Wednesday, August 2, 2023

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.

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And just as bad, so many cross platform apps are absolute garbage. In particular, the authenticator app Authy takes 8 seconds to launch on my 2022 MBP. Compared to my 2020 Windows PC which is much less capable (but still super fast by PC standards), but where Authy launches in 3 seconds. And this is a basic app that just displays 2FA codes, nothing more.

Other crappy apps from companies with billions of dollars in revenue include ESRI ArcGIS Pro and anything by Autodesk (Fusion 360, AutoCAD). Using these apps feels like I'm on a 2003 era PC -- even on my PC, so it's not just a "ported apps to Mac" thing. It's amazing how we basically have supercomputers for laptops now, but a large portion of what I do day to day still feels just as slow as 10+ years ago.

I know that things like video rendering have improved massively, but in many boring day to day tasks, I feel like it's still me waiting for the computer to finish things, instead of me being unable to keep up with the computer. Even just little things like dialog boxes popping up, but not being instantly responsive to my typing or clicks. It's really unbelievable. Same goes for iPad and iPhone -- it often can't keep up with my taps and swipes, or the apps take 2-3 seconds from launch to be ready for input. Same as it was 10 years ago. My 2018 iPad is nearly unusable with iOS 16.

@Ben G On that note, one thing that's kind of startling is to use a classic mac emulator like Mini vMac, boot up a drive with System 7 installed on it, and then set the emulator to run at maximum speed. *Absolutely everything you do* on the system is instantaneous. No waiting for anything, period. Granted modern computers do a lot more than macs in the early to mid 90s, but it just goes to show that everything *could* be instantaneous now if we just a) demanded a little bit less from our modern computers, and not even a lot less, and b) people actually valued writing good, efficient native software.

“My 2018 iPad is nearly unusable with iOS 16.” is a phrase I read often and the subject is almost anything non last generation. The reason because hw vendor still sell millions of devices is sheer ignorance.

@BenG - I've probably shared this link in a comment thread before, but you might be interested in an informal look at interface latency that showed even very old computers often can be much snappier than newer systems.

I still fire up a 1990s-vintage Silicon Graphics workstation now and then, and I'm always impressed at the sheer snappiness of the user interface, despite the decades-old hardware. Windows almost leap to the screen after double-clicking an icon, and things happen immediately after hitting "return" on a command-line. I wouldn't mind seeing more of that on current systems.

@mjtsai - Exactly! It's one of my favorite all-time links. Maybe I actually found it via you! I've shared it in several forums and comment threads over the years, though I thought it was older than 2018. Thanks for the reminder.

Do you actually use the Mac Pocket app, or is this just more general frustration that they're discontinuing the Mac app first? The only times I've ever heard anyone mention Pocket is in the context of wanting to know how to disable or remove it from Firefox.

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