the actual binary to themselves.

You have made numerous incorrect statements in this discussion. Please stop.


> MacOS and iOS do not "force" or "all but force" you to create online accounts

How many times in the macOS install/setup wizard do you have to opt out of persistently sending data to Apple or enabling a cloud service? I can think of at least two (analytics and Siri). Do any of them hit you with a pop-up to ask if you're really sure?

What macOS installation media does Apple offer for download to users who do not have Apple accounts?

How many free apps can you download from the Mac App Store before it tells you you need an Apple ID?

> neither pushes you to use iCloud

The macOS default is literally to nag you to ‘start using iCloud’ forever, from the moment you sign in with an Apple ID. This has been so for years now (since Catalina). And it's still that way: https://osxdaily.com/2021/10/30/dont-use-icloud-how-to-remov...


Okay, but I still don't see any actual forcing. Dark patterns -- indisputably yes. But forcing? Not really.

Oh, and at least you can opt out of data collection.


> Okay, but I still don't see any actual forcing. Dark patterns -- indisputably yes. But forcing? Not really.

This is what I meant by ‘all but forcing’, but I can understand how some people might feel that language is too strong. In some ways, that language might be more appropriate for what Microsoft does with, e.g., the Windows installer, where you have to perform installation without network access in order to be provided with the option to log in with a local account rather than a Microsoft account. In others, Microsoft lets users do more without an account, since you can use the MS Store for free apps without an account (or could the last time I used it). Imo, both are awful.

> Oh, and at least you can opt out of data collection.

That's true for at least some forms of data collection, and that's a good thing for sure.


It doesn't "send a hash of every program"; the post is wrong.


For every program, it sends a hash of the program's certificate's issuer, which for many programs is nonetheless unique


macOS too will send a hash of every binary you run.


It sends a hash of the certificate issuer.

MS sends the actual executable file.


You said this well. These are annoyances at worst, not dealbreakers, and nothing like what is seen on other platforms.


Thanks; it does really feel like they're pushing the "Apple puts 'ads' for its own services in its own apps" (something...every...app..does?) to distract from the fact that iOS offers extensive privacy controls. Their employer no doubt finds the increasingly strict privacy controls pretty annoying.

Apple offering a lot of functionality that "competes" with their cloud services really takes the wind out of their "APPLE IS TRYING TO FORCE YOU TO USE THEIR CLOUD" nonsense.


> The attempts at upselling sure are a bit icky but calling it "Adware", when all it's advertising are company own services, is a bit weird.

If a major purpose of the software is to show me ads, then it's adware. As a consumer, it doesn't make my experience any less crappy if those ads are for products from the same company that made the software.


A button in Apple Pay that says "Add an Apple Card" is hardly even an upsell.

The author is an iOS developer for Microsoft and this piece is basically "APPLE BE EVVIIIIIIL!!!!!!!" shrieking. Their employer's operating system is incredibly invasive with its "telematics", and oh by the way, bundles a shitload of MS and third party junk nobody wants, constantly pesters you to use their browser, etc.

Microsoft is annoyed that installing MS Teams, Skype, etc on an iPhone doesn't give them heaps of information about you. This piece is part of their war to get people onto Android, which is literally purpose-built to collect data on its users.


> If a major purpose of the software is to show me ads, then it's adware.

But it isn't - so it isn't.


I was responding to the claim that a company advertising its own products meant it wasn't adware, not saying anything about whether or not iOS is.


Music can be uninstalled and replaced with alternatives.

News can be uninstalled.

Apple TV+ can be uninstalled.

The apple card examples shown are minimal. such as adding applecard to a list of choices. the card type list shown often includes additional choices (transit cards).

appstore/arcade. meh. anytime you go into a store, expect to be sold things by someone biased.


Imagine it was Verizon Music, Verizon News and Verizon TV+ that came pre-installed. Would you feel the same then? A big selling point of Apple products has been the lack of bloatware found in other platforms.


I feel that’s fairly normal on Android? Idk I’m fine with an OS having some defaults or a “batteries included” experience, if they can be changed.


I haven’t updated past iOS 12 so maybe things are different now, but at least there—while you can technically uninstall music, iOS will routinely ask if I want to restore it when e.g. someone airdrops me an mp3 file. And of course, I can’t change the default app.


If your device supports it, I strongly encourage you to update. Aside from not getting security updates anymore, which places you at significant risk: the privacy settings in iOS 15 are very good. Even location privacy for system level stuff can be highly locked down.

