Archive for October 23, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mavericks Apple Mail and Gmail

Joe Kissell:

However, it seems Apple didn’t entirely think through the implications. Most seriously, with All Mail enabled, Mail periodically gets into a state in which, according to the Activity panel (choose Window > Activity), it’s synchronizing my Gmail Archive (that is, All Mail) and updating the cache directory for my Gmail account. That’s all well and good as long as it happens in the background. But when one of these syncing fits starts, changes to messages in my Inbox made in other clients or on the Gmail Web site aren’t reflected in Mail. Not even if I quit and restart Mail, or rebuild the Inbox, or force a synchronization! There appears to be nothing I can do but wait, and sometimes that wait is hours. Worse yet, sometimes the syncing ends — Mail’s Activity panel shows zero activity — and still my Inbox is out of sync for a long time. (For example, as I write this, Gmail shows I have no unread messages in my Inbox, but Mail shows 10, including some I filed more than two hours ago.)

From what I’ve been hearing, various areas of Mail in Mavericks are extremely buggy and/or slower than in previous releases. Don’t forget that there are alternatives.

Update (2014-02-25): Joe Kissell:

I’ll begin with the usual disclaimers: not every problem has disappeared, and what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. Even so, this is the first version of Mail in Mavericks that feels reasonably reliable, and it’s about time!

Amazon Increases Free Shipping Minimum to $35

Amazon (via Jacob Kastrenakes):

Amazon’s minimum order size for free shipping has changed to $35. This is the first time in more than a decade that Amazon has altered the minimum order for free shipping in the US.

I’m still holding out from getting Prime.

iWork ’13: A Huge Regression

Clark Goble:

Effectively AppleScript support is gone. Numbers doesn’t even have a dictionary. And Pages has had nearly everything removed.

I could go on about how almost none of the problems I’ve been griping about for four years in Numbers have been fixed. But what’s the point. Apple has spoken. It wants the OS X iWork to basically be the same as the iOS version and designed purely for casual use. By making it free they kill the market for any competitors other than Office. So if you run a small office, even if you hate MS-Office, there’s really no alternative anymore.


This isn’t just like Apple not upgrading the Mac Pro. This is like Apple not upgrading the Mac Pro for four years, then announcing that the Mac Mini is the new Mac Pro.

And it looks like the user interfaces are now full of gratuitous popovers. Dr. Drang says:

They’re leveling the playing field to make the OS X versions = the iOS versions = the web apps. Toys.

Apple simply doesn’t respect the workflows that pro customers build. This has been shown again and again with different apps, and it extends to the developer tools. Xcode 5 still hasn’t restored the AppleScriptability that Xcode 3 had, and there’s undocumented voodoo that you need to apply just so that previously working projects will continue to build.

Update (2013-10-24): Benedict Evans:

New version of iWork killed the ability to do a scatter chart with dates. Unimaginable Microsoft would do that.

Pierre Igot on Pages:

But Apple’s engineers appear to have chosen to keep the emphasis on “simplicity” at the expense of “power”. They have not just neglected to add features to bring the feature set of the application closer to that of a word processor like Microsoft Word. They have actually removed many features for no apparent reason other than to bring the application in line with its iOS counterpart, which is, inevitably, much less powerful.

Update (2013-10-25): Here are some Apple support threads about features removed from Keynote, Numbers, and Pages (1, 2). Macworld also has comments about the new Keynote.

Update (2013-10-26): Pierre Igot:

It is quite clear that, for people like me, the present situation probably means several more years of using Pages ’09 with not a single enhancement or bug fix. The best we can hope for from Apple is minor application updates to maintain compatibility with the OS or for security purposes. And even that is not guaranteed. It is very discouraging.


I know very well that it is not quite normal that I have ended up relying on Pages so much in my work. But that’s the way it is, but that’s the way the desktop publishing industry is. The so-called “industry standard” (Word) is junk, and there is no real competition that leads to better products for end users. Pages ’09 was a bit of a miracle, in that it was a well-designed (albeit far from perfect) piece of OS X software with quite a bit of power “under the hood”, if you were willing to spend a bit of time to scratch the surface — hence the attractiveness of the software for more advanced users like myself.

John Gruber:

The bottom line as I see it: you need to have clear priorities, and Apple’s highest priority here was clearly cross-platform parity for iPhone, iPad, web, and Mac. No other office platform in the world has that — complete parity between native apps for phone, tablet, desktop, and a web app. Other companies have different priorities; Microsoft, for example, has feature-completeness built into its DNA. A version of Microsoft Office for Windows that removed functionality to achieve parity with the mobile version is unimaginable.

Update (2013-10-30): Anxious Machine:

The difference is the motivation. Apple rewrote Final Cut from the ground up because they thought they could provide a better, more intuitive way of editing video. I'd argue that the magnetic timeline actually was a feature that deserved to have the app rewritten around it. By contrast, iWork on the iPad clearly was and still is an inferior experience to the desktop versions. Choosing to rewrite the apps around those inferior versions suggests that Apple misunderstands both the strengths and weaknesses of both its platforms, which is disheartening to say the least.

Update (2013-11-04): Joe Kissell:

And even though I rarely used most of the features that are now gone, I appreciate how upsetting it is to find that Keynote has profoundly broken a presentation that you crafted carefully.

Update (2013-11-06): Apple (via Dan Moren):

In rewriting these applications, some features from iWork ’09 were not available for the initial release. We plan to reintroduce some of these features in the next few releases and will continue to add brand new features on an ongoing basis.

Update (2014-02-21): Dan Moren:

This is the second update to iWork since Apple announced its plans to restore features dropped from the rebuilt versions of its productivity apps. In November, the company released updates that returned the ability to customize iWork’s toolbars on the Mac. But Apple’s self-imposed to-do list still has a few items on it yet, so expect to see further updates as 2014 progresses.

Ben Waldie:

The latest update of Numbers reintroduces AppleScript support in a big way. While Apple could have taken an iterative approach, reintroducing a few commands here and there, it chose instead to go whole-hog: The entire suite of scripting terminology originally supported by Numbers in the 2009 edition of iWork has returned.


Unfortunately, it does not appear that either of the other iWork apps—Pages or Keynote—have yet received the same infusion of AppleScript support.