Archive for October 12, 2018

Friday, October 12, 2018

Anker SoundSync Drive Bluetooth Car Receiver

I’ve been using an Anker SoundSync Drive to play audio from my iPhone on my car’s speakers without needing a headphone jack (on the phone).

It’s pretty typical of Bluetooth devices in that it basically works but never feels fully reliable. After you turn on the engine, the SoundSync gets power, and you have to press a button to connect it to your phone. Press the button too quickly and nothing happens. You have to hold it down a bit in order for it to work. The required time is not consisent. Some days, you need to hold it longer than others. Some days, it doesn’t work no matter how long you press it or how many times you try, and you have to reboot the phone.

Once Bluetooth has connected, though, it works very well. I’ve never found Siri to be reliable at pausing or resuming audio, so it’s nice to have a physical button to do this. There are also buttons for switching to the next or previous track.

Initially there was a lot of static/buzzing/whistling interference noise, which was especially noticeable during quiet periods. Apparently this happens because the SoundSync and phone are plugged into the same power source. This went away when I added an Mpow Ground Loop Noise Isolator.

Compared with using a combination Lightning charge/audio dongle, the SoundSync requires an extra USB port in the car and an extra cable to manage. It also takes an extra step each time you get in the car, because you have to plug in the phone and turn on the SoundSync, rather than just plug the phone into both audio and power simultaneously.

On the other hand, for a short trip where the phone doesn’t need power and you don’t need to put it in a mount for navigation, the SoundSync lets you keep the phone in your pocket. (But good luck using Siri that way.)

Overall, I find the SoundSync more reliable than third-party Lightning dongles—Apple doesn’t make one, alas. Nothing is as reliable as using a headphone jack on the phone, though that isn’t particularly convenient. Nothing is as convenient as AirPods, though those have other limitations.

The tiny TUNAI Firefly also looks interesting, though I don’t think it would fit properly in my car.

Previously: Lightning vs. USB-C for Headphones, Removing the iPhone’s Headphone Jack.

Update (2018-10-12): See also: Isaac Halvorson.

Is There Hope for the Mac App Store?

Speaking of the Mac App Store, Paulo Andrade writes (tweet):

Since its inception the Mac App Store has lagged behind its iOS counterpart. To this day there’s still no TestFlight or App Store analytics for Mac.


But although the tendency for shorter app review times was sustained, the unpredictability was still there… at least on the Mac App Store. In the last year alone there were at least a couple of occasions where Secrets for Mac got stuck in either “Waiting for Review” or “In Review” for at least a week. In both cases, contacting App Review seemed to unblock the issue.


And it sure looks great [in 10.14]. Certainly a great improvement over what was there before, albeit sometimes it feels more like an iOS app running on the Mac than a native Mac app.


Tried submitting to the Mac App Store but failed because it refuses to accept binaries with the new Since Mojave’s release is still a week and half away, I contact Apple and wait for a response.


30 days after my initial submission attempt, Secrets 2.8.0 is still not available on the Mac App Store. Besides knowing my issue was escalated, I have no idea what’s going on, why it’s taking so long or when can I expect it to be reviewed.

Lily Bradic (via Phil Schiller):

But after my initial “ooh, Dark Mode!” reaction subsided, I realised it wasn’t just the contrast between the dark backdrop and the rich illustrations that was impressive, but the design of the Mac App Store itself. For the first time ever, the App Store feels like one of the beautifully designed apps you’d go there to purchase — as well as a platform for discovering them.


Apple have recreated the Mac App Store from the ground up, and it’s a pleasure to use. There’s a joy in simply browsing: with the all-new Discover tab, Apple has introduced fascinating stories, in-depth interviews and weekly picks. These editorial features bring everything together, creating an ecosystem that celebrates the best of what app developers have to offer.


Exploring the new Mac App Store feels like an adventure, and it inspires you to make the most of what your Mac is capable of doing.

Coincidentally, Andrade and Bradic work on competing products.

Previously: AEDeterminePermissionToAutomateTarget Added, But AEpocalyse Still Looms.

Update (2018-10-19): Mark Munz:

How did Apple manage to completely rewrite Mac App Store for Mojave and STILL NOT let users to search for past purchased items?

I honestly don’t believe developers at Apple actually use Mac App Store.

Update (2018-10-22): Frank Reiff:

After the first 25 or so days of the “new Mac App Store”, I’m happy to report that sales are if anything down and there is zero sign of any sandboxing or policy changes that could have changed anybody’s mind about the Mac App Store.

Update (2018-10-25): Matthias Gansrigler:

I hope @Apple and the #Mac @AppStore team are aware that App Preview videos (adhering to Apple’s specifications) are cut off at the edges. It’s especially bad for @YoinkApp, since it appears at the edge of the screen and is now partially cut-off in the videos.

