Archive for March 29, 2019

Friday, March 29, 2019 [Tweets] [Favorites]

AirPower Canceled

Matthew Panzarino (tweet, Hacker News):

Apple has canceled the AirPower product completely, citing difficulty meeting its own standards.

“After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project. We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch. We continue to believe that the future is wireless and are committed to push the wireless experience forward,” said Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Engineering in an emailed statement today.

[…]

Everything I’ve personally heard (Apple is saying nothing officially) about the AirPower delay has been related to tough engineering problems related to the laws of physics. Specifically, I’ve heard that they ran too hot because the 3D charging coils in close proximity to one another required very, very cautious power management.

I guess this was a recent decision because AirPower is apparently mentioned in the packaging for the just-released 2019 AirPods.

Alistair Charlton:

Thankfully, the accessory industry has leapt at the opportunity and is now sprinted toward the open goal Apple left presented for them. Some wireless charging mats power two devices, some even power three, and they all look very similar to Apple’s fallen AirPower.

Juli Clover:

The Boost Up Wireless Charging Dock, which debuted in September, is the newest and most versatile offering, combining a Qi wireless charger with an Apple Watch charging puck and an extra USB-A port.

How come Apple couldn’t do what these other companies have? Do they have lower standards for heat/safety? Was AirPower trying for a smaller sized pad?

Previously:

Update (2019-03-29): Uluroo:

Apparently they were going for 21 to 24 coils. They could have just done three, but they probably didn’t want to compete in the category unless they had a big quality differentiator

It was complex engineering in the name of a simpler experience. Having more coils would have allowed users to place a device anywhere on the mat, so different spots wouldn’t get better charge. It would have been good, but it seems to be one of those impossible engineering tasks.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

At least for me, AirPower poisoned the well for Qi chargers; I now need one that can charge multiple devices at once and won’t bother with anything less, but simultaneously Apple has effectively told us that multiple coils will burn your house down so don’t try it

Uluroo:

AirPower was only a fire hazard because it had six or seven times the coils, and they overlapped. It’s safe to go with other options.

Benjamin Mayo:

Schiller, Sept 2017 event: “This is not possible with current standards but our team knows how to do this.” … “we will work with the Qi standards team to incorporate these benefits into the future of the standard, to make wireless charging better for everyone”.

Nick Lockwood:

Apple used to be famous for never pre-announcing products.

The very few times I recall SJ breaking that rule (3GHZ G5, FaceTime open standard), the feature never shipped.

Leaks are one thing, but how hard is it to simply not talk about a product until it’s ready to ship? 😔

See also: MacRumors.

Ryan Jones:

Dirty dirty move to selling Wireless Charging AirPods with a picture of your wireless charging mat, a week before killing your announced wireless charging mat.

Jeremy Horwitz:

Weird, all of the 2019 AirPods documentation and box dates say 2018, as if they were ready last year and delayed at the last minute for some reason…

Rouven Schmidt:

My serial number says that my AirPods were produced in week 37! September!!!

So perhaps it’s a good idea to wait until the early stock sells out to make sure you get new batteries.

Benjamin Mayo:

Another product in the thermal corner …

Ken Kocienda:

Rough week for Apple. The services announced earlier this week aren’t that special, aren’t shipping yet, or both. The AirPower saga demonstrates a failure to properly scope, develop, and ship a new product. Vaporware and cancellations are not a good look.

Mark Gurman:

The AirPower wouldn’t even have made a dent on Apple’s bottom line, but cancelling an announced product, no matter how big or small, is a huge embarrassment. Can’t recall them cancelling an announced device, at least in modern era. Even the white iPhone 4 made it out alive.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

There aren’t many cancelled Apple products that I can remember in the modern era. That puts AirPower alongside 64-bit Carbon, I guess?

Update (2019-04-01): Craig Lloyd:

We asked an engineer with experience building wireless charging systems what obstacles Apple was working to overcome. “Over time, these harmonics add up and they become really powerful signals in the air,” explains William Lumpkins, VP of Engineering at O & S Services. “And that can be difficult—that can stop someone’s pacemaker if it’s too high of a level. Or it could short circuit someone’s hearing aid.” If Apple’s multi-coil layout was spinning off harmonics left and right, it’s possible AirPower couldn’t pass muster with US or EU regulations.

Part of what’s astonishing about the AirPower cancellation is how last-minute it was, right on the heels of the AirPods 2 release. But Lumpkins says that happens sometimes. He speculated that Apple had AirPower working in their labs: ”Well, so what always happens is you get it functional first. No one looks at [Electro-Magnetic Interference] until the end.” The FCC rules for wireless charging devices like AirPower are quite strict, and limit exposure at 20 cm (8 in) above the device to 50 mW/cm^2.

