Archive for October 19, 2017

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Sad State of iOS 11’s TV App

Dan Masters:

Here’s an accessibility outcome Apple didn’t consider:

In iOS 11, TV replaced Videos, which was my autistic brother’s most-used app for 7 years.

Now he can’t access his synced videos because the horrible TV app buries it, and he doesn’t know how to use it.

It’s incredibly frustrating for him. It’s not exactly easy to unlearn 7 yrs of a workflow, and then re-learn a poorly designed app.

The only solution: signing into my New Zealand account (where TV app is unsupported), which restores Videos.

Zac Cichy:

My dad can’t find purchased movies either. The TV app is a disaster and Apple really needs to hear how bad it is.


It’s also slow and full of small UI bugs.

I have almost no good experiences with the TV app.

A few years ago, I lamented some problems with the iOS 9 Videos app. iOS 11 includes the TV app instead of Videos, and unfortunately it’s even worse.

It can now show the titles of the videos, but there’s still no list view or even a single-column view that can show the titles without truncation. There’s now a search field, but it searches the entire iTunes Store, not just what you’ve purchased. There’s now a side-scrolling list of what you’ve recently purchased. All the other issues that I mentioned still stand.

What’s worse is the way it manages downloads. There’s still no screen to show you downloads that are in progress. There’s still no way to see a list of the videos that have been downloaded. There’s not even a way to delete a downloaded video to free up space. With previous versions, you could go to the Settings app to see which videos were stored locally, and you could even delete them from within Settings. With iOS 11, Settings does not show any videos by name. It just shows the total amount of space consumed by all your videos and lets you delete the TV app itself.

Everything is pushing me away from Apple’s video ecosystem right now. My Apple TV 3’s networking remains buggy since the discoveryd fiasco and will likely never get an update. Apple didn’t even bother supporting it with iOS 11’s Control Center. Meanwhile, the Apple TV 4K does not impress. I’ve tried to avoid having more than one silo of videos, but at this point my iTunes video collection is a liability chaining me to bad software.

Amazon’s Prime Video app, though not perfect, is better on almost all the dimensions that I’ve discussed. And you can do a lot of the management from the Web, which is even better than an app. The main drawback is that it doesn’t support downloading videos to a Mac.

Update (2017-10-19): Ashley Bischoff says that on an iPad you can tap the “DOWNLOADED” text to access a popover with a “Remove Download” button. However, on my iPhone SE there is no such text. It turns out that you can long-press on the title of the video, and then you get a weird full-screen menu with a “Remove Download” button and a Back button.

Update (2017-10-20): Rosyna Keller points out that you can see the download status in the iTunes Store app. On my iPhone, the Downloads section was hidden behind the More tab. He also shows that I was wrong about no longer being able to delete videos from the Settings app. Before, tapping on Videos or TV in the list would immediately show the list of videos. Now, tapping on TV shows the standard Offload App and Delete App buttons, as with every other app, but below that is a Recommendations section with an option to Review iTunes Videos, and the list within that works as before. I should have seen that, but in my defense: the entire Recommendations section is hidden if you don’t have any fully downloaded videos, even when visible it’s below the fold on an iPhone SE, and if the Storage display is already open it doesn’t update to show the Recommendations after a download completes.

Update: I now see a Downloaded section on the main Library screen. It has sections for TV Shows, Movies, Downloaded, and Michael’s iTunes Library. I’m sure that when I wrote the post yesterday I had some fully downloaded videos and that this section was not there, because that’s where I expected it to be (by analogy with the Music app) and not finding it there was the reason I decided to write the post. In any case, it’s there now. And when I access videos from Downloaded (rather than other sections), I do get the DOWNLOADED button for deletion that Bischoff mentioned.

Update (2017-12-11): Martin Kopischke:

After a bit of usage, I’m rather underwhelmed by Apple’s “TV” app: it doesn’t know what iTunes rentals I already watched; on Apple TV, it misses everything else I watched and, to put the cherry on top, it injects an intermediate, not-quite-home home layer into the TV’s UI.

