Archive for October 25, 2019

Friday, October 25, 2019

GameClub Revives 70 Classic iOS Games

John Vorhees (via Federico Viticci):

There’s a terrific GameClub app that organizes the company’s catalog of titles in one place, which I’ll get into shortly, but the games can be downloaded separately, and you can subscribe whether you use the GameClub app or not. If you download a game directly, you’ll simply be prompted to subscribe to the service from inside the game.

Each game also includes a link to restore your purchase if you previously purchased the game on the App Store before it became part of GameClub. For example, that means that anyone who bought a game like Sword of Fargoal, which sat untouched for nine years before joining GameClub, can re-download a version that’s compatible with today’s Apple hardware for free and without signing up for GameClub. That’s possible because it’s the same game that was released long ago, just updated and re-released by GameClub. It’s also entirely in sync with GameClub’s preservation mission and demonstrates thoughtfulness and respect for users which match the love the company clearly has for the games they’ve restored.


If all of this sounds a lot like Apple Arcade, that’s because in many ways, it is. GameClub costs $4.99 per month after a one-month free trial, just like Apple Arcade. The subscription is managed through the App Store just like other app subscriptions, but that means that unlike Arcade, the subscription cannot be shared via Apple’s Family Sharing feature.

GameClub has a catalog of games that’s similar in size to Apple Arcade too. The company has signed over 100 classic games for the service, 70 of which are available today, and new games will be added weekly. Interestingly, GameClub has also indicated that the service will eventually include new titles too.


Apple TV App for Amazon Fire TV

Jacob Kastrenakes:

With a week to go before its TV service launches, Apple has brought the Apple TV app to Amazon’s streaming devices. The Apple TV app is now available on three different models of Fire TV devices — the Fire TV Stick 4K, the Fire TV Stick (2nd Gen), and the Fire TV Basic Edition — with support for more models coming soon.

The app will allow you to watch shows from Apple’s streaming service, Apple TV Plus, which will launch on November 1st. But it also has perks for non-subscribers: it’ll let you stream any movies or TV shows you’ve purchased through iTunes in the past, too. You can also watch new purchases and rentals through the app, but you’ll have to make those purchases through another device with iTunes on it. You can’t do it straight from the TV.

Benjamin Mayo:

We are now in the timeline where Amazon doesn’t let you buy Kindle books through the Kindle app on iOS because they don’t want to give Apple 30% and Apple doesn’t let you buy content through the TV app on the Amazon Fire TV because they don’t want to give Amazon 30%.

Although there are probably also technical issues preventing Amazon from offering its whole Kindle catalog through In-App Purchase.


Firefox 70 for Mac

Tim Hardwick:

Mozilla has launched Firefox 70 for macOS, which continues to enhance the browser’s privacy features as well as bringing significant improvements to performance and power efficiency.


Firefox 70 also introduces a Privacy Protections report, which offers a summary of the trackers Firefox has blocked. So if you think the blocking is too strict (if a website doesn’t work properly, for example) you can check the report and customize the protection accordingly.

See also: the release notes.

Direct to SwiftUI

Helge Heß:

Direct to SwiftUI is an adaption of an old WebObjects technology called Direct to Web. This time for Apple’s new framework: SwiftUI. Instant CRUD apps, configurable using a declarative rule system, yet fully integrated with SwiftUI.


Without applying any rules, you’ll essentially get a simple database browser and editor, for all SwiftUI targets. When using Direct to SwiftUI, this is what you start with, a complete CRUD frontend. You then use rules to tweak the frontend, and potentially replace whole generic D2S Views. Or mix & match.


D2S uses a rule engine called SwiftUI Rules which we introduced in another blog entry. You might want to read that now, or later.

Marcel Weiher:

Definitely cool. Should remember, however, that Direct2Web applications were not just quick/instantaneous to build, but also utterly incomprehensible and impossible to maintain.


HKmap Live Removed From the App Store

CNBC (tweet, Hacker News):

Apple on Wednesday removed an app that protesters in Hong Kong have used to track police movements from its app store, saying it violated rules because it was used to ambush police.


Apple rejected the crowdsourcing app,, earlier this month but then reversed course last week.

Apple said in a statement that it had began an immediate investigation after “many concerned customers in Hong Kong” contacted the company about the app and Apple found it had endangered law enforcement and residents.


