Archive for September 25, 2020

Friday, September 25, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Swift System Is Now Open Source

Michael Ilseman:

In June, Apple introduced Swift System, a new library for Apple platforms that provides idiomatic interfaces to system calls and low-level currency types. Today, I’m excited to announce that we’re open-sourcing System and adding Linux support! Our vision is for System to eventually act as the single home for low-level system interfaces for all supported Swift platforms.


Errors are thrown using the standard language mechanism and cannot be missed. Further, all system calls interruptible by a signal take a defaulted-true retryOnInterrupt argument, causing them to retry on failure. When combined, these two changes dramatically simplify error and signal handling.


System is a multi-platform library, not a cross-platform one. It provides a separate set of APIs and behaviors on every supported platform, closely reflecting the underlying OS interfaces.

Like Swift Argument Parser, it is not part of the standard library. I guess the advantage is that you can back-deploy the latest version of the package to older OS versions.

Update (2020-09-28): See also: Hacker News.

The Need for Stable Foundations in Software Development

Maxime Chevalier-Boisvert:

My employer was kind enough to provide me with a top of the line MacBook Pro. It’s a beautiful machine with 6 CPU cores, 32GB of RAM and a 4K display, the most powerful laptop I’ve ever owned and a valuable tool in working from home. However, unfortunately, the slick machine suffers from a number of software problems.

For one, you can charge it using any of the 4 USB-C ports, but you really should only ever charge it from the right side. Another issue I frequently run into is that I have an external monitor, and despite configuring this as my primary display, the dock will randomly jump back to the MacBook’s monitor, until I go into the settings and move the dock to the right, and to the bottom again, at which point it goes back to the external monitor, until the next time it decides to randomly jump ship. A third issue is that whenever I reboot, it stays stuck early in the boot process, displaying the white Apple logo, and does nothing. It doesn’t complete the boot process until I unplug my USB-C devices. There are more problems, I could go on.

Apple isn’t the only one with these kinds of quality assurance problems. […] Why is it that we live in a world riddled with bugs?

Nikita Prokopov:

Jay Sitter in his article People expect technology to suck writes about people who keep using tech despite heavy annoyances like very dim screen or constant popups and not doing anything about it.


And I would agree: if it was just a single case, of course, they should’ve done something about it! The point is, this happens all the time, every day, multiple times a day, and one person can dedicate only so much time to dealing with it. The stream of minor annoyances is so large people just got tired of dealing with it! And no, there’re no better alternatives.

To prove my point, I decided to record every broken interaction I had during one day.


Update (2020-09-28): See also: Hacker News.

Nick Heer:

I maintain that, while the number of bugs and problems users experience is linear, their understandable frustration is exponential. It’s no wonder they have learned to tolerate poor-quality work.

Pixelmator Pro Gets AppleScript Support


Big news from the Pixelmator Team, today we’re releasing a major update to Pixelmator Pro. Version 1.8, codenamed Lynx, is now here, bringing incredibly full-featured support for AppleScript.


In our quest to make AppleScript support as great and full-featured as possible, we collaborated with Sal Soghoian, the legendary user automation guru, who served at Apple for 20 years as the Product Manager of Automation Technologies, including AppleScript, Services, the Terminal, Apple Configurator and Automator, among others. We’re super glad to have had the opportunity to work with Sal. He was a big help with our scripting dictionary and we think the extra attention to detail really paid off!

John Gruber:

You can say “But AppleScript is so old and it’s such a weird frustrating language” — and you’d be right. AppleScript is really old. It’s palpably the product of a bygone era. It’s one of the last classic Mac OS era technologies that’s still kicking and relevant. But it’s what we’ve got. Clearly, Apple doesn’t care enough about professional tool automation to create an altogether new scripting system, but they care enough to keep AppleScript going.

iOS 14 Update Could Permanently Remove Fortnite

Fortnite Status:

Fortnite iOS players updating to iOS 14 may lose access to Fortnite. If the message “Temporarily Remove Apps to Install the Software Update?” is accepted, it may result in Fortnite being deleted. Fortnite cannot later be reinstalled due to Apple preventing users from doing so.

