Friday, September 25, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Swift System Is Now Open Source

Michael Ilseman:

In June, Apple introduced Swift System, a new library for Apple platforms that provides idiomatic interfaces to system calls and low-level currency types. Today, I’m excited to announce that we’re open-sourcing System and adding Linux support! Our vision is for System to eventually act as the single home for low-level system interfaces for all supported Swift platforms.

[…]

Errors are thrown using the standard language mechanism and cannot be missed. Further, all system calls interruptible by a signal take a defaulted-true retryOnInterrupt argument, causing them to retry on failure. When combined, these two changes dramatically simplify error and signal handling.

[…]

System is a multi-platform library, not a cross-platform one. It provides a separate set of APIs and behaviors on every supported platform, closely reflecting the underlying OS interfaces.

Like Swift Argument Parser, it is not part of the standard library. I guess the advantage is that you can back-deploy the latest version of the package to older OS versions.

The Need for Stable Foundations in Software Development

Maxime Chevalier-Boisvert:

My employer was kind enough to provide me with a top of the line MacBook Pro. It’s a beautiful machine with 6 CPU cores, 32GB of RAM and a 4K display, the most powerful laptop I’ve ever owned and a valuable tool in working from home. However, unfortunately, the slick machine suffers from a number of software problems.

For one, you can charge it using any of the 4 USB-C ports, but you really should only ever charge it from the right side. Another issue I frequently run into is that I have an external monitor, and despite configuring this as my primary display, the dock will randomly jump back to the MacBook’s monitor, until I go into the settings and move the dock to the right, and to the bottom again, at which point it goes back to the external monitor, until the next time it decides to randomly jump ship. A third issue is that whenever I reboot, it stays stuck early in the boot process, displaying the white Apple logo, and does nothing. It doesn’t complete the boot process until I unplug my USB-C devices. There are more problems, I could go on.

Apple isn’t the only one with these kinds of quality assurance problems. […] Why is it that we live in a world riddled with bugs?

Nikita Prokopov:

Jay Sitter in his article People expect technology to suck writes about people who keep using tech despite heavy annoyances like very dim screen or constant popups and not doing anything about it.

[…]

And I would agree: if it was just a single case, of course, they should’ve done something about it! The point is, this happens all the time, every day, multiple times a day, and one person can dedicate only so much time to dealing with it. The stream of minor annoyances is so large people just got tired of dealing with it! And no, there’re no better alternatives.

To prove my point, I decided to record every broken interaction I had during one day.

Previously:

Pixelmator Pro Gets AppleScript Support

Pixelmator:

Big news from the Pixelmator Team, today we’re releasing a major update to Pixelmator Pro. Version 1.8, codenamed Lynx, is now here, bringing incredibly full-featured support for AppleScript.

[…]

In our quest to make AppleScript support as great and full-featured as possible, we collaborated with Sal Soghoian, the legendary user automation guru, who served at Apple for 20 years as the Product Manager of Automation Technologies, including AppleScript, Services, the Terminal, Apple Configurator and Automator, among others. We’re super glad to have had the opportunity to work with Sal. He was a big help with our scripting dictionary and we think the extra attention to detail really paid off!

John Gruber:

You can say “But AppleScript is so old and it’s such a weird frustrating language” — and you’d be right. AppleScript is really old. It’s palpably the product of a bygone era. It’s one of the last classic Mac OS era technologies that’s still kicking and relevant. But it’s what we’ve got. Clearly, Apple doesn’t care enough about professional tool automation to create an altogether new scripting system, but they care enough to keep AppleScript going.

iOS 14 Update Could Permanently Remove Fortnite

Fortnite Status:

Fortnite iOS players updating to iOS 14 may lose access to Fortnite. If the message “Temporarily Remove Apps to Install the Software Update?” is accepted, it may result in Fortnite being deleted. Fortnite cannot later be reinstalled due to Apple preventing users from doing so.

Via Nick Heer:

Apple does not explain how iOS selects which apps to temporarily remove in order to free up space, but an educated guess suggests that it removes the largest apps first. Games like Fortnite have massive bundle sizes, so that’s why it is likely to be removed for an update. Apple’s UI copy indicates that it is temporary but, because Fortnite is no longer on the App Store, it is effectively permanent.

Unfortunately, apps are not included in iCloud backups, and iTunes can no longer back up and restore iOS apps, either. You have to download them from the App Store. That can be a problem if you want to revert to a previous version or restore an app that Apple has removed.

Previously:

Widgetsmith

David Smith (tweet, App Store):

Widgetsmith lets you personalize your home screen like never before.

It starts with a wide collection of highly customizable widgets, which range in function from date, to weather, to astronomy. Each can be adjusted precisely to best fit your desired function and appearance.

This set of widgets can then be dynamically scheduled to appear on your home screen following rules you define. For example, a particular widget could show the weather first thing in the morning, then your calendar during your work day, then switch to your Activity ring progress as you wrap up your day. This lets you take full advantage of each slot on your home screen.

It’s currently #1 in the App Store’s Productivity category.

Rebecca Jennings:

There was a time not so long ago when buying an Apple product meant buying into a very specific aesthetic, one designed by men in glass-walled offices who liked to think of themselves as high-minded futurists. Their vision for that future was almost always the same: sleek, minimalist, and above all, simple.

But according to my TikTok feed over the past weekend, iPhones are now bastions of complex personal micro-identities. “How to make your iPhone home screen aesthetic AF!” begins a video tutorial with 3 million likes. On Twitter, users boast screenshots of their own creations, from Studio Ghibli to cottagecore, Mean Girls to “Katy Perry in the ‘Never Really Over’ video,” and“dirtbag Shia LaBeouf” (a personal favorite). To do so, they’re using customizable widgets with Apple’s refreshed Shortcuts app as well as other downloadable tools like Widgetsmith (The Verge has a good explainer on how to wield them). Used particularly artfully, the effects can turn the home screen of your phone into an ode to Animal Crossing or what BTS would look like in a late ’90s teen magazine — far removed from the traditional grid of rounded-edge squares with company logos.

Nick Heer:

I have no idea if Apple thought that Shortcuts and home screen widgets would allow for such wild customization, but I think it is terrific.

Jason Brennan:

I genuinely love how many people are going crazy customizing their iOS 14 homescreens and icons.

The instant craze is proof to me people are starved for (and can handle!) more options and customizability and don’t need “simplicity” as much as Apple seems to think

Julia Alexander:

It’s hard to say how long the fad will last, or how long users will keep their intricate home screens. Parrotte and Gia think part of it is simply creating the designs for clout. (“I think it’s a way for people to flex,” Gia says.) But with form factors and operating systems settling into a dull sameness, there’s a powerful appeal to having a home screen that looks different from everyone else’s.

Previously:

Arq 7 Announced

Stefan Reitshamer (tweet):

We had hoped to ship an Arq 6 update that was compatible with Arq 5 data by end of June 2020. But we wanted to ship something great, even if it takes a lot longer than we initially expected.

