Archive for December 17, 2019

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Toolbox Pro

Federico Viticci:

When I covered the updated Shortcuts app in my iOS and iPadOS 13 review earlier this year, I argued how, thanks to parameters, Shortcuts actions provided by third-party apps could become native features of the Shortcuts app.

With his debut app Toolbox Pro, released today on the App Store, developer Alex Hay has taken this idea to its logical conclusion: Toolbox Pro is a new kind of “headless” app – a utility whose sole purpose is to complement and extend Apple’s Shortcuts app with over 50 new actions, providing a native implementation of functionalities that Apple hasn’t brought to Shortcuts yet. After having used Toolbox Pro for the past couple of months, not only is the app a clever idea well suited for Shortcuts’ parameter framework, but it’s also a must-have for anyone who relies on Shortcuts on a daily basis.

It sounds like the equivalent of AppleScript’s Standard Additions.

See also: MusicBot.

Tim Cook’s Apple

Walt Mossberg (via John Gruber):

How do you replace a legend like Steve Jobs and, at the same time, adapt to the slow decline of your most important, most iconic product? Those were the twin challenges Apple faced in the 2010s. Under CEO Tim Cook, the company has found some answers and flourished financially, but it hasn’t been without a few wrong turns and big changes to the very nature of its business.


But Cook does bear the responsibility for a series of actions that screwed up the Macintosh for years. The beloved mainstream MacBook Air was ignored for five years. At the other end of the scale, the Mac Pro, the mainstay of professional audio, graphics, and video producers, was first neglected then reissued in 2013 in a way that put form so far ahead of function that it enraged its customer base.

I think these, and even the notebook keyboard fiasco, are smaller issues than this decade’s decline in software quality. Even in the best scenario, it would take years to dig out, and so far Apple does not seem to be on that path. Cook is also responsible for the services strategy, still in the early stages, which is infecting the software design by making it AAPL-first rather than customer-first.

Apple remains what it has been for many years: the single most important consumer tech hardware company, a major force not only in its industry but in society at large. […] But it’s still unclear if it can be anybody’s favorite music provider, TV network, or news service. Or if it can launch another blockbuster device.

By that he means a new iPhone-scale device, which is an unrealistic expectation. Apple Watch and AirPods are certainly blockbusters.


IBM Stops Funding Kitura

tomerd (via Benjamin Mayo, Hacker News):

@IanPartridge and @Chris_Bailey let the group know that following a review by IBM of its open source priorities, it has been decided that they will not be continuing to work on Swift in 2020. As a result, they are both standing down from the workgroup.

Daniel Sinclair:

Could see this one coming. IBM is winding down support for Kitura and server-side Swift. Was excited about this prospect, & the momentum — great people behind in too — but Apple never really supported open frameworks like they needed to for Swift on Linux

IIRC, Apple had monetarily incentivized IBM’s open-source focus on Swift. I don’t know when that ended, but I think you can look at IBM winding down Kitura as Apple ending support for server-side Swift too.

Vapor seems to have more traction, anyway.


Storyboards, Dynamic Type, and Accessibility

Craig Hockenberry:

“Editing storyboards with BBEdit, why do you ask?”

Let me put it another way:

Both the current and beta versions of Xcode can’t make text in a storyboard accessible with dynamic type. Your tools can’t build apps that adapt to a customer’s visual capabilities.

For a company that prides itself in doing this, it’s unbelievable.