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Apple Exits The Wi-Fi Router Biz

Discussion in 'General Wireless Discussion' started by thiggins, Apr 27, 2018.

  1. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    Multiple sources report that Apple is discontinuing its AirPort family of routers.

    There does not appear to be a formal announcement. But variations in this quote found in iMore's article have been cited in most articles:
    Apple quietly began selling Linksys' Velop Wi-Fi mesh system in January.
     
  2. CrystalLattice

    CrystalLattice Regular Contributor

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    An associate(App developer, app featured in 1st iPhone App tv ad) uses an Airport Extreme main router with cat6(self-installed) run to 3 Airport Extreme router as APs in a 5000 s.f. home. He claims to have had extremely good results in five years, with no detectable roaming problems. Airports used NetBSD, never hacked by CIA(not on list). Firmware is encrypted, & uses CFE bootloader. Were updated for Krack attack in Dec. 2017. R.I.P. Apple Routers!
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
    umarmung and sfx2000 like this.
  3. quadra2030

    quadra2030 New Around Here

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    The only router with really functional and reliable Time Machine protocol support and of course supported by Apple (I know, AFP only, but you could depend on its backups.. which can't be said with various opensource/linux clones).
     
    sfx2000 likes this.
  4. Threska49

    Threska49 Regular Contributor

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    Might have something to do with the router market being very competitive from cheap to premium.

    NASs while somewhat competitive, still has quite some room for improvement. Also with the current backlash against the cloud some of their functionality is being moved back to a local presence.
     
  5. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    Sad to see - not totally unexpected...

    With all the "mesh" stuff - Apple actually had a head start with the 802.11n/ac devices with their extended networking, and they were very good at roaming.

    In AP mode, the Airports had capabilities that were far beyond their peers at similar price points.

    The TimeCapsule was pretty good at TimeMachine backups, unlike the reverse engineering "solutions" that others offered.

    Airport Express - nice travel router with the earlier ones, but the most recent 802.11n device was good network audio solution. The previous gen Airport Express 802.11n was damn good, and bit perfect for audio, and still is a recognized device there.

    Ultimately at the end of the day - was this a business that Apple needed to be in? Perhaps not.

    I'm sure some of the folks working on HomePod and AppleTV might have answers there - as many worked on the Airports I'm told.
     
    CrystalLattice likes this.
  6. Mokers

    Mokers Regular Contributor

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    They were ahead of their time and then never updated. I would carry an express with me as a consultant for a long time before WiFi was standard practice for businesses or where you had despots and it was really great.

    Before I understood anything about wireless networking i would throw 3 or 4 of these on an SMB network with the same ssid for roaming and it worked pretty well.
     
  7. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    Like I mentioned - they'll be missed...

    One of the cool things that Airports have/had - the Guest Network was VLAN'ed out as VLAN1003, which is a big deal when working with a managed switch and multiple AP's - as one could extend the Guest Network across multiple AP's.

    (I use this with pfSense and a Netgear GS108T to great effect with Airports)

    Which for consumer AP's, it's a bit unusual.

    That, and the thoughtful design they had - elegant enough for spousal approval, and good performance from an RF perspective. And the software/firmware was quite good - better than most.

    The other thing with Airports is the integration with OSX Server and multiple AP management. OSX Server running on a MacMini in conjunction with multiple AP's was a great SMB solution - One of the unspoken benefits of OSX Server is that it can also be the router on an SMB network, and there it can offer services like email, web, and of course VPN - and a quad-core i7* makes for darn fast VPN for L2TP/IPsec...

    * MacMini 2012 edition - last Mini to support the i7 quad-cores - the 2014 does offer i7, but it's a low power dual core. Might be the reason why 2012's hold their value - 6 years after introduction, they still sell for close to the price they were new...

    Apple, these days, seems to be doing their very best to alienate the hard-core base - removing home buttons and headphone jacks from iPhones, MacBook Pro's with only USB-C interfaces (MacBook Pro's used to be interface rich - Gbe, FW800, Thunderbolt, multiple USB3 ports, a good SD Card Reader) - and let's not mention the Mac Pro - which is sub-optimal for many in that space compared to earlier models. And the current gen of MacBook Pro's seem to have a very big problem with keyboards these days - enough to the point that leading bloggers and thought-leaders are pushing for a total recall - replacing a Macbook Pro keyboard that stops working - out of warranty that's a $700USD bill...

    Gaah!