At some point we tried prototyping Arq 6 as a “native” UI on macOS, and realized we like it a lot better.

So, we decided to implement the entire UI as a “native” UI. It’s got better keyboard navigation, it’s more intuitive, has a smaller disk footprint, and supports drag-and-drop to easily restore files to your desktop or a Finder window. It just feels better.

It’s in private testing now. The data format and method of selecting backup items have been reworked again, and it fixes the annoying Arq 6 bug where unmounting an unrelated drive cancels all the in-progress backups.

Previously:

Thursday, September 24, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Amazon Luna Cloud Gaming Service

Amazon (via Hacker News):

Introducing Luna, Amazon’s cloud gaming service where it’s easy to play great games on devices you already own. No waiting for lengthy downloads or updates — just play.

[…]

Luna is available on PC, Mac, Fire TV and web apps for iPhone and iPad.

Sweet.

Juli Clover:

Luna will be priced at $5.99 per month, and Amazon has designed the Luna Controller, to go along with it. The $50 controller has “cloud direct technology” to cut down on latency, essentially connecting the controller directly to Amazon’s servers.

Previously:

Apple Explains Benefits of the App Store

Ben Lovejoy:

Apple is today responding to increasing antitrust pressure with an App Store PR blitz. This includes a complete revamp of its main App Store page, a new page promoting the benefits of the App Store to developers, new messaging, and a new program for developers of streaming video apps.

John Voorhees:

Apple has published new online resources about the App Store and its developer program. The new webpages cover a wide range of topics related to the App Store and developing for it, and include several new facts and insights about the Store.

[…]

There are 28 million members in the development program from 227 regions

[…]

In 2020 over 250 million user reviews were removed for not meeting integrity standards

Hartley Charlton:

Apple boasts that every week over 100,000 apps or updates are submitted and reviewed by an App Review team, which now consists of over 500 experts from around the world.

Jeff Johnson:

That’s 12 minutes per app if 500 “experts” (LOL) spend every minute of a 40 hour work week on reviews, which surely they don’t.

Previously:

Apple Video Partner Program

Stephen Warwick:

Apple has published new guidance on its Video Partner Program, which caused controversy earlier this year after it emerged some video platforms don't have to pay Apple's entire 30% App Store cut.

[…]

The big benefit for providers is that they retain 85% of sales for customers who sign up using in-app purchases. Customers are also still able to sign up outside of the app, but can then still use the payment method for transactions inside of the app, for example, Amazon Prime Video.

Apple:

Since 2016, the Apple Video Partner Program has enabled premium subscription video providers to participate in a new TV watching experience on the Apple TV app, helping customers discover the world’s best premium video content in one app, across all their devices.

Emphasis added.

Netflix does not participate, having abandoned IAP and AirPlay, but it still enjoys the “reader” clause in the guidelines, which exempts certain types of apps from having to offer IAP. The guidelines incentivize multi-platform apps. If all you have is an iOS version, IAP is required.

Damien Petrilli:

Same rules for all. Well this one was only for big corps er… hidden, but here, now it’s official. We cool?

I LOVE how Apple is basically just trying to legitimate their backroom deals by publishing some “official rules” before antitrust hearings to make a case they existed all along for everybody.

Previously:

Coalition for App Fairness

Coalition for App Fairness (Hacker News, MacRumors):

The Coalition for App Fairness is an independent nonprofit organization founded by industry-leading companies to advocate for freedom of choice and fair competition across the app ecosystem.

App Store Principles:

  1. No developer should be required to use an app store exclusively, or to use ancillary services of the app store owner, including payment systems, or to accept other supplementary obligations in order to have access to the app store.
  2. No developer should be blocked from the platform or discriminated against based on a developer’s business model, how it delivers content and services, or whether it competes in any way with the app store owner.
  3. Every developer should have timely access to the same interoperability interfaces and technical information as the app store owner makes available to its own developers.
  4. Every developer should always have access to app stores as long as its app meets fair, objective and nondiscriminatory standards for security, privacy, quality, content, and digital safety.

Good luck with #3.

30% “App Tax”:

Apple first introduced the 30% fee on apps in 2011, which forced many apps to go completely out of business. Treehouse, an online training platform, developed a reading-based app, iFlow Reader, which was one of many that fell victim to the imposed new tax. “Apple just dropped a nuclear bomb on all of us,” Treehouse declared publicly, stating that the “draconian new rules” had made it “impossible for anyone but Apple to sell books at a profit on iOS.”

It’s important to remind people that, contra Tim Cook’s testimony, the fee has not been the same since the beginning of the App Store. It has been applied to more apps and services over time.

Consumer Freedom:

The idea that a consumer could only use software sold through the same manufacturer as their laptop seems ludicrous. Except that’s exactly the rule Apple has imposed on the personal devices in billions of pockets.

Florian Mueller:

Here’s an overview of the founding members of the Coalition for App Fairness[…]

[…]

The diversity of those companies and their interests may appear to be a strength, but it will presumably be a challenge for them to agree on anything other than the benefits to them of reducing Apple's and Google's app distribution fees. That's because their business models are so different.

Marco Arment:

I don’t think I’ll be joining the Coalition for App Fairness because I don’t like other people speaking for me, but I’m glad these big companies are forming a stronger counterforce to the App Store’s policies than any of us could create on our own[…]

Also, one of the founding members is Blix, which has a history of sketchy behavior.

Previously:

macOS 10.15.7

Apple (also: MacRumors, Mr. Macintosh, Howard Oakley):

macOS Catalina 10.15.7 provides important security updates and bug fixes for your Mac.

• Resolves an issue where macOS would not automatically connect to Wi-Fi networks
• Fixes an issue that could prevent files syncing through iCloud Drive
• Addresses a graphic issue that may occur on iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2020) with Radeon Pro 5700 XT

I have not yet heard anything about whether this fixes the remaining Mail data loss bug (dragging and dropping IMAP—and possibly Exchange—messages deletes them) that remains in macOS 10.15.6.

Previously:

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

PDF Liquid Mode

Adobe (Hacker News):

Building on this continued momentum, today we’re excited to unveil Liquid Mode — the first step in a multi-year vision to fundamentally change the way people consume digital documents, and how organizations extract document intelligence to gain a competitive advantage. Leveraging the power of Adobe Sensei — our cutting-edge AI framework — to understand the structure of PDFs, we have begun to reimagine how people read and interact with digital documents, starting with reinventing mobile productivity beyond the 8.5x11 page.

[…]

Manifesting the future of PDF, Liquid Mode delivers a breakthrough reading experience that enables a much easier way to read documents on mobile.

Harry McCracken:

In its initial form, Liquid Mode is a first pass at a long-term challenge. It doesn’t yet support some of the most familiar types of PDFs, such as forms, slideshows, scans, and files that are over 10 MB or 200 pages. It also rejected the PDFs I’d made using iOS’s screenshot feature, perhaps because they were too complex. Still, when it worked, it achieved the formerly impossible: It made reading a PDF on a phone . . . actually pretty pleasant.

