Archive for October 2020

Friday, October 30, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

25 Years Ago: BeOS

Benj Edwards (via Daniel Sandler):

BeOS was unique among the computer operating systems of the ’90s due to its lack of legacy code. By the mid-’90s, Windows, Mac OS, OS/2, Solaris, Linux, and even NeXTSTEP, were evolutionary operating systems with at least a decade of history. With BeOS, though, Be dared to create an entirely new operating system from scratch to meet the needs of the era: multimedia and internet support.

[…]

BeOS supported multi-threaded applications and included support for multiprocessor machines from the start. After an upgrade, it also included a multi-threaded, 64-bit journaling file system called BFS. This had a built-in database designed to support digital multimedia recording and playback, which was novel in the mid-’90s.

[…]

Today, you can download and use a functional modern descendant of the desktop BeOS called Haiku. This free, open-source project is still in beta, but it’s compatible with legacy (and new) BeOS applications. It’s a joy to experiment with, on either a virtual machine or as a direct install on Windows-compatible hardware.

Bill Bumgarner:

I was on the pre-order list until I got the dev docs.

Everything C++ — OK.

Every app starts as one window w/three threads; main, window draw, window event handler.

“Concurrency is difficult. Use locks sparingly. Good luck.” was basically the docs.

No, thanks.

Alastair Houghton:

I keep looking back at screenshots of the old Mac “Platinum” UI, the BeOS/Haiku UI and a handful of others of similar vintage and thinking that they’ve aged remarkably well by comparison to newer UI designs (XP, Aero, early Mac OS X).

More Big Sur UI Refinements

Riccardo Mori:

As I was saying before, I expected the first betas to be a rough design sketch, bound to be drastically improved upon (not simply refined) from beta release to beta release. Instead, all visual changes at the UI level so far have been surprisingly restrained. You may think, Well, that’s a good sign. It means that Apple really believes in this redesign. In a sense, it’s true. Apple believes to be doing good work with Big Sur’s user interface. They have a plan and they’re demonstrating they’re willing to stick with it. That doesn’t mean it’s a great plan, though.

No matter how hard Apple tries to spin it, when I’m using Big Sur, I’m not feeling that the reasoning behind all these UI changes was Let’s take the great Mac OS user interface we’ve been perfecting for years and make it better. What I feel, instead, is that behind this user interface redesign there was one simple major directive that came from above: Make it look more like iOS.

[…]

The transparency of menu listings has also been reduced over time: Beta 10 here is slightly less transparent than even Beta 8. And the selected menu name in the menu bar is more prominent (the background behind the text is darker).

System Preferences now shows more slices of dynamic desktops.

Previously:

MAC Address Randomization in iOS 14

Jon Baumann:

What caused my issue was the fact that Apple was now defaulting to using “private Wi-Fi addresses” in iOS 14. This did not appear anywhere in the list of “All New Features” on the iOS 14 website, but there was some buzz about it for those that follow iOS news. As I am woefully behind on iOS news, I learned about it when I hit Settings->Wi-Fi->[My SSID], saw that “Private Address” was checked to “Yes”, and noted that the different MAC address my router was complaining about was being displayed on my phone. Once I turned that setting off, my expected MAC address was back and I got network access again.

To be clear about the term “Private Address”, this is Apple’s term for MAC address randomization. MAC address randomization is just a systematic way of doing what many of us have done for decades: talking to your network using a different MAC address than what is actually burned onto your network card. In this case, Apple gave out a link-local MAC address which is not guaranteed to be globally unique, in an OUI which was not reserved for Apple. With “private addresses”, Apple provides a different MAC address for each network you connect to in hopes of protecting your privacy. I say “in hopes of” because I generally find it comical for a company to implement a “turn off Wi-Fi button” which helpfully says “turning off Wi-Fi until tomorrow“ and then force “private addresses” by default. Or for the same company in the same iOS release to openly say they’ll bounce the pictures you have tagged on your phone against your security cameras and tell you who they think is at the door. Or for the same company to accidentally tell you all networking is turned off when it clearly isn’t.

Previously:

More Notarized Mac Malware

Joshua Long (via Catalin Cimpanu, tweet, Patrick Wardle):

For the second time in six weeks, Apple has been caught notarizing Mac malware.

Intego previously reported that Apple inadvertently notarized more than 40 malware samples in August.

This time, rather than the notarized malware belonging to the OSX/Shlayer and OSX/Bundlore families, the latest malware is from the OSX/MacOffers (aka MaxOfferDeal) family.

[…]

The new malware uses a technique called steganography to hide its malicious payload within a separate JPEG image file, which is likely why the malware was able to slip past Apple’s notarization process.

Previously:

Thursday, October 29, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

MoneyWell 3.0.15

Diligent Robot (tweet):

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve just released version 3.0.15 of MoneyWell for macOS. This is a minor update to fix a few bugs.

The new developers haven’t charged for an update yet, but they’ve been responsive to support e-mails and have chipped away at bugs that predated them. Syncing continues to be a problem, but fortunately I don’t use that feature. For my purposes, the app continues to work well.

Previously:

About That 85%

Jacob Eiting (via David Barnard):

Turns out, the 85/15 split — which Apple is keen to mention anytime developers complain about the App Store rev share — doesn’t have a meaningful impact for most developers. Because churn.

[…]

Top mobile apps like Netflix and Spotify report churn rates in the low single digits, but they are the outliers. According to our data, the median churn rate for subscription apps is around 13% for monthly subscriptions and around 50% for annual. Monthly subscription churn is generally a bit higher in the first few months, then it tapers off. But an average churn of 13% leaves just 20% of subscribers crossing that magical 85/15 threshold.

[…]

According to our [RevenueCat] data, just 16% of apps manage to achieve a takehome rate above 75%.

Michael Love:

To me this is actually an argument against offering subscriptions; if 80% of monthly subscribers quit after one year then you’re better off charging them up front, they weren’t going to produce long-term ongoing revenue either way.

David Barnard:

The magic really starts happening a few years in. Great apps retain more than 20% (especially as a blend of monthly and annual), and many of those will end up retaining for years. As those cohorts stack, you can build a really strong business.

Previously:

Tuesday, October 27, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Unkillable “Songs of Innocence”

Russ Frushtick (via Stephen Hackett):

Around 2016 or 2017, a couple years after Apple launched its CarPlay service, allowing your vehicle to sync with iOS, I started noticing something odd. Whenever I got into a car and connected my phone, it would automatically play something I had purchased on iTunes: a list of options so small — just nine albums total — it meant I was incessantly hearing the same tracks over and over again. And as much as I love Huey Lewis, “The Heart of Rock & Roll” has its limits. The albums were constantly syncing to my newer devices because of some iCloud setting somewhere; even deleting them didn’t do the trick, as they’d continue to play over the cloud. After suffering with it for a few years, I found out that you could “hide” albums from iTunes, ensuring that they’re never automatically played. It saved me from the shame of hearing the first track of the Charlie Brown Christmas album for the 700th time. I was free.

But one album remained: Songs of Innocence.

Unlike the other albums, there was no way to hide this, and it never appeared in my purchased albums. Because I hadn’t purchased it. It was a gift from Tim Cook and Bono. And due to some quirk in iTunes, it was unkillable.

[…]

A few days after writing everything you just read, I decided to give one more call to Apple support, hoping to better understand what exactly was preventing them from removing the album in the first place. Here’s an edited transcript of the unthinkable conversation that ensued[…]

Previously:

Zoom’s End-to-End Encryption Has Arrived

Jon Porter:

Zoom’s end-to-end encryption (E2EE) has arrived, letting both free and paid users secure their meetings so that only participants, not Zoom or anyone else, can access their content. Zoom says E2EE is supported across its Mac, PC, iOS, and Android apps, as well as Zoom Rooms, but not its web client or third-party clients that use the Zoom SDK.

[…]

Although E2EE meetings are more secure, they don’t work with a few of Zoom’s features. These include its cloud recording, live transcription, polling, meeting reactions, and join before host features. Participants also won’t be able to join using “telephone, SIP/H.323 devices, on-premise configurations, or Lync/Skype clients,” as Zoom says these can’t be end-to-end encrypted.

Previously:

Sketch on Native Mac Apps

Sketch:

Native apps bring so many benefits — from personalization and performance to familiarity and flexibility. And while we’re always working hard to make Cloud an amazing space to collaborate, we still believe the Mac is the perfect place to let your ideas and imagination flourish.

[…]

This is something we pride ourselves on — over the years we’ve taken design cues from Apple, working hard to make your experience feel consistent and natural whenever you switch from our Mac app to apps like Pages or Keynote. We support UI changes, such as Dark Mode, as they launch. And right now we’re putting the finishing touches to a major UI update so that our Mac app will still look perfectly at home when macOS Big Sur releases later this Fall.

I love native apps, Sketch is my design app of choice, and the retro design of the blog post makes feel warm and fuzzy. But something about this worries me. Is it convincing for someone who isn’t already sold on native apps? Or who is choosing based on other criteria?

Kevin Kwok (via Hacker News):

The core insight of Figma is that design is larger than just designers. Design is all of the conversations between designers and PMs about what to build. It is the mocks and prototypes and the feedback on them. It is the handoff of specs and assets to engineers and how easy it is for them to implement them. Building for this entire process doesn’t take away the importance of designers—it gives them a seat at the table for the core decisions a company makes.

[…]

Designs in Figma are not just stored in the cloud; they are edited in the cloud, too. This means that Figma users are always working on the same design. With Dropbox, this isn’t true. The files may be stored in the cloud, but the editing happens locally—imagine the difference between sharing Word files in Dropbox vs. editing in Google Docs.

[…]

When many creative tools companies talk about the cloud, they seem to view it as an amorphous place that they store files. But the fundamental user experience of creating in their products is done via a standalone app on the desktop. Figma is browser-first, which was made possible (and more importantly performant) by their understanding and usage of new technologies like WebGL, Operational Transforms, and CRDTs.

Previously:

Monday, October 26, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Apple University Dean on Apple’s Organizational Structure

Joel M. Podolny and Morten T. Hansen (via MacRumors):

When Jobs arrived back at Apple, it had a conventional structure for a company of its size and scope. It was divided into business units, each with its own P&L responsibilities. General managers ran the Macintosh products group, the information appliances division, and the server products division, among others. As is often the case with decentralized business units, managers were inclined to fight with one another, over transfer prices in particular. Believing that conventional management had stifled innovation, Jobs, in his first year returning as CEO, laid off the general managers of all the business units (in a single day), put the entire company under one P&L, and combined the disparate functional departments of the business units into one functional organization.

[…]

As was the case with Jobs before him, CEO Tim Cook occupies the only position on the organizational chart where the design, engineering, operations, marketing, and retail of any of Apple’s main products meet.

Matt Rogers:

This article skips what I think of as the highest innovation time at Apple, back when @tfadell and I were there. iPod/iPhone were actually their separate org, which allowed for more focus and freedom from other company distractions.

Tony Fadell:

Spot on

Charles Schlaff:

Not to mention the current day orgs are still highly organized around product. I knew of like 3 people on the phone team, and I was on Watch / Health for 4+ years.

Dave Edwards:

Also good to remember Sina’s Apps Group, an entirely separate division with distinct P&L incl. engineering, marketing, sales, etc. A nimble source of great innovation back in the day. We existed in part b/c SJ didn’t want any functional head to own their entire function.

Tony Fadell:

What a shame that innovation and the organization wasn’t properly represented.

Previously:

Friday, October 23, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

HP Printer Driver Certificate Revoked

Howard Oakley:

Many users are today reporting that their HP printer software has suddenly stopped working, with worrying messages implying that their software is malicious and “will damage your computer”.

[…]

You’re seeing that message because macOS is checking the signature on your HP printer software, and being told that its signing certificate has been revoked. What’s strange, though, is that this doesn’t appear to affect High Sierra and older versions of macOS. […] This may well be because they’re working with different databases.

No word yet on why. It’s a shame there’s no way to tell the system to trust it temporarily, especially given that the revocation may be in error.

Thomas Reed:

We’re seeing a significant influx of support cases where users are seeing macOS identify what appear to be legit processes as malware, exactly what is being reported here[…]

Previously:

Apple TV Remote App Replaced by Control Center

Filipe Espósito (also: MacRumors):

Apple today silently removed its “Apple TV Remote” app from the App Store, which lets users control the Apple TV from an iPhone or iPad simulating a real Remote. The app is no longer available for download from the App Store and Apple has likely discontinued it, which means that it will no longer get any updates.

That doesn’t come as a surprise since Apple has added the Remote feature built into the Control Center in iOS 12, so Apple TV users can have access to all the controls on Siri Remote without having to download any app.

Alan Cannistraro:

I created this app on nights and weekends. I demoed it to Steve in Jan ’08. He said, “We’re going to open an App Store; let’s make this our app”. Sad to see it go. I always referred to it as “my baby”.

This is the first version of the Control Center remote that works with my Apple TV 3, and it seems to fix the keyboard and focus problems that have plagued the standalone Remote app lately. Unfortunately, the connection with the Apple TV sometimes gets dropped when the phone’s screen turns off, and—unlike with the physical remote—holding down the Menu button doesn’t bring you all the way up to the top menu.