I have an 8, and iOS 15 doesn't feel "slow", if that's your concern.


My concern is indeed that it will be slower, particularly as I have a 6S, which is of course significantly older than your 8.

If Apple allowed downgrades I would absolutely update to try it out, but they don’t.


Airdropping an mp3 results in a “open with” menu from which you can pick any suitable app. In fact, Music isn’t even in the list of apps presented. The Files app can play mp3s natively in a QuickLook style, no Music required.


I don't understand ads in App Store, on Amazon, etc.

I'm already in the store. I'm there to buy. I already know what I want.

I'd rather they improved their search and foraging features.

Really pisses me off that it's often so hard to find the specific thing I'm trying to buy.


It's aggravating, sure, but ads serve multiple purpose. Sometimes people are entertained by ads, seeing it as a way to sample what's available in the world. Showing ads help establish branding for a company or product. By seeing multiple ads for the same thing, familiarity increases, and with that, the chance of the person choosing the thing in the future. Also companies compete on available ad spots. Sometimes buying an ad space means that your competitor has not bought that ad space.

With that said, I block advertisements everywhere I can, and honestly, I feel like this should be the norm. Barely legal psychological warfare.

Edit: I'd like to also add something about "I already know what I want". People feel like they do, but they have a lot more going on in their heads than they think. For example, a more attractive alternative might exist that you don't know about. Or you could spot a discount on something that's not urgent, but important - with a limited budget, you might prioritize that instead of your original goal.


it is also really bad if you're looking for, say a function, and not a certain app. i have to google it and then go to the app store directly with its name.


Apple will also bend their strict rules if you have enough money, for example YouTube partially blocking control center in fullscreen (on home button devices), and background playback.

And McDonalds being able to force background location access, making the app unusable if you don’t grant it.

One rule for some…


I've been saying this for a while now. Apple is no better than Google from a privacy/advertising perspective. They just have better marketing. I admit I bought into their privacy claims but they overplayed their hand with the CSAM scanning announcement. I used to be willing to pay the Apple premium in order to get superior privacy but since the truth has come they've really lost the value proposition.


The comments about Apple Music's UI aren't wrong... but the experience is a lot less shitty than spotify.

At least AM seems to somewhat respect the idea of listening to albums. Spotify instead buries an artist's albums eight clicks deep into it's UI, nudging you towards their asinine payola-as-a-service playlists (or worse, podcasts I don't care about)


It is less shitty than spotify, but still shitty. I removed Music when at one point I was in the gym which is in a basement and wanted to bring up music on the treadmill. The overlay-ad for Apple Music blocked the UI, and because receiption was bad it took 10s+ to load that ad screen without allowing me to close it until it was there.

I am now using VLC for iOS and am not looking back.


I find it difficult to position myself on this topic. On one hand, apps like stock can be deleted so you no longer see any ads/add-ons. It's an O(1) effort. On the other hand, the entire appstore is just a big junk of ads, and companies nowadays keep asking you to install a new app for, e.g., renting an e-scooter. Now that's O(1) effort per microservice IRL. I ended up aggressively deleting idle apps as a revenge and an attempt to keep my life simple.


Stocks app is horrible too. I just want to see the prices but it somehow pushes me to news (Apple news). There is no way to close the news for good.


Let me tell you another way in which the app is dangerously horrible. When you add a stocks widget to the home screen, the ticker value of the stock actually takes some time to update. Sometimes you gotta click it to see the updated value and then when you come back to the home screen, the widget has the same value. There were instances where I wondered how the price stayed the same for so many hours - turns out the value in the widget was not getting refreshed.

This was my only source of truth doing intraday trading (when i was not near a computer) until i figured out the bug


Yeah, Music’s constant attempts to sell you on the subscription service is really annoying. I’m already paying Apple to sync my library to my phone, I don’t want to pay them even more for music I don’t actually own.


Does it all mean that for a low subscription fee Apple will stop showing ads? In addition to not showing adds I get cloud storage, some movies and music?

Where do I sign up?


Something not mentioned anywhere in this whiny post, which you have to read from his About page:

I’m a senior iOS engineer at Microsoft


Atleast you don't get a fortnight installer preinstalled that cannot be removed. Looking at you Sony.


