Archive for December 10, 2019

Tuesday, December 10, 2019 [Tweets] [Favorites]

macOS 10.15.2

Apple:

Restores the column browser view for managing the music library

[…]

Addresses an issue that may cause Mail preferences to open with a blank window

I’ve heard a lot about both of these. From what I’m hearing, 10.15.2 doesn’t fix the Mail data loss bugs.

Previously:

Update (2019-12-12): The combo update is available.

Mac Pro Available to Order

Juli Clover (Hacker News):

More than two years after Apple promised a new modular high-end desktop machine for its professional users, the new Mac Pro is now available for purchase, as is its companion display, the Pro Display XDR.

Apple is accepting orders for the Mac Pro and the Pro Display XDR, with Mac Pro delivery estimates at one to two weeks after an order is placed.

So it looks like some people may receive them just before the end of the year. I’m happy that the new Mac Pro exists, but for my purposes it feels like they built the wrong product, too late. Apple has a great history of making modular desktop Macs, at sane prices, and this is not that. It’s also not the developer Mac that you might have expected given Apple’s 2017 statements about that pro market. It seems like there’s still a hole in the lineup. People will make do with iMacs and MacBook Pros, or buy the Mac Pro if they really need it, but that’s not the same as being able to buy the computer that you want. External Thunderbolt peripherals could in theory address a lot of needs, but that market just doesn’t seem to have developed very well, and Macs don’t have enough Thunderbolt ports. Meanwhile, the iMac Pro hasn’t been updated since 2017 and is likely slower than the regular iMac.

Juli Clover:

Below, we’ve listed the available upgrade options from the base machine, which is equipped with a 3.5GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W processor, 32GB RAM, Radeon Pro 580X, 256GB SSD, no Apple Afterburner, and no wheeled frame.

The base model’s SSD is half the size of the minimum SSD on the 16-inch MacBook Pro, and it can only be upgraded to 4 TB of storage (vs. 8 TB for the MacBook Pro). I wonder how the base model’s CPU will compare with the iMac and MacBook Pro, given that it only Turbo Boosts to 4 GHz.

Paul Haddad:

Just a reminder before it goes live, the Mac Pro $6k base model has equivalent performance of a < $1500 commodity system. Apple hardware/software deserves a premium, just not 4x.

Martin Pilkington:

I ended up going for a 27” i9 iMac after first seeing the price and it's faster than the base Pro will be at half the price 🤷‍♂️

Josh Centers:

If you’re an audio professional considering a new Mac Pro, be aware of how its T2 chip can mess with audio recording.

See also: High-end users on “Why I'm buying the new Mac Pro”.

Previously:

Update (2019-12-12): Martin Pilkington:

Now the problem with these groups is they all have different needs. Some need a lot of CPU power but not much GPU. Some are almost entirely GPU bound in their workflows. Some can get by with a few dozen GB of RAM, but some may find even the 1.5TBs a maxed out Mac Pro can handle to be limiting. And then there are some who need all of these things at once. However, the one thing almost all of these users can agree on needing is expandability and upgradability, to be able to modify the hardware after purchase to suit their needs and to extend the life of their purchase.

Unfortunately, the new Mac Pro doesn’t really cater to all these groups. It is certainly capable of supporting the needs of any Pro user, but the budgets of these groups are often wildly different.

[…]

Remembering that these figures are for a faster chip than the base Mac Pro has, they’re not exactly painting it as having blistering performance to justify its cost. In fact you’re paying $2600 more and just getting increased expandability in return (and losing a 5K display).

Josh Centers:

Most people complaining about the Mac Pro just want an Apple gaming PC. I do, too, but they just ain’t ever going to make that.

Thomas Grove Carter:

So I’m not @MKBHD but I’ve been using the new #MacPro & #ProDisplayXDR for the last few weeks.

Here’s a thread of my thoughts....

TL:DR it’s SO f**king good. But most probably don’t need it.

See also: Mac Power Users.