Ryan Jones:

The ifixit “explanation” about what killed AirPower is naysayer speculative junk.

We know Apple could make it, the issue was between lab → factory. Issues such as yield rate, cost, components, suppliers, etc.

Juli Clover:

There are already a number of AirPower-like alternative products on the market, and we're likely going to be seeing additional replacements in the future. None of these accessories do exactly what the AirPower promised because there are dedicated spots to charge each device, but each option will charge more than one device at one time.

Author:

But there is one problem (the biggest problem) that every single Qi wireless charger still has. They require us to place our phones precisely. If we don’t place them just right, or if we nudge them in the night, or they vibrate just a little too much, our phones will stop charging, and we’ll wake up with 7% battery.

John Gruber:

I have long been wondering, if Apple were ever to just give up on this thing, who’d take the blame in the announcement. Looks like it’s Riccio.

Ken Segall:

There is no good way to look at the saga of AirPower. Eyes have rolled, jaws have dropped, and we can only wonder how on earth Apple could ever put itself in this position. There are but two possibilities. Either Apple engineering truly believed it could build the product and discovered the awful truth later—or Apple knew that the technology wasn’t yet feasible and gambled that the engineers would ultimately work their magic. If it’s the former, Apple engineering made a terrible judgment. If it’s the latter, Apple management made a terrible judgment.

Benjamin Mayo:

I’m sad that the product will not exist and I’m also not thrilled with how Apple handled the cancellation. When Apple finally decided to release the AirPods wireless charging case earlier this month, which carried a hefty premium over the normal second-generation AirPods, they clearly knew that they had given up on the mat. They decided to wait until after the rush of AirPods orders had gone through to announce AirPower’s fate. Therefore, plenty of people bought the wireless charging model with the AirPower mat use case in mind, none the wiser to Apple’s internal plans. I am one of those buyers. Apple made more money by making its announcements public in that order. Even if the total of those purchases is small, it is a bit sketchy. I know I regret paying the extra £40 for my new AirPods.

Update (2019-04-09): Accidental Tech Podcast received a crazy tip that Apple announced AirPower before finalizing the acquisition of the company whose technology would be used to develop it.

macOS 10.14.4 Restricts Taiwan Flag Emoji in China

Jeremy Burge (via John Gruber):

Macs bought in China can no longer display the 🇹🇼 Taiwan Flag Emoji, no matter which region is set in System Prefs

[…]

Since at least 2017, iOS devices bought in China (i.e. Chinese model iPhones) have also been prevented from showing the 🇹🇼 flag, no matter the region.

Wang Boyuan:

The region you choose on the setup assistant will stay unchanged untill you reinstall the OS. I saw users who bought the Chinese model set the initial region to elsewhere, thus 🇹🇼 is properly displayed on their Mac and the 10.14.4 upgrade won’t affect them.

To solve the issue once and for all: edit /Library/Preferences/.GlobalPreferences.plist, change string “CN” under <key>Country</key> to other country code, then click System Preferences to change the region settiing in your profile to you know where. Reboot and you’re 🇹🇼 friendly

So again there’s no hardware lock. It has nothing to do with T2 chips. The only thing that changed is the mechanism macOS use to detect regions. You are still in control of your China model Macbooks.

The Weirdness of NSURL’s isDirectory Flag

Brian Webster:

Cocoa Protip: Using +[NSURL fileURLWithPath:] hits the filesystem and can cause slowdowns. Use +[NSURL fileURLWithPath:isDirectory:] instead. Same goes for -[NSURL URLByAppendingPathComponent:isDirectory:]

Peter Hosey:

I don’t remember if it’s documented [It is. —Michael] but it’s true (observable in Instruments/sample). If you don’t tell it whether the thing is a directory, it will go find out, immediately.

I’m well aware of this because it’s caused significant performance issues for me when dealing with large numbers of files. However, it’s not clear to me why it works this way:

Previously:

Software Before the App Store

Pahull Bains:

Shaan Pruden has worked at Apple for three decades. Since 1989, she has seen the company through all its greatest hits—the Mac, of course, but then the iPhone, the iPad, the Apple Watch, Apple TV and now Augmented Reality. “I think that’s why I’ve hung around so long,” laughs Pruden. “We keep reinventing ourselves.” 30 years ago, when Pruden first joined Apple’s Edmonton office, heading up support for Macs on campus, it was a different world. “We went through some dark days there in the early run before Steve came back,” she remembers. “And then after he came back it’s a remarkable journey that we’ve been on.” Pruden is now the company’s Senior Director of Developer Relations, with a team that works with developers in every category on the App Store.

