Archive for June 2, 2018

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Mac and iOS Automation History

Jordan McMahon:

As it turns out, Jobs was gauging the room to see who was passionate enough about their work to fight for it. Those were the people he wanted to keep. Soghoian passed the test.


As the CEO left the office, he saw Soghoian lingering and asked him what he wanted to talk about. Game face on, Soghoian told Jobs, “Automation, but for the rest of us.” They scurried into the conference room for a private demo. In the upper left hand corner of Automator’s window sat a grid of applications that worked with the program—you’d see things like Finder, Alarm, Mail, Pictures, Internet, and Music. Under each category was a list of all the functions Automator could make the apps complete. By selecting the functions one by one, you could string together as many commands as you wanted to build a little workflow. Anyone with a mouse could change the typefaces in a folder full of Word documents or build a playlist out of their 100 most-listened-to tracks in iTunes, all without typing a word of AppleScript.


Once their work was done, Pierce opened x-callback-url up to any developer eager to try it out. "Without that, it would’ve just been a clever integration between Instapaper and Terminology," Arment says. Instead, it became the de facto standard for getting apps—even big ones like Google Maps and Evernote—to share information with each other and process stuff in tandem.


In 2014, after Apple announced a ton of new tools for apps to work together in iOS 8, Barnard and Youens started brainstorming ways these tools could make their app better. Their plan was to find a way to run x-callback-urls in succession to create script-like actions. They had effectively dreamed up Automator for iOS, but their fear of being burned again by Apple’s often convoluted and murky app approval process held them back from following through.

Previously: Thank You, Sal, Omni’s 2017 Plans.

Update (2018-06-03): See also: Hacker News.

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

To be clear, @youens and I would never have built @WorkflowHQ or been acquired by Apple. My regret is that we spent the summer on Contact Center and hardly touched @LaunchCenterPro. Staying focused, even on “safe” LCP features, would have been smarter.

macOS Special-Casing to Keep Apps Working

Zhuowei Zhang (Hacker News):

What do Photoshop, Matlab, Panic Transmit, and Eclipse have in common? They are among the 299 apps for which macOS applies compatibility fixes.

Here’s the full list of bundle IDs, along with the functions that checks for them, and the first caller to those functions.


Compatibility fixes are applied by checking the bool __CFAppVersionCheckLessThan(CFStringRef, CFSystemVersion) function, which returns true if the current app matches the specified bundle ID and is linked on or prior to the macOS version. Thus, older versions of the app would have the fix applied, while newer versions built with a newer SDK would not.

Dave Mark:

First things first, not sure “so buggy” is the right note here. Might be that, or might be more a combination of “so important” and taking advantage of a feature or bit of code that has been put out to pasture or has been replaced.

Chris Espinosa:

Apple has been special-casing apps in system software updates for 30+ years. This is an instructional tech article but not a dramatic revelation, and shouldn’t reflect poorly on the apps or their authors. Often they were working around our bugs.

Scott Knaster:

Yep. We were doing this at least as far back as the original 128K Mac.

Peter Steinberger:

Good example how Apple cares about backwards compatibility: A bug was fixed WebKit breaking the Box app (which fails to make any policy decision in its decidePolicyForMIMEType delegate) so the old behavior is now covered.

iMac Pro VESA Mounting Screws

Joe Rossignol (tweet):

Quinn Nelson, host of the popular YouTube channel Snazzy Labs, has shared a new video that appears to suggest the iMac Pro’s user-installable VESA mounting kit uses cheap screws that are prone to break when unfastened.


Unable to remove the adapter, Nelson said he contacted Apple by phone, explained the situation, and was told that Apple could not provide support because the adapter is manufactured by a licensed OEM, despite being sold by Apple with Apple-branded packaging and documentation.


Unfortunately, the Genius Bar was not very helpful, as apparently only the Head Genius at that store was trained to service the iMac Pro.


All in all, there are two separate issues here: the fragile screws and the un-pro-like customer service that was provided by Apple. And, unlike his fellow YouTube creator Linus Sebastian, Nelson did not disassemble the iMac Pro or perform any other action that would appear to violate Apple’s warranty.

Quinn Nelson:

Apple store offered to a) replace the outer shell in another repair or b) do a CRU (complete replacement unit). I obviously elected the latter.

In the end, I am getting taken care of, but a few have seen the video already. Don’t know what they would have done for an average Joe.

As stated, I’m not mad at my store. I’m mad at Cupertino for a) continuing to sell an absolute trash VESA mount, and, b) not training the Geniuses to work on iMac Pro. They’re clueless. “We don’t really do the VESA thing in store so just be careful if you decide to reinstall it.”

Previously: Apple Refuses to Repair iMac Pro.

iPhone 6 Bendgate and Touch Disease

Jason Koebler (tweet, ArsTechnica, Hacker News, MacRumors, 9to5Mac):

The company found that the iPhone 6 is 3.3 times more likely to bend than the iPhone 5s, and the iPhone 6 Plus is 7.2 times more likely to bend than the iPhone 5s, according to the documents. Koh wrote that “one of the major concerns Apple identified prior to launching the iPhones was that they were ‘likely to bend more easily when compared to previous generations.’”


Despite these findings, Apple publicly maintained that there were no engineering issues with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but an internal review showed that engineering changes were necessary to prevent touch disease, according to court filings. In May 2016, a year-and-a-half after the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were released, Apple quietly began reinforcing the part of the logic board associated with touch disease, Koh wrote.


Soon after the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were released in September 2014, several customers said that their phones bent easily. Those cases went viral, which caused Apple to release a statement that said the phones were structurally sound: Apple “perform[s] rigorous tests throughout the entire development cycle including 3-point bending, pressure point cycling, sit, torsion, and user studies. iPhone 6 and 6 Plus meet or exceed all of our high quality standards to endure everyday, real life use.”

That news cycle died, and “Bendgate” went away for a while. But in early 2016, many iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices began to exhibit symptoms of “touch disease.”

This is how today’s Apple handles hardware design defects, from bending phones to batteries, desktop and laptop keyboards, and 2013 Mac Pro thermal failures. You might expect, based on the company’s reputation and how it presents itself, that it would get out in front of these stories and recall the faulty products or offer free replacements. Instead, it pretends that the problems don’t exist, keeps selling the products (sometimes quietly revising them), and makes customers pay for the repairs.

See also: The Talk Show.

Previously: Just Avoid Sitting in That Way, iPhone 6 Plus “Touch Disease”, iPhone Bend Testing.