[…]

The company flirted with the idea of creating an all-new format that was “much richer, much better,” and not necessarily compatible with PDF as we know it. “We did some engineering work,” Parasnis says. But it quickly concluded that PDF’s compatibility and pervasiveness were such powerful assets that breaking them on purpose would be a mistake.

[…]

Which brings up another question: Will all those folks who read PDFs in non-Adobe software ever get the chance to view them in Liquid Mode? For now, the feature is exclusive to Adobe’s Reader app[…]

The core problem is that PDF stores text based on how it’s laid out rather than based on the logical sequence of characters. So Adobe has to use AI to try to recover the original structure.

macOS Containers and defaults

Jeff Johnson:

If Terminal app has Full Disk Access, then defaults write com.apple.Safari is smart enough to use the preferences file in Safari’s container. But if Terminal does not have Full Disk Access, then defaults falls back to the preferences in the ~/Library/Preferences folder! So if you do defaults write com.apple.Safari IncludeInternalDebugMenu -bool true without Full Disk Access, it’ll write to ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Safari.plist, but that has no effect, because Safari is sandboxed and only reads preferences from its own container. Note that this happens even if there’s no old file at ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Safari.plist, because defaults will create a new file when necessary.

Previously:

Anybuffer

John Voorhees (tweet):

I use clipboard manager apps in a couple of different ways on my iPhone and iPad. The first way is as long-term storage. I stash documents, snippets of text, and URLs that I need to send to people over and over, which is easier than digging around in the Files app or Dropbox.

Second, I use clipboard managers as a short-term holding pen for all sorts of information. Sometimes I’m combining an image, some text, and a URL from different apps. Other times, I find something I want to send to someone later, and I don’t want to lose track of it. Lately, I’ve been using Anybuffer for both situations. The app has been great, but with the latest version that supports widgets and the new iPad sidebar design, Anybuffer has taken a significant leap forward.

Anybuffer:

Anybuffer can’t autosave your clipboard if it is in the background, this is a limitation of iOS. This means that on iPhone you have to switch to Anybuffer to trigger auto add, on iPad the easiest way is to keep Anybuffer in Slide Over.

Why Public Betas?

Dr. Drang:

Of course, the reigning king of poor initial OS quality is iOS 13, whose many, many, many early releases would have been reminiscent of a silent movie comedy were it not for the loud groans coming from its users. But iOS 13 also had the great counter-example to public betas: the cursor/pointer support in iOS 13.4. Here was a major update kept hidden in Cupertino until it was sprung on the world in late March, and it pretty much just worked right from the start.

[…]

Which raises the question: what is the point of the public beta program? Is it really intended to improve the quality of the released version? If so, why do we keep hearing of bugs that are reported but persist throughout the beta cycle? Whatever its original purpose, the public beta program is now a marketing tool—a way to get Apple enthusiasts hyped about the new releases and hyped to buy the new products that come out alongside the new software.

Previously:

Tuesday, September 22, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Forbidden Controls in Catalyst’s Mac Idiom

Peter Steinberger:

With macOS 11 Big Sur, Catalyst learned a new presentation mode. Next to the classic mode where Catalyst apps are scaled to 77% and retain their iPad-look, there’s a new Optimize Interface for Mac mode that doesn’t use scaling and replaces various UIKit controls with AppKit counterparts.

[…]

Back to our crash - things make a bit more sense now. There’s no great equivalent for UIStepper in AppKit, so the folks at Apple decided it’s better to throw an exception if this control is used. FB8727188

The problem: It’s not documented which controls are disallowed, and even more problematic, some controls are allowed, but customizations are disallowed.

Previously:

“New Look” Outlook Shipping in October

Tom Warren (also: MacRumors):

Microsoft has been testing a new Outlook for Mac design over the past year, and it’s now ready to roll out to all users next month. The new design includes Microsoft’s Fluent icons, rounded corners, and changes to make the email app ready for macOS Big Sur.

Microsoft’s Ribbon interface has been removed, and everything looks a lot cleaner. It’s a hybrid of Apple’s macOS design and Microsoft’s own Fluent design.

[…]

While the design is the main change, there are some significant changes that won’t be as visually obvious. Microsoft is bringing its sync technology that’s used on Outlook for iOS and Android and Windows Mail to this version of Outlook for Mac. It means Office 365, Outlook.com, and even Google accounts will sync faster thanks to Microsoft’s cloud services.

However, it still lacks support for regular mail accounts (IMAP, Exchange, and POP), rules, AppleScript, and more. Presumably, you’ll still be able to switch off the new version within the app.

Scam Apps and Fleeceware

Dan Goodin:

Posing as apps for entertainment, wallpaper images, or music downloads, some of the titles served intrusive ads even when an app wasn’t active. To prevent users from uninstalling them, the apps hid their icon, making it hard to identify where the ads were coming from. Other apps charged from $2 to $10 and generated revenue of more than $500,000, according to estimates from SensorTower, a smartphone-app intelligence service.

The apps came to light after a girl found a profile on TikTok that was promoting what appeared to be an abusive app and reported it to Be Safe Online, a project in the Czech Republic that educates children about online safety. Acting on the tip, researchers from security firm Avast found 11 apps, for devices running both iOS and Android, that were engaged in similar scams.

Many of the apps were promoted by one of three TikTok users, one of whom had more than 300,000 followers. A user on Instagram was also promoting the apps.

[…]

Last month, researchers discovered more than 1,200 iPhone and iPad apps that were snooping on URL requests users made within an app. This violates the App Store’s terms of service.

Jagadeesh Chandraiah (in April, via Nick Heer, Slashdot):

In this latest round of research, we found more than 30 apps we consider fleeceware in Apple’s official App Store.

Many of these apps charge subscription rates like $30 per month or $9 per week after a 3- or 7-day trial period.

[…]

Many of the fleeceware apps we see are advertised within the App Store as “free” apps, which puts the apps at odds with section 2.3.2 of the App Store Review Guidelines, which require developers to make sure their “app description, screenshots, and previews clearly indicate whether any featured items, levels, subscriptions, etc. require additional purchases.”

Since iOS already requires apps to be sandboxed, the real protective value of the App Store is that in theory it won’t contain these sort of deceptive apps. But, for whatever reason, many of them seem to get through App Review and stay on the store for long periods of time.

Previously:

Secrets Remote Keychain

Paulo Andrade:

With this update you can now use Secrets on your iOS device as a remote keychain for filling Logins and Credit Cards on a browser running on another machine, such as on Windows or Linux.

[…]

With the updated browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome you can now pair one or more iOS devices to serve as a remote keychain. The pairing works by simply reading a QR Code from the extensions’s options page.

Then, when you get to a page with a login or payment form, you just click the Secrets toolbar icon on your browser and a request is sent to your paired devices via push notifications.