Previously:

Apple TV App for PlayStation and Xbox

Benjamin Mayo:

The Apple TV app is officially coming to games consoles, starting with an announcement from Sony. On the PlayStation blog, the company revealed that the Apple TV app will be available on November 12, that’s the same day as the PlayStation 5 release date.

[…]

On Amazon Fire Stick, the ability to purchase content is disabled as Apple and Amazon did not come to a revenue sharing agreement. However, on the PlayStation app, customers will be able to directly subscribe to Apple TV+ and other Apple TV Channels.

It’s also coming to Xbox. It’s not clear to me whether all of these devices will support AirPlay.

Previously:

Google Antitrust Lawsuit

William P. Barr (tweet, PDF):

This morning the Department of Justice, along with eleven states, filed a civil lawsuit against Google for unlawfully maintaining a monopoly in general search services and search advertising in violation of the U.S. antitrust laws.

[…]

Over the course of the last 16 months, the Antitrust Division collected convincing evidence that Google no longer competes only on the merits but instead uses its monopoly power – and billions in monopoly profits – to lock up key pathways to search on mobile phones, browsers, and next generation devices, depriving rivals of distribution and scale. The end result is that no one can feasibly challenge Google’s dominance in search and search advertising.

This lack of competition harms users, advertisers, and small businesses in the form of fewer choices, reduced quality (including on metrics like privacy), higher advertising prices, and less innovation.

David McCabe, Cecilia Kang, and Daisuke Wakabayashi (Hacker News):

In a 57-page complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, the agency accused Google of locking out competition in search by obtaining several exclusive business contracts and agreements. Google’s deals with Apple, mobile carriers and other handset makers to place its search engine as the default option for consumers accounted for most of its dominant market share in search, the agency said, a figure that it put at around 80 percent.

Google:

Today’s lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed. People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives.

This lawsuit would do nothing to help consumers. To the contrary, it would artificially prop up lower-quality search alternatives, raise phone prices, and make it harder for people to get the search services they want to use.

DuckDuckGo (tweet):

So, Google, given that you’ve often said competition is one click away, and you’re aware a complicated process suppresses competition, why does it take fifteen+ clicks to make DuckDuckGo Search or any other alternative the default on Android devices?

Ben Thompson:

Apparently being sued for antitrust is like graduating from college for tech companies.

Sandeep Vaheesan:

Great excerpt in U.S. v. Google on how Google shares its monopoly profits with Apple. Google pays billions for exclusive pre-installation on Apple devices--payments that are as much as one-fifth of Apple’s annual net income.

Michael Y. Lee:

To me it reveals how fragile their dominance is that they’d feel the need to pay apple billions for making them the default search engine on iPhones

Mark Gurman:

The U.S. government said Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai met in 2018 to discuss the deal. After that, an unidentified senior Apple employee wrote to a Google counterpart that “our vision is that we work as if we are one company.”

The DOJ also cited internal Google documents that call the Apple search deal a “significant revenue channel” for the search giant and one that, if lost, would result in a “Code Red” scenario. That’s because nearly half of Google search traffic in 2019 came from Apple products, according to the lawsuit.

Jeff Johnson:

It’s certainly not a good look when Google pays Apple $billions per year, they agree to "work as if we are one company", and both Safari and Chrome kneecap the browser extension ad blocking API.

Mozilla:

Unintended harm to smaller innovators from enforcement actions will be detrimental to the system as a whole, without any meaningful benefit to consumers — and is not how anyone will fix Big Tech.

Tim Bray:

It’s not obvious that end-users are hurt directly. Google provides, at the end of the day, a pretty awesome search service.

[…]

The problem is (to steal a phrase from the Complaint) “monopoly rents from advertisers”. Search advertising is a context where you know exactly what the user is looking for, and it’s amazingly effective, and Google enjoys a monopoly, which means they can charge what the market will bear, and they do.

Previously:

Thursday, October 22, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Halide Mark II

Ben Sandofsky (Hacker News):

With all that in mind, we’re confident launching Halide Mark II at $36 (for new users). To celebrate the launch, we are discounting it to $30.

[…]

Pay-Once is not going away, but we’ve decided to offer an alternative that fits quite well into our long term plans. We’re calling it a membership. We think there are three reasons to consider a membership.

First, there’s price. $11.99 per year. […] Second, memberships include perks above and beyond the core Halide experience, like exclusive icons.

[…]

Anyone who has already paid for Halide 1 gets Mark II for free. We’re also including a year of members’ updates.

John Voorhees:

The latest update is an ambitious reimagining of what was already a premier camera app, building on what came before but with a simpler and easier to learn UI. Halide Mark II puts more control than ever into the hands of photographers, while also making it easy to achieve beautiful results with minimal effort. Halide also seeks to educate through a combination of design and upcoming in-app photography lessons.

[…]

One of my favorite changes to Halide is its focus control. Auto-focus is on by default, but you can swipe right on the control to manually set focus. When you enter manual focus mode, a magnifier loupe appears onscreen that zooms in on the center of the viewfinder, making it easier to precisely dial in focus. There’s also a button to turn the focusing loupe on full time and a focus peaking button to visualize focus status.

[…]

Instead of saving the RAW and compressed images at the same time, which is what RAW+ does, Coverage takes two separate shots one after the other – one RAW, one compressed – and then saves them together in the same file as just like RAW+. The advantage is a higher-quality compressed image that can take advantage of Apple’s Smart HDR and Deep Fusion processing. The disadvantage is that it takes a little longer for the camera to take two shots in a row, which is why the feature is turned off by default.

Swift Result Builders Accepted

Saleem Abdulrasool:

The second round of review for SE-0289 “Result Builders” ran from September 24 through October 1, 2020. You can find the review thread here. The first round of review for SE-0289 “Function Builders” ran from August 31 through September 14, 2020 and you can find that review thread here.

The overall feedback from both rounds of reviews seemed positive on the functionality, but raised concerns over the attribute naming. The renamed attribute was better received, and the Core Team has decided to move forward with the new name.

See also: SampleFunctionBuilder (via Ole Begemann), Function builders implementation progress.

Previously:

Unresponsive Keyboard After Waking Mac

eptcyka:

Apple seems to do all kinds of weird networking stuff. For instance, during wakeup, your T2 equipped Macbook will wait for a DNS response and then use said DNS response to synchronize time via NTP before letting the user use the keyboard. Probably checking timestamps on signatures for the keyboard firmware, or something stupid like that. This only happens if it happens to have a default route.

Similarly, all macOS machines will test a DHCP supplied default route before applying it by trying to reach something on the internet. So if you happen to have some firewall rules that block internet access, no default route will be applied until the internet check times out.

Previously:

Apple Apps Exempt From Network Filters and VPNs

Maxwell Swadling:

Some Apple apps bypass some network extensions and VPN Apps. Maps for example can directly access the internet bypassing any NEFilterDataProvider or NEAppProxyProviders you have running 😒

The new beta for @littlesnitch seems to use an NEFilterDataProvider instead of kext, I don’t think they will be able to block Maps from tile loading...

Patrick Wardle (Hacker News):

Previously, a comprehensive macOS firewall could be implemented via a Network Kernel Extension (kext)

Apple deprecated kexts, giving us Network Extensions....but apparently (many of) their apps / daemons bypass this filtering mechanism.

bucky:

NEXTs = obviously more complexity than KEXTs = bigger attack surface… and all you need is a “NEXT exempt exploit” (which will definitely happen at some point), and LuLu, @littlesnitch etc. won’t be able to intercept malware traffic.

Jeff Johnson:

Getting rid of kernel extensions “for our security”? DIRTY FUCKING LIE! Now you can’t stop Apple from phoning home.

joncp:

That totally breaks my use case for Little Snitch: working tethered. When I tether my laptop it thinks it has free reign with the bandwidth and all of the little background processes can kill my data in a few minutes. With a firewall, I can grant access to only the processes that I need to get my work done.

Now, I guess I have to run some external firewall between my laptop and my phone. ... or better yet, abandon Apple.

David Dudok de Wit (developer of TripMode, tweet, Radar):

With macOS Big Sur however, that changed, as application-level firewalls now need to use the new NetworkExtensions APIs, such as NEFilterDataProvider or NEAppProxyProvider, to offer a similar level of functionality as in previous macOS releases.

[…]

Starting with macOS Big Sur, users can’t:

  1. View a full, uncensored list of apps trying to access the Internet on their Mac — as Apple is hiding 56 of its own apps.
  2. Know how much data these Apple apps upload or download.
  3. Know which domains or IP addresses these Apple apps interact with.
  4. Block or allow traffic from these Apple apps.

Adam Engst:

I don’t believe this move shows any grand conspiracy to undermine TripMode or Little Snitch. I suspect it’s just another change that Apple has made—perhaps in the name of overall security, perhaps merely with no thought to what developers and users want—that has an unintended and undesirable consequence. It’s reminiscent of when Apple quietly prevented apps like BusyContacts and HoudahSpot from indexing Mail’s email archive in Catalina, regardless of how you set your permissions. Nevertheless, it’s disappointing, and if you’re bothered by the move, let Apple know via its Feedback Assistant.

Miles Wolbe:

Deleting those entries [from /System/Library/Frameworks/NetworkExtension.framework/Versions/A/Resources/Info.plist] under Big Sur turned out to be rather involved; in fact, one could be forgiven for coming away with the vague suspicion that Apple would prefer them not to be disturbed[…]

[…]

Little Snitch 5 and TripMode 3 had no problem blocking the previously-cloaked processes afterwards[…]

But it causes problems for the IMTransferAgent process.

Previously:

Tuesday, October 20, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Stadium Removed From the App Store

Zach Knox:

Today, I launched a new web browser app for iOS. It displays webpages in full screen, allows you to change your user agent, has a way to authenticate without the user agent, and has game controller support. How strange!

Stadium is specialized, but it happens to be great for using game streaming services!

Zach Knox:

My app is being removed from the App Store, AMA

[…]

I was “extending WebKit” by hooking it into the native GameController framework and thus Bluetooth controllers, which they didn’t like.

This does seem to be against the guidelines, though I think it’s a bad rule.

Apple:

4.7 HTML5 Games, Bots, etc.

Apps may contain or run code that is not embedded in the binary (e.g. HTML5-based games, bots, etc.), as long as code distribution isn’t the main purpose of the app, the code is not offered in a store or store-like interface, and provided that the software (1) is free or purchased using in-app purchase; (2) only uses capabilities available in a standard WebKit view (e.g. it must open and run natively in Safari without modifications or additional software); your app must use WebKit and JavaScript Core to run third-party software and should not attempt to extend or expose native platform APIs to third-party software

Jon Porter:

Although Stadium will soon disappear from the App Store, the principle of using a web app to offer game streaming on iOS isn’t going anywhere. This is the approach Amazon is using for its own Luna cloud gaming service. It’s looking like this is also the route Google will have to go down if it wants to officially get Stadia on iOS. At the moment, Stadia is unavailable on the iPhone in its current form despite a recent App Store rule change.

Dan Moren:

The promise of playing Xbox games on my iOS devices has been tempting me for a while; though I’m not a hardcore gamer, there are a number of titles I like to play on my Xbox One, most recently Star Wars: Squadrons. Plus, the ability to still do some gaming, even when the sole TV in our household is tied up, definitely has some appeal.

So the news a few weeks back that remote play was coming to Microsoft’s iOS app was welcome indeed. Unlike the contentious Project xCloud game streaming, remote play falls into a more standard (and, to Apple, more acceptable) category of apps: it’s basically a screen-sharing client. So, the Xbox app for iPhone and iPad now lets you screen share with the Xbox in your house over your local network or, if your connection is good enough, the Internet.

Previously:

Update (2020-10-22): Ben Schoon:

Speaking to 9to5Google, Apple provided a bit more background on why “Stadium” was removed from the App Store.

While the company has respect for the creativity, they say Stadium uses public APIs in a way that Apple does not intend.

Megan Farokhmanesh:

Amazon’s cloud gaming service, Luna, is entering early access today, the company announced. A small number of US-based customers will receive invitations to test out the service and even purchase Amazon’s game controller if they so choose (though it’s not required to play games on Luna).

Will Apple also forbid Amazon from letting its app talk to a game controller because it uses Web technologies?

iPhone 12 Reviews

Tim Hardwick:

As we wait for the iPhone 12 review embargo to lift later today, more pictures are circulating of the devices in real-world lighting conditions, providing a better look at the different colors available.

On the subject of LiDAR and the Pro camera:

Matthew Panzarino:

The LiDAR array is very nice to have on the iPhone 12 Pro. There is one completely new mode that is not available on the iPhone 12 here — Night Mode Portraits. The autofocus improvement is active in any low light situation.

The ISP and Neural Engine improvements on iPhone 12 mean that these devices can now use Deep Fusion and Smart HDR 3 on all cameras. And, of course, on the iPhone 12 Pro they also handle LiDAR integration for autofocus and even Night Mode portraits now.

But Dieter Bohn says Night Mode Portraits are available on the iPhone 12:

Night mode portraits are one of the major new features, and they’re worth a try, but the range of lighting conditions where they’ll look good isn’t massively bigger.

