Archive for April 20, 2021

Tuesday, April 20, 2021 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Secure ShellFish (Sponsor)

My thanks to Secure ShellFish for sponsoring the blog this week.

Secure ShellFish connects iOS devices to your Mac, Raspberry Pi, and any other SSH server to open terminals, browse the file system, and upload files.

Secure ShellFish

With a location in the Files app, your server content is listed alongside cloud storage and available to third-party apps. Upload files or even directories from any share sheet.

It has extensive Shortcuts support for automating file operations and has widgets for following long-running jobs or tailing log files from the home screen.

Use tmux to keep your terminal sessions alive, picking sessions by thumbnail and passing sessions between devices with Handoff. Select files in the terminal and drag these into other apps as actual file content. Drop items onto the terminal to upload.

There are shell functions to invoke the share sheet, post notifications, and run shortcuts right from the terminal with the files on your server.

Secure ShellFish is made by Anders Borum, who also brought you Working Copy. It is a premium app where you subscribe monthly or purchase a lifetime unlock. Get started with the 15-day free trial that doesn’t convert to a subscription.

iPad Pro 2021

Apple (MacRumors, Hacker News):

The addition of the Apple-designed M1 chip delivers a massive leap in performance, making iPad Pro the fastest device of its kind. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro features a new Liquid Retina XDR display that brings extreme dynamic range to iPad Pro, offering a stunning visual experience with more true-to-life details to the most demanding HDR workflows. Cellular models with 5G deliver even faster wireless connectivity when on the go, and to provide users with pro-level throughput for high-speed accessories, iPad Pro now includes support for Thunderbolt. Additionally, an all-new Ultra Wide front camera enables Center Stage, a new feature that automatically keeps users perfectly framed for even more engaging video calls.

Juli Clover:

iPad Pro models with 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of storage will come with 8GB RAM, while iPad Pro models with 1TB or 2TB of storage will feature 16GB RAM.

iMac 24-inch 2021

Apple (MacRumors, Hacker News):

Apple today introduced an all-new iMac featuring a much more compact and remarkably thin design, enabled by the M1 chip. The new iMac offers powerful performance in a design that’s just 11.5 millimeters thin, with a striking side profile that practically disappears. Available in an array of vibrant colors to match a user’s personal style and brighten any space, iMac features a 24-inch 4.5K Retina display with 11.3 million pixels, 500 nits of brightness, and over a billion colors, delivering a brilliant and vivid viewing experience.

The new iMac also includes a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, studio-quality mics, and a six-speaker sound system — the best camera and audio ever in a Mac. Also, Touch ID comes to iMac for the first time[…]

[…]

To complete the simplified design, iMac comes with a new power connector that attaches magnetically and a beautifully woven 2-meter-long color-matched cable.

That would be even more useful on a notebook computer…

I’d like to see it in person, but I’m a bit skeptical of the white bezel. Everything else sounds pretty great, and there’s no longer a premium for the VESA models.

Many of the specifications are limited compared with the previous model:

So, presumably there will be a new iMac Pro sometime in the next year or so. Perhaps it will have a faster processor than the other M1 Macs. Ideally, for those of us with DTK coupons, this will be out before the end of the year, along with a 16-inch MacBook Pro and an external display.

Mitchel Broussard:

Alongside the brand new M1 iMac, Apple today revealed a collection of accessories for the desktop computer. The biggest product is a new version of the Magic Keyboard that includes support for Touch ID, providing quick access to macOS and even allowing users to switch profiles with the touch of their finger.

Alas, it has the bad arrow key layout, even though Apple already fixed this on its notebooks. I’m not sure whether it’s still bendy or suffers from the Bluetooth problems that forced me back to a wired keyboard.

Previously:

Update (2021-04-20): Scott:

The ONE thing that I didn’t see, am not seeing, that I wanted, NEEDED to see with new iMacs is the ability to use the iMac as an external display over Type C.

Shihab:

Hot take: The iMac didn’t need to be thinner. The bezels (AND CHIN) needed to be reduced.

Update (2021-04-22): Marques Brownlee:

Fun fact: This new iMac is so thin (11.5mm) that it can’t fit a headphone jack on the back (typically 14mm deep) so they HAD to put it on the side.

Stephen Hackett:

The machine’s tiny logic board, two small fans and the improved speakers are all housed in that chin, with the 24-inch display sitting above these internals, not in front of them.

Jason Snell:

That power brick also cleverly includes an Ethernet jack, so that’s one fewer cable that needs to snake across your desk and attach to the back of your iMac. I love the idea, and hope Apple explores a bit more functionality in this brick in the future. If I could plug a couple of USB devices into a hidden power brick instead of having to route them up to the back of my iMac on my desk, I’d love it.

