Archive for April 23, 2021

Friday, April 23, 2021

Mac and iPad Aren’t Meeting in the Middle Yet

Watts Martin:

Since then, I’ve seen a chorus of pundits, both professional and armchair (hi), push two theories that are either at odds or entwined, depending on how you look at them:

  • Surely, a dystopian iOS-like future of only sanctioned App Store purchases lies ahead for the Mac. (Let’s call this the “Hacker News bait” narrative.)
  • Surely, the iPad is going to catch up or even surpass the Mac—it already does so many things so well, and it’s only held back from its potential by an OS with artificial limitations.


As long as this philosophy on Apple’s part holds—and there’s no evidence that it’s changing—macOS will never be locked down to the degree iOS is, i.e., unable to install non-App Store apps without jailbreaking.


But that brings us to the second point. Is this the year when the iPad does get to do everything, not just most things, the Mac does? Will we be able to run macOS apps on M1 iPad Pros the way we can run iOS apps on M1 Macs?

Juli Clover:

The maxed out 11-inch cellular model will run you $2,099, which is just about as expensive as the maxed out M1 MacBook Pro. Neither of those price points includes an Apple Pencil or a Magic Keyboard, both of which can be purchased separately.

Jason Snell:

And yet, in 2021, it feels like the same story: Apple killed it on the hardware side, and the software…well, the software lags behind, to put it nicely. Apple built a spectacular sports car, but where are the roads to drive it on?

Jack Wellborn:

Imagine working on an iPad. It works much like an iPad today. It’s running iPadOS, is optimized for touch and has apps in different screens. Now imagine connecting that iPad to a 6K display. Full screen apps are absurd on such a large screen. Instead, imagine apps running on the iPad are now mirrored in macOS as separate windows, which can still be optionally full screened. The screen on the iPad is still in iPadOS, and you can even use touch or the Apple Pencil. Input from either interface updates the other in real time.

Monica Chin:

I really would just like Apple’s next iPad Pro to be a laptop. Not a clamshell, but a Surface Pro type of deal: a tablet with laptop hardware and a laptop OS.


But now that the iPad Pro is an M1 system, I don’t see why it can’t run macOS apps. Because it has the same hardware as the MacBook Air (including the fanless form factor). So the iPad really should be able to run whatever the MacBook Air can run.


The result of all this is that we’re moving toward a weird point in the evolution of these two devices where the MacBook can do everything the iPad can do (but it doesn’t have the touchscreen hardware to take advantage of all of it), while the iPad can still only do iPad things (even though features of macOS would take good advantage of its touchscreen capability). It seems like a point where Apple’s goals of “creating a seamless ecosystem” and “selling you many different products” are starting to butt heads.

Christina Warren:

I don’t want a touch screen Mac, I just want to use Mac apps on my iPad.

John Gruber:

Most people clamoring to run Mac apps on their iPad Pro probably do not have a single Catalyst app on their wishlist, of course. But if you mean other Mac apps, real Cocoa Mac apps, then what you really mean is you want to run MacOS on iPad.

Jeff Johnson:

They think they want Mac apps, but what they really want is for iOS to not be locked down. Open up the file system, allow full background multiprocessing, interprocess communication, shell scripts, AppleScript, remove sandbox limitations, etc.

Juli Clover:

“There’s two conflicting stories people like to tell about the iPad and Mac,” says Joz, as he starts on a clarification that will lead him at one point to apologise for his passion. “On the one hand, people say that they are in conflict with each other. That somebody has to decide whether they want a Mac, or they want an iPad.

“Or people say that we’re merging them into one: that there’s really this grand conspiracy we have, to eliminate the two categories and make them one. And the reality is neither is true. We’re quite proud of the fact that we work really, really hard to create the best products in their respective category.”

Jeff Johnson:

A grand conspiracy? They already did it! Fait accompli. Big Sur is iOS, and iOS apps are running on M1 Macs now. The system is read-only, kernel extensions are banned, external booting is basically dead.

Nick Heer:

An iPad that runs MacOS would suck just as much — albeit for different reasons — as a Mac that ran iPadOS. But now that they are all on the same silicon, it makes the ways in which the iPad is limited by its software that much more noticeable. Griffin points out that Apple demoed Final Cut Pro on a Pro Display XDR to show how powerful the M1 is in a Mac, but could not do any of that with an iPad because the software does not exist. He even tries to coax Joz into admitting that Apple is working on professional apps for the iPad, with predictably little success.


If you toggle between a few resource-hungry apps on a Mac and then go back to Safari, it picks up where you left off; if you open the camera and a few other apps on an iPad and then switch back to Safari, your open tabs might reload. If you pause the music you are listening to so you can watch something in your browser, then try to resume playback, it is a crapshoot whether it resumes correctly, starts the song again, or entirely forgets that you were listening to music — and it is worse with AirPlay.