I could also see this being useful on a secondary Mac, where you may not want to or be able to store your database locally.

Previously:

Repairing by Replacing

Luke Tully (via Hacker News):

To be clear, the vast majority of my experiences with Apple Support have been pretty good. Sometimes it takes a little bit of work, but I’ve generally ended up better off than before with few exceptions. This was the single most dissapointing interaction I’ve had with any tech support rep as far as I can recall. The numbers Joe suggested in this conversation are either entirely fabricated, or belong to the cost of replacing the entire machine if its experienced catastrophic damage. But, after clarifying numerous times about what the numbers actually represent and comparing to previous repair bills for the same issue, my belief is that the rep used a false and obscured repair order to persuade me to replace my girlfriend’s minimally damaged screen with a new computer.

For decades, my experience with Apple hardware was that it was very reliable. Sometimes an issue would crop up in the first year or so and get fixed under warranty. After that, it would essentially keep working “forever.”

Lately, I’ve had bad luck, with issues appearing after AppleCare has expired. My iPad mini and iPhone SE both swelled so that the display separated from the case. Apple’s support advised that this was probably due to the battery, so the devices were not safe to use. But the costs to repair, even though I consider this a defect rather than user error, were almost as much as buying a new device.

The display of my Mac, which has never left my desk, is also detaching from the case. I doubt there is a safety issue, though, so I just keep using it.

Previously:

Monday, September 21, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

A Visual History of System Preferences

Arun Venkatesan:

Early versions of OS X until 10.3 included a favorites bar at the top where users could drag and drop their favorite settings. In 10.4, this was removed and replaced with the search feature that highlights matching icons as you type a query.

[…]

In the first OS X Public Beta, a shade drawn over a window represented Energy Saver. Before release, the now recognizable light bulb took its place.

Over the years, the icon has represented the most efficient light bulb technology of the time. So, in 10.5, the icon changed from an incandescent bulb to a more efficient compact fluorescent. Then, in 10.10, the light bulb changed again to an LED design.

Via Nick Heer:

I particularly appreciated this explanation of the two different dates often seen in Apple’s calendar-related icons[…]

Previously:

NetNewsWire 5.1 for Mac

Brent Simmons:

The announcement on the NetNewsWire blog has the full scoop, including a download link.

[…]

New features (to NetNewsWire for Mac) include Feedly syncing, a Reader view, the ability to hide read articles and feeds, swipe actions in the timeline, support for non-ASCII characters in URLs, and more.

Friday, September 18, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Safari 14

Juli Clover:

Safari 14 brings improved performance, customizable start pages, a Privacy Report to see which cross-site trackers are being blocked, and a new tab bar design that provides tab previews so you can see what you have open at a glance. Today’s update also removes Adobe Flash.

I’m seeing a bug [Update (2020-09-19): fix] that affects sending the selected text to a system service or Quick Action.

Simo Ahava:

For the first time, WebKit’s tracking prevention measures are exposed to the user (beyond enabling the Intelligent Tracking Prevention debug mode).

[…]

The Privacy Report means, quite simply, that WebKit’s global tracking protections, such as truncating all cross-site referrers and blocking all cookie access in third-party context have been applied to all the cross-site HTTP requests sent from the site, including but not limited to those shown in the Privacy Report.

The purpose of this approach is without a doubt to just show how the biggest trackers on the web have been prevented from cross-site tracking, but the measures are not limited to just these domains. Nor are WebKit’s ITP measures applied to these domains automatically (I repeat: WebKit does not use blocklists - it classifies domains algorithmically).

Jeff Johnson:

The Safari 14 release notes didn’t mention an important new feature: support for web extensions. Probably because there aren’t any Safari web extensions yet! But support is indeed there for web extensions in Safari 14 for Catalina and Mojave. Previous versions of Safari already had support for Apple-specific app extensions, such as my own StopTheMadness, but Safari 14 also supports the cross-platform WebExtensions API used by Firefox and Google Chrome. Unfortunately, that support is not complete. Ever since the Big Sur beta was released at WWDC in June, I’ve been working on a brand new Safari web extension that I’m really excited about, and I think you will be too. I would love to release it now that Safari 14 is publicly available, but I can’t, because I found a bug in Safari’s web extension support that’s a showstopper for my extension. In short, the bug is that run_at document_start is not reliable in Safari.

The State of SwiftUI

Peter Steinberger (tweet, 2, Hacker News):

Since then, there have been many betas, and we’re nearing the end of the cycle, with the [Big Sur] GM expected in October. So it’s time to look at Fruta again. And indeed, the SwiftUI team did a great job fixing the various issues: The toolbar is pretty reliable, the sidebar no longer jumps out, multiple windows works… however, views are still sometimes misaligned, and it’s still fairly easy to make it crash on both macOS (FB8682269) and iOS 14b8 (FB8682290).

[…]

Most SwiftUI crashes are a result of either a diffing issue in AttributeGraph, or a bug with one of the bindings to the platform controls (AppKit or UIKit). Whenever you see AG::Graph in the stack trace, that’s SwiftUI’s AttributeGraph (written in C++), which takes over representing the view hierarchy and diffing. […] Googling for this error reveals that there are a lot of similar problems.

[…]

This isn’t unique to Fruta. I’ve been taking a look at @Dimillian’s RedditOS app, which is built with SwiftUI on macOS. He stopped development because it’s so slow that it’s not shippable.

This is sad because stability and speed are supposed to be the selling points of Swift.

Frank Reiff:

On the Mac, Swift UI is so far away from being practical that Apple might well have moved on to the next technology before it is.

Mac apps need to be backwards compatible for at least 5 years, so if Swift UI is ready in 2022, it can’t be used until 2027.

It will be really interesting to see what happens with companies like Omni Group who try to go all-in on SwiftUI. On the Mac side, it just doesn’t make sense to me at this point, both because of the limitations with first responder and more advanced controls and because of the potential bugs and performance issues. Making the easy stuff even easier doesn’t seem worth possibly painting yourself into a corner. Also, roughly 1/3 of my customers can’t run SwiftUI apps at all.

Nathan Lawrence:

I wouldn’t use Fruta as a model for SwiftUI, even though Apple does.

It’s not well structured, it has huge bugs, cruft from different approaches to certain problems that got abandoned months ago…it’s not an illustration of the framework or its inner mechanics at their best.

I think what you learn when you build with SwiftUI at any kind of magnitude is that you’re a little on your own. Many approaches that experts or instructors (including at friggin Stanford University!) offer are just plain nonfunctional or inefficient.

This is not because SwiftUI is broken — there are some decisions I disagree with, sure, and often those decisions can be a big enough problem the require some workarounds or extra coding of your own - but because it’s poorly documented and explained. It is evolving so fast.

Roshan Choxi:

For frontend designers and developers trying to deal with building UI that runs across dozens of devices, the goal of “write once, run anywhere” has been the panacea of UI development. If anyone had the motivation, talent, and platform control to achieve this goal it would be Apple. And I believe they have been largely successful with SwiftUI.

