Protocol Source Code
What matters in tech, in your inbox every morning.
Image: Apple

All the apps, everywhere, all the time

MacOS Big Sur

Good morning! This Tuesday, Apple gives developers a to-do list for the summer, President Trump extends the H-1B visa ban, and NASA's getting ready to train everyone to be astronauts.

(Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here to get Source Code every day.)

People Are Talking

An ad-driven business model eventually becomes a problem, says Google's former head of advertising Sridhar Ramaswamy:

  • "It's a slow drift away from what is the best answer for the user and how do we surface it. As a consumer product, the more pressure there is to show ads, the less useful in the long term the product becomes."

President Trump's expanded ban on H-1B visas is bad for the American economy, Twitter's Jessica Herrera-Flanigan said:

  • "Unilaterally and unnecessarily stifling America's attractiveness to global, high-skilled talent is short-sighted and deeply damaging to the economic strength of the United States." (More on this below.)

More than 1,600 Google employees urged their employer to cancel police contracts:

  • "We want Google to take real steps to help dismantle racism. We as a society have moved past the point where saying Black Lives Matter is enough, we need to show it in our thinking, in our words and in our actions that Black lives do matter to us."

On Protocol: R&D doesn't have to suffer because of remote work, Hypergiant CEO Ben Lamm said:

  • "There's a lot more research than development in R&D. So we've gotten further on research, but we haven't announced many new innovations of late because we've been so focused on research and we've been very thoughtful about the development."

The Facebook ad boycott is real, Dashlane CMO Joy Howard said, and it's a long time coming:

  • "The Facebook algorithm has been a black box, and nobody really understands how it works. But I think you can see how it actually works on society, and you can see how the content that's most enraging is the content that's most profitable for them, and they really created a machine to amplify and magnify that."

The Big Story

It's gonna be a busy summer for Apple developers

Over the course of a nearly two-hour WWDC keynote, Apple announced a lot of new features yesterday. Most of them were the sort of things users, concept makers and developers have been asking for for years. Homescreen widgets FTW! (Also I was wrong about FaceTime! Ugh. I guess we're stuck with Webex.)

The biggest changes were reserved for the Mac, with its operating system finally getting to version 11.0 after 19 years stuck on OS X. Not only is Apple redesigning the Mac's software to make it look much more like iOS, as the two platforms continue to look and feel more alike, it also confirmed it's making the switch to using its own chips. Buh-bye, Intel.

  • Apple's own apps already support the new chips. The full transition for all devices and apps will take a couple of years, but if you're itching to get started, for $500 you can play with Apple's Developer Transition Kit.

The section on silicon was by far the most developer-focused part of Apple's keynote, which was in general aimed much more at consumers. But hidden in the presentation were plenty of important features:

  • On iOS and iPadOS, users will be able to set default email and browser apps other than Apple's. OK, this feature is mostly for antitrust regulators, and was buried on one of those "look at all our other features" slides, but it's still the first great chance devs have had to compete in those spaces. No such luck for music, podcasts, maps or messaging, though.
  • There's about to be much more onus on developers to be transparent about privacy and data-collection, thanks to the new nutrition-label cards in the App Store. They'll also have to explicitly ask for permission to track users. No more "ask for access to everything just in case you need it," much more careful choosing about permissions.

Throw in App Clips and widgets, and that's a lot of new stuff for developers to invest in. The Arm transition in particular likely won't be as easy as advertised: One developer told me they're worried that things like Electron apps won't make the transition well, pointing out that Microsoft has been experimenting with Arm chips for a while now, and it hasn't been easy.

  • The upside, though, is that because they have so much in common, Macs will now be able to run iPhone and iPad apps natively. Which means that until Mac apps work great on the new silicon, at least mobile apps will be OK.

What did you make of yesterday's event? What feature or announcement jumped out at you most? I'd love to hear from you:

More Apps

Apple quietly tweaks its developer rules

Long keynote, 20 presenters, tons of slides and demos, and an answer to the big question on developers' minds during WWDC was buried 13 paragraphs deep in an unrelated press release on Apple's website. The rub: Apple's changing the way it handles developer disputes.

  • Two changes are coming this summer. One, developers will "be able to appeal decisions about whether an app violates a given guideline of the App Store Review Guidelines," and can challenge the guideline itself.
  • And two, bugfix updates won't be delayed over guideline violations — they'll be approved, and the developer will have until their next submission to make changes.

David Heinemeier Hansson, the CTO and co-founder of Basecamp who's been leading the torch-carrying against App Store policies regarding the Hey email app, said it made him feel a bit better. "There's a path forward here where Apple goes back to being a friend of developers, not a big bully they're all terrified of speaking out against," he tweeted.

  • Over the last couple of days, things have simmered a bit between Apple and Basecamp. Apple allowed Basecamp's bugfix update into the store, per the new policy. And Heinemeier Hansson told me he was somewhat optimistic that the next version, with more substantial features designed specifically to solve Apple's "when you download the app it doesn't work" problem, was going to get approved as well.