Update (2021-05-03): scott:

It took me half the morning to figure out how to bring up the taskbar on iPad OS using a trackpad, because nothing happens by moving your cursor to the bottom at anything resembling a normal pace, instead you must fling the cursor towards the bottom of the screen like a lunatic.

Matthew Panzarino:

One of the stronger answers on the ‘why the aggressive spec bump’ question comes later in our discussion but is worth mentioning in this context. The point, Joswiak says, is to offer headroom. Headroom for users and headroom for developers.

“One of the things that iPad Pro has done as John [Ternus] has talked about is push the envelope. And by pushing the envelope that has created this space for developers to come in and fill it. When we created the very first iPad Pro, there was no Photoshop,” Joswiak notes. “There was no creative apps that could immediately use it. But now there’s so many you can’t count. Because we created that capability, we created that performance — and, by the way sold a fairly massive number of them — which is a pretty good combination for developers to then come in and say, I can take advantage of that. There’s enough customers here and there’s enough performance. I know how to use that. And that’s the same thing we do with each generation. We create more headroom to performance that developers will figure out how to use.

“The customer is in a great spot because they know they’re buying something that’s got some headroom and developers love it.”

Nick Heer:

I buy this argument, particularly as the iPad is the kind of product that should last years. Since the first-generation iPad Pro, iPads have seemed to be built for software and workflows that are two or three years down the road. But the question about the iPad for about that same length of time is less can you? and more would you want to?, and I hope the answer to that comes sooner than a few years out.

Riccardo Mori:

I kind of buy that argument too, in the sense that it’s the only possible argument Apple can elaborate at this point. But this headroom Joswiak and Ternus are talking about is getting so ridiculously high that I truly wonder whether the whole thing is starting to lose sense.


Apologies if I’m getting unbearably pedantic here, but I do think that Apple’s narrative here is like You know, the chicken did indeed come before the egg, while I’m rather certain the opposite is true. Creative apps and iOS developers never really waited for Apple; I’ve purchased creative apps for iOS since 2008, and what I’ve noticed is that developers in general, and especially developers of creative apps, have always tried to stay ahead of the curve. And all the iPads I’ve handled in the past ten years have never really struggled when running such creative apps.


Hardware-wise, an M1 iPad Pro is essentially a Mac with a touch interface. Software-wise, this incredibly powerful iPad is as capable as a 2014 iPad Air 2 (the oldest iPad model that can run iPadOS 14). There is still, in my opinion, a substantial software design gap preventing iPads from being as flexible as they are powerful. Software-wise, iPadOS still lacks flow.

Apple Sued for Removing Purchased Content

Jason Hellerman (Hacker News):

You know all those times you “bought” movies on iTunes? Well, because of the way Apple licenses films from studios, you never really own them. You actually have rented them at a higher fee, for a longer time.


David Andino is the lead plaintiff in this case. He alleges Apple reserves the right to terminate access to any movie you “purchase.” And that they do this on regular occasions. He wants them to stop telling people they have “bought” things when they really have not.

Eriq Gardner:

This week, U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez made clear he isn’t ready to buy into Apple’s view of consumer expectations in the digital marketplace.

“Apple contends that ‘[n]o reasonable consumer would believe’ that purchased content would remain on the iTunes platform indefinitely,” writes Mendez. “But in common usage, the term ‘buy’ means to acquire possession over something. It seems plausible, at least at the motion to dismiss stage, that reasonable consumers would expect their access couldn’t be revoked.”

Damien Petrilli:

Yup. And some of the movies I got were removes sometimes.

Now I track the number of movies in my account to check which ones.

Apple should send at least an email to have the time to save them but they don’t.

And in another case, a customer lost more than just a few movies:

The complaint, filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, goes after an Apple services clause that states a user with a terminated Apple ID cannot access media content that they’ve purchased.


The plaintiff in the case, Matthew Price, reportedly spent nearly $25,000 on content attached to an Apple ID. When Apple terminated Price’s Apple ID for an alleged violation of its terms and conditions, Price lost access to all of that content.


The lawsuit doesn’t specify why Price’s account was terminated. However, it does claim that Apple shut down the Apple ID “without notice, explanation, policy or process.”


Update (2021-06-07): See also: Tim De Chant (via Hacker News).

Revitalizing the Windows App Store

Zac Bowden:

Furthermore, in addition to the new storefront, Microsoft is also planning to relax some of the policies around what kind of apps can be submitted to the Store by developers.

According to my sources, there are three big changes coming to the new Store that will benefit developers:

  • Allow developers to submit unpackaged Win32 apps to the Store
  • Allow developers to host apps and updates on their own content delivery network (CDN)
  • Allow developers to use third-party commerce platforms in apps


I’m told that Microsoft will not take a cut from app developers who do leverage their own in-app commerce channel, which I believe would be an industry first.

Via Damien Petrilli:

What is happening here is really important for the antitrust cases as it shows a lot.

Windows store: Microsoft is subjected to competition / underdog and forced to make a fair deal and be opened.

