Archive for December 20, 2018

Thursday, December 20, 2018 [Tweets] [Favorites]

My December Product Updates

As 2018 winds down, I’m pleased to announce some updates regarding my apps:

App Store Now Allows Gifting IAPs

Juli Clover:

Apple today made a tweak to its App Store Review Guidelines, allowing developers to implement a new feature that will let iOS users purchase in-app content as a gift.

Right now, iOS users can purchase paid apps as gifts for other iOS users, but there’s no way to purchase in-app content as a gift. As more and more apps work on a free-to-try or subscription basis with various content only available through an in-app purchase, this change to the in-app purchase rules makes sense.

So I assume this feature isn’t coming to the Mac App Store anytime soon. It doesn’t even support regular gifting.

Michael Love:

Question is whether they’re offering an official system for this or whether we have to hack together something of our own; if the latter, it would be yet another disappointing example of Apple punishing devs for offering non-consumable IAPs.

[…]

OTOH, the hopeful spin is that they’ve decided to start treating IAPs as equivalent to regular purchases (possibly after some back-end upgrades), in which case we might shortly see the two long-awaited feature requests of IAP Family Sharing + IAP for volume buyers come to pass.

Previously: Mac App Analytics Now Available in App Store Connect.

Apple Says Bent iPad Pros Are Not Defective

Chris Welch (Hacker News):

Apple has confirmed to The Verge that some of its 2018 iPad Pros are shipping with a very slight bend in the aluminum chassis. But according to the company, this is a side effect of the device’s manufacturing process and shouldn’t worsen over time or negatively affect the flagship iPad’s performance in any practical way. Apple does not consider it to be a defect.

[…]

And I’ve seen others from folks who are insistent their iPad came that way out of the box.

Apple is now saying that in some cases, the latter is true. And I can personally vouch for that: my 11-inch iPad Pro showed a bit of a curve after two weeks. Apple asked if I would send it their way so the engineering team could take a look. But the replacement 11-inch iPad Pro I received at Apple’s Downtown Brooklyn store exhibited a very slight bend in the aluminum as soon as I took off the wrapper.

At first, I thought this was a parody. This is what Apple wants its brand to stand for? A premium product that is bent right out of the box?

Juli Clover (tweet):

Shortly after the new 2018 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models shipped out to customers, some MacRumors readers found bends in their tablets. Unsurprisingly, new iPad owners were upset and disappointed to find unwanted defects in devices that cost hundreds of dollars, but according to new information from Apple, a slight bend isn’t out of the ordinary.

[…]

The Verge suggests that those who are irritated by the bend “shouldn’t have any trouble exchanging or returning” an iPad Pro at an Apple Store, but that statement likely only applies to devices that are still under the return policy. Apple typically does not replace devices experiencing issues that are not considered manufacturing defects, so it’s not entirely clear if those with bent tablets outside of the return period will be able to get replacements.

Zac Cichy:

Something is definitely off about Apple’s wording here. I can’t imagine getting a brand new iPad at $800+ with a “slight bend” and that not being a defect. My guess is they’ll mostly replace these and their PR wording here is legally driven.

Worst case scenario: you immediately return the iPad and buy a new one.

I just seriously hope Apple stores aren’t actually telling customers that a slight bend in their very expensive new device is within the range of normal expectation.

Nut Button:

Like I’m sure that’s a manufacturing issue but Apple has earned a rep for sweating the tiniest of details so it’s a little jarring seeing stuff like that

Michael Love:

This is a pointlessly stupid response from Apple, yes - would be so easy to just say a few of them are bent by accident + welcome users to exchange bent devices within 14 days after receiving them, sounds way better + unlikely to cost them much since people would do that anyway.

If anything, encouraging people to exchange bent models would increase the odds of the people who were exchanging them anyway taking a chance on a second unit rather than just giving up on the whole thing.

Dave Mark:

Is this really normal? Look at the image in the linked article. Certainly seems like a manufacturing defect to me.

Marko Karppinen:

Apple should decide whether they want to be the company that ships iPads a little bent from the factory and calls it normal, or the company that charges up to $1899 for an iPad. Doing both seems untenable

Nick Heer:

These are thousand-dollar devices designed and engineered by a company known for its fastidious attention to detail; there is simply no excuse why they should be bent as a result of its manufacturing.

Previously: iPad Pro 2018, The Magic Keyboard With Numeric Keypad Is Apparently Bendy, iPhone 6 Bendgate and Touch Disease, Just Avoid Sitting in That Way.

Update (2018-12-23): Quinn Nelson:

Apple’s in the wrong. It’s one thing if a customer bends the device, but shipping a product bent is entirely different. It’s a defect.

