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Whose cloud is it anyway? Apple sinks $30m a month into rival Amazon's AWS – report

iPhone maker set to feed competitor even more dollars over the next five years


Apple has been identified as one of the largest customers of Amazon Web Services, splashing tens of millions of dollars each month on public cloud infrastructure supplied by its rival.

Amazon competes with Apple in the mobile device market with its Kindle Fire tablets, and in voice-activated personal assistants with Alexa. Both companies offer music streaming services, and this autumn Apple will launch a competitor to Amazon Prime Video called Apple TV+.

Despite all this, Apple currently spends more than $30m a month with AWS, people familiar with the matter told CNBC – more than any other publicly announced customer. And the amount of investment is increasing, with the company reportedly spending a projected $360m total in 2019 compared to $350m over 2018.

The same sources said that several months ago, Apple signed an agreement that includes a commitment to spend at least $1.5bn with AWS over the course of five years.

Back in February, Apple posted a job advert to recruit a senior DevOps engineer for its Cupertino HQ that could help the company architect its "growing AWS footprint".

Apple previously admitted it used AWS infrastructure for iCloud storage, but has never revealed the extent of its partnership with the world's largest cloud provider. In 2018, Apple confirmed it also stored some data with Google Cloud.

It's possible that public cloud from AWS is being used as a stop gap, ahead of Apple building out its own infrastructure. At the beginning of 2018, the company said it would spend $10bn on data centres in the US over the next five years, including a new $1bn campus in Texas. And in December, it revealed that $4.5bn of the total would be spent by the end of 2019.

Given the downturn in hardware sales for Apple, it is putting more emphasis on services - delivered via its bit barns. The company has stopped disclosing unit sales for iPhones and other hardware and started providing a more detailed breakdown of its services business.

But extricating yourself from a particular cloud provider over competing business interests is not unheard of: Walmart recently switched from AWS to Azure, admitting that the deal was fuelled by its animosity towards Amazon. US retailer Target was another business to move to Azure as reported surfaced just days after Amazon acquired Whole Foods and moved into the physical retail space.

Apple simultaneously competes against three of the world's largest cloud providers: Microsoft is an old nemesis, and no doubt some of its executives still feel the pain of the "I'm a PC" days; Apple's beef With Google is more recent – it will never be forgiven for creating Android, which might or might not have been inspired by prototype Apple products that were seen by Larry Page and Sergey Brin prior to 2004. Steve Jobs certainly thought it was – hence the famous pledge to "go thermonuclear" on the Chocolate Factory. ®

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Workers win vote to form first-ever US Apple Store union

Results set to be ratified by labor board by end of the week

Workers at an Apple Store in Towson, Maryland have voted to form a union, making them the first of the iGiant's retail staff to do so in the United States.

Out of 110 eligible voters, 65 employees voted in support of unionization versus 33 who voted against it. The organizing committee, known as the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (CORE), has now filed to certify the results with America's National Labor Relations Board. Members joining this first-ever US Apple Store union will be represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).

"I applaud the courage displayed by CORE members at the Apple store in Towson for achieving this historic victory," IAM's international president Robert Martinez Jr said in a statement on Saturday. "They made a huge sacrifice for thousands of Apple employees across the nation who had all eyes on this election."

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Apple’s M2 chip isn’t a slam dunk, but it does point to the future

The chip’s GPU and neural engine could overshadow Apple’s concession on CPU performance

Analysis For all the pomp and circumstance surrounding Apple's move to homegrown silicon for Macs, the tech giant has admitted that the new M2 chip isn't quite the slam dunk that its predecessor was when compared to the latest from Apple's former CPU supplier, Intel.

During its WWDC 2022 keynote Monday, Apple focused its high-level sales pitch for the M2 on claims that the chip is much more power efficient than Intel's latest laptop CPUs. But while doing so, the iPhone maker admitted that Intel has it beat, at least for now, when it comes to CPU performance.

Apple laid this out clearly during the presentation when Johny Srouji, Apple's senior vice president of hardware technologies, said the M2's eight-core CPU will provide 87 percent of the peak performance of Intel's 12-core Core i7-1260P while using just a quarter of the rival chip's power.

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Apple may have to cough up $1bn to Brits in latest iPhone Batterygate claim

Lawsuit took its time, just like your older iOS handset

Another day, another legal claim against Apple for deliberately throttling the performance of its iPhones to save battery power.

This latest case was brought by Justin Gutmann, who has asked the UK's Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) to approve a collective action that could allow as many as 25 million Brits to claim compensation from the American technology giant. He claims the iGiant secretly degraded their smartphones' performance to make the battery power last longer.

Apple may therefore have to cough up an eye-popping £768 million ($927 million), Gutmann's lawyers estimated, Bloomberg first reported this week.