Nilay Patel:

Unless you are extremely committed to either AR gimmicks or night mode portrait photos, I don’t think you’ll get much value out of the iPhone 12 LIDAR sensor. When you take photos in regular light, the camera focuses just like always; the LIDAR sensor isn’t active. In many ways, it feels like LIDAR is mostly on the phone so that Apple and other people can figure out what to do with it in the future.

Apple is providing conflicting information about Ceramic Shield and scratch resistance.

Jason Snell:

I should also be clear: Apple is making zero claims about improved scratch resistance on these phones. The improvements in materials are specifically for shatter resistance.

Nilay Patel:

Apple claims the iPhone 12 line has four times better drop performance than the previous models, with the same scratch resistance. (I drop my phone a lot, so I’m excited to see how this goes.) On the back, you’ll find the same type of glass as last year, but the new design should improve its drop performance as well, Apple says. One thing Apple would not tell me is how resistant this stainless steel frame is to nicks and scratches… and we’ve already put a tiny nick in the frame of our review unit, even though all it’s really done is travel from video shoot to video shoot.

Apple:

Tough is great, but we also wanted to make it scratch-resistant. So, using our dual ion-exchange process we use on the back glass, we protect against nicks, scratches, and everyday wear and tear.

Matthew Panzarino:

I have seen a few fine scratches crop up on my iPhone 12’s screen. I am not particularly careful with my review units, as I think it is my duty to treat these things as utility items that will get intense daily usage. Which is what they are. Nothing insanely noticeable, mind you, but whatever the improvements to overall hardness the new Corning Ceramic Shield process brings to the table it is not and will not be invincible to wear and tear.

paustovsky has a great chart showing the different iPhone prices over time.

Jon Porter (tweet):

I think Apple’s approach is generally a good thing, but it should have gone further by switching away from its proprietary Lightning port entirely and fully embracing USB-C. Right away, that Lightning to USB-C cable would turn into a much more useful USB-C to USB-C cable that could charge basically all of your electronics. Or better still, Apple could remove the cable entirely and just ship the phone by itself, eliminating even more duplicitous waste.

Previously:

Apple Selling HomeKit-enabled Molekule Air Purifier

Mitchel Broussard:

Molekule today announced that its connected air purifier, the Air Mini+, now supports Apple HomeKit. Alongside the news, the Air Mini+ is also available to purchase on Apple.com and in Apple stores across North America, at a price of $499.95.

It looks like an Apple product, it works with Apple devices, but it apparently doesn’t work. The App Store isn’t the only one with a curation problem.

Monday, October 19, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Face ID and Touch ID for the Web

WWDC 2020 Session 10670:

But this time, when I sign in, rather than go through a password and SMS 2FA flow, instead I just Face ID, like that. Boom. I’m signed in.

[…]

Safari will only allow public key credentials created by this API to be used within the website they were created, and the credentials can never be exported out from the authenticator they were created as well. This means that once a public key credential has been provisioned, there is no way for a user to accidentally divulge it to another party.

[…]

There are two important properties that Apple builds into the authenticator. The first one, as we saw, is the Face ID and Touch ID, which is used to verify users’ identity. The second one is Secure Enclave, which is a processor that manages all the private keys and guarantees that they cannot leave the device. By combining both, each sign-in performed with the Face ID or Touch ID is essentially a multi-factor authentication. The response the device sends back to the websites encapsulates two factors: something you have, the iPhone, and something you are, the biometrics. And the sign-in only takes a single tap.

Jiewen Tan (tweet):

What follows is the recommended way to invoke Face ID and Touch ID for the web.

[…]

Attestation is an optional feature which provides websites a cryptographic proof of the authenticator’s provenance such that websites that are restricted by special regulations can make a trust decision. Face ID and Touch ID for the web offers Apple Anonymous Attestation. Once verified, this attestation guarantees that an authentic Apple device performed the WebAuthn registration ceremony, but it does not guarantee the operating system running on that device is untampered.

Previously:

How iOS Apps Adapt to the Various iPhone 12 Screen Sizes

Geoff Hackworth (via Peter Steinberger):

As a general rule, apps must build with the latest version of Xcode to opt in to seeing the native screen resolutions of new devices. Older apps would run on newer devices but appeared as letterboxed, pillar boxed and/or scaled versions of previous device sizes. This ensured that the old apps never ran at screen resolutions that didn’t exist when they were built.

[…]

At their October 2020 event, Apple announced four iPhone 12 models[…] None of these resolutions correspond to existing devices. The iPhone 12 mini has an extra surprise in store. Just like the iPhone 6+, 6S+, 7+ and 8+, an app running on the iPhone 12 mini renders at a different resolution to what is actually shown on screen.

Jonathan:

So Apple seem to have forgotten they said last year apps will now always display at the native resolution of future devices 🤷‍♂️

Keith Harrison:

Here’s a recap of what you need to know to update your Apps for the new devices.

[…]

There’s one more curiosity with the iPhone 12 mini. The safe area inset at the top of the device is slightly larger than the height of the status bar.

Previously:

Evolution of the Programming Languages From iPhone OS 1.0 to iOS 14

Alexandre Colucci:

In this new article, I will answer this question by measuring the total number of binaries in iOS. I will go one step further and also count the number of binaries using other programming languages: Objective-C, C++ and C.

Finally to be as complete as possible, I ran this analysis on all major iOS releases, from iPhone OS 1.0 to iOS 14. This will provide a detailed overview of the evolution of the different programming languages over more than a decade of iOS development.

[…]

iPhone OS 1.0 contained less binaries than the number of binaries in iOS 14.0 using Swift.

[…]

The number of binaries using Objective-C is still growing with each iOS release.

Looking at the graph, it’s scary to contemplate just how much iOS has grown. So much new code, so many potential new interactions. As with macOS, we can lament the shocking number of bugs that go unfixed, even unacknowledged, but it’s also a wonder that it works at all.

Previously:

Update (2020-10-20): Malcolm Hall:

Recent heavy use of stubs might be skewing the numbers. E.g. On iOS 14 the staged apps are now stubs for an app framework in the dyld cache so you might have counted the app twice or maybe three times.

Pure Programming

gazzini (via ChrisLTD):

I used to joke, back then, that I was a professional App Store rules explainer, because in every role, I was constantly explaining to peers, managers, and clients why we couldn’t build X because it violated Apple’s terms & conditions. I just wanted to build what our users wanted, but instead we debated endlessly about what Apple might allow. Even then, we’d still occasionally be punished by a frivolous rejection, moving us to the back of the app-review line.

But Apple isn’t the villain here – this is a large industry trend. The entire internet is increasingly burdened by various governments, corporations, and everything in-between.

[…]

In-app purchases. Email verification w/ various “unsubscribe” options. Sign-in with X. DUNS numbers. Applying for AWS Service Limit increases to send any emails. These “table-stakes” features are a real drag on productivity because… well, because they’re no fun to develop! It’s energizing to solve real problems, and draining to solve fake problems.

Previously:

Friday, October 16, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Apple Watch With Family Setup

Dan Seifert:

The most interesting thing is Apple’s new Family Setup service, which lets parents provision an Apple Watch for their kids to use. They can choose what apps and services their kids can access, who they can call or send messages to, and track their location through GPS. Even if you’re not a parent, the new Family Setup service is interesting because it gives us an idea of what a truly standalone Apple Watch could be.

For the past few weeks, I’ve strapped an Apple Watch SE to my eight-year-old child to see what the new Family Setup service is like to use in the real world (or at least as real of an experience as I can get in the middle of pandemic lockdown). Here’s what I’ve learned.

Avoiding AppleScript Security and Privacy Requests

Armin Briegel:

Since macOS Mojave, the Security and Privacy controls restricts sending and receiving AppleEvents. A given process can only send events to a different process with user approval. Users can manage the inter-application approvals in the Privacy tab of the Security & Privacy preference pane.

I ran into another case today where macOS failed to auto-add a checkbox under Automation so that the user could approve communication between two apps. There remains no way to manually add an app to give it permission. The only solution seems be to reset the privacy database and hope that macOS will add the checkbox the next time the app tries to communicate.

Over time, even though the underlying problem with hidden dialog has been fixed, this practice has persisted. You often even see AppleScript code use this with commands other than user interaction, where it wouldn’t have made sense in the first place. With the privacy restrictions in macOS Mojave, this practice has become actively trouble some, as you are sending the display dialog (or other) command to a separate process. The process running this script will require approval to send events to “System Events.”

[…]

Even after you have considered the above options to avoid sending AppleEvents to another process, there will still be several situations where it is necessary. […] MacAdmins can pre-approve AppleEvents (and most other privacy areas) between certain processes with a Privacy Preferences Policy Control (PPPC) configuration profile. PPPC profiles can only be managed when pushed from a user-approved or automatically enrolled MDM.

Previously:

Local Network Privacy FAQ

Quinn:

I regularly get asked questions about local network privacy. This is my attempt to collect together the answers for the benefit of all. Before you delve into the details, familiarise yourself with the basics by watching WWDC 2020 Session 10110 Support local network privacy in your app.

Via Peter Steinberger:

Including gems such as: “Receiving an incoming UDP multicast or broadcast does not currently require local network access but, because we hope to change that in a future update, our advice right now is that you write your code as if did”

Chrome Exempts Google Sites From User Site Data Settings

Jeff Johnson:

In Google Chrome’s “Cookies and site data” settings, accessible via the Preferences menu item or directly with chrome://settings/cookies in the address bar, you can enable the setting “Clear cookies and site data when you quit Chrome”. However, I’ve discovered that Chrome exempts Google’s own sites, such as Search and YouTube, from this setting.

[…]

Some people are going to read this article and say “Use Safari instead of Chrome!” But it’s important to note that Safari doesn’t even have the feature to clear site data on quit, so Safari is actually worse.

Update (2020-10-20): See also: Hacker News.

Update (2020-10-22): Jeff Johnson:

Someone on Hacker News indicated that this Chromium commit yesterday is the fix for my bug.

If so, the bug was introduced into Chromium 5 months ago and apparently shipped in Chrome 85 about 2 months ago.

Jeff Johnson:

So, it seems that Google actually shipped a partial fix today.

In my testing it’s fixed in Chrome 86.0.4240.111 for youtube.com but still broken for google.com

Steve Jobs Stories

Drew McCormack:

Steve’s anniversary was a few days ago. I always pause, at least for a moment, to remember how great those times were after his return to Apple in 1996. A rollercoaster that convinced me to leave my secure job in the scientific community, and risk everything on something new they were calling “apps”.

[…]

That’s when I got the order. I would receive details of all Mental Case purchase orders in my email inbox. (Yes, there were so few I could read them all individually.) This one was different, because I recognized the name immediately.

[…]

I have no idea if this was the real Steve Jobs on the line, or just a carefully crafted practical joke. (I don’t think the information about treatment in Missouri was even common knowledge at that time.) But I like to think it really was Steve, bored in his hospital bed, recovering from surgery, and just browsing through apps to see where the wind was blowing.

Chris Hynes:

I worked right on the hallway where he hiked between buildings, so it was very common to see him. A few days after the bicycle incident, we were walking towards each other in the hall.

He looked at me, ducked his head, and did the same apologetic gesture with his hand. I couldn’t believe he remembered. He did this duck and wave about a dozen times in the next month or so. Then one time he passed me with a grin on his face and just said “Hey”

Perhaps he felt he had done enough apologizing.

Previously:

Thursday, October 15, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

The Developer Experience Gap

Stephen O’Grady (via Hacker News):

Fragmentation makes it impossible for vendors to natively supply the requisite components for a fully integrated toolchain. That does not change the reality, however, that developers are forced to borrow time from writing code and redirect it towards managing the issues associated with highly complex, multi-factor developer toolchains held together in places by duct tape and baling wire. This, then, is the developer experience gap. The same market that offers developers any infrastructure primitive they could possibly want is simultaneously telling them that piecing them together is a developer’s problem.

Thoughts on the App Store

Riley Testut:

As a user, I love the App Store and would hate to see it become less important to iOS. In practice though, the current App Store situation has some significant problems which are getting harder and harder to ignore — several of which Congress’ antitrust report explicitly call out, such as requiring developers to implement in-app purchases or risk being thrown out of the App Store. I’ve wrestled with these two seemingly conflicting notions for a long time, but after running an alternative app store for the past year I’ve finally been able solidify my thoughts on what I believe is best for the platform.

So to celebrate AltStore’s first birthday, I decided to finally write up my thoughts on the App Store — including why I went through all this effort in the first place and why I believe sideloading is ultimately the right long-term solution for iOS.

[…]

12 years on, it’s clear that while band-aids can be applied to the App Store Guidelines every few years or so to quell developer dissent, the underlying philosophy that Apple maintains sole discretion over which apps are allowed to run on its platform is showing its age.

Previously:

Deliveries Switches to Subscription

Ryan Christoffel:

Deliveries, the package tracking app for iOS and Mac, has received a strong update today with a wide variety of quality of life improvements. There’s nothing huge or flashy here, but the sum of the many small changes should help Deliveries continue being one of the best and easiest ways to track that steady stream of packages heading your way.

Joe Rossignol:

A subscription will unlock all features of the app across the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch, with pricing to be set at 99 cents per month or $4.99 per year through the App Store.

Deliveries until now has been a one-time purchase, with iOS and macOS versions of the app each costing $4.99.

