Archive for March 18, 2021

Thursday, March 18, 2021

FlickType Developer Sues Apple

Nick Statt (tweet, MacRumors, Hacker News):

At the time he began accusing Apple of abetting App Store scams early last month, Eleftheriou revealed that his FlickType app had been targeted by competing software he says either didn’t work well or didn’t work at all, and yet nonetheless chipped away at this sales and App Store rankings through false advertising and the purchase of fake reviews.


In the complaint, Eleftheriou goes further into detail about what he claims is wrongful behavior from Apple, including alleged false advertising, breach of its developer agreement, and fraud. One notable claim involves Apple trying to acquire FlickType, after which Eleftheriou says he faced “roadblock after roadblock” to selling his software on the App Store. The complaint suggests Apple chose not to take action on scam and copycat apps in an effort to force Eleftheriou to sell his app to Apple.


Eleftheriou says he was approached by Marsden, who expressed interest in having Apple acquire his software to improve typing on the Apple Watch. Yet, the negotiations went quiet, and afterward, Eleftheriou claims Apple removed his FlickType keyboard app and refused to approve future versions as well as a note-taking variant, on what he thinks are suspicious grounds. […] Meanwhile, many other wearable and mobile keyboard apps Eleftheriou characterizes as scams were also approved and allowed on the App Store.


Intel’s Anti-Mac Ads

Sami Fathi:

Intel has called on the services of former “I’m a Mac” actor Justin Long in a series of new ads in which Apple’s latest custom-made M1 processors are cast as inferior to newer laptops powered by Intel processors.


In one ad, Long promotes the flexibility of Windows laptops, specifically the Lenovo Yoga 9i versus a MacBook Pro. In another video, Long meets a PC user gaming on the MSI Gaming Stealth 15M laptop, powered by a Intel Core i7. Long then asks for a Mac, before swiftly agreeing with the PC user that “no one games on a Mac.”

Juli Clover (tweet):

Intel is continuing its anti-Apple ad campaign, today sharing a tweet that calls out the lack of ports on M1 Macs. In a photo, actor Justin Long sits on a couch with a Windows PC and holds up a handful of Apple dongles.

Juli Clover:

As part of its barrage of attacks against M1 Macs, Intel this week launched a “PC vs. Mac” website that’s biased heavily in favor of PC machines that are equipped with Intel chips and that makes questionable claims about Apple’s M1 Mac lineup.


PCs offer a “complete touch screen” instead of the “constrained Mac Touch Bar,” along with “2 for 1 Form Factor options” while Apple makes customers pay for “multiple devices and gear.”

John Gruber:

I’m sure some will claim to find this ad campaign to be a sick burn. I find it cringey, and kind of hard to watch. It’s neither parody nor sequel. It’s an attempt at comedy from writers who have no sense of humor. The concept isn’t actually anything beyond “Let’s hire Justin Long as our new pitchman, that’ll show them.


The truly weird thing is that Justin Long was always pitching for Intel-based computers, at least indirectly, in the “Get a Mac” campaign, the introduction of which coincided with the start of the Intel Mac era: 2006-2009.


So one of my takeaways from this new “Go PC: Justin Gets Real” campaign is that it highlights just how unusual Apple’s relationship with Intel has been. The Mac was an Intel-based platform — not just x86 but Intel chips specifically — for 15 years, yet neither company ever advertised it.

David Sparks (tweet):

As for me, I’m annoyed with Apple’s lawyers. How did they not write an “I won’t pitch competitive products ever” clause into Long’s original agreement? I write clauses similar to that all the time. Last week I did something similar on a lease agreement for a donut shop.

Ezekiel Elin:

PC vs Mac courtesy of Intel, an older take[…]

John Gruber:

No trip down memory lane exploring Apple/Intel commercials would be complete without this one from 1997.


Update (2021-03-19): John Gruber:

Really hard to believe I didn’t recall this ad yesterday. I blame the fact that I was trying to think of ads about specific Macs that mentioned Intel — and completely overlooked one of my favorite commercials ever, because it was entirely about the Intel partnership itself.

The message was that the two great companies of the industry were finally together: Apple, the product maker, and Intel, the chip maker. 15 years later, though, I can kind of see how Intel might have been a bit peeved. It paints Intel as needing the Mac for its chips to reach their potential, not the Mac as needing Intel chips to achieve performance-per-watt parity with the rest of the PC industry. It’s implicitly a bit insulting, and an utterly Jobsian way to frame the new partnership.