    It says much that my last gig - they asked me which laptop - and I took the Macbook Air 13" (2017 edition) - not because of performance, but because of connectivity - I still have my Macbook Pro 2012 (non retina), and a MacMini 2012 i7 quad - along with a Macbook Air 11" from 2014. Surprisingly enough, they're still pretty effective and meet my needs.

    Their most recent devices do not...

    Don't get me started on the whole iTunes/Apple Music mess (let's just say - HomePod) - that's a total *hit*how there - esp. on iOS

    Seems like Cook, Cue, Ive, and Schiller - they seem to be mostly focused on driving the base away - I get they're trying to grow things, but at what cost?

    At least Ahredts and Federighi seem to be clued in a bit, but there's only so much they can do...
     
  8. ColinTaylor

    ColinTaylor Part of the Furniture

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    Yep. My son was forced to buy one of the new MacBook Pro's because it was required for his university course. Cue a bag load of USB-C adapter cables and converters. So much for Jobs' obsession with clean lines and no wires :rolleyes::mad:.
    Yep again. 13 months later and despite being treated extremely carefully two of the keys stop working. :mad: So that's a £3000 MacBook Pro and a £400+ repair.:mad::mad: Fortunately the repair was covered by EU consumer law.:cool:
     
  9. RMerlin

    RMerlin Super Moderator

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    This isn't something new, Apple has ALWAYS been about snobbing the hard-core base, and aiming primarily for the technically-challenged user base, by offering as few features and settings as possible to all of their products. Then when something basic is missing, you need to use voodoo to work around their design decisions, or you are simply told that "No, you can't do that. You do not want to do that. You don't NEED to do that. Just look how COOL our product looks like? Forget about that feature you're missing."

    I had the misfortune of working on an old Mac for a customer a few days ago. It's an old Core2Duo Mac that I needed to wipe before it could be sent to recycling. What would have taken me 5 minutes on any regular PC took me a good hour... Online documentation telling me I could use Recovery mode to wipe out the disk. Uh-uh. Turns out that the recovery partition was only added with 10.7 - this old Mac ran 10.6. None of the initial documentation I had found mentioned that.

    Couldn't boot off my usual tool USB thumbdrive either, probably because it wasn't UEFI.

    I ended up digging a very old Hackintosh DVD I had gathering dust in a drawer that contained 10.5, and booted with that to use Disk Utility to wipe out the disk.

    Figuring out how to eject the DVD from the bloody device afterward was also a challenge of its own. "Press the eject button" This is a PC keyboard, there's no frigging eject button. If it were a PC, I'd use a paperclip - problem solved. Did some online search, found some weird trick that involved swiping a paper clip around from 1.5" off the left side, toward that left side. Why not a simple frigging HOLE like every CD/DVD drive has had for 20 years??? In any case, it didn't work either.

    One of the guides I found online listed like 5 different eject techniques to try, the last one suggesting trying to insert a SECOND disc. Seems like some people got even more desperate than me in trying to solve this problem...

    So, more googling later, I learn that pressing F12 at boot time would do the same thing as pressing eject. That feels so much like an improvised hack to me, a simple stupid pinhole allowing access to a mechanical eject would have been far more intuitive.

    I replaced my Thinkpad Yoga keyboard last winter. Was a 50$ (original) part found on eBay, shipped to me within two days (Chinese reseller, but he was located in Canada). Then, a 30 mins job to replace it (I wasn't sure how much force to apply, there was some sticky tape preventing the keyboard from lifting off the laptop).

    We could also talk about the debacle of people's iPhone being irremediably bricked following an iOS upgrade because they had DARED having their fingerprint reader repaired by a non-approved Apple center, and an iOS update would prevent the phone from booting when detecting a non-approved part. How naughty of you, not wanting to pay an Apple tax to get your iPhone repaired while traveling abroad.


    Every time I touch an Apple product, I'm reminded why I have such a strong aversion for the company that designs it, where it's all about how it looks, nevermind common sense design decisions that are related to actual usability.


    Regarding the Airport: take most of the competitive routers out there, disable all the fancy features to bring them down to the functionality level of an Airport, and you will find them just as good and stable as the Airport. Those fancy, often half-baked features like USB disk sharing are what tends to make many of these routers on the market be so buggy, quirky, and insecure.
     