Junecloud:

For those who purchased Deliveries before subscriptions were available, most of the features from earlier versions are included without a subscription. You will need a subscription to sync with Junecloud, and for new features we add in the future.

You’ll get a complimentary subscription for up to 18 months from the date you purchased the app. If you bought the app more than 18 months ago, your complimentary subscription will end February 1, 2021.

iCloud sync is free, however.

Previously:

A Warning About Glassdoor

his_rotundity_ (via Hacker News):

I have a very close family member that works for Glassdoor. I spoke to this person and found out that a strategic repositioning, if you will, for Glassdoor is that they are trying to become a PR company of sorts, so they are focusing on brand management for companies. As a result, they are getting very aggressive with negative review-takedowns while allowing very obviously fraudulent positive reviews to remain the same.

shiftpgdn:

I worked at a mid sized company that was going through a very rough patch (right before the inevitable bankruptcy.) During this time I got a call from a Glassdoor rep who explicitly offered to remove bad reviews in exchange for us moving to a high paid tier and putting up X amount of job listings.

Glassdoor is just corporate Yelp.

See also: Quora.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Faster Xcode Updates

Igor Kulman (via Cédric Luthi):

Installing Xcode from the Mac App Store might seem like a convenient way to do so but it is too slow and inflexible. You cannot use the Mac App Store to install multiple version of Xcode at the same time if you need them, like when testing with a Xcode beta for an upcoming iOS release. Download from the Mac App Store is incredibly slow and sometimes not even available for days after release (like 11.2.1).

[…]

Downloading Xcode from the Apple Developer Portal is faster than using the Mac App Store, but it can be made even better. You just need to use the right tools.

[…]

This script downloads the given Xcode by URL from the Apple Developer Portal, but uses up to 16 separate connections to do so. You will see a significant download speed improvement.

Paul Hudson:

Pro tip: if you downloaded Xcode straight from Apple, you can use xip -x Xcode_12.1_GM_seed.xip to skip the validation step and save approximately a billion tons of CO².

And don’t forget to turn off Dropbox.

BBEdit 13.5

Bare Bones Software:

BBEdit has a new feature to protect your data: in the Text Files preferences, there is an option: “Rescue untitled documents when discarding changes”. When this option is on (as it is by default), and you close an untitled document (one that has never been saved to disk), and click “Don’t Save”, BBEdit will save a snapshot of that document’s contents to disk.

[…]

Added a command to the Palettes submenu: “Markdown Cheat Sheet”. This opens a floating window showing common Markdown constructions. Double-clicking on an item will insert it into the active document; you can also drag an item to insert it where desired.

[…]

When running on macOS 10.15 and later, there’s an additional command on the Window menu: “Move to [Display]”, where “[Display]” is the name of an eligible attached display.

I wish macOS in general had better ways of moving windows between displays and spaces. Why can’t I pick up a window, press the Mission Control hotkey, and then choose where to drop it? Instead, you have to go into Mission Control first, find the window that it just moved out from under you, and then wait for the hover animation before you can even see the other spaces.

Update (2020-10-14): It looks like macOS can do what I suggested, but only if “Displays have separate Spaces” is unchecked. Alas, I really prefer my displays to be linked on the same space.

Previously:

MagSafe 2020

Mitchel Broussard:

Apple today announced that the iPhone 12 family is gaining support for MagSafe, which will offer high-powered wireless charging as well as a new ecosystem of accessories that attach to the iPhone 12. Previously, MagSafe was Apple’s brand for the MacBook’s breakaway charging cables.

The company said that MagSafe will improve the charging experience on iPhone 12, with magnets that are optimized for alignment and efficiency, and support 15W of charging.

Alex Guyot:

Apple’s MagSafe accessory lineup starts with the MagSafe charger, a 15-watt Qi-compatible charging puck that magnetically attaches to the back of an iPhone 12 (all iPhone 12 models from the Mini to the Pro Max include MagSafe). There are also a series of new MagSafe cases which magnetically attach in the same way. These cases come in a variety of silicone colors, or in a clear design with a MagSafe circle. The magnetic connection allows the cases to be easily put on and pulled off, while staying attached during use. The case edges no longer have to bend around the front of the iPhone’s display because MagSafe is holding them in place.

Previously:

Update (2020-10-15): Robert Howard:

The new iPhone MagSafe really isn’t. The whole point of MagSafe on MacBook Pro was that it would easily breakaway and keep your laptop from crashing to the floor. But the new Mag”Safe” is strong enough to hold on a case, become a dashboard mount, etc. More like MagLock…

I think it’s going to be great, though.

Update (2020-10-19): Juli Clover:

We don’t have an iPhone 12 model on hand yet to see the actual difference between the magnetic connection of one of the new models and an existing iPhone , but just based on the marketing materials Apple has released, that magnetic ring in the iPhone is an important factor when it comes to the strength of the connection.

Even using a MagSafe-compatible iPhone 12 case from OtterBox results in a connection that’s not super strong, and it appears that OtterBox, at least, has just stuck a couple of magnets in a little insert in the case to add MagSafe functionality.

Update (2020-10-20): Jeremy Horwitz:

A size comparison of MagSafe for iPhone and the Magnetic Charging Cable for Apple Watch. To answer a common question: MagSafe is a very large puck, but does not have the weight to remain on a flat surface when you lift up the iPhone. It will need to be held down somehow.

Update (2020-10-22): Dieter Bohn:

And now, some unsolicited and frankly random and incomplete thoughts about MagSafe on the iPhone 12 now that I’ve used it.

Update (2020-10-23): Hartley Charlton:

Although Stern found that the MagSafe charger charged the iPhone 12 faster than a traditional 7.5W Qi wireless charger, it was still slower than plugging directly into a 20W charger. The 20W charger charged an empty iPhone to 50% in only 28 minutes, while the MagSafe took 1 hour.

iOS 14 and 14.1

Federico Viticci:

Second, context is necessary because despite the pandemic and rocky rollout of iOS 13 and its many updates, Apple was still able to infuse iOS and iPadOS 14 with fresh, bold ideas that are tracing a path for both platforms to follow over the next few years.

On the surface, iOS 14 will be widely regarded as the update that brought a redesigned Home Screen and a plethora of useful quality-of-life additions to the iPhone. For the first time since the iPhone’s inception, Apple is moving past the grid of icons and letting users freely place data-rich, customizable widgets on the Home Screen – a major course correction that has opened the floodgates for new categories of utilities on the App Store. In addition to the upgraded Home Screen, iOS 14 also offers welcome improvements to long-standing limitations: phone calls can now come in as unobtrusive banners; Messages borrows some of WhatsApp’s best features and now lets you reply to specific messages as well as mention users; Siri doesn’t take over the entire screen anymore. There are hundreds of smaller additions to the system and built-in apps in iOS 14, which suggests Apple spent a long time trying to understand what wasn’t working and what customers were requesting.

[…]

We can see the results of this initiative in modernized system apps that take advantage of the iPad’s display with a sidebar, multiple columns, and deeper trackpad integration – new options that every iPad app developer could (and, according to Apple, should) consider going forward. Although some of the iPad’s oft-mentioned ongoing struggles remain unaddressed in iPadOS 14 (see: multitasking and window management), Apple is embracing the iPad’s nature as a modular computer this year, and they feel comfortable leaning into lessons learned with the Mac decades ago.

John Voorhees:

Among the Club-only extras this year are three eBooks, a set of stunning, widget-friendly iPhone wallpapers, advanced shortcuts, podcast episodes, and a special edition of MacStories Weekly.

Juli Clover:

Following the introduction of the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max, Apple has released iOS and iPadOS 14.1 golden master betas for developers, with the iOS 14.1 update presumably coming pre-installed on the new iPhones at launch.

[…]

There’s no word yet on what’s included in these updates[…]

Previously:

Tuesday, October 13, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro

iPhone 12 (MacRumors, event, Hacker News):

Apple today unveiled iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini with 5G technology, ushering in a new era for the world’s best smartphone. The newly designed iPhone 12 models feature expansive edge-to-edge Super Retina XDR displays for a brighter, more immersive viewing experience, and a new Ceramic Shield front cover, providing the biggest jump in durability ever on iPhone. The Apple-designed A14 Bionic, the fastest chip in a smartphone, powers every experience on iPhone 12, and coupled with an advanced dual-camera system, delivers meaningful new computational photography features and the highest quality video in a smartphone. iPhone 12 models also introduce MagSafe, offering high-powered wireless charging and an all-new ecosystem of accessories that easily attach to iPhone.

iPhone 12 Pro (MacRumors):

The Apple-designed A14 Bionic chip, the fastest chip in a smartphone, powers impressive computational photography features including the all-new Apple ProRAW for more creative control in photos, and enables the first end-to-end Dolby Vision video experience, up to 60 fps. The reimagined pro camera systems include an expansive Ultra Wide camera, a Telephoto camera with an even longer focal length on iPhone 12 Pro Max, and new Wide cameras to capture beautiful professional-quality images and video in bright and low-light environments. iPhone 12 Pro models also introduce a new LiDAR Scanner for immersive augmented reality (AR) experiences[…]

First, I love the return of the flat sides, last available on a flagship phone in 2013. This should make it more comfortable to hold without a case.

I’m happy to see the mini, although I have doubts about the battery life and adjusting to a smaller screen. These days, all the software is designed for larger screens. I wish it were available with the Pro camera. Compared with the iPhone 5s, the iPhone 12 mini is 0.31 inches taller, 0.22 inches wider, 0.01 inches thinner, and 0.81 ounces heavier.

I’m disappointed with the display resolutions of the new phones. The iPhone 12 Pro Max is way too big for me to carry, and all the other models display less on screen than the iPhone XR that I currently use. This reduction is larger than the increase that Apple touted between the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro. I would much rather have the higher resolution than OLED.

iPhone ModelWidthHeight
5s/SE320 pts568 pts
8/SE 2375 pts667 pts
11 Pro/12 mini (scaled)375 pts812 pts
12/12 Pro390 pts844 pts
XR/11/11 Pro Max414 pts896 pts
12 Pro Max428 pts926 pts

Other thoughts:

Sebastiaan de With:

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro have seemingly the same sensor as the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro.

For the 12 (and 12 Pro): The main ("Wide") camera lets in 27% more light thanks to a new lens with a f/1.6 aperture.

For the 12 Pro Max, though, you now get a new sensor that is significantly larger with a faster (better) lens.

[…]

Smart HDR 3 now takes scenes apart to prevent its teething issue of over-smoothing faces vs. preventing noise in dark areas. Deep Fusion and Night Mode are coming to all the lenses; likely because of the extra processing power of the A14 chip.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Apparently the iPhone 12 mini uses the same screen resolution as the 5.8” iPhones, according to the iOS Simulator, which makes this a 495ppi iPhone UI. The actual device screen resolution is 476ppi, which suggests everything will run scaled

[…]

6.1" iPhone models this year don’t get a ‘Plus-style’ layout, despite the 6.1" model last year doing so.

Previously:

Update (2020-10-14): Sebastiaan de With:

As we said before, we really expect to see the greatest leaps in photographic improvement on phone cameras to come in software.

Brian Barrett:

How far has phone-size creep gone? Look no further than the iPhone 12 Mini’s introduction. “With its amazing size, it fits in the palm of your hand,” said Apple vice-president of marketing Kaiann Drance in Tuesday’s promotional video. Imagine that: A phone. That fits. In your hand.

Kate Matthews (via Rahul Gaitonde):

Here’s a version of my iPhone sizes sketch with the ghost of the original SE, if anyone wants that size comparison.

Jason Snell (Hacker News):

It’s embarrassing that Apple is hiding the real price of the iPhone 12. More troubling is the suggestion that Apple is now happy to join forces with its carrier partners to play marketing games—not just with the price of the iPhone 12 and 12 mini, but with the embarrassing amount of screen time Apple gave to Verizon’s CEO on Tuesday so he could flog his company’s 5G network.

Jesper:

First, Apple’s come a long way from calling carriers “orifices”. Without checking, Verizon probably got more stage time than the lidar in the iPhone 12 Pro, where it assists autofocus and plays a big role in magically making photos work out even for people who have never knowingly 3D scanned something in their life. But more importantly, the sense I’ve got is that 5G isn’t a dud technology but that it really only provides its advantages in areas where it’s really well built out.

Nick Heer:

As I have written for years now, the way 5G is being sold to the public is wildly disproportionate to the actual day-to-day impact it will have on most of us most of the time. At the moment, 5G is largely a useful buzzword for when you want billions of dollars in tax breaks, a shortcut for newspapers to seem more technologically advanced, and a way to eat up phone batteries at speeds slower than LTE.

Mark Sullivan:

I thought Apple, with its marketing prowess, would finally make me understand the importance of having 5G on my phone. But after watching its press event for the first 5G iPhones on Tuesday, I remain unconvinced and unlikely to upgrade from my iPhone 11.

Dieter Bohn:

The problem with 5G is that it’s not good yet. In a comprehensive, US-wide test of 5G speeds, PC Mag found them seriously lacking. In many cases 5G speeds were actually slower than 4G speeds. And the study also found that the other hyped-up reason for 5G, low latency, also isn’t here yet.

See also: Ryan Jones.

Update (2020-10-15): Riccardo Mori:

After watching the Apple event from yesterday, my impression is that Everything is a Remix would have been a more fitting title than Hi, Speed.

