Month: March 2016

I wanted to take some time to digest the two biggest announcements of yesterday’s Apple event before I hopped on them, and I think my patience has been rewarded with new and relevant information.

Let’s start with the iPhone SE, which is very nearly an iPhone 6S inside an iPhone 5S’ body. That comes with a lot of benefits, especially in terms of performance and battery life. If the A9 in the SE is running at the same speed and has the same specs as the one in the 6S, it’s going to be a screamer with great battery life — there are fewer pixels to push and a smaller backlight to drive.

I’ve always been a fan of the 5S’ form factor, too — to my eyes and hands, it’s the prettiest and most comfortable iPhone ever.1 But the drawbacks of an SE are not insignificant, compared to a 6S: its display panel isn’t as good, the cover glass isn’t as durable, the Touch ID sensor is the much slower first-generation version, it doesn’t have 3D Touch, and it isn’t available in a 128 GB storage configuration. These are all deal-breakers for me, though they may not be for you.

I’m curious to see how the SE finds its place in Apple’s lineup over the coming few generations. Will it be like the iPad Mini, lagging one generation behind? Will it eventually get redesigned to look a bit more like a 6(S) generation iPhone, or will it perpetually look like a 5(S)? Does it have a permanent place in the lineup, or is it a stopgap?

I hope my needs one day intersect with what the SE offers, because it’s a compelling product in so many ways. My 6S remains uncomfortable in my pocket most of the time and it’s nerve-wracking to hold onto. But it’s a better balance for me right now than the SE.

My iPad Mini is another story altogether. It’s coming up on three years old this year, and it shows it in software and performance: I don’t get the sweet split-screen multitasking in iOS 9, its display isn’t laminated and of poorer quality than that of any of Apple’s other iOS products, and it lacks the RAM to keep up with daily tasks — a problem that has plagued iPads I’ve owned since their introduction.

The new 9.7-inch iPad Pro seems very attractive to me. It’s not as gigantic as the other iPad Pro, but it packs a similar punch in a normal-sized body. It seems to resolve many of the issues I have with my ageing Mini, too: it has a powerful processor that supports split-screen multitasking, among other things, and its display kicks ass — with the True Tone feature, it’s quite possibly the best display Apple has shipped on any device. During the keynote, I was damn near sold.

But I have a couple of concerns that I’ll need to research fully before committing. First, it has 2 GB of RAM, as opposed to the 4 GB in the bigger iPad Pro. After my experiences using iPads over the years where switching Safari tabs would regularly trigger a refresh of that tab, I’m hesitant to pick up a new one with anything less than the greatest amount of RAM possibly available. This is doubly true now that it has the capability of running two apps side-by-side.

Moreover, I’m waiting for WWDC to see what kind of features are coming to the iPad before making my decision. I’m hoping for a higher grade of professional software with even greater multitasking abilities, which might tip the scales in favour of picking one up. But I’m also going to wait for reviews and pay attention to the RAM and usability sections, because the low RAM in all the iPads I’ve owned has undermined my experience with them.

Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to trying it out. It might very well be my next iPad.

Update: The iPhone SE also lacks a barometer and has a crappier front camera, but it does get phenomenal battery life.

Also, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro supports only USB 2 speeds; the bigger iPad Pro supports USB 3.

If you were looking for the wallpaper shown on the iPads at the event, it appears to be of the Cargill salt ponds just outside San Francisco and was potentially photographed by Robert Campbell, though I don’t have confirmation of this. If someone has the actual images used, especially in wallpaper size, I’d be very grateful if you let me know.

Update: The wallpaper photograph is actually by David Burdeny, and was shot in Utah, not San Francisco. If you’d like to see his salt pond photography in person — including the image from the iPad — his exhibition at Bau-Xi Photo in Toronto closes today.

  1. I was taking some photos over my balcony recently. I live several storeys up. At that time, I would have given anything for corners less rounded and a body less slippery than that of my 6S. ↥︎

Lost — by me — amongst the Apple news was marking the tenth anniversary of Twitter on March 21. I’ve been a user for almost nine years, and it’s come a long way since — if you’d told me in 2007 that it would one day become a publicly-traded company, I’d have been shocked.

Sarah Frier, Felix Gillette, and Brad Stone of Bloomberg interviewed Jack Dorsey to mark the occasion. There’s a lot of PR- and business-speak in here, as you might expect for an interview between a CEO and a financial magazine targeted towards investors, but there’s actual stuff of value, too:

We excel when something is happening in the world. Like, you know, Michael Jackson just died, or there was an attack, or there’s a debate.

