Monday, April 11, 2022

Studio Display Software Update Failures

Sami Fathi:

A growing thread on the Apple Support forum (1, 2) includes owners of the Studio Display reporting that as they try to update the display, they’re being presented with an error message that reads “Apple Studio Display firmware update could not be completed. Try again in an hour. If the problem persists, contact an authorized Apple service provider.” According to users on the thread, reconnecting the display to another Mac and/or restarting the monitor does not address the issue.

Users on the MacRumors Forums are also reporting similar problems, with some being told by Apple Support to bring in their display for repair. Apple’s Studio Display does run iOS, and users can update it through System Preferences on macOS.

Mr. Macintosh:

Apple stopped signing iOS 15.4 on 4/7

On 4/8, users started reporting that they couldn’t update the Studio Display to iOS 15.4 Firmware.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

🤦 Imagine shipping a $1599 monitor then promptly forgetting it exists, accidentally discontinuing its OS

Sami Fathi:

Apple has resolved the issue which originated from the software being unverified by the servers.

Still waiting for the camera fix.


11 Comments RSS · Twitter

I'm still unclear (and reading mixed reports) on whether A) this merely caused the update to fail, and you were left on the previous version, which, oh well, or B) this happened in the middle of the update, and the display just flat-out became a black screen.

Presumably, the verification would happen at a specific stage of the update process. Or maybe it happens both at the beginning and the end?

@Sören There are definitely reports of it making the display useless. But it does seem odd that the update wouldn’t be verified at the start, to avoid that sort of thing happening.

I understand why this has iOS, but for a monitor which you hope to get a very long life out of we now have to wonder when software support will end for it and what that means for it functionality as a display as well as its camera and speakers. An A13 already makes it a few years old.

@Eric Thus far Apple only stops signing old software if a newer version is available for a device. The final available version for particular old model remains available. We'll have to hope Apple is conscientious about the Studio Display in the future.

@Paul Yes I understand that. My concern is that projecting just a few years into the future it is easy to imagine an iOS version that drops support for devices with an A13, while one might hope to get a decade or more use out of a monitor. Will it lose functionality such as center stage getting stuck at that version while Macs get newer versions that potentially aren't compatible with it. Hopefully it continues to function as a monitor even with outdated firmware. I know no one has the answer to this but something to think about.

"one might hope to get a decade or more use out of a monitor"

It's pretty obvious that, even if it isn't the primary goal, one convenient side effect of Apple's recent hardware decisions is that you'll be compelled to upgrade much sooner than ever before.

We're gonna see a monitorOS within 18 months. Apple love them some fresh OSes.

There will come a point where firmware updates inevitably stop getting released, and then there will come another point where macOS no longer has compatible "clients" to interact with features like Center Stage. The actual display itself will probably work for many years to come, just like any 2002 DVI display continues to work (typically with an adapter these days) twenty years later.

I imagine this display being iOS-based pushes that point *more* distantly into the future rather than less, though: iOS is a piece of software they have to maintain anyway. Contrast more specialized firmware like on the previous Apple Thunderbolt Display, which quickly enters the stage of "nobody who knows this code even works here any more".

Even after A13s stop getting new iOS releases (judging from recently discontinued support, that would be somewhere 5-7 years after, so 2025-27), macOS will continue to have device interaction for much longer. I wasn't able to find a definitive answer, but it seems iPhone sync (in Finder) in current macOS still supports the iPhone 4s from 2011, and presumably further back.

Heck, I can still sync music to my third-gen FireWire/clickwheel iPod from the Finder.

(Not Contacts or Calendars, though.)

Apple, the company at the intersection between technology and their shoelaces.

Yesterday I noticed that the audio output from my Studio Display review unit was garbled. All audio, from all sources, was stuttered and jittery. Not just a little bit off, but unlistenable. Audio from my MacBook Pro’s built-in speakers, or from headphones, was fine. Detaching and reattaching the Mac to the Studio Display didn’t help. Neither did restarting the MacBook Pro.

I had one last guess for a fix: restarting the Studio Display. But there are no buttons on the display, and there are no software controls in Mac OS to tell an attached Studio Display to restart. (Or at least no such commands I’m aware of. If there’s a command-line incantation or something that can do this, I’d love to hear about it.) So, under my desk I crawled. Pulled the power plug from the wall socket, waited a few seconds, plugged it back in.

This is the most Jony Ive thing I’ve read in a while.

What they could’ve done: give the display a relatively simple firmware so it’s less prone to bugs. Give its back a pullable power cord so rebooting doesn’t require crawling under the desk (or worse). Give it a power button somewhere (I mean, even early Macs had those little reset and debug buttons. This display apparently doesn’t even have that.)

But Apple did none of that. They gave the an entire iOS, with all the complexity that entails (I get it: they didn’t want to reimplement things like Center Stage and spatial audio). They wanted an internal power supply instead of an external one, which would’ve significantly reduced heat (and thickness!) and allowed much simpler power plugs. They gave it no button, apparently not even one on the back, even though there are clearly edge cases where that might be useful.

Not to mention, just environmentally speaking, how wasteful it is to leave the thing running all the time.

They really took overengineering to a whole new level with this one.

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