Kernel prepatch 5.12-rc1

[Kernel] Posted Mar 1, 2021 2:02 UTC (Mon) by corbet

Linus Torvalds has released 5.12-rc1 (codename now “Frozen wasteland”) and closed the merge window despite getting a late start due to bad weather:

So I was actually without electricity for six days of the merge window, and was seriously considering just extending the merge window to get everything done. As you can tell, I didn’t do that. To a large part because people were actually very good about sending in their pull requests, so by the time I finally got power back, everything was nicely lined up and I got things merged up ok. But partly this is also because 5.12 is a smaller release than some previous ones.

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Jailbreak tool 'unc0ver' 6.0.0 upgraded to work with iOS 14.3

The prominent jailbreaking tool “unc0ver” has been updated to a new milestone release, one that brings support for iOS 14.3 and earlier releases.

The ongoing jailbreak arms race between hackers and Apple has been extended once again, with the jailbreak community gaining an update for the unc0ver tool. Announced by hacker “Pwn2Ownd” via Twitter, version 6.0.0 was released on Sunday to include support for newer releases of iOS.

According to the tool’s website, it is able to unlock iPhones running iOS versions between iOS 11 and iOS 14.3. The previous milestone release of 5.0.0 in 2020 brought it up to work with iOS 13.5, while version 5.2.0 in June 2020 furthered the support to include iOS 13.5.5 beta 1.

The tool claims to be “stable” and “secure,” by using “native system sandbox exceptions” to retain security while allowing access to related jailbreak files. It has apparently been “extensively tested” to ensure there’s a “seamless experience on all devices.”

Given that there are three different sets of instructions for performing the jailbreak on macOS, with two involving 14 steps, it isn’t a process for the faint of heart.

Numerous mentions to security are made by the tool, in a bid to assure users it is safe to perform. It is also ironic, given that jailbreaking relies on vulnerabilities and flaws in iOS security to work in the first place.

While the jailbreak will work with previous releases of iOS, the latest version won’t work with the current generation, iOS 14.4. This can always change in the future, if a workaround for Apple’s security is discovered, though Apple is already working on iOS 14.5.

Though there is the argument that jailbreaking is beneficial to its proponents, such as getting apps without going through the official App Store, those same users may also be giving up on security. The numerous checks that Apple puts in place for applications in the App Store makes it a very safe digital storefront, and going around it could be a vector for malware to be installed.

Review: Sketchboard Pro saves your back and neck while using the iPad for art

The Sketchboard Pro combines the convenience of a drawing table with the security of an iPad case to give artists a comfortable place to draw.

While we love drawing on the iPad, its small size can make long drawing sessions difficult. On newer iPad models, the edge-to-edge display can make finding a comfortable position for your hands difficult.

The Sketchboard Pro is, essentially, a large case for your iPad. All you’ll need to do is press your iPad into the rubber recess, and it will securely fit in, with the screen sitting flush with the rest of the SketchBoard Pro.

Users can rest their hand to the side of their iPad, allowing them to utilize the full canvas

This flushness means you can draw edge-to-edge without needing to worry about the annoying issue of bumping your iPad while moving. It also allows you to rest your hand to the side of your screen rather than directly on it, which can eliminate those annoying false-positive gestures.

Of course, this tight fit means that you can’t use other existing cases while using the Sketchboard Pro, but we don’t tend to use a case with our iPads anyway.

We also want to mention that it is effortless to remove your iPad — just push gently from the back, and the iPad pops right out.

Nice touches

A few other little features at the surface add to the usefulness, including two spots to place your Apple Pencil and a channel you can feed your charging cable through to keep your iPad while you draw.

An integrated handle allows you to pick up and move the Sketchboard Pro with relative ease, too.

If you need access to the rear camera for some reason, there’s even a cutout in the back for the camera module.

It’s got legs that go all the way up — and down.

The pop-out legs are probably the best feature of this drawing board. When popped out, the legs tilt the Sketchboard Pro up at a 20-degree angle, similar to using a drawing desk. We found that the angle prevented back and neck pain and encouraged us to sit with better posture. The legs work for both portrait and landscape mode.

