Archive for December 8, 2015

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Sunsetting Carousel and Mailbox

Dropbox (Hacker News, MacRumors):

Building new products is about learning as much as it’s about making. It’s also about tough choices. Over the past few months, we’ve increased our team’s focus on collaboration and simplifying the way people work together. In light of that, we’ve made the difficult decision to shut down Carousel and Mailbox.

Nick Heer:

No matter how much I liked Mailbox — and I really like lots of what Mailbox does — this dependency has always been an inherent flaw, and I don’t think this is adequately explained when setting it up. Most people who use it probably have no idea that their email messages live on a third-party server in between their mail host and their phone.

Jeremy W. Sherman:

Didn't realize signing into Mailbox got you an extra gig of Dropbox space. Downloaded app, signed in, deleted app. Now up to 3,5 GB.

Brent Simmons:

When deciding whether or not you can trust an app to stick around, you can’t go by whether or not it was acquired.

You also can’t go by whether or not it’s open source, because open source apps get abandoned.

You can’t go by size of company, because big companies like Google or Apple will retire apps, and small companies will fail — or switch their attention to the app that makes them money but isn’t the one you use.

There are some companies you can rely on: Bare Bones, Panic, and Omni (my employer), for instance.

Even then, you can’t rely on every product, no matter how good, continuing to receive a lot of attention. See Mailsmith, Audion, and OmniWeb. Which is sad, even though overall I’m happy to see those resources directed towards BBEdit, Coda, and OmniFocus.

Mark Alldritt:

How hard is it to transition your data to an alternative application should the one you are using be withdrawn?


A developer’s past actions give good clues to what they may do in the future (e.g. Apple & Google have pulled beloved apps many times).

See also: Upgrade.

Also, Nick Heer:

Sad news from Facebook, too: the part of the company that was responsible for a bunch of fairly unpopular but rather nice apps has been shut down. Most notably, Creative Labs is behind Paper, which has always been a far better Facebook experience than the official Facebook app.

Low-Hanging Fruit

Brent Simmons:

So we have Apple Watch and Apple TV now. What I’m hoping for — what I’m nearly begging for, more as a user than as developer — is that Apple spend a year making things better. Nothing new. Just make things work better.

John Gruber:

When the upgrade to El Capitan finished on my iMac, three of my email accounts in Mail were missing. They happened to be the accounts for my three most important email addresses. Two of them were still configured in Mail’s settings, but had been disabled — I just needed to toggle the “Enable this account” checkbox for each of them. The third account I had to reconfigure from scratch. All three accounts needed to re-download all of my mail — about 280,000 messages all told. These are IMAP accounts, so the mail was (and remains) on the server. I sure hope this bug doesn’t affect POP accounts (where the mail is only stored locally). This sort of bug would be terrifying for normal people, who don’t understand how IMAP works. If this happened to my parents, I’m certain they would just assume their email was gone, forever.

Nick Heer:

Meanwhile, on my Macs at home and at work, and links regularly fail to load in Safari. It’s only those URLs, only since upgrading to El Capitan, and only in Safari — Tweetbot works fine. Baffling.

But I hold out hope. Earlier this year, Apple released an update to iTunes that made any database edit last about a minute. Change a straight prime to a curly quote? That’ll cause iTunes to hang for a minute. Making sure A$AP Rocky is listed as “ASAP Rocky” by editing the sort artist? Another minute of hanging. Deleting a track? That’ll cause another hang. Though this bug is at least five months old, I was very happy to discover this weekend that this bug has been fixed.

Accidental Tech Podcast mentions a German video claiming that the impetus for finally reverting discoveryd to mDNSResponder was a phone call from Vint Cerf to Tim Cook. ATP also recalls the previous story of Logic bugs getting fixed because John Mayer would e-mail them to Steve Jobs. It’s scary if true that it would take one of the inventors of the Internet contacting the CEO to get the company to fix probably the most widely reported networking bug in its history.

Nacho Soto:

Apple may have unlimited cash in the bank, but they’re close to technical debt bankruptcy.

It seems like there are a large number of so-called P2 bugs that have been building up over the years. Individually, most of them could be ignored or worked around. And they are probably eminently fixable. The problem is that, though some of them do get fixed, the overall list seems to be getting longer rather than shorter. Each major new OS version brings new bugs, while leaving some from the previous release unfixed. This cannot go on forever. Either Apple will change course to make software quality a priority, or Mac users will wake up one day and find that their OS is just as buggy and unreliable as the software that Microsoft was once known for.

The bugs also affect third-party software. I spend a huge amount of development time working around OS bugs rather than adding features or fixing bugs that were my own fault. This is bad for business and for customers.

Update (2015-12-09): The after show of that ATP episode discusses brokenness with Pages and iCloud Drive, and even saving to the local disk.

Update (2015-12-10): Lloyd Chambers:

[Upgrading] to 10.11.2 destroyed my mail accounts; I had to delete the accounts and set them up again.


On my desktop, to this day the VIP accounts do not function (destroyed by El Crapitan), even if deleted and recreated. The VIP accounts list feature is utterly non-functional.


My local Contacts and Calendar are destroyed. If I jump through hoops and restore them from iCloud (a convoluted process), then I get duplicate entries for all of them on my Mac and my iPhone. It’s a sick joke.