Apple, Apple: Why did it do this now?

Apple on Tuesday announced a service update for its Mac operating system — version 18.04 — which adds support for Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple Resolve, and restores Apple Docs Day Ahead (T.B.D.), after it was pulled from the menu in Apple’s 17th iteration of MacOS, last month.

But the company’s most striking move for business users on Tuesday was what it labeled “backend service updates for the [Apple T]d3 and SSL VPN certificates issued to Adobe Premiere Pro Creative Cloud and Apple Resolve endpoints”.

“Having Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Resolve and Apple Resolve for Mac all converge into the one encrypted certificate,” the company wrote, makes it easier to authenticate those apps.

The move potentially addresses the complaints coming from IT departments over the past year over the requirement to first create a new certificate to secure their Wi-Fi passwords to cloud apps like Adobe Premiere Pro. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this “unintended consequence” of the MacOS X Mojave operating system was to redirect the Mac endpoints of web applications — like Dropbox, Microsoft Word, and Apple Docs — back to the certificate issued by a third-party company that Apple did not choose.

What initially seemed like a reasonable issue, which users and IT departments were forced to fix by “defaulting back to old certificates” at the end of the year, resulted in incurring costs to set up for and secure new “restrictor certificates” to certificate-validating “trusted enterprise accounts”. This effectively meant that IT departments could not authenticate all apps and services on the systems of their employees and dependents, and instead faced the brunt of technical and regulatory burdens in doing so.

Although the report suggests Apple wanted to salvage these so-called T.B.D. certificates by giving them back, fixing the problem instead of removing them entirely, the coding method employed by the company doesn’t seem to have been as rigorous or thorough as the ones used in implementing various cloud apps.

These are issues that are separate from Apple’s own cloud apps: it is no longer “confiscating certificates” as it did in a previous incarnation of macOS. But the company is now paying for the sins of another vendor, as well as accepting the brunt of the technical and regulatory risks involved.

For users, Tuesday’s announcement also leaves one lingering question: Why did Apple redesign the T.B.D. on every version of macOS, but not on MacOS itself? In a blog post from last year, Apple’s head of Mac hardware, Asif Suria, said that “the basic T.B.D. process needs to be consistent.” This would seem to hold to some degree, given that today’s announcement only affects the way IT departments and end users access those apps, leaving Apple T.B.D.s to be reused on this year’s Mac operating system.

The company may be on a similar tack on the issue of invisible advertisements on the internet, which the company has also insisted on removing, but avoiding instituting any sort of mechanism to ensure that these ad content could never be seen by users running its software.

While Apple does continue to maintain services to edit photos on iPhones, there’s no real indication that a similar function is set to be added to the Mac, so its effect on marketing efforts may be limited.

Read the full Apple blog post.

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