Sketchboard Pro can be utilized in both portrait and landscape modes

Sketchboard Pro can be utilized in both portrait and landscape modes

You can even pop two of the “side” legs up to create an easel mode, allowing you to work on portraits, caricatures, or even use it to hold your iPad up during a video call.

When you don’t need the legs anymore, you can pop them back in, allowing you to store the Sketchboard Pro flat, or if you’re like us, use it while leaning against the edge of a table.

The optional easel mode could be used to take zoom calls, watch movies, or display art

The optional easel mode could be used to take zoom calls, watch movies, or display art

While we didn’t find this to be an issue, the legs only pop out to one angle. For those who prefer a more extreme angle, this may not work as well as you would want.

Adaptable, upgradable

If you’re worried about spending the money on a Sketchboard Pro, only to later upgrade your iPad and find out the new one won’t fit, you can put those fears to rest.

The rubber cradle can be replaced, allowing artists to upgrade their Sketchboard Pro in the future

The rubber cradle can be replaced, allowing artists to upgrade their Sketchboard Pro in the future

Sketchboard Pro allows you to purchase individual rubber inserts — called “cradles” — for most current iPad models. Additionally, the company plans on releasing more for future models as well.

Currently, all supported iPad models include:

  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro
  • 11-inch iPad Pro
  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro
  • 9.7-inch iPad Pro
  • 2020 iPad Air
  • 2019 iPad Air
  • iPad 7
  • iPad 6

Each cradle costs $30, which is significantly less than the cost of buying a new Sketchboard Pro.

Not super travel friendly

There’s one downside to the Sketchboard Pro — its size. The same thing that makes it ideal to use for drawing makes it challenging to travel with.

Now, when we mean travel, we should clarify: it would be difficult — if not impossible — to take on a plane. Because the Sketchboard Pro is 19.5 by 17 inches, it’s too large for most carry-on bags (though you should always check your airliner’s requirements.) It may fit in some checked luggage, though, so your mileage may vary.

Should you not need to go on a plane, it can easily fit in any car or public transportation with minimal issue.

The iPad can be charged by passing a charging cable through the cradle

The iPad can be charged by passing a charging cable through the cradle

Of course, it isn’t easy to cart around from place to place on its own, either. It’s pretty heavy, weighing in at a bit over five pounds, and its large size means you’re unlikely to have a bag that will accommodate it. The designers do sell a bag that makes traveling with the Sketchboard Pro a little easier, so if you plan on taking yours around — such as on campus or daily on your commute to work — you may want to spend the extra money.

Overall

The Sketchboard Pro is, quite possibly, the perfect accessory for those who have transitioned to doing a majority of their artwork on the iPad. It alleviates bad posture, provides a dedicated space for your iPad, and gives you a convenient way to charge your device while working.

Is it for everyone? No, probably not. The Sketchboard Pro is almost prohibitively heavy if you’re planning on transporting it from place to place, and its large size certainly requires a bit of a space investment.

Still, but its relatively low cost and easy upgradability make it the perfect tool for those of us who gave up desktop artwork programs with the advent of the Apple Pencil.

  • 20-degree drawing angle promotes better posture
  • Pass-through channel allows you to charge while you work
  • Flush design allows you to draw to the edge of your canvas
  • Can be used in horizontal, vertical, easel mode
  • Can be upgraded to fit different iPad sizes
  • Can be cumbersome to travel with
  • Heavy weight and large size can make it difficult to move and store
  • Legs only have one setting

Rating: 5 out of 5

Where to buy

Shot on iPhone film features black 'Hometown' photographers

Apple has supplemented its Hometown’ initiative for Black History Month with a Shot on iPhone film, one that follows some of the photographers as they produce images of their locales.

On February 1, Apple introduced its “Hometown” feature, as part of its marking of Black History Month. The initiative had Apple collaborate with Black photographers across the United States, taking photographs of their neighborhoods with the iPhone 12 Pro.