Xbox store: monopoly by Microsoft, they follow Apple / Google 30% walled garden.

We have a pretty clear example here about how big corps are forced to react when they are subjected to competition.


Update (2021-05-05): Tom Warren:

Microsoft is shaking up the world of PC gaming today with a big cut to the amount of revenue it takes from games on Windows. The software giant is reducing its cut from 30 percent to just 12 percent from August 1st, in a clear bid to compete with Steam and entice developers and studios to bring more PC games to its Microsoft Store.

Nilay Patel:

It is amazing how even just a little competition changes things fast


More App Store Search Ads

Sami Fathi:

Apple is planning to boost its advertising business through a new ad slot on the App Store search page which will allow developers to promote their apps across the entire platform, rather than just when users search for a specific app, according to a new report from the Financial Times.


According to the Financial Times, citing people familiar with the matter, the company plans to roll out a second ad slot within the App Store , but this time directly within the Search page, by the end of the month. The new ads will appear alongside the current “Suggested” section on the page and will be visible to users across the whole platform.

Everyone has different ideas about how to improve the App Store, but I’ve never heard anyone say that the problem is it doesn’t have enough ads.


Update (2021-05-05): Apple:

Apple Search Ads has always made it easy to promote your apps at the top of relevant search results on the App Store. Now you can reach users even before they search with an ad placement on the Search tab. It’s a simple and effective way to help users discover your apps.

BBC (via Hacker News):

Last week’s release of iOS 14.5 placed strict limits on tracking on iPhones - including tracking for advertising.

And Facebook fiercely opposed the change, warning it would favour Apple’s own advertising system.

Patrick McGee:

Apple’s Eric Friedman, head of the fraud unit and whose emails are a journalist’s dream, responds that paid promotion “would be awesome” particularly because bots were already gaming the App Store ranking; so “why don’t we just let them pay us to gain position?”

Friedman conceded the App Store would be “pretty cheesy” if it were inundated with ads, “but at least it would be transparently cheesy.” In any case, he said the App Store’s role as an app discovery tool had become pretty meaningless for consumers.

Friedman later acknowledged that developers would “love” being able to pay for ads in the App Store, but “Tim” — presumably Cook — was “telling the world we make great products without monetizing users. Ads would be weirdly at odds with that.”


iTunes Podcast Directory Now Hiding Feed URLs

Marco Arment:

Something’s up with the iTunes API (that most podcast apps use). This isn’t the first missing feedUrl I’ve seen on a public podcast.

Removing this API will make Apple an enemy of open podcasting FAR more than optional paid subscriptions.

Benjamin Mayo:

Apple Podcasts Connect has a ‘Make my feed publicly available’ option so maybe the backend is screwed up whilst they transition databases or something.

Marco Arment:

This checkbox needs to be seriously rethought.

Novice podcasters won’t know the ramifications of unchecking it (not being visible to a huge portion of podcast listeners who use other apps).

Nathan Gathright:

For new shows, it’s checked by default. It looks like existing shows are getting accidentally opted out when they make any change in Podcasts Connect.

Stephen Robles:

Turns out, every one of the checkboxes were unchecked. Podcasters, double check your shows.

Art Crime Podcast:

Approx 15 hours after opting my podcast back INTO being discoverable, it still no longer appears in show results, only episode results.

Marco Arment:

Losing feed URLs from the iTunes API dramatically raises the barrier for new podcast apps to exist and increases the burden on new podcasters to be visible everywhere.

Removing feed URLs from the iTunes API does FAR more damage to the open podcast ecosystem, and changes Apple from a multi-decade benevolent protector to a destructive adversary, much more than introducing proprietary subscriptions.

Russell Ivanovic:

If you think this RSS feed thing going on with Apple Podcasts is just a launch glitch and it’s smooth sailing from here…my 12 years of App Development experience says otherwise. Have fun!


Update (2021-04-23): Justin Jackson:

Got a DM from someone at Apple.

I asked about the RSS submission bugs:

“We’ve been having issues with the crawler. Hoping to have it resolved today.” 👍

I asked why public RSS URLs were removed from the API:

“That’s a bug. There was no intention to remove feed URLs en masse.”

This is the sort of thing that would have been good to mention on the System Status page.

He wrote that yesterday, and it was still broken when I started writing this post, but as of now it looks to me like it’s fixed. (Or, I suppose, all the podcasts that I thought to check have manually opted in.)

Spotify Set to Rival Apple Podcasts Subscriptions

Tim Hardwick:

According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, Spotify will announce a similar podcast subscription feature next week, but in contrast to Apple, the rival streaming service won’t be collecting revenue on any of the content it hosts.


According to one prediction, Spotify could soon have more podcast listeners than Apple.


Apple won’t require podcast creators to create content exclusively for Apple, but it does have a number of partners on board ready to create premium podcast content[…]

I just want to be able to listen to everything in the app of my choice.