Archive for November 11, 2020

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Google Photos to End Unlimited Storage

Shimrit Ben-Yair:

Starting June 1, 2021, any new photos and videos you upload will count toward the free 15 GB of storage that comes with every Google Account or the additional storage you’ve purchased as a Google One member.

Amber Neely:

When Google Photos launched in 2015, the tech giant had originally offered users the ability to upload an unlimited amount of photos at “high quality.”

Nick Heer:

Notably, photos taken with Pixel phones will remain exempt from storage limits, albeit in “high quality” mode. Around the same time last year, Google ended unlimited full-quality photo backups.

Casey Newton:

Also seems notable that free Google photo storage helped to drive tons of startups out of this market — Everpix, Loom, Ever, Picturelife. Now that they’re gone, and Google is tired of losing money on Photos, the revenue switch flips.


Update (2020-11-17): Sean Hollister:

While the company said yesterday that previous Pixel phones could still upload those photos for free after Google axes unlimited storage on June 1st, 2021, Google confirmed to us that any future Pixels you buy will not come with those free uploads.

John Gruber:

That “five years” link makes clear that “free and unlimited” was a big part of the appeal of Google Photos all along. And it’s not really a 5-year-old product — Google bought Picasa back in 2004, 16 years ago, and they’ve been giving away some version of free hosted photo storage ever since. And they’ve surely lost billions of dollars doing so.

Update (2020-12-08): Don MacAskill:

We have no plans to add a 2TB limit. Or any limit. Our Flickr Pros pay us, we make money when they do, and everyone is happy. We also don’t do evil things with their photos.

Hide My Bar 1.5

ClemStation (via Dave Teare):

Double press a control key to Turn off the Touch Bar and keep focusing on your current task.

Don’t let an accidental tap on the Touch Bar slow you down or ruin your work. With Hide My Bar never hit the Touch Bar by accident, again!


The API used to turn off the Touch Bar is private and Apple only allows use of public APIs for apps to be published on the App Store.

Francisco Tolmasky:

Also, I love that the TouchBar has fully grown into a bizarre Pro-only feature that Pros hate but that’s excused away as “you don’t get it because it’s for the average user!”


Mask-wearing Sticker Apps Now Approved

Sean Hollister:

How could a friendly sticker wearing a mask be an inappropriate reference to COVID-19, particularly when Apple has its very own mask-wearing emoji? That was the question on my mind, so I reached out to Apple yesterday.

This morning, Apple replied that not only does the company not have any rules about mask-wearing stickers, but that both of these examples are totally OK — and both developers have since confirmed that Apple has approved their apps.


It’s not quite clear why they were rejected to begin with, but Apple says it’s been careful only to let medical institutions and official health agencies mention “COVID-19” in their app names or metadata[…]


The Apple Silicon M1

Andrei Frumusanu:

The new processor is called the Apple M1, the company’s first SoC designed with Macs in mind. With four large performance cores, four efficiency cores, and an 8-GPU core GPU, it features 16 billion transistors on a 5nm process node. Apple’s is starting a new SoC naming scheme for this new family of processors, but at least on paper it looks a lot like an A14X.


What really defines Apple’s Firestorm CPU core from other designs in the industry is just the sheer width of the microarchitecture. Featuring an 8-wide decode block, Apple’s Firestorm is by far the current widest commercialized design in the industry.


A +-630 deep ROB is an immensely huge out-of-order window for Apple’s new core, as it vastly outclasses any other design in the industry.


Exactly how and why Apple is able to achieve such a grossly disproportionate design compared to all other designers in the industry isn’t exactly clear, but it appears to be a key characteristic of Apple’s design philosophy and method to achieve high ILP (Instruction level-parallelism).


Apple’s usage of a significantly more advanced microarchitecture that offers significant IPC, enabling high performance at low core clocks, allows for significant power efficiency gains versus the incumbent x86 players.

Robert Graham:

In short, Apple’s advantage is their own core design outpacing Intel’s on every measure, and TMSC being 1.5 generations ahead of Intel on manufacturing process technology. These things matter, not “ARM” or “RISC” instruction set.