Dan Riccio (9to5Mac):

Relative to the issue you referenced regarding the new iPad Pro, its unibody design meets or exceeds all of Apple’s high quality standards of design and precision manufacturing. We’ve carefully engineered it and every part of the manufacturing process is precisely measured and controlled.

Our current specification for iPad Pro flatness is up to 400 microns which is even tighter than previous generations. This 400 micron variance is less than half a millimeter (or the width of fewer than four sheets of paper at most) and this level of flatness won’t change during normal use over the lifetime of the product.

This seems like a response to an entirely different issue. Or is he implying that all the photos are fake or somehow distorted?

John Gruber:

400 microns = 0.4mm. The question is how noticeable is “up to 400 microns” of bend?

If 300-400 microns is noticeably bent, I think this is a problem. The photos of bent iPads people are sharing look like they’re bent a lot more than 0.4mm. But it’s only 5.9mm thick so maybe 0.4mm is noticeable?

Nick Heer:

I can’t remember this being an issue previously. Maybe the flat edges make it more noticeable, too?

Michael Love:

400 microns = nothing approaching the bend in this photo or the sort of bend people have been complaining about. So this definitely looks like a botched PR response rather than an actual BendGate. (which I guess is a good sign Apple-QA-wise, but still a stupid mistake)

Juli Clover:

Riccio’s email also says that a company statement was not included in the original information disseminated by The Verge, and that Apple will be reaching out to media outlets to comment officially.

Odd to provide two official responses but to postpone the official “statement” until, I guess, after the holidays.

Update (2018-12-27): Michael Simon:

In his email to a disgruntled iPad owner, Apple VP Riccio said a statement from Apple regarding the situation would be forthcoming. One might assume it would wax intellectual about acceptable microns and the “specification for iPad Pro flatness.” But a week later, the statement still hasn’t arrived, which is all you need to know about Apple’s handling of this whole situation.

With scattered reports across forums, we have no way of knowing how many iPads are affected, but even if it’s only less than 20 iPads total, Apple would be wise to recognize that any bent iPad is a problem, and offer replacement units and refunds on any AppleCare costs. This is literally about damage control, and a small token would go a long way toward protecting Apple’s premium brand promise.

Update (2018-12-28): Bob Burrough:

Here’s a render of two iPad Pro sized blocks, edge on. The block on the left is unbent. The block on the right has a 400 micron bend.

Michael Gartenberg:

Returned my iPad this morning. Perhaps it was within Apple tolerances but Apple tolerances shouldn’t allow for a clear noticeble bend. Much as monitors with noticeble dead pixels aren’t acceptable either.

Update (2019-01-01): scott:

Apple won’t replace these bent iPad’s. This is what Apple considers normal now and what the Apple press considers to be the best quality hardware in the world.

Update (2019-01-08): See also: The Talk Show.

Apple (via MacRumors):

These precision manufacturing techniques and a rigorous inspection process ensure that these new iPad Pro models meet an even tighter specification for flatness than previous generations. This flatness specification allows for no more than 400 microns of deviation across the length of any side — less than the thickness of four sheets of paper. The new straight edges and the presence of the antenna splits may make subtle deviations in flatness more visible only from certain viewing angles that are imperceptible during normal use. These small variances do not affect the strength of the enclosure or the function of the product and will not change over time through normal use.

If you believe your new iPad Pro does not meet the specifications described in this article, please contact Apple Support. Apple offers a 14-day return policy for products purchased directly from Apple.

Nick Heer:

Apple is sticking by its assertion that tolerances for flatness are finer on newer iPads than on older models. But it is equally true that we have not previously seen reports of iPads bent in this fashion.

Update (2019-02-04): Juli Clover:

Over on the MacRumors forums, our readers who have run into the bending issue have been sharing their experiences with replacements, Apple support, and more, so that thread is well worth checking out if you’ve purchased a new iPad Pro model with a bend in it.

The Case Against Marzipan

Uluroo (tweet):

Touch and cursors are diametrically opposed interface design paradigms. To prioritize one is to compromise the other. Clearly it would be a mistake to put macOS on the iPhone, or to put iOS on the Mac. You would end up with an interface that was either too dense or too spread-out for the hardware it ran on. If it’s bad for operating systems to cross the boundaries of platforms, why does anyone think it will be good for apps to? They play by the same rules as anything else.

[…]

Apple should be setting the example for third-party developers. When it’s not making good software, developers shouldn’t be expected to. Apple is the root of the problem here; its apps, the shining beacon that attracts developers to this new API, are so bad it’s not even funny.

