Archive for August 30, 2019

Friday, August 30, 2019

Apple’s Inconsistent Ellipsis Icons

Josh Centers:

In this example, the ellipsis button is akin to choosing File > Get Info on the Mac to open the Get Info window, which displays metadata about the selected file. Interestingly, Wallet only recently switched to using the ellipsis button; before that, it relied on a button that looked like the lowercase letter i. Perhaps the i was awkward when localizing the interface into other languages and script systems, but it is an ISO standard symbol.

Let’s say you then switch to the Music app to play some tunes. While playing a song, you see yet another ellipsis button. You might assume that tapping it would display more information about the song, perhaps like what you can see in iTunes when you choose Edit > Song Info. But no, the ellipsis button in the iOS Music app brings up a list of track-specific actions, like adding it to your library, adding it to a playlist, creating an Apple Music station based on it, and so on.


These interface confusions extend to the Files app in iOS 13 as well. Much like with Wallet, Apple replaced a perfectly understandable Edit link with an ellipsis button. […] No, this time it offers commands for scanning documents, connecting to servers, and the options to edit locations, favorites, and tags.

Reminds me of how the Mac gear icon has been used for so many different purposes.

Apple Will Sell iPhone Parts to Repair Shops

Apple (MacRumors, Hacker News):

Apple today announced a new repair program, offering customers additional options for the most common out-of-warranty iPhone repairs. Apple will provide more independent repair businesses — large or small — with the same genuine parts, tools, training, repair manuals and diagnostics as its Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs).


There is no cost to join Apple’s independent repair program. To qualify for the new program, businesses need to have an Apple-certified technician who can perform the repairs. The process for certification is simple and free of charge.

Interesting that non-iPhone devices are excluded.

Jason Koebler:

Second, it will have the very real effect of making it easier for people to get their iPhones repaired in rural areas and countries without many Apple Stores.


Apple isn’t going to begin selling parts to the general public, it’s not going to sell to people who repair phones out of their homes, and it’s only making the program available to people who meet specific requirements.


Apple is also selling a limited number of parts. These include iPhone batteries, cameras, speakers, and displays. This means Apple isn’t going to allow independent repair professionals to do a wide variety of repairs (for example, as of October 2018, it wasn’t selling charging ports for iPhones, a part that is both easy to replace and commonly needs replacement on older iPhones.)


Buying these new parts from Apple is also still more expensive than buying original but refurbished parts, which are commonly used by independent repair companies.

Jason Snell:

Self-repair advocates iFixit seem enthusiastic about the news, with some caveats. iFixit’s Kyle Wiens applauded the move, while also pointing out that more formal right-to-repair legislation is probably on the way and this is Apple’s attempt to get in front of that.

Tanner Bennett:

Repair → screen or housing replacements and not much else

Apple doesn’t even truly repair their own iOS devices. This doesn’t mean they’re magically going to allow third parties to try advanced repairs


Downsides of Apple Card Being Titanium

Jeff Geerling (via Hacker News):

The card feels amazing to hold. But because it’s finely machined Titanium, those beautiful edges also mean sensitive fingers (e.g. anyone with dry skin or problems such as eczema) can be damaged just by pulling the card out of a slot in a wallet or sleeve. This is not as big an issue with plastic as the sides do not maintain a perfect edge for very long.


Finally, I use a ‘back of the iPhone’ wallet, which is basically a little pocket that holds my driver’s license, insurance card, and a credit card (for pesky retailers who don’t accept contactless payment yet). With any modern iPhone, the Apple Card acts as a perfect RF block for Qi wireless charging (which operates in the 80+ kHz range). This means, if you are like me, and store your credit card in an iPhone case, say goodbye to the ability to charge wirelessly.

However, one commenter disputes that the edges remain sharp.


Accidentally Quadratic Constant Folding

Neal Gafter:

Fixing the problem was fairly straightforward, using a technique I learned from the Cedar/Mesa compiler in the early ’80s. Rather than representing string constants in the compilers using strings, they are now represented using a data structure called Ropes. Concatenating two ropes requires only a small constant amount of memory.

Any compiler for a language that supports constant folding of string concatenation will run into this problem unless there is a similarly low-space representation of two concatenated strings. This is a technique that should be in the bag of tricks of any compiler writer.