Via Nick Heer:

Apple does not explain how iOS selects which apps to temporarily remove in order to free up space, but an educated guess suggests that it removes the largest apps first. Games like Fortnite have massive bundle sizes, so that’s why it is likely to be removed for an update. Apple’s UI copy indicates that it is temporary but, because Fortnite is no longer on the App Store, it is effectively permanent.

Unfortunately, apps are not included in iCloud backups, and iTunes can no longer back up and restore iOS apps, either. You have to download them from the App Store. That can be a problem if you want to revert to a previous version or restore an app that Apple has removed.



David Smith (tweet, App Store):

Widgetsmith lets you personalize your home screen like never before.

It starts with a wide collection of highly customizable widgets, which range in function from date, to weather, to astronomy. Each can be adjusted precisely to best fit your desired function and appearance.

This set of widgets can then be dynamically scheduled to appear on your home screen following rules you define. For example, a particular widget could show the weather first thing in the morning, then your calendar during your work day, then switch to your Activity ring progress as you wrap up your day. This lets you take full advantage of each slot on your home screen.

It’s currently #1 in the App Store’s Productivity category.

Rebecca Jennings:

There was a time not so long ago when buying an Apple product meant buying into a very specific aesthetic, one designed by men in glass-walled offices who liked to think of themselves as high-minded futurists. Their vision for that future was almost always the same: sleek, minimalist, and above all, simple.

But according to my TikTok feed over the past weekend, iPhones are now bastions of complex personal micro-identities. “How to make your iPhone home screen aesthetic AF!” begins a video tutorial with 3 million likes. On Twitter, users boast screenshots of their own creations, from Studio Ghibli to cottagecore, Mean Girls to “Katy Perry in the ‘Never Really Over’ video,” and“dirtbag Shia LaBeouf” (a personal favorite). To do so, they’re using customizable widgets with Apple’s refreshed Shortcuts app as well as other downloadable tools like Widgetsmith (The Verge has a good explainer on how to wield them). Used particularly artfully, the effects can turn the home screen of your phone into an ode to Animal Crossing or what BTS would look like in a late ’90s teen magazine — far removed from the traditional grid of rounded-edge squares with company logos.

Nick Heer:

I have no idea if Apple thought that Shortcuts and home screen widgets would allow for such wild customization, but I think it is terrific.

Jason Brennan:

I genuinely love how many people are going crazy customizing their iOS 14 homescreens and icons.

The instant craze is proof to me people are starved for (and can handle!) more options and customizability and don’t need “simplicity” as much as Apple seems to think

Julia Alexander:

It’s hard to say how long the fad will last, or how long users will keep their intricate home screens. Parrotte and Gia think part of it is simply creating the designs for clout. (“I think it’s a way for people to flex,” Gia says.) But with form factors and operating systems settling into a dull sameness, there’s a powerful appeal to having a home screen that looks different from everyone else’s.


Update (2020-09-28): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast, The Talk Show.

Update (2020-10-01): See also: Under the Radar.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

After seeing how widgets have played out on iOS 14, I bet there are people at Apple feeling pretty foolish for choosing to not enable the feature on iPad 😅

Update (2020-10-02): See also: The Talk Show.

Update (2021-02-05): John Voorhees:

Yesterday, Jason Aten of Inc. published an interview with Smith about his career as an independent developer and how his 12 years of experience building 59 different apps prepared him for the unexpected success of Widgetsmith, which has been downloaded more than 50 million times.

Arq 7 Announced

Stefan Reitshamer (tweet):

We had hoped to ship an Arq 6 update that was compatible with Arq 5 data by end of June 2020. But we wanted to ship something great, even if it takes a lot longer than we initially expected.

At some point we tried prototyping Arq 6 as a “native” UI on macOS, and realized we like it a lot better.

So, we decided to implement the entire UI as a “native” UI. It’s got better keyboard navigation, it’s more intuitive, has a smaller disk footprint, and supports drag-and-drop to easily restore files to your desktop or a Finder window. It just feels better.

It’s in private testing now. The data format and method of selecting backup items have been reworked again, and it fixes the annoying Arq 6 bug where unmounting an unrelated drive cancels all the in-progress backups.