[…]

Marzipan is the antithesis of the Mac. It is a slow venom that, if it spreads far enough, will kill everything that makes the Mac worth having. At this point, it seems unlikely that Apple will administer the antidote and give Marzipan the axe. But that’s what needs to happen.

Previously: The Mojave Marzipan Apps, Electron and the Decline of Native Apps.

Update (2018-12-23): Gregory Sapienza:

Problem is: without this initiative Apple would be handing over macOS to the world of electron indefinitely

Uluroo:

I agree that Marzipan isn’t the bottom of the scale, but that doesn’t justify its existence. Another alternative is real, good apps.

Part of what makes this annoying is Apple’s own cross-platform work. For first-party apps, Apple should not consider Marzipan acceptable.

Apple should be setting the example for developers. If News and Stocks had been well-made apps, optimized for macOS, maybe I wouldn’t be so convinced that Marzipan is bad. But Apple has not just made the development process easier — it’s lowered its own design standards.

Drew McCormack:

Don’t really get the fear mongering around Marzipan. Will the Marzipan apps be great apps? Nope. Will it mean at least we have some apps where there were none? Yep. Is there always an opportunity for a good Mac dev to make a quality product stealing the whole show? Yep.

At the micro level, this is probably true. But what about the ecosystem as a whole? It does not bode well that Apple is either unable or unwilling to do a good job—either for Apple’s commitment to the Mac platform or for the ability of Marzipan to make good apps possible. Secondly, an onslaught of these types of apps, blessed by Apple, will shift the standards of what users will put up with, reducing the taste for quality. And Apple will fill the Mac App Store with them, making it harder to find the gems.

Craig Scott:

It will result in an expectation of buy once, run everywhere - and the once will be at iOS prices. This will make Mac development less profitable - hence fewer high quality apps.

Alastair Houghton:

IMO the real worry (as a user as much as a developer) is that maybe we’re importing the obnoxious iOS ecosystem and all its sharp practices to macOS?

Update (2018-12-27): See also: The Talk Show.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Loved the Marzipan discussion, but people really need to temper the ‘of course Marzipan isn’t the /real/ solution’ discussion. What on earth about Apple’s last decade suggests to you that they have the bandwidth for yet a third platform in the wings to be the ‘real’ way forward?

Steve Troughton-Smith:

I don’t think you could choose to make Marzipan happen today, 8 yrs after they should have started that work, w/o having spent yrs following the ideal path down the rabbit hole & leaving w/ nothing to show for it. Should have been Plan A a decade ago, but no way it’s Plan A today

Indeed, one of the most puzzling aspects of Marzipan is its timing. In 2011 or so, I thought Apple must be on the verge of introducing something like this. That it took so long and yet still seems so rough is surprising.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Personally, I would treat Marzipan as an ‘all hands on deck’ project. Everybody across iOS and macOS at Apple needs to make this not just work, but be a great desktop platform, and the primary focus of desktop app development at Apple from now on. Dogfood the heck out of it

I’m embracing it because either this works or the Mac dies. I don’t think it’s the right solution and it’s not what I would have done at this stage of the platform’s evolution. I would have committed to killing macOS a decade ago and spent the decade making iOS fit to replace it

Francisco Tolmasky:

It’s really hard to understand what is needed from a framework if you’re not writing innovative apps. If Apple were still striving to make iWork or FCP quality apps, they’d have more insight into other paths to follow. “Pure framework” design with only toy apps is dangerous.

Riccardo Mori:

I would have committed to, you know, just make Mac OS –AND– iOS better. Apple ought to have enough resources to do just that.

Pieter Omvlee:

I think it should have started 10 years ago with unifying basic APIs and classes and then build up from that. It’s a bit too late for that now so I understand the why behind Marzipan though it saddens me

Influencers Are Faking Brand Deals

Taylor Lorenz:

A decade ago, shilling products to your fans may have been seen as selling out. Now it’s a sign of success.

[…]

But transitioning from an average Instagram or YouTube user to a professional “influencer”—that is, someone who leverages a social-media following to influence others and make money—is not easy. After archiving old photos, redefining your aesthetic, and growing your follower base to at least the quadruple digits, you’ll want to approach brands. But the hardest deal to land is your first, several influencers say; companies want to see your promotional abilities and past campaign work. So many have adopted a new strategy: Fake it until you make it.

[…]

Taylor Evans took the fake-“sponcon” game one step further, once faking the entire purpose of a trip to Miami. Technically, she was just there on vacation, paying her own way for everything, but on Instagram she positioned it as an exclusive press trip.