Hardware Engineering Leadership Changes at Apple

Today Apple announced that its current Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering, Dan Riccio, will be transitioning into a new role as a “vice president of engineering”. Riccio will be reporting to CEO Tim Cook. Riccio will “transition to a new role focusing on a new project”. Apple has not specified what that project is, but I suspect we will see the results of that in the next few years.

Dan Riccio - Apple

Riccio states:

After 23 years of leading our Product Design or Hardware Engineering teams — culminating with our biggest and most ambitious product year ever — it’s the right time for a change. Next up, I’m looking forward to doing what I love most — focusing all my time and energy at Apple on creating something new and wonderful that I couldn’t be more excited about.

Taking over the role of Vice President of Hardware Engineering will be John Ternus. Ternus previously held the role of vice president of Hardware Engineering. He has held this title since 2013. While you may not recognize the names, it is likely that you have seen them, particularly John Ternus.

Ternus was seen throughout Apple’s November 10th, 2020 event which announced the Macs with Apple’s M1 architecture.

It will be interesting to see what project Riccio is working on and any of the new items that get released while Ternus heads the Hardware Engineering team. Time will tell how everything shakes out.

Source: Apple

A Couple of Changes for Apple Developers

Over the past week there have been a couple of changes for Apple Developers. One only affects developers while the second also affects customers.

Apple Small Business Developer applications are now open

Applications for Apple’s Small Business developer program began on Thursday, December 3rd. If you enroll by December 18th, 2020 at 10:00 am Pacific time you will receive the benefits of the program. To recap, if you earned less than $1m per year in Apple’s App Stores you are eligible to have a reduced commission of 15% instead of 30%. If you go above this amount in a year, Apple will receive a 30% commission for all sales after $1 million, as well as the following year. You can read a full-recap here. There have been a couple of additional details provided.

App transfers are not allowed while participating in the program. If you initiate an app transfer after December 31, 2020, or accept a transfer of an app that was initiated after December 31, 2020, you will no longer be eligible to participate in program.

This makes sense to some degree, because typically indie developers are not transferring apps, but that is not always the case. A second clarification on what happens if you enroll after December 18th, is also outlined.

If you’re already a member of the Apple Developer Program and submit your enrollment for the App Store Small Business Program after December 18, 2020, at 10 a.m. PST, your proceeds will be adjusted fifteen (15) days after the end of the fiscal calendar month in which your enrollment is approved. For example, if your enrollment is approved on February 10, 2021, your proceeds are adjusted starting March 14, 2021.

Again, this aspect of it makes sense, but some time is probably needed to make the actual adjustments. There is further information available on Apple’s Developer website, including a link to actually enroll. This change will only affect developers, however the next item will affect both developers and their customers.

Family Sharing enabled on in-app purchases

If you are a developer and you have in-app purchases in your apps, you may be able to enable family-sharing on them; should you choose to do so. It is quite common for one family member to make an in-app purchase and want to share that with their other family members. However, until now this has not been possible. To enable family sharing on your in-app purchases, perform the following steps:

  1. Log in to App Store Connect.
  2. Click on “My Apps” to bring up a list of your applications.
  3. Click on the app where you want to enable family sharing of your in-app purchase.
  4. On the left-hand side under “In-App Purchases”, click on “Manage”. A list of available in-app purchases should be appear when the page loads.
  5. Click on the in-app purchase that you want to manage.
  6. Under the “Family Sharing” section, click on the “Turn On” link. A popup will appear.
  7. The popup states “This in-app purchase will be able to be shared by everyone in a family group. NOTE: Once you confirm, you won’t be able turn off this feature.” Click on “Confirm” to enable family sharing for the in-app purchase .

There are two things to note. First, and most importantly, once you have enabled family sharing for an in-app purchase, it cannot be turned off. Secondly, not all in-app purchases are eligible for family sharing. Only non-consumable in-app purchases and subscriptions are eligible for family sharing. You can learn more on the App Store Connect help page for Family Sharing of In-App Purchases.

Both of these changes are welcome for developers. Customers will be able to benefit by not being required to make multiple purchases and instead can share existing purchases.

wwrite and wwriteFree 3.2.0

wwrite and wwriteFree have been updated. There have been two minor changes for both applications.

