Archive for September 2023

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

macOS 14 Sonoma

Apple (developer, security, enterprise, full installer, IPSW, Hacker News):

macOS Sonoma is now available as a free software update, bringing a rich set of new features to the Mac that make work and play even more powerful. With macOS Sonoma, desktop widgets unlock a new way to personalize the Mac and get more done, while stunning new screen savers, big updates to video conferencing and Safari, along with optimized gaming make the Mac experience better than ever.

Again, the update failed to prepare multiple times for me.

See also:


Update (2023-10-24): Howard Oakley:

This turns out to be nothing more than an illusion, though: on the Apple silicon Mac, press Command-Shift-. to show hidden files, and Boot Camp Assistant is still there, it’s just hiding. I’m not sure how Apple applies this conditional hiding, as Boot Camp Assistant doesn’t appear to use any of the normal methods of concealment, and only does so when viewed in the Finder on an Apple silicon Mac. Not only that, but for a utility that only works on Intel Macs, it’s quaint that Boot Camp Assistant is delivered as a Universal app, just in case you might feel like trying it out on your shiny new Studio Ultra.

Update (2023-10-30): Joe Rossignol:

On Macs running macOS Sonoma, there is currently a bug that prevents the Apple Configurator app from installing apps on iPhones and iPads, according to a new Apple support document.

This is apparently not fixed in macOS 14.1.

Tim Hardwick:

In this article, we’ve selected 50 new features and lesser-known changes that are worth checking out if you’re upgrading.

Update (2024-02-06): Ron Avitzur:

macOS 14.0 Sonoma, alas, has changed something which introduced a data-loss bug to the shipping Pacific Tech Graphing Calculator, so I now find myself trying to remember how to debug Swift and SwiftUI.

Tim Buchheim:

My best guess is that they might have made the Foundation regular expression routines call into the Swift ones. The Foundation regex routines probably considered the \r and \n to be separate characters but if they’re calling into the Swift routines then the the \r\n would be treated as a single character (in line with Unicode rules and the normal behavior of \r\n in Swift strings).

They seem to have made StringProtocol call into Swift Regex instead of Foundation/ICU, and the undocumented change also affected SpamSieve since Swift Regex has a bug (FB13249322) that can cause an infinite loop.


Sunday, September 24, 2023

SpamSieve 3.0

I’ve been away from blogging for a few days because I’ve been busy finishing up SpamSieve 3, getting it released, and responding to the onslaught of support e-mails. This is a major upgrade, which rewrites most of the app, both at the user interface level and internally. (Hello to Swift, Core Data, and a new e-mail parser and localization system; goodbye to nibs, custom file formats, and many lines of Objective-C. Some things like using lots of AppKit and AppleScript are constants.) This all enables more accurate spam filtering, makes the app easier to set up and use, and enables lots of new features—some available now and others planned for the future.

Perhaps I’ll write about some of that later. For now, the most important point is that SpamSieve 2 won’t work with Apple Mail on Sonoma—which is arriving on Tuesday—because Sonoma removes support for Mail plug-ins. And SpamSieve 3 will work on Sonoma because the Mail integration has been rewritten using a Mail extension (plus lots of AppleScript). Besides updating the SpamSieve app, there are some other changes you’ll want to understand. I’ve written a guide explaining the transition.

So far, the update has gone very well at an engineering level. I was nervous about changing so many parts of the app at once, but thanks to careful design, lots of internal unit testing and stress testing, and a great group of beta testers, no significant bugs have been reported yet. Of course, there are a bunch of small issues that will be cleaned up and polished in 3.0.1 and beyond, but I’m really happy with the state of the app. I think Kenichi Yoshida did great job with the new app icon and the status indicators within it.

I also want to thank all of the localizers. Version 3 is launching with support for German, Spanish, French, Japanese, and Dutch. Swedish is in the works. (Let me know if you would like to help add another language.) The localizers and international resellers (ASH and Infinisys) did a lot of work on short notice to get everything ready before Sonoma was released. There have been a few minor issues with the Paddle and FastSpring stores, but for the most part they’ve worked very well.

What has not gone so well is the mailing lists for contacting my own customers. Here I changed nothing from what’s worked very well in the past, yet it seems as though many—maybe even most—customers did not receive the e-mails announcing the new version or highlighting how to handle the update to Sonoma. Even I didn’t receive the latter. It took me a while to realize this because I was getting tons of e-mails, but they were almost all individually written, not replies to the list messages, like normal. I’m in communication with DreamHost to see if they can figure out what happened and how many e-mails were actually delivered, but at this point I think I need to find an alternate solution. I’m looking into setting up Sendy. Yes, it is ironic that I’m running into trouble sending—rather than stopping—mass e-mails. And also that I’m going to send some people duplicate e-mails because it’s important enough that everyone be apprised of the situation with Sonoma.


Tuesday, September 19, 2023

iPadOS 17


Users can now customize the Lock Screen with stunning wallpapers, new ways to showcase their favorite photos, and expressive fonts and colors to personalize the look of the date and time. Interactive widgets take glanceable information further with the ability to get tasks done right in the moment with just a tap, directly from the Lock Screen or Home Screen.


Working with PDFs on iPad is easier than ever. Coming later this year, AutoFill identifies and fills fields in forms, allowing users to quickly add details such as names, addresses, and emails from Contacts.


The Health app comes to iPad with a design optimized for the larger display.


Stage Manager adds more flexibility to the positioning of windows and offers the ability to use an external display camera for FaceTime and conference calls.

See also: Federico Viticci, Dan Moren, MacRumors.


watchOS 10


Apple today released watchOS 10, a milestone update bringing a new visual language to apps to see more information at a glance, a new Smart Stack to show relevant widgets right when they’re needed, and delightful new watch faces. Bluetooth connectivity for power meters, speed sensors, and cadence sensors arrive for cyclists, unlocking new metrics and Workout Views, and cycling workouts will automatically show up as a Live Activity on iPhone and utilize the full screen. Additionally, new Compass Waypoints and Maps capabilities can further help during outdoor adventures. The Mindfulness app offers new tools to support mental health with state of mind logging, and Apple Watch also introduces the ability to measure time spent in daylight using the ambient light sensor.

See also: MacRumors, Dan Moren.


Update (2023-10-25): Matt Birchler:

This week I talked about how I, and many other people, didn’t feel like the new watchOS button behaviors are intuitive (even after using them for 3 months). “Maybe it will make sense with a new watch that has different button layouts.”

Early in the watchOS 10 beta I mentioned that the buttons at the end of a workout were shuffled around from how they had always been and that ending a workout took more taps than before. “Maybe it will make sense when we see the new watches in September and they have a new feature.”


The Series 9 and Ultra 2 Apple Watches added no functions to the Workout app and the UI is identical to the other models

Update (2023-11-22): Alex Guyot:

One complication associated with the Dock’s new position is that double-clicking the Digital Crown already had a behavior in watchOS. This action has long been used to automatically swap back and forth between two apps, or between an app and the watch face.


I do wish Apple would make the watch face itself accessible from the Dock. In the old system, if you opened a single app and then wanted to hop right back to the watch face, the Digital Crown double-click action would make that happen instantly. Without the watch face showing up in the Dock though, the only method we’re left with is to press the Digital Crown, wait a few moments to make sure you aren’t going to register a double-click, and then press the Crown again.


I think the assignment of the hardware button to Control Center, without updating the Control Center interface at all, was downright lazy. It feels as though Apple knew they wanted to place the Smart Stack where Control Center was (a perfectly reasonable idea), but didn’t put in the work to think of a new place for Control Center to live where it would actually make sense.


Alternatively, I wouldn’t mind at all if the company reconsiders Control Center again, making it a software button at the top of the Smart Stack, and changes the Side button into an Action button.

Update (2024-01-11): Joe Rosensteel:

The hold-down-to-change-watch-faces thing lasted from September 10th to November 15th, so clearly that one didn’t go over well. Moving the Control Center to the side button persisted, without any preference or option to revert. Maybe fewer people were pissed off about it?


Perhaps, what’s so frustrating to me is that the Smart Stack is so useless to me, specifically. I can’t speak for everyone else, but all of the times I’ve accidentally opened this treasure trove of irrelevance it’s displayed the day of the week, the month, the date, the goddamn time, and then a card that’s either a snippet of my almost entirely empty calendar, or the weather. All of this information (except my mostly empty calendar) is better laid out in my Modular watch face, using complications.


And yet, I somehow get both the swipe up, and the upwards swipe on the Digital Crown to get to it? It deserves two special gestures?

I also find the top part of Smart Stack useless, but it doesn’t really bother me because it’s still easy (though less intuitive given how it works on iOS) to access Control Center with the button.

Swift 5.9

Alexander Sandberg and Holly Borla (tweet, Hacker News):

This is a major new release that adds an expressive macro system to the language and introduces support for integrating Swift into C++ codebases through bidirectional interoperability.

It also introduces parameter packs, an improved expression evaluator while debugging, enhanced crash handling, Windows platform improvements, and more.


The new consume operator tells Swift to deinitialize a variable and transfer its contents without copying it. The consuming and borrowing parameter modifiers provide hints that Swift can use to eliminate unnecessary copying and reference-counting operations when passing a parameter.

I have not been following this closely, but as far as I can tell this is for optimizations in code that you write. It doesn’t help when your code is being called by the standard library. If you try to iterate a Sequence or sort an Array of custom objects, I think it’s still going to do lots of unnecessary reference-counting.

Finally, noncopyable structs and enums allow you to create types which, like a class, can’t be meaningfully copied when assigned, but like a struct or enum, do not need to be reference-counted because only one storage location can own the instance at a time.


Lots of good stuff here. I’m still using Xcode 14, and the Swift compiler frequently crashes or produces incorrect results. I hope this version is better.

See also: Paul Hudson.


Chromebooks Will Get 10 Years of Automatic Updates

Prajakta Gudadhe and Ashwini Varma (via Hacker News):

Security is our number one priority. Chromebooks get automatic updates every four weeks that make your laptop more secure and help it last longer. And starting next year, we’re extending those automatic updates so your Chromebook gets enhanced security, stability and features for 10 years after the platform was released.


Starting in 2024, if you have Chromebooks that were released from 2021 onwards, you’ll automatically get 10 years of updates. For Chromebooks released before 2021 and already in use, users and IT admins will have the option to extend automatic updates to 10 years from the platform’s release (after they receive their last automatic update).


Our new repair flows allow authorized repair centers and school technicians to repair Chromebooks without a physical USB key. This reduces the time required for software repairs by over 50% and limits time away from the classroom.


Chromebooks include lower upfront costs than other devices: a 55% lower device cost and a 57% lower cost of operations. Over three years, Chromebooks save more than $800 in operating costs per device compared to others.

Lucas Gutterman:

Many schools are buying way more laptops than they used to, to ensure that every student has a device to use in class and at home. It would be one thing if kids could use the same laptop for their entire education. But currently, Chromebooks have a built-in “death date.” After as few as four years, Google stops updating the software – rendering the laptop useless.