Tim Hardwick:

In an interview with Popular Mechanics, Apple engineers Chris Ligtenberg and John Ternus have detailed some of the innovative cooling features included in the design of the Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR, both of which launched earlier this week.

Update (2019-12-16): Paul Haddad:

There’s some Geekbenches for the base model Mac Pro. Calling it underwhelming would be kind, a $150 CPU beats this.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Mac Pro being good value ‘for a workstation’ doesn’t negate the obvious fact that Apple should have a modular desktop that doesn’t start with workstation components. People talk about an ‘xMac’ like it’s some mythical unicorn instead of the most basic computer Apple should offer

’But the profit margins!’ was the traditional response to the ‘xMac’ idea, but Apple could offer a $4000 non-workstation desktop tower and it would still both be a huge steal compared to the Mac Pro, and outrageously expensive compared to any other faster, better PC

I don’t for a second think the market for a Mac tower is 0 like Apple has convinced pundits. The market for Apple’s towers for the past 16 years has been tiny because the machines have been so expensive and way-outclassed for the broader userbase

I personally don’t need Xeons, or this-many PCIe lanes, or ECC RAM, or a 1400W PSU, though I have nothing against those who do; I’m pressured into mortgaging a €8,400 Mac Pro because that’s literally the only option if I want to stay on macOS and get a desktop that fits me

Steve Troughton-Smith:

A Mac mini-specced device, with user-accessible RAM, a GPU slot, and a spare PCIe slot, would do everything I need

Michael Rockwell:

Imagine if Apple sold a desktop computer with iMac-class components in a Mac Pro-style case for $2000-3000. I would love to have that as an option.

Michael Rockwell:

Room for additional internal hard drives would be nice too. The key attributes I want in a machine like this is cool, quiet operation and the ability to keep everything internal. I don’t want a bunch of hard drives hanging off my home server.

Colin Cornaby:

The number that you’re looking at to be competitive in the prosumer tower market is a MSRP of around $1500 base.

Apple could do that, and they used to (Power Mac G4). But there is no future where they sell a consumer tower for $3000 and it’s successful.

Update (2019-12-19): Colin Cornaby:

Starting CPU in the 2013 Mac Pro (the E5-1620v2) cost $294 at introduction.

Starting CPU, from same Xeon series, in the 2019 Mac Pro (W-3223) costs $749.

Joe Rossignol:

iFixit has shared its full teardown of the new Mac Pro, calling it “beautiful, amazingly well put together, and a masterclass in repairability.”

John Gruber:

I get it that iFixit is going to be iFixit, and that they might value a just-plain-easily-replaced-SSD over the security of the T2 subsystem. But I think they conveniently avoid mentioning the security of the T2 subsystem. Merely calling it “proprietary” and leaving it at that is ignoring just how significant a system the T2 is.

John Gruber:

The problem isn’t with the $30,000–50,000 models. The people who can make good use of those machines will do so. I think what’s bothersome to many traditional Mac Pro users is the lack of a Mac Pro in the, say, $2,500–5,000 range. There are a lot of pro users who want a desktop system that’s less expensive than these new Mac Pros but more performant and expandable than a Mac Mini.

[…]

But in theory it would have been nice to have a new Mac Pro similar in scope — and pricing! — to the old pre-2013 Mac Pros, and to have these new Mac Pros occupy a new “hypercar” slot above the Mac Pro in the lineup.

See also: The Talk Show, Accidental Tech Podcast, TidBITS.

Paul Haddad:

I expected the 8 core Mac Pro to be slower than the iMac, but surprised its also slower than the iMac Pro. Also those high core iMac Pros sure are thermally constrained.

The 12/16 core Mac Pros have reasonable performance for that class of CPU, the comparable Ryzen chips are a bit faster, but probably not noticeably so. The Ryzen chips are about 1/3 the price, and that part is quite noticeable.

Francisco Tolmasky:

The Mac Pro IS a prosumer box, just sold at super high end prices. Base model has a 3 year old $169 GPU that can barely power the Pro monitor & an 8 core 3.5Ghz Xeon when at that price you’d be better served by an 8 core 5Ghz Intel 9900K. Not even proposing the audacity of AMD...