To go along with the images, Apple published a video to its YouTube channel titled “Hometown – Shot on iPhone,” featuring some of the photographers taking part.

The five minute video follows Lawrence Agyei of Chicago, Illinois, as well as Gabriella Angotti-Jones of Los Angeles, California; Lauren Woods of Charlotte, North Carolina; and Julien James of Washington, D.C. It was filmed by Philip Youmans, who was also the youngest ever director to win at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The video discusses the influences of the selected photographers, including their backgrounds and what they hope to achieve with their photography.

Demand for 'iPhone 13' could be boosted by iPhone 12 'supercycle'

Apple’s production of the iPhone 12 generation is continuing strong, a supply chain report from Wedbush claims, with Apple likely to continue enjoying the “supercycle” through to the “iPhone 13.”

Apple’s typical production cycle usually starts with high order levels before reducing in the spring following the lucrative holiday shopping season. In a note to investors seen by AppleInsider, the usual production dip seems to be smaller than expected.

Following the Chinese New Year, supply chain checks indicate that Apple is remaining bullish on its production, write analysts Daniel Ives and Strecker Backe. Rather than any major changes to expected reductions in production, there are only a few “tweaks to near-term builds.”

For the March quarter, it is reckoned Apple will build between 56 million and 62 million iPhone units. Previous checks of the supply chain suggested a range of between 60 million to 70 million.

The June quarter’s initial builds are also thought to be unchanged, forecast to be in the “mid 40 million range.”

“We have not seen a robust launch trend such as this in a number of years for Apple,” the analysts offer. “The only iPhone trajectory similar would be the iPhone 6 in 2014 based on our analysis.”

Though Wall Street is anticipating roughly 220 million iPhone units to be produced throughout 2021, Wedbush still believes Apple could do more. Based on the current trajectory and a bull case, Apple still has the potential to sell “north of 240 million units,” or even an “eye-popping” 250 million.

This sentiment was raised on February 21 in a previous Wedbush investor note, which hinted at the “robust strength” of demand.

Wedbush isn’t the only firm to believe Apple is enjoying a very strong iPhone cycle. A February 25 note from JP Morgan adjusted its iPhone shipment estimates for 2021 from 236 million to 230 million, which still represents a 13% volume increase from 2020.

As part of the report, the analysts also received their first reads for probable builds of the “iPhone 13,” due this fall. Initial supply chain builds for the group are expected to be around 100 million, up from the 80 million reads seen at the same time last year for the iPhone 12.

In theory, this would represent a year-on-year increase in production of 25%. In reality, the figure could certainly change, though it does indicate something to the analysts.

“We believe this speaks to an increased confidence with Cook & Co. that this 5G driven product cycle will extend well into 2022,” the note states. It also mentions how Apple could benefit from a “post-vaccine consumer reopening environment,” with customers able to shop and spend more freely as efforts to immunize populations from COVID-19 continue.

In terms of what to expect, the “iPhone 13” is reckoned to benefit from a 1TB storage option, increasing the current maximum of 512GB. Other enhancements are also touted, such as LiDAR across all models.

Wedbush has a 12-month price target for Apple of $175, and rates the company as “Outperform.”

Drones grabbed in midair for complex Apple TV+ 'Cherry' shots

Shooting Apple TV+’s “Cherry” was a challenge, a camera operator reveals, with a drone grabbed in mid-air and manually moved into position for one lengthy shot.

Films and TV shows often rely on new technologies to get the right shot for the production, but sometimes a more ingenious solution is required. In an article speaking with veteran camera operators, “Cherry” for Apple TV+ required a drone to be manhandled for a particular sequence.

The scene in question was one continuous shot of a Humvee convoy traveling over a mile, Variety reports. Furthermore, the shot would require not only the convoy to be seen, but also for close-up shots of the actors.

To accomplish this, camera operator Geoffrey Haley worked with a drone operator, to enable the capture of the whole convoy. Dressed in costume, Haley would intercept the drone at a specific point and manually control it.

