Archive for April 18, 2018

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Switching From RSS to Apple News Format

This blog has been available in Apple News from the beginning, but I’ve recently switched from having Apple News fetch the RSS feed to using the Publish to Apple News WordPress plug-in to push updates to Apple News.



Overall, I think switching to Apple News Format was a win, mainly because the RSS support was so bad. I’m still mystified by Apple News itself. It’s drawn rave reviews from some quarters, but I find the interface cumbersome and have not found its content recommendations helpful. Perhaps the difference is that some people are comparing it with social networks and Google News, whereas I’m a longtime user of desktop feed readers.

Update (2018-04-20): Adam Engst:

For those who are already using the News app, I’m pleased to say that TidBITS is now available in Apple News via the Apple News Format, so our articles look better than ever before on both the iPhone and iPad, as you can see in these screenshots.

Update (2018-07-20): Matt Birchler:

See, I use a WordPress extension to post my stuff to Apple News and it had been working great for a couple years, but apparently iOS 11 made something not work quite right and my posts weren’t getting assigned “categories” on Apple News.

I tried my best, but the nothing solved my problem until the dev updated the plugin.

Drafts 5

Agile Tortoise (MacRumors):

Drafts 5 is being released as a new app. Drafts 5 does not replace Drafts 4, but installs along side it. Drafts 5 can migrate drafts, actions and keyboard customizations from Drafts 4, but data does not sync between the two apps and they can happily co-exist on the same device.

Drafts 5 will be a free download. Drafts 5 is a free download, with a generous feature set. The free version is a great way to test drive Drafts 5, and will offer full support for creating, editing, syncing of drafts and built-in actions. You can install and use actions, but editing actions is part of Drafts Pro.

The subscription is $20/year, whereas the previous version had a one-time $5 charge 3–4 years ago. So this fits with the pattern of switching to a subscription model and increasing the price at the same time.

It’s not a great fit for the way I use Drafts, frankly. I really like the app but am a light user of it. The new features sound great but are not ones that I would use (unless I start using the app for more than I do now). Yet the free version is inadequate because I do use a bunch of custom actions.

Tim Nahumck:

There are few apps I’ve ever used which made a lasting impact on my daily workflow. But for years now, the singular app that’s been the foundation of my iOS use has been Drafts. The app has lived in my dock since I first picked it up, it’s the single most important app I use on the platform, and it’s the only paid app I mandate to anyone looking for must-have apps on iOS.

Drafts is the bedrock app from which I build all my productivity. It’s the single point of text entry that shares to any app, whether through the share sheet, a simple action, or a custom and complex action. Any time I have an idea, I put it in Drafts. Tasks to add to my task manager? I do that from Drafts. Something I want to write about on my blog? That idea starts in Drafts too. It’s the focal point for everything I do.

David Sparks:

Drafts doesn’t just let you type, it also lets you dictate, and through some smart programming, it gets around the usual 45 second Siri Dictation timer. With Drafts, you can dictate as long as you want to Siri Dictation and it just keeps going.

One of the nice things about Drafts is that because you go straight into writing, you don’t even have to have a clear decision about where the text will end up when you start writing. Maybe these words will end up an email, or an OmniFocus task, or a Ulysses project, or something else entirely. It doesn’t matter; I just need to write.

Update (2018-04-28): Gabe Weatherhead:

On its surface, Drafts is just a note app for iOS. What sets it apart from other options like Apple Notes is its fast launch to an empty document, ready for me to type. The speed of entry on Drafts is the biggest reason it’s in my dock. It’s the fastest way I have to write words on a computer. There’s no save button. Nothing to confirm. Just launch and write. I do this a dozen times a day.

Update (2018-06-02): Gabe Weatherhead:

Drafts can be difficult to grok. Maybe the best way to get a feel for what it does well is to hear from people that actually use it. Here are a few of the latest things that have given me ideas and a few laughs.

Update (2019-04-11): Greg Pierce:

Closing in on a year since the release of Drafts 5.0. This is the 26th update of the iOS version…oh, and I shipped a Mac version. Thanks to all the Pro subscribers that make this level of active development possible.

