Archive for November 27, 2020

Friday, November 27, 2020

Your Move, iPad

Becky Hansmeyer (Hacker News):

Power and performance aren’t the bottleneck for iPad, and haven’t been for some time. So if raw power isn’t enough, and new display tech isn’t enough, where does the iPad go from here? Will it be abandoned once more, lagging behind the Mac in terms of innovation, or will Apple continue to debut its latest tech in this form factor? Is it headed toward functional parity with the Mac or will it always be hamstrung by Apple’s strict App Store policies and seemingly inconsistent investment in iPadOS?


It’s clear that Apple wants the iPad Pro to be a device that a wide variety of professionals can use to get work done. And since so many people use web apps for their work, the introduction of “desktop” Safari for iPad was an important step toward that goal. The Magic Keyboard and trackpad was another step.

Here are ten more steps I believe Apple could and should take to help nudge the iPad into this exciting next era of computing.


The new M1 Macs should give iPad fans reason to be excited; now that we’ve seen hints of what future Macs can be, it’s time for the iPad to reassert itself—to remind us once again who it’s for, and what makes it special.

Matt Birchler:

As an iPad user, the new M1 Macs don’t make me want to trade in my iPad Pro since basically all the new features are variants of things I already had with the iPad Pro.


The question is how the iPad distinguishes itself as the Mac adopts some of its key features. One option is to loosen restrictions for apps and enable more powerful workflows so that more work can get done on the iPad. The other option is to bow out of the “Pro” line of iPads and lean into it being a more casual device. As an iPad fan, I very much want to see Apple make the iPad much more powerful, but that’s not absolutely the way they are going to go.

Nick Heer:

So, while I generally agree with Hansmeyer’s suggestions for changes, I have to wonder if these limitations are somehow deliberate, rather than something Apple has yet to change. The touchscreen-oriented interaction model of the iPad necessarily limits its software in some ways, but that does not excuse users’ more egregious workarounds. I find myself reading about the way Federico Viticci makes his iPad work for him, or the way that Jack Wellborn assembled a shortcut for rating songs in Music, and I wonder why these methods must be so convoluted. They are undoubtedly clever, but they also often feel like they are working around outdated limitations to multitasking. So, I have to wonder: is this a way of clearly separating the iPad and the Mac, so users do not attempt to treat one as the other? If so, what is Apple’s long-term strategy?


Carbon Copy Cloner 5.1.23

Bombich Software:

We posted CCC 5.1.23 yesterday which includes support for making bootable backups on Intel Macs running Big Sur.🎉CCC runs natively on & is fully compatible with Apple Silicon Macs, but we’re still tracking some macOS issues here.

Bombich Software:

Some Big Sur startup volumes don’t appear in the Startup Disk Preference Pane


To avoid deleting your snapshots and the rest of your backup, CCC will not update the System volume on the destination when System updates are applied to the source.


In the current shipping version of macOS Big Sur (11.0.1), Apple’s ASR utility cannot replicate the startup disk in an M1-based Mac.


Finder will show and allow you to customize the volume icon for your current startup disk, but not for other Catalina- or Big Sur-bearing startup disks that your Mac is not currently booted from.


Finder will let you rename the current startup disk, but you won’t be able to rename any other startup disks that have an installation of Catalina or Big Sur because the System volume is mounted read-only.


Preparing an iOS App for Mac

Ryan Ashcraft:

This is not Catalyst. It’s also not the future™ (aka SwiftUI). This is a practical, albeit compromised, solution for today. A solution to give the Mac App Store a kick in the butt, an adrenaline shot, a splash of cold water.


Most importantly, for users that are OK with running the FoodNoms iPad app on their Mac and would get value out of it, now they can, as long as they have an M1 Mac. It’s clearly branded and marketed as an iPhone/iPad app, so I don’t have anything to apologize about – it’s not a Mac app!