On a day-to-day basis, that means talking constantly with different developers around the world to offer them support and guidance. “We’re sort of a product advisor, almost like a product manager if you will, except it’s not Apple products, it’s other people’s products (laughs) and we help them put their best foot forward on our platform.”

[…]

“I actually see it very different from even 10 years ago. I think we’ve made tremendous strides and I think the reason is because software used to be the domain of a handful of companies. I don’t know if you remember, but the way you used to buy software was in a box at a store. There was no way you could come up with an idea for an app and create it and put in a shiny disc and sell it yourself. It just wasn’t going to happen. So the App Store really democratized software. Anybody with a great idea can write an app and put it up on the App Store and be in 150 countries all around the world overnight. That’s just amazing.”

As Paul Kafasis and John Gruber note, there was actually a thriving period of downloadable software in between the era of CDs in stores and the advent of the App Store. And this period was arguably more democratic. Anyone could post anything on the Web, whereas App Store guidelines are unevenly enforced and the store makes it harder to browse the long tail of apps than Apple’s previous downloads directory did.

Update (2019-03-29): Drunken Dogcow:

Holy crap, talk about historical revisionism. The only option before the App Store Messiah was revealed to us was boxed software in retail stores? Weird, some of us remember getting shareware off the internet and even from compilation diskettes/CD-ROMs that came with magazines.

Come to think of it, I was downloading software with Fetch and paying for it in the early 90s, before Apple even shipped Macs with CD-ROM drives.

Jeff Johnson:

It’s painfully clear that Apple executives want to erase the golden age of indie developers from history and pretend that it never existed.

Jay Lapeche:

The App Store was a death blow to my software business (which was a side hustle). Prices plummeted, and competitors blossomed. Competitors who liked to make things for free 😀

Michael Love:

This offends me deeply, as somebody who was making a good living selling mobile apps for almost a decade before the App Store launched.

“The App Store really democratized software” No, PalmGearHQ did that. And they only charged a 20% commission and didn’t stop you from selling through other channels too (in fact in the early days they didn’t even stop you from linking to an outside purchase page).

And by 2007 I had enough name recognition that I could sell exclusively through my own website, not paying a commission to anybody, and I made about 85% as much money that year selling Palm and Windows Mobile apps on my own store as I made my best year ever on the App Store.

So no, you didn’t “democratize software,” you merely figured out a way to make it all go through your stupid channel with its Excite-era search engine and its heavy flogging of addictive F2P crapware and apps-that-don’t-actually-teach-Chinese and give yourselves a 30% cut.

I also shipped a Mac shareware game called Ergo in 1994, when I was in middle school. Was featured in MacAddict magazine, sold 14 copies at $15/pop, more than many iOS games ever make :-) Payments through Kagi, which I’m pretty sure also charged a much lower commission than 30%.

Cardhop for iOS 1.0

Flexibits:

Head over to our Cardhop for iOS webpage and watch our introductory video, learn more about Cardhop, and find out how to get it on the App Store.

If you want a deeper dive into Cardhop for iOS, take a look at our tutorial videos to see Cardhop in action.

Flexibits:

Search, add, edit, and interact with your contacts using natural language

[…]

Powerful search and sorting using smart groups (when paired with the Mac version)

[…]

Quickly toggle between different groups and accounts

[…]

It seems like a small detail, but Cardhop’s notes section will help improve your relationships. Really. Just add a few details about your contacts and the next time you chat, you’ll know more about them. You can even add a timestamp with a tap, creating a history of your interactions.

Previously: Cardhop 1.0.

Update (2019-04-11): Flexibits:

We wanted to share a few tips and tricks for using Cardhop for iOS as efficiently as possible, which hopefully will save you even more time.

See also: Cardbox (tweet).

Reclaiming Disk Space From Xcode

Julio Carrettoni:

If you are an iOS developer, execute this:

$ xcrun simctl delete unavailable

It removes old simulators Xcode no longer use. For me it was 6Gb

[…]

You can also delete ~/Library/Developer/Xcode/Device Support If you want to gain back more space.

Xcode will regenerate what’s needed

Russ Bishop:

Be careful; if you switch Xcode versions then Simulators for “other” versions of iOS can show as unavailable.

Fabio Giolito:

my “freespace” alias:

sudo rm -rf /.DocumentRevisions-V100/
rm -rf ~/Library/Developer/Xcode/DerivedData
rm -rf ~/Library/Developer/Xcode/Archives 
rm -rf ~/Library/Developer/Xcode/iOS\ DeviceSupport
rm -rf ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.dt.Xcode
xcrun simctl delete unavailable

Julio Carrettoni:

I guess you ran out of characters, but don’t forget to also nuke watchOS DeviceSupport and tvOS DeviceSupport