Update (2019-05-09): Greg Pierce:

A few weeks in to the first round of annual renewals for Drafts Pro. Retention rate hanging at around 73%. I don’t have a lot to base it on, but that feels very strong. Guess I get to keep doing this for a while. :-)

Update (2023-04-26): Greg Pierce:

Hit the five-year mark since @drafts switched to a subscription model.

Subscription growth leveled out a couple of years ago, but I think I’ve proven the concept that an app business does not need to be focused on growth to be successful. You can reach sustainability by serving a niche and keeping them happy.

On Normalizing Rip-Offs

John Gruber:

In this case Savov was writing about Huawei’s copycat wireless earbuds. But the most telling example — which Savov himself has documented better than anyone else — is the iPhone X notch. The notch is unquestionably the worst thing about the iPhone X design — it is a worthwhile compromise, but a severe and glaring one. But it lends the iPhone X a distinctive look and can be easily copied, and so of course these companies are shamelessly copying it.


I don’t think outrage is the right term for how the media should react to such rip-offs. I suggest a mix of contempt and mockery. But they certainly shouldn’t be pooh-poohed with an “Eh, everyone does it” attitude.

John Gruber:

That’s why I like the phrase “design plagiarism”. Maybe you think Amadeo’s examples do constitute “copying”. But they’re not plagiarism.

Previously: iPhone X Design and the Notch.

Apple Refuses to Repair iMac Pro

Linus Tech Tips (forum, Hackers News, Reddit):

We broke our iMac Pro… But then we tried to pay Apple to repair it. They refused. Come with us on a journey of frustration…

It sounds like they dropped the display while trying to install RAM, which you are supposed to have Apple install for you. (Or perhaps they just wanted to take internal photos for their review?) So this clearly voided the free initial year of AppleCare. However, they are in a bind because Apple won’t let them pay to have it repaired, either, but neither will it make it possible for a third-party repair shop to do so.

Paul Haddad:

Thinking of upgrading the RAM in your iMac Pro yourself? Think again…

Colin Cornaby:

I know they were taking theirs apart for a review, but there is just a possibility that I accidentally put something into the screen and crack it. And apparently if you do that Apple can’t do anything...

Steve Streza:

Oof, this is an awful support response for a $5,000 pro computer.

Marco Arment:

It’s more complicated than that — it appears that they just won’t fix it if someone other than Apple has opened it up and worked on it, even if the customer is willing to pay full price for Apple to work on it.

Which is shitty. But that’s not the same as “They can’t fix it!”

Stephen Sullivan:

This has been the case since at least late 90s, but probably always. If Apple can tell that an unauthorized service provider has opened the computer before, then they deny service.

Max Temkin:

This was just in the news. The FTC sent a letter to companies with “warranty void if seal broken” stickers, which are illegal[…]

Marco Arment:

Based on replies, it sounds like normal customers who don’t completely take apart their iMac Pro and mess with the internals have no issues getting warranty repairs from Apple.

This video was very much not that.

Previously: Apple Sued an Independent iPhone Repair Shop Owner and Lost, An Apple Support Experience, The iMac Pro.

Update (2018-04-20): See also: John Gruber, MacRumors, Rene Ritchie.

iPhone X Profits

Juli Clover:

The iPhone X accounted for 35 percent of total worldwide handset profits in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to new estimates shared this morning by Counterpoint Research.

The device generated 5x more profit than the combined profit of more than 600 Android OEMs during the quarter, despite the fact that it was only available for purchase during the final two months of the year and in spite of reports pointing towards lackluster sales of the device.

Note that iPhone X was new then, whereas iPhone 8 went on sale at the end of the previous quarter. But still: wow.

Update (2018-05-03): Jason Snell:

Fears of the iPhone X having weak sales were stoked by reports that Apple had cut its orders of components that it uses in the iPhone X, including flexible OLED screens from Samsung. But Apple said that the iPhone X remained the top selling iPhone in its product line for every single week of the March quarter, and while sales were up slightly, revenue was up quite a bit.