But when there’s a lull, the Internet creates something. So what color is this dress? And then that becomes a live event. Even when there’s nothing happening of note, something is created. We’re not just a push-live broadcast mechanism; we’re a conversation.

Dorsey’s right: Twitter excels at real-time multiparty conversation. But, for a while now, it has felt as though they haven’t honed in on a direction that enhances that aspect. The features that have made Twitter so great for that — mentions, retweets, and hashtags — were all created first by users and then officially added to the platform and API later. Does Twitter need much beyond that — apart from better moderation of toxic users — to be a great tool for live conversation?

Katie Benner, New York Times:

The Justice Department said on Monday that it might no longer need Apple’s assistance to help open an iPhone used by a gunman in last year’s San Bernardino, Calif., mass shooting, leading to a postponement of a key hearing over the issue and potentially sidestepping what has become a bitter clash with the world’s most valuable company.

The turn of events came after the Justice Department said in a new court filing that as of Sunday, an outside party had demonstrated a way for the F.B.I. to possibly unlock the phone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the San Bernardino attackers. The hearing in the contentious case — Apple has loudly opposed opening up the iPhone, citing privacy concerns and igniting a heated debate with the government — was originally scheduled for Tuesday.

After Apple basically made their opening statement at the top of today’s media event, the DOJ must have realized that should try a little harder to unlock the iPhone on their own.

Keep in mind that most tech companies would have — and many have — complied with the initial order with little resistance. Good on Apple for standing firm and refusing to capitulate. We are all more secure because of it.

I really like the look of the new nylon bands — the gold and blue one, which looks more like green and copper in the product shot, is especially alluring when paired with a gold Watch. I’ll probably end up buying either the black one or the “pearl” grey one for my plain aluminum model, or perhaps both.

There are plenty of new colours in the Sport Band and various leather collections, too, as well as a new Space Black Milanese loop.

My hope is that all of these bands will work with Watch models of the future, at least for a few years. As Tim Cook said today, there are an awful lot of people who regularly change the band, and I know plenty of users who have invested in several bands. I think it would be a mistake to have to re-purchase bands in the near future, especially when they don’t make the model any more.1

The new $299 price point is great news for those about to buy and is, I suspect, the price that Apple wanted the Watch to be at the whole time. The $349 price was always a bit strange; they typically prefer x99 prices. It may only be a $50 difference, but that “2” in front feels like a whole lot less than a “3”.

Update: Unlike last year’s large Watch band update, this year’s collection does not have directly corresponding colours in watchOS.

  1. As is the case with my all-black classic leather strap. ↥︎

The crew at MacStories have a great features roundup of all four releases. Federico Viticci dove headfirst into iOS 9.3:

iOS 9.3 is a surprising mix of smaller tweaks and important additions to the iOS experience such as Night Shift, Classroom, and multi-student support on iPad. In many ways, iOS 9.3 feels like the Director’s Cut of iOS 9.0 – features the company wanted to have ready by September but couldn’t ship due to time constraints and other factors.

Some of the changes in iOS 9.3 are welcome but unsurprising, while others seem to suggest bigger things to come in iOS 10. I’m excited to see what’s next.

I really like that line — “the director’s cut of iOS 9” — and that’s exactly what it feels like.

One thing I haven’t seen anywhere else is that iOS 9.3 sets no vibration as the default for Mail notifications. It’s an odd change. My hunch is that it’s for better battery life, but that comes at the potential expense of no email notifications if you keep your iPhone in vibrate-only mode all day long, as I do. Even if you have an Apple Watch, you might miss Mail notifications because the Watch is set to mirror the iPhone’s settings by default: no vibration on iPhone means no vibration on the Watch. If anyone can provide a more concrete explanation for this change, I’d love to hear it.

I haven’t tested tvOS, but it appears to solve some of my usability frustrations simply by adding dictation to text entry fields. That sounds great to me.

This is a very impressive set of updates, particularly when you consider that Apple will be pushing it to somewhere approaching a billion devices in active use around the world. That’s a staggering scale, and you should probably be one of those people updating your devices. Among the array of new features, there are also plenty of security patches for all devices.

Jason Snell, writing for iMore:

Product announcements are basically press releases: They’re publicity. They’re arguably news, but they’re boring news — and a cynical writer could view them as free PR for the company putting out the press release. Rewriting a press release is one of the lower forms of journalism.