Haley had to “grab the drone and push it within a foot or two of the actors to play out the scene, moving it around as if it were a Steadicam,” he revealed. During this section, the rotors of the drone were powered down, enabling it to be moved safely and to cut down the noise.

Later in the sequence, Haley would release the drone. The drone operator regained control of the craft, and continued on the planned path.

“The decision to do the shot like that was born out of us showing up on the day thinking [about] how we can show this massive scale and then go into some very emotional private moments, all in the same shot,” said Haley.

This is not the only time Haley used the drone-interception technique in film, as the same concept was used to film the upcoming movie “Fast 9.”

Following the story of a young man from Cleveland who joins the Army and returns home with PTSD, “Cherry” is based on the Nico Walker novel and stars Tom Holland. Filming of “Cherry” originally started in 2019, and was completed before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is set to air on Apple TV+ on March 12.

A $200,000 iPhone scam and a subway fight in the Apple Crime Blotter

An iPad helps police track Ludacris’ stolen Mercedes, additional arrests are made concerning the Schipol airport heist, and more from the Apple crime blotter.

The latest in an occasional AppleInsider series, looking at the world of Apple-related crime.

Woman charged with taking over $200,000 worth of iPhones

A New York woman was brought up on federal charges on February 10 for fraudulently obtaining over $200,000 worth of iPhones.

According to the statement by the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, the scheme entailed obtaining replacement phones from an insurance company by falsely assuming the identities of wireless customers and filing false claims. The phones were then shipped via UPS and FedEx.

The woman was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

Man sentenced to 33 months in Best Buy laptop scam

In late January, a New York man became the second person sentenced in connection with a scam involving a false credit line at Best Buy locations in Louisiana.

The Department of Justice’s statement reveals the two defendants flew from New York to Louisiana in June of 2019 and opened a $4,000 line of credit at a Best Buy in Baton Rouge. However, the two men were denied in their attempt to purchase a MacBook Pro and were later arrested.

The second man has been sentenced to 33 months in prison after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

Michigan businessmen charged with scheme involving stolen iPhones

Federal prosecutors have brought charges against a pair of businessmen in suburban Detroit in connection with a scheme that involved the fencing of stolen iPhones and money laundering by a Detroit street gang.

The Detroit News reports the charges resulted from a six-year investigation, and the reporter described “a black market scheme involving suburban businessmen, a violent Detroit street gang, secret cash payments inside a liquor store and an international pipeline of stolen electronics.”

Man arrested for role in Capitol riot texted ex-girlfriend, who turned him in

In late February, a Pennsylvania man was charged for his role in the January 6 Capitol riot, turned in by his former girlfriend. The criminal complaint states the man texted the woman from the Capitol.

The complaint says the man sent photos, videos, and messages — including one stating “if you can’t see the election was stolen you’re a moron.” The woman later provided information about the man’s device and telephone number.

In photos that surfaced of the man from that day, he appeared to be holding up an iPhone. He was charged with knowingly entering a restricted building, violent entry, and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Police used iPad to track Ludacris’ stolen Mercedes

In late January, rapper and actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges had his Mercedes-Benz stolen in his hometown of Atlanta, after the performer left the car running as he went to an ATM.

According to local news station 11 Alive, police attempted to track down the stolen car using Find My iPhone, following the rapper’s iPad. Police found Ludacris’ iPad, MacBook, and two Louis Vuitton bags, albeit in a different car.

The Mercedes was later found at a different location, later the same day.

Teenager fell on subway tracks while fighting iPhone thief

A teenager in New York City fought back against a pair of iPhone thieves and ended up falling between two subway cars. The New York Daily News reports the 17-year-old was on a train in Brooklyn when someone asked him for directions. When he produced his iPhone, the man grabbed it and ran.

The teen then chased the thief and an accomplice through the train, although at one point, he fell between two cars onto the tracks below. The victim was helped back onto the platform by an MTA employee and was taken to a local hospital.