The first is there is now a “Privacy Policy” button in the “About” screen.

The second change revolves around new files. If you do not have any customized templates, creating a new file will automatically create a blank file. However, if you have customized templates, you will be prompted to select what type of file.

These are minor updates, but should help streamline in some manner. Per usual, the updates are free. If you have any problems, or feature requests, let me know on twitter.

You can download wwrite, or wwriteFree now.

wwrite icon, that's 1024 pixels by 1024 pixels

A Shift for macOS Server

The first version of what we call macOS was released in 2001, with the release of Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah. When Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah was released, a separate version called Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah Server was also released. At the time of its release the landscape of servers, and their utility, was entirely different from today’s landscape. Back then, high speed internet was generally limited to large companies and home users typically had dial-up, ISDN, or possibly even slow DSL connections. The roll out of cable-based internet was not nearly as ubiquitous as it is today. Mobile internet was not even on the horizon for many users. That would come a half dozen years later with the release of the iPhone. Today’s internet landscape is vastly different. Mobile broadband as well as home broadband are more common than before. Of course there are some exceptions, but having high speed internet is the norm in many places.

The server portion of macOS has seen its share of changes over the years. At first, the Server version was a separate installation and had its own pricing structure. As time progressed, the features of macOS Server increased. As the feature set increased, the pricing of macOS Server has decreased. Initially, Server came in two versions, a 10-client and Unlimited Client versions. With the release of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, the unlimited version was the only one released. Its price was reduced to the price of $499, which was the original cost of the 10-client version. This is down from $999.

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion completely changed the server paradigm on the Mac. Instead of being a different version, the entire Server application was released as an application. The price was reduced again to $49.99. This was a substantial reduction from the previous price, a 90% price drop. With OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, Apple reduced the price even further to $19.99 for the app. This has been the pricer new purchases, but for the last few versions if you previously purchased macOS Server, each new version was a free upgrade.

macOS Server has had a standard set of services that it has provided, with a few additions over the years. The set of all services that macOS Server has provided over the years is as follows:

  • Caching Server
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • DHCP
  • DNS
  • File Sharing
  • Mail
  • Messages
  • NetInstall
  • Open Directory
  • Profile Manager
  • Software Update Server
  • VPN
  • Websites
  • Wiki
  • Xcode
  • Xsan

With macOS High Sierra (10.13), Apple moved a couple of these services to the core operating system itself. Caching Server and File Sharing were both integrated into macOS itself. Xcode Server was also removed from macOS Server and that service was integrated into Xcode 9, and its core functionality changed. Xcode Server removed the ability to host code repositories, instead relying on services like GitHub to do this for users. Apple has unveiled some new information about the future of its macOS Server application, specifically what the spring update to macOS Server will bring to those who use macOS Server.

macOS Server is changing to focus more on management of computers, devices, and storage on your network. As a result, some changes are coming in how Server works. A number of services will be deprecated, and will be hidden on new installations of an update to macOS Server coming in spring 2018. If you’ve already configured one of these services, you’ll still be able to use it in the spring 2018 macOS Server update.

These deprecated services will be removed in a future release of macOS Server, so those depending on them should consider alternatives, including hosted services.

The list of deprecated services include:

  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • DHCP
  • DNS
  • Mail
  • Messages
  • NetInstall
  • VPN
  • Websites
  • Wiki

Apple does provide a list of alternatives for each of the deprecated services, within the support article. These alternatives will require a bit more knowledge, and more likely more configuration, over the graphical interface provided by the Server application. This change will have the biggest impact on small and medium businesses who rely on macOS Server to be able to run their custom applications. It is not impossible to continue to use macOS to host these, it just will not be a elegant to do so.

The deprecation of these services leaves only a few remaining services. These service are:

  • Open Directory
  • Profile Manager
  • Xsan

That is all that remains of macOS Server with the next update in the spring. If you have any of the deprecated services already configured, these will still be available to be managed. Profile Manager, and by extension Open Directory, are still areas which Apple can differentiate themselves and management of macOS and iOS devices is an area that Apple still feels is very important. I think the writing was on the wall for macOS Server after the Software Update Service was officially deprecated. If one of the features that many institutions relied on was being deprecated, what about the other services.