[…]

As great as SwiftUI does at universal UI code, it demonstrates that there is still a large amount of code that needs to be specific to the device because of the spectrum of different sizes, inputs, accessories, and hardware performance of different devices.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

As a situational tool, SwiftUI is awesome. There’s no way I’d trust it to build an app directly, it’s nowhere near reliable enough for that, but it’s great for providing the content views for your UIKit view controllers and reducing so much manual layout code or storyboard work

Damien Petrilli:

My favorite SwiftUI bugs: when it crashes internally without knowing which line of code is involved so you have to troubleshoot, line by line, without any clue.

Samuel Coe:

I can’t bring myself to release this horribly buggy experience to users (thanks SwiftUI).

My faith that Apple fixes this is low and I’m feeling really let down that these keyboard-avoidance issues weren’t fixed in Beta.

This is a big lesson learned for me.

Previously:

Apple Says Epic Is “Saboteur, Not a Martyr”

Tina Davis (Slashdot, 9to5Mac):

In an overnight filing, Apple said “Epic started a fire, and poured gasoline on it, and now asks this court for emergency assistance in putting it out.” Epic can fix the problem “by simply adhering to the contractual terms that have profitably governed its relationship with Apple for years.”

How can they do that when Apple terminated their account said “we will deny your reapplication to the Apple Developer Program for at least a year”?

Apple told the court that removing the game from its store wasn’t anticompetitive because Epic’s players can use other mobile devices or PCs, laptops, or gaming consoles. “Only a fraction of Epic’s customers access Fortnite using an iPhone, and Epic’s revenues from other platforms greatly exceed its revenues from iPhone players,” Apple said.

Florian Mueller:

The numbers that Apple’s opposition brief provides speak a clear language:

“Apple has taken this approach thousands of times with other developers and their affiliates.”

[...]

“Apple has terminated over 75,000 unique accounts for introducing new features without going through App Review; over 2,000 accounts for introducing a non-IAP payment method; and over 60,000 accounts for introducing hidden features or obfuscating code (for example, by installing executable code).”

[...]

“Apple does not wait to be fooled a second time before terminating an affiliate for the bad deeds of its principals.”

So it’s not just that the language of Apple’s contracts allow such termination; it’s routinely done.

Florian Mueller:

Apple’s filing furthermore explains that Unreal Engine is not the market leader--Unity is. While Unreal Engine is, according to Apple, “used by a minuscule fraction of iPhone apps,” Unity (which my app development company uses as well) “characterizes itself as ‘the world’s leading platform for creating and operating interactive, real-time 3D content,’ and is available for ‘more than 20 platforms, including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and the leading augmented and virtual reality platforms, among others.’” Apple goes on to say that “Unity is used by the overwhelming majority of Apple developers that use a graphics engine.”

M.G. Siegler:

I don’t think that Apple, while they might be explicitly following the letter of what Jobs said back then, I don’t think they’re following the intents of what was implied by what he was saying. If you go back and read those quotes, I think he’s basically saying, look, we’re launching this new in-app purchase service because we’re trying to make the best user experience for people to be able to transact within our apps and on our devices. And we think that we can create a better experience for those users using what at the time was the iTunes Rails to be able to pay for these subscription services, and now it’s obviously all run through the App Store. And if you feel like, if you’re a service that brings in your own users a different way and you can do that, that’s great, you get to keep all of that money. And if they choose to use our Rails to do it, then we’ll take that 30% cut.

And we can talk about the 30% cut itself in a second, but I just think that Apple has deviated from that mentality and now it’s all just like, how do we make sure that we are getting that 30% cut and they are signing up are via our mechanism. So it feels like they’re not so much competing on having the best experience or product necessarily anymore. They’re competing on obfuscation and trying to make it confusing and/or just like impossible to sign up.

[…]

I think that they should get a lot more granular in terms of how they support those types of businesses and recognize that not every type of business necessarily should be taking a 30% cut of their revenue out of, and I know that they’ve changed it slightly over the years. They have the 30% finder’s fee that again morphs into a 15% thing in year two and whatnot. But some of that was just because of back-end deals that they cut with some of the other bigger players like Amazon, and then they felt like probably some level of hypocrisy if they didn’t offer it to everyone, but there’s still a lot of hypocrisy going on behind the scenes.

Bobby Allyn (via Hacker News):

“It’s not just Epic being exploited by Apple, but it’s every developer who goes along with that scheme colluding with Apple and Google to further their monopoly,” Sweeney said in the interview. “These stores are making a lot more money from creative works than the creators.”

[…]

A 30% fee on new technologies in the future, Sweeney says, can stifle innovation. And more than that, “it’s going to be one of the worst dystopias you can imagine from the science fiction literature with a few corporations controlling not just digital items and games but everything,” he said.

The Fortnite Team:

Apple is preventing Epic from signing games and patches for distribution on Mac, which ends our ability to develop and offer Fortnite: Save the World for the platform. Specifically, our upcoming v14.20 release will cause bugs for players on v13.40, resulting in a very poor experience. Since we are no longer able to sign updates and release fixes for these issues, beginning September 23, 2020, Fortnite: Save the World will no longer be playable on macOS.

We are issuing a refund for all players who purchased any Save the World Founder’s or Starter Packs (including Upgrades) and played Save the World on macOS between September 17, 2019 and September 17, 2020. Additionally, any purchased V-Bucks spent on Llamas on macOS in this period will also be refunded.

Current Mac versions of Fortnite are signed with the Epic Games International certificate, which hasn’t been revoked. That account is otherwise used for Unreal Engine and related sample apps. In theory, Epic could sign new Fortnite builds with this certificate, but Apple would see that as trying to get around the termination of the main Epic account and perhaps endanger Unreal Engine.

Previously:

Thursday, September 17, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Swift 5.3 Released

Holly Borla:

Swift 5.3 significantly improves both binary code size and runtime memory usage. Measurements of these improvements have yielded exciting results across various projects[…]

[…]

The automatic indentation implementation in SourceKit was overhauled in this release, fixing ~50 feedback reports in the process.

[…]

Repeated code completion invocations inside function bodies are now up to 15 times faster compared to Swift 5.2.

[…]

Swift 5.3 builds upon the diagnostics improvements in Swift 5.2 to further enhance the quality and precision of error messages, especially in SwiftUI code. More specifically, the transition to the New Diagnostics Architecture is now complete in Swift 5.3!

Previously:

Setting Default Apps in iOS 14

Chance Miller:

One of the new features in iOS 14 is the ability to change the default email or browser app to a third-party alternative such as Chrome, Edge, or Outlook. A bug in the first public release of iOS 14, however, causes your default browser or mail app setting to reset to Mail or Safari when your iPhone or iPad reboots.

You can tell which features and services Apple uses a lot internally.

