Nov 16, 2020 - Technology

Apple’s Big Sur release causes headaches

Illustration of a lone figure standing in the center of an Apple shaped spotlight.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Mac owners ran into a variety of challenges Thursday as Apple rolled out Big Sur, the latest version of OS X. Many Mac users who weren't installing the operating system update also found their systems slowing down.

The state of play: Apple confirmed to Axios Sunday that the slowdown resulted from a cascade of problems stemming from checks against Apple servers that an app's developer certificate is still valid. Troubles included a server configuration issue and a problem with Apple's content delivery network.

Why it matters: Privacy-conscious customers are often wary when systems "phone home," and Apple has extensively marketed its commitment to privacy as a fundamental right.

The big picture: Apple posted additional information on its web site on Sunday to clarify the process it uses to verify that an app has not had its credentials revoked.

  • Some critics worried about the possibility Apple might be tracking which apps they were opening, but Apple noted that it never included a user's Apple ID or other identity information when making the query to Apple's servers.
  • The company said that, "to further protect privacy," it has also stopped logging the IP addresses of computers making developer ID certificate checks and will remove any IP addresses it has collected from its logs.

What they’re saying: Experts said, contrary to some initial speculation, Apple didn’t appear to be doing anything untoward in the application-checking process. Some said the company’s approach to verifying application authenticity is praiseworthy (when it’s working properly).

What's next: Apple said it plans to introduce an encrypted protocol for such checks as well as a new preference allowing people to opt out of the security protection entirely.

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