Archive for August 31, 2023

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Anticipating the Coming USB-C iPhone Backlash

Tim Hardwick:

Apple may offer a USB-C data transfer accessory cable for iPhone 15 Pro models that is capable of Thunderbolt or USB4 speeds of up to 40Gbps. That is the latest claim made by Kosutami, who posted details of the cable on Twitter (now X).


Speculation therefore remains rife about the USB-C port capabilities of the iPhone 15 lineup, and nothing is certain beyond the switch from Lightning. Rumors suggest the cables supplied in iPhone 15 boxes are limited to USB 2.0 data transfer speeds at a rate of 480 MBps, which is the same as Lightning.


Each iPhone 15 will include a braided USB-C charging cable in the box that is thicker (i.e. more durable) and 50% longer than the Lightning cable that comes with current iPhone models, according to reports. The cables are also rumored to be color-matched to possible new iPhone colors, coming in at least black, white, yellow, blue, and orange.

John Gruber (Mastodon):

Lest you think it nickel-and-dime-y for Apple to sell a Thunderbolt 4 cable separately, note that Thunderbolt 4 cables are expensive. Apple currently sells two: the 1.8m one costs $129, and the 3m one costs $159.


The reason to even offer such a cable, and to offer Thunderbolt 4 performance on the phones, is for data transfer, specifically video. The single biggest frustration regarding iPhones sticking with Lightning until this year is that 4K video files are very large, but USB 2.0 data transfer is very slow.


The larger number of nerds, and even semi-nerds, who travel with multiple computing devices and just want USB-C charging connectors on all them will be happy. But the vast silent majority of normal iPhone users? I think there’s going to be a backlash that most USB-C proponents don’t see coming, premised on accusations that this switch is a money grab from Apple to get people to replace all their Lightning cables with new $30 USB-C cables from the Apple Store.

He says the transition will be made easier since, by now, many people have been using MagSafe. However, Apple could have switched to USB-C long before MagSafe was introduced, avoiding the accumulation of many USB cables, adapters, and AirPods cases.

Jason Snell:

In the end, I actually think the switch from Lightning to USB-C will be less dramatic than the switch from the 30-pin Dock Connector to Lightning. This is primarily because USB-C has had several years to slowly creep into people’s lives in a way the Apple-invented Lightning connector did not. It will be a jarring change, but USB-C is at least familiar and you might have a cable or two around somewhere that will work.


I do wonder about the final fate of Lightning. While older iPhone models and that first-generation Apple Pencil will probably still be sold with the connector for years to come, I suspect we’ve already seen the final new product to include a Lightning port. Rumors suggest that M3 iMacs will be arriving this fall, and while Apple very rarely updates the Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Keyboard, this would seem to be a good time to revise them to support USB-C.

Steven Aquino:

Data speeds are all well and good, but from a functional point of view, neither Lightning nor USB-C are paragons of greatness if you have less than optimal hand-eye coordination, as I do. True innovation is not one cable to rule them all, but maybe adding MagSafe so actually using the port could be more accessible in a disability context. […] What I’m saying is, it’d be swell if Apple could somehow fuse MagSafe tech with USB-C to make the cables easier to use.


Update (2023-09-04): Malcolm Owen:

In Mark Gurman’s “Power On” newsletter for Bloomberg on Sunday, it is offered that Apple’s announcement of USB-C in the iPhone 15 will be proclaimed as good for consumers.


Apple will do this because the company will always talk about changes from a position of strength, Gurman says.

While Apple will cover the benefits of the change, it will almost certainly avoid discussing European rules about a common charger, which is one of the main real reasons for the update.

Jeff Johnson:

Apple had always been at war with Lightning.

Update (2023-09-06): Tim Hardwick:

Google has expanded on its #BestPhonesForever ad campaign with a new video titled “Spa Day” in which it pokes fun at the upcoming iPhone 15’s implied lack of headline features and its expected adoption of USB-C in lieu of a Lightning port.


“Now it seems like every time I turn around, phones like you are doing stuff I can’t, like unblurring old photos, answering unknown calls with AI, and live translating messages… it’s exhausting. But I’ve still got a few tricks up my sleeve.”

“Like what?” says the Pixel.

“That’s under wraps. But let’s just say you’ll be USB-C-ing soon!”

“You’re finally getting USB-C charging?”