Captain Barf (via Hacker News):

The Mac Pro isn’t a symbol that Apple is serious about its platform. Quite the opposite; it’s a symbol of how unserious the company is. Serious companies don’t have to get screamed at by their big-money clients to make something that isn’t hot garbage, to actually make something “professional grade” that is actually professional grade.

Michael Rockwell:

If it was 2012, the Mac Pro would be the perfect computer for the job. There would be no question about it. I could buy the base model at a relatively affordable price with the idea of upgrading it in a year or two to increase its lifespan and overall performance. I could load it up with a bunch of internal hard drives to store our photos, media, and the Time Machine backups from my work laptop — no messy external drives necessary. And it could handle just about any task we threw at it while performing all of its other duties. I wouldn’t even need an additional display because I could simply connect the one I already use for work whenever I needed to use the Mac Pro directly.

But because of the current Mac Pro’s pricing, I’m left having to make compromises. I either buy a Mac Mini and deal with the fan noise coming from the corner of my office and the messy rats nest of cables from the external drives or I get an iMac. And that would come with its own set of compromises — the iMac comes with a built-in display that I don’t need, restricting where I can place the computer, I’d still have to deal with external drives, and I wouldn’t have the option of a 2TB internal SSD because Apple doesn’t offer it in the iMac.

Update (2019-12-26): Steve Troughton-Smith:

The base model Mac Pro’s GPU gets an OpenCL Geekbench result of 80% the performance of the GTX 1080 in my 2014 gaming PC The upcoming BTO optional Radeon RX 5700 XT beats the GTX 1080 by 14% though. Still. That’s a lot of money in 2020 just to par with a 2016 graphics card

Quinn Nelson:

I know I likely open the Mac Pro more than the average user, but this stupid piece of aluminum that requires me to remove every single cable every time I want to open it is the most infuriating design decision ever.

See also: Accidental Tech Podcast and The Talk Show.

Update (2020-01-10): Captain Barf (via Eli Schiff):

Mac Pro isn’t a symbol that Apple is serious about its platform. Quite the opposite; it’s a symbol of how unserious the company is. Serious companies don’t have to get screamed at by their big-money clients to make something that isn’t hot garbage, to actually make something “professional grade” that is actually professional grade. If Apple were changing, we’d see a big mea culpa over what a piece of junk the Macbook Pro has become. We’d have a come-to-Jesus moment over the embarrassing degradation in iPad quality. We’d see some serious overhaul in QA for new iOS and OSX updates. Instead, all we see is Tim Cook dragging his feet and begrudgingly throwing the professional community the machine they’ve been begging him to let them pay for.

Ben Szymanski:

There’s been a lot of despondency amongst loyal Mac users in the last five years or so, and recently it came to a blistering wildfire across Twitter, MacRumors and HackerNews, with members of this “community” bickering with each other over the intended audience of the extremely pricey 2019 Mac Pro. Even though I have no plans to buy a Mac Pro, these events are influencing - and cementing(!) my decision to move off the Mac platform.

Apple Suing Former A-series Chip Lead

Shaun Nichols (Hacker News):

In a complaint filed in the Santa Clara Superior Court, in California, USA, and seen by The Register, the Cupertino goliath claimed Gerard Williams, CEO of semiconductor upstart Nuvia, broke his Apple employment agreement while setting up his new enterprise.

Williams – who oversaw the design of Apple’s custom high-performance mobile Arm-compatible processors for nearly a decade – quit the iGiant in February to head up the newly founded Nuvia.

Apple’s lawsuit alleged Williams hid the fact he was preparing to leave Apple to start his own business while still working at Apple, and drew on his work in steering iPhone processor design to create his new company. Crucially, Tim Cook & Co’s lawyers claimed he tried to lure away staff from his former employer. All of this was, allegedly, in breach of his contract.

