Archive for June 11, 2020

Thursday, June 11, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

iCloud Backups Deleted After 180 Days

Adam Engst:

I had no idea that Apple deleted iCloud backups after 180 days, and a quick poll in the TidBITS Slack channel showed that it wasn’t common knowledge among other TidBITS staffers and contributing editors.


It’s not quite as hidden as the plans for demolishing Arthur Dent’s house in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. But the effect is roughly the same if you were planning on restoring from your iCloud backup, only to discover that Apple had deleted it, with the only warning being in support documents you’ve never read.

Update (2020-06-22): Christina Warren:

I didn’t know about this limit. I really wish Apple would allow users to download their iCloud device backups to a Mac. It could still be fully encrypted but this would be much better for users.


Podcast Apps Removed From Chinese App Store

Mark Gurman (also: Pocket Casts):

Apple Inc. removed podcast apps Pocket Casts and Castro from its App Store in China at the request of the Cyberspace Administration of China, the apps’ developers said this week.

“We believe podcasting is and should remain an open medium, free of government censorship,” Pocket Casts wrote on Twitter. “As such we won’t be censoring podcast content at their request.” The developers said that Apple contacted them on behalf of the Chinese regulator and that the app was removed two days later.

Isn’t it great that the platform vendor controls which apps can exist?


I haven’t been contacted about the Apple-China censorship of podcast apps, but Overcast’s servers have been blocked in China for years, so it already didn’t work.

I’ve never tried to get unblocked.


Discontinuing iBooks Author and iTunes U

Bradley Chambers (tweet):

iBooks Author will no longer be updated, and iTunes U is being discontinued at the end of 2021. iBooks Author will continue to work, but you’ll need to make preparations to transition to Pages in the near future. Much of the functionality from iBooks Author has made its way into Pages over the past few update cycles. This announcement shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as we never saw iBooks Author transition into Apple Books Author or include a native iPad app. Apple will be included an import function in a future version of Pages.

Nick Heer:

I don’t think either one of these announcements is a surprise; these apps have suffered from inattention for years. But Apple’s rocky approach to education needs and lack of clear strategy cannot be confidence-inspiring for schools or teachers who need to decide what technology to use in their classrooms.

David Sparks:

As someone with a lot of experience with iBooks Author and its eBooks, I’ve known this day was coming, and it still makes me just a little sad.


The problem was a failure to iterate. Throughout this process, the iBooks Author app never evolved. Indeed it started to feel creeky and never quite got to the level you’d expect for an app to build books. I’ll always believe there was a significant memory leak (though friends at Apple still argue with me about this). As my books neared completion, every time the app would slow to grind and I’d catch myself saving after changing a single word in fear of crashes.


With my new platform, there are no caps for Field Guide sizes. […] Also, the move allowed me to take complete ownership of my product. Now, if a customer has a problem, I can usually fix it, rather than giving them an Apple email address and praying. The switch to my own store has also been more lucrative. I no longer have to give 30% of every sale to Apple.

See also: Juli Clover, Dan Moren, Michael E. Cohen.


Brilliant Hardware in the Valley of the Software Slump

Craig Mod (tweet):

This sense of a decline in software craft has been building for years, but it wasn’t until Apple released the iPad Magic Keyboard that I felt the pain of this hardware-software gap so acutely.


Apple’s hardware is ever-more refined. While far from flawless, the entire lineup is now (finally) largely free from these “foundational” issues you see in software.3


Between the messiness of Catalina and the almost-but-not-quite-there-ness of iPadOS, what’s most needed now are not splashy masthead features but a reconsideration of the boring nuts and bolts, the paint on the back of the cabinets, the smoothing over of all the bumps and stutters as needed to enable device fluency — and not just a single year of cleaning up the mucky infrastructure of our compute landscape, but a reworking of the internal software culture of companies like Apple to elevate user fluency to first-class rank.

The footnote is for the Touch Bar.


Update (2020-06-22): Nick Heer:

It’s not just two apps — it’s all three.

See also: Marco Arment, Jon Stokes, Jonathan Blow, Adam Engst.