Intel is in trouble. For Intel to be Intel they need to be leading the industry. The best fabs, the fastest chips. Right now they can’t credibly argue that they’re the best at anything. They haven’t just lost the Mac. TSMC is absolutely killing them at fabrication. All modern smartphones are built on ARM chips. Intel tried to gain a foothold in the cellular modem business, and failed.

I think the new ads make some good points about PCs vs. Macs, but to me they feel weird and desperate due to the above context and the fact that they aren’t really about Intel.

Peter Steinberger:

Yes the campaign is cheesy, but accidentally activating Siri on the TouchBar is so real. It was such a good day when I found out that the “button” can be removed.

Josh Centers:

Intel rightfully points out some of the dumb things about newer Macs, but fails to acknowledge that PCs slavishly copy the same mistakes. There actually is an opportunity here for Intel to develop new laptops that don’t suck.

Jack Wellborn:

Most of the benefits Intel is touting — variety of hardware, touch screens, face unlock — all come from the laptop makers or Microsoft.

Nick Heer:

The funny thing about these Intel ads is that they could work just as well for PC makers that use AMD or ARM processors.

Update (2021-04-16): Dave:

My question is who is the intended target of these ads? The general public? I doubt it. If they wanted to reach the computer buying public they would give Microsoft ad money to produce these commercials. Also, why isn’t Microsoft running these ads? This is something Microsoft should be doing, not Intel.

If I had to guess who they were for, I would say Intel employees.

Juli Clover:

When discussing Intel’s new plans, Gelsinger said that Intel plans to pursue Apple as a potential customer, which would see Intel producing Apple silicon chips for use in Apple devices if Apple does indeed decide to use Intel’s services.

Nick Heer:

There is a lot of nostalgic spin in this presentation but, if you peel away the saccharine layers, it seems like Gelsinger has the insider perspective to structure a better path forward, and an encouraging level of staff support.

Ken Segall:

So, what do we make of Intel’s new campaign? Hold that thought, because it’s best judged in the context of history—and a juicy history it is.


Here are the reactions I had after my first and only viewing.

Sami Fathi:

Intel has been on a relentless marketing drive against Mac computers in recent weeks, positioning them as inferior to Windows laptops powered by Intel processors. In a slight slip-up, however, Intel has accidentally used a MacBook instead of a Windows laptop in one of its newest ads to promote one of its new 11th-generation chips as “the world’s best processor.”

Update (2021-06-07): Michael Potuck:

In an ironic move, Intel is now using the MacBook Pro in a new ad to promote “The world’s best processor on a thin and light laptop” that’s not found in any of Apple’s notebooks.

iOS to Offer Pre-Installed Apps in Russia


Russian media are reporting that Apple has agreed to sell its gadgets in Russia with preinstalled Russian-made software to comply with a law that comes into force on April 1.


The list of Russian government-approved programs for mandatory preinstallation on smartphones and tablets includes the search engine Yandex, mail and news, ICQ messenger, social network VKontakte, payment system MirPay, and antivirus Kaspersky Lab, among others.

Via Nick Heer:

I overestimated Apple’s willingness to withdraw from what is an increasingly authoritarian market. It does seem like Apple was able to strike something of a compromise — on Android phones and other devices, the apps will apparently be preinstalled without any configuration on the user’s part. Still, this sets a worrying precedent when it comes to privacy and surveillance concerns.

Sami Fathi:

In 2019, Apple warned that this new law would open up its device to possible risks and that it would be the “equivalent to jailbreaking.”


Update (2021-04-16): Juli Clover:

A few weeks after Apple agreed to allow Russia to show iPhone users in the country suggested apps created by Russian developers, Russian users are seeing the list of app suggestions when setting up a new device.

John Gruber:

It’s impossible to square Apple’s (reasonable) desire to explain that the prompt to suggest installation of these Russian apps is mandated by Russian law with Apple’s refusal to allow developers to explain the App Store rules they are required to comply with. As I’ve written before, it is prima facie wrong that one of the App Store rules is that apps are not allowed to explain the App Store rules to users.

It’s quite a thing that Russia’s “law against Apple” allows for more transparency to users than Apple’s own App Store rules.