Update (2023-09-08): Dan Moren:

But let us not simply mourn what is being taken from us: let us instead remember and celebrate what Lightning did with its life, the joy and happiness it brought to an entire ecosystem. Its presence will not soon be forgotten.


And so we come to both praise Lighting and bury it. But for those who retain some fondness for the connector, never fear: its demise will not be sudden and swift, but long and drawn out. I fully expect to be finding Lightning cables in my drawers for the next decade.


In lieu of flowers, please send dongles.

Steven Aquino (Mastodon):

In terms of hand-eye coordination, USB-C does absolutely nothing to better the situation. Going all-in on USB-C may be convenient, but convenience and accessibility aren’t the same thing.


It’s also worth mentioning the new Pro models are said to have color-matched, braided cables. If a magnetic USB-C connection is undoable, there is some consolation in the existence of these updated cables. The color-matching should be a win for cognition, while the added friction from the braided material should make inserting and removing the plug at least a little easier.

Update (2023-09-11): Matt Birchler has a timeline of Apple’s adoption of USB-C.

Update (2023-09-18): Ben Lovejoy (via Hacker News):

Prior to Apple’s launch event, there had been numerous suggestions that the iPhone 15 USB-C port might be restricted in some way, with only Apple-certified cables and accessories able to take advantage of full data transfer rates and charging power.


However, Arstechnica says that this is not the case, and that the USB-C port in iPhone 15 models is 100% standard, with no Apple certification requirements for cables or accessories.

Microsoft Discontinuing Visual Studio for Mac

Anthony Cangialosi:

Today we are announcing the retirement of the Visual Studio for Mac IDE. Visual Studio for Mac 17.6 will continue to be supported for another 12 months, until August 31st, 2024, with servicing updates for security issues and updated platforms from Apple.


With today’s announcement, we’re redirecting our resources and focus to enhance Visual Studio and VS Code, optimizing them for cross-platform development.

It was probably not a good sign that the two very different products had such similar names. Mac users often didn’t realize they were two separate products. Visual Studio for Mac was also quite different from Visual Studio for Windows, despite having the same name.

Via Zac Hall:

Visual Studio 2022 introduced a major overhaul for the Mac version including a native user interface and Apple Silicon optimization while going full 64-bit for the first time. Microsoft first brought VS to the Mac in 2016.


To be a fly on the wall of the room where the “sure, we just put a ton of person-hours into migrating UI code from Xwt to AppKit, but MAUI doesn’t support AppKit, so we don’t have a cohesive strategy there; let’s just can the thing” call was made.

Were there huge underestimated technical hurdles? Did MS downsize their non-Azure .NET efforts?

Colin Cornaby:

I spent some time using Visual Studio for Mac and thought it was the victim of poor branding. It was originally the Xamarin IDE - and did a pretty good job at C# or Xamarin related tasks. But it didn’t include Visual C++ which mislead a lot of teams that thought it was feature for feature comparable to the Windows version. Even talked to teams that thought it could build native Windows apps on Mac.

It is a little weird because Microsoft was really pushing their cross platform MAUI framework - which was the successor to Xamarin. Pushing cross platform development without a cross platform IDE is a little weird. Yes - they’re shipping MAUI plugins for Visual Studio Code. But I’m not sure that’s really comparable to having an IDE like Visual Studio Not-Code.


Vexl Rejected From the App Store

vexl (via Hacker News):

Our flagship project — the Vexl app — does exactly this: it connects users with other peers in their social circle so they can exchange cash for bitcoin with them in a privacy preserving way.


Vexl was successfully operated for almost 9 months, gaining traction of thousands of users. Until May this year.


After the obligatory primary rejections due to minor UX tweaks, we found ourselves in the middle of a surreal discussion where we would be endlessly explaining[…] After weeks of silence, we received a resolution stating that Vexl is not a financial institution, it just facilitates, enables, and encourages an activity that is […] legal in all of the locations where the app is available.


Last week we received clarification of our rejection, stating that the app encourages reckless activity. Specifically, the exchange of currencies in person. […] Are Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, Badoo, Grindr, and all other dating apps that encourage people to meet in person also reckless? What about Craigslist and its European counterpart, Vinted, which, on top of meeting in person also include the cash exchange? What about Facebook Marketplace encouraging the same?