If Apple approves Hey's new app, that particular saga is basically over. But if the stories I've heard from developers the last several days are any indication, there are plenty of frustrated developers still fighting with the app reviewers. And with a new way to fight, they might get louder.



CLEAR's touchless identity verification is available in 34 airports nationwide. Members verify their ID with their eyes and scan their boarding pass on a mobile device. With iris first technology, heightened cleaning, and social distancing set in place, you can travel safer with CLEAR. Touchless. No Crowds. Keep moving.

Learn more here.


Trump takes another immigration stand

As expected, President Trump put out an order yesterday suspending new green cards, H-1B and other visas through at least the end of 2020. The order expands the ban Trump put into place earlier this year — and applies only to those not already living and working in the U.S. Still unclear: what it'll mean for anyone renewing their visa in the next six months.

  • "Under the extraordinary circumstances of the economic contraction resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak," the order says, "certain nonimmigrant visa programs authorizing such employment pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers."
  • The restrictions "will prevent foreign workers from filling 525,000 jobs," The Washington Post reported.

Tech leaders railed against the order, continuing a fight against Trump's immigration crackdowns that they've been waging for years.

  • "Immigration has contributed immensely to America's economic success, making it a global leader in tech, and also Google the company it is today," Sundar Pichai said. "Disappointed by today's proclamation — we'll continue to stand with immigrants and work to expand opportunity for all."
  • Lightspeed's Jeremy Liew tweeted that "I came to the U.S. on an H-1B visa. I'd like to think I've been a net positive for the country." He also asked for — and got — a slew of stories from others in the same boat.
  • "In the digital economy, you hire where the talent is," Aaron Levie said. "When you restrict immigration, the jobs still get created, just somewhere else. And later down the road, when those individuals create the next Google, it won't be here."
  • Industry advocate BSA said that "access to foreign talent, adding to the expertise provided by American workers, is critical for the recovery and growth of all sectors of the U.S. economy."

Making Moves

Steve Wood is Slack's new developer platform VP. He ran product at Dell Boomi for the last few years, and he'll now report to Slack Chief Product Officer Tamar Yehoshua.

Steffan Tomlinson is Confluent's new CFO, after running finance at Google Cloud since last April. Confluent is getting ready to go public, and Tomlinson's got plenty of experience from his time at Palo Alto Networks and Aruba Networks.

In Other News

  • From Protocol: Apple has been the biggest hirer of former Magic Leap employees over the past six months, according to LinkedIn profile updates, as the company continues its big AR push. Google is in second place.
  • Fastly overtook Zoom as the best-performing tech stock since the market peaked. While Zoom has risen 159% since February 19, the cloud platform's stock is up 222%. Maybe not that surprising, given Fastly counts Shopify and Slack as clients.
  • SoftBank needs cash, and it's found a way to get some. The company confirmed that it plans to sell around $21 billion worth of T-Mobile stock, in an effort to fund share buybacks and cut debt. It wouldn't be SoftBank without some weird financial engineering though: As part of the deal, SoftBank COO Marcelo Claure will personally buy around $500 million worth of T-Mobile stock ... funded by a loan from SoftBank.
  • Andrew Yang launched the Data Dividend Project, which wants Big Tech to pay consumers for their data. Don't expect to get rich though: Yang said that even a $20 payment would be meaningful.
  • Google's U.S. ad revenue is set to fall for the first time since eMarketer started tracking it in 2008. The research company estimates a 4% drop for Google, compared to a 7% drop for the overall ad market.
  • Microsoft is shutting down Mixer, its Twitch competitor. Users will be moved over to Facebook Gaming, while streamers that were exclusively partnered with Mixer are now free agents — including streaming's top dog, Ninja.
  • Wirecard's former CEO Markus Braun was arrested in Germany, after the company said yesterday that over $2 billion worth of cash listed on its balance sheet probably does not exist. Braun resigned last week.

One More Thing

Going to space: expensive, but almost possible

So let's put some pieces together here. Virgin Galactic and NASA just announced a partnership that includes building a training system for an "orbital astronaut readiness program" to get regular people like you and me up to the ISS. NASA also said it'll cost you $50 million for the ride there. (Plus $35,000 a day to stay on the ISS, but that's only a third the cost of the best suite in Vegas. What a steal!) There's even a $23 million space toilet aboard the ISS, for your pooping pleasure. Supposedly all this is for "researchers to go to space" or whatever. But what I'm hearing is this: When you sell your next startup to Facebook, there's a new coolest-possible thing to do with the proceeds.



CLEAR's touchless identity verification is available in 34 airports nationwide. Members verify their ID with their eyes and scan their boarding pass on a mobile device. With iris first technology, heightened cleaning, and social distancing set in place, you can travel safer with CLEAR. Touchless. No Crowds. Keep moving.

Learn more here.

Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to, or our tips line, Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

Recent Issues

The best of Protocol

The confessions of SBF

Your holiday book list

A tale of two FTXs