In 2011, Apple modified its app store to remove apps that listed locations for drunken driving checkpoints not previously published by law enforcement officials.

John Gruber:

I still haven’t seen which local laws it violates, other than the unwritten law of pissing off Beijing.

Maciej Cegłowski:

A point that needs reiterating is that the @hkmaplive app doesn’t contravene any Hong Kong law that I am aware of. This app helps answer questions like “will I get shot with a bean bag round if I come out of this MTR station, because the police raised a colored flag I can’t see”

John Keefe:

Apple just took the Quartz app out of the Chinese app store at the request of China, and is now blocked from mainland China. Our excellent @qz coverage of ongoing Hong Kong protests may be the reason[…]

Noah Smith:

1984, meet 2019

François Chollet (Marco Arment):

“Courage” is just for removing headphone jacks

Francisco Tolmasky:

Apple (and every other App Store owner) invited this dilemma. They declared themselves the arbiter and took on this responsibility. They didn’t even allow a side load escape hatch. Now they have to themselves take an explicit stance, as opposed to being a neutral platform.

Daniel Jalkut:

Apple could have engineered their way out of this conundrum, the same way they engineered their way out of being liable for sharing private user data. Embracing some kind of user-facing side-loading solution would diminish the impact of Apple’s own authoritative power over users.

Murray Watson:

I have no confidence in Apple under Tim Cook. This, on top of removing the Network Extensions API that allowed Chinese people to sideload VPN applications, is a clear indication of a company under the thumb of an authoritarian regime.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan (via John Gruber):

Indeed the taking down of the app from the Apple store is the decision made by the operating company — Apple. So, if you want to know the reason for them to take down the app, maybe you can approach Apple and the Apple store.

Maciej Cegłowski:

Apple: we took down the @hkmaplive app at the request of the Hong Kong authorities

Hong Kong authorities: you’re going to have to ask Apple why they took the app down

Tim Cook (MacRumors):

It is no secret that technology can be used for good or for ill. This case is no different. The app in question allowed for the crowdsourced reporting and mapping of police checkpoints, protest hotspots, and other information. On its own, this information is benign. However, over the past several days we received credible information, from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau, as well as from users in Hong Kong, that the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present. This use put the app in violation of Hong Kong law. Similarly, widespread abuse clearly violates our App Store guidelines barring personal harm.

We built the App Store to be a safe and trusted place for every user. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously, and it’s one that we aim to preserve. National and international debates will outlive us all, and, while important, they do not govern the facts. In this case, we thoroughly reviewed them, and we believe this decision best protects our users.

John Gruber (tweet, Hacker News):

I can’t recall an Apple memo or statement that crumbles so quickly under scrutiny. For a company that usually measures umpteen times before cutting anything, it’s both sad and startling.

Damien Petrilli:

No word why they removed the Quartz App?


Typical fallacy: you scope a little piece of the issue, dismiss it and act like you addressed the whole thing.

Daniel Vassallo:

By Tim Cook’s logic the Messages app should be removed too. I’m sure there’s plenty of evidence of illegal activity targeting individuals that happened (and continues to happen) on the Messages app.

Maciej Cegłowski:

As a user of the app, and an observer of the Hong Kong protests, I would like to address two serious allegations in this email that I believe are false.

The first allegation is that “the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence”. This makes no sense at all. The app does not show the locations of individual officers at all. It shows general concentrations of police units, with a significant lag.

As the developer and @charlesmok, a Hong Kong legislator, have pointed out, the app aggregates reports from Telegram, Facebook and other sources. It beggars belief that a campaign to target individual officers would use a world-readable crowdsourcing format like this.


The second, related allegation is that the app helps “victimize individuals and property where no police are present”. Again, does Mr. Cook have any evidence for this claim? The app does not show an absence of police, it shows concentrations of police, tear gas, riot flags etc.

Zeynep Tufekci:

The claims make no sense and have no evidence. Plus, police locations aren’t secret! It’s a small city. The key function of the app is to avoid the police/tear gas

HK map app can’t be used to “individually” target police because it doesn’t have any granular reporting and as anyone in Hong Kong can attest, the police travel in large groups. Repeat: the app has no granular function. More like police here, tear gas there, road block here.

