Archive for April 21, 2020

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Magic Keyboard for iPad

John Gruber:

What I was hoping for was something approximating the feel and experience of a MacBook — a little more top heavy, a little stiffer at the hinge to accommodate that extra top-heaviness — but basically I wanted an iPad-as-laptop that feels like a MacBook Air.

It doesn’t feel like that at all.


Once I let go of my preconceptions, I fell in love. This took all of 15 minutes. I went from that “I don’t like the way this thing feels at all” first impression to “I can’t wait to start raving about how great this thing is” in 15 minutes. The iPad Magic Keyboard is to iPad-as-laptop accessories what AirPods were to earbuds: a game changer.


At their widest viewing angles, the Magic Keyboard feels noticeably more open than the Smart Keyboard, and the MacBook Air feels noticeably more open than the Magic Keyboard.


The MacBook Air trackpad is about 120 × 80 mm. The 12.9-inch Magic Keyboard trackpad is just 100 × 50 mm — by area it’s just a hair over half the size. (The 16-inch MacBook Pro keyboard is the size of a small studio apartment in comparison — 160 × 100 mm — as tall as the iPad Magic Keyboard trackpad is wide and over 3x the size by area.)

The MacBook Pro’s trackpad is way too big.

Federico Viticci:

This is Apple’s answer to users who have been asking for years for a “pro Smart Keyboard” to turn the iPad into a quasi-laptop device, and it doesn’t try to replicate all the features from the Smart Keyboard Folio or regular Smart Folio. I would have liked to see the option to fold the Magic Keyboard in the back of the iPad; I’m just not sure how that could be physically possible given Apple’s design direction for the Magic Keyboard (more on this later).


Here’s where the Magic Keyboard’s design differs from traditional laptops though: when lifting the iPad’s display, you’ll feel a first snap when the bottom hinge (the cylinder-shaped one that comes with a built-in USB-C port) has reached its open position; keep pushing on the iPad’s display, and the iPad will detach from the second hinge, which is located in the Magic Keyboard’s back cover and lets you adjust the iPad’s viewing angle. It’s the horizontal line that separates the two halves of the Magic Keyboard’s cover.


The Magic Keyboard turns an iPad Pro into a laptop, but it does so in a way that isn’t definitive – the transformation can always be reversed by the simple act of pulling the “computing core” away from it. This is also where the Magic Keyboard differs from competing accessories[…]

Tim Nahumck:

Looking at all of those use cases together, it really is apparent to me that using my iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard Folio is my best opportunity to meet all things. I can augment the experience when docked, or I can carry around the Magic Mouse 2 when I need to be mobile. It’s not always going to be the ideal experience, but it does what I need to get the job done. Also, I already have the components I need, and don’t need to spend an additional $300 on something that would be a limited use case for me.

See also: Nick Heer.


Update (2020-04-23): Ben Lovejoy:

First – and I find it hard to believe this is true – there’s no Escape key! I’m so used to using that to exit from full-screen video viewing, it seems such a fundamental element on a keyboard, and yet it’s true: it really is missing.

Second, the lack of function keys. I hadn’t been sure how much I would miss them. I don’t often play music on my iPad, so wasn’t bothered about the lack of music controls. I find the on-screen brightness control of the iPad faster to use than keys, so didn’t mind the lack of those. I almost never adjust keyboard backlighting, so no problem there. But there was one immediate and obvious weakness when watching video: no volume controls.

Update (2020-04-24): See also: Jason Snell, Stephen Hackett, David Sparks.

Update (2020-05-20): Steve Streza:

Got the Magic Keyboard. Way too top-heavy. The keyboard is very good. The trackpad is pretty good. The texture on the sides of the trackpad are very unpleasant to the touch. Using a mouse makes an iPad much nicer to use. Turns out having a touchscreen on a tilted surface is fine.

This is really for people who use iPad on a desk. Using it on the lap is still not great.

