Archive for April 23, 2018

Monday, April 23, 2018

Speculation and Dread for the Next Transition

Andy Ihnatko:

Which is why I can easily picture a plan to build ARM-based Macs that’s part of a bigger plan to change the whole character of the Mac. For years, MacOS has looked decidedly frumpy and unloved, and its few significant improvements (such as TouchID) have been iOS’s hand-me-downs. Maybe that’s because Apple has been sitting on some huge and wonderful ideas that’ll boost the Mac into a higher orbit, and they’ve put off rebuilding MacOS until they had a good reason to tear it all down first.

Or…maybe Apple’s longterm goal isn’t to transition MacOS into the next decade (or, hell, even just our present one). Maybe its goal is to transition Mac users to iOS. Apple’s obsessive love for the iPad has been made clear to me by both my observations of the product line and my conversations with people inside the company (present and former). It doesn’t seem ridiculous that Apple might push the Mac much closer to the character of the iPad, with the iPad Pro picking up enough of the Mac’s character and functions that the whole consumer Mac line would become redundant.

Riccardo Mori (tweet):

This rumoured next transition — from Intel-based Macs to ARM-based Macs — is once again for the better, at least on paper. […] But things have changed in the meantime. For one, today Mac OS evidently isn’t the primary focus of the company. Those past transitions were all done to benefit the Mac; the idea was The Mac shall advance. We’re changing and improving things under the bonnet, but the Mac is still the Mac and its identity won’t change. Instead, this theoretical Intel-to-ARM transition doesn’t feel as such. It feels as there are impending changes to the Mac operating system and platform that are clearly influenced by iOS. This makes me uneasy.

Let me tell you a couple of things straight away: One, there is nothing wrong with the Mac platform, except what Apple has been doing it in recent years. Two, since Steve Jobs’s passing, my impression is that Apple has been progressively unable to properly handle their two major platforms, Mac OS and iOS. It’s like they can’t keep a balance of resources, development, and attention between Mac OS and iOS. Instead of envisaging a plan where the two platforms progress in parallel, and flourish by making the most of their respective strengths, what I’ve seen is a clear preference for iOS, and a clear progressive neglect of Mac OS. As a Mac user, this frustrates me.

Previously: Tim Cook Says Users Don’t Want iOS to Merge With macOS, Apple Plans to Use Its Own Chips in Macs From 2020, Replacing Intel.

Reconsidering the Hardware Kindle Interface

Craig Mod:

What is the iOS Kindle interaction model? The iOS Kindle model is the “hidden spaces” model. That is, all active interface elements are invisible. This “hidden spaces” model of interaction is supremely user antagonistic.


The problem is that the text is also an interface element. But it’s a lower-level element. Activated through a longer tap. In essence, the Kindle hardware and software team has decided to “function stack” multiple layers of interface onto the same plane.


But the hardware Kindle? Oh, what a wonderful gift for Amazon designers. The Kindle is predictable! We know what we’re getting on almost every page. And the actions of the user are so strictly defined — turn page, highlight, go back to library — that you can build in hardware buttons to do a lot of heavy lifting. And yet! Amazon seems ignores (to lesser and greater degrees depending on the device) how predictable a hardware Kindle is.

Via Tim Carmody:

Specifically, dedicated hardware buttons mean that you can remove the amount of unpredictability that happens when you touch the screen. Touching the screen now means “I’m going to interact with the content.”

Update (2018-05-01): See also: Hacker News.

Forcing Compiler Errors in Swift

Erica Sadun:

Swift’s newly adopted #error and #warning directives represents a big step up from current practices, which often rely on run-time rather than compile-time feedback.


Here’s an example I discovered from John Estropia. (He, in turn, cribbed it from one of  his co-workers.) He uses conditional compilation to set a TODO or FIXME (or whatever) typealias then uses it in-line at points where a debug build should compile and release builds should error:

#if DEBUG 
internal typealias TODO<T> = T

print("Remove this later") as TODO

Writing With an iPad and a Clicky Keyboard

Jason Snell (tweet):

My primary workspace is largely unchanged from when I set it up in 2014, though I’m now using a clicky keyboard and an iMac Pro now. I don’t do all of my writing from my desk, though; I’m a big believer in increasing productivity through a change of scenery. Sometimes that involves taking my iPad outside, often to the Starbucks that’s five minutes from my house. In the summer I’ll attach the laptop-like Brydge Keyboard and go sit in the backyard.

When it’s not nice out, I’ll just relocate to the bar in my kitchen and write on my iPad.


So I replaced the Mini Tactile Pro with the Matias Laptop Pro, a Bluetooth mechanical keyboard with a silver-and-black style that fits in pretty well with my iPad and its stand.

John Gruber:

People who like split screen multi-tasking on iPad: Don’t you find it infuriating that there’s no indication at all which side has keyboard focus?

Nathan Edwards:

Although harder to find, compact mechanical keyboards are a third, better option that combines the best of both boards.


I’ve tried a bunch of compact keyboards, and the first one I tried—and the one I’d recommend as a starting point for most people—is the Qisan Magicforce 68. It has a white backlight, full-size mechanical keys exactly where they’re supposed to be, arrow keys, and a navigation cluster. It comes with a detachable cable and built-in media shortcuts. And it’s only about $60, which is impressively cheap for a mechanical keyboard with good switches.

Having recently switched back to a full-sized keyboard, after many years with a compact one, I find that I make heavy use of all the extra keys except for the higher numbered F-keys and the Clear key.

Update (2018-04-29): Luke Kanies:

Unlike touch, keyboards are inherently targeted. While touch is powerful specifically because of your ability to directly manipulate the software you’re using, keyboards must first be pointed at a place that needs text. They need focus. And here’s where the iPad falls down.

Via John Gruber:

It seems crazy to me the iPad lets you command-tab between full-screen apps, but when you’re in split screen mode there’s (a) no way to switch between the apps on screen using the keyboard, and (b) no indication of which app has keyboard focus.

App Store APIs and Testing

Alexander Schuch:

Apple’s In-App-Purchase sandbox server does not support IPv6, but IPv6 is required as of 2.5.5 of the AppStore Review Guidelines. The app review team apparently tests on sandbox servers, thus apps are rejected in violation of the guidelines.

See also: Supertop.