One of the things I hate about tech is seeing useful things slowly being repurposed into ad-spammers:

- A “notification” is not supposed to be for ads but it seems every other app uses it for (almost) only ads. To hell with that.

- A pop-up alert message is not supposed to be for ads but guess what happens.

- When you mistype a web address, Internet protocols prescribe what the correct response should be; guess what your ISP does instead?

- When you launch an app with the intent to do some specific thing, instead of the app allowing you to start doing that thing, your intended action is usurped by an at-launch screen (i.e. ad for something completely unrelated to what you launched the app to do). Bonus points if it manages to forget the on-launch context entirely, e.g. conveniently forgets the document you asked it to open and just stares at you blankly after the launch-ad goes away.

- When you pause a few seconds to gather your thoughts and haven’t gotten around to doing something, guess what happens now? OH THE USER IS IDLE, BETTER SHOW THEM STUPID STUFF. (Thanks, Netflix.)

- If you use anything, seems like you get E-mail later that day, and the “unsubscribe” is now just “manage your f*cking preferences” where they present you a page of 50 checkboxes for the INDIVIDUAL UNWANTED THINGS (all pre-enabled of course), that you have to uncheck and “save”, that then “take 3-10 days to take effect”. I want these people fired and banned from their industry.

Every other action now is clicking-away, swiping-away, tapping-away things I didn’t ask for and don’t want, with no option to turn most of it off (or if it is, the option is ultra-buried and conveniently forgotten on the next update).


I really wish iOS would have a setting like "Only allow notifications when I've opened the app in the last hour".


Sounds to me like you're the victim of a whole load of shitty services. When I get a notification, it's usually something I've set up like a calendar event or an actual message. The only exception that comes to mind is Netflix, but I just haven't bothered disabling that in the Netflix settings yet. I make it a point to purge any app that sends me ads through the notifications, because nobody wants that bullshit.

It could be my Pihole at work, but I haven't seen ad popups either. I thought the internet as a whole has moved past DNS redirects but I guess some shitty ISPs still use them. AFAIK, you can change the DNS in your router to point to one that doesn't do the hijacking in most cases.

Even email spam seems to have gone down over the years. Using the built-in unsubscribe button in Gmail has made getting out of these stupid mailing lists completely painless.

You should invest a little time into a good ad blocker and spam filter, I feel like it would improve your experience online dramatically. Most ad and marketing companies are the scum of the earth but technology has evolved to the point that they're getting easier to get rid of as well.


>AFAIK, you can change the DNS in your router to point to one that doesn't do the hijacking in most cases.

Unless the device bricks itself until you give it access to the vendor's own DNS server.

>My Chromecast Ultra would not start until I began answering 8.8.8.8

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19170671

Now you can't use DNS restrictions to block on-device ads at all.


iOS apps are how you add notifications to your website.


Uninstall apps. Stop crying?


Call it adware after the company starts to derive the majority of its revenue from ads, like Google and Facebook.


What do you mean “after”? Wasn’t this the plan from the start?


No evidence for that quite a few years into company’s existence and profitability. Compare with Google, Facebook.


Conversely I actually use most of their services and am happy.

I spent too many years self flagellating by running local servers, own email server, manually managing backups, mp3 collections and stuff. This didn’t scale with the size of my family, now three adults and two teenagers.

If you enjoy doing that, fine but I don’t. I’d rather go for a run. Thanks Apple Music for making that even more enjoyable…

What knee jerk reactions I see in these threads seem to skip is the positive functions of the devices. But no everyone wants to burn their universe for some reason.


I think both can be valid at the same time. I mean, hating the upsell / ads, while liking the services themselves. For a long time I skipped a lot of Youtube videos because their thumbnails turned me off, but I found that I like the content itself, while not liking some of the youtuberisms that go along with it.


Um. I rely heavily on Apple products, and I subscribe to some of their services for a couple bucks a month because I genuinely get a lot of enjoyment out of them.

I find Apple's upsell mildly annoying, sure. But (a) the things they offer me are actually things I would seriously consider buying, (b) their ads appear when you actively seek out a feature you haven't subscribed to, (c) the buttons or headlines or whatever that lead to those ads have a marker so you know what'll happen when you tap. It's not like I'm getting blindsided by interstitials.

I have zero inclination to apologize for Apple doing stupid things. But I'm just not nearly so annoyed by their ads as I am by others'.


When you open Settings on an iPhone, are you actively seeking out Apple TV+?




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