Also interesting: iPhone ASP dropped from the holiday quarter. That would seem to suggest that the mix of iPhones being bought last quarter was tilted more toward the iPhone X than this quarter. It makes me suspect that perhaps initial demand for the iPhone X was so high that it made Apple think it would be a somewhat larger percentage of the iPhone product mix overall, so it cranked up iPhone X production. But the lower ASP’s in the fiscal second quarter suggest that perhaps the iPhone X is a smaller part of the whole than it was right out of the gate. That could lead to Apple having some more iPhones than they were able to sell right away, which would lead to a reduction in supply orders.


Apple announced a net profit of $13.8 billion ($2.73 per diluted share) on revenues of $61.1 billion, a figure in line with analyst expectations. The company’s revenues were up 16% compared to the year-ago quarter (see “Apple’s Q2 2017 Financial Results Show Slight Growth,” 2 May 2017). Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that this was Apple’s sixth consecutive quarter of accelerating revenue growth.

Update (2018-05-04): Horace Dediu:

Analysts could have been deceived because Apple purchased components early aggressively and then cut orders abruptly. The evidence is in inventories rising. This may have been strategic: denying competitor access to capacity; or an error.

Walt Mossberg:

And here’s the chart showing iPhone global dominance in the quarter. Note the iPhone dominance with multiple models.

Update (2018-08-23): Matthew Panzarino:

Remarkable how the narrative went from ‘iPhone X is a dud, they’re gonna cancel it’ to ‘it was so successful almost everyone bought it’

Weather Alarms Scam

David Barnard:

I just don’t get why Apple isn’t doing more to actively search and remove scam apps from the App Store. I’ve spent like 10 minutes digging into market data for the Weather category and already found that the #11 top grossing is a scam app charging a $20/mo subscription.

There should be a team at Apple scouring the top grossing charts looking for this crap and watching for apps shooting up in search results and/or category rankings. There are SO MANY apps doing search boost campaigns, tricky subscriptions, and all sorts of other shady stuff.

Every time I spend a few minutes doing market research I find a few apps like this. I’m sure I could find 100 more if I spent a couple days on it. How can Apple not be finding these?! Weather Alarms has been in the top grossing charts for months (likely making >$10k/mo)

Previously: In-App Purchase Scams in the App Store.

Update (2018-06-04): David Barnard:

Unbelievable… that scammy weather app I tweeted about in April (Weather Alarms) is on the WWDC big screen. They must have just compiled the list based on downloads/revenue and not bothered looking at whether the apps legit.

Update (2018-10-05): John Koetsier:

An obscure app that reads bar codes is scamming hundreds of App Store users by automatically initiating an expensive $156 per year subscription. And there are dozens more like it, with some charging users thousands of dollars each month for extremely minimal functionality.

Via David Barnard:

I’ve been bringing these issues to Apple’s attention publicly & privately for over a year. It’s incredibly frustrating how little has been done to thwart these scams. It erodes trust in the App Store which ultimately hurts Apple and conscientious developers who use subscriptions.

Update (2018-10-19): Sarah Perez:

But alongside this healthy growth, a number of scammers are now taking advantage of subscriptions in order to trick users into signing up for expensive and recurring plans. They do this by intentionally confusing users with their app’s design and flow, by making promises of “free trials” that convert after only a matter of days, and other misleading tactics.


The issue of scam apps may not always be the failure of App Store review. It’s possible that the scammy apps sneak in their tricks after Apple’s App Review team approves them, making them harder to catch.

But for the time being, users have to take it upon themselves to cancel these sneaky subscriptions.

Unfortunately, Apple isn’t making it as easy for users to get to their subscriptions as it could be.

Bruno Virlet:

First notice how the app is called “Scanner app” on the AppStore but once you download it, it’s called iScanner on your home screen. That’s a first confusing part and that’s the result of putting more value on ASO than creating a brand and app name familiar to their users.

Previously: In-App Purchase Scams in the App Store, The Mac App Store Is Full of Scams.