The removal of Calendar, Contacts, DHCP, DNS, Mail, Messages, Net Install, VPN, and Wiki, honestly all make sense. The usage of these services by individuals and small businesses is probably very small. These services were big and much needed 15 years ago, but are not necessary today. The one that I would like Apple to keep is Websites, only because I tend to do some web development on my Macs. With the removal of Websites, packages like XAMPP are likely to become even more heavily used by developers.

As the article states, “These deprecated services will be removed in a future release of macOS Server”. It is my guess that these services will be removed in the version of Server that corresponds with the next version of macOS. Like macOS Server 6.0 that is paired with macOS 10.14. It is entirely possible that these remaining services will be integrated directly into macOS itself and activated similarly to how Caching Server is activated, through System Preferences, however since these services still require a bit of advanced knowledge, these are more likely to still be configured by a separate, albeit a much smaller, application. It is possible that Apple may even reduce the price further, to $9.99 or possibly even free. I know I am interested in seeing how macOS Server 6 is under the next version of macOS.

Source: apple.com.

Apple App Store Improvements

Earlier this week Apple made some surprise announcements about changes occurring to its App Stores. It is not surprising that the changes are being made, but instead their timing is the interesting aspect. With Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) beginning next week, one would think that this information would be announced at the conference. According to Phil Schiller, Apple’s Vice President of Marketing:

We’re doing something a little different this year. We’ve got a bunch of App Store/developer-related announcements for WWDC next week, but frankly, we’ve got a busy enough keynote that we decided we’re not going to cover those in the keynote. And rather, just cover them in the afternoon and throughout the week. We’re talking to people today for news tomorrow about those things, in advance of WWDC, and then developers can come and be ready for sessions about these things, with knowledge about them before the conference. We haven’t done this before, but we figured, what the heck, let’s give it a try.

The three area where changes have occurred are:

Let us look at each of these three areas.

App Store Approvals

Since the first availability of third-party applications on the App Store, the approval process has taken about a week. Recently this has changed. The time for approvals has been drastically reduced. According to Vice President of Marketing Phil Schiller, 50 percent of submitted apps are now approved within 24 hours and 90 percent in 48 hours. This is a significant improvement.

According to John Gruber’s reporting, the reasons are:

  1. Tool improvements internal to Apple.
  2. Staffing changes.
  3. Policy changes.

This is a double-edged sword. For application developers, they are able to anticipate a shorter release schedule. However, for those reviewing applications they may have potentially less time to work on a review. This will become a balancing act for both developers and reviewers.

Search Ads

I do not normally report on rumors, so I did not post anything about this before. However, the idea of “Search Ads” was floated a few weeks ago. It appears that they are a reality. Search Ads are a new feature within the app store. Here is the basic flow for how Search Ads will work.

  • A developer will bid on a keyword search term. If they are the second highest bidder, they will win.
  • A user searches the store with that keyword.
  • An add will appear showing off the developer’s application.

That is the basic flow of what will occur. Developers will pay when a user taps, or clicks, on the ad. They do not need to purchase anything, just tap or click on it. Here is an example of what an ad in search may look like.



One of Apple’s core tenets is user privacy. That will still be the case with Search Ads. Search Ads is covered by Apple’s overall user privacy, which means developers will never know who is the individual who installed the application.

Developers will still be able to get information about the click through rate, as well as similar information. As mentioned before no personally identifiable user information will be available to the developer.

Search Ads will be in beta over the Summer and will be released in the Fall, presumably with iOS 10.

Subscription Changes

When subscription pricing was introduced in 2011, developers were both eager and excited to use subscriptions to their own benefit to generate even more income. However, this was limited to only certain types of applications. These included dating applications, magazines, and media (movie, TV, music, etc) subscription services. This limitations has now been lifted.

Eligible Application Types

In the Fall, Apple will allow all application types to be eligible for subscriptions. There will be two categories for auto-renewable subscriptions, Content and Services.


The content category for auto-renewable subscriptions includes items that deliver updated content on a regular basis. This could be items like newspapers, educational courses, or audio or video libraries. This could also be services like Netflix or Amazon Instant Video.