I’d also like Apple to consider making some sort of extension cable or offering a version of the cable in longer lengths; two meters seems like a long distance, but it won’t reach the floor if my adjustable sit-stand desk is in its standing configuration.

[…]

But my bigger disappointment with the iMac stand is that its height is not adjustable. These gorgeous iMacs are going to go out in the world, and then people are going to have to stick old ratty dictionaries and encyclopedias under them in order to get them up to the right height.

Joe Rossignol:

While the Touch ID sensor on the new Magic Keyboard is compatible with all M1 Macs, including the new iMac and last fall’s 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini, MacRumors has confirmed with Apple that the Touch ID sensor will not function with the new iPad Pro, even though it also has an M1 chip.

Mr. Macintosh:

I know you have questions, and I’m here to answer them.

Update (2021-05-03): Riccardo Mori:

That’s why these three iMac tiers feel so contrived to me. It’s not an additive configuration model, where you start with a decent base machine (the good tier) and you add meaningful features to it to create the better tier machine, and then you add some more perks to end up offering the best tier machine. With the new iMac you have a subtractive configuration model: you start by what is essentially a reasonable configuration by 2021 standards — the most expensive $1,699 iMac — and then remove functionalities from it to offer two more lower tiers which do cost less, yes, but also leave you with a machine with the bare minimum of ports, performance, memory and storage — and neither of these latter features are upgradable down the road.

I realise that computers are de facto household appliances by now, but this trend towards devices with immutable innards once you pick a configuration at the time of purchase still feels annoying and ridiculous to me. Computers aren’t devices you replace every year. Your needs may change over time. If there’s something you constantly need more of as time goes by is storage space. Internal drives should always be upgradable.

John Gruber:

These new iMacs are just 11.5mm thick. How thin is that? Apple Watch Series 6 is 10.7mm thick. These new iMacs are less than 1mm thicker than a goddamned Apple Watch.

[…]

Making these new iMacs super thin is cool. It’s a statement. From the side they look like big 24-inch iPads. If you don’t think that’s cool and that cool is something Apple should aspire to in its design and engineering, I have no idea why you’re reading anything I write.

Apple TV 4K 2021

Apple (MacRumors, Hacker News):

With A12 Bionic, Apple TV 4K now supports high frame rate HDR (High Dynamic Range) and Dolby Vision video, enabling fast-moving action at 60 frames per second (fps) to play more smoothly and appear more lifelike than ever before.

[…]

Apple TV uses the light sensor in iPhone to compare the color balance to the industry-standard specifications used by cinematographers worldwide. Using this data, Apple TV automatically tailors its video output to deliver much more accurate colors and improved contrast — without customers ever having to adjust their television settings.

[…]

The all-new Siri Remote features an innovative clickpad control that offers five-way navigation for better accuracy, and is also touch-enabled for the fast directional swipes Apple TV users love. The outer ring of the clickpad supports an intuitive circular gesture that turns it into a jog control — perfect for finding a scene in a movie or show. […] The new Siri Remote also has a power button that controls a TV’s power, and another for mute, making it the only remote needed while enjoying TV.

This sounds great, although $179 is still pretty steep if you don’t care about gaming or apps. With Apple TV 3 losing content, I just want a nice way to play the latest video, with a reasonable remote. This seems like overkill.

Joe Rossignol:

The new Siri Remote is included with the new Apple TV 4K and will also be sold separately for $59. The new remote is also compatible with the previous-generation Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD. Apple also continues to sell the Apple TV HD with 32GB of storage for $149, and orders placed from today onwards will include the new Siri Remote.

Previously:

Update (2021-04-20): Mark V:

So they did a whole shtick about someone looking for lost items in the couch using Find My and in the same presentation introduce a Remote that doesn’t support it? 😂

Eli Rousso:

Apple Remote Evolution, 2005-2021

Dan Moren:

Yep, the new Apple TV 4K has a Thread radio!

Update (2021-04-22): Francisco Tolmasky:

So for $10 less than the new Apple TV remote, you can get an entire Fire TV 4K Stick (which has way better voice recognition).

Benjamin Mayo:

It feels a little silly to be commending something as primitive as a TV remote, but the new Siri Remote deserves it.

[…]

The A12 chip and the overhauled Remote do just enough to serve as a signal that Apple is committed to keeping the Apple TV around. I can allay my fears about its discontinuation. But clearly, there’s a lot more to be done in the living room and I hope Apple has more coming down the pipe in both hardware and software.

Nick Heer:

The colour balancing feature is not exclusive to this new model. It works with any Apple TV that supports tvOS 14.5 and any iPhone with a Face ID array.

Juli Clover:

The newly redesigned Siri Remote, which will be sold alongside the updated Apple TV 4K and is also available on a standalone basis, does not have a built-in U1 chip and does not appear to be compatible with the Find My app.