Tim Hardwick:

The latest version of Google Chrome now supports this ability, so anyone on iOS 14 can set Google’s app as their default browser and it will be used to automatically open web page links that are tapped in other apps.

Juli Clover:

Privacy-focused browser DuckDuckGo is now able to be set as the default browser app on the iPhone and the iPad, serving as an alternative to Safari. With DuckDuckGo set as the default, links that you tap on an iPhone or iPad will open in DuckDuckGo instead of Safari.

Juli Clover:

Microsoft has updated its Outlook app for iOS devices to enable support for the new iOS 14 feature that lets third-party mail and browser apps be set as default apps (via The Verge).

Khaos Tian:

The default browser implementation is really lame…this alert will show all the time when you try to open a link 😒

I haven’t seen other complaints about this, so hopefully it was fixed in the GM.

Peter Steinberger:

PSA [to developers]: You want to add http/https to LSApplicationQueriesSchemes.

Previously:

Update (2020-09-22): John Voorhees:

New alternatives are being released all the time[…]

[…]

As easy as the process of switching is, though, the feature is not bug-free. I have been unable to get iOS or iPadOS to recognize my new default email client after I switch it.

Sleep Is Now in Health

Philipp Defner:

I’m using the iOS Bedtime feature for years now. With yesterday’s iOS 14 update the feature got moved from the Clock app to the Health app. Unfortunately the migration is done by disabling your existing alarm and showing a button to open the Health app to set it up again.

This is the sort of detail that Apple should get right. The Automatic Updates setting was similarly not migrated properly, although that was likely less consequential than causing people to wake up late.

Previously:

Wednesday, September 16, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Authoring Mac Help Books in 2020

Mario Guzman (tweet):

Apple’s own documentation for Apple Help has moved to the documentation archive on their developer site. You’ll find tons of questions on Stack Overflow and other… more questionable sites. Apple did do a minor revision to their documentation back in 2013. 2013!!!

By now, 2020, Apple Help is neglected and well, crusty. Very crusty (no, not that Crusty). It still works but certain parts of it don’t seem to work as well anymore. Not sure why it’s neglected. They advise you include a Help Book in their HIG that was recently published — and they link to the documentation (from 2013). Personally, I think they have a lot of potential and a lot to offer. I just wish this was a component at Apple that would get some attention in both development and documentation.

[…]

I spent countless hours and days trying to piece together all the information from all corners of the internet to build a Help Book. It was super frustrating and excruciatingly time consuming. I don’t want anyone else to feel this way so I hope this speeds things up for the next Mac Developer who wants to include a Help Book with their awesome app!

I prefer the hiutil command-line tool over the Help Indexer app because I can invoke it from my build script.

Previously:

Tageslicht 1.0

The Coding Monkeys:

If you find yourself frequently in the vicinity of great TV screens with AirPlay support, this app is for you. For us and our famlies it has become second nature to just project our foto library onto them to have a great group experience. However, every now and then we want to show something physical too. But if you just mirror the built in camera or loupe app, you never get a pleasant result. Black bars, incorrect rotation or the touch interface icons overlaying everything.

With Tageslicht you now have a great experience streaming your camera so it fills the screen, is low latency, and shows exactly what you want it to show.

What’s Left to Do After Migration?

Adam Engst:

During the setup of the new iMac, I had no issues migrating all my data from the Samsung T5 SSD that I had been using to boot the old iMac, but I was somewhat surprised at how much additional work was necessary afterward. The promise implicit in Setup Assistant’s migration is that you won’t have to reconfigure everything and can just get back to work.

It’s a nice idea, but in reality, there are numerous areas where Setup Assistant simply doesn’t—and probably can’t—save you from additional work. All of these relate to how the underlying identity of the Mac has changed, even if its name and the names of all the drives in play remain the same.

[…]

However, there are also a few instances of apps that have requested permission to something on the old Mac that did not migrate to the new one.

Wikipedia Matters

Marit Hinnosaar et al. (PDF):

We document a causal impact of online user-generated information on real-world economic outcomes. In particular, we conduct a randomized field experiment to test whether additional content on Wikipedia pages about cities affects tourists’ choices of overnight visits. Our treatment of adding information to Wikipedia in- creases overnight stays in treated cities compared to non-treated cities. The impact is largely driven by improvements to shorter and relatively incomplete pages on Wikipedia. Our findings highlight the value of content in digital public goods for informing individual choices.

Via Ethan Mollick:

Adding two paragraphs of text & nice pictures to randomly selected articles about small European cities led to an over 9% increase in hotel stays; the edit is worth $190k per year!

Ethan Mollick:

As any academic will tell you, influencing the direction of science through research is hard... so here is an easier path. One quality Wikipedia article written by chemistry experts influenced the content of 250 published peer-reviewed academic papers!

Wikipedia is an MMORPG (via Hacker News):

One theory that explains the addictive nature of Wikipedia and its tendency to produce Wikipediholics is that Wikipedia is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). The following article explains how Wikipedia shares many characteristics with MMORPGs.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Apple One

Apple (MacRumors, Hacker News):

  • Individual includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 50GB of iCloud storage for $14.95 per month.
  • Family includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 200GB of iCloud storage for $19.95 per month, and can be shared among up to six family members. 
  • Premier, where available, includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, Apple Fitness+, and 2TB of iCloud storage for $29.95 per month, and can be shared among up to six family members.

Update (2020-09-22): Ben Thompson:

To me the biggest hangup is the first one: the degree to which a bundle is compelling is the degree to which it is integrated with and contributes to a company’s core business model, and, in contrast to these other four companies, it’s a bit of a stretch to see how Apple One really move the needle when it comes to buying an iPhone or not.

iOS 14 Shipping Tomorrow, Xcode 12 GM

Joe Rossignol:

Apple today announced that iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14 will be officially released on Wednesday, September 16.

This makes perfect sense considering that the iOS 14 GM and Xcode 12 GM have been available since this afternoon. So developers have several hours in which to test and submit their updates and get them approved in the App Store.

The download page for Xcode 12 GM says:

Xcode 12 includes everything you need to create amazing apps for all Apple platforms. Includes the latest SDKs for iOS, watchOS, and tvOS, and macOS Catalina. For development on macOS Big Sur or to support Apple silicon, continue to use Xcode 12 beta 6.

Presumably, final development for Big Sur will require a forthcoming Xcode 12.1. I’m not sure why they couldn’t put the Big Sur SDK in Xcode 12.0, though. This makes development more complicated.

Update (2020-09-16): Juri Pakaste:

So “Time Flies” referred to the iOS release schedule, huh

Jesse Squires (Hacker News, also):

Given the increasingly tenuous relationship that Apple has with developers, I do not understand how it could be in their interest to act like such an asshole right now. Not to mention, it is unlikely that they will even be able to review all of these app submissions in time. We already do not feel valued due to the aforementioned issues, and this is an outright negligent response to developer relationships the company has damaged over the past few years. Announcing that iOS 14 ships tomorrow with virtually no notice to developers is yet another breach of trust, another disappointment, and quite frankly feels like a big ‘fuck you’ to developers.