Besides applications that deliver content, applications that provide a service can also use auto-renewing subscriptions. These could include cloud-storage services, or games that provide back-end servers, like massively multiplayer online games. Apple states “the experience must provide ongoing value worth the recurring payment for an auto-renewable subscription to make sense”.

This means that Apple will be able to determine if an application provides enough to warrant the use of auto-renewing subscriptions.

With all in-app purchases and subscriptions, Apple takes thirty percent of all of these purchases. When in-app purchases were initially unveiled one of the limitation was that Applications could not charge more on their own website than they were charging in the app. This policy changed so that content owners could charge more for the content purchased inside an app, than outside. This became quite useful for subscription media services so they could cover the extra thirty percent Apple was charging.

Even with the ability to create more income, the split remained the same, seventy percent for the developer and thirty percent for Apple. This rate has changed, with some caveats.

Revenue Split

One of the biggest complaints by application developers has been the on-going revenue In order to address some of the concerns Apple has made some changes to the percentages. This is a good thing, but this change comes with caveats. The change is that after the first year, developers will get 85% and Apple will get 15%. Again, this only after the first year. If a customer continues to pay after one year, the percentage will change.

The reasoning behind this is that if a developer can retain a user for more than a year, they must be doing something correctly. Additionally, the developer is doing the hardest part of the job and creating an application that is interesting.

With the one year increase in revenue for the developer there is a sixty day grace period, in case a subscription lapses. If a user re-subscribes within sixty days, the days counting past the one year will continue as if nothing changed and you will get 85% of the revenue. However, if a user re-subscribes on day sixty-one, or any time past then, you will only get seventy percent, and the clock will start over.

Different Pricing<

There are some other features for the change in pricing. Apple states,

Starting this fall, apps with auto-renewable subscriptions will be able to offer territory-specific prices and will have access to 200 price points across all currencies. You will be able to set the prices you think are suitable for subscribers in different markets, and you will have the flexibility to price your subscriptions at parity if they’re available elsewhere.

This is a significant improvement. This means that developers will be able to set the price of their subscriptions with more granularity.

If a developer does opt to increase pricing, a user will not be surprised when this occurs. They will receive an email indicating that the price is going to increase and the user will have the option of cancelling the subscription.

Developers have been asking for free trials. Instead of implementing free-trials themselves, they do offer them in one manner. A developer can choose to provide access to an in-app purchase for seven days, for a one-month recurring subscription. This time frame goes up to one-month for a year-long subscription.

Price Points

One of the more difficult things, as a developer, to determine is how to price an app. As of this writing, there are 88 total tiers. These range from free to $999.99. The first 51 are in $1 increments. Tiers 52 through 61 are in $5 increments. Tiers 62 and 63 are $10 increments. Tier 64 is $5 more ($124.99). Tiers 65 through 69 are again $10 increments. Tier 70 is another $5 increment ($174.99). Tiers 71 through 78 are in $10 increments. Tiers 79 through 83 are in $50 increments. Tiers 84 through 88 are in $100 increments. These range of options are good, but Apple has decided to add more.

Ultimately there will be 200 different tiers for developers to choose from. The exact amounts that will be available is not fully known. It is likely that the tiers will be filled in the existing tiers. It could be smaller increments, say $0.50, for some tiers, or it could be more on the higher end.

Along with this, developers can opt to charge different territories. A developer may choose to do this because of different exchange rates in different locations; or if you follow Apple’s earnings calls, what they would call “economic headwinds”.

We will see what Apple decides to unveil.

Other Information

There is some other information that may be useful not just to developers, but everybody in general. An application can have multiple subscriptions, but they cannot be overlapping. This means that there may be different subscriptions for different features or services.


Apple’s announcements of changes to the App Stores. Many of the changes will be beneficial for both users and developers. The addition of Search Ads will help developers put their application in front of more people. The new subscription options will allow for a free-trial like experience for users. Subscriptions will, hopefully, allow for more opportunities for both developers and users.

Apple announcing this before WWDC will leave plenty of time for whatever they end up announcing on Monday. You can check out my predictions as well as my iOS or OS X wish list.

There will be more from Apple’s WWDC, including a recap of the keynote, next week.