More arrests in connection with 2020’s Netherlands iPhone thefts

People are still getting arrested for allegedly having a role in a major heist in March 2020, involving millions of euros worth of iPhones from Schipol Airport in Amsterdam. Police made 11 arrests on February 22 connected with the 18.5 million-euro theft and a similar, separate theft from the same airport.

According to Dutch News, searches of homes and businesses throughout the Netherlands turned up both the stolen phones and massive amounts of cash.

Man arrested before flight for stealing Apple Watches

A man from Florida was arrested in mid-February on charges that he stole Apple Watches from a Walmart in Louisiana. WCJB reports the 43-year-old attempted to board a plane to Florida but was caught before taking off.

At the time of his arrest, authorities found “a multitude of Apple products” in his bag, including iPads and AirPods.

Australian “footy WAG” pleads guilty to 2015 iPhone theft

A swimwear designer who is also known as the girlfriend of an Australian Rules Football star has pled guilty to stealing an iPhone 6 from a carwash in 2015. The Queensland Times writes the theft was in retaliation for the carwash having scratched the woman’s black Porsche.

The woman founded a successful swimwear line that’s known to be favored by the Kardashians, but her attorney described her as “a single mother whose business was operating at a loss due to COVID.”

Man arrested for using iPhone, Apple Watch to peep on women

Police say a Florida convenience store clerk was arrested after he was caught using an iPhone hidden under a bathroom sink and a connected Apple Watch to take photographs of women. CBS 17 reports the man was caught when one woman found the phone in the bathroom, unlocked it, and found the pictures on it.

When police arrived, the clerk first claimed his phone had been stolen, but then the authorities found a picture of him on the phone. The clerk was charged with video voyeurism.

Restaurant offers free meal in return for stolen iPad

In Malaysia, a Vegan restaurant that had its iPad stolen in early February is offering a free meal to the thief, provided he returns the device and apologizes.

“We are urgently looking for this thief who entered our restaurant and stole our iPad. If anyone knows him, please ask him to contact us and return our iPad, and we will consider not reporting the case to the police,” explains World of Buzz.

Red iPhone with $2 bill helped bust accused jewelry store thief

A Delaware man was arrested for carrying out three different robberies of jewelry stores in New Jersey. Part of what got him caught was a distinctive iPhone case.

According to Delaware Online, witnesses present at more than one of the robberies noticed the robber was carrying “a red iPhone with a $2 bill stuck in a translucent case,” along with a specific Lacoste beanie. The man is suspected of similar robberies in other states.

Review: Keychron K3 is a classic mechanical keyboard in a modern compact form

The Keychron K3 is a particularly well-designed slimline mechanical keyboard, but its chief competition is other keyboards from the same manufacturer.

If you don’t like mechanical keyboards, then the Keychron K3 is not going to change your mind — but it might come close. It’s larger than the kind of chiclet keyboard you get from Apple, yet slimline and small compared to most other mechanical ones.

Then if you do like mechanical keyboards, you’re not going to lose any of the feel or the sound by going for this. It manages to be compact without any obviously overt compromise on the travel of the keys or the rigidity of the keyboard.

Keychron’s latest keyboard follows its highly praised K2 predecessor, and the similarly rated K1 before it, in providing a solid, comfortable typing experience. Its predecessors are still available, though, and the addition of the Keychron K3 — plus the forthcoming K4 — means that it’s tricky to choose.

What makes the K3 stand out is chiefly is business that it is built to be compact. It’s compact enough that Keychron sells a separate travel pouch, plus a lightweight palm rest.

L: Keychron K3. R: Apple Magic Keyboard

L: Keychron K3. R: Apple Magic Keyboard

Design — switches and keys

Keychron describes this as an ultra-slim keyboard, and says that it is 75% of a full-size one. In practical use, it’s visibly compact but not to the extent that it’s noticeable when typing.

The sturdy aluminum body houses one of two types of key switches, an optical or a mechanical one. Either allows you to swap the keycaps to, for instance, make a Windows layout instead of a Mac one.

If it's hard to justify flashing backlight colors, it's also hard to dislike them

If it’s hard to justify flashing backlight colors, it’s also hard to dislike them

Keychron’s low-profile optical switch version goes further and features hot-swappable caps and keys, meaning you can change both without switching off the keyboard.