Ben Lovejoy:

Williams is fighting the lawsuit, arguing that the alleged ‘breach of contract’ claim is unenforceable and that Apple illegally monitored his text messages.

Presumably it wouldn’t be illegal if the recipients of his messages gave them to Apple. So it sounds like he’s alleging that Apple directly accessed them somehow.

Previously:

Update (2020-01-24): Tim Hardwick:

However, Bloomberg today reports that Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Mark Pierce said the law doesn’t permit an employee “to plan and prepare to create a competitive enterprise prior to termination if the employee does so on their employer’s time and with the employer’s resources.”

The judge also dismissed a claim by Williams that Apple invaded his privacy by reviewing text messages he wrote to coworkers that were critical of the company.

[…]

The judge sided with Williams in dismissing Apple’s bid for punitive damages, saying the company has failed to show how Williams intentionally tried to harm Apple by being disloyal.

Update (2020-02-14): See also: Hacker News.

Update (2020-02-17): Juli Clover:

According to Bloomberg, Williams says that Apple is aiming to lure his staff away and is also preventing its own employees from leaving to pursue their own ventures. He claims that Apple’s lawsuit against him for breach of contract aims to “suffocate the creation of new technologies and solutions by a new business, and to diminish the freedom of entrepreneurs to seek out more fulfilling work.”

He goes on to accuse Apple of improperly deterring employees “from making even preliminary and legally protected preparations to form a new business - whether competitive or otherwise.”

Update (2020-02-18): joely:

Were the Nuvia/Apple decision to be applied retroactively, Shockley torpedoes Fairchild, hence there is no Intel, and Silicon Valley is in Richardson.

Update (2020-02-28): Shaun Nichols (via Matthew Kimball):

Incredibly, in the weeks before Apple took its ex-chief architect to court, the multi-billion-dollar behemoth privately told Nuvia to stop recruiting engineers from its ranks of techies, yet behind the scenes, the iPhone giant was trying to hire one of the startup’s top designers.

This is all according to paperwork [PDF] filed this week by Nuvia in a Santa Clara Superior Court, hitting back at Apple’s lawsuit brought against Williams in August 2019.

Attorneys for the upstart said that not only did its co-founder wait until after leaving Apple to start his new venture, but he did so after nearly a decade of trying to convince execs in Cupertino to take up the server microprocessor project themselves.

Third-Party Apple TV Remote

Chaim Gartenberg (tweet):

The remote that comes bundled with the Apple TV is infamous for its difficult-to-use design and controversial touchpad for navigation. It’s so bad, in fact, that Swiss TV and internet provider Salt — which provides Apple TVs as the set-top boxes for its internet TV service — has developed a more traditional remote to replace Apple’s model, via MacRumors.

The optional remote (which costs 19.95 francs, or roughly $20.16) was reportedly developed in collaboration with Apple due to complaints from users who were confused by Apple’s touchpad controls. Salt’s remote natively supports the Apple TV right out of the box, with no pairing or setup required — just like Apple’s remote.

This sounds great, although now that Apple’s content is available on Amazon and Samsung devices, I’m not sure there’s much reason to buy an actual Apple TV. The Fire TV Stick 4K is only $50 and comes with what looks like a decent remote.

Previously:

Update (2020-01-02): Juli Clover:

There’s also no Home button available on the Salt remote. On Apple’s version, the Home button lets you get to the Home screen quickly and access the app switcher to close out apps or swap between apps. Holding down the menu button on the Salt Remote brings you to the Home screen of the Apple TV, but there’s no way to replicate the other missing Home button functionality.

Given that this is an inexpensive remote option, it is powered with two triple A batteries that need to be replaced every six months on average, but that’s a minor inconvenience.

All in all, the Salt Remote is clean, simple to use, and has no fiddly touch interface to deal with.

Update (2020-10-15): Glenn Fleishman:

I have never liked the slippery Siri Remote that Apple shipped with the fourth-generation Apple TV HD in 2015 and continues to offer as the default option for the Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K. But only recently did I spot a replacement that seemed worthwhile: the Function101 Button Remote for Apple TV.