It’s weird that the iPad now has a better keyboard than literally every laptop Apple was shipping up until about 6 month ago. The keys feel great, and travel is surprisingly deep. I can type very comfortably on this.

Joe Cieplinski:

I would like if there were a bit more of an angle of view. It’s way nicer than the old Smart Keyboard folio in terms of adjustability. But I’m a tall person. Being able to tilt back even further would be nice.


The keys are not full-sized, of course, so I still find myself, as I always have on iPad keyboards, typing with three fingers and thumb on each hand, rather than using both pinkies. I’ve gotten used to it by now, but I’m never going to be quite as fast on an iPad keyboard as I can be on my laptop. If I moved to the 13-inch iPad, this would not be an issue, of course.


It’s amazing how fast you get used to using a trackpad on iOS. It feels way more natural than I would have expected.

Update (2020-07-30): John Gruber:

One of the weird things about an iPad with Magic Keyboard is that iPadOS still runs iPhone-only apps and they are only run length-wise on the display, so, in laptop mode, they are sideways. And once on screen, everything else is sideways too: the dock, ⌘Tab switcher, everything.

Update (2020-08-27): Matthew Panzarino:

In order to dive a bit deeper on the brand new cursor and its interaction models, I spoke to Apple SVP Craig Federighi about its development and some of the choices by the teams at Apple that made it.

See also: Dave B.

Testing Sync at Dropbox

Isaac Goldberg (Hacker News):

Sync Engine Classic and Nucleus have fundamentally distinct data models. The legacy system persists the outstanding work required to sync each file or folder to disk. For example, it stores whether a given file needs to be created locally or if it needs to be uploaded to the server. By comparison, Nucleus persists observations. Instead of representing the outstanding sync activity directly, it maintains just three trees, each of which represents an individually-consistent filesystem state, from which the right sync behavior can be derived[…]


We arrived at this data model because it is extremely testable! With this data model, it is easy to express a key goal of the system: to converge all three trees to the same state. When the user’s local disk looks the same as (i.e., Local Tree matches Remote Tree), sync is complete! It allows us to enforce strict invariants—for example, no matter how the three trees are configured at the beginning of a test, all three trees must still converge.


Every night we run tens of millions of randomized test runs. In general, they are 100% green on the latest master. When a regression sneaks in, CI automatically creates a tracking task for each failing seed, including also the hash of the latest commit at the time. If an engineer needs more logging to understand what happened in the test run, they can simply add it inline and re-run the test locally! It’s guaranteed to fail again.


Macintosh Y2020

Basal Gangster (via Keith Kaisershot, Hacker News):

Macintosh clock time expires at 06:28:16 GMT Monday February 6, 2040. That’s going to be a problem for users of the old Macintosh, but it is a problem for 20 years from now. Fixing that will be possible, but it will require some deeper cutting than we need to do now. The problem now is just setting the clock.


When the clock struck Midnight on Jan 1 the clocks in most old Macintoshes just ticked right on into 2020, the correct date continued to be shown in the control panel and on any files created or changed. Many retro-computing hobbyists and other who use the old machines may not know there is any problem, until they try to set the date in the Alarm Clock or Date & Time control panel.


Any value between 20 and 99 results in a 20th century date. Entries between 00 and 19 (inclusive), gives 21st century results. This is the problem being encountered by users now. It is like the Y2k bug, except that Apple windowed years into the range 1920-2019 instead of 1900-1999.


Just change 20 ($14) in the comparison to 40 ($28), and 2-digit years will be interpreted as being between 1939 and 2040. I can try and test this patch in TMON, but any change in TMON is applied to the program in memory, not in the code on disk, and it will not stick. It is necessary to change the Control Panel code on disk.

How to Restart the Touch Bar

Filipe Espósito:

The Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro offers a variety of shortcuts according to each application, but sometimes it doesn’t work as expected. Users may eventually experience unexpected behaviors with it such as freezes or specific buttons not responding.

The Terminal commands are:

sudo pkill TouchBarServer
sudo killall ControlStrip