MacRumors (via Michael Love):

A spokesperson for T-Mobile has informed MacRumors that the carrier will also have iPhone 12 offers that will go live on Apple’s website on Friday, the day that pre-orders of the devices begin.

Joe Rossignol:

Benchmark results for the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max are beginning to surface on Geekbench, and based on the scores available so far, the new A14 Bionic chip is over 20 percent faster than its A13 predecessor in iPhone 11 Pro models.

Joe Cieplinski:

I don’t want a small phone that is also a “budget” phone, in other words. I want a top-of-the-line phone that happens to be small.

[…]

For at least a few hours, I was truly torn about which phone to get.

But in the end, how could I not get the mini?

I would love to have a better camera in a hypothetical Pro mini. But, given the available choices, I’ve come to the same conclusion..

Update (2020-10-19): Thomas Brand:

Apple is removing the charger and headphones from all iPhones, even models released years ago, and the price remains the same.

John Gruber:

Herewith, I believe, is the full accounting of the differences between the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max, camera by camera[…]

[…]

Apple’s upcoming ProRAW features — which will enable shooting RAW images using the built-in Camera app and a bunch of new APIs for third-party camera and photo-editing apps — are exclusive to the 12 Pro models.

When you consider the camera specs alone, that seems like pure marketing spite. All iPhone 12 models have the A14 SoC with the same CPU, GPU, and Neural Engine. But there might be a technical reason ProRAW is limited to the iPhone 12 Pro models: according to the latest version of Xcode, the 12 Pro models have 50 percent more RAM than the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini (6 GB vs. 4 GB). It seems reasonable to assume that ProRAW and 60 FPS Dolby Vision encoding are RAM-hungry features. But because Apple never ever talks about RAM in iOS devices, even in the small print of their advertised tech specs, this comes across as purely marketing-driven differentiation.

[…]

But I think a non-Pro iPhone Max model, in particular, would be really popular, because I think a lot of people desire big-ass phones solely for the display size. And I think Apple doesn’t make it because a lot of people who really care that much about having the largest possible display will just pay the premium for the Pro Max. This product strategy is true for the iPad and MacBook lineups, too — Apple’s biggest displays are only in its “Pro” models.

A14 Bionic

Chris Velazco (via MacRumors):

At a high level, the A14 seems similar to Apple’s other Bionic chipsets. This system-on-a-chip packs a six-core CPU — two cores high-performance cores and four for lower-priority tasks — just as the A12 and A13 did. The number of GPU cores here has also remained unchanged at four. Don’t be fooled by these passing similarities, though: Because the A14 was designed for a 5nm manufacturing process, there’s more going on in this system-on-a-chip than ever before.

[…]

Unsurprisingly, this year’s Neural Engine is a far cry from the first one we saw in 2017. While that original co-processor could perform 600 billion operations per second, last year’s A13 raised the bar to 6 trillion operations in the same amount of time. Meanwhile, the A14 generally obliterates the bar by performing a claimed 11 trillion operations per second.

[…]

Apple hasn’t yet issued claims about the A14 Bionic’s performance improvements over last year’s A13 Bionic -- expect more on that during the company’s upcoming keynote. (A set of leaked benchmarks suggests some healthy gains over last year’s chipset, though some are less than impressed.) When Apple revealed the new iPad Air, though, it did say the A14’s CPU was up to 40 percent faster than the previous model, and that people could expect up to a 30 percent increase in graphics performance.

Upgrade:

Jason and Myke interview Apple's Tim Millet and Tom Boger about the new iPad Air and Apple silicon.

HomePod mini

Apple (MacRumors, Hacker News):

Apple today unveiled HomePod mini, the newest addition to the HomePod family that delivers impressive sound, the intelligence of Siri to get things done, and a smart home experience that offers comfort and convenience without complexity. At just 3.3 inches tall, HomePod mini is packed with innovative technologies and advanced software that together enable computational audio to deliver breakthrough audio quality wherever it is placed. HomePod mini will be available in white and space gray at a great price of just $99.

The weak link is Siri.

Monday, October 12, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Spotify Not Playing Fair

SongShift Team (also: MacRumors):

The Spotify Developer Platform Team reached out and let us know we’d need to remove transferring from their service to a competing music service or have our API access revoked due to TOS violation.

Spotify only wants you to use the API to import, not to export. The mixlib app is also affected (via Olivier Simard-Casanova).

Even putting aside that this sort of API restriction is bad for customers, you’d think that Spotify would have its eye on the bigger picture of not undermining its argument about fairness.

Jason Snell:

Spotify hates how Apple tends its own ecosystem, but it has zero interest in allowing its customers to migrate metadata in any way that might make it more convenient to leave Spotify behind. That’s their decision to make, of course, but for a company that claims to support consumer freedom, it has just made a hypocritical decision designed to reduce the freedom of its own customers.

Previously:

Update (2020-10-14): Damien Petrilli:

Until there is a regulation to prevent Apple to integrate Apple Music so tightly to iOS it’s probably safer for Spotify to prevent easy migration.

[…]

It’s like asking to play fair in a game where all other players cheat and respect no rule.

Update (2020-10-22): SongShift (via Petr Zvoníček):

Spotify has updated their Developer TOS to allow transferring your playlists from their service, just not the ones created by them.

Rust After the Honeymoon

Bryan Cantrill (Hacker News):

So Rust is going really well for us at Oxide, but for the moment I want to focus on more personal things — reasons that I personally have enjoyed implementing in Rust. These run the gamut: some are tiny but beautiful details that allow me to indulge in the pleasure of the craft; some are much more profound features that represent important advances in the state of the art; and some are bodies of software developed by the Rust community, notable as much for their reflection of who is attracted to Rust (and why) as for the artifacts themselves. It should also be said that I stand by absolutely everything I said two years ago; this is not as a replacement for that list, but rather a supplement to it.

Epic Denied Preliminary Injunction for Fortnite

Juli Clover (also: Hacker News):

A California judge today denied Epic Gamesrequest for a preliminary injunction that would have required Apple to allow Fortnite back into the App Store, which means the app will continue to remain unavailable on Apple’s iOS platform for the duration of the legal battle between the two companies.

While the Fortnite app for iOS devices will not be reinstated into the App Store , Epic did successfully win an order that will require Apple to continue to allow Epic to operate its Unreal Engine developer account.

Florian Mueller:

While the TRO was a pre-PI decision, the PI is preliminary to a hypothetical permanent injunction that may or may not come down after the bench trial to be held in Oakland in May 2021. Whoever loses will likely appeal, and then it’s another question whether a permanent injunction coming down at that point will or will not continue to be enforced.

[…]

The PI order gives both parties some guidance as to where they bear the burden of proof and on what aspects of the case they must do more going forward. For instance, Apple will later have to convince the court that what its app distribution terms are designed to achieve cannot be achieved with softer rules. Only Epic, however, is told that “adamant[ly]” taking unreasonable, “baffling” positions has already made it lose some of its credibility with Judge Gonzalez Rogers.

Arguing that the hotfix to introduce direct payment was not deceptive seems like an unforced error.

Previously:

MacUpdate Acquired by Clario

Thomas Reed:

Just learned that MacUpdate was purchased by the company that makes MacKeeper in July. 👀

Andrew Okhota:

MacUpdate has announced its new ownership as part of Clario. There will be no change to MacUpdate as a platform and no change to MacUpdate community teams and management. Clario will invest in MacUpdate to provide an even safer environment for downloads and support an improved experience for the MacUpdate community.

Previously:

Apple’s New Map: U.S. Territories, Ireland/U.K.

Justin O’Beirne:

On April 9th, 2020, Apple’s new map expanded to a number of U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands[…]

Justin O’Beirne (MacRumors):

On October 1, 2020, Apple’s new map expanded to Ireland and the United Kingdom[…]

This is the ninth time that Apple has expanded its new map since its public launch in September 2018. And it’s also the first time that Apple has expanded its new map outside of the United States[…]

Nick Heer:

Look Around is uniquely interesting. It is the first attempt in a long time at building a true competitor to Google Street View. Microsoft’s Bing Maps has a “street level” view, but it lacks imagery for Calgary, and its last update in Vancouver occurred about eleven years ago. Meanwhile, I’ve seen Apple’s cars roaming around different cities in Alberta for about a year now.

Previously:

Friday, October 9, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Google v. Oracle at Supreme Court

Timothy B. Lee:

The Supreme Court’s eight justices on Wednesday seemed skeptical of Google’s argument that application programming interfaces (APIs) are not protected by copyright law. The high court was hearing oral arguments in Google’s decade-long legal battle with Oracle. Oracle argues that Google infringed its copyright in the Java programming language when it re-implemented Java APIs for use by Android app developers.

John Gruber:

My gut feeling is that Google is in the right here — APIs should not be copyrightable — but that they utterly failed to make the argument in a clear way.

See also: Miguel de Icaza, Florian Mueller (3, 4).

Charles Duan:

Readers of this site no doubt know that Oracle’s arguments in its lawsuit against Google, set to be argued in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, could spell disaster for the computer industry, by turning the act of reimplementing an API into copyright infringement. Back in January, I revealed in an Ars Technica piece that it could even spell disaster for Oracle itself, because Oracle’s cloud storage service reimplements Amazon’s S3 API. Oracle did not dispute my findings but shrugged them off, claiming Amazon had granted permission. I was skeptical, but at the time did not have hard evidence to prove a negative that Oracle had no license.

I’ve now found the evidence for why Oracle should be worried. And more importantly, it shows why every tech company and startup should be worried about the Google v. Oracle case.

Previously:

Apple Forces Telegram to Close Channels Run by Belarus Protestors

Scott Chipolina (via Old Unix Geek, Hacker News):

Apple is requesting that Telegram shut down three channels used in Belarus to expose the identities of individuals belonging to the Belarusian authoritarian regime that may be oppressing civilians.

[…]

These channels are a tool for Belarus’ citizens protesting the recently rigged presidential election, but, with a centralized entity like Apple calling the shots on its own App Store, there’s little the protesters can do about it.

Previously:

Update (2020-10-12): Pavel Durov (via Hacker News):

Apple released a statement saying they didn’t want us to take down the 3 channels run by the Belarusian protestors, but just specific posts “disclosing personal information.

This sly wording ignores the fact that channels like @karatelibelarusi and @belarusassholes consist entirely of personal information of violent oppressors and those who helped rig the elections – because that is why those channels exist.

By hiding their demands with vague language, Apple is trying to avoid the responsibility of enforcing their own rules. It is understandable: according to this poll, over 94% of Belarusian users think the channels that made Apple worry should be left alone.

Previously, when removing posts at Apple’s request, Telegram replaced those posts with a notice that cited the exact rule limiting such content for iOS users. However, Apple reached out to us a while ago and said our app is not allowed to show users such notices because they were “irrelevant”.

Alex Stamos:

I had been looking forward to next week’s new batch of iPhones for a while, but thanks to Apple’s increasingly unethical use of DRM to enforce their rules and support of authoritarian regimes, I gotta consider moving the entire family to the Android ecosystem.

Stefan Esser:

In this comment it was said that Apple told Telegram to censor the info that certain posts had to be removed due to Apple. Standard apple monopoly practice. When we released SysSecInfo Apple bullied us into removing features and they forbid us to inform users about it.

Previously:

Update (2020-10-15): John Gruber (tweet, Hacker News, AppleInsider):

This has nothing to do with relevance and everything to do with convenience. I’ve said it before and will adamantly say it again: it is prima facie wrong that one of the rules of the App Store is that an app is not allowed to explain the rules of the App Store. I’m hard pressed to think of an exception to this conviction, not just on Apple’s App Store, but in any sphere of life — whether a harmless game or the administration of the law.

saagarjha:

My own experience with this was that once I included a description of an OS bug I worked around in the changelog of my apps and the reviewers made me remove it with almost exactly the same verbiage–I can’t remember if they actually said “irrelevant” but the summary was “this information is not useful to your users”.

My experience has also been that you’re not allowed to mention OS bugs in release notes, even if they were officially reported via Radar and acknowledged there by Apple. “Irrelevant” basically means “potentially embarrassing to Apple.”

David Heinemeier Hansson:

Apple reaching inside communication apps to tell the maker what users can and cannot posts is 🍌. Apple then asking that their censorship is kept private is 🤯. Apple justifying their prohibition on notices because they’re “irrelevant” is positively 1984.

Phones are the primary computing device for the majority of people today. It’s completely insane that we’ve arrived at a place where two companies can dictate what can be said or installed on those devices.

Remote Work and Apple and Microsoft

AppleInsider:

Apple CEO Tim Cook participated in an interview as part of The Atlantic Festival on Monday, where he discussed a range of topics from climate change to remote work and the company's antitrust troubles.

Mark Gurman (Hacker News):

Cook said he doesn’t believe Apple will “return to the way we were because we’ve found that there are some things that actually work really well virtually.”

Bloomberg’s headline is “Apple CEO Impressed by Remote Work, Sees Permanent Changes,” but it does not actually sound to me like Cook is changing much.

Juli Clover:

As for the shift to working from home for many Apple employees, Cook said “it’s not like being together physically” and that he can’t wait for “everybody to be able to come back,” confirming that Apple is not going to be one of those companies that lets employees work from home long term.