Covering an Apple event didn’t feel like that, and it still doesn’t. It feels like an event, and when you’re reporting on it, you’re not rewriting a press release — you’re covering something as it happens live, just as if you were in the White House briefing room during a presidential press conference. In the end, these Apple events are just product announcements — the brilliance is that the stagecraft makes them much more interesting to journalists and fans alike.

It’s not just fans and journalists who watch Apple events. I know regular people who will tune in for what amounts to a two-hour infomercial because they’re so engaging. Even in a field of companies that have copied their style, they remain a completely different kind of product introduction.

Paul Tamburro, Crave:

In a news story beamed in straight from the ’90s/early ’00s, Microsoft has reportedly decided that the best way to represent its brand at GDC is to hire dancers dressed as “erotic schoolgirls,” because apparently no one in the planning committee for this particular event had the wherewithal to prevent this clearly awful idea from being realized.

It’s supremely disappointing that anyone would even conceive of this idea. It’s a massive failure that it made it past several layers of planning, budgeting, and management steps and ended up happening. But it’s most saddening that this is unsurprising, as large swathes of the gaming community remain incapable of treating women as human beings.

Microsoft’s head of Xbox Phil Spencer sent an email to his staff today:

It’s unfortunate that such events could take place in a week where we worked so hard to engage the many different gaming communities in the exact opposite way. I am personally committed to ensuring that diversity and inclusion is central to our everyday business and our core values as a team – inside and outside the company. We need to hold ourselves to higher standards and we will do better in the future.

Okay, two things. First, “unfortunate” is the correct word to use when someone shatters a china plate on the floor, or trips over a log in the woods and dings their knee up. It is not the correct word to use for this. Sexist is the right word.

Second, it is not “unfortunate that such events could take place in a week where we worked so hard to engage the many different gaming communities in the exact opposite way”. It is hurtful that these events could take place at all.

Lewie Procter pointed out this surrealism on Twitter:

Sort of amazing how within 24 hours Microsoft hosted a women in games lunch, and hired schoolgirl dancers for a party.

It is amazing that not one person, at any stage, pointed out how terrible this is.

John Markoff, Katie Benner, and Brian X. Chen, New York Times:

If the F.B.I. wins its court fight to force Apple’s help in unlocking an iPhone, the agency may run into yet another roadblock: Apple’s engineers.

Apple employees are already discussing what they will do if ordered to help law enforcement authorities. Some say they may balk at the work, while others may even quit their high-paying jobs rather than undermine the security of the software they have already created, according to more than a half-dozen current and former Apple employees.

I’m sure Apple would hate to lose this talent, but these engineers would be fine if they had to leave. There isn’t a single tech company that doesn’t need to continuously monitor and improve its security, and those who worked on iOS are among the most qualified in the industry.

If the FBI thinks there’s a blue code amongst law enforcement, just wait until they meet a security professional defending the reputation of their work and the work of their colleagues.

Craig Grannell:

When iOS 9 hit beta last summer, I heard concerns from developers about Game Center. Never Apple’s most-loved app, it had seemingly fallen into a state of disrepair. In many cases, people were reporting it outright failed to work.

Six months later, little has changed. If anything, Game Center has gotten worse, with major problems increasingly widespread. These include the Game Center app launching as a white screen, and Game Center freezing the Settings app when you try to access its options.

Via Federico Viticci, who writes:

I’ve also come across this problem and heard about it from MacStories readers and game developers. There’s a thread on the TouchArcade forums that is over 50 pages long with hundreds of responses.

As Grannell points out, this doesn’t just affect leaderboards — Game Centre is the underlying architecture for many turn-based games in the App Store. This problem seems to be affecting devices at random; even devices with the same associated Apple ID do not behave consistently.

Much like the watchOS 2 bug I’ve been experiencing — and which I will direct any Cupertino-area readers towards as regularly as possible — this is a problem that should not persist for six months. I’d usually say that it’s the kind of bug that would have been fixed immediately in any other product Apple makes, but the now-legendary clusterfuck that was discoveryd persisted for over eight months after Yosemite’s release, and that caused enormous problems for any piece of software on OS X that wished to connect to the internet. Not a good look.