I was pleasantly surprised how well it seemed to work out of the box. That said, there were a few bugs and issues that needed to be fixed. As part of this blog post, I figured I’d share what those bugs were. I think it could give a good idea for developers and non-developers of a) how trivial it is to get an iPad app running without known issues and b) how good of a job Apple did with getting all of the iOS frameworks working smoothly on macOS.


M1 Mac Bluetooth Issues

Tim Hardwick:

A number of M1 Mac owners are reporting problems with Bluetooth connectivity on the new machines, ranging from intermittent disconnects of wireless peripherals to completely non-functional Bluetooth connections.


M1 owners have taken to the MacRumors forums and Reddit to discuss the glitches, and Mac mini owners appear to be worst affected, with the problems compounded by the fact that many rely on wireless peripherals to interact with their Mac in order to free up available ports.


Update (2021-01-12): Tim Hardwick:

Until recently, there was no consensus on whether the issues were due to a software problem or something more deep-seated, since Apple has not commented on the issues. However, The 8-Bit notes that The Atlantic writer Ian Bogost, who has personally run into Bluetooth problems, tweeted on Sunday that Apple told him “a fix is in progress and forthcoming just about anytime.”

Reviews of the First M1 Macs


Update (2021-01-06): John Gruber (tweet, Hacker News):

It’s not like Intel apps running in Rosetta run OK, and native Apple Silicon apps run well; it’s more like Intel apps in Rosetta run well and Apple Silicon apps run even better. Yes, of course you want apps compiled to run natively, but most users running most apps — including some professional apps — won’t notice.

This is true, although I’ve also encountered some Rosetta-specific bugs in macOS.

The adage is, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Emphasis on probably — the M1 Macs are an exception. They really are that good. But, like the iPhone in 2007, there are people who refuse to believe it.

Peter Steinberger:

The new M1 MacBooks are fast, beautiful, and silent, and the hype is absolutely justified. There’s still a lot to do on the software front to catch up, and the bugs around older iOS simulators are especially problematic.

Om Malik:

The M1 is a long-term shift, not just for Apple, but for the entire industry. However, the future can be boring when you are seeking attention now.


Since publishing my original review, I have installed the beta version of the M1-optimized Adobe Lightroom CC and Adobe Photoshop. Their performance on the M1 MacBook Pro has left me slack-jawed. I am not saying the beta software is without its faults. Still, I increasingly find myself sitting on the couch comfortably editing photos on the new laptop, even though I have a more expensive, tricked-out MacBook 16 within an arm’s reach.

Jean-Louis Gassée (Hacker News):

The generally positive first reviews of M1-based Macs has generated animated discussions. Judging by users’ reactions, Apple’s new M1 processor truly is a BFD (Big Fantastic Disruption), but, as expected, certain critics have questioned the success.

Rob Griffiths:

Basically, I chose the MacBook Pro because it has a Touch Bar—despite the fact that I hate the Touch Bar. But some of our apps make use of the Touch Bar, so I need it to support our users and test our apps.


For now, I view iOS support as a nice way to run some simple apps—probably games—on your Mac that you enjoy using on your iPad. Beyond that, it really feels like Apple’s, well, mixing apples and oranges with iOS support on ARM Macs.


I’ve had my M1 MacBook Pro for a few weeks now, and I can confidently say this is the best-performing Mac laptop I’ve ever owned—and not just because of its benchmark scores. It’s that the entire system has been designed to take advantage of Apple’s homebuilt powerful but low-power CPU.

David Barnard:

Anyone else on an M1 Mac and/or Big Sur having issues with the screensaver turning on every ~20 minutes and locking the computer? Disabling the screensaver completely in Settings didn’t fix it. Logging in over and over eventually fixes it, but it’s quite annoying.

David Barnard:

This keeps happening over and over. I’ll be mid sentence typing something and the computer just locks up. Stay the hell away from an M1 Mac as your primary machine until they’ve had some more time in the oven.