Victimizing individuals when police aren’t present? It’s pretty clear if the police aren’t there if you’re already there. Anyone using this app (which has a lag) to do anything “fine-tuned” is an idiot and HK police will be faster. For a family trying to avoid tear gas? Useful.

Someone (Hong Kong authorities? It’s unclear because even they aren’t making these claims) is giving Apple wrong information, and rather than believing Hong Kong legislators, Apple is choosing to believe nonsensical claims. Seriously, the app is useless for the described goals.

Also, the protesters police has trouble with (so-called frontliners) don’t use this. They scatter [“be water”] as soon as police is spotted, the app lags any police attempt at ambush by a good deal. They see the police, yell and blow whistles. 30 seconds later, they’re gone.

Charles Mok (via John Gruber):

Today I wrote to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, to tell him his company’s decision to remove HKmap live app from Appstore will cause problems for normal Hong Kong’s citizens trying to avoid police presence while they are under constant fear of police brutality.

Dare Obasanjo:

Next time Apple tells us that “privacy is a human right” as justification for blocking cookies and other attacks on Google’s ads business, it’ll be good to remember how they acted when it was about actual human rights.

Juli Clover (Hacker News, Bloomberg):

U.S lawmakers on Friday sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook expressing concern over Apple’s decision to remove the HKMap Live app from the App Store after complaints from the Chinese Government.

The letter [PDF] calls Apple’s removal of the HKMap Live app "disappointing" and points out a prior quote from Tim Cook that reads “At Apple, we are not afraid to say that our values drive our curation decisions.”

John Gruber:

When China declares an app illegal in mainland China, Apple has no choice but to comply. The HKMaps decision was different — it was a political decision, not a legal one — and that difference is worth emphasizing. Apple could have chosen to fight for the HKMaps app.

Contrary take from Eric Jackson:

Love this first clip from @ReformedBroker & discussed it with him last week. Couldn’t agree more:

Tim Cook is way better for this moment in time than Steve Jobs.

Cook has unbelievable political instincts and ability.

Juli Clover:

Apple CEO Tim Cook is now the chairman of the advisory board of the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management (SEM), and he recently hosted the 20th annual meeting of the committee.

Ben Bajarin:

Been reading half a dozen Wall St. notes on Apple and most are overwhelmingly bullish on Apple’s business.

Many calling for the stock to get above $260 and this nugget as well in spite of the trade issues.

AAPL has outperformed the S&P500 by ~18% since last earnings call.

Nick Heer:

Meanwhile, remains available on Google Play stores in Hong Kong and China. Google did remove a game that allows you to role-play as a protester at the behest of the Chinese government.


Update (2019-11-01): See also: The Talk Show.

Update (2019-11-26): Nick Statt:

[Quartz] says it received a notice from Apple that the app “includes content that is illegal in China.”

John Gruber:

No one is alleging that anything Quartz has reported on the Hong Kong protests is false. It’s just unflattering to the Chinese regime.

The Kindle Is Fine

Dan Frommer:

Amazon’s approach to the Kindle product remains befuddling. Talk about entering a market, quickly achieving dominance, and then coasting with feet up for more than a decade — random, bizarre updates and bracingly mediocre software.

Jason Snell:

But over the years I’ve accumulated all of these other reading items that are simply not available on the Kindle, like newsletters and subscription-only websites (newspapers and others) with their own custom iOS reader apps. First thing in the morning I am reading on my iPad, using those apps to get up to date on the stuff I’m interested in.

The Kindle, meanwhile, is the land that that app revolution forgot. If I want to read a newspaper on the Kindle, I can—but there’s only a daily delivery of static newspaper text, so if something happens after the issue is delivered, I will have to wait a day to see it. I can channel newsletters to my Kindle, but only if I use an email gateway or a third-party forwarding service, and the experience is poor to say the least. I can send articles from webpages to Instapaper and get them on my Kindle, but the reading experience is not particularly great. And as for personalized websites like The Athletic? Forget it.


Even support for library borrowing is hidden, because Amazon really wants you to buy books.

I still like the Kindle, but it feels like it’s still far from reaching its potential. And it’s shocking when you compare the progress Apple’s made with iPhone in the same amount of time.