Update: Apple reached out to Grannell regarding this issue, promising a fix “soon”. Grannell

The Game Center bug, which Apple has known about since the iOS 9 betas, is being investigated and should “hopefully” be resolved “soon”. I realise that’s all anyone can really say, but I think anyone reliant on Game Center would be justified in wearing their cynical hat while reading that statement. We can only hope ‘soon’ in this case means ‘by the time of the next minor update’ and not ‘possibly at some point in the iOS 10 cycle’ or ‘before the heat death of the universe’.

Remember: “If you run to the press and trash us, it never helps,” except when it does.

Jacob Silverman, writing for the Baffler, has worked as a freelance writer for a significant portion of his career. During that time, he took on a gig with the Atlantic’s native advertising division. Now, he’s written about how the press has shifted closer to advertising as advertising gets closer to it:

In his book Media Freedom, Richard Barbrook writes that during France’s Third Republic, “both national and local newspapers sold ‘editorial advertising’ to interested companies or governments.” Bribes were regularly exchanged. “Because publishing was a business,” Barbrook writes, “newspaper-owners were as interested in selling their products to advertisers as to their readers.” Plus ça change.

But as journalists imitate advertisers and advertisers imitate (and hire) journalists, they are converging on a shared style and sensibility. Newsfeeds and timelines become constant streams of media—a mutating mass of useless lists, videos, GIFs, viral schlock, service journalism, catchy charts, and other modular material that travels easily on social networks—all of it shorn of context. Who paid for this article, why am I seeing it, am I supposed to be entertained or convinced to buy something? The answers to these questions are all cordoned off behind the algorithmic curtain.

This is one of those articles that I wanted to quote nearly everything from. It’s extremely well-written, and absolutely worth a read.

Kevin McLaughlin and Joseph Tsidulko, CRN:

Alphabet’s Google has quietly scored a major coup in its campaign to become an enterprise cloud computing powerhouse, landing Apple as a customer for the Google Cloud Platform, multiple sources with knowledge of the matter told CRN this week.

Since inking the Google deal late last year, Apple has also significantly reduced its reliance on Amazon Web Services, whose infrastructure it uses to run parts of iCloud and other services, said the sources, who all requested anonymity to protect their relationships with the vendors.

It baffles me how a company the size of Dropbox runs 90% of its operations independent of third parties, but Apple does not — they also use Microsoft’s Azure platform to run iCloud. Why doesn’t Apple entirely control their own server farm infrastructure?

Update: Mark Bergen, Recode:

It’s a win for Google, which is gunning for larger companies as cloud customers. But it might be short-lived, as it looks like Apple is also simultaneously building out its own system to bring data stored on its millions of devices in house. […]

According to a source familiar with the matter, Apple already has a team working on this; it’s known internally as “McQueen,” as in Steve. It’s unclear if that project will materialize or when. But a source tells Re/code that the codename refers to Apple’s intent, sometime in the next few years, to break its reliance on all three outside cloud providers in favor of its own soup-to-nuts infrastructure.

I’m only surprised that this has not already happened.

Apple’s lawyers have done a terrific job in making all of their filings very accessible to laypersons, and relatively easy to read. Here are a few teasers — more at TechCrunch. These are mostly from footnotes, which are truly excellent in this document.

In response to implications and accusations made by the Department of Justice that Apple’s refusal is simply marketing:

The government’s brief assails Apple’s intentions and motivations. We do not intend to respond in kind.

Later, on the same issue:

The government accuses Apple of developing the passcode-based encryption features at issue in this case for marketing purposes. […] This is a reckless and unfounded allegation. Since passcode-based encryption was first introduced in October 2014, Apple has produced 627 separate ads in the United States and approximately 1,793 ads worldwide. […] These ads have generated 99 and 253 billion impressions, respectively. […] Not a single one advertised or promoted the ability of Apple’s software to block law enforcement requests for access to the contents of Apple devices.

Regarding the ways in which the DOJ is framing the All Writs Act:

The government portrays the All Writs Act as a “broad,” “venerable,” “fluid,” “adaptable” font of virtually unlimited authority empowering courts to issue any and all orders that the government requests in the pursuit of “justice.” […] As the government tells it, courts can wield the “flexible power” conferred by the Act until “Congress expressly takes it away.” […] This is an exercise in wishful thinking, not statutory interpretation.

In response to the threat of being forced to turn over the iOS source:

The catastrophic security implications of that threat only highlight the government’s fundamental misunderstanding or reckless disregard of the technology at issue and the security risks implicated by its suggestion.