Howard Oakley:

GPUs are now being used for a lot more than just driving the display, and their computing potential for specific types of numeric and other processing is in demand. So long as CPUs and GPUs continue to use their own local memory, simply moving data between their memory has become an unwanted overhead. If you’d like to read a more technical account of some of the issues which have brought unified memory to Nvidia GPUs, you’ll enjoy Michael Wolfe’s article on the subject.


Learn how developers updated their apps for Apple silicon Macs and began taking advantage of the advanced capabilities of the Apple M1 chip.


Discover the advances in Metal performance and capability delivered with the Apple M1 chip on Apple silicon Macs. Apple M1 unites the top-end graphics and compute abilities of discrete GPUs with the features and power efficiency of Apple silicon, creating entirely new opportunities for developers of Metal-based apps and games on macOS. We’ll explore the Metal graphics and compute fundamentals of Apple M1, then take you through four important Metal features to make your Mac apps really shine on Apple silicon: tile shading, memoryless render targets, programmable blending, and sparse texturing.


Update (2020-11-27): Ken Shirriff:

With Apple’s recent announcement of the ARM-based M1 processor, I figured it would be interesting to compare it to the first ARM processor, created by Acorn Computers in 1985 for the BBC Micro computer.

The Tech Chap:

Nerding out with 2 Vice Presidents at Apple about the new M1 chip in MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini - what it means, how do apps work, and what about Intel?

Update (2020-12-02): Erik Engheim (Hacker News):

Here I plan to break it down into digestible pieces exactly what it is that Apple has done with the M1.

Update (2020-12-08): Don Scansen:

Apple did not identify the die locations of any of these blocks even if it was suggested by the graphics used to describe the CPU, GPU, and neural engine. Those illustrations were stylized which was a good indication of their inaccuracy. However, Apple did show something that looked very much like a genuine optical image of the SoC die layout on their graphic of the physical product. As discussed above, this was an inexact representation in the sense that it was not true to the assembly onto the package substrate. But it turned out to be a precise version of the SoC physical design.

Update (2020-12-16): Mark Bessey:

But there are a couple of odd ideas bouncing around on the Internet that are annoying me. So, here’s a quick fact check on a couple of the more breathless claims that are swirling around these new Macs.

Update (2021-01-06): See also: Dick James (via Hacker News).

Joe Heck:

One of the interesting things about the M1 system-on-a-chip isn’t the chip itself, but the philosophy that Apple’s embracing in making the chip. That pattern of behavior and thought goes way beyond what you can do with commodity stuff. The vertical integration allows seriously advanced capabilities. Commodity, on the other hand, tends to be sort of “locked down” and very resistant to change, even improvements.

Erik Engheim (via Hacker News):

The M1 is the beginning of a paradigm shift, which will benefit RISC-V microprocessors, but not the way you think.

Shac Ron:

arm64 is the Apple ISA, it was designed to enable Apple’s microarchitecture plans. There’s a reason Apple’s first 64 bit core (Cyclone) was years ahead of everyone else, and it isn’t just caches.

Arm64 didn’t appear out of nowhere, Apple contracted ARM to design a new ISA for its purposes. When Apple began selling iPhones containing arm64 chips, ARM hadn’t even finished their own core design to license to others.


Apple planned to go super-wide with low clocks, highly OoO, highly speculative. They needed an ISA to enable that, which ARM provided.

M1 performance is not so because of the ARM ISA, the ARM ISA is so because of Apple core performance plans a decade ago.

On Apple’s SwiftUI Header File Documentation

Conrad Stoll:

The Swift programming language may have gotten rid of the compiler’s need to define a real header file but it didn’t get rid of the programmer’s need to have clear and orderly descriptions of types and what they can do. When I started experimenting with SwiftUI my instinct was to start command clicking on types to learn from their definitions. This time though, command clicking didn’t help me. When you jump to the definition of a type in SwiftUI you end up in the 22,000 line definition of SwiftUI itself.

You actually can discover some of the modifiers and important types there that you need to use, but the lack of structural organization and the sheer scope of of the definition file keeps the information feeling like it’s trying to hide from you.

I have yet to be able to solve any kind of non-trivial SwiftUI problem on my own inside of Xcode. For every issue I run into I’m falling back to the time-tested practice of google searching for a tutorial that happens to mention the name of a modifier that I need to know.