Tom Warren:

Microsoft is allowing some of its employees to work from home permanently. While the vast majority of Microsoft employees are still working from home during the ongoing pandemic, the software maker has unveiled “hybrid workplace” guidance internally to allow for far greater flexibility once US offices eventually reopen.

See also: 1Password (Hacker News).

Previously:

Sunsetting Google Play Music

Google:

YouTube Music is the new home for your music. Starting in September, we will close the Music store on Google Play.

Starting in October, users will begin losing access to the Google Play Music app.

To keep your Play Music library, including your purchases, you can transfer to YouTube Music or download any music that you’ve purchased via Google Takeout.

[…]

After the Play Music app goes away, the transfer tool will be available for a minimum of 30 days

Previously:

BitBar Needs a Developer

Jason Snell:

Hey developer friends, it has come to my attention that BitBar development has stopped. I love this app and maybe you do too? If anyone is interested in keeping it afloat (and getting it to work well with Big Sur), here’s a github thread.

See also: How bad is the air out there?.

Previously:

Thursday, October 8, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

ProtonMail Forced to Add IAP

Sean Hollister:

But also, one app developer revealed to Congress that it — just like WordPress — had been forced to monetize a largely free app. That developer testified that Apple had demanded in-app purchases (IAP), even though Apple had approved its app without them two years earlier — and that when the dev dared send an email to customers notifying them of the change, Apple threatened to remove the app and blocked all updates.

That developer was ProtonMail, makers of an encrypted email app, and CEO Andy Yen had some fiery words for Apple in an interview with The Verge this week.

[…]

Yen tells me there was a month-long period where ProtonMail couldn’t update its app at all, even for security reasons, and Apple was threatening to remove the app if his company continued to delay. So ProtonMail decided to raise the cost of its entire service on iOS by roughly 26 percent to satisfy Apple’s needs, eating the rest itself.

[…]

Apple’s own head of app review from 2009 to 2016, spoke to Congress for its bombshell antitrust report, too. He testified that Apple’s senior executives would find pretexts to remove apps from the store[…]

Recall that Tim Cook told Congress that Apple had only exempted additional categories of apps from fees and that Apple does not retaliate or bully developers.

Jason Snell:

The more consistent the stories, the less Apple can claim this was all just a big misunderstanding.

Previously:

Update (2020-10-09): See also: MacRumors.

Date Format Change in App Store Receipts

Frank Illenberger:

After some sweat and tears we have found the reason for the installation failures in the Mac App Store: At some point in the last weeks, Apple has changed the format of the date values in its ASN.1 receipt files.

They used to look like “2020-10-03T07:12:34Z”. Now they added millisceonds like in “2020-10-03T07:12:34.567Z”. Apple’s specification only states that dates follow RFC 3339, which does not specify if there should be milliseconds or not.

[…]

To make it even harder, Apple still sends out receipts containing dates WITHOUT milliseconds if an app has been originally bought before October.

Daniel Jalkut:

More on this: as far as I can tell the documented IAP dates are still returning dates that don’t have milliseconds. I don’t think there is a documented date field for Mac App Store receipts for the main app, as installed in the app binary.

These are the documented fields for local (on a Mac) receipt validation.

For server side receipt validation, there are host of other fields, including one that exposes the original purchase date in timestamp format.

Rosyna Keller:

The dates on the receipt documentation pages all mention they’re in ISO 8601, so you’d want to use that data formatter to read them instead of specifying an entirely manual, hand-crafted format string.

Hilariously, the documentation only promises that the date format will be “similar to the ISO 8601.”

Pádraig Kennedy:

A base ISO8601DateFormatter will parse the non-ms version only. To avoid this issue, devs would have to make two date parsers and try them one after another.

Daniel Jalkut:

If anybody thinks ISO8601 datetime strings are a well-defined format, here’s the code in @MarsEdit that handles ISO8601 dates from various blogging platforms.

Previously:

We Hacked Apple for 3 Months

Sam Curry (via Steve Troughton-Smith, Hacker News):

Between the period of July 6th to October 6th myself, Brett Buerhaus, Ben Sadeghipour, Samuel Erb, and Tanner Barnes worked together and hacked on the Apple bug bounty program.

[…]

During our engagement, we found a variety of vulnerabilities in core portions of their infrastructure that would’ve allowed an attacker to fully compromise both customer and employee applications, launch a worm capable of automatically taking over a victim’s iCloud account, retrieve source code for internal Apple projects, fully compromise an industrial control warehouse software used by Apple, and take over the sessions of Apple employees with the capability of accessing management tools and sensitive resources.

There were a total of 55 vulnerabilities discovered with 11 critical severity, 29 high severity, 13 medium severity, and 2 low severity reports.

Most have already been fixed.

One example:

During testing the iCloud application we noticed that you could open up certain attachments from the iCloud mail application in the iCloud pages application via the “Open in Pages” functionality. When you submitted the form to do this, it sent an HTTP request containing a URL parameter which included the URL of the mail file attachment in the request.[…] If you attempted to modify this URL to something arbitrary[…] Our proof of concept for this report was demonstrating we could read and access Apple’s internal maven repository which contained the source code for what appeared to be hundreds of different applications, iOS, and macOS.

Brandon Azad:

It’s with both bittersweet sadness and excitement that I say goodbye to Project Zero, as I’ll be joining Apple next week to continue my work improving Apple device security.

Previously:

Update (2020-10-09): Sam Curry:

Within the article I’d mentioned that Apple had not yet paid for all of the vulnerabilities. Right after publishing it, they went ahead and paid for 28 more of the issues making the running total $288,500.

Swift “Algorithms” Package

Nate Cook:

I’m excited to announce Swift Algorithms, a new open-source package of sequence and collection algorithms, along with their related types.

Algorithms are powerful tools for thought because they encapsulate difficult-to-read and error-prone raw loops. The Algorithms package includes a host of powerful, generic algorithms frequently found in other popular programming languages. We hope this new package will help people embrace algorithms, improving the correctness and performance of their code.

[…]

It’s our ambition for the standard library to include a rich, pragmatic set of generic algorithms. We think the Algorithms package can help realize this goal by serving as a low-friction venue to build out new families of related algorithms—giving us an opportunity to iteratively explore the problem space and learn how different algorithms connect and interact—before graduating them into the standard library.

I love how each one is documented and includes links to the source and tests.

Previously:

Windows XP Source Code Leaked

Dan Thorp-Lancaster:

Alleged source code for Windows XP leaked online this week. The leak was spread in a thread on the anonymous forum 4chan, which linked to archives of both the alleged Windows XP source code along with source code for other Microsoft products. Notably, the archive includes the Windows NT 3.5 and original Xbox source code dumps that appeared online in May.

[…]

If the leak is legitimate, it could expose any remaining Windows XP-based systems to new attacks. However, Microsoft hasn’t supported Windows XP in any meaningful way since it reached its end-of-support date in 2014, which marked the end of security updates for the aging operating system.

[…]

Interestingly, while this would be the first time Windows XP source code has gone public, Microsoft already shares its code with governments and university researchers around the world.

Tom Warren (via Hacker News, MacRumors):

Microsoft created a secret Windows XP theme that made the operating system look more like a Mac. A recent Windows XP source code leak has revealed Microsoft’s early work on the operating system and some unreleased themes the company created during its early XP development back in 2000.

One is labeled “Candy” and includes a design that closely resembles Apple’s Aqua interface that was first introduced at the Macworld Conference & Expo in 2000. Although the theme is incomplete, the Windows XP Start button and various buttons and UI elements are clearly themed to match Apple’s Aqua.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Apple Will Temporarily Stop Taking a 30 Percent Cut on Facebook Event Fees

Juli Clover (also: James Vincent):

Apple has decided to temporarily waive the 30 percent cut that it takes from in-app purchases for Facebook’s in-app paid event feature, reports CNBC. Facebook had accused Apple of hurting small businesses by collecting fees from the new feature, which lets users attend online classes and events through Facebook.

The policy update will pertain to ClassPass and Airbnb, two companies that are also offering new digital experiences and classes within their apps.

An Apple spokesperson said that Apple reversed its decision on the Facebook event fees due to the pandemic and a desire to give companies more time to adapt to digital business models.

The article doesn’t make it clear, but I assume that Apple means allowing external payment processing, not waiving the fees for transactions processed through the IAP system.

Steve Kovach:

Apple’s reversal comes weeks after it blocked an update to the Facebook app that displayed a warning to users that a cut of transactions for paid events would go to Apple. At the time, Facebook said Apple would not make an exception to its rules to give the full amount of the transactions to the businesses hosting the events.

[…]

The Apple spokesperson said the decision does not affect gaming companies because gaming businesses have not been hurt by the pandemic and have always been digital-only.

It seems like a special carve-out for three big companies who complained loudly.

From the House Judiciary Committee report:

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some businesses moved physical events online, often booking through an app and holding the event through a video chat application. Educators have also shifted resources online, including through apps. The New York Times reported that Apple demanded a 30% commission from these virtual class offerings. As a result, one company stopped offering virtual classes to users of its iOS app. The Times reported that Apple threatened Airbnb that it would remove its app from the App Store if Airbnb did not comply with Apple’s demand for a share of its revenues.

In interviews with Subcommittee staff, multiple app developers confirmed the The New York Times’ reporting. Airbnb spoke with Subcommittee staff and described conversations with the App Store team in which Apple said it had observed an uptick in the number of apps offering virtual classes in lieu of in-person classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, Apple began canvassing the App Store to require app developers implement IAP, entitling Apple to take 30% of in-app sales. Airbnb explained that Apple’s commission, plus compliance with Apple’s pricing tiers for in-app purchases would ultimately result in a 50-60% price increase for consumers.

[…]

At the Subcommittee’s hearing on July 29, 2020, Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) asked Mr. Cook about the allegations that Apple was canvassing the App Store to extract commissions from businesses that have been forced to change their business model in order to survive during the pandemic. Mr. Cook responded that Apple “would never take advantage” of the pandemic, but justified the conduct, explaining that the app developers were now offering what Apple defined as a “digital service” and Apple was entitled to commissions.

Previously:

House Report on Competition in Digital Markets

John Gruber:

The House Judiciary subcommittee that held a hearing with the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google back in July has issued a 449-page report on its findings and recommendations.

The report is here. Some of the parts I found interesting:

Apple’s market power is durable due to high switching costs, ecosystem lock-in, and brand loyalty. It is unlikely that there will be successful market entry to contest the dominance of iOS and Android.

[…]

In response to these concerns, Apple has not produced any evidence that the App Store is not the sole means of distributing apps on iOS devices and that it does not exert monopoly power over app distribution. Apple says it does not create—nor is it aware of third-party data—that tracks market share in the app distribution market.

[…]

Apple’s monopoly power over software distribution on iOS devices appears to allow it to generate supra-normal profits from the App Store and its Services business. Apple CEO Tim Cook set a goal in 2017 to rapidly double the size of the Services business by the end of 2020. Apple met this goal by July 2020, six months ahead of schedule.

[…]

Apple also makes some exceptions to its rules and may change or update its rules.

[…]

Industry observers have also challenged Apple’s implicit claim that the iPhone was the start of the online software distribution market.

[…]

In an interview with Subcommittee staff, Phillip Shoemaker, former director of app review for the App Store, estimated that Apple’s costs for running the App Store is less than $100 million. […] Although only estimates, these figures indicate that as the mobile app economy has grown, Apple’s monopoly power over app distribution on iPhones permits the App Store to generate supra-normal profits. These profits are derived by extracting rents from developers, who either pass on price increases to consumers, or reduce investments in innovative new services. Apple’s ban on rival app stores and alternative payment processing locks out competition, boosting Apple’s profits from a captured ecosystem of developers and consumers.

[…]

In Apple’s internal documents and communications, the company’s senior executives previously acknowledged that IAP requirement would stifle competition and limit the apps available to Apple’s customers.

Juli Clover:

Apple in a statement to MacRumors said that it strongly disagrees with the conclusions reached in the report in respect to Apple, and that Apple does not have dominant market share in categories where it does business.

See also: Hacker News, Steve Troughton-Smith, Steve Streza, Brent Simmons, Michael Love, Matt Birchler, Ben Thompson.

Previously:

Update (2020-10-09): James O’Leary:

here’s the landing page for all the docs they referenced, segmented by company

checkra1n T2 Exploit

Niels Hofmans (Hacker News, MacRumors):

The mini operating system on the T2 (SepOS) suffers from a security vulnerable also found in the iPhone 7 since it contains a processor based on the iOS A10. Exploitation of this type of processor for the sake of installing homebrew software is very actively discussed in the /r/jailbreak subreddit.

So using the checkm8 exploit originally made for iPhones, the checkra1n exploit was developed to build a semi-tethered exploit for the T2 security chip, exploiting a flaw. This could be used to e.g. circumvent activation lock, allowing stolen iPhones or macOS devices to be reset and sold on the black market.

Normally the T2 chip will exit with a fatal error if it is in DFU mode and it detects a decryption call, but thanks to the blackbird vulnerability by team Pangu, we can completely circumvent that check in the SEP and do whatever we please.

Since sepOS/BootROM is Read-Only Memory for security reasons, interestingly, Apple cannot patch this core vulnerability without a new hardware revision. This thankfully also means that this is not a persistent vulnerability, so it will require a hardware insert or other attached component such as a malicious USB-C cable.