In response to accusations that Apple bends to the will of foreign (read: Chinese) requests:

Finally, the government attempts to disclaim the obvious international implications of its demand, asserting that any pressure to hand over the same software to foreign agents “flows from [Apple’s] decision to do business in foreign countries…” […] Contrary to the government’s misleading statistics, which had to do with lawful process and did not compel the creation of software that undermines the security of its users, Apple has never built a back door of any kind into iOS, or otherwise made data stored on the iPhone or in iCloud more technically accessible to any country’s government.

A very strong response.

I wonder if iOS 9.3 — which will probably be announced in detail at Apple’s event one day prior to their court hearing — will contain any major security announcements.

New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan:

The policy, several months in the making, is the result of newsroom leaders consulting with “a number of our most experienced reporters and editors,” the email said.

It requires one of three top editors to review and sign off on articles that depend primarily on information from unnamed sources – particularly those that “hinge on a central fact” from such a source, [Matt] Purdy told me last week in an interview. The editors are [Dean] Baquet, Mr. Purdy, and Susan Chira, another deputy executive editor. […]

The new policy also aims to significantly “ratchet down the use of anonymous quotation,” Mr. Purdy said. It would make such quotation relatively rare. Too often, he said, such direct quotations allow sources to express “their impression, their spin, their agenda” without accountability. And, he said, they don’t allow readers to evaluate motive because they don’t know where the information is coming from.

Anonymous sourcing is increasingly common, so much so that someone created a website several years ago mocking the press’ clichéd use of them.1 I think that we’ve lost some skepticism for stories that utilize anonymous sources, and I think it’s due to the regularity of their use. They’re invaluable for storytelling and news gathering, but the Times and many others have failed to vet their sources and, as a result, have published incorrect and sometimes damaging stories. This is a necessary move that newsrooms should copy.

  1. The site appears down at the moment, but Google has it cached↥︎

Emily Jane Fox of Vanity Fair got the scoop:

Apple News’s 40 million users are about to have a lot more articles to read. The iPhone maker announced Tuesday the launch of a new Web-based editing tool that will open its native iOS news platform to independent publishers of all sizes. […]

The way Apple features new artists and up-and-comers in its other media corners is similar to what it will do with smaller publishers in News — identifying high-quality content from lesser-known outlets and highlighting it for app users.

The Apple News Format was previously only available to large publishers including Vanity Fair, Wired, the Economist, and others. Stories published in the format are characterized by their much richer layout options, similar to their printed siblings.

Creating an Apple News Format (hereafter, ANF) version of a site’s feed is not as straightforward as I had anticipated. Adding an RSS feed is as simple as plopping the link into News Publisher on, filling in some contact information, and adding a logo. But ANF requires an API key which can be obtained from Apple1 and a complete conversion of a site’s feed from RSS to ANF, followed by manual approval. And that’s all before the first article will appear in Apple News. After that, it’s a matter of publishing in a way that pushes out to Apple’s servers for conversion to ANF while maintaining compatibility with your site’s existing CMS.

Why would anyone go through this? Well, the Apple News app doesn’t provide RSS analytics, and there are some additional monetization options exclusive to ANF. Additionally, ANF supports membership roles for writers and editors.

I haven’t converted PE to the Apple News Format yet, nor am I sure I will for a while. This site is entirely textual, and served well enough by RSS. You can read the site from the command line, for all I care, and you’ll lose virtually nothing that makes it Pixel Envy. But there’s a part of me that also wants to know how many people are reading via Apple News. I can live without that because I’m a hobbyist writer, but I suspect anyone who makes a living from this racket will feel compelled to upgrade. And, for lots of sites, that alone might well be worth it.

Update: Apple News remains inexplicably unavailable in most of the world. Officially, it’s available only in the United States, Australia, and the U.K.

  1. Happily, WordPress users can download a plugin that largely automates this. ↥︎

Philip Zimmermann, creator of the PGP standard for encrypted emails, in the 1991 PGP user’s guide:

Perhaps you think your email is legitimate enough that encryption is unwarranted. If you really are a law-abiding citizen with nothing to hide, then why don’t you always send your paper mail on postcards? Why not submit to drug testing on demand? Why require a warrant for police searches of your house? Are you trying to hide something? If you hide your mail inside envelopes, does that mean you must be a subversive or a drug dealer, or maybe a paranoid nut? Do law-abiding citizens have any need to encrypt their email?