Dominik Wagner:

Anybody else having random acts of unescapable screen saver on an M1 MacBook? My screensaver even is set to never. Only thing that helps is power button, cancel, log back in with touchid.

Peter Steinberger:

This happened yesterday on CI and it was fun. Rebooting is quite the task if you have an encrypted volume.


I had the problem in the beginning, then I disabled „login window screen safer“ (via „defaults“ in Terminal), since then not happening anymore …

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/ loginWindowIdleTime 0

Update (2021-01-14): Bouke van der Bijl (via Hacker News):

I’m here to tell you: it is indeed an amazing device. The performance feels a lot better than my MacBook Pro 16”, which is only a year old and about 3x the price.


Somehow Apple has created the best PC in every category at once. It is even the best Windows PC, despite the multiple layers of emulation that are happening. The battery life is incredible, I haven’t experienced any slowdowns, I don’t hear any fans spin up (because there are none). It’s hard not to be excited about this.

Update (2021-01-27): Cameron Lucy (via John Gordon):

Many users have reported a worrisome issue with the M1 chip devices. The computers crash suddenly and restart randomly. Some MacBook models also get their screen, inexplicably turned black.

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

The M1 is an impressive opening act of a story that has just begun. For the first time in a long while, there’s a palpable sense of anticipation and excitement around the Mac and what’s coming next. I’m looking forward to what’s next for the Mac, but at the same time, couldn’t be happier with the Macs I’m already using, which makes 2021 a fantastic time to be a Mac user.

Update (2021-07-02): Dr. Drang:

I didn’t buy a MacBook for years because I was afraid of the keyboard. Now I have an M1 MacBook Air with the good keyboard, and after 3-4 months the L key has gone wonky.

Adam Chandler:

The reviewers mislead me. I was convinced this would be a life changing experience.


The device takes about 4 minutes to boot despite being a 100% clean install of MacOS with no custom software.


The battery life is around 5 hours in actual usage.


This machine is always hot and always running its fan.

Update (2021-07-03): Dan Masters:

Two friends bought M1 MacBooks over the last week upon my advice. So yeah – don’t ever call me anti-Apple again; I’m pro-user.

What really sealed the deal was how Windows laptops priced 2x-4x more are still stuck on HD displays. Seriously, Windows OEMs?

Update (2021-07-09): Ben Lovejoy (Hacker News):

Apple has claimed in a new interview that the M1 MacBook battery life was so good they originally thought the battery indicator was buggy, failing to respond as the remaining life fell.

The claim is made by Apple marketing VP Bob Borchers, who also suggests that future generations of Apple Silicon might be good enough to turn Macs into gaming machines[…]

Widgetsmith 2.0

David Smith:

The original design of Widgetsmith put configuration of the aesthetic aspects of each widget on equal footing as purely functional aspects. You’d choose the text color in the same way as you’d assign the desired timezone location. This made sense in a world where the principal use case was utility. In a world, however, where Widgetsmith is primarily being used to add aesthetic flair to your home screen this approach leaves something to be desired.

So instead, in version 2.0 of Widgetsmith I’m introducing the concept of themes to the app.


I’ve begun working with top designers to provide a wide range of seasonal and fun borders and overlays for your widgets to give them that little extra pop.


Custom iOS App Icons via Launch Center Pro

Tim Hardwick:

The only problem with this method is that it kicks you to and from the Shortcuts app whenever you open an app with a custom icon, which isn’t a great way to optimize usage and can be annoying. However, thanks to the latest update to Launch Center Pro, there’s now a way to add custom app icons without going anywhere near the Shortcuts app.


When you’ve finished creating your icons, a downloadable configuration profile is generated by Launch Center Pro that you then need to install on your device.


Launch Center Pro is a free download on the App Store, but the Icon Composer is a $20 in-app purchase. In addition, the app offers a $14.49 subscription bundle that includes the icon composer as well as several other features. A free 7-day trial is also available.

See also: Chaim Gartenberg, Federico Viticci on Launch Center Pro 3.