Paul Haddad:

“Dear iOS dev. Because of X we had to make some tough choices and release iOS 14 without enough time for you to prepare. We’ll be doing Y to prevent this from happening again. We’re sorry.”

Would go a long way. Will never happen.

Josh Avant:

Talked to iOS lead at a popular app. Apple made their usual petition to develop new-to-iOS 14 features for launch day. Things were broken in betas, are still broken in GM, and this whole kerfuffle has prevented them from shipping + being day one partner Apple asked them to be.

Peter Steinberger:

Apple removed OSLogStore completely from iOS with the GM release. This is a surprising move and really sad.

The removal of this API will make logging slower and less secure for everyone.

Marco Arment:

I thought I was being smart by submitting an update built with the 13 SDK on Monday, a day before the likely 14 GM release and rush of submissions.

I think it backfired. 14 SDK apps are being prioritized and reviewed in record time. I bet 13 apps are at the bottom of the queue.

Xcode Releases:

The website and API have been updated. To keep things “simple”, 12A7209 has replaced 12A7208.

Seán Labastille:

For posterity: The tale of two Xcode 12 GMs — 12A7208 and 12A7209, built only days apart and yet at least a week before their sudden release.

Interestingly builds from 12A7208 have been approved for the App Store.

Update (2020-09-17): Matt Birchler (also: MacRumors):

Why do devs want to have updates out on the day (and ideally time) new iOS versions come out? Well, customers are going to install the update and hear about things like widgets that are flagship features. Customers are going to look for apps that have widgets, and Apple is going to feature apps that did updates to use the new features. Major sites like 9to5Mac and Techcrunch are going to feature lists of apps that use the new features, also driving sales.

[…]

iOS 14 updates need to be built using the final build of Xcode, which was also released yesterday afternoon. That means even if you were done weeks ago, you need to rebuild your app with the new version of Xcode.[…]

Jason Snell:

I’d really love to know why Apple ended up releasing the software in this fashion. I want believe that it was just an unfortunate chain of events that forced this timing. Clearly the App Review team was prepared for an onslaught of app submissions from surprised developers, so someone at Apple knew this was coming.

Juli Clover:

Apple has released iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, the newest operating system updates designed for the iPhone and iPad.

Update (2020-09-18): Renaud Lienhart:

Releasing the GMs 24h before the public release is indefensible, if not solely for the fact that Xcode 12.0 crashes simply opening the Documentation Viewer.

Update (2020-09-22): Howard Oakley:

As millions of users were upgrading their iPhones to iOS 14, its third-party developers were in for another of Apple’s treats: suddenly, the first beta of iOS 14.2 was released to them for testing. Not 14.1, which presumably fixes some of the bugs already known to have missed the premature release of 14.0, but 14.2. In just three sleepless days and nights, iOS developers had been shot from 14.0 beta to 14.2 beta.

Somehow Apple managed to expedite product review for tens or even hundreds of thousands of apps, although I suspect that review wasn’t as thorough (pernickety, according to many developers) as usual.

Technology Evangelist:

This [documentation crash] affects Xcode 12 when downloaded from the Mac App Store. We’re aware of the problem and we’re working on a fix.

As a workaround in the meantime, documentation is available on developer.apple.com, or if necessary, Xcode 12 can be downloaded from the More Downloads area.

iPad 8 and iPad Air

Apple (MacRumors):

Apple today introduced the eighth-generation iPad, featuring the powerful A12 Bionic chip that brings the Neural Engine to the entry iPad for the first time. Starting at just $329, the upgrade packs even more value into the most popular and affordable iPad, featuring a stunning 10.2-inch Retina display, advanced cameras, and great all-day battery life.

Apple (MacRumors, Hacker News):

Apple today introduced an all-new iPad Air — the most powerful, versatile, and colorful iPad Air ever. Now available in five gorgeous finishes, iPad Air features an all-screen design with a larger 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display, camera and audio upgrades, a new integrated Touch ID sensor in the top button, and the powerful A14 Bionic for a massive boost in performance, making this by far the most powerful and capable iPad Air ever made.

[…]

Wi-Fi models of iPad Air will be available with a starting price of $599 (US) and Wi-Fi + Cellular models start at $729 (US). The new iPad Air, in 64GB and 256GB configurations, will be available in five beautiful finishes including silver, space gray, rose gold, green, and sky blue.

Here’s the event coverage.

Previously:

Update (2020-09-16): Gene Munster:

Biggest news saved for last: iPad Air priced at $599 is up from previous $499 price. Evidence that Apple continues to experience huge iPad demand and company confident that the 20% price increase won’t slow that down. We estimate iPad is 11% of total revenue and iPad Air is 4%.

David Ruddock:

Re: Education

iPad being 6x faster than the “best selling chromebook” is meaningless as long as iPads are comparatively expensive ($300 + keyboard + case), fragile, and ridiculously difficult to administer on the IT side.

Nothing about today changes any of that.

Update (2020-09-17): John Gruber:

But what’s most remarkable about the new iPad Air are two technical firsts: it’s the first device with an A14-series SoC and the first Apple device with a Touch ID sensor in the power button.

[…]

Touch ID in the iPad Air’s power button raises the question of whether that might be true for the iPhone 12 as well — not as a replacement for Face ID but as a face-mask-friendly supplement to it. I’m going to guess no. I think this pandemic struck far too late for ubiquitous face-mask-wearing to factor into Apple’s design for the iPhone 12. But it’s interesting to think that the mid-range iPad now has a feature millions of people would rather see in high-end iPhones.

Mark Wilson:

The button looks like just the sort of micro engineering feat that Apple is so good at. It’s comprised of a laser-cut sapphire top (a hard glass, essentially), a tiny stainless steel frame, and a rectangular sensor underneath. But on the outside, it looks and works pretty much like the Apple power button always has. There’s no aesthetic compromise or new gesture for the user to learn. It’s simply a boring old component given an apropos upgrade. (In fairness to who did it first, Samsung has a similar button in its Galaxy S10e.)

Craig Grannell:

Now the iPad Air has USB-C out, Apple’s seeming reluctance regarding full external display support for iPad is increasingly baffling. Surely the ideal should be to position the iPad as a fully modular device that promotes strong ergonomics?

Jason Snell:

But in scrupulously adhering to the comparisons to the A12, Apple is not telling us how much faster the base A14 processor—likely the foundation of the next generation of iPad Pro models and possibly even the first round of Macs running Apple Silicon—is compared to its immediate [predecessor].

[…]

I don’t think Apple’s doing this because it’s not proud of the A14. (On the contrary, Apple seems very aware of how important this chip is, including the fact that it’s Apple’s first to be manufactured using Taiwan Semiconductor’s new 5-nanometer process.) No, this is about leaving some space for Apple’s forthcoming iPhone launch event to boast a bit more about the A14.