Update (2021-05-03): Joe Rossignol:

According to Digital Trends, the new Siri Remote lacks an accelerometer and gyroscope, which allowed the original Siri Remote to function as a gaming controller. Apple even required tvOS games to support the Siri Remote following the launch of the fourth-generation Apple TV, but it dropped this requirement in June 2016.

Due to its lack of accelerometer and gyroscope, the new Siri Remote will not be compatible with motion/tilt-based Apple TV games. Instead, users will need to use the original Siri Remote or connect an Apple-certified game controller.

Ryan Jones:

I was about to say and can confirm that 64GB Apple TV is needed to store more screensavers.

I noticed my 32GB only had the ocean ones for example, switched it with the bedroom 64GB. :)

Juli Clover:

Apple has made no mention of Find My integration for the Siri Remote designed for the second-generation Apple TV 4K, but Siri responses to certain requests about the remote suggest that Apple could perhaps have such a feature in the works, or at the least, might have considered adding it.

PoudreCoders:

ATP’s @siracusa : Is it better? Yes, it’s better than the worst remote ever made.

And the bit about the 50% success rate hitting the center of the button was brilliant. Replayed it a dozen times before I could go on.

John Gruber:

Apple’s position is clearly that they’re good with the Apple TV hardware platform as we know it: a premium price for a premium experience.

Update (2021-05-05): Ken Segall:

After nearly six frustrating years—six years!—one of the company’s most inexplicable design blunders was finally corrected. Hello, new Siri Remote.

AirTag

Apple (MacRumors, Hacker News):

Whether attached to a handbag, keys, backpack, or other items, AirTag taps into the vast, global Find My network and can help locate a lost item, all while keeping location data private and anonymous with end-to-end encryption. AirTag can be purchased in one and four packs for just $29 and $99, respectively, and will be available beginning Friday, April 30.

[…]

Customers can personalize AirTag with free engraving, including text and a selection of 31 emoji, when purchasing from apple.com or the Apple Store app.

[…]

iOS devices can also detect an AirTag that isn’t with its owner, and notify the user if an unknown AirTag is seen to be traveling with them from place to place over time. And even if users don’t have an iOS device, an AirTag separated from its owner for an extended period of time will play a sound when moved to draw attention to it.

[…]

AirTag is designed for over a year’s worth of battery life with everyday use. The CR2032 battery is user-replaceable and widely available.

This seems very well done, although it’s not clear to me what I would use them for. I don’t misplace keychains or bags. I guess it would be fun to put them in luggage, to be alerted when it arrives, though I’m not sure whether that would trigger the “separated from owner” feature. And, hopefully, AirTag would work from inside the luggage, so you don’t have to buy special tags and put them at risk of theft.

Previously:

Update (2021-04-20): Scott Morrison:

Maybe I am old and just don’t understand these things but I cannot for the life of me grasp how a little bit of leather, stitching and a metal ring justifies a $450 CAD price tag.

Update (2021-04-22): John Gruber (MacRumors):

The timeout period for when an AirTag will play a sound if separated from its owner is currently three days — but that’s not baked into the AirTags themselves. It’s a server-side setting in the Find My network, so Apple can adjust it if real-world use suggests that three days is too long or too short.

John Gruber:

Takes a little longer than I’d wish to get the initial signal — sometimes — but once it has the signal, it’s accurate to within inches.

See also: Apple, Dieter Bohn, Matthew Panzarino.

Update (2021-05-03): Hartley Charlton:

As the two leading item trackers share a number of key features, it may not be immediately obvious which is better for your personal use case. Our guide answers the question of how to decide whether AirTag or Tile is best for you.

Sami Fathi:

Apple has shared considerable information regarding the safety mechanisms in place within its Find My network and AirTags, that prevent unwanted tracking. One of the biggest measures is the ability of an iPhone to detect if an unknown AirTag has been following a person for a period of time. In the unfortunate event that does occur, the iPhone can display an alert.

Mark Wilson (via Hacker News):

Apple declined to answer any of our specific questions, including whether the company consulted domestic violence organizations when designing AirTags and why they did not extend full AirTag protections to Android users. They also declined to address how domestic abusers might exploit AirTags to harass people close to them.

[…]

If you are an Android user—note that Android made up 87% of the worldwide smartphone market share as of 2019—you don’t have the protection of Apple’s network notifications. Instead, an AirTag that has not paired locally with its iPhone in three days will emit a sound. So if you are an Android user who has had an AirTag placed on you, you will know in 72 hours. (Apple told Fast Company last week that it could lengthen or shorten that time span in the future, and it reiterated that point for this article.) If you are an Android user living with an iPhone abuser, however, a hidden AirTag could be pairing far more often.