[…]

I’ve reached out to Apple concerning this issue on numerous occasions[…]. Since I did not receive a response for weeks […] I am hereby disclosing almost all of the details. You could argue I’m not following responsible disclosure, but since this issue has been known since 2019, I think it’s quite clear Apple is not planning on making a public statement and quietly developing a (hopefully) patched T2 in the newer Macs & Silicon.

Dan Moren:

Strafach says that the T2 is indeed vulnerable to checkm8, and has been for some time, meaning that those with physical access to your computer can essentially reboot it into the device firmware upgrade (DFU) mode, and then execute arbitrary code.

However, Strafach also points out that what’s less clear is whether the arbitrary code will will last through a reboot:

DanyL:

People should really chill down regarding T2 publicly exploited. The vulnerability has been public for more than a year now and always been there on T2. Moreover, there are plenty of other vulnerabilities, including remote ones that undoubtedly have more impact on security.

If anything, our exploit enables researches to explore the internals more closely, possibly uncovering other issues that may lead to greater security on the mac; as well as allowing better repairability for otherwise pricy repairs or worse, issues Apple bluntly refuses to handle.

peterindark:

The biggest issue with this is that Apple cannot patch it via an update like most of other security issues

Update (2020-10-09): See also: Patrick Wardle.

Update (2020-10-14): Ben Lovejoy (tweet, also: MacRumors):

The T2 exploit team who found a way to take over the security chip in modern Macs has demonstrated a way to do so without user intervention — using nothing more than a modified USB-C cable.

The ad-hoc team, who call themselves Team t8012 after Apple’s internal name for the chip, believe that nation-states may already be using this approach.

The Era of Visual Studio Code

Roben Kleene:

Text editors, on the other hand, are a software category where the most popular options are not the oldest. According to the Stack Overflow Annual Developer Survey, Sublime Text was the most popular text editor available on the Mac from 2015–2017. Sublime Text was released in 2008, a sprightly youth compared to Excel and Illustrator. Text editors have been a category with a lot of movement: In the last 20 years, TextMate, Sublime Text, and Atom have all been the text editor with the most momentum. For big complicated desktop software, has any other category ever had so much movement?

I believe the era of new text editors emerging and quickly becoming popular has now ended with Visual Studio Code. VS Code has reached unprecedented levels of popularity and refinement, laying a foundation that could mean decades of market dominance.

[…]

With VS Code, the extension-based text editor has seemingly reached its final form. Ever since TextMate, extensions have increased in prominence and capabilities, and with VS Code, that progression appears to have culminated. There just isn’t anywhere else to go. Correspondingly, there isn’t a way a new text editor can leapfrog VS Code the same way previous text editors have been leapfrogging each other by improving extensions.

VS Code certainly has lots of features and extensions, but I remain quite happy with BBEdit and its Mac interface.

Previously:

Luna Display for Windows

Kickstarter:

Tens of thousands already use Luna Display for Mac and now we’re bringing that same magic to Windows. Whether you’re working remotely, looking to maximize your workspace, or seeking more creative flexibility - Luna has you covered. As the only hardware solution on the market, you can...Turn any iPad into a wireless second display for your PC or Mac[…]

Matt Ronge:

We tried to use Objective-C on Windows, it didn’t work.

[…]

Rust has been a GREAT choice for cross-platform work. Our core engine is in Rust and we use language bindings to C# (Windows) and Objective-C (Mac/iPad) for the UI.

[…]

There’s a huge opportunity outside of the Mac ecosystem. There are literally 10x as many Windows users as there are Mac users!

So we are super excited about the opportunity in front of us.

Jonathan Deutsch:

There’s a lot to the story; the interesting bit is a company once firmly entrenched in the Apple and Mac ecosystems now embraces Microsoft Windows.

It is a bright outlook: Luna’s kickstarter just hit 2x its goal.

Hell has frozen over because Apple became cold to its developers.

It’s sad to see top developers pushed to Windows. However, it makes total sense for something like Sidecar to be built into iOS and macOS. And all is not lost on macOS, since Luna Display has some advantages over Sidecar.

Previously:

Tuesday, October 6, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Stolen Instagram Account

Danny Hall (Hacker News):

TLDR: some rich kid in LA now has my Instagram account because he got his friend who works at Facebook to steal it... and nobody at Facebook or Instagram is doing anything about it

I’ve had the Instagram account @danny since it launched (10 years ago!). I guess its a pretty sought after @.

[…]

So it seems that employees with the right access at Facebook can just give your account to someone else. What’s happened to all my data? Photos, messages... 10 years of it. Does this guy in LA now have it? Has it been deleted? Will I ever get it back?

As there’s no other way to contact Facebook I’ve submitted it as a security bug in their bug bounty program but I doubt I’ll get anything other than an automated response.

WORLD_ENDS_SOON:

An interesting aspect to this story is that although there’s no real evidence that a Facebook employee was involved, it still seems like a believable explanation to many readers including many commenters here. If a company’s customer support is so bad that no one can tell the difference between being hacked and being abused by a rogue employee, does it actually matter what happened? I guess that it matters to the original poster, and I do hope that they do get their photos / account back, but in either case the message the message I’m taking away from the story same: your Facebook account could disappear tomorrow and you’d have no recourse.

After the story gained traction, he got his account back, but without any explanation. It reminds me of this story (Hacker News) of a woman losing her Kindle books:

Those friendly phone-based customer support folks couldn’t access Nygaard’s account either, and she was passed on to “account specialists” who only communicated via email. That’s when things took a Kafkaesque turn (as documented by her friend, Martin Bekkelund, on his blog). A man named Michael Murphy with Amazon UK’s “Executive Customer Relations” told Nygaard her account had been determined to be “directly related to another which has been previously closed for abuse of our policies.” Which policies? He wouldn’t say. What other account? Murphy wouldn’t share that, either.

Instead, Murphy would only pass on this shrilly authoritarian boilerplate:

Per our Conditions of Use which state in part: Amazon.co.uk and its affiliates reserve the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders at their sole discretion.Please know that any attempt to open a new account will meet with the same action.

And, of course, the stories about Apple developer accounts. The official channels just don’t seem to work.

Tom Bridge:

Does anyone know anyone at PayPal? They’ve decided to permanently limit my account.

Previously:

Update (2020-10-16): Miguelyto:

Google disabled my husband’s account and it is giving us no reason for it. Yet it asks for an appeal in a form as the only way to restore it. Appealing a decision without knowing what you’re appealing is a recipe for success.

Update (2020-10-22): Cleroth:

After over 15 years of using #google, my account has been permanently disabled without any reason given. All my emails, contacts, photos, docs, accounts connecting with google, etc.... Everything is gone. Without warning or chance of recovery. I’m at a complete loss...

In Defense of XML

Nicolas Fränkel (via John D. Cook, Hacker News):

Ever since then, it would be an euphemism to say XML has been losing in popularity. Other formats, such as JSON and YAML, have replaced it in the hearts of developers. In this post, I’d like to:

  • Explore some of the reasons why the mighty XML has fallen
  • Raise some downsides of the popular alternatives
  • And describe how XML already solved those problems

Disk Utility’s First Aid in Catalina

Howard Oakley:

The description of Disk Utility’s First Aid command therefore appears incorrect. How this currently works is that performing First Aid depends on the item which is selected. If that’s a disk, then First Aid checks and repairs at that level, including the disk’s partition map and EFI partition, not its volumes. To perform full checks on an APFS volume, you should select that volume (not its disk or container) before clicking on the First Aid tool. To check and repair all volumes in a container, you must first eject each of its volumes, then select the container and click on the First Aid tool. Or run First Aid on them individually.

This all makes sense, apart from Disk Utility’s apparent inability to unmount volumes in order to check a container, but isn’t what the user is told in the app’s Help book.

Too bad you can’t tell it to check everything all at once, or do multiple operations in separate windows, as was possible in macOS 10.10 and earlier.

Previously:

Update on Agenda’s Sales Model

Drew McCormack (tweet):

Unlike a freemium model, this is not an ála carte selection of features — it is all you can eat. When you purchase to move your unlock date forward, all features on or before that date get unlocked, forever. Customers appreciate this, because they keep what they have already paid for; and we like it, because we don’t have to support customers stuck on an old version who don’t want to pay to upgrade. And, as developers, we get to have our app in the App Stores, generating recurring income, without the negativity that often accompanies subscriptions.

[…]

It should go without saying that we are happy. We haven’t considered abandoning the Cash Cow sales model. It’s bringing in the bucks, and we receive virtually no negative feedback about it. In fact, it’s mentioned in a significant number of App Store reviews as playing a factor in a customer’s decision to purchase.

[…]

In short, the Cash Cow model keeps people engaged and using the app even when they are out-of-license, which provides us an opportunity to win their hearts, and wallets, with new feature releases. It’s a powerful aspect of the model — the app itself is your best marketing.

Previously:

MotionX-GPS to AllTrails

Earlier this year, Fullpower Technologies discontinued MotionX-GPS:

After years of offering a top-rated GPS app for the iPhone, we have made the difficult decision to remove MotionX-GPS from the iTunes App Store. We realize MotionX-GPS has a large following and those who already own MotionX-GPS will be able to continue using it. If you purchase a new iPhone in the future, you will still be able to download MotionX-GPS as long as you are signed into the App Store using the same Apple ID credentials you used when it was originally purchased.

In addition, there are some features that will no longer be supported in the app due to the infrastructure costs associated with ongoing hosting. These include:

  • Sharing waypoints or tracks with others
  • Auto Live Position Updates
  • Wikipedia Search
  • MotionX Road and MotionX Terrain map types (Apple, Google, Bing and NOAA maps will continue to be available).

Our team’s focus has shifted to the science of non-invasive contactless bio-sensing which is helping customers worldwide in improving their sleep through sleep analysis with actionable insights.

I had been using it since the early days of iOS, but with few updates and no support for newer screen sizes, the writing had been on the wall for a while. It’s a shame that they weren’t able to sustain development of what had been a very popular app. I don’t recall there being any paid upgrades.

The good news is that the app I’ve replaced it with, AllTrails, works pretty well. It has far fewer features but a more streamlined interface for the most important ones. It’s never given me any battery life trouble. Some features, like exporting, only work from the Web site. And the app itself has some bugs like sometimes redownloading the same map data you’d just viewed. The social network aspect is hit-or-miss. It’s missing tons of trails in my area, and trails that I’m familiar with often have inaccurate distances or descriptions. However, it has helped me discover some new trails that weren’t documented elsewhere, and the maps themselves are good. Hopefully, the freemium business model ($2.50/month or $29.99/year to pre-download maps, print, etc.) will keep it available.

Previously:

Monday, October 5, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Home

Jesper:

The Mac gets a lot of flack from people who are nose deep in technical specifications and price matchups. What they don’t see — or aren’t interested in — is the intangible: the culture that people with big dreams and small means have made the unconventional available, the complex seemingly simple and the advanced accessible. This culture doesn’t live or die by Apple in particular, although the original Macintosh being a product of a similar mindset helped set the tone. This culture produces things that are hard to find elsewhere, not because it’s technically impossible to do, but because the values that drive those other platforms produce different outcomes.

[…]

The culture and the people and the shared values and what it all comes together to produce. That’s why I’m still here. You can live in many houses, but not all of them will ever feel like home. I’m upset with the landlord and the building manager who ignores leaking pipes and oiled floors catching on fire while upping the rent and turning a blind eye to hustlers running Three-card Monte, but aside from that, I love the neighborhood, I love the surroundings, I love that they value the things I do and I love what it can build over time.

UK COVID-19 Cases Missed Due to Excel Glitch

James Tapsfield (also: Hacker News):

The extraordinary meltdown was caused by an Excel spreadsheet containing lab results reaching its maximum size, and failing to update. Some 15,841 cases between September 25 and October 2 were not uploaded to the government dashboard.

[…]

The problems are believed to have arisen when labs sent in their results using CSV files, which have no limits on size. But PHE then imported the results into Excel, where documents have a limit of just over a million lines.

The technical issue has now been resolved by splitting the Excel files into batches.

Alex Hern (tweet):

But while CSV files can be any size, Microsoft Excel files can only be 1,048,576 rows long – or, in older versions which PHE may have still been using, a mere 65,536. When a CSV file longer than that is opened, the bottom rows get cut off and are no longer displayed. That means that, once the lab had performed more than a million tests, it was only a matter of time before its reports failed to be read by PHE.

Excel recently turned 35, and it sounds like they were using the old .xls format that was superseded in 2003. The .xlsx format has higher limits, but even 1,048,576 rows is less than one doubling away from the 516K total cases in the UK that Google currently reports.

Previously:

Big Sur’s Hidden Document Proxy Icon

Marco Arment:

The Big Sur auto-hidden document-proxy icon is so frustrating — it hides functionality behind an invisible mode, and introduces a delay for anyone trying to use it.

How does this help usability?

What problem does this solve?

It looks cleaner in a static screenshot, and it saves a little space for another toolbar button now that the window title and toolbar are squeezed into the same row. But I miss seeing the proxy icon, too. I drag these every day (though rarely from Finder).

