Archive for November 12, 2021

Friday, November 12, 2021

Offline Translation in Monterey

Howard Oakley:

The basics are very simple: select the text you want to translate, which could have been recognised and converted using Monterey’s new Live Text feature, bring up the contextual menu (Control-click, two-finger tap, etc.) and from that select the Translate … command.


I therefore recommend that, for the time being at least, and for those languages you’re most likely to use, you enable offline translation and download the supporting files required.

Do this by clicking on the new Translation Languages… button at the foot of the General tab in the Languages & Region pane.

This is a useful feature, but I ran into some issues with how it’s implemented:

Revised Messages Communication Safety Feature in iOS 15.2

Juli Clover:

Communication Safety is a Family Sharing feature that can be enabled by parents, and it is opt-in rather than activated by default. When turned on, the Messages app is able to detect nudity in images that are sent or received by children. If a child receives or attempts to send a photo with nudity, the image will be blurred and the child will be warned about the content, told it’s okay not to view the photo, and offered resources to contact someone they trust for help.

When Communication Safety was first announced, Apple said that parents of children under the age of 13 had the option to receive a notification if the child viewed a nude image in Messages, but after receiving feedback, Apple has removed this feature. Apple now says that no notifications are sent to parents.


Notability’s Subscription Transition

Tim Hardwick (Reddit):

Notability users have been left frustrated and annoyed after the developer of the popular Mac and iOS note-taking app revealed on Monday that it has switched to a subscription-based model, and that key features included in original app purchases will stop functioning after one year.

Previously available as a one-off $8.99 purchase, Notability for iPhone, iPad, and Mac is now free to download on the App Store, but not all the features are available in the “freemium” version, and those that are included have editing limitations.

To get “the full Notability experience” offered by version 11.0 of the app now requires an annual $14.99 subscription[…]


As many users have pointed out, on the face of it, the change appears to violate Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines, which state “if you are changing your existing app to a subscription-based business model, you should not take away the primary functionality existing users have already paid for.”

Isn’t this the sort of thing App Review should be checking?

Notability (via MacRumors):

We heard the disappointment from our existing customers, and we want to correct our course. […] Everyone who purchased Notability prior to our switch to subscription on November 1st, 2021 will have lifetime access to all existing features and any content previously purchased in the app.

Matt Ronge:

When switching to subscriptions, talk to lots of people about it. You want to ensure that you don’t have any blind spots. Talk to some existing customers one on one, see how they react to the news. Put together a message announcing the switch, share it with your team and others you trust. Ask them what they take away from the message. Rinse and repeat this process until you’re happy with the reaction.


Despite all of this, I still think consumer subscriptions are the right choice for most productivity apps on the market – paid upgrades would also be another good option, but I highly doubt Apple is ever going to give those to us. Just be careful when making the switch!

Ryan Jones:

Any biz owner who makes this choice is not swimming in money and trying to make more! They are dying, with 2 choices:

Option 1: Work on it out of the goodness of my heart, make no money, risk my family’s wellbeing, and it dies anyway for all users in 2 years.

Option 2: Pre-announce a systemic change. Royally piss off 10% of users. Hopefully new ones ask for a refund. Surely old ones got amortized value of $3/year. Esp if they love it.

Then we at least have a chance to live, and they have a chance to use the app in years 2+.

Paul Haddad:

I’ll say for us it was definitely a matter of permanent maintenance mode or sub + a lot of on going development to justify it.

I’ll also say I think they should’ve released a new version or grandfathered everyone in (yuck).

Apple really needs to provide better upgrade options.

Michael Love:

To me, the key problem here is that they sold specific add-ons as permanent IAP (admittedly not for very much money) but now are not only converting the app to subscription-only but are also doing so for those paid features.

Some of this may have been hard to avoid - if for example they’re using a different handwriting recognizer with new royalties - but also, grandfathering old purchases is annoying and time-consuming and means keeping around lots of awful old code; it’s tempting to skip that step.

But Notability is a great example of a bad dev + user experience that could have been avoided if Apple allowed paid upgrades.

If it’s imperative people be able to buy a new $1000 iPhone without having to give “greedy developers” any $, mandate x years bug fixes for old versions.

Francisco Tolmasky:

I don’t think this is a users vs. devs issue, but a result of the @AppStore making it hard to continue using old versions forever (since that requires changing the app name). Normally you’d just have Version N+1 be subscription & say “keep using version N as long as you want.”

Francisco Tolmasky:

[Having] a version frozen in time (so as to manage two code paths for grandfathered users and avoiding them accidentally upgrading due to iOS auto upgrades is not easy (without changing app name), whereas its the default off the AppStore.


This is not the way it works in a “if you have the binary it works” model like on the desktop. You can change everything and have zero legacy around.

The fact that most users will just have the app auto-update from underneath them exacerbates this. My point is that “grandfathering in” in @AppStore land unnecessarily also creates tech debt, at which point there are incentives other than revenue for “forcing” it on everyone.

If I had a similar situation as Notability, I think I would feel compelled to do the same as they did, just to keep the app clean, as opposed to taking on the burden of special casing past features in future versions.


Update (2021-11-15): Max Seelemann:

We’ve chosen the „new app“ approach that had also a lot of downsides to it 🧐

Christopher Atlan:

Apple doesn’t give a shit about paid purchases and anything relating to it like bundles. Bundles are broken. The new API to lookup purchases based on the receipt number? Not for paid apps.

If you don’t follow along the company line, freemium preferred with subscription, you’re in a world of pain and “are you fucking kidding me?”

Apple’s 2021 Fiscal Year in Review

Jason Snell:

That means it’s time for the final totals, and an entirely new set of charts based entirely on Apple’s annual performance.


Apple has been on a rocket-ship ride since the debut of the iPhone. But Fiscal 2021 was like no other. Revenue was up 33% from 2020. After three years where revenue held steady, it’s a huge jump, the biggest in total dollars ever.


But in the 2020s, at least thus far, the Mac has reached new heights. How much of this is due to a super buying cycle forced by COVID remains to be seen, but after nine straight years between 22 and 26 billion dollars in sales, the last two years have seen the Mac leap up to $29 billion and then $35 billion. The four best sales quarters in Mac history are the four quarters that comprised fiscal 2021. The Mac has never been more successful.