Archive for June 23, 2020

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Apple Silicon

Apple (also: TidBITS, MacRumors, Hacker News):

Apple today announced it will transition the Mac to its world-class custom silicon to deliver industry-leading performance and powerful new technologies. Developers can now get started updating their apps to take advantage of the advanced capabilities of Apple silicon in the Mac. This transition will also establish a common architecture across all Apple products, making it far easier for developers to write and optimize their apps for the entire ecosystem.


To help developers get started with Apple silicon, Apple is also launching the Universal App Quick Start Program, which provides access to documentation, forums support, beta versions of macOS Big Sur and Xcode 12, and the limited use of a Developer Transition Kit (DTK), a Mac development system based on Apple’s A12Z Bionic System on a Chip (SoC).

Apple plans to ship the first Mac with Apple silicon by the end of the year and complete the transition in about two years. Apple will continue to support and release new versions of macOS for Intel-based Macs for years to come, and has exciting new Intel-based Macs in development.

I think this is going to be great in the long run (except for those who use abandoned apps or need Intel virtualization), but I’m not looking forward to the transition period or to converting all my apps on such a short schedule.

Eric Slivka:

The program requires a brief application, with limited availability and priority for developers with an existing macOS application. The program costs $500 and includes access to beta software, developer labs, private discussion forum, technical support, and other resources.

I applied yesterday. It took a while, as the site was hammered.

Apple (via Hacker News):

Rosetta can translate most Intel-based apps, including apps that contain just-in-time (JIT) compilers. However, Rosetta doesn’t translate the following executables[…]


Making a big deal of virtualization still being there is necessary, but the way it was presented totally gave the (wrongful) impression that virtualizing Intel from Apple Silicon was possible.


OpenGL support will be present-but-deprecated from the start, which essentially means the full OpenGL stack (beyond OpenGL ES) is available.


Being able to use XPC to support Intel and ARM plugins separately is inspired.

See also:


iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Announced

Apple (also: TidBITS, MacRumors, MacStories):

iPadOS 14 introduces an all-new compact design for incoming FaceTime and phone calls, Siri interactions, and Search to help users stay focused on the task at hand. Apps have new sidebars and toolbars that consolidate controls in one place, making them more streamlined and powerful than ever. New Apple Pencil features, including Scribble for iPad, deliver a whole new way to work with handwritten notes, and ARKit 4 delivers a brand new Depth API that allows developers to create even more powerful features in their apps.

Juli Clover:

In iOS and iPadOS 14, users will be able to set a third-party app as the default mail or browser app for the first time, a major change that iOS users have been wanting for years now.

Note that third-party browser apps still need to use the system WebKit framework. They’re not allowed to use a custom Web rendering or JavaScript engine.


iOS Apps on macOS 11


And for the first time, developers can make their iOS and iPadOS apps available on the Mac without any modifications.

The apps will be available in the Mac App Store by default, except where developers opt out. There will be lot more apps, but most of them won’t be quality Mac apps.

Peter Ammon:

The shocking part is not the fact, but that Apple chose to pre-announce it today, in such a low key way. Why do that?


The feature might absolutely suck in practice. Android apps on ChromeOS are...not great. But by showing their hand, Apple is committed to this feature. Why?

The reason would be to get someone to do something different. They want users or developers to react, today.


It’s definitely not a media coverage play. If they wanted to build excitement, why slip it in quietly towards the end?

Oluseyi Sonaiya:

If my iOS app will run on macOS unmodified… with careful UI/UX design, why would I build a macOS app at all?


A degraded Mac app, that doesn’t consider all of the unique requirements/opportunities the Mac presents. Not great for building thoughtful desktop-specific experiences, I would argue.


This almost seems designed to sunset macOS in a few more years[…]

Gus Mueller:

What’s going to happen when the Mac is flooded with iOS apps? Are prices for apps on the Mac going to plummet like they did on iOS? Will I still be able to make it as an indie in five years?

Alexis Gallagher:

So can you imagine what the user experience would be like if you just ran an iOS app on a Mac, just because you could? It would be HORRIBLE. Developers don’t even need to imagine it because we can already do this with the Simulator, and it’s not a good experience.…


The way this all makes sense is if the new Macs have not only Apple Silicon (which lets them run iOS apps) but also touch screens (which makes it reasonable to do so).


It’s easy to imagine a lot of ways this could work technically. But what would be a good UX? I don’t know.

