Archive for August 2, 2023

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Rethinking Window Management

Tobias Bernard:

We’ve wanted more powerful tiling [in GNOME] for years, but there has not been much progress due to the huge amount of work involved on the technical side and the lack of a clear design direction we were happy with. We now finally feel like the design is at a stage where we can take concrete next steps towards making it happen, which is very exciting!


Mosaic is the default behavior. You open a window, it opens centered on the screen at a size that makes the most sense for the app. For a web browser that might be maximized, for a weather app maybe only 700×500 pixels.

As you open more windows, the existing windows move aside to make room for the new ones. If a new window doesn’t fit (e.g. because it wants to be maximized) it moves to its own workspace. If the window layout comes close to filling the screen, the windows are automatically tiled.


One important missing piece is having information on the maximum desired size of a window. This is the size beyond which the window content stops looking good. Not having this information is one of the reasons that traditional tiling window managers have issues, especially on larger screens. […] In addition, it’d be helpful to know the range of ideal sizes where an app works best.

Via Lukas Mathis:

Window management is probably the single worst aspect of current operating systems, and his ideas for how a modern tiling window manager might work are extremely compelling to me.


Mozilla Shutting Down Pocket for Mac

Michael Potuck (Mastodon):

Mozilla has announced today that its read-it-later service Pocket will be retiring its Mac app this month. Users are encouraged to install the iOS app on their Mac or use the web going forward.

The whole point of native apps is that I don’t want a “consistent user experience across mobile and web.” That’s another way of saying “lowest common denominator.” I would rather have a differentiated/optimized experience on each platform. This change also completely removes support for the app on Intel-based Macs, which can’t run iOS apps. Although, if it’s anything like most Catalyst, not to mention iOS apps for the Mac, I’d probably prefer the Web version, anyway.

Catalyst is not working out as I’d hoped. Four years in, and it still seems to be caught in an awkward middle ground. With very few exceptions, the apps don’t feel like real Mac apps. Yet they’re apparently not easy enough to write and maintain that a lot of companies will add Mac support—and even existing Mac versions are being discontinued.

With iOS Apps for Mac, expectations are lower, and I’ve sometimes found them useful, but it seems like most apps aren’t marked as available.


Update (2023-08-09): John Voorhees:

I think we’re going to see more and more of this with Mac apps.

Marco Arment:

For primarily-iOS apps, letting your app run in iPad-compatibility mode on a Mac is MUCH less work than maintaining a Catalyst app, which itself is massively less work than having a separate AppKit app.

[A] Catalyst version requires a completely separate testing and release workflow, and a separate approval process for every update, because it needs to be listed in the Mac App Store.

iPad apps running on Apple silicon just use their iOS App Store entries.

John Gruber:

On the Mac, Pocket seems like the sort of thing that makes sense to use in your web browser. Even Apple’s own News app is built with Catalyst, and every single time I use Apple News on the Mac I wind up wishing I were reading the article in Safari instead.

Cesare Forelli:

The Cocoa app hadn’t been updated in 5 years, but still worked natively and well (it WASN’T a web wrapper!), with the only thing missing being support for Dark mode.

Here’s a few screenshots for comparing information density and Mac-likeness of the old app and the iPad version.

Personally, I disagree that on Macs such service works well in a browser: I always liked having a dedicated bookmarking app in its’ corner of the screen, independent from browser tabs.


My biggest complaint about the iPad app on macOS is the SafariViewController => Safari bridge, which throws up a clunky “this link is being opened in Safari” window every time you view web content. I accept the underlying conceit, but it’s a pretty rude kludge.

See also: Reddit.

Helping ckbk Remove Ad Tracking

Adam Engst:

Matt was referring to “Use Live Text to Digitize Your Cookbooks” (5 January 2023), and he wanted to tell me about his service ckbk, which provides the full text of roughly 700 cookbooks to subscribers.


I downloaded the ckbk app to my iPhone and was dismayed to discover that this compelling-sounding service from someone I’d probably enjoy a great deal in person seemingly wanted to track me. […] My politely worded disappointment about tracking resulted in ckbk refactoring the app to remove the dialog, which will create a better experience for new ckbk users, possibly including TidBITS readers. Everyone wins.

I also learned that Apple’s App Tracking Transparency might be a bit more of a blunt instrument than I had previously thought. As you saw in the screenshot above, I still use a fair number of apps that have asked to track me, and perhaps they aren’t as evil as I had believed. But I’m still not going to give them permission. And don’t get me started about the likes of Facebook and Instagram, which I won’t let anywhere near my iPhone.