Apple Good and Bad

gwagner's picture

Apple Inc. is an American multinational corporation that develops consumer information and communication technologies (ICT). Today, it's best known for its vastly popular iPhone.

As one of the leading ICT companies, it has alwas maintained the ambition to offer its own ICT platform. In fact, today, it's the only company that has successfully established both a classical personal computing platform (with macOS) and a mobile ICT platform (with iOS). There is no doubt that Apple's founder, Steve Jobs, as well its computer engineers and software developers have contributed a lot to the amazing technolgy progress of the 20th and 21st centuries.

It's part of Apple's platform dominance strategy to have its own web browser, which is called Safari, and to play a major role on the Web.

Now there are two news about Apple's plans for evolving its platforms: one is good news (Apple jams Facebook's web-tracking tools) and one is bad news (Apple moves away from the OpenGL graphics standard). Both news concern the Web.

The good news: In the tuture, Apple's web browser Safari will ask for the user's permission before allowing Facebook to monitor the browsing activity of a user. Apple will also make web tracking via fingerprinting harder by preventing browser scripts to look up sytem configuration information. This shows that Apple is taking its users' privacy seriously. Not because Apple is a philantropic company, but because this fits its business model of stylish and pricey consumer ICT.

The bad news: Apple has "deprecated" the standard graphics/computing APIs OpenGL, OpenGL ES, and OpenCL. Since these are the only open graphics standards out there, this move is surprising and reminds one to the past behavior of Microsoft fighting against open technologies in favor of its own short-sighted business interests. Apple claims that its own graphics API, called Metal, "avoids the overhead inherent in legacy technologies and exposes the latest graphics processing functionality". But such a claim could be easily invalidated by independent computer graphics developers

It's not clear what Apple's move will really mean, especially for the future of 3D graphics on the Web. Will Apple stop supporting OpenGL in the near tuture? What is the fate of WebGL on Apple platforms? What is the fate of 3D in Mobile Safari?  Will WebGL still be supported but using Metal? Developers have asked these questions on Apple forums. But Apple didn't answer them (yet).