What if everyone believed that law-abiding citizens should use postcards for their mail? If a nonconformist tried to assert his privacy by using an envelope for his mail, it would draw suspicion. Perhaps the authorities would open his mail to see what he’s hiding. Fortunately, we don’t live in that kind of world, because everyone protects most of their mail with envelopes. So no one draws suspicion by asserting their privacy with an envelope. There’s safety in numbers. Analogously, it would be nice if everyone routinely used encryption for all their email, innocent or not, so that no one drew suspicion by asserting their email privacy with encryption. Think of it as a form of solidarity.

Senate Bill 266, a 1991 omnibus anticrime bill, had an unsettling measure buried in it. If this non-binding resolution had become real law, it would have forced manufacturers of secure communications equipment to insert special “trap doors” in their products, so that the government could read anyone’s encrypted messages. It reads, “It is the sense of Congress that providers of electronic communications services and manufacturers of electronic communications service equipment shall ensure that communications systems permit the government to obtain the plain text contents of voice, data, and other communications when appropriately authorized by law.” It was this bill that led me to publish PGP electronically for free that year, shortly before the measure was defeated after vigorous protest by civil libertarians and industry groups.

Measured against all email users, PGP is not a popularly-used standard. But iOS does have the kind of safety in numbers that Zimmermann describes — that’s what the FBI is so terrified of, hence this precedent-setting campaign.

As Zimmermann also notes, the proposed requirement of law enforcement back doors into tech products is what helped spurn the introduction of PGP. As this threat ramps up, it’s no surprise that Apple is seeking to tighten their own security. Expect more of the same every time an intelligence agency tries to weasel their way into your tech products.

Oliver on Last Week Tonight presented decent, funny — and NSFW, obviously — and well-argued summary of the case so far. I’m sure many of you have watched this already; those who haven’t are probably well aware of most of the piece, though I’m sure you’ll learn something — I had completely forgotten about the Clipper Chip program.

Justin Sink, Bloomberg:

President Barack Obama said Friday that smartphones — like the iPhone the FBI is trying to force Apple Inc. to help it hack — can’t be allowed to be “black boxes,” inaccessible to the government. The technology industry, he said, should work with the government instead of leaving the issue to Congress. […]

“I suspect the answer is going to come down to, how do we create a system that, encryption is as strong as possible, the key is secure as possible, and it is accessible by the smallest number of people possible for the subset of issues that we agree is important,” he said.

Every single expert in this matter has explained that there can be no such thing as strong encryption with a back door. Yet, for some reason, representatives insist that such a system is possible. In many ways, I desperately want tech companies to try to work with lawmakers on this issue, because it’s become very clear that they have no idea what they’re talking about and it’s likely that they will codify regulations that are technically unfeasible now and destructive in the future.

Apple SVP of legal Bruce Sewell, responding to a motion (PDF) filed by the prosecution in the Apple-FBI case:

The tone of the brief reads like an indictment. We’ve all heard director Comey and Attorney General Lynch thank Apple for its consistent help in working with law enforcement. Director Comey’s own statement…that there are no demons here? We certainly wouldn’t conclude it from this brief. In 30 years of practice, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a legal brief that was more intended to smear the other side with false accusations and innuendo, and less intended to focus on the real merits of the case. For the first time ever, we see an allegation that Apple has deliberately made changes to block law enforcement requests for access. This should be deeply offensive to everyone that reads it. An unsupported, unsubstantiated effort to vilify Apple rather than confront the issues in the case.

Actions like these cannot be legitimized. This is disturbing.

Update: Worth noting is Sewell’s objection to the implication that Apple is capitulating to the Chinese government.

Philip Elmer-DeWitt, Fortune:

But “police state” is not a bad description for the scenario the DOJ paints a few pages later in Footnote Nine:

“9. For the reasons discussed above, the FBI cannot itself modify the software on [the San Bernardino shooter’s] iPhone without access to the source code and Apple’s private electronic signature. The government did not seek to compel Apple to turn those over because it believed such a request would be less palatable to Apple. If Apple would prefer that course, however, that may provide an alternative that requires less labor by Apple programmers.”

Did you catch that? That’s a classic police threat: We can do this easy way or the hard way. Give us the little thing we’re asking for—a way to bypass your security software—or we’ll take whole thing: Your crown jewels and the royal seal too.

As John Gruber points out, this isn’t a property seizure due to a suspicion that Apple is behaving criminally. This is just the DOJ threatening to break their kneecaps if they don’t comply: That’s a nice operating system you’ve got there. Be a shame if something happened to it.

Actions like these cannot be legitimized. This is disturbing.