Update (2018-11-27): Howard Oakley:

Take, as an example, its Updates view. There’s so much wrong here that it is close to being functionless, and is often misleading. The previous App Store app provided a time-ordered list of (almost) all the updates that you had installed, although most recently Apple had even tampered with that record, removing old versions of macOS, for instance, without any good reason. When it comes to displaying updates, this new version has a mind of its own. It sometimes only lists a specific update there for a few minutes. It weeds the list as and when it feels like, and doesn’t pay much attention to how long ago the update was installed. Few, though, are allowed to remain longer than a few days, then apparently pass out of the scope of its very limited memory. If I can remember as far back as a week ago, why can’t this wonderful new app? Its list of updates is extremely wasteful of space. All I want to see here is the name and version of the update, and when it was installed. Yet in quite a sizeable window, the app is incapable of displaying more than about 14 updates, when it can recall them.


But its most bizarre behaviour is the way in which it calculates how long ago each update was installed. This may seem a small point, but almost every time that I look at the list of updates, it makes me stop and check. At first, I thought it might be locked into Pacific Standard Time, even though I access the UK App Store from UK local time. But when it reports that an update was installed X Days Ago, it isn’t applying a human concept, but that of a machine date calculation.

Update (2018-11-29): scott:

You can not update free software from the Mac App Store without a valid credit card on file. You can not download security patches for free software from the Mac App Store without a valid credit card on file.

Found this out after switching banks.

That is completely crazy.

Update (2018-12-05): John Gruber:

So in Mojave’s Mac App Store app, you can’t scroll anything using standard keyboard keys like Page Up, Page Down, Home, End, or the space bar?

Things like this are canaries in the coal mine regarding the state of the Mac. If even Apple doesn’t get basic fundamentals — like supporting Page Up/Down, things which should work in a scrolling view out of the box — how are we to expect any developer to?

Update (2018-12-07): Howard Oakley:

Mojave 10.14.2 update didn’t, if Apple’s release notes are to be believed, bring any changes to the Mac App Store. But after the update, it is behaving quite differently. In fact, it looks as if it’s broken, on this Mac at least.

Update (2018-12-11): Howard Oakley:

It started well after I had successfully migrated to my new Mac. One morning, there were four updates shown in the App Store. When I clicked to download and install them all, a little later the App Store had given up, and told me they had to be downloaded again from the store.

Update (2019-04-08): Steve Zeoli:

I want to be able to find new apps, not the same list of Top Paid or Top Free apps. I’m not a fucking sheep that wants to follow the herd. Give me green grass!

Update (2019-05-13): Brent Simmons:

When I open the Mac App Store, it goes straight to this. Just me?

Update (2021-05-24): Tony Arnold:

This is a hard argument for never building native app UI using web technology (HTML, CSS, etc).

If these were native controls reading off a server backend for their content, they’d at least still look good, even if they weren’t populating properly.

The display of the Mac App Store has been broken on Sierra and High Sierra for months.

The Math Behind Project Scheduling, Bug Tracking, and Triage

Avery Pennarun (via Hacker News):

Many projects have poorly defined (and often overridden) priorities, hopelessly optimistic schedules, and overflowing bug trackers that are occasionally purged out of frustration in a mysterious process called “bug bankruptcy.” But a few projects seem to get everything right. What’s the difference? Avery collected the best advice from the best-running teams at Google, then tried to break down why that advice works—using math, psychology, an ad-hoc engineer simulator (SimSWE), and pages torn out of Agile Project Management textbooks.

We’ll answer questions like:

  • Why are my estimates always too optimistic, no matter how pessimistic I make them?
  • How many engineers have to come to the project planning meetings?
  • Why do people work on tasks that aren’t on the schedule?
  • What do I do when new bugs are filed faster than I can fix them?
  • Should I make one release with two features or two releases with one new feature each?
  • If my bug tracker is already a hopeless mess, how can I clean it up without going crazy or declaring bankruptcy?

Working Around a Swift “nonmutating” Crash

Nataliya Patsovska (via Florent Pillet):

We recently found a mysterious bug in our framework Flow present only when building with Xcode 10:

-Mutating an object on the same line it was created on would cause BAD_ACCESS crash.

-Splitting the line into 2 lines would work fine.

Of course that was a workaround, not the fix.


Turns out we were using the “nonmutating” keyword in a protocol extension and the compiler decided it is safe to deallocate the object implementing the protocol too early.

Moving the setter to the class somehow worked[…]

See also: Mutating And Nonmutating Functions.

Previously: Exploring Swift Array’s Implementation.

Update (2018-10-15): Joe Groff notes the bug page and a potential fix.