Then for that optical switch version, there are six further options, each of which is claimed to be 40% slimmer than current regular switches.

These six switches include the best-known red and blue varieties, plus brown, white, black, and orange. This is really how mechanical keyboards get their flavor, as each type of switch produces a subtly different feel — and sound.

Broadly, blue switches are loud, they need a firm press, and you can hear a distinct click as you type. Red switches are easier to press, needing less pressure, and tend to be quieter.

The others fall in between these two, and it is hard to accurately predict which will suit you the best. That said, though, they all make noise and require more typing pressure than the kind of chiclet keyboard that Apple sells.

This means that while there are these sometimes quite subtle differences, but overall you either like a mechanical keyboard or you don’t. So if you like the sound and the harder typing pressure, you’ll be happy whichever switch type you get.

AppleInsider tested red switches, and Keychron also supplied a full set of blue. You can buy blue or brown switches separately and swap out each key switch yourself, if you have the low-profile optical edition of the Keychron K3.

As well as being able to connect to three devices, switches on the back let you choose Bluetooth or cable connection, plus PC or Mac configurations.

As well as being able to connect to three devices, switches on the back let you choose Bluetooth or cable connection, plus PC or Mac configurations.

Design — backlighting and typing angle

What you can’t do after purchase with any option is change the backlighting. You have to choose between a white backlight or what Keychron calls an RGB one.

This is a multi-colored backlight where, amongst many other options, you can have it that different color lights flash as you type. You can set one color to show all the time, too, or have moving patterns across the keys.

Backlighting isn’t especially helpful when you’re a touch typist, but even when you are, it is oddly restful having these colors play across the keys. If you dislike that, you can switch off the backlight — or buy the White Backlight version instead.

Where you don’t get any choice at all, though, is in the typing angle. The Keychron K3 comes with one angle, marked by both a slight slope on the keys, and double-height rubber feet at the rear.

In regular use, that angle is fine and the keyboard feels good. Moving to it from a low-lying Apple Magic Keyboard, though, takes some adjustment because your hands are best positioned slightly higher than the bottom row.

The separate palm rest helps elevate your hands to that level. Though note that it is a truly separate rest — it does not connect to the keyboard and simply sits in front. This means that depending on the surface the rest is on, it can slip.

There's only one typing angle and the keyboard is taller than a standard Apple one, so this separately sold palm rest is useful

There’s only one typing angle and the keyboard is taller than a standard Apple one, so this separately sold palm rest is useful

Keychron sells the palm rest separately. It comes in versions built to suit different Keychron keyboards, but all cost $25.

Switching keys

Keychron provides a tool for lifting keys, and switches, off the keyboard. The first time you do it, you do feel as if you’re breaking off the keycap.

But then as soon as you’ve pressed a replacement into place, it is as if the new key was always there.

Removing a key or a key switch is particularly easy

Removing a key or a key switch is particularly easy

There is more you can do besides changing layout to fit Windows or Mac. You can, for instance, decide against Keychron’s default orange Escape key and replace it with a plain one.

What you can’t do, though, is replace the US-style Enter key with, for instance, a European-style Return. Those keys are different shapes, and while Keychron sells many keyboards in these different configurations, the Keychron K3 is currently only available in the US style.

Perhaps more likely to affect your buying decision is how there’s no option for a numeric keypad. That’s obviously deliberate and part of making this a compact keyboard, but it would good to have an optional, separate keypad.

Should you buy the Keychron K3

At $74 for the white backlight version, and $84 for the multi-color RGB one, the Keychron K3 is an excellent keyboard for a good price. It has a very distinct feel, and sound, but it is compact enough for it to be truly portable.

Add to that how customizable it is with different keycaps, and even switches, and it is a particularly good buy — if you like mechanical keyboards and don’t want a numeric keypad.