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Apple dev roundup: Weather data meets privacy, and other good stuff

No AR/VR glasses but at least RoomPlan will let you make rapid 3D room maps

WWDC Apple this week at its Worldwide Developer Conference delivered software development kits (SDKs) for beta versions of its iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS 13, tvOS 16, and watchOS 9 platforms.

For developers sold on seeking permission from Apple to distribute their software and paying a portion of revenue for the privilege, it's a time to celebrate and harken to the message from the mothership.

While the consumer-facing features in the company's various operating systems consist largely of incremental improvements like aesthetic and workflow enhancements, the developer APIs in the underlying code should prove more significant because they will allow programmers to build apps and functions that weren't previously possible. Many of the new capabilities are touched on in Apple's Platforms State of the Union presentation.

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UK competition watchdog seeks to make mobile browsers, cloud gaming and payments more competitive

Investigation could help end WebKit monoculture on iOS devices

The United Kingdom's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on Friday said it intends to launch an investigation of Apple's and Google's market power with respect to mobile browsers and cloud gaming, and to take enforcement action against Google for its app store payment practices.

"When it comes to how people use mobile phones, Apple and Google hold all the cards," said Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, in a statement. "As good as many of their services and products are, their strong grip on mobile ecosystems allows them to shut out competitors, holding back the British tech sector and limiting choice."

The decision to open a formal investigation follows the CMA's year-long study of the mobile ecosystem. The competition watchdog's findings have been published in a report that concludes Apple and Google have a duopoly that limits competition.

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Woman accused of killing boyfriend after tracking him down with Apple AirTag

New meaning for accessory to murder

A woman in the US has been charged with murder after she allegedly tracked down her boyfriend using an Apple AirTag and ran him over after seeing him with another lady.

Gaylyn Morris, 26, found her partner Andre Smith, also 26, at Tilly’s Pub in an Indianapolis shopping mall with the help of the gadget in the early hours of June 3, it is claimed.

A witness said Morris had driven up to him in the parking lot and inquired whether Smith was in the bar, stating she had a GPS tracker that showed he was inside, according to an affidavit [PDF] by Detective Gregory Shue. Morris, the witness said, subsequently spotted Smith within the establishment.

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AWS says it will cloudify your mainframe workloads

Buyer beware, say analysts, technical debt will catch up with you eventually

AWS is trying to help organizations migrate their mainframe-based workloads to the cloud and potentially transform them into modern cloud-native services.

The Mainframe Modernization initiative was unveiled at the cloud giant's Re:Invent conference at the end of last year, where CEO Adam Selipsky claimed that "customers are trying to get off their mainframes as fast as they can."

Whether this is based in reality or not, AWS concedes that such a migration will inevitably involve the customer going through a lengthy and complex process that requires multiple steps to discover, assess, test, and operate the new workload environments.

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A great day for non-robots: iOS 16 will bypass CAPTCHAs

A bot says what? Apple relies on IETF standards to remove annoyance, citing privacy and accessibility

Apple has introduced a game-changer into its upcoming iOS 16 for those who hate CAPTCHAs, in the form of a feature called Automatic Verification.

The feature does exactly what its name alludes to: automatically verifies devices and Apple ID accounts without any action from the user. When iOS 16 ships later this year, it will eliminate the frustrating requirement to select all the stops signs in a photo or decipher a string of characters.

The news was mentioned at Apple's 33rd annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) along with the usual slew of features designed to enhance the functionality of iPhones.

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Apple update approach 'not realistic' in enterprise, but login 'shim' gets thumbsup

JumpCloud SME report also finds remote workers getting better at following best security practices

Not many people are talking about Apple's recent WWDC from an enterprise standpoint. But identity and machine management tool maker JumpCloud says a "shim" to connect "the login to the device through to the Safari browser" is a notable development.

JumpCloud provides identity services, which is why chief strategy officer Greg Keller zeroed in on the feature, which his company details further in its latest IT trends report.

The result, said Keller, was "an even more powerful login experience into these devices."

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How refactoring code in Safari's WebKit resurrected 'zombie' security bug

Fixed in 2013, reinstated in 2016, exploited in the wild this year

A security flaw in Apple's Safari web browser that was patched nine years ago was exploited in the wild again some months ago – a perfect example of a "zombie" vulnerability.

That's a bug that's been patched, but for whatever reason can be abused all over again on up-to-date systems and devices – or a bug closely related to a patched one.

In a write-up this month, Maddie Stone, a top researcher on Google's Project Zero team, shared details of a Safari vulnerability that folks realized in January this year was being exploited in the wild. This remote-code-execution flaw could be abused by a specially crafted website, for example, to run spyware on someone's device when viewed in their browser.

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