Swift Proposal: Actors

SE-0306 (forum, Hacker News):

Actors allow you as a programmer to declare that a bag of state is held within a concurrency domain and then define multiple operations that act upon it. Each actor protects its own data through data isolation, ensuring that only a single thread will access that data at a given time, even when many clients are concurrently making requests of the actor. As part of the Swift Concurrency Model, actors provide the same race and memory safety properties as structured concurrency, but provide the familiar abstraction and reuse features that other explicitly declared types in Swift enjoy.


As a special exception to the rule that an actor can only inherit from another actor, an actor can inherit from NSObject. This allows actors to themselves be declared @objc, and implicitly provides conformance to NSObjectProtocol[…]


Like classes, actors as proposed allow inheritance. However, actors and classes cannot be co-mingled in an inheritance hierarchy, so there are essentially two different kinds of type hierarchies. It has been proposed that actors should not permit inheritance at all, because doing so would simplify actors: features such as method overriding, initializer inheritance, required and convenience initializers, and inheritance of protocol conformances would not need to be specified, and users would not need to consider them. The discussion thread on the proposal to eliminate inheritance provides several reasons to keep actor inheritance[…]


Acorn 7

Flying Meat (tweet):

Acorn now sports a unified window with a matching toolbar. Gone are the floating palettes everywhere and getting in your way. Palettes are now inspectors and can be brushed away by pressing the TAB key, and brought back the same way. Acorn also adopts many new MacOS Big Sur conventions to make it look and feel like it belongs on a Mac. If you prefer the previous behavior where inspectors are in their own windows, there is a preference to enable that.

Speaking of tabs, Acorn has a new preference for opening up images in tabs. So now you can gather all of your open images under a single window.


A new export workflow gives you options for specifying a color profile (like CMYK or Gray), more formats to save as (now including WebP!), precise file size of your export, and a live preview even for PDFs.


This time around we managed to make Flood Fill, Instant Alpha, and Magic Wand multithreaded and up to 3x faster. Filters have also been fully optimized for Metal on Apple Silicon and Intel Macs.

Photoshop is impressive and all, but I find Acorn much more pleasant to use. There’s also a new tool for fixing perspective distortions. It’s currently on sale for 50% off.


Update (2021-03-22): Gus Mueller:

Here’s a casual overview of some things I find interesting with this release.


One nice thing about the Command Bar is that I can also include other random oddball things in there which don’t necessarily deserve a menu item by itself. For instance, there’s a toggle in there to switch Acorn into Dark Mode or to Light. There’s an entry to quickly switch to pixels for the ruler, or fill the current selection or layer with the stroke color, or capitalize any currently selected text. I get requests all the time for cool little ideas (just today I got someone asking for the ability to pull the alpha channel out into it’s own layer). I’ve always shied away from these ideas because I want Acorn to be approachable, and having too many options in the menus can be a big turn off. But if they could be tucked away in the Command Bar, ready at your finger tips if you know it’s there?

Photoshop for Apple Silicon

Jonny Evans (via MacRumors, Hacker News):

Adobe has released Photoshop for M1 Macs, delivering a huge boost in application performance on Apple Silicon in contrast to how it performs on similar Intel-based machines.


“At the moment, Photoshop and Lightroom are both available as native apps for M1 Macs, and public betas of native apps are also available for Premiere Pro, Premiere Rush and Audition. We’re excited to bring more native Creative Cloud apps to Apple silicon devices, and will have updates to share later this year.”

Hopefully Lightroom Classic will be out soon. It’s one of the few apps I use that feels slow.

Pam Clark:

Our internal tests show a wide range of features running an average of 1.5X the speed of similarly configured previous generation systems.

DL Cade:

Keep in mind that both the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the Dell XPS 17 boast a full 32GB of RAM to the Mac mini’s 16GB. The XPS 17 is also running a 10th Gen, 8-core Intel Core i9-10875H alongside a GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU with 6GB of VRAM. Finally, both the 13-inch Intel MacBook Pro ($3,000) and the Dell XPS 17 ($3,000) that we tested cost a whole lot more than the fully-loaded M1 Mac mini ($1,700) used for this comparison.


Unsurprisingly, the M1 Mac mini loses to the competition in raw GPU performance, more-or-less matching the onboard graphics of the quad-core Core i7 that’s in the 13-inch MacBook Pro. But even with this score working against it, the Mac mini running Apple Silicon-optimized Photoshop managed to get the second highest Overall score we’ve ever seen out of PugetBench.

What’s more, none of the computers we’ve reviewed, not even the most expensive 16-inch MacBook Pro you can buy or the Razer Blade Studio Edition, has ever broken the 100 mark on the PugetBench Photo Merge test. Running optimized Photoshop, the M1 Mac mini hit 130+ in run after run after run.