  • Compact design
  • Enjoyable typing experience
  • Able to switch quickly between multiple devices
  • Can come with many backlighting options
  • Picking the right switch for you is daunting
  • No numeric keypad option
  • Only one typing angle

Rating 5 out of 5

Where to buy

The Keychron K3 mechanical keyboard can be bought directly from Keychron’s website, starting at $74 for the white backlight version.

Share repurchases helped grow Berkshire Hathaway's Apple holdings

Berkshire Hathaway’s annual letter to shareholders has praised Apple, using the iPhone maker as a demonstration of how share repurchases can be a good thing for investors.

Every year, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway writes a letter to shareholders, outlining its investments and events over the previous 12 months. In the 2020 letter released on Saturday, the investment firm wrote at length about its ownership in Apple.

The company is known for its major investments over the years, and counts Apple as one of its most valuable assets. While the top asset to the firm is its property and casualty insurance operation, Apple isn’t far behind.

“Our second and third most valuable assets – it’s pretty much a toss-up at this point – are Berkshire’s 100% ownership of BNSF, America’s largest railroad measured by freight volume, and our 5.4% ownership of Apple,” the firm writes.

In explaining Berkshire Hathaway’s eagerness to repurchase shares, in that its own shares “should be repurchased at simply any price,” the company points to its investment in Apple as a demonstration of the power of repurchases.

“We began buying Apple stock late in 2016 and by early July 2018, owned slightly more than one billion Apple shares (split-adjusted,)” the firm starts. “When we finished our purchases in mid-2018, Berkshire’s general account owned 5.2% of Apple.”

The cost for the stake was $36 billion, the letter reveals, with it enjoying regular dividends averaging at about $775 million annually. It also scored an additional $11 billion by selling a “small portion” in 2020.

“Despite that sale – voila! – Berkshire now owns 5.4% of Apple,” the piece continues. “That increase was costless to us, coming about because Apple has continuously repurchased its shares, thereby substantially shrinking the number it now has outstanding.”

It is a practice Apple is likely to continue for quite some time. On February 8, Apple issued $14 billion in bonds, which it said would go towards stock buybacks among other purposes.

For Berkshire Hathaway’s investors, the investment firm’s own repurchasing of shares over 2.5 years has improved their standing. “You now indirectly own a full 10% more of Apple’s assets and future earnings than you did in July 2018,” the letter boasts.

“The math of repurchases grinds away slowly, but can be powerful over time,” Berkshire suggests. “The process offers a simple way for investors to own an ever-expanding portion of exceptional businesses.”

According to the letter, Berkshire Hathaway owned over 907 million shares in Apple as of December 31, 2020, at a cost of $31 billion. On that date, the market value for those shares was $120.4 billion.

Apple releases limited-edition Billie Eilish-themed gift card

Coinciding with the release of the Apple TV+ documentary “Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry,” Apple is offering a limited-edition version of its gift card themed to represent the musical artist.

The Billie Eilish Limited Edition Apple Gift Card is listed in the online Apple Store alongside Apple’s other designs. The new option is both the top listing and the default for the page, and is one of nine designs users can choose from.

The Billie Eilish-themed Apple logo is green on a blue background, with gradients on each of the sides to give a form of glowing effect. The logo matches the aesthetic of the documentary’s promotional images, as well as Eilish’s signature green hair coloring.

Other than the logo, the gift card spotted by 9to5Mac functions the same as all the other options, including the ability to personalize it and to vary the value. It can be sent as either an email or as a physical gift card, with the latter including a collectible sticker.

The page draws attention to the logo’s limited-edition nature, though doesn’t state how long it will be available to purchase. Further down the page, a graphic explains it is to “celebrate the launch of the new film.”

Starting from $25, the Apple Gift Card was updated in July 2020 to unify the company’s various gift cards into one solitary offering. It can be used toward buying hardware from the Apple Store itself, as well as for App Store purchases and towards the company’s other services.

Released on February 26 via Apple TV+, “Billie Eilish: the World’s a Little Blurry” gives a glimpse into the life of the Grammy Award-winning musician. This includes the early years of her career, her struggles with depression and Tourette’s Syndrome, and her numerous successes.