It’s hard to see how this doesn’t end up compromising and ending up with a “toaster fridge,” just like Apple accused Microsoft of doing.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Really interesting way of looking at it: the universal Apple ecosystem — built around the iOS SDK — is the future of the Mac, and Catalyst on Intel was a way of extending that support to existing Macs and letting them stay relevant for a few more years


Update (2022-02-08): Saagar Jha:

iOS apps on Mac is codenamed Almond, it looks like. A cute parallel to the Marzipan codename

macOS 11.0 Big Sur Announced

Apple (also: TidBITS, MacRumors, MacStories, Mr. Macintosh, Hacker News):

macOS Big Sur introduces a beautiful redesign that is entirely new yet instantly familiar. Safari is packed with new features, including a customizable start page, elegantly designed and more powerful tabs, quick and easy translation, and a new Privacy Report. The updated Messages app lets Mac users send and receive more personal and expressive messages, and easily keep track of and interact within group messages. Maps also offers an all-new experience with immersive features for exploring and navigating the world.


macOS Big Sur delivers a spacious new design that makes navigation easier, while putting more controls at users’ fingertips. Everything from the curvature of window corners to the palette of colors and materials has been refined, and new features provide even more information and power. Icons in the Dock have been thoughtfully designed to be more consistent with icons across the Apple ecosystem while retaining their Mac personality. Buttons and controls appear when needed, and recede when they’re not. The entire experience feels more focused, fresh, and familiar, reducing visual complexity and bringing users’ content front and center.

See also: Human Interface Guidelines (also: Hacker News).

Rui Carmo:

The new look for macOS makes it seem like Catalyst is the new design language, and it makes me sad because I actually like the way macOS looks now, and the tradition behind some of it–after all, a few of those icons have been around (like me, really) since the NeXT days.

Benedikt Terhechte:

Nobdy can complain that Catalyst doesn’t look like macOS if macOS doesn’t look like macOS

I prefer the old, more detailed and colorful toolbar buttons to the iOS 7 style. However, given that Apple is switching to symbols, I think I like the way Big Sur fully commits to this style, removing chrome so that the symbols themselves can be larger and stand out more. The main issues for me are that much of the text is difficult to read, the increased spacing effectively makes my displays smaller, and having rollover effects everywhere is distracting. Presumably, the spacing is because future Macs will have touch screens, but why compromise the desktop experience for that when iPads already exist? And, as a developer, it is annoying that the metrics for everything are changing.

Jonathan Deutsch:

I’d love a rationale for the War on Information Density. As far as I can tell it is only designer whimsy.

My guess is that it’s so iOS apps work better on future touch-screen Macs and don’t look out of place.


I am not a big fan of the continued slaughter of available-space-for-the-actual-title in the title bar, or similarly of cleanly draggable areas.


Dear god, the just barely opaque menu bar is back, and it’s just as horribly unreadable as a few years ago. Do we really need to keep doing this?

John Siracusa:

I hope everyone else is also busy filing Radars (sorry, “Feedbacks”) about the small, low-contrast text used in many places in Big Sur.

Like I said on @atpfm, Accessibility settings can help, but the defaults should be comfortable for MOST people. These defaults miss that mark.

Ben Thompson (Hacker News):

What is striking about macOS 11.0 is the degree to which is feels more like a son of iOS than the sibling that Mac OS X was[…]

Juli Clover:

macOS Big Sur does away with the “Energy Saver” section of System Preferences, replacing it with a new “Battery” section that expands the battery reporting capabilities of the Mac.

Juli Clover:

macOS Big Sur, the newest version of Apple’s operating system designed for Macs, brings back the classic startup chime that was eliminated from the MacBook lineup in 2016.

Joe Rossignol:

Apple has deprecated its long-standing Network Utility app in macOS Big Sur, with the app no longer functioning in the first developer beta.


Update (2020-07-27): Khaos Tian:

The floating Dock is unexpectedly distracting due to a tiny part of the wallpaper being visible at the bottom

Update (2020-07-30): Max Seelemann:

Catalyst Messages on Big Sur on a non-retina screen is in a pitiful state as of today. Messages are blurry, buttons are blurry, everything is blurry.

My hopes this gets fixed are slim. Progress bars have been blurry on non-retina for at least two major releases.

Update (2020-08-19): Riccardo Mori:

Apple really needs to rethink icon spacing in Big Sur’s menubar. This is how it looks, in the Finder (which has few and short menu commands), on a retina 13-inch display. And consider I only have iStat Menus as third-party addition on the menubar.

Update (2020-09-07): Baz:

Notifications on macOS BS are an absolute disaster: complicated to know what to do, hidden functionality, these stupid drop downs instead of buttons. How did macOS get to this?

Update (2020-09-28): Corbin Dunn:

I keep hoping the next macOS 11 beta will fix basic UI consistency issues, but they still are present. All these inactive sidebars all have different font sizes and colors. I logged this in the first beta.

I’m guessing the problem is that there isn’t any single person responsible for ensuring the consistency happens as a whole. I’d hope AppKit would take care of it, but I have a feeling a lot of this UI is custom, and then through News into the mix with UIKit and you get a mess.

Installing the macOS 11.0 Beta


If macOS Big Sur 11 beta is installed into the same APFS container as previous versions of macOS, system software updates can no longer be installed on the previous versions of macOS.

Jared Jones:

If you install Big Sur to a new partition you will be fine. Boot back to Catalina and remove the volumes that have Big Sur on it in Disk Utility. Then create a new APFS Container and put Big Sur onto that! Then you will continue to be able to install updates.

As I expected, Big Sur drops support for the first Retina MacBook Pro.