To stop this Chromebook Churn, over 10,000 supports signed a petition, joining a coalition of nonprofits, parents and teachers asking Google for longer-lasting laptops. Thursday’s announcement is a victory for all of us. Once laptops have a lifespan of 10 years, fewer will “expire” and need to be disposed of.

Meanwhile, macOS Sonoma drops support for Macs that Apple was selling in 20182019.


Monday, September 18, 2023

iOS 17

Apple (release notes, Hacker News):

iOS 17 makes iPhone even more personal and intuitive with major updates to communication apps; StandBy, a new way to experience iPhone when it is charging; easier sharing with AirDrop; and more intelligent input that improves the speed and accuracy of typing.

See also: Federico Viticci, Dan Moren, MacRumors.

Ken Case:

Late in the iOS/iPadOS beta cycle, a memory issue was introduced in Apple’s JavaScriptCore framework which can (but doesn’t always) trigger crashes when JavaScript code is used in an app. Since Omni Automation plug-ins and scripts are all written in JavaScript, this can cause our apps to crash any time they load or run code from those plug-ins and scripts. This doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens enough to be bothersome.

We’ve consulted with Apple about this intermittent JavaScript crash, and hope it gets resolved soon.


Update (2024-02-07): See also: TidBITS-Talk.

Apple’s New Transformer-Powered Predictive Text Model

Jack Cook (via Hacker News):

The feature will occasionally suggest more than one word at a time, but this is generally limited to instances where the upcoming words are extremely obvious, similar to the autocomplete in Gmail.


I have to say that this vocabulary file strikes me as pretty unique, but it’s definitely not out of the question for a language model deployed in this setting. I’ve personally never seen emojis featured so prominently in a language model’s tokenizer, but existing research has shown that domain-specific models and tokenizers can drastically improve downstream model performance. So it makes sense that a model trained for use in things like text messages, in which emojis and contractions will be used a lot, would prioritize them.


GPT-2 has four main parts: token embeddings, positional encodings, a series of 12-48 decoder blocks, and an output layer. The network described by unilm_joint_cpu appears to be the same, except with only 6 decoder blocks. Most of the layers within each decoder block have names like gpt2_transformer_layer_3d, which would also seem to suggest it’s based on a GPT-2 architecture.

From my calculations based on sizes of each layer, Apple’s predictive text model appears to have about 34 million parameters, and it has a hidden size of 512 units. This makes it much smaller than even the smallest version of GPT-2.

The early reports about auto-correct in iOS 17 and macOS 14 seem to be positive. I’m cautiously optimistic that it will fix the biggest problems for me with the old system, which are that it suggests words that are not spelled correctly and even changes correct words that I entered into mistakes.


Maps in 2023

Justin O’Beirne (Hacker News):

For the past three years, Google’s cartography has largely remained in this difficult-to-scan state—that is, until now. That’s because as of late August 2023, Google appears to be testing a new Apple Maps-inspired map style.

Unfortunately, Google’s new, in-testing map style is even worse than its old one. Here in Chicago, for instance, notice how much harder it is to read and scan the map.

I have always found Google Maps easier to read than Apple Maps. I prefer the coloring and how it chooses which roads and details to show when. Apple Maps overemphasizes showing businesses, and it typically picks a few irrelevant ones to highlight while hiding all the others. The differences are most pronounced in CarPlay navigation, where Apple Maps shows large signpost-style street labels rather than drawing them on—and oriented to—the actual roads. Apple Maps also covers large portions of the map with status information. Unfortunately, Google’s map style has been gradually moving in the direction of Apple’s design, and these changes continue that trend.

In many ways, I think Apple Maps works better as an app, though. And I like how it can show an imminent turn on my car’s dash board and on my Apple Watch. Despite this, I prefer Google Maps because of the way it displays the maps and because overall Google still seems to have more accurate place information. That said, I am now in the habit of checking both maps sometimes because I recently had a disastrous experience where Google Maps routed me on a road that didn’t exist, which I didn’t find out until I was there and out of cellular range. When I got home, I checked what Google’s second-choice route would have been, and it recommended another road that didn’t exist. Apple Maps had the correct information in this case.

Michael Grothaus (via Hacker News):

Google Maps still holds around 80% of the mobile market. But in recent years, I’ve found myself getting increasingly frustrated with the Google Maps experience, especially when it comes to general navigation and exploration of a map area.

Here are the five main reasons Google Maps has become a cluttered, frustrating mess—and why I find myself turning to Apple Maps more often.

Joe Rosensteel:

On the most recent episode of Accidental Tech Podcast, Marco Arment described a recent ordeal with a moving truck. He recounted his list of grievances from using a rented box truck in New York, and mentioned the issue of roads that trucks aren’t allowed on, or won’t fit on. New York parkways (park on the drive way, yeah, yeah we all know the joke) apparently don’t allow trucks. The major mapping applications he mentions - Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze - don’t have a feature to avoid roadways that don’t allow trucks, as they do for avoiding tolls.


If you were in that same 105 E HOV 2+ lane, with two passengers, and no transponder, heading from LAX to Downtown LA you would need to exit the HOV lane and merge on to the 110 N at the right. If you stayed in that HOV 2+ left lane because you didn’t understand the signage, you would be dumped into the FasTrak lane that requires a transponder.

I’ll leave it at just those examples, because you get the idea. These paricular lanes have been like this for over a decade. Other lanes like this exist elsewhere, and more are being completed right this very minute.

Apple and Google are totally clueless about these lanes, which is bizarre when you can see them represented in maps, satellite views, Street View — everything.


Toyota Factory Shutdowns

Justin McCurry (via Hacker News):

The Japanese carmaker said the stoppage on 29 August at all 14 of its domestic plants occurred after servers that process orders for vehicle parts broke down following a maintenance procedure carried out the previous day.

During this operation, “data that had accumulated in the database was deleted and organised, and an error occurred due to insufficient disk space, causing the system to stop”, Toyota said on Wednesday.


Toyota had to shut down the same 14 factories for a day in February last year when one of its suppliers said one of its file servers had been infected with a virus, raising questions about the cybersecurity of Japan’s supply chains.

Andrew E. Freedman:

Moral of the story: Always keep some extra storage space on hand for anything mission-critical, especially if you’re a massive company that requires software that can be timed to exact specifications in order to build complicated machines.


Friday, September 15, 2023

Automatically Pausing Animated Images


Pause animated images by default, such as GIFs in Messages and Safari for your visual comfort.

Via Jeff Johnson:

In my opinion, the feature should have been highlighted in the WWDC keynote. It’s that huge.


It would be better if you could just click the image to play and pause the animation, but the contextual menu is certainly way better than nothing! More than 30 years of nothing… until now.

And you can’t see whether there is an animation until you click?

By the way, I seem to have found a bug in Sonoma System Settings where the “Auto-play animated images” toggle button appears to be enabled after it has been disabled. This happens when you quit and relaunch the System Settings app.

It seems like the most important settings are in Accessibility.


New Apple ID Sign-In Options

Joe Rossignol:

First, it is now possible to sign into an Apple ID with any phone number or secondary email address on file with the account. We were able to sign into an Apple ID with a phone number on the Apple ID website using a Mac running macOS Ventura, so it’s unclear if this feature specifically requires the new software updates or is simply a backend change.

This is not referring to two-factor authentication, which has long been possible via a phone number and SMS. Rather, this change lets you use your phone number as the user ID if you don’t remember which e-mail address is on file.

Second, starting with an iOS 17 update coming later this year, there will be a new Apple ID proximity sign-in feature. This will allow you to bring an existing signed-in and trusted iPhone or iPad into proximity with a new device being set up, pair the devices by scanning an on-screen “particle cloud,” and complete sign-in automatically.

And they now support passkeys.


Limitations on macOS Virtual Machines

Howard Oakley:

This is a draft summary of the limitations of lightweight virtualisation of macOS on Apple silicon Macs, using the macOS API in late versions of Ventura and early Sonoma, VMs designated VirtualMac2,1.


Shared folders are only available in Ventura and later VMs. Transferring items using drag and drop is available in all VMs by using Screen Sharing or ARD.


Apple ID isn’t supported in VMs, and they can’t be connected to iCloud Drive or support apps using CloudKit. This means that VMs can’t run the great majority of App Store apps, apart from Apple’s free products such as Numbers, Pages and Keynote.


The shared clipboard to allow copy and paste between host and VM currently appears non-functional, at least when using Apple’s example code.

With all the limitations, I’ve never gotten into using macOS VMs the way I expected to. I do testing using a second Mac either directly or via Screen Sharing. It has multiple partitions for different macOS versions, and the data volumes can be rolled back via APFS snapshots to reset things if necessary.


Update (2023-12-29): Howard Oakley:

The biggest limitation, and the elephant in the room, is the complete lack of support for signing in with an Apple ID. iCloud Drive access from a VM is possible through the host, although as apps running in the VM can’t recognise that they’re dealing with cloud storage, that can get fraught at times. But without an Apple ID, no third-party apps distributed through the App Store can be run in a macOS VM on an Apple silicon guest, even if they’re free to use.

While Apple has been steadily improving macOS virtualisation since it was released over two years ago, there has only been silence over Apple ID. This is most probably the result of a direct conflict between the inherent untrustworthiness of VMs and the host Mac’s need to protect the Apple ID and its password. VMs are likely to be running a version of macOS that lacks some if not many of the protections of the current release. The VM may even be deliberately affected by malicious software designed to exfiltrate passwords. While the Virtio driver architecture works well for most services provided by the host, it hasn’t been developed with security in mind, for which it looks quite inappropriate. Finally, VMs are by definition both portable and ephemeral, the antithesis of what you’d want to store and use an Apple ID.

I can’t believe that Apple hasn’t been wrestling with these issues for several years now, but there’s still no solution in sight.

Core Data Lab 2.4 Beta


However, the data model of a SwiftData project is based on Swift class files with a Model macro notation, instead of entities in a Core Data Object Model designer file. As a consequence of this, compiled SwiftData apps don’t have an embedded compiled Core Data Object Model. This makes it impossible for Core Data Lab to search for a matching database by comparing the model of a database with the embedded model of a Core Data app. Core Data Lab uses instead some sparsely documented conventions to determine the location of the database files for a given SwiftData app.

This only affects finding databases that are related to a given app. The databases themselves still contain cached models/schemas, so Core Data Lab can read them without having a compiled model file. My Core Data apps don’t have model files, either, since I’ve been building the models in code.

Model files for previous versions are needed for lightweight migration, as there is no API to directly control the migration. This may have been addressed in Sonoma, although the API is not very clear. You can now create an NSLightweightMigrationStage, but you can’t directly specify a model, only a versionChecksum. If you create an NSManagedObjectModelReference, you can give it a model and checksum, but there is no way to provide the references to the NSStagedMigrationManager. Perhaps simply creating a reference registers it globally to be looked up by checksum?