Michael Clark:

Adobe just dropped its latest software updates via the Creative Cloud and among those updates is a new feature in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) called “Super Resolution.” You can mark this day down as a major shift in the photo industry.


I immediately tested this out and was pretty shocked by the results. Though it might be hard to make out in the screenshot below, I took the surfing image shown below, which was captured a decade ago with a Nikon D700 — a 12MP camera — and ran the Super Resolution tool on it and the end result is a 48.2MP image that looks to be every bit as sharp (if not sharper) than the original image file.


Update (2021-03-19): Joe Cieplinski:

Watching Photoshop launch in two seconds on my M1 MacBook Pro is enough to make a grown man weep.

Update (2021-05-19): Om Malik:

The M1-Photoshop is pretty useless for those — like me — who use third-party extensions as part of their editing workflow. For instance, I use some extensions that allow me to pursue highly granular masking via luminosity masks. Other extensions for color grading (including Adobe’s own Color Themes) and additional tune-ups are also part of my flow. And none of them work with the new Photoshop.

Extensions are not working because Adobe has shifted to a new way of writing extensions — specifically, using UXP. According to Adobe, “UXP provides modern JavaScript, a curated selection of UI components, and a more streamlined workflow for plugin developers.” In the past, Adobe used CEP (Common Extensibility Platform), which used web-based technologies like CSS to make the extensions work. The shift to UXP is visible with the M1-Mac version of Photoshop.

Deleting Tweets and Other Social Media Content

Jesse Squires:

I have been periodically deleting my tweets for a while now. Yesterday, I finally found a reliable solution for deleting my Twitter “likes” as well and I spent some time deleting all of them. Long ago, I also deleted all of my content on Facebook and Instagram. If you are interested in purging your social media accounts, here are some options.


Regardless of whether or not I choose to continue using these platforms in the future, I prefer to retain the accounts for historical reasons and leave them vacant — at least for now. This is similar to what I did when I got off of LinkedIn. This preserves (at least the shell of) my online “identity” and prevents someone else from taking the usernames that I used for so many years.


Twitter remains valuable to me for now. I use it almost entirely for interacting with the developer community. In my experience, it is a great way to help others or get help from others — diagnosing bugs, sharing development tips, etc. However, I do not need a private company to maintain a public record of everything I have ever typed[…]

Update (2021-03-22): Semiphemeral:

There are plenty of tools that let you make your Twitter feed ephemeral, automatically deleting tweets older than some threshold, like one month.

Semiphemeral does this, but also lets you automatically exclude tweets based on criteria: how many RTs or likes they have, and if they’re part of a thread where one of your tweets has that many RTs or likes. It also lets you manually select tweets you’d like to exclude from deleting.

It delete all of your old likes, even really old ones that Twitter makes difficult to delete. And it can automatically delete your old direct messages.

Apple’s Perplexing Home Strategy

Zac Hall:

You can trust that Apple will continue to make new iPhones and Macs for the foreseeable future, but Apple’s home products resemble Google’s betting strategy more than Apple’s usual commitment to focus and delivery.


How confident are we that HomePod mini will be enough of a hit to keep Apple’s interest? How sure are we that Apple TV, the streaming media box, has a place in Apple’s lineup? Maybe the Apple TV app and AirPlay 2 TVs are like the HomePod mini in that they reach more households.

Apple discontinuing HomePod isn’t impossible to understand, but the move does leave me with a number of questions for Apple. What’s the threshold for success for home products? What does Apple hope to achieve with home products? Why should customers trust Apple believes in its home products when it doesn’t lead the market? Why not just invest in Amazon, Sonos, and other smart home solutions that feel less like a hobby?

John Voorhees:

There are plenty of good AirPlay 2 speakers available that I can eventually swap in, as Hall points out. However, coupled with the expensive, long-in-the-tooth Apple TV, I don’t have the confidence I once had in Apple’s home strategy, especially when it comes to audio and video entertainment, which feels especially strange to say when Apple Music and TV+ are so clearly important parts of the company’s service strategy.

Jason Snell:

I sure hope this is all setting us up for a roll-out of Apple’s new home strategy, but I’m concerned that the company is still utterly at sea when it comes to this stuff.


Apple also abandoned the home router market… and its competitors have rushed in. HomeKit seems stalled, though perhaps it’s just waiting for the CHOP to drop.