    CrystalLattice likes this.
  10. Mokers

    Mokers Regular Contributor

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    Ha! My company replaces computers very three years. I was due last year and although I liked the new ones figured I would just go with a new 13" retina because needed hardware wasn't going to get me what I really wanted - more ram. However, a consultant consultants left just before purchase time do they just handed me his laptop. I was still trying to consolidate all of the adapters i need! USB-C is so inconsistent. Some adapters work in some ports and not others, etc

    Easiest way to eject an optical disc is to hold the mouse button down on restart. Works with all macs, laptops, desktops, internal mouse, external mouse, etc, even Pre-OS X!

    And if you need to wipe these old devices, the easiest thing is to use your favorite Linux live CD. And on the older ones, you can open them up pretty easily for the most part. So pull the drive and wipe it from your PC. You usually need just a small philips and a T6. If you are comfortable replacing PC laptop components, it's not too much trouble and iFixit has guides on almost all hardware.
     
  11. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    If you have another Mac to work with - Target Disk mode is darn handy...
     
  12. RMerlin

    RMerlin Super Moderator

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    I remember trying that one, and it didn't work for me. Could be because the website specified the wrong mouse button perhaps, I think I only tried one of the two buttons, the one specified on the web.

    Again, completely counter-intuitive, silly design decision.
     
  13. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    True...

    That being said - the Airports were pretty well spec'ed out, better than the peers (R7000, RT-AC68U) when they were released, and price competitive at the time - and the Airport ran the BCM53019 compared to the BCM4708 - pretty much the same chip, but at a different pricepoint and clocked slightly higher (1GHz at the time back in 2013) - rest of the specs were similar - 512MB DDR3, 32MB flash...

    Robust hardware and good build-quality...and the SW wasn't that bad - NetBSD based (which someone mentioned earlier) - rather than IP Tables, they used the Berkeley Packet Filter for NAT and SPI firewalling, and they had their own NAT-PMP daemon - I think the only issues they had to address was heartbleed, and krack, along with some tuning for IPv6 (due to a couple of ISP implementations, and there Apple wasn't unique).

    A common enough hack for the TimeCapsules is to swap out the HDD for a larger capacity one (up to 8TB) - esp. for the older 802.11n model (avoid the initial ones due to common capacitor issues in the power supply), and they can make for decent enough single disk NAS units that support both SMB and AFP - and an obviously, they're pretty effective TimeMachine backup devices...
     
  14. CrystalLattice

    CrystalLattice Regular Contributor

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  15. RMerlin

    RMerlin Super Moderator

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    The R7000 used a BCM4709, which was 1 GHz. Probably caught Asus by surprise who initially went with the BCM4708 for the RT-AC56U and RT-AC68U, and upgraded it to a BCM4708C0 later on to bump things to 1 GHz. Not sure what else was different between the BCM4708 and BCM4709 tho.
     
  16. CrystalLattice

    CrystalLattice Regular Contributor

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    WIRED's replacement picks are: Eero, Orbi, Amplifi HD, R6700, Velop. No scientific testing included!
     
  17. umarmung

    umarmung Regular Contributor

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    Do those support Time Machine? Also, kind of strange replacing a standalone router with a variety of different types of devices, including backhaul and multi-hop mesh systems.

    I know the Synology RT2600ac supports Time Machine and even AirPrint.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018
  18. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    Yeah...

    BTW - there are ways to break into the Airports - and the recent round of them are CFE based (not just the Broadcom ones).
     
  19. maxbraketorque

    maxbraketorque Senior Member

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    Its always interesting to hear these stories. I've been a Mac user for my entire computing experience, and what you feel about Macs is generally how I feel about Windows (any version, but W10 is perhaps the worst). For the most part, I think its a matter of getting accustomed to where everything is located, and fortunately Apple hasn't locked down the MacOS UI to the extent that it has iOS.

    As for the hardware side of things, I think Apple generally does a good job and excels in certain areas, at least for laptops which are all I use anymore. My wife uses Windows, and out of all the laptops she's had, none have ever had a trackpad that's even close to matching the fluidity of the MacBook trackpad. As far as reliability and serviceability, I guess I have been pretty lucky. I get a new laptop every 3-5 years, and since 1999, I have only had one hard drive and one keyboard fail out of perhaps 5 or 6 different Mac laptops that were used as my primary computer. The keyboard failed under warranty, and it was replaced for free. No doubt though that the newer Macs are getting hard to self service. For the Mac laptops, I see it as the price to pay for class-leading lightness and compactness.
     
  20. CrystalLattice

    CrystalLattice Regular Contributor

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    Also, the macbookpros boost status in meetings