New in Core Data when used in the latest OS versions, is support for NSCompositeAttributeType attributes. Regarding this, Core Data Lab 2.4 beta adds support for:

  • Displaying composite values in the table, detail and content views as readonly dictionaries.
  • Displaying composite attributes in the Entity Description view of a selected entity.
  • Export and import of composite attributes values via CSV or JSON import and export files.

We want to add editing support for composite attributes in a future update. In the current OS beta’s of Apple it seems that the implementation of composite attributes is not completely ready. Nested composite attributes for example should be supported, but don’t yet work in practice.

I have not tried the Core Data Lab beta yet, but I’ve been enjoying the release version of the app. Version 1.6 added basic support for non–Core Data SQLite files. It’s not as fully featured for this as Base, but the interface is nice. Version 2.3 added viewing improvements such as persistent table column configurations and control over fonts.


Update (2023-12-12): I forgot to note that it’s out of beta.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Unity Runtime Fee

Unity Technologies (via Rune Skovbo Johansen, Hacker News):

We are introducing a Unity Runtime Fee that is based upon each time a qualifying game is downloaded by an end user. We chose this because each time a game is downloaded, the Unity Runtime is also installed.


We set high revenue and game install thresholds to avoid impacting those who have yet to find scale, meaning they don’t need to pay the fee until they have reached significant success.

Emanuel Maiberg (via Hacker News):

Unity announced the new plan in a post on its website, but more details emerged on Game Developer, a site catering to people working in the video game industry. The new fees are in addition to the annual cost of making commercial products with Unity, which are available at a few tiers between $2,000 and $5,000 per year. According to Game Developer, these new fees will be collected from game developers on a monthly basis, charging them between $0.01 to $0.20 per install, depending on how many copies they sold, in what region (emerging markets have lower fees), and what Unity plan the developer is paying for already.

The video game development community is still scrambling to unpack how Unity’s new pricing scheme will impact them, but some developers who spoke to 404 Media said that Unity’s changes are a “disaster” and that they are already eyeing open source alternatives for their next projects.


However, new installs on new games will apparently impact game developers, forcing a new business model they didn’t prepare for when they initially published the games. Regardless of when a game was released, it’ll be subject to these new fees starting in 2024.

Even worse, Unity later clarified that it will charge developers for multiple installs by the same user. This creates a nightmare scenario for developers where disgruntled gamers could install, delete, and reinstall games as many times as they can stand just to inflict fees on developers they don’t like, a scary possibility in an industry where users are known to review bomb and send death threats to game developers.

Unity seems to be backtracking on this part and on charging for trial downloads. It’s not clear how the data will be collected or reported.

Cabel Sasser:

“Devs not on the hook for Game Pass” means that they expect Microsoft to be on the hook for it, right? How does that affect deals?


My biggest Q: we’re not about to update our Unity build for existing games. So does this mean that older builds ALSO phone home for tracking?


They’re also introducing new DRM requirements for the editor:

Starting in November, Unity Personal users will get a new sign-in and online user experience. Users will need to be signed into the Hub with their Unity ID and connect to the internet to use Unity. If the internet connection is lost, users can continue using Unity for up to 3 days while offline.

Karol Severin (via Hacker News):

When it comes to ‘fair’, it usually depends on who you ask. From Unity’s (and likely its shareholders’) point of view, it has technically been subsidising developers’ work (i.e., operating at a substantial GAAP-basis loss) every year since inception (despite posting a profitable Q4 2022). In the current macroeconomic climate, money is expensive, and investors are increasingly looking for returns rather than non-profitable revenue growth. Unity was able to rely on the growth narrative of the overall games industry propelling it to a sweeter future, but of course, the games industry declined in 2022, so that ‘brighter future’ argument became a lot tougher to buy into.


To be clear, this is not to say that the approx. $200 billion games industry is going away. But, the growth hey-day of the games industry is over, and consolidation in the developer and publisher landscape is inevitable.


It’s not the fact that Unity wants to make more money from its engine that has gotten people so up in arms about it, it’s the way it was structured.

If they simply took a percent of revenue, everyone would have shrugged, you might have had some indies complaining, and the world would have kept on turning. Instead, they made a couple of compounding missteps. An install based fee creates a massive amount of uncertainty about how much you will owe at the end of the month, creating potential cash flow issues. You are at the whims of Unity in terms of how they calculate it, and praying that they properly handle all the edge cases and potential abuses, despite all their incentives giving them plenty reasons not to care that much. And then on top of all of that they made it retroactive to all existing games on the market using their engine. Companies had a very reasonable expectation that they could rely on the terms their games were released under. All that trust has now been upended. Unity has shown they are willing to change terms retroactively with little notice.

Joe Wintergreen (via Hacker News):

So You’ve Decided To Move From Unity To Unreal Engine


Update (2023-09-18): Vincent L. (via Hacker News):

Following the update to its pricing plan that charges developers for each game install, Unity has seemingly silently removed its GitHub repository that tracks any terms of service (ToS) changes the company made.

As discovered by a Reddit user, Unity has removed its GitHub repository that allows the public to track any changes made to the license agreements and has updated the ToS to remove a clause that lets developers use the terms from older versions of the game engine that their product shipped with.

Hein-Pieter van Braam (via Hacker News):

This price change has some particularly grave consequences on mobile where revenue per install is highly variable. According to Ironsource (A Unity company) for example, the average revenue per ad impression is $0.02. Unity would like to charge $0.20 per install after your app has made $200,000 over the past year. What this means is that every one of your users has to see at least 10 ads after installing your app to not have it cost you money. These numbers are averages. If your app is more popular in emerging markets then the revenue per ad would be significantly lower, making the problem far worse.

To make matters (even) worse, this change will be done retroactively on existing applications as well.

Petter Vilberg (via Hacker News):

So if it’s not even going to affect that many developers, what is Unity’s plan here? How does any of this make sense? Well, the answer is that Unity isn’t particularly interested in keeping developers of premium games as its customers, especially not small ones. In fact, Unity doesn’t really care. Indie developers are merely collateral damage to this change.


Unity is not a game engine company that also provides operating services. It is a mobile F2P services company that also provides a game engine.


They are going after the publishers of hugely profitable, long-lived mobile games, for whom their cost to Unity (in the form of license fees) in no way scales with their ongoing revenue. Even talking about pricing things “per install” is a thing that sounds outlandish in premium game development, but is normal language in mobile user acquisition.

The real gotcha in Unity’s announcement isn’t that you have to pay a fee per install of “Unity Runtime”, it’s the fact that you can get a “Fee reduction for use of Unity services”. If you’re a big company concerned about the install fee, just use Unity’s advertising and monetisation solutions, rather than third parties, and you’ll get away for cheap. This way you’ll either put money in the pockets of the engine branch by paying the install fee on millions of installs, or you’ll put money in the pockets of the services branch by using their services.


I don’t think a lot of users of the engine understand that Unity the engine company doesn’t exist anymore.

Last year Unity merged with IronSource, a mobile ad network, which is much more profitable than Unity. In a public company, the profit drives the business. The company that’s called Unity is in the business of selling ads and showing lots of them to people on phones. They own a game engine as a delivery vehicle for those ads.

There was an unsolicited competing bid from another ad peddler, AppLovin, who also wanted to buy Unity. I guess the optics with the IronSource deal looked better because it could be called a merger rather than a straight-up acquisition. But the end result is the same.


We have heard you. We apologize for the confusion and angst the runtime fee policy we announced on Tuesday caused. We are listening, talking to our team members, community, customers, and partners, and will be making changes to the policy. We will share an update in a couple of days. Thank you for your honest and critical feedback.

This lacks specifics and sounds like too little too late, though switching engines is not an easy thing.

Tom Francis (via Hacker News):

We chose Unity for Tactical Breach Wizards over 5 years ago. The deal was, it costs $125 per month per programmer, but that’s it – they take no share of your income when you release. Unreal, a rival engine, has no monthly fee but takes 5% of your revenue when you release. If Unity wanted any part of our revenue, whether percentage or per-install, we wouldn’t have used it – I had more experience in Game Maker, which takes no rev share and has a lower sub cost.

So now we’ve spent 5+ years investing in Unity on that understanding:

  • All of our coding and implementation work (about 70% of my job, and all of my programmer’s job) is in Unity, and could not be pasted into some other engine – it would need to be redone.
  • To be able to even do that productive work, I spent a ton of this time learning Unity.


In case we were worried about how much we were investing, in 2019 Unity went out of their way to say, and cement in their Terms of Service, that “When you obtain a version of Unity, and don’t upgrade your project, we think you should be able to stick to that version of the TOS.”

Update (2023-10-10): Ash Parrish:

The new plan is a drastic departure from what was initially announced. Now, users on the Unity Personal subscription plan will not be charged the new fee, and Unity will increase the revenue cap on games made with that plan to $200,000.

Furthermore, any game made with Unity that makes less than $1 million in 12 months will not be subject to the fee.

The company is also changing what games can be assessed with the new fee. Previously, the fee would have applied to all games that met the specific download and revenue thresholds. This applied to games both in development and released. Now Unity is saying that the fee will only apply to games made with the next version of Unity that is expected to launch sometime in 2024.

Boston Unity Group (via Hacker News):

It is with a heavy heart that we are announcing Wednesday, September 27th as the date of the final Boston Unity Group event.


Over the past few years, Unity has unfortunately shifted its focus away from the games industry and away from supporting developer communities. Following the IPO, the company has seemingly put profit over all else, with several acquisitions and layoffs of core personnel. Many key systems that developers need are still left in a confusing and often incomplete state, with the messaging that advertising and revenue matter more to Unity than the functionality game developers care about.

Recently, Unity unveiled a set of unthinkably hostile terms of service and pricing changes for its users. The resounding, unequivocal condemnation from the games industry was unprecedented and Unity had no choice but to rescind some of the most egregious changes. Even with these new concessions, the revised pricing model disproportionately affects the success of indie studios in our community.

Dean Takahashi (via Hacker News):

John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity, has resigned from the company in the wake of a pricing controversy that left developers in open revolt.

Unity said in a press release that James M. Whitehurst has been appointed interim CEO and president of the company.

Update (2023-12-29): Cory Doctorow (via Damien Petrilli):

“Shared success” is code for, “If you use our tool to make money, we should make money too.” This is bullshit. It’s like saying, “We just want to find a way to share the success of the painters who use our brushes, so every time you sell a painting, we want to tax that sale.” Or “Every time you sell a house, the company that made the hammer gets to wet its beak.”

And note that they’re not talking about shared risk here – no one at Unity is saying, “If you try to make a game with our tools and you lose a million bucks, we’re on the hook for ten percent of your losses.” This isn’t partnership, it’s extortion.

How did a company like Unity – which became a market leader by making a tool that understood the needs of game developers and filled them – turn into a protection racket? One bad decision at a time. One rationalization and then another. Slowly, and then all at once.

Update (2024-02-01): Dare Obasanjo:

Unity is a great example of the collateral damage of Apple’s ATT changes. Their business model was to give away the tools then make money on an ad network.

Apple killed that dream so they tried to pivot to a per install fee and devs got so mad the CEO was fired. Now the company is just screwed and is flailing including laying off a quarter of staff.