John Gruber:

I would definitely argue that this change makes the whole thing harder to discover in the first place. One of the neat things about document/folder proxy icons is that they’re discoverable. All it takes is a moment of inspiration, “Hey, I wonder if I can drag that icon...?”

Jason Snell:

I’m going to co-sign this. I use proxy icons all the time and Apple hiding them behind a delay and animation is infuriating.

I don’t mind the look of Big Sur but this is a regression in functionality.

Joe Groff:

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but

defaults write -g NSToolbarTitleViewRolloverDelay -float 0

Marco Arment:

People keep sending me this, but it doesn’t fix the problem — it just makes the delay shorter. (There’s still an animation delay — it just starts on hover instead of shortly after.)

It’s still a needless mode with a needless delay to achieve only the shallowest visual appeal.

Previously:

Update (2020-10-07): Daniel Jalkut:

It’s not about the Finder but about a long-standing affordance for working with the file representation of any document window. Cmd-clicking in the title is a related, priceless affordance.

Matt Birchler:

Looks like you guys were more familiar with proxy icons than I expected! It’s still a minority of a nerdy group, so I suspect it’s lower among the general public, but still, not as niche as I assumed.

5 GUIs

Joe Groff:

With its eclectic mix of AppKit, Catalyst, iOS, SwiftUI, and web apps, macOS should consider rebranding to “Five GUIs”

Helge Heß (tweet):

5 GUIs is a simple file analysis tool that detects which of these 5 GUI frameworks a Mac app uses: AppKit, SwiftUI, macOS Catalyst, UIKit or Web.

Simply drop a Mac application on 5 GUIs main window, and it’ll start detecting the GUI frameworks the application uses.

The source code, and some cheeky screenshots, are here.

Scribble in iPadOS 14

Alexander George (via Tim Hardwick):

In the newest update to iPadOS, when you write with the Apple Pencil ($129), the iPad can understand your scrawl and, with Scribble, convert it to typed text. It works like most machine learning—examples inform rules that help predict and interpret a totally new request—but taps into a smarter data set and greater computing power to do what had stumped generations of previous machines. While Alexa and Siri rely on a connection to faraway data centers to handle their processing, the iPad needs to be able to do all that work on the device itself to keep up with handwriting (and drawing—machine learning also helps the Notes app straighten out an imperfect doodle of a polygon, for example).

[…]

Federighi says that for Apple’s tech, static examples weren’t enough. They needed to see the strokes that formed each letter. “If you understand the strokes and how the strokes went down, that can be used to disambiguate what was being written.”

Previously:

Friday, October 2, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Introducing Swift Atomics

Karoy Lorentey (Hacker News):

I’m delighted to announce Swift Atomics, a new open source package that enables direct use of low-level atomic operations in Swift code. The goal of this library is to enable intrepid systems programmers to start building synchronization constructs (such as concurrent data structures) directly in Swift.

[…]

This is enabled by SE-0282, a recently accepted Swift Evolution proposal that explicitly adopted a C/C++-style memory model for Swift, and (informally) described how regular Swift code interoperates with atomic operations. In fact, most APIs in this new package come from previous incarnations of the SE-0282 proposal: they were originally developed by an extremely productive collaborative effort on the Evolution forum.

[…]

Atomic access is implemented in terms of dedicated atomic storage representations that are kept distinct from the corresponding regular (non-atomic) type. (E.g., the actual integer value underlying the counter above isn’t directly accessible.)

[…]

All atomic operations exposed by this package are guaranteed to have lock-free implementations. Lock-freedom means that the atomic operations are non-blocking – they don’t ever need to wait on the progress of some other thread to complete their own task.

Previously:

macOS Big Sur Changes for Developers

Free Pascal (via Frank Reiff):

macOS 11 Big Sur introduces many user interface changes that update the appearance of applications and make them more iOS-like. It also adds support for familiar iOS features — such as SF Symbols and text styles.

[…]

By default, toolbars are taller, window titles can display inline with controls, and toolbar items no longer include a bezel.

I’ve found that in order to get the new title bar and the preferences toolbar style, you have to build using Xcode 12. It’s not enough to set NSWindow.toolbarStyle.

Even when using the new SDK, setting NSControlSizeLarge on the view doesn’t give you the new large icon style. To get that, you need to use NSToolbarItem.bordered, which requires macOS 10.15, instead of creating the view yourself. So that means separate toolbar implementations if you want to support macOS 10.14 and earlier. Because I’m no longer creating the view myself, I had to switch from NSSegmentedControl to NSToolbarItemGroup, but unfortunately NSMenuToolbarItem doesn’t work when inside of a group.

My main Mac is still on macOS 10.14, so I’m using #if __MAC_OS_X_VERSION_MAX_ALLOWED < 101600 to make the same code compile with both Xcode 11 and Xcode 12.

Previously:

Apple Removes RSS Feed Readers From Chinese App Store

Tim Hardwick (also Slashdot):

Apple has reportedly removed two RSS feed reader apps from China’s App Store to comply with Chinese law. Fiery Feeds and Reeder both tweeted that their iOS apps had been removed in China over content that is considered “illegal” in the country.

Too bad the App Store is the only way to install iOS apps.

John Gruber:

It’s completely unclear what explains the three year gap here, and the entire policy makes no sense. Why ban feed readers but not web browsers? At a technical level, feed readers are just web browsers for RSS feeds. China’s Great Firewall should block feeds (and centralized feed aggregating sources) just as easily as it blocks websites.

Perhaps because the apps make it easier to find content when using a VPN to get around the firewall?

Previously:

Quality Management in Apple’s System Updates Over Time

Howard Oakley:

Surely the most important way to improve quality is to strengthen quality management processes throughout engineering – the principle of building it right first time, rather than expending more effort at detecting and remediating errors. Simply extending the cycle without changing quality management would be very unlikely to result in any improvement. But better quality management doesn’t entail making the cycle any longer, so cycle length is unlikely to be relevant, as was shown by Apple’s only real two-year development cycle with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.

This is right if you’re talking about the quality of next the major release when it first ships. But that’s far less important to customers than the quality at the middle and end of the release. Snow Leopard was not an unusually stable release at 10.6.0, but by 10.6.8 it was legendary, and you could keep using that version until you were happy with the state of 10.7.x. Some customers even skipped 10.7 entirely.

With the yearly release cycle, major versions no longer attain that level of refinement because development stops as Apple moves on to the next reelease. And developers are forced to upgrade earlier because taking advantage of the latest SDK requires the new version of Xcode, which requires a current version of macOS. You can now choose between the still buggy macOS 10.15.7 and the soon-to-be macOS 11.0.0, which will have issues out of the gate, as all releases do. Those are not great choices.

Nick Heer:

For the first few public releases of Mac OS X, Apple stuck to a development cycle of well under a year per release. Beginning with the Panther release in 2003, Mac OS X settled into something closer to an eighteen-month gap between x.0 public releases, with a long exception for Tiger. Then, with Mountain Lion in 2012, Apple stated that its intention was to begin releasing a new version of OS X every year; Mountain Lion had a shorter cycle than its predecessors, but it was still longer than any release after.

In all three eras of MacOS development cycles, you will find versions that are legendary for their refinement, and those which are the complete opposite.

Which recent releases are those? macOS 10.14.6 is better than any 10.15, but it retains it share of issues. macOS 10.13.6 has a common Mail IMAP syncing crash that was never fixed. macOS 10.12 was generally a rough release and retained serious PDF bugs throughout its life. My recollection is that macOS 10.11.6 was probably the best since 10.6.8.

Previously:

Another Developer Account Nearly Terminated

Liu Qia (via Ying Zhong):

There are currently 8 apps. Among which the “RedLine” (aka 红线) is from January 2019 to the present, there are more than 280k users, and they have been featured by AppStore Today many times, as well as by multiple media.

[…]

For more than a year, my apps’ reviews and account status are all very good. Until two weeks ago, I submitted a newly developed app called “One Aim”. This is a simple, clean, single-function app. Like my other works, I did it myself from design to development.

On the evening after submission [of 1.0.1], the app changed status to “in review”. Two days later, the review was rejected, and a notice was received saying that the review needs to be extended, and no details were given.

By the morning of September 23, I received a notice saying that my developer account or other accounts associated with the account were fraudulent, and decided to terminate it.

He appealed but was never told the reason, so soon the “investigation was over and the termination was confirmed.”

After going public with the story:

I received a call from the Apple review team on the morning of October 2nd, telling me that my developer account will not be terminated. After I clearly stated that I have not violated the Apple Developer Guidelines, she hopes to continue developing and submitting apps in compliance with the guidelines in the future, and sent me the reason for rejection of the app which caused this incident, and told me to resubmit it for review after modification.

Previously:

Thursday, October 1, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Buildwatch

Lickability (tweet):

Say hello to Buildwatch—a menu bar app that keeps an eye on your compile times throughout the day.

[…]

We hope Buildwatch gives developers more insight into how their time and resources are being used throughout the app development process, helping you make decisions about equipment and fix bottlenecks.

[…]

Buildwatch is available now on the Mac App Store for $9.99.

One could argue that such a utility shouldn’t be necessary, but there certainly seems to be demand for it.

Previously:

Six Figures in 6 Days

Traf:

Fast forward 7 years later, minus 6 days. I saw some people sharing screenshots of their iPhones after discovering that iOS 14 now allows you to add custom icons to your home screen using the Siri Shortcuts app. This was the first time you can really customize iOS, and it was catching on.

[…]

As soon as I noticed the hype, I put together some icons in my own style, downloaded some widgets, and tried it all out. I thought it looked cool, so I shared a screenshot of it on Twitter. Right away, people started asking about the icons in the screenshot. So I quickly packaged them, uploaded them to Gumroad, and embedded them on a Notion site using Super.

A lot of people paid $28 for 80 icons.

Previously:

Epic v. Apple Hearing

Florian Mueller:

The Epic Games v. Apple preliminary injunction hearing took place this morning (Pacific Time) before Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in the Northern District of California.

[…]

Toward the end of the hearing, Judge Gonzalez Rogers strongly recommended putting the factual questions here (and she categorized market definition as a question of fact as well) before a jury, given that appeals courts--in her observation--don’t afford district court judges much deference for their factual determinations.

Dan Moren:

Patrick McGee, a reporter for the Financial Times, live-tweeted yesterday’s hearing for the Epic v. Apple case in a lengthy thread that’s well worth reading if you’re interested in the case.

Highlights have been pulled out elsewhere, including from Kyle Orland at Ars Technica, but the upshot seems to be that while solid arguments were made on both sides, Epic definitely took the brunt of the judge’s attention yesterday.

There’s a video here. Transcripts are here.

James Vincent (Hacker News):

Judge [Rogers] expressed skepticism about Epic’s arguments, particularly its claim that it did not pose a security threat to Apple because it is a well-established company and partner.

“You did something, you lied about it by omission, by not being forthcoming. That’s the security issue. That’s the security issue!”

Epic certainly deceived Apple, but what’s the security issue? It’s been known since the beginning of the App Store that the review process can’t catch feature flags. That’s the real security issue. But Epic has no reason to use them to harm its own customers.

According to CNN, Judge Rogers said she was “not particularly persuaded” by Epic’s argument that Apple has bundled its App Store and in-app payment system together in violation of antitrust law. The judge also said she did not necessarily agree with Epic that Apple has harmed its ability to distribute Fortnite through its control of the App Store.

John Gruber:

She seems to take the angle I’ve taken all along: Apple runs iOS as an app console, and it doesn’t hold water for Epic to argue that the Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch game platforms are fine, but Apple’s app platform is not.

Juli Clover:

Apple and Epic Games do not want to have a jury trial in their ongoing legal dispute over Fortnite and Apple’s App Store policies, according to a filing submitted to the Northern California court handling the case today.

Florian Mueller:

It’s highly speculative why this surprising choice was made. While Apple’s in-house litigation department has hugely more experience with high-stakes commercial disputes than Epic, outside counsel for both parties is well-matched. It’s just a gut feeling, but this looks like one of the cases in which both parties believe very strongly they’re going to win--not the kind of case where a plaintiff has that strong belief but the defendant is trying a long shot and stalling, or where a plaintiff attempts a crapshoot (which often happens in patent cases).

Previously:

Priorities

John Gruber:

“Well, what do you expect from a company run by a penny-pinching beancounter like Tim Cook?” I.e. that Apple, under Cook’s leadership, has gotten cheap, and the reason for Problem X is that Apple refuses to spend money to fix it.

[…]

Apple is not cheap. A miserly penny-wise/pound-foolish company does not design and build architectural marvels like this new store in Singapore. Apple spends lavishly on what they care about and consider important.

There are glaring problems with Apple’s platforms that could be greatly improved by spending money. Apple is willing to do so for architecture and TV shows. And for the environment and accessibility, despite the “bloody ROI.” But not for the App Store (500 reviewers for 100,000 submissions per week), documentation, QA, user data, or repairing defective products that it sold. Either Apple disagrees that larger budgets could improve these areas or it does not consider them important.

Bean counting can also be a convenient faux justification. Despite having 28 million developers paying annual membership fees, Apple recently cried poverty to the court, stating that, without the 30% IAP commission, it would “be unable to continue its on-going investment in” the App Store. The billions of iPhones sold, largely on the basis of the available apps, are counted in a different bucket.

Previously: