Archive for December 7, 2021

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

The State of External Retina Displays

Casey Liss (tweet):

In [effectively] 2022, there are four options for retina-quality monitors to attach to your Mac.


Only two are 5K or greater. The LG still seems to have problems, and the Apple Pro Display XDR costs $6,000.

Over the last year or two, Apple has been doing a phenomenal job of filling the holes in their product line. For my money, the completely embarrasing monitor situation is the lowest-hanging fruit. By a mile.

Jack Wellborn:

While I’d also love to see Apple release a not ridiculously expensive but still very expensive monitor, I don’t think that addresses the problem. Before Retina was a thing, Casey and I could choose from a variety QHD displays. Ideally we’d have that same variety with 5K displays.

When I wrote about this, I noticed that macOS and Windows treat my 27” 4K display differently. By default, macOS uses the display’s native resolution while Windows scales to pseudo 5K. I wonder if there might have been a better display market had Windows not pretended 4K was 5K.

Here’s what I wrote (an attempt to explain why 4K 27” displays aren’t great).

Dan Moren:

It remains quite surprising that there isn’t an option for those who can’t afford and don’t need the $6000 reference-monitor quality of the Pro Display XDR to pair with a MacBook or Mac Pro, even two and a half years after Apple released its foray back into the external monitor market. Even the iPad can connect to external displays, though its utility remains a bit limited.

Josh Centers:

Macs don’t provide HiDPI (or Retina) scaling for sharp text on monitors with less than 4K resolution, including those with a 1440p resolution (2560 by 1440 pixels), and existing workarounds for Intel-based Macs don’t work with M1-based Macs. Macworld’s Jared Newman highlights BetterDummy, a clever utility that addresses this limitation in a roundabout way. It lets you trick macOS by mirroring the contents of a fake 5K display of the right aspect ratio onto your actual 1440p screen.

Fernando Cassia (via Hacker News):

Nobody can explain it better than the guy behind the code. So we decided to chat with him so he can tell us more about his project, where he thinks Apple could improve, and why Intel-based Macs are more flexible when it comes to supporting non-Apple monitors, among other things.


Update (2021-12-13): Matt Birchler:

I’m using the LG 27” IPS 4K UHD Monitor (model #: 27UP600-W.AUS) which cost me about $399 and technically falls outside of Casey’s criteria, but I think works wonderfully. It’s 4K, supports the P3 color space, and has the inputs I need for my (realtively) basic needs.

It also happens to look a lot better, in my opinion, than the budget option in the article.

Update (2021-12-28): See also: Hacker News.

John Gruber:

This is why Apple needs to make its own prosumer-priced external display (or even better, displays) — it’s clear no one else is making them other than LG, and the LG displays aren’t great.

Update (2022-01-05): Matthias Gansrigler:

Which left me with the LG UltraFine 27UN880-B. And I have to say: it’s a choice I don’t regret one bit. I love it.

Unfortunately, it’s only 4K.

Update (2022-01-07): Tom Brand:

Say what you will about 5K vs 4K monitors, but ever since we switched from LG 5K displays and Caldigit Thunderbolt docks to Dell 4k USB Type-C displays, the kernel panics went away.

Update (2022-01-31): Ken Kocienda:

Witness for the prosecution. Seriously, I should never have to deal with junk like this.

Life360 Sells Precise User Location Data

Jon Keegan and Alfred Ng (Hacker News, Reddit, MacRumors):

Life360, a popular family safety app used by 33 million people worldwide, has been marketed as a great way for parents to track their children’s movements using their cellphones. The Markup has learned, however, that the app is selling data on kids’ and families’ whereabouts to approximately a dozen data brokers who have sold data to virtually anyone who wants to buy it.

Through interviews with two former employees of the company, along with two individuals who formerly worked at location data brokers Cuebiq and X-Mode, The Markup discovered that the app acts as a firehose of data for a controversial industry that has operated in the shadows with few safeguards to prevent the misuse of this sensitive information.


Life360 discloses in the fine print of its privacy policy that it sells the data it gleans from app users, but Justin Sherman, a cyber policy fellow at the Duke Tech Policy Lab, said people are probably not aware of how far their data can travel.


Two former Life360 employees also told The Markup that the company, while it states it anonymizes the data it sells, fails to take necessary precautions to ensure that location histories cannot be traced back to individuals.

Nick Heer:

In 2019, Apple pulled about a dozen parental control apps from the App Store over privacy concerns, since they abused Mobile Device Management, though I cannot find any reports that Life360 was among them. However, I did come across a Wired article from later that year in which Louise Matsakis reported that Life360’s public trading prospectus indicated the value it sees in mining its vast collection of user data — largely of children — for profit.


Apple Accounts “Permanently” Blocked

Quinn Comendant (Hacker News, Reddit, 2):

Apple permanently disabled my account today. I’ve lost access to $1200+ of apps that I have purchased through the App Store, my App Store balance, and my music collection of thousands of CDs uploaded to iTunes Match.


Support unblocked my account again. Both times, they said they were unable to tell me why the account was blocked, except that I had violated the iTunes terms and conditions.

Hours later, my account was blocked for a 3rd time. I called Apple, and they said my account is now permanently blocked. They said there is nothing they can do, and suggested that I create a new Apple ID and start over.

The Apple Engineer I spoke to was confident, “Nobody at Apple can unblock your account.”

Apple Support:

This message is a well-known error that can pop up for multiple reasons. If you’d like to regain access to the App Store and iTunes Store, please contact our billing experts for further assistance.

Quinn Comendant:

I escalated to a senior advisor, who spoke with the iTunes fraud department, and confirmed my account was flagged for using too many gift cards on my account. I explained that the gift cards were purchased legitimately, and I could send receipts. They said there is nothing they can do, and suggested that I create a new Apple ID and start over. It is odd that my account was blocked repeatedly over a couple days, even though the last gift card I applied to my account was Nov 29.

Quinn Comendant:

I purchased [11] gift cards directly from Apple, Amazon, Target, and Citi slowly over the course of two months[…]

I buy them when Amazon and Target have discounts such as “Get $15 Amazon credit with the purchase of a $100 Apple Gift Card”, or “Get 15% discount when you apply Membership Rewards Points towards your order”. The gift cards sold from Amazon and Target are authentic, full-price gift cards.

Quinn Comendant:

I received a call from Isabela with Apple’s Corporate Executive Relations, who explained that my account was blocked in error “because of a glitch” affecting more than a few users. She said they’re working with engineering to fix the problem.


The real glitch is not the algo, but rather Apple’s obstinance and lack of recourse. I shouldn’t have had to go to the length I did to get this resolved. Apple should have immediately passed my case to an internal investigation team with whom I could have disputed my case.

Mere Civilian (Hacker News):

A few months ago, the balance on my Apple account was running low (less than $100), and therefore, I attempted to add funds to my account using my credit card. My first attempt resulted in an error, and I decided to try again in a couple of days. The very next day, all my Apple devices gave the following prompt when updating apps from the App Store: “Your Account Has Been Disabled in the App Store and iTunes.”

I called Apple Support and was advised that my account has been permanently disabled, and there is no recourse. Apple alleges that I breached the Apple Media Services Terms and Conditions. Despite asking what exactly I did for Apple to terminate my over 10-year relationship with Apple, the answer provided was, please read the Apple Media Services Terms and Conditions. I then asked what does Apple recommend I do. Apple Support representative said: “Create a new account and start from fresh”. This means I have lost all my app and media purchases and the funds in my Apple account.

Via Dave Mark:

This was interesting (and worth reading) on a number of fronts. Part of this is the hoops the poster had to jump through to try to find out why their account was disabled, and the fact that they never did get that info.

As with Comendant:

Towards the end of the week, a kind soul from Tim Cook’s executive team reached out to me and indicated that he would look into my case. A feeling of hope and joy quickly overcame me. He worked behind the scenes with the relevant teams, and within two weeks, my account was enabled and was working.

But no explanation as to why this happened to him. It surely will again to someone else.

To the extent possible, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. And don’t take support’s “no” for an answer.


Update (2021-12-16): Isaiah Carew (tweet):

This blog post is my last desperate plea to anyone with any contacts at Apple to please pass this info on to someone that might be able to help before I give up and abandon my online persona and thousands of dollars of apps and media.

Apple Opposes Mentions of External Payment Options in Russia

Hartley Charlton:

Apple is undertaking legal action in Russia to prevent developers from promoting alternative payment methods for in-app purchases that bypass the company’s payment system, RT reports.

Apple’s lawsuit attempts to challenge Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) and the request it made to the company in August to “stop abuse in the market.” The FAS’s request would allow developers to inform users about alternative payment options for in-app purchases, but Apple is seeking to have this withdrawn by judicial review.


DOJ Investigates Apple’s Treatment of Roblox

Josh Sisco:

As the U.S. government tries to put together an antitrust case against Apple for the way it controls iPhones, prosecutors are looking for instances in which the company is unevenly enforcing rules for app developers in ways that could hurt its potential rivals. One example they’re focused on is Apple’s hands-off approach with gaming firm Roblox, which compares starkly to how it deals with other gaming app developers.

Juli Clover:

Roblox users can create a variety mini games that can be accessed within the main Roblox app, and during the Epic v. Apple trial, Epic argued that Apple had given Roblox a “free pass” while preventing other apps from doing something similar.


After coming up in the Epic v. Apple trial, Roblox altered its website to clarify that it offers “experiences” instead of “games,” a change made after App Store executive Trystan Kosmynka explained that Roblox did not violate App Store rules because Apple did not view Roblox content “as a game.” Kosmynka said that the “experiences” within Roblox were similar to “the experiences in Minecraft,” another game where users can build mini game-like content.