Sami Fathi:

iFixit has shared the first of its two-part series in tearing down Apple’s AirTag item tracker, revealing that Apple had to make impressive design decisions to achieve its small design, including rethinking the speaker layout.

Update (2021-05-05): Howard Oakley:

Just as Macs can’t activate and add new AirTags, they can’t remove them either.

John Gruber:

If you have a good idea for a third-party product on a big platform, you need to expect that the platform maker will eventually use your idea. If they don’t, maybe it wasn’t that good an idea in the first place. If they do, you should be ready to keep your product viable by going further than the platform maker is willing to go. Target the enthusiast/professional/power user market. If your idea doesn’t have room for an enthusiast/professional/power user tier — hello, Tile — again, maybe it wasn’t that great an idea in the first place, or it was simply a good idea whose time as a viable product has passed. You can say that’s a shame, but it’s hard for me to buy that Tile has been wronged.

Update (2021-05-06): Juli Clover:

Apple’s safeguards include privacy alerts to let iPhone users know that an unknown AirTag is traveling with them and may be in their belongings, along with regular sound alerts when an AirTag has been separated from its owner for three days.

Apple Podcasts Subscriptions

Apple (MacRumors):

Starting in May, listeners in more than 170 countries and regions can sign up for premium subscriptions that include a variety of benefits curated by creators, such as ad-free listening, access to additional content, and early or exclusive access to new series.

[…]

The new Apple Podcasts for Creators website helps creators learn more about podcasting, stay informed about the latest news and features, and explore in-depth guides with best practices. Starting today, all creators can access an updated Apple Podcasts Connect dashboard, which has new features that make it easier to manage shows on Apple Podcasts, including the ability to edit metadata, schedule and manage show availability, organize shows into channels, manage multiple users and roles, and learn how listeners are engaging with their shows through new performance metrics and visualization tools. From Apple Podcasts Connect, creators can enroll in the new Apple Podcasters Program, which provides access to all the tools needed to build and distribute premium subscriptions on Apple Podcasts.

[…]

The Apple Podcasters Program, which includes all of the tools needed to offer premium subscriptions on Apple Podcasts, is available to creators in over 170 countries and regions for $19.99 (US) per year.

Peter Kafka:

First take on Apple’s pod plans: creator-friendly way to generate more $ w/out cannibalizing existing biz.

I had thought Apple would require some kind of exclusivity but am told that’s not so: you can distribute pod with ads on Spotify, Apple etc and sell ad-free via Apple too.

Matt Medeiros:

Looks like Apple will keep 30% of your private podcast revenue + the $19.99/year in the first year. Moving to 15% of subscribers in year 2+ -- according to their terms.

Previously:

Update (2021-04-20): Paul Haddad (MacRumors):

What’s the justification behind charging 30% to host podcasts? It’s not like the App Store where there’s a huge review infrastructure and super rich SDK.

Owen Williams:

and you STILL have to host your own RSS feed/files for all of the regular content, i don’t get it

Marco Arment:

Well, this is fun.

Tried going to Apple Podcasts Connect when signed into my developer account. Hit Cancel, signed out.

Now I can’t get into App Store Connect with my dev account.

Always redirects to podcastsconnect, even in another browser.

Update (2021-04-22): Nathan Gathright:

Just like the App Store, Apple owns the customer relationship and can choose to offer a refund if they decide you haven’t fulfilled the benefits offered in your subscription. You have to reimburse the money, but Apple retains their cut, natch.

Ben Thompson:

As a longstanding | critic | of | the App Store, you might expect me to be scandalized by Apple’s podcast subscription offering…and you would be wrong! In fact, Apple’s podcast offering is an excellent example of how the App Store should operate (with one big exception).

Apple’s podcast subscription offering gets four big things right, three of which are the complete opposite of the App Store.

[…]

I’m actually very open to allowing Apple to be my payment processor; in my experience, though, a critical part of the creator business model is having a direct connection with your customers. That is something Apple simply doesn’t allow.

[…]

Apple’s podcast offering, as I laid out above, rightfully competes on the merits with alternative ways of paying for subscription podcasts in the Apple Podcast app. Unfortunately there is a meta competition problem, which is that no one else can offer a podcast subscription service like Apple’s.

Ashley Carman:

confirmed that apple podcast subscription content has to be uploaded through apple’s backend, not through RSS. the regular content that you’ve had in the feed can still go through RSS.

Benjamin Mayo:

The biggest issue I can see for adoption of Podcasts Subscriptions so far is the lack of API/automation support. All subscriber audio has to be manually uploaded in a web interface.

Update (2021-05-03): Jason Snell:

Apple Podcasts Subscriptions has a lot going for it—but its limitations reinforce that this is really just a first attempt. Worse, Apple Podcasts Subscriptions highlights how some of Apple’s App Store policies effectively bar any other podcast app developer from competing with Apple.

See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.