Update (2018-10-04): Dominik Wagner:

So even on iOS 12 the tv app still doesn’t have a skip x seconds back button, or any other significant improvement for watching the quite expensive tv shows (like auto play, or semi decent navigation). But it is now littering me with sports.

Update (2019-02-18): Ryan Grove:

My favorite feature of the iOS TV app is definitely the one where it pops up a modal alert for each movie you’ve rented on your Apple TV since you last opened it just to tell you that you can’t watch that movie anymore.

You Can’t Turn Off Spotlight on Your Time Machine Backup

Howard Oakley:

It used to be that you could exclude your Time Machine backups from Spotlight’s indexing. Not only does this save a great deal of time with the mdworker background service chundering through your backup drive making indexes, not only does it save all the resulting disk activity, but it also saves a lot of space. And the space which it saves inevitably grows as your backups grow.

Try adding your Time Machine backup folder to the files excluded from Spotlight indexing, though, and you will be told that you cannot. If you add the whole volume to the Privacy list, then Spotlight will ignore your wish, as regards the backup folder. Not that it will admit to that, of course.

I ran into this recently because of a noise problem that I traced to Spotlight activity on my Time Machine drive. I never need to search my Time Machine drive, so why not save all that noise, CPU time, space, and energy and just turn off indexing? Terminal showed that it succeeded:

$ sudo mdutil -i off /Volumes/imac17\ Time\ Machine\ 2/
/Volumes/imac17 Time Machine 2:
2017-10-19 13:52:13.060 mdutil[69677:5509896] mdutil disabling Spotlight: /Volumes/imac17 Time Machine 2 -> kMDConfigSearchLevelFSSearchOnly
	Indexing and searching disabled.

And it seemed to be off:

$ sudo mdutil -s /Volumes/imac17\ Time\ Machine\ 2/
/Volumes/imac17 Time Machine 2:
	Indexing and searching disabled.

But I still saw lots of indexing activity. It turns out that indexing is still enabled for the backup folder:

$ sudo mdutil -s /Volumes/imac17\ Time\ Machine\ 2/Backups.backupdb/
/Volumes/imac17 Time Machine 2/Backups.backupdb:
	Indexing enabled.

And it’s apparently not possible to change this.


If you add a Time Machine backup disk to the privacy list, you will continue to see messages that Spotlight is indexing your backup disk. This indexing is necessary for Time Machine to function properly and can’t be disabled. Spotlight does exclude from searches any items you store on your backup disk that are not part of a Time Machine backup.

Nobody Thinks About eBay

Chavie Lieber (via Hacker News):

One of those things that so many brands want is scale: eBay is enormous. It has 171 million users, with 1.1 billion listed items at any given time. But it’s also no longer the only game in town. There’s competition from all over, most notably from eBay's great rival to the north, Amazon; Brooklyn-based crafts giant Etsy; and venture-backed consignment sites like The Real Real and Poshmark. Deering may talk of the company’s advancements, but the truth is, eBay has fallen far behind.


These days, 88 percent of postings are “Buy It Now” items, not at all tied to the auction function eBay is known for, and 81 percent of what’s available for sale is new. To eBay, new means unopened, never-used items; this claim is murky, though, as most items are still coming from third-party sellers and not from brands themselves. In fact, eBay has become a haven for flipping, a practice in which users sell in-demand merchandise at exponentially higher prices, further adding to eBay’s sometimes-dubious reputation.


Amazon Marketplace has grown significantly in the last 17 years. Today nearly half of all products sold on Amazon come from the Marketplace, which sells about 2 billion items and brings in an estimated $132 billion in sales each year, according to e-commerce consultancy firm ChannelAdvisor.

eBay is still useful to find items that no one else sells and to resell items that Amazon won’t allow. But it’s the last place I think about because there’s so much friction compared with other sites.