Apple Watch Series 6, SE, and Fitness+

Apple (MacRumors, Hacker News):

Apple today announced Apple Watch Series 6, introducing a revolutionary Blood Oxygen feature that offers users even more insight into their overall wellness. Apple Watch Series 6 delivers many notable hardware improvements, including a faster S6 System in Package (SiP) and next-generation always-on altimeter, along with its most colorful lineup yet, featuring a beautiful palette of new case finishes and bands.

[…]

Using a new dual-core processor based on A13 Bionic in iPhone 11, the upgraded S6 SiP runs up to 20 percent faster, allowing apps to also launch 20 percent faster, while maintaining the same all-day 18-hour battery life. Additionally, Apple Watch Series 6 features the U1 chip and Ultra Wideband antennas, which will enable short-range wireless location to support new experiences, such as next-generation digital car keys. Apple Watch Series 6 offers faster charging, completing a full charge in under 1.5 hours, and improved battery life for tracking certain workouts, such as indoor and outdoor runs.

[…]

Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS) starts at $399 and Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS + Cellular) starts at $499.

Apple (MacRumors):

Apple today announced Apple Watch SE, packing the essential features of Apple Watch into a modern design customers love — all at a more affordable price. The largest and most advanced Retina display allows customers to easily see more details and the information that matters most, right on their wrist. Apple Watch SE features the same accelerometer, gyroscope, and always-on altimeter as Apple Watch Series 6, and with the latest motion sensors and microphone, it offers robust health and safety capabilities including fall detection, Emergency SOS, international emergency calling, and the Noise app.

[…]

Apple Watch SE (GPS) starts at $279 and Apple Watch SE (GPS + Cellular) starts at $329.

Juli Clover:

With the launch of the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple has discontinued the higher-end premium ceramic Apple Watch models that were previously available.

Apple (MacRumors, Hacker News):

Apple today unveiled Fitness+, the first fitness experience built for Apple Watch, arriving later this year. Apple Fitness+ intelligently incorporates metrics from Apple Watch for users to visualize right on their iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, offering a first-of-its-kind personalized workout experience. Everyone from beginners to committed exercisers can access studio-style workouts delivered by inspiring world-class trainers and underscored by motivating music from renowned artists, making it easier and more rewarding for customers to exercise, whenever and wherever they like.

[…]

Fitness+ will be available to Apple Watch customers as a subscription service before the end of 2020 for $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year. Everyone can try Fitness+ free for one month.

Previously:

Update (2020-09-16): Darshan Shankar:

Did anyone notice Apple further flexing their monopolistic powers today?

3rd-party fitness apps need to pay 30% tax to Apple, while Apple launch their own first party competitor (Apple Fitness+)

Same issue with Spotify & Apple Music

Facebook is doing the same to Bigscreen in VR

Update (2020-09-17): Jason Snell:

If replacing the old model with a new “SE” model is the Tim Cook doctrine, how do we describe what happened on Tuesday? Tim Cook Plus? He brought in the new model and kept the old one.

Good, Better, Best. The $199 model gets people to consider an Apple Watch… but once you compare the three models side by side, that $279 model starts to look a lot more interesting. Perhaps that Series 3 will still bring people in to the Apple Watch world who might otherwise have passed it by for a FitBit or some other fitness band, but my guess is that it will ultimately be more important as a “good” product that makes potential buyers curious about the Apple Watch but then drives them toward the “better” end of the spectrum.

John Gruber:

There’s nothing spectacular or game-changing about Apple Watch Series 6, but it’s a perfect example of Apple’s incremental product update strategy. What’s new in Series 6 compared to Series 5?

[…]

The Apple Watch SE is best thought of as a cut-down Series 5 watch. Apple has an excellent comparison page, and it’s pretty clear from that page that the difference between a Series 6 and SE comes down to three things the SE lacks: no always-on display, no ECG sensor, no blood oxygen sensor. Also, adding cellular connectivity to an aluminum Series 6 is a $100 upsell; on the SE adding cellular costs only $50. (The stainless steel and titanium Series 6 models all have cellular included.)

Update (2020-09-22): Benjamin Mayo:

I have no problem with Apple rolling out new services, as long as they are made with purpose and care. Fitness+ fits the bill. It’s a really nice integration of Apple’s ecosystem to bring something new to home fitness courses. The interaction between the recorded video and the user’s on-screen health metrics is useful and simple for prospective subscribers to understand.

[…]

[The] only criticism I have is that the service will require a Watch. […] This seems like an unnecessary artificial limitation.

[…]

Fitness+ is a fixed cost service, but it has higher-rate pricing. From the business side, Apple is going to singing for the hills if they can accrue millions of Fitness+ subscribers. It will easily be their most profitable service per customer. In the scheme of things, producing a set of fitness videos on a weekly basis is relatively inexpensive. Their outlay on a single TV+ show will easily cost more than running the entire the Fitness+ service for years.

That being said, it doesn’t matter how much it costs to make, it’s what the market can bear. At $9.99, Fitness+ is legitimately competitive with other workout plans.

Apple Leadership Bubblegum Cards

John Gruber:

My biggest question and deepest concern regarding Apple’s leadership, especially now that Ive is gone and Phil Schiller has moved on to a fellowship with only the App Store and events on his plate, is whose taste is driving product development? We know the actors, we know the writers, we know the cinematographers, but who is directing? Who is saying “This isn’t good enough” — or in the words of Apple’s former director, “This is shit”? When a product decision comes down to this or that, who is making that call?

Previously:

Monday, September 14, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Lectures on Digital Photography

Nilay Patel:

Did you know Pixel camera creator Marc Levoy’s entire Stanford lecture series on digital photography is on YouTube? It’s on YouTube.

Auto White Balance vs. Fiery Skies

Ian Bogost:

Certain photographs and videos of the surreal, orange sky seemed to wash it out, as if to erase the danger. “I didn’t filter these,” tweeted the journalist Sarah Frier, posting photos she took of San Francisco’s haunting morning sky. “In fact the iPhone color corrected the sky to make it look less scary. Imagine more orange.” The photos looked vaguely marigold in hue, but not too different from a misty sunrise in a city prone to fog. In some cases, the scene seemed to revert to a neutral gray, as if the smartphones that captured the pictures were engaged in a conspiracy to silence this latest cataclysm.

Via John Gruber:

This is not a bug, but a side effect of the built-in Camera app on iOS (and likewise on most Android phones) being decidedly consumer-focused. Setting a manual white balance point is a feature in any “pro” camera app worth its salt.

Google Ad Numbers Don’t Add Up

Mike Zornek:

I paid Google for 222 clicks but can only reconcile 77 of them. I asked for delivery to United States only and they did not seem to honor that. Turned off the ad campaign for now.

I’ve turned off almost all of my Google ads because the numbers don’t make any sense. Most keywords require ridiculously high bids even though test searches show that they aren’t actually being bid up. Google’s technical support was no help.

Previously: