Archive for March 7, 2023

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Cracking the Mac Gaming Market

Oliver Mackenzie (in August 2022, via John Voorhees):

Let’s take a look at our gaming benchmarks, calculated via video capture as is the Digital Foundry way.


It’s not a particularly large table because, unfortunately, there aren’t many high-end Mac games that we can actually test, particularly when it comes to big-budget games. But we do have a few titles here - and the results are intriguing.


This is a full-bore Apple Silicon version of Blizzard’s long-running MMO, but despite running natively, the same pattern emerges with the M1 Ultra yet again falling squarely between the two PC systems, falling well short of the 3090 but still delivering performance in line with a high-end PC GPU. The Max is borderline unplayable while the 3080M hovers around 30fps. All of these systems would be perfectly fine with the game at remotely reasonable settings, of course - we are running the game essentially maxed out at a whopping 8K internal resolution to create a proper stress test.


Gaming on Mac has historically been quite problematic and that remains the case right now - native ports are thin on the ground and when older titles such as No Man’s Sky and Resident Evil Village are mooted for conversion, it’s much more of a big deal than it really should be.

Matthew Panzarino:

One arena still holds fascination for any of us who have found a home on the Mac for nearly every part of our digital life — save one: gaming. The M-series Macs are undoubtedly more gaming capable than any previous Mac due to the inclusion of much-improved onboard GPUs across the lineup. But even with big titles popping up on Mac in spurts, there still is a fairly large section of “here there be dragons,” where you would think Apple would like to map in the multi-billion-dollar gaming market.

Borchers says that Apple is feeling like the Apple silicon gaming story is getting more solid release by release.

“With Capcom bringing Resident Evil across, and other titles starting to come along, I think the AAA community is starting to wake up and understand the opportunity,” he says. “Because what we have now, with our portfolio of M-series Macs, is a set of incredibly performant machines and a growing audience of people who have these incredibly performant systems that can all be addressed with a single code base that is developing over time.


Millet says that Apple’s work on cracking the gaming market started with the early days of the Apple silicon transition.

Peter Cohen:

Reading this interview from last month, I was struck by the fact that I’ve heard the same basic line from Apple since they released the blue and white Power Mac G3 in 1999: “Now we have performant gaming hardware.”

The problem isn’t the hardware. The problem is getting an entire industry of developers and publishers on board to support the platform, and consumers to buy them with this purpose in mind. Apple can’t fix this with new game-savvy senior management.

Also, pointing out the amazing GPU performance of the M2 isn’t helpful, because most of us don’t have one. And won’t be goaded to buy one based on how well it plays games that have already been out on PC and console for years. It’s “Field of Dreams”-level magical thinking: Build better silicon and they will come.

Cabel Sasser (Hacker News):

A short story. We once submitted Untitled Goose Game to the Mac App Store. It was rejected by the reviewer because they thought you couldn’t skip the credits. (?!?) We explained that you could skip the credits by holding space. It was then rejected for something else and at that point we just gave up and never bothered to resubmit.

John Gruber:

Untitled Goose Game, of course, is one of the funnest and most original games of the last decade. And Panic is a company that has made a couple of decent Mac apps over the years.

Isaiah Carew:

i think the most damning evidence is that the goose game is on a bunch of other really strict platforms, like Nintendo Switch, and not of the app store.


Update (2023-03-14): Wraithe:

I will say, my primary gaming system for the past 5+ years has been the same Mac.

I play AAA titles, relatively high end FPS, and it’s a MacPro 2012, albeit with upgrades (video cards, SSD drives) so it’s over 10 years old, still doing the work.

Of course (and you knew there was an “of course :)) it’s running Windows.

So, the issue isn’t the hardware….

It’s also been a wonderful reminder of what I don’t like about windows. 😂

Update (2023-04-22): Amaar Chowdhury:

Mac is not a system designed to run games. We’ve already seen that with Hogwarts Legacy, which was too intensive of a game to run on a non-gaming rig. Sons of the Forest will also be facing a similar fate, as the game will definitely be too much for a Mac to handle.

Via Thomas Clement:

Funny that Apple executives are saying the exact opposite. Yet games like Sons of the Forest are not available for macOS. So what's the problem? Inadequate hardware? Improper APIs? Lack of interest from the developers in the platform?

MoneyWell 2023.01

Diligent Robot:

After a lot of dillydallying, we’re very pleased to announce the return of sync to MoneyWell. This is available in MoneyWell 2023.1. To go along with this, we’re releasing MoneyWell Express 2023.1 for iPhone.


We know a subscription will put lots of people off, but we need to make MoneyWell sustainable, and the existing model isn’t.

The syncing seems to use Ensembles/CloudKit. It’s not clear to me what else is new in the version, other than the Big Sur–style icon. The subscription is $49.99/year, the same as the original price I paid for the app back in 2009. There hasn’t been a paid upgrade since MoneyWell 3, which was $25 back in 2015.

They’re also going Mac App Store–only. Eight hours after I received the update e-mail, the app still doesn’t show up at all when searching in the Mac App Store. The direct link works, though.

We have a roadmap for future development on MoneyWell. Our biggest goal is for MoneyWell to return to sustainability so it can be our main, and eventually only, source of income. Currently that isn’t the case, which is one reason why progress is slow.

Over the next 12 months amongst other things we’re planning[…]

I’m not interested in anything on the roadmap, but I still really like the app and will be happy if they can simply maintain the current feature set. Hopefully the subscription and planned features, which seem marketing friendly, will make that possible.

MoneyWell Help:

Because of the way syncing now works, we’ve moved away from a “document” model, where you look after your document and can move it around. The MoneyWell app now manages all of the budgets. This enables multiple budgets to be synced. If you want to make sure your budgets are backed up (and you should) ensure your backup system backs up ~/Library/Containers/com.diligentrobot.MoneyWell/

I can see why they’re doing this, but I’m not thrilled because I don’t use syncing, anyway, and I liked to keep my document file on an encrypted disk image. Undo support has also been removed, since it doesn’t work with the new syncing. The new version seemed to migrate my data correctly except that it reported that some of my smart filters were damaged.


Microsoft Adds Free Outlook Tier

Jeremy Perdue (AppleInsider, MacRumors, Slashdot, Hacker News):

Now consumers can use Outlook for free on macOS, no Microsoft 365 subscription or license necessary.

However, according to the pricing page, you need to pay in order for it to be ad-free. The new version also removes the switch to turn off the “New Outlook” user interface. You can still turn it back off using Terminal to get back features like rules and AppleScript (which are required for SpamSieve and EagleFiler) that have not yet been implemented, however that’s only allowed if you’ve paid for Microsoft 365. Otherwise, it will only run in offline mode. So, although everyone seems to be writing that “Outlook is now free,” I think it’s more accurate to say that there is a new free tier.

Microsoft updated its roadmap on March 1 to state that AppleScript will finally be implemented this month, but I don’t see anything about full rules support.

Whether at home, work or school, Mac users everywhere can easily add, Gmail, iCloud, Yahoo! or IMAP accounts in Outlook and experience the best mail and calendar app on macOS.


With Outlook, you’ll get a modern and native user interface that has been designed and optimized for macOS.


Microsoft plans to continue building and maintaining best-in-class native apps on macOS and iOS. There is no plan to build a web app version of Outlook for Mac.

When key members of the Claris Emailer team went to Microsoft to build Outlook Express and later Entourage, I would say those were best-in-class native Mac apps. The current version of Outlook feels weird to me. It’s not a Web app, but the design feels like a hybrid of mobile, Web, and Office. It doesn’t use a Mac standard toolbar or table view. Many of the buttons look weird. Keyboard navigation is odd. There are some new cloud-based features, but overall I think “New Outlook” removed a lot of the good stuff that was in the previous Outlook, which itself removed some great features that were in Entourage.


How Troubleshooting Has Changed With macOS Security

Howard Oakley:

With the guaranteed integrity of the SSV and cryptexes on IT2 and AS models, reinstalling the same version of macOS has no effect on the great majority of macOS. Similarly, installing an older version and updating it to the current one can only produce exactly the same result as installing the current version directly.

Two procedures might be worth considering, though: replacing the latest version of macOS with an older one, in an attempt to clear new problems, and installing macOS and migrating to it from backups. Both of these can also make problems worse as they rely on migration, which could restore other components responsible for a problem, or those incompatible with the version of macOS being installed.


Just as successfully booting macOS is verification of its integrity, so launching an app without a code signature error verifies the code within that app. That applies to all Macs running Ventura, where replacing a misbehaving app with a fresh copy is likely to be pointless.

Most non-bug problems these days seem to be caused by bad data files or file permissions.

Howard Oakley:

Every time you run an app or other executable code, such as a command tool, those first run checks are now repeated, although not quite in the same depth, and with slightly greater tolerance for minor errors, it appears.


This shows how Apparency reports an app I crafted to check whether macOS had fixed a longstanding vulnerability in signature checking. Code signatures apply to different architectures, including Intel and Apple silicon. For some time, Gatekeeper checks didn’t cover all architectures correctly, a failure which could have been exploited. This crafted version of my app Cormorant contains two conflicting signatures, as recognised by Apparency.


Certificate expiry dates are a little more complicated than you might expect, and depend on the type and purpose of certificate. For ordinary app and other executable signing, a Developer ID Application certificate is used, and remains valid for Gatekeeper even though the certificate has long expired. The crucial date in this case is when the app was signed: so long as the Developer ID Application certificate was valid at that time, then Gatekeeper will accept the certificate many years later.

That isn’t true of certificates used to sign Installer packages, which are a different type, Developer ID Installer.