Archive for January 10, 2023

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Sketchy ChatGPT App Soars Up App Store Charts

Sami Fathi:

A sketchy app claiming to be the bot ChatGPT has soared up App Store charts, charging users a $7.99 weekly subscription to use a service that is entirely free to use on the web and seemingly has no affiliation to the actual bot.


The app is currently the second most popular productivity app on the App Store in the United States, indicating it is rather popular. The app has nearly 12,000 ratings, with a number of positive and negative reviews. “This is a fake app,” one review said. “This is just faking openai endorsement and more bad stuff,” another user said. Despite its suspicious activity, presence, and soaring popularity, the app has passed Apple’s App Store review process multiple times since its initial launch three weeks ago.

The developers behind the app, named “Social Media Apps & Game Sports health Run Hiking Runing fitness tracking,” have other sketchy apps on the platform, including an “Activity Lock Screen Widget 16" app and “BetterTrack Ride Hike Run Swim” app.

Sebastiaan de With:

If Apple wants to show regulators that the App Store is a safe and trusted environment to warrant its monopoly on software on iPhone, this kind of stuff shouldn’t exist — let alone be topping the App Store charts.

As a developer this makes me both mad and really sad.

I heard about this a while ago and was surprised to see this morning that it still hadn’t been removed, but it looks like Apple got to it later in the day.

Eddy Cue:

This year, more people than ever visited the App Store to discover and download the world’s most creative and cutting-edge apps and games in a safe and trusted environment.


Developers selling digital goods and services on the App Store have earned more than $320 billion since the platform’s 2008 launch, marking another year of record earnings.


Update (2023-01-12): John Gruber:

I don’t think it’s feasible to expect App Store reviewers to catch every potential scam app. But as I’ve long argued, I do think it’s reasonable to expect Apple to catch every scam app that makes its way onto the list of most popular apps.

Florian Mueller:

As Mysk noted on Twitter, the App Store was even showing ads promoting that app while there were media reports out there flagging the issue[…]

TechCrunch updated its article to mention the belated removal of that app, but mentioned that plenty of other apps referencing ChatGPT still remained on the App Store.

iPhone Camera Over Processing

Federico Viticci:

In his latest video, MKBHD eloquently summarized and explained something that I’ve personally felt for the past few years: pictures taken on modern iPhones often look sort-of washed out and samey, like much of the contrast and highlights from real life were lost somewhere along the way during HDR processing, Deep Fusion, or whatever Apple is calling their photography engine these days. From the video (which I’m embedding below), in the part where Marques notes how the iPhone completely ignored a light source that was pointing at one side of his face[…]

I, too, have been disappointed with a lot of the photos since upgrading to an iPhone 12 mini. Overall, they look better than with previous iPhones, and overall they look better with Smart HDR enabled. But sometimes Smart HDR does a bad job, making things look artificial and over processed, and there’s no way to “undo” that and get an unprocessed photo.

I wish Apple would offer a way to adjust how aggressive the processing is and/or bring back the Keep Normal Photo option.

Maybe I should be using a third-party camera app, but I haven’t seen this particular option in Halide—I don’t want to save huge RAW files—and there’s still no true way to change the default camera app.

Filipe Espósito:

Before the results of the 2022 Smartphone Awards, MKBHD also shared the results of its blind camera test. In this one, Google’s Pixel 6A took first place, while the Pixel 7 Pro came in second. This led the YouTuber and many people to wonder what’s going on with the photos taken with the iPhone.


In the iPhone 14 Pro camera review by Sebastiaan de With, developer of the popular camera app Halide, he also pointed out multiple flaws in Smart HDR. For example, every time there’s a very bright background, the iPhone also tries to boost the brightness of the people in the photo, making them look very white. “I have honestly never seen it make for a better photo. The result is simply jarring,” he said.


In another example, the iPhone camera applies a lot of “bizarre artifacts” to selfies taken in really low-light environments to try to save the image, but this ends up resulting in an “absurd watercolor-like mess” instead of a regular dark photo with a lot of noise.


Update (2023-01-13): Nick Heer:

I tested the effects of this setting by taking two photos on my iPhone 12 Pro in Halide: one with the “Smartest Processing” toggle on, and another of the same scene with it switched off. I found turning it off creates a situation that is the worst of both worlds: the dynamic range and detail of photos is noticeably compromised, but photos are still passed through the same overly aggressive noise reduction system as any other image.


The problems do not appear to be a form of overprocessing as much as they are unnatural or unexpected results of processing. Deep Fusion is great; Portrait Mode, as an option, is often excellent as well. But some of the selective enhancements made by the iPhone — the way it slices a scene into individual components for separate adjustments — sometimes fail to resolve in a satisfying final photo.


There is a vast middle ground between the completely unprocessed RAW images nerds like me enjoy working with and the photos produced by the default Camera app. There is room to create images with more character that are better representations of the scene. Sometimes, the imperfections in a photo — the grain, some slightly blown-out highlights, white balance that is way too warm — are what gives it an emotional quality, and trying to smooth those things out can make it feel sterile and inhuman.

Update (2023-01-18): Charlie Sorrel:

Things have gotten so bad that I only use my iPhone camera for quick memo-type shots or for snapping stuff to sell on eBay. If I want photos to keep, I take them with a regular digital or even film camera.


“Bottom line: While HDR can make your photos look garish and even cartoonish, you can still use it to your advantage. Avoid HDR when you’re taking pictures of colorful things on the move, but use it to your advantage when your subjects are in harsh sunlight or in low-light conditions,” says Davis.

Update (2024-06-12): Tanner Bennett:

The picture on the left is how the scene looks to my naked eye, taken by aiming the camera at the floor and pressing capture quickly after pointing it to the subjects (🐈‍⬛🐈‍⬛).

The picture on the right is the default image you get if you let it sit on the subject for a second and “adjust” the image.


This happens with faces too. It makes selfies so overly warm tinted and washed out. The last good iPhone camera I remember using was my iPhone X.

How Popular Is Each Mac Model?

Michael Potuck:

CIRP highlights that Apple’s MacBooks are the primary driver of its computer business. MacBook Air and MacBook Pro make up roughly three-quarters of the company’s PC sales while the desktop models only account for 26%.


For desktop Macs, iMac makes up 50% of sales while somewhat surprisingly, Mac Pro isn’t far behind at 43%.

These numbers seem very fishy. I doubt that the Mac Pro sells more units than the Mac mini or that the MacBook Pro sells more than the MacBook Air. My own usage statistics have consistently shown the Mac Pro near the bottom of the list. It’s currently above only iMac Pro, Xserve, and MacBook (12-inch), with less than half as many users as the Mac mini, and fewer than the Mac Studio that was new last year.


Visual Feedback for Running Shortcuts

Jason Snell:

I’m frustrated because I do have some Shortcuts that take time to run, yet unless I have them beep or display a notification when they reach a certain point in the process, I have no idea what they’re doing or if they’re even working.

Based on a recommendation from Matt, I managed to come up with my own little notification system. It uses SwiftBar, my favorite utility for ambient data in my Mac’s menu bar, but you could also adapt it to work with BitBar or One Thing or any other utility you’re comfortable with.


Update (2023-01-12): Matthew Cassinelli:

My personal solution for my logging shortcuts that uploads hundreds of posts to Airtable/my website has a method where it uses Show Notification at certain points in the chain so I know when one of multiple files is uploaded or the item is finished publishing and is moving onto the next one.

I like this because I only need intermittent reminders for this particular task, plus the list of notifications in Notification Center lets me see a sort of visual progression over time.


My alternate suggestion was One Thing, a Mac app by prolific developer Sindre Sorhus that lets you update a simple text widget in the Menu Bar using Shortcuts.