However, this wouldn’t affect their non-iOS revenue.

Carbon Copy Cloner 6.1.7

Bombich Software:

This version of CCC adds official support for macOS 14 Sonoma.


Added support for temporarily downloading cloud-only files from services like Dropbox, OneDrive and GoogleDrive (any cloud-backed service that uses Apple’s FileProvider interface). This includes support for downloading cloud-only content from iCloud as well, with some minor caveats due to Apple’s use of a proprietary, non-FileProvider cloud-syncing service (oh, the irony!).

Bombich Software:

Lack of adoption of their own standard leads to some idiosyncrasies when dealing with iCloud cloud-only content. The only notable problem that proved too difficult for us to work around involves bundle files. iCloud uses a single file placeholder for bundle files (vs. dataless folders via FileProvider). This (lack of) structure posed logistical and practical issues that we decided were too costly to resolve, especially in light of the fact that Apple does have plans to migrate iCloud to FileProvider. As such, cloud-only iCloud files that are bundle files will not be downloaded, rather the placeholder file will be copied instead.


If connectivity is not available or is lost to that host (regardless of the service provider that hosts your cloud-backed content), CCC will suspend downloading activity in the task. We do this because it’s not possible to revoke requests to download files from the cloud. If we plowed through all of the files and requested all of them, iCloud/FileProvider would resume downloading all of those files as soon as connectivity was restored.


SuperDuper 3.8 Beta

Dave Nanian:

We’re back and we’re happy to be bringing full Sonoma support to SuperDuper.


Apple has not improved its support for bootable backups. Their tool, required for copying the OS, remains quite fussy, sometimes doesn’t work, etc. It’s something we have no control over, though, so we’re doing the best we can with the options available.


One thing that’s important to remember is that you can install the OS over the backup at any time to update it. That will update the OS and system applications, while leaving your data, settings and applications intact.


Even if the backup has no OS on it, as long as it’s a “Backup - all files” with “Smart Update”, you can restore.


Update (2023-10-25): SuperDuper 3.8 is available.

iOS 17 Shipping Soon

Joe Rossignol:

Apple today shared in-depth lists of all new features coming with the iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and macOS Sonoma software updates, which are all set to be released later this month. The lists are available as PDFs on Apple’s website.

Joe Rossignol:

Apple announced that iOS 17 will be released on Monday, September 18 for the iPhone XS and newer. The free software update includes a wide range of new features, but not all of them will be available right away, according to Apple.

Below, we have listed three features that Apple’s website says are “coming later this year” as part of a future update, such as iOS 17.1 or iOS 17.2.


Wednesday, September 13, 2023

iPhone 12 Radiation

ANFR (via Hacker News):

As market surveillance authority for radio equipment and responsible for controlling public exposure to electromagnetic fields, the ANFR runs inspections on mobile phones placed on the French market. 141 mobile phones, including Apple’s iPhone 12, have recently been tested to check compliance with limit SAR values. SAR is a measure of the rate of radiofrequency energy absorbed by the body from the equipment being measured.

The mobile phones were tested by an accredited laboratory, which allows the ANFR to ensure that the SAR values comply with European regulation.


Apple must immediately adopt all necessary measures to prevent the iPhone 12 in the supply chain from being made available on the market. As for those telephones that are already in use, Apple must adopt all necessary corrective measures to bring the telephones into conformity as soon as possible, otherwise, Apple will have to recall the equipment.

It doesn’t sound like this is a new regulation, so did they wait 3 years until after the product was discontinued before testing it? Or are recent iPhone 12s now manufactured differently so that they no longer meet the same standard?

Mathieu Rosemain and Elizabeth Pinea:

Germany’s network regulator BNetzA said it might launch similar proceedings and was in close contact with French authorities, while Spain’s OCU consumers’ group urged authorities there to halt the sales of the iPhone 12.


Apple said in a statement the iPhone 12, launched in 2020, was certified by multiple international bodies as compliant with global radiation standards, that it had provided several Apple and third-party lab results proving the phone’s compliance to the French agency, and that it was contesting its findings.


Croft said the French findings could differ from those recorded by other regulators because ANFR assesses radiation with a method that assumes direct skin contact, without intermediate textile layers, between the device and user.

Update (2023-09-14): Thomas Clement:

From what I heard on the French news here, an iOS update (which one they didn’t say) is the cause for the increase in radiation. Which would explain why this is coming up only now.


Some adjustments were made to the signal power code logic and that caused the phone to go over the threshold. Then it could be fixed just as well.

Update (2023-09-15): Lwii2boo:

I’m French and French media told us that this issue applied only for iPhone 12. 12 mini, 12 Pro and 12 PM are not concerned by this issue.

Moreover the emission was fine at launch for EU standard (<4W/kg) but when ANFR did again the test 3 years later, the emission measure was increased to 5.7W/kg. According to many experts, you need to reach 40W/kg before having realistic health risk.

If the test is valid, Apple would be forced to push a software update to reduce emissions - which is easily feasible as this is how the emission has increased over time - but it may reduce modem performance.

Tim Hardwick:

Apple said on Friday it would issue a software update for iPhone 12 users in France to address radiation concerns raised by the country's regulators (via Reuters).

macOS 14 Sonoma Shipping Soon

Tim Hardwick:

Apple today at its “Wonderlust” event announced that macOS Sonoma, the latest version of its Mac operating system, will be available to all users with compatible Mac models starting on Tuesday, September 26.

Brian Webster:

Wow, this is the first time the new macOS has been released in September since Mojave. It’s usually not until October or November.

I was expecting and would have liked a bit more time to polish SpamSieve 3, but I’m still planning to ship it before Sonoma. Apple Mail on Sonoma won’t work with SpamSieve 2.x. There are two key bugs with Mail extensions that I reported with previous macOS versions and refiled with the Sonoma beta, but they have not been fixed.

I also found a new bug this summer where Mail sometimes just stops communicating with a Mail extension (FB12819637). Apple did actually reply to this one (on August 3), but its response made no sense to me, as it seemed to be inconsistent with what diagnostics on the affected Macs showed. I asked for clarification and submitted Mail sysdiagnose files from many different beta testers’ Macs but never heard back.

Needless to say, it’s a shame that the Mail extensions API remains almost as limited and broken as it was upon introduction. But I’ve worked around the bugs—so that, if necessary, SpamSieve can operate without even using the Mail extension—and in the end it works quite well.

Joe Rossignol:

Apple today shared in-depth lists of all new features coming with the iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and macOS Sonoma software updates, which are all set to be released later this month. The lists are available as PDFs on Apple’s website.

This is great.

Brian Webster:

Whoa, Apple discovered a different kind of cutting edge button technology in macOS Sonoma!

There’s a new Sync Now button for iCloud Photos.

Howard Oakley:

For those who prefer to wait a bit longer, be very careful when you choose to update, say, to 13.6, and when you use SilentKnight. It’s likely that, like Ventura, Apple will release Sonoma as an update, rather than using the full installer for an upgrade. Don’t get caught and unintentionally become an early adopter.


Update (2023-09-14): Mullvad VPN (via Hacker News):

During the macOS 14 Sonoma beta period Apple introduced a bug in the macOS firewall, packet filter (PF). This bug prevents our app from working, and can result in leaks when some settings (e.g. local network sharing) are enabled. We cannot guarantee functionality or security for users on macOS 14, we have investigated this issue after the 6th beta was released and reported the bug to Apple. Unfortunately the bug is still present in later macOS 14 betas and the release candidate.

Peter N Lewis:

So as near as I can figure:

a) Sonoma blocks access to wifi names unless you have Location permissions enabled.
b) Sonoma does not prompt for Location permissions if your app tries to access wifi names.
b) Sonoma has no way to manually add an app to the Location permission system.

Kirk McElhearn:

I am extremely impressed by the quality of the new dictation in macOS and iOS. This is the best dictation that I have used, with the exception of Dragon Dictate, which allowed you to make corrections and add custom vocabulary. If Apple ever adds a system where it learned from corrections, it will truly be amazing.

AirPods Pro 2023

Joe Rossignol:

In addition to the iPhone 15 models getting a USB-C port, Apple today announced that the second-generation AirPods Pro are now available to order with a USB-C charging case for $249, and the wired EarPods now come in a USB-C version as well.

Tim Hardwick:

Apple’s decision not to offer the USB-C case as a separate purchase is likely a marketing one related to the fact that the updated second-generation AirPods Pro feature improved IP54-rated dust resistance, and will support up to 4 hours of lossless audio with ultra-low latency when connected to the Apple Vision Pro headset launching in early 2024.

They are still calling it “AirPods Pro (2nd generation).”


Tuesday, September 12, 2023

iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max

Apple (Hacker News, ArsTechnica, MacRumors):

Apple today debuted iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, designed with aerospace-grade titanium that’s strong yet lightweight to deliver Apple’s lightest Pro models ever. The new design also features contoured edges and a customizable Action button, allowing users to personalize their iPhone experience. Powerful camera upgrades enable the equivalent of seven pro lenses with incredible image quality, including a more advanced 48MP Main camera system that now supports the new super-high-resolution 24MP default, the next generation of portraits with Focus and Depth Control, improvements to Night mode and Smart HDR, and an all-new 5x Telephoto camera exclusively on iPhone 15 Pro Max. A17 Pro unlocks next-level gaming experiences and pro performance. The new USB‑C connector is supercharged with USB 3 speeds — up to 20x faster than USB 2 — and together with new video formats, enables powerful pro workflows that were not possible before.


The all-new Action button replaces the single-function switch used to toggle between ring and silent, offering additional options so users can choose between quickly accessing the camera or flashlight; activating Voice Memos, Focus modes, Translate, and accessibility features like Magnifier; or using Shortcuts for more options. A press-and-hold gesture with fine-tuned haptic feedback and visual cues in the Dynamic Island ensure the new button launches the intended action.


A17 Pro brings improvements to the entire chip, including the biggest GPU redesign in Apple’s history. The new CPU is up to 10 percent faster with microarchitectural and design improvements, and the Neural Engine is now up to 2x faster, powering features like autocorrect and Personal Voice in iOS 17. The pro-class GPU is up to 20 percent faster and unlocks entirely new experiences, featuring a new 6-core design that increases peak performance and energy efficiency.

Will the Action button trickle down to the iPhone 16 next year, like the Dynamic Island did this year?

Tim Hardwick:

Apple’s just-announced iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max introduce four new color options: Black Titanium, White Titanium, Blue Titanium, and Natural Titanium.

I kind of like the blue, but this continues the trend of the Pro phones not getting fun colors.

John Gruber:

What everyone groks about this strategy is that the pro models are more expensive. Of course they are. But there are a few aspects to Apple’s strategy that many people miss. The most important is that the iPhone Pro models are only produced for one year. If the pattern holds, come next week, the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max will cease production, and be replaced in the product line by the new 15 Pro models. The non-pro iPhones, however, stay in production for at least two additional years, dropping in price by $100 each year.


Update (2023-09-13): Juli Clover:

Apple did not change the price of the iPhone 15 Pro, and it is still priced starting at $999 for 128GB of storage.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is priced starting at $1,199, but that's only because Apple has eliminated the 128GB storage tier for that device. It now starts at 256GB, and $1,199 is the same price Apple charged for the 256GB iPhone 14 Pro Max.

Nick Heer:

It also appears to me that the cable included with the Pro models is limited to USB 2 speeds and taking advantage of the faster speeds of a standard now ten years old requires the purchase of another cable.

I know lots of people will write this off as a petty complaint for a feature not many people will use and even fewer will take full advantage of — that USB 2 is good enough for most people. But the thousand-dollar “Pro” model iPhones are not supposed to be good enough; they are supposed to be the flagship models, showcasing the best of what Apple is able to do for that year. Besides, USB 2 has not actually been good enough for a very long time. It was Apple’s decision to neglect that connectivity even at a time when more people were regularly using wired data transfers.

Tim Hardwick:

The all-new Action button replaces the single-function switch used to toggle between ring and silent, offering additional options so users can choose between quickly accessing the camera or flashlight, activate Voice Memos, Focus modes, Translate, and accessibility features like Magnifier. Users can also associate it with Shortcuts for more options.

Jason Snell:

I got a chance to use the Action Button, which replaces the ring/silent switch. It’s really well designed, as you have to press and hold the button in order to trigger an effect–thereby avoiding inadvertent activations. If you just do a short press of the button, cue text appears to indicate that you need to press and hold to trigger the effect.


First, the phone is noticeably lighter. This is not a minor, quirky, “I suppose if you weighed it you’d grudgingly admit it’s a few grams lighter” sort of thing. It’s very clearly noticeable, thanks to the combined titanium and aluminum design. It doesn’t feel flimsy, mind you–it’s very solid but quite lighter.

Juli Clover:

The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are approximately nine percent lighter than the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.

Steve Moser:

Apple said that the iPhone 15 Pro could record up to ProRes 4K at 60 fps to external storage thanks to the new USB-C port. The code reveals that ProRes 2.8K at 60 fps is also supported when recording to external storage devices. This is a significant improvement over the iPhone 14 Pro, which only supported ProRes 2.8K and 4K at 30 fps, and did not allow for recording directly to a storage device.

Hartley Charlton:

All of the new devices Apple today announced at its “Wonderlust” event feature no battery life improvements at all compared to their direct predecessors.

This comes contrary to a multitude of rumors prior to Apple’s event, which suggested that the major efficiency improvements of the S9 and A17 chips would bring battery life improvements.

Michael Love:

This suggests one of three things:

1) Apple is under-selling battery life for some reason;
2) Apple put all of the gains from 3nm into performance; or
3) TSMC N3 is just not that big a deal.

Update (2023-09-14): Kuba Suder:

I’ve updated a spreadsheet of iPhone dimensions that I’ve been maintaining for several years with the latest models. Looks like the new titanium Pros are pretty chonky and they only got back to the ~ 12 Pro weight level[…]

Update (2024-05-09): See also:

John Gruber (Threads):

I went into this thinking I might leave my Action button set to toggle silent mode, on the grounds that we already have these shortcuts for jumping into the Camera app, but one thing that’s become clear to me these past few days is that assigning the Action button to Camera is super useful when you want to jump to the Camera app while your iPhone is unlocked because you’re already using it. It’s cool and useful to have a button that always jumps you right into Camera no matter what state your iPhone is in.


iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus

Apple (MacRumors, ArsTechnica, Hacker News, Slashdot):

Both models feature the Dynamic Island, and an advanced camera system designed to help users take fantastic photos of everyday moments in their lives. A powerful 48MP Main camera enables super-high-resolution photos and a new 2x Telephoto option to give users a total of three optical zoom levels — like having a third camera. The iPhone 15 lineup also introduces the next generation of portraits, making it easier to capture portraits with great detail and low-light performance. Building on Apple’s innovative satellite infrastructure, Roadside Assistance via satellite can connect users to AAA if they have car trouble while off the grid. With A16 Bionic for powerful, proven performance; a USB‑C connector; Precision Finding for Find My friends; and industry-leading durability features, iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus represent a huge leap forward.


A 48MP Main camera shoots sharp photos and videos while capturing fine details, with a quad-pixel sensor and 100 percent Focus Pixels for fast autofocus. Using the power of computational photography, the Main camera gives users a new 24MP super-high-resolution default, offering incredible image quality at a practical file size ideal for storing and sharing.


Smart HDR captures subjects and the background with more true-to-life renderings of skin tones, while ensuring photos have brighter highlights, richer midtones, and deeper shadows when viewed in the Photos app. This advanced HDR rendering is also available to third-party apps, so images can look even better when shared online.

It starts at $799, with Roadside Assistance via satellite free for AAA members for two years. You have to pay another $30 to get it unlocked.

Haje Jan Kamps (Hacker News):

Today, as part of its iPhone 15 launch, the Cupertino-based org announced that the Lightning connector was going bye-bye, 11 years to the day since its introduction

Jason Koebler:

Apple executives talked about designing the iPhone 15 Pro for repairability, the first time that repair has ever been mentioned at an iPhone release keynote.


This tweak for the iPhone 15 Pro mirrors a change that was made on the normal iPhone 14 last year (but was not on the iPhone 14 Pro), which allows the phone to be opened from the front or the back. Repairing the back glass on previous versions of iPhones was a nightmare on previous models, as I, who owns an iPhone 11 Pro with an extremely busted back, can attest.

Tim Hardwick:

Apple’s just-announced iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus introduce five new color options: A light pink shade, yellow, blue, green, and black.

The colors are all really light, with even the black looking more like a dark gray. I think the iPhone 12 had the best (recent) colors.

Mitchel Broussard:

Apple has announced a new textile it’s calling “FineWoven,” which is made of 68 percent post-consumer content and is overall more environmentally friendly compared to the company’s previous line of leather accessories. Apple confirmed it will no longer use leather for new Apple accessories, starting today.


Update (2023-09-13): Jason Snell:

My first impression when picking up an iPhone 15 was just how smooth it felt. Mostly that’s down to the softened edges that don’t contain the harder right-angled corners that the previous model did. It feels more comfortable to hold in my hand, that’s for sure.

Joe Rossignol:

Priced at $29, the USB-C to Lightning Adapter allows for Lightning accessories to be connected to the new iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro, and iPhone 15 Pro Max models with USB-C ports for charging, data transfer, and audio connectivity.

Nick Heer:

But, as rumoured, the speed advantages are limited to the Pro models. Even if you use a faster cable with the standard iPhone 15, it will only support USB 2 speeds — the same data transfer standard used by the iPods Apple sold twenty years ago.

Joe Rossignol:

As always, there were many rumors leading up to the event that gave us an idea of what to expect from the devices, but not all of them were accurate.

Juli Clover:

With the launch of the new iPhone 15 models, Apple has discontinued the iPhone 13 mini, the last remaining flagship iPhone under six inches.

Update (2024-05-09): See also:

Apple Watch Ultra 2

Apple (MacRumors):

Apple Watch Ultra 2 offers all of the features users love about Ultra, plus the powerful new S9 SiP, a magical new double tap gesture, Apple’s brightest display ever, expanded altitude range, on-device Siri, Precision Finding for iPhone, and advanced capabilities for water adventures.


A new watch face designed for Apple Watch Ultra — Modular Ultra — takes advantage of the large display, using the outermost edge to present real-time data, including seconds, altitude, or depth. It offers the most complications of any Apple digital watch face to customize for sports, outdoor adventures, and ocean and water activities.

It’s $799.


Update (2024-02-01): Matt Birchler:

After the Ultra 2 announcement, I turned on AssistiveTouch on my Ultra 1 and was kinda blown away by how convenient it was to do some things with a pinch gesture. It was definitely a bit fiddly, but when it was at its best, it was spectacular. How much better would a more refined version of this with better pinch recognition be on the Ultra 2?!

Turns out, better and worse.

On the plus side, pinch recognition is absolutely wonderful, and is effectively 100% for me. I’d put it up there with Face ID in terms of success rate, which is to say basically 100%.

On the downside, this feature is very half-baked right now. The short version of my criticism is that it doesn’t do as much as you want, when it does something it often does the opposite of what you want, and you never know when it’s going to work or not because the UI is basically non-existent.

Apple Watch Series 9

Apple (ArsTechnica, MacRumors):

Apple Watch Series 9 is powered by custom Apple silicon in the all-new S9 SiP. Apple’s most powerful watch chip yet delivers systemwide improvements and brand-new features, including a new double tap gesture and on-device Siri with the ability to access and log health data privately and securely. Apple Watch Series 9 also has a new 4-core Neural Engine that can process machine learning tasks up to twice as fast, when compared with Apple Watch Series 8. The power efficiency of the S9 SiP allows Apple Watch Series 9 to maintain all-day 18-hour battery life.


Users can tap the index finger and thumb of their watch hand together twice to quickly and conveniently perform many of the most common actions on Apple Watch Series 9.

Double tap controls the primary button in an app so it can be used to stop a timer, play and pause music, or snooze an alarm. The gesture can be used to answer and end a phone call, and even to take a photo with the Camera Remote on Apple Watch.

It starts at the same $399. Unfortunately, I have not seen anything suggesting that on-device Siri can create reminders.


Each carbon neutral Apple Watch model meets the following strict criteria: 100 percent clean electricity for manufacturing and product use, 30 percent recycled or renewable material by weight, and 50 percent of shipping without the use of air transportation. These combined efforts result in at least a 75 percent reduction in product emissions for each model. The company will use high-quality carbon credits to address the small amount of remaining emissions, resulting in a carbon neutral product footprint.


Update (2023-09-13): Aaron Pearce:

Why does this double tap need a new processor? Didn’t it work on the older Watches as the accessibility feature already?

Alex Guyot:

Apple says the gesture is enabled by the S9 neural engine processing accelerometer, gyroscope, and optical heart sensor data through a new machine learning algorithm.

Stephen Hackett:

Tapping your index finger and thumb together will trigger whatever is the default button on the screen at any given time, assuming you are looking at a first-party watchOS app. I was told directly that there is not an API for third-party developers to integrate this into their app beyond use with notifications. Once you’re in a third-party app, there’s no double tap support, at least for now.

Update (2023-10-25): John Gruber:

The best new feature in Apple Watch this year has to be the new double tap gesture, enabling no-touch manipulation of the watch. We got to try this in the hands-on area, and it Just Worked™. Fast, accurate, and natural. In the keynote and their marketing materials, Apple says you need to tap your thumb and index finger, but I tried with my thumb and middle finger and it worked just fine. No more touching your nose to your watch when your hands are dirty from food preparation or carrying something you can’t set down. And the double tap gesture parallels the main gesture that will be used to navigate VisionOS. (One question that occurs to me now: What happens when you’re using a Vision Pro while wearing an Apple Watch, and you double tap with your watch hand? Does the gesture apply to both devices?

Monday, September 11, 2023

macOS 12.6.9 and macOS 11.7.10

Apple (full installer):

This document describes the security content of macOS Monterey 12.6.9.


Processing a maliciously crafted image may lead to arbitrary code execution. Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited.

Apple (full installer):

This document describes the security content of macOS Big Sur 11.7.10.


A buffer overflow issue was addressed with improved memory handling.

See also: MacRumors and Howard Oakley.


Kagi Small Web

Kagi (Hacker News):

While there is no single definition, “small web” typically refers to the non-commercial part of the web, crafted by individuals to express themselves or share knowledge without seeking any financial gain. This concept often evokes nostalgia for the early, less commercialized days of the web, before the ad-supported business model took over the internet (and we started fighting back!)

For a deeper understanding, Ben Hoyt’s “The Small Web is Beautiful” serves as an excellent primer. Additionally, our GitHub repository links to several more articles on this topic.

Kagi Small Web offers a fresh approach by promoting recently published content from the “small web.” We gather new content, published within the last week, from a handpicked list of blogs and surface it in multiple ways:

I’ll be interested to see whether this improves the rankings when I search with Kagi. Even before this change, they were often quite different than with Google and Bing, with top results less likely to be spammy. I’m pleased that my blog is included, and Kagi Small Web does seem to be helping more people to find my posts.

Nick Heer:

Surely authority and relevance carry heavier weighting in ranking these search results, but the idea of bringing more independent voices with fresh links onto a search results page is intriguing. The fact that it is based on an allow-list means it is more limited, but also perhaps less prone to manipulation.

Peter Hosey:

Google used to have a feature called Blog Search that restricted the search results to those from blogs, and we really need that back.

(I suspect part of what killed it was the increasing difficulty of weeding out legions of hijacked or otherwise spam-infested WordPress and Blogger blogs; overcoming that would be a necessary component of any resurrection of Blog Search.)


Today in E-mail Hegemony

Jamie Zawinski (Mastodon):

People keep telling me how email is a great federation success story.


Here’s the current top ten from the last ~2 years since our post-lockdown re-opening[…]

Gmail and Yahoo are dominant, with still a large number of AOL users from his audience, which likely skews more technical.

Also, my spell checker thingy won’t let you hit “Purchase” with an invalid TLD, and yet, I have 56 orders from gmail.con. There is no .con TLD yet, I checked, though I would not have placed bets on that. So how did those get through? JavaScript turned off? Nope. Every one of them was via Apple Pay, which does not do the typo check as Apple tells us the email directly.

It looks like Apple Pay lets you enter an e-mail address that’s different from the one used by your Apple ID, and Apple doesn’t verify it.

Update (2023-10-10): I saw first-hand, as people upgraded to SpamSieve 3, that many people have entered e-mail addresses into Apple Pay that are defunct or were never valid in the first place.

Ventura File Encryption Problems

Howard Oakley:

Until Ventura 13.2.1, encrypted sparse bundles seem to have worked as advertised. Although Disk Utility has never offered an easy way to change their passwords, that could be accomplished interactively using hdiutil in Terminal.


When asked to compress an item in Apple Encrypted Archive format, the app prompts the user for what it claims is a password. Instead what it’s actually doing is informing the user of their randomly generated key required to decrypt that archive.


As of Ventura 13.5.2, and probably in the first release of Sonoma, two of those five robust options for encrypting files and folders aren’t sufficiently functional for normal use. The bug in changing passwords for sparse bundles needs to be fixed, and shortcomings in passwords for Apple Encrypted Archive need to be addressed in Archive Utility.

Disk image passwords can also be changed using DropDMG, and it can change them in bulk, but alas it is also affected by the hdiutil bug in recent versions of Ventura.

App Store Continues to Host Scammy Apps

Joshua Long:

A couple months ago, we covered several suspicious apps that were in Apple’s iOS App Store. One mimicked the new “Threads, an Instagram app,” and others were unethical loan apps. At the time we published the article, Apple had removed the apps following public backlash.

We wish we could tell you that the App Store was perfectly free of scammy apps, but unfortunately such is not the case.

Over the past week, several more sketchy apps have come to light. Again, some of them are illegitimate loan apps that often seem to particularly target iPhone users in India. The apps mimic the names of legitimate financial institutions, but are reported not actually connected in any way with those companies.


The @AppStore in India is dancing to the tune of fake loan apps

When you search for “instant loan”: The Ad & all 5 top results are of Fraud Loan Apps.

Apple did remove them after more than a week and many downloads, but new ones reached the top finance charts just days later.

Kevin Archer:

I wonder how many Apple guidelines points this app is infringing 🤷‍♂️. More than this, it was released on 20 Dec 2022 and still active.

It looks like a to-do app but really offers pirated movies.

Josh Long:

This Bitcoin wallet app is fake, according to the developer of the real Samourai app for Android. (The company doesn’t even make any iOS apps at all.)

It has been in the App Store since July 21, in spite of being reported multiple times.


Friday, September 8, 2023

Molly Holzschlag, RIP

Dylan Smith:

Molly Holzschlag, whose pioneering work in online design standards led to her being dubbed “the fairy godmother of the web,” has died at age 60.


She was a prolific author and regular speaker about the “open web,” advocating for accessible and inclusive online design standards. Also known as “mollydotcom” after her eponymous site that was one of the first blogs, she wrote or co-wrote more than 30 books, and before falling ill she was frequently appearing on Internet conference stages around the world.


Holzschlag, who reported on music for the Tucson Weekly in the 1990s, founded Open Web Camp, a Silicon Valley event that ran from 2009-2013, and was a leader of the Web Standards Project in the years before that. That group successfully pushed browser developers, including Microsoft, Opera and Netscape, to adopt web standards.

Eric Meyer (via Christina Warren):

She had a voice like a blues singer in a cabaret, brassy and smoky and full of hard-won joys, and she used it to great effect standing in front of Bill Gates to harangue him about Internet Explorer. She raised it to fight like hell for the Web and its users, for the foundational principles of universal access and accessible development.


There were so many things about what the Web became that she hated, that she’d spent so much time and energy fighting to avert, but she still loved it for what it could be and what it had been originally designed to be. She took more than one fledgling web designer under her wing, boosted their skills and careers, and beamed with pride at their accomplishments.


Juli Clover (Hacker News):

[A] maliciously crafted image could lead to arbitrary code execution, allowing a hacker to gain access to the operating system with a simple picture.


As reported by Citizen Lab, the vulnerabilities are part of a “BLASTPASS” exploit chain that was observed having been used in the wild to deliver NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. Pegasus is of critical concern to government officials, journalists, activists, and others with potentially sensitive information on their devices.

The zero-click vulnerability allowed attackers to send a maliciously crafted PassKit (Wallet) image to a target via iMessage, infecting their device “without any interaction from the victim.”

Lockdown Mode blocks this particular attack. It’s not really clear to me why these images can’t be safely processed behind the Blast Door. Is it because they’re related to other cross-cutting iOS services such as PassKit? That is, if iMessage were just a messaging service, it would be easier to make it secure. If Messages were restricted to doing what third-party apps can do, maybe these sorts of vulnerabilities would be impossible. But it’s also become the transport for various other iOS features and Apple services, so it’s necessarily hooked deeper into the system. If I lived in Europe, maybe I could just disable iMessage and use WhatsApp, which is arguably more reliable and secure.


macOS 13.5.2

Juli Clover (release notes, security, full installer, IPSW):

macOS Ventura 13.5.2 focuses on minor bug fixes and security improvements, and it does not include any notable new features.

See also: Mr. Macintosh and Howard Oakley.


iOS 16.6.1 and iPadOS 16.6.1

Juli Clover (release notes, security):

The launch of iOS 16.6.1 comes over a month after the release of iOS 16.6, an update that brought bug fixes.


Thursday, September 7, 2023

Text Kit Benchmarks

Matt Massicotte:

A suite of performance tests for macOS text views

Every year, I check in on TextKit 2 to see how things are going. It was introduced in macOS 12, and I found it basically unusable. With macOS 13 it was better, but still rough. So far, on macOS 14, it seems like it might be ok. However, I was having some performance problems. So I finally went head and factored that out into a dedicated project. Pretty focused on NSTextView right now, but I’m into making it more general if that’s helpful to anyone.

The tests are automated using XCTest’s UI performance testing system, backed by custom OSSignpost. I find this really wonderful for both repeatibility and Instruments usage.

Matt Massicotte:

I use XCTest’s UI Testing system a lot. With some help from @icanzilb, I put a bunch of utilities into a library. Has a bunch of common UI operations, along with perf optimizations to help with slow tests.


Debugging Universal Links


To test your universal links behavior, paste a link into your Notes app and long-press it (iOS) or control-click it (macOS) to see your options for following the link. If universal links have been configured correctly, the option to open in app and in Safari will both show up. The option you choose will set the default behavior for your device when following universal links from this domain in the future. To change this default choice, repeat the same steps and choose a different option.

I still find the Universal Links behavior on macOS to be completely broken.

First, this method of setting the preference is obscure. You have to wait until you encounter each domain (for Mastodon there can be many) and configure them separately. There’s no way to see the current settings. Why can’t I just see a list of apps and choose whether I want them to accept links or not?

Second, it doesn’t actually work for Twitter or Mastodon, because even if I choose to open the link in Safari, Safari will show a Cancel/Allow alert for every click offering to open the link in the separate app. It also does this when I’m already in Safari and click a link. It’s breaking the Web.

The only workaround seems to be to uninstall Twitter and Ivory. (Or, perhaps, stop using Safari.)


The Twitter desktop app hasn’t been updated for domains, has it? And Mastodon apps can’t claim every domain compatible with it.

Mozilla Report on Auto Privacy

Mozilla (via Dan Gillmor, Hacker News):

Car makers have been bragging about their cars being “computers on wheels” for years to promote their advanced features. However, the conversation about what driving a computer means for its occupants’ privacy hasn’t really caught up. While we worried that our doorbells and watches that connect to the internet might be spying on us, car brands quietly entered the data business by turning their vehicles into powerful data-gobbling machines. Machines that, because of their all those brag-worthy bells and whistles, have an unmatched power to watch, listen, and collect information about what you do and where you go in your car.

All 25 car brands we researched earned our *Privacy Not Included warning label -- making cars the official worst category of products for privacy that we have ever reviewed.


That’s right: every car brand we looked at collects more personal data than necessary and uses that information for a reason other than to operate your vehicle and manage their relationship with you.


The ways that car companies collect and share your data are so vast and complicated that we wrote an entire piece on how that works. The gist is: they can collect super intimate information about you -- from your medical information, your genetic information, to your “sex life” (seriously), to how fast you drive, where you drive, and what songs you play in your car -- in huge quantities. They then use it to invent more data about you through “inferences” about things like your intelligence, abilities, and interests.

I didn’t see where it says how the data gets back to the car companies. Do vehicles have cellular connections to phone home, even when there are no user-facing features that can use this connection? Does it get transferred via a direct connection when you take the car to a dealer?

Surely, using CarPlay is better than using the built-in software. But I’m seeing conflicting reports about whether CarPlay data stays on the phone or needs to be manually deleted when you sell a car or return a rental.

Thomas Germain (Hacker News):

Mozilla said it was unable to determine whether the brands encrypt any of the data they collect, and only Mercedes-Benz responded to the organization’s questions.

Mozilla also found that many car brands engage in “privacy washing,” or presenting consumers with information that suggests they don’t have to worry about privacy issues when the exact opposite is true. Many leading manufacturers are signatories to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation’s “Consumer Privacy Protection Principles.” According to Mozilla, these are a non-binding set of vague promises organized by the car manufacturers themselves.


Questions around consent are essentially a joke as well. Subaru, for example, says that by being a passenger in the car, you are considered a “user” who has given the company consent to harvest information about you.

Nick Heer:

It is entirely possible these privacy policies reflect an overly broad approach, that cars do not actually collect vast amounts of personal information, and that the data brokers who have partnered with automakers are marketing themselves more ambitiously than they are able to deliver. But is that better? Automakers either collect vast amounts of private information which they share with data brokers and use for targeted advertising efforts, or they are lying and only wish they were collecting and sharing vast amounts of private information.


Update (2023-09-14): See also: Bruce Schneier and Rob Beschizza.

Intelligent Tracking Prevention Deleting Data

Jeff Johnson:

To put it simply, if you haven’t visited Twitter in the past 7 days, then Safari will automatically delete your Twitter settings, including your font size, color scheme, and timeline behavior!


On macOS, enable “Show Develop menu in menu bar” at the bottom of the Advanced pane in Safari Preferences, then open the Develop menu, the Experimental Features submenu, and select “Disable Removal of Non-Cookie Data After 7 Days of No User Interaction (ITP)”. On iOS, the same Experimental Features submenu is in the Advanced menu at the bottom of the Safari section in Settings.

But this setting is reset with each software update.

Jeff Johnson:

Of course I want to prevent cross-site tracking, but the way that Safari implements it leaves a lot to be desired, especially compared to Chrome and Firefox, both of which allow you to set per-website cookies and storage settings. For some strange reason, Safari Website Settings doesn’t include cookies and storage (or JavaScript, for that matter).

Per-site JavaScript settings would be great.

Today I was hit (yet again) by another ITP policy[…] The domain in this case was a Mastodon instance, so I’m not sure why it was “classified” by ITP. I was able to determine that ITP was the culprit in deleting my website data by checking my backups and looking inside Safari’s “container”[…]


I’m logged in permanently to a number of different websites that I use only occasionally, which makes ITP’s 30-day policy quite problematic for me. When Safari deletes all storage data for a site, you are thereby logged out of the site and need to login again. If Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is involved, this is egregious, because you have to jump through extra hoops every time you need to login again with 2FA.

I’ve been running Safari without ITP for quite a while now, but even then it seems to forget a lot. Despite asking to be remembered, I have to enter my Amazon password multiple times per day to view order information.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

DMA Gatekeepers Designated

European Commission (Hacker News):

The European Commission has today designated, for the first time, six gatekeepers - Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta, Microsoft - under the Digital Markets Act (DMA). In total, 22 core platform services provided by gatekeepers have been designated. The six gatekeepers will now have six months to ensure full compliance with the DMA obligations for each of their designated core platform services.


In parallel, the Commission has opened four market investigations to further assess Microsoft’s and Apple’s submissions arguing that, despite meeting the thresholds, some of their core platform services do not qualify as gateways:

  • Microsoft: Bing, Edge and Microsoft Advertising
  • Apple: iMessage

It does include iOS, the App Store, and Safari.

Benjamin Mayo (Mastodon, MacRumors):

In accordance with the published legislation, to classify as a ‘gatekeeper,’ the service must have more than 45 million monthly active users in the EU.


There are more than 1 billion iPhones in use worldwide. However, Apple does not publish monthly active user numbers for iMessage publicly, so we can’t know for sure how many users it has in each region. Competitors like WhatsApp are also more dominant in Europe than in the US, where iMessage has higher penetration.

Dare Obasanjo:

It’s kind of funny that the EU came up with this objective sounding rule to regulate American big tech companies but now a bunch of their services will avoid the regulation.

I bet the next law will just be the anti-FAANG law and give up the pretende of objectivity that GDPR, DSA & DMA tried.


Update (2024-01-10): Chris Smith (via Hacker News):

Apple’s iMessage isn’t a gatekeeper, so it doesn’t have to support interoperability with, say, Google’s RCS anytime soon. But iOS, the Safari browser, and the App Store are gatekeepers. As such, Apple has six months to make changes to these products according to the DMA rules.


In other words, iPhones and iPads in the EU will soon support third-party app stores, third-party payment systems, and sideloading.

Keen and Slice

John Gruber:

Yes, a box cutter/utility knife that costs about $100. […] A few weeks ago, though, my pals at Studio Neat sent me a pre-production Keen. I prefer it to the Palmer in every single regard. First, it’s thinner and smaller, but in no way too small. Second, it’s easier to change the blade. But most importantly, the Keen offers a completely original design for opening and closing the blade: a spring-loaded slider. It’s so different from any box cutter design I’ve ever seen that I wondered if I’d even like it at all, let alone prefer it, because it does not lock into place.


Given how many packages I receive each and every week of the year, it’s one of my most-used tools.

There are certainly times when a real utility knife comes in handy. But, 99% of the time, all I want to do is open a package and then break down the box for recycling or to use it for crafts. For these purposes, the $6 Slice Safety Cutter (Amazon) is fantastic. The ceramic blade is tiny enough that it doesn’t need to be retracted, and you don’t have to worry about cutting too deep (beyond the packaging). Yet it makes quick work of tape on boxes and even thick plastic blister packs that can be awkward with scissors and potentially dangerous with a knife. (Corrugated cardboard usually takes two passes.) The blade is not replaceable, but after more than a decade of use it’s still sharp. It’s tiny but hard to lose in a drawer because it’s bright green. You can also put it on a keyring or stick it as a magnet.

Update (2024-06-20): John Gruber:

[A]t least one reader recommended the Canary. For $8 I figured why not. It truly is an amazing product. I do still love my prototype Keen but for opening and breaking down cardboard boxes, the Canary can’t be beat.

Here it is at Amazon.

Rumor of Low-Cost MacBook

Tim Hardwick (Hacker News):

Apple is developing a low-cost MacBook series to compete with Chromebook models in the education sector that could be launched as early as the second half of 2024, claims a new report out of Taiwan.

According to DigiTimes’ industry sources, Apple will likely launch the new product line to differentiate it from the company’s existing MacBook Air and Pro lines. The outer appearance will still use a metal casing but will be made of “different materials” and the cost of the mechanical components will be lower, claims the report.

I’ve been wanting Apple to make such a Mac for a long time. If true, this would be the best Mac rumor in a while. It doesn’t need to have a Retina display or a metal case, though Apple manages to do that with iPads so perhaps it’s not impossible. That said, I don’t expect that Apple would come close to the Chromebook’s price. Maybe it could hit $499.

Colin Cornaby:

This would be a really good move. They have the low cost hardware components now that can perform well. And I don’t think Apple has built a great educational machine since the last plastic MacBook. I’m hoping the durability improvements over something like a MacBook Air are significant. Students are rough on machines.

The build quality on the last plastic MacBooks was actually really amazing. When I worked in schools we had issues with durability on even the iBooks. But those MacBooks were really durable. Not indestructible… But you could drop them and usually not end up with LCD or significant case damage. Can’t say the same about the MacBook Airs.

Jason Snell:

If I had a dime for every “Apple’s going to release a low-end product to compete with other low-end devices” rumor, I’d have a hefty bank account by now. And you can find plenty of stories debunking this report as “sketchy.” At the risk of giving this report more credulity than it deserves, let me try to understand what this report might actually mean.


Why does the M1 MacBook Air exist? Because Apple wants to have a product available at a (relatively) low price point: currently it’s $899 for education and $999 for everyone else.


Update (2023-10-09): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

Update (2023-10-27): Tim Hardwick:

Kuo now also believes Apple could be considering such a move to boost ailing MacBook shipments, with a target of 8-10+ million units per year.

Tim Hardwick:

Apple is actively developing new 12-inch and 13-inch MacBook models for sale at a planned price point of around $700 or less, claims a rumor out of Korea.

According to the operator of news aggregator account “yeux1122” on the Naver blog, supply chain sources have “consistently” seen evidence that Apple has low-cost MacBooks in two different sizes in ongoing development.

Update (2023-12-08): Adam Chandler:

Why would I pay double for a device whose only advantage is touch input and a cellular connection? The iPad weighs 3 pounds with keyboard and the 13” MacBook Air weighs 2.7 so again. We have a lighter computer with multiple ports, a real OS and it’s half the price.

Why does the iPad need to exist outside of creative pursuits and to be an iPad at that great $329 price point which works great for kids, non-techie folks and education?


Now that we’re going to have an M3 Max chip powered MacBook Pro in a 16” configuration and maybe a $700 low cost MacBook Lovely that you can do most things on except intense creative pursuits, I think the iPad will lose its place in my travel setup and I’ll just go back to having two laptops again.

APFS Versions, Updates, and Compatibility

Howard Oakley:

APFS major version numbers change with each major version of macOS[…] Changing version numbers thus aren’t any indication of the scope or magnitude of changes made to APFS. As Apple seldom provides any information on changes made to APFS, it’s anyone’s guess as to what is going on.


In release versions of APFS:

  • version 748.21.6 (macOS 10.13.1) fixed problems in snapshots
  • versions 945.275.8 and 945.275.9 (macOS 10.14 security updates 2 and 2020-005) fixed unspecified bugs, probably vulnerabilities
  • version 1412.11.7 (macOS 10.15) introduced system volume groups and firmlinks
  • version 1412.120.2 (macOS 10.15.5) fixed a serious bug preventing the transfer of very large amounts of data to RAID volumes
  • version 1933.41.2 (macOS 12.0.1) is believed to have introduced a trim-on-mount feature that stores trimmed UDRW disk images as sparse files
  • version 1934.101.3 (macOS 12.3) brought an unexpected major version increment, but no reason has been given.


Care must be taken to avoid using older APFS tools, including Disk Utility, on newer versions of APFS. This is most critical in Recovery mode.


Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Forklift 4


We have optimized every aspect of the app to ensure lightning-fast performance. Whether you’re browsing files, transferring data, or managing your storage, you’ll notice a significant improvement in speed. You will experience the biggest change in performance when you’re synchronizing files.

We believe that a great user experience begins with a beautiful interface. ForkLift 4 sports a sleek, modern design that not only looks fantastic but also enhances usability.

It looks pretty good, but I’m not a fan of lists of iOS-style checkboxes. The Settings window seems inspired by the Ventura System Settings, but it doesn’t actually use the same coloring or sizing. I do like that the pop-up menus look like pop-up menus.

Our Newly Added Protocols: Dropbox, Google Drive Team Drives, and Microsoft OneDrive


  • Option to save view options for specific folders
  • Synchronization of favorites through iCloud
  • Option to color the icons in the sidebar
  • Connecting to Amazon S3 buckets with bucket level only permissions and using two factor authentication

They’re “introducing lifetime licenses to a wider user base.” It’s $19.95 for 1 year of updates or $34.95 for 2 years.

See also: John Voorhees.


Update (2023-09-07): Binarynights:

After the release of ForkLift 4 we have received extensive feedback from our dedicated user base expressing their disappointment over the absence of an upgrade path from previous versions of ForkLift.


We will reward existing users by offering an additional 100 days of free updates. If you purchase a 1 or 2-year license and provide your old license key during the purchase, you will receive 100 extra days of free updates on top of the currently available 100 day bonus, totaling 200 days of additional free updates, equivalent to a 54% discount based on the 1-year license.

The macOS App Icon Book

Michael Flarup:

The macOS App Icon Book is a beautiful artbook dedicated to preserving the craft of app icon design. It’s a vibrant journey through the art of desktop app iconography for macOS. The book features hundreds of icons created by designers and developers from around the world over the course of more than a decade.

The icons in the book showcase conceptual and executional excellence in icon design and create a tapestry that tells the story of visual design on one of the most influential platforms of our time. It is both a source of inspiration and a historical archive, inspiring new work and preserving old icons for future generations.

I’ve backed the kickstarter and contributed some icons from the history of my apps, including an unreleased SpamSieve icon. They are still accepting icon submissions.

See also: Iconic:

With a breathtaking collection of unique photography, Iconic: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation takes the reader on a tour of the most visually stunning and important products produced by the world’s most innovative company — Apple. Follow Apple’s journey from 1976 through a photographic collection of their most important desktops, portables, peripherals, prototypes, iDevices (iPad, iPod and iPhone) and packaging.


Update (2023-12-19): Michael Flarup:

I have received my first advance shipment of The macOS App Icon Book. Here’s a little unboxing video showing off the finished book.

Update (2024-01-10): I received my copy of the book today, and it looks great.

Notification Center in Sonoma

Mario Guzmán:

Reminder that Design should be not just about how it looks but also how it works…

I was hoping since we can move Widgets onto the desktop that perhaps we’d get more spacing for Notifications but nope… 😒

Mario Guzmán:

[Look] at how useful it used to be! Everything was clear, legible, none of this “on hover” bs… and look how many notifications you can have in the list view… wow!

Why does macOS continue to just regress?

Both Growl and Notification Center in previous macOS versions (before Big Sur) worked better than what we have now.

Nick Splendorr:

My running theory is that Apple is bad at retaining talent, and shifts people around too often. There’s no way there’s a “Notifications Team,” and instead we’re seeing some work to bring things into visual alignment, then moving on to something else. Like all software, the problem is ultimately mismanagement because you KNOW people in the company are bothered by this, too!

Joe Rosensteel:

I think my favorite are Shortcuts error notifications, because they don’t stack at all. When my Apple TV (home hub) reboots and my thermostats can’t connect I get a new, non-stacking notification every 10 minutes. Who designed that?


How Various Image Formats Compress One-Pixel Images

Jon Sneyers (2016, tweet, Reddit):

However, actual image formats tend to have a “header” that contains quite a bit more information. First of all, the first few bytes of any image format contain a fixed identifier that is only there to say “Hey! I’m a file in this particular file format!”. This fixed sequence of bytes is also known as the magic number.


Headers can contain all sorts of meta-information about an image. Some of it is format-specific information to indicate what kind of subformat is used, and is necessary to decode the pixels correctly. Some of it might not be necessary to decode the pixels, but is still useful to know how to render them – e.g. color profiles, orientation, gamma, or dots-per-pixel.


Besides headers, image formats may have other kinds of “overhead”. They may contain all kinds of markers and checksums, intended to make the format more robust in case of transmission errors or other forms of corruption. Also, sometimes some kind of padding is required, to ensure that the data gets aligned properly.

One-pixel images – the smallest possible images – reveal exactly how much “overhead” there is in an image format.

Jon Sneyers:

In this second part of the blog post, we go to the other extreme: extremely predictable images.

The most predictable image is a large rectangle in a single color.


The uncompressed PBM format obviously has a file size that is (asymptotically) linear in the number of pixels (1 bit per pixel in this case). But JPEG and lossy WebP are also linear in the number of pixels (quadratic in the width of the square) – just with a better constant factor. In other words, they seem to have some inevitable cost per pixel. For JPEG, it looks like you need at least 2 bits per 8×8 macroblock.


The PNG curve goes in a more or less straight line, with some ‘coughs’ and ‘jumps’ around powers of two (1024, 2048, 4096) which might be due to the changing behavior of the underlying zlib compression at such boundary points.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Restarting macOS Apps Automatically on Crash

Alin Panaitiu (Hacker News):

Normally apps crash because of bugs introduced by the developer, but in my experience, there are cases where crashes can be out of the developer’s control. […] After we reach a certain confidence in the app stability, we can explore some ways to have the app restart automatically when the inevitable crash happens.


So with a few lines of XML, we can have launchd start our app and keep it alive on crashes.


[A signal handler] is the method I use in Lunar and Clop and it is reliable enough while also being easy to use and compatible with old macOS versions.


If the app is mostly a menubar utility sitting in background, it could be useful to detect and recover from app hangs. […] We can periodically schedule a ping on the main thread, and if the ping is not received for n seconds, an app hang happened.


Update (2023-09-06): Quinn:

If you’re in a signal handler there’s a very limited list of stuff you can safely call. This list doesn’t include such useful things as malloc, or the Swift or Objective-C runtimes.


Think very carefully before installing a signal handler for any purpose. And if your goal is to catch crashes, read this first.

I personally do not see much risk in Panaitiu’s signal handler that only uses Objective-C to get the main bundle’s path and then start a helper task to relaunch it. That said, it could perhaps stash the path at launch and use a C function instead of Process to respawn.

DTrace at 20

Bryan Cantrill:

Two decades ago today, DTrace integrated into the operating system. Much has changed in the last 20 years -- but one thing has remained true: we ourselves still use it on a daily basis.


I reminisced a bit after the 5th anniversary (15 years ago!), describing in particular the harrowing day before we integrated.

That day continues to be memorable; @ahl and I talked about it on a recent episode of Oxide and Friends.

Ten years ago -- on DTrace’s 10th birthday -- I described some of the things that we had added to DTrace over that decade.


Back in the day Sun ran a contest, “Try before you buy”. Get a machine (an Ultra 60, IIRC), for 60 days shipped to you free.

Blog about something interesting you did with it, enter the contest, and maybe win the machine.

I instrumented Sendmail with DTrace, evaluating different queuing strategies (along with a comparison of Solaris and FreeBSD on the machine). Found a sendmail bug along the way, and won the contest.


Update (2023-09-06): Jeff Johnson:

It’s so sad what SIP has done to DTrace on Mac, rendered it almost useless.

iPologists always say “You can disable SIP”, but as a developer you really can’t, because then your testing environment is very different from your customers’ environment.

Testing Noise-Canceling Headphones

Andrew Marino (via Dave Mark):

The Sony WH-1000XM5 offered the best passive attenuation and very good ANC. The Sonys were an overall good noise canceler, with solid performance in all noise environments. The Apple AirPods Max were a close second and did especially well with the airplane cabin noise due to their efficient noise canceling in the lower frequency range of 100–500Hz. The Bose QC45 scored just under these headphones.

All of the headphones struggled to cancel loud environmental music — not much surprise there. That is a difficult and complicated noise to suppress. For speech quality of audio playback with all the noise environments, the AirPods Max did the best. According to the results, even with ANC set to the max, the AirPods Max did a great job of “allowing the speech playback to come through undisturbed, unaltered, and sounding natural.” So, if you’re listening to podcasts or audiobooks on your daily commute, they may be your best choice.

I guess they only tested over-the-ear models, not earbuds like AirPods Pro.


Studio Display Firmware 17 Beta 6

Juli Clover:

Apple today released a sixth Studio Display 17 firmware beta, with the update coming a few weeks after the release of the fifth beta.

All Studio Display models are able to receive over-the-air firmware updates, but this firmware update is limited to Macs that are running the new macOS Sonoma operating system at the current time. macOS Sonoma is also being beta tested.

With no release notes and little chance of the camera being further improved via software, I don’t see the appeal of running a beta firmware for my display. I continue to have problems with the display not turning on until it’s unplugged/rebooted, but at least that problem is limited in scope and easy to work around.


Friday, September 1, 2023

How Software Update Works in Ventura

Howard Oakley:

When all the settings for automatic updates are turned off, the user should in theory be offered all updates as they become available, and be able to choose which to download and install manually from those offered in Software Update. Unfortunately, that isn’t what happens, as some available updates aren’t listed by Software Update, but only available by other means.

For example, a Mac that is still running macOS 13.4, and hasn’t received any updates to security data such as XProtect and XProtect Remediator, will only be offered the 13.5.1 macOS update following a manual check triggered by opening Software Update settings. Although XProtect and XProtect Remediator updates are delivered and installed individually, they aren’t listed in the updates available. If the 13.5.1 update is installed when automatic updates are all disabled, XProtect and XProtect Remediator aren’t updated, and aren’t offered as updates by Software Update settings.


Software Update settings are in urgent need of revision, to protect users from inadvertently falling behind with updates to important security components.

Howard Oakley:

Under Apple’s unstated policy, Big Sur has already been consigned to the past, and is now unsupported. Monterey has entered its second and final year of security-only updates, where Ventura has now joined it. But what can we expect Ventura to get over the next year: will those updates include Rapid Security Responses (RSRs) too?


Apple has clarified this only yesterday, in an updated support note about RSRs. That makes clear that we’re unlikely to see an RSR attempting to patch the kernel for a while, as they’re targeted primarily at Safari, WebKit and “other critical system libraries”. It also states that “New Rapid Security Responses are delivered only for the latest versions of iOS, iPadOS, and macOS, starting with iOS 16.4.1, iPadOS 16.4.1, and macOS 13.3.1.”


Apple Discontinues iTunes Movie Trailers App

Joe Rossignol:

Apple today updated its iTunes Movie Trailers app for the iPhone with a notice that the Apple TV app is the new home of movie and TV show trailers. It is no longer possible to use the iTunes Movie Trailers app, which launched in 2011.


The accompanying iTunes Movie Trailers website is also no longer available following the transition to the Apple TV app, which began earlier this month.

In the Apple TV app, there is now a “Watch the Latest Trailers” section in the Store tab, although it might not be visible in all countries.

Apple was once the best source for finding high-quality and fast-loading versions of the latest trailers. Now, I dread opening the TV app. It’s difficult to navigate and search. I just scrolled through everything but could not find the trailers section. However, a Google search quickly turned up, which opens the proper section of the app. Normally, though, I just use IMDB (easier to browse) or YouTube (can save offline).

Nick Heer:

Apple killed off its movie trailers site without replacing it in Canada. Left