Archive for May 22, 2019

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Mac Toolbar Labels and Accessibility

James Riordon:

My Dad (90 yrs old) has developed cognitive issues, including the inability to reconcile symbols. He can’t use Apple Mail anymore as Mail compose window removed the ability to show text labels with buttons. Thanks @tim_cook Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 16

Rob Griffiths:

This continues a depressing trend—Safari hasn’t had text labels available on its buttons for many years now.

Apple may have done this to save vertical space, which is ironic, as using “text only”—when available—takes the least amount of space possible.

I prefer to see both the icons and the text. This is an option in NSToolbar, which the app can set and the user can configure. However, if the window uses NSWindowTitleHidden to hide the title (another accessibility problem) and put the toolbar in the title bar, the toolbar gets locked in icon-only mode.

At first, I thought this title-free design was intended for single-window apps, but Apple also uses it Safari and Xcode. And it’s been appearing in third-party apps like MarsEdit, OmniFocus, and ReadKit—a shame.

Update (2019-05-23): Daniel Jalkut:

Ideally Apple would fix this mode so that some kind of appropriate compromise could be made to support the streamlined title-bar-free mode, while also supporting the display of labels. I’m not holding my breath on that, though. Hopefully this workaround [for MarsEdit] will give those of you who either prefer, or outright depend upon the labels for accessibility reasons, something to tide you over.

Peter Saathoff-Harshfield:

I often find that VoiceOver is the only way to discover what a button with an inscrutable icon does.

Also, these windows with no distinct title bar leave little space for me to click and drag the window, so I’m zooming way in to find a tiny grab spot.

Brent Simmons:

There’s a hugely important aspect to this: developers follow Apple’s lead when it comes to app design. I’m trying to find Apple apps that allow for buttons and titles, and all I’ve found so far is Mail and the iWork apps. (The iWork apps are document-based, which means their windows need titles.)

The most obvious example is Finder, which allows button labels and is not document-based. Automator, Preview, and Script Editor do, too, and are document-based. Then again, Xcode supports multiple windows, and is document-based, yet it doesn’t allow window titles or button labels. I think this style is basically the new brushed metal—used haphazardly by Apple and therefore by third-party developers as well.

OmniFocus is not document-based, but it supports multiple named windows. It puts the titles in giant text below the title bar, so it actually leaves less room for the content than in the previous version that did allow toolbar labels. However, the colored text can help show where you are, and it is visually consistent with the iOS app.

In fact, lots of Apple apps — and third-party apps — don’t even have configurable toolbars at all. This is a shame. At least with Safari — and the apps Michael mentions, and NetNewsWire — you can rearrange items to your liking, and choose the items you want to see.

Simmons’ NetNewsWire is an app that doesn’t use a window title, but it does have a hidden preference to change that, and then you can enable the toolbar labels.

John Gruber:

I think it’s a real accessibility issue, and another instance of something that looks better but, for at least some people, works worse. I also think the problem is exacerbated by the current style where icons are just simple one-color hairline outlines objects, not colorful illustrations of actual objects.

Update (2019-05-24): macOS Human Interface Guidelines:

A title bar should be visible, but can be hidden in an immersive app like a game.

Provide a title unless there’s enough context that one is unnecessary.


Provide a short, descriptive label for every toolbar item. Users see these labels when they configure the toolbar to show icons and text, or text only.

That seems to be the extent of Apple’s guidance.

Qualcomm Loses U.S. Antitrust Ruling

Ian King and Kartikay Mehrotra (Hacker News, MacRumors):

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh sided with the Federal Trade Commission in a case brought in 2017 accusing the company of anti-competitive practices.


“Qualcomm’s licensing practices have strangled competition” in certain modem chip markets “for years, and harmed rivals, OEMs and end consumers in the process,” the judge wrote. She also found that Qualcomm’s key role in manufacturing modem chips for smartphones using 5G made it likely that its behavior would continue.

Neil Cybart:

Qualcomm must negotiate or renegotiate licensing agreements, license patents to rival chip makers at fair and reasonable prices, be monitored for 7 years.

Florian Mueller:

What was an even greater failure for Qualcomm was the extreme degree to which its senior executives’ testimony contradicted their own handwritten notes, emails, and presentation slides, including but not limited to the question of whether Qualcomm explicitly threatened device makers with a disruption of chipset supplies unless they agreed to certain patent licensing terms. As a result, “the Court largely discounts Qualcomm’s trial testimony prepared specifically for this litigation and instead relies on these witnesses’ own contemporaneous emails, handwritten notes, and recorded statements to the IRS.”


Later, Apple had to agree to total exclusivity, where any shipment of a non-negligible quantity of devices with non-Qualcomm modem chips on board would have made them lose certain benefits going forward and entitled Qualcomm to a clawback, and that is the basis for one of the FTC’s monopolization claims.


Some Users See More Twitter Ads

Kurt Wagner (via Cabel Sasser):

Some journalists first noticed and started tweeting about seeing more ads on Twitter earlier this week. Not all Twitter users have the same ad load, which means the experiment won’t affect everyone. Some people see more ads than others depending on a variety of factors, including how the number of ads influence their use of the platform. (Facebook and Instagram do something similar.) Three years ago, Twitter shut off ads for some of the network’s most prominent users as part of an effort to keep them engaged. Some users still have an ad-free Twitter.

As I recall, John Gruber has wondered why he doesn’t see any Twitter ads. I guess this clears up that mystery.

I still don’t understand why Twitter doesn’t do more with other revenue models. I think lots of people would pay for an ad-free experience or other extra features.

Update (2019-05-22): Brian:

I think @gruber was actually saying he didn’t see IG ads, not Twitter. But now he does so it’s moot

Intel vs. Qualcomm Cellular Modem Speed

Juli Clover:

In testing on LTE band 4 with good signal, there wasn’t a lot of difference in performance between the iPhone XS Max, the newer smartphones from Samsung and OnePlus, and the LG V40, which PCMag added in because it was 2018's best performing phone in terms of cellular speed.

All of the smartphones performed similarly, but the Samsung Galaxy S10 did see some of the slowest speeds, and at peak signal, the iPhone XS came in behind the OnePlus 7 Pro and the LG V40.

In a test with poorer LTE signal, the iPhone XS Max saw the slowest speeds and was outperformed by all of the Qualcomm chips. The iPhone XS Max was quite a bit slower than the Galaxy S10 and the OnePlus 7 Pro specifically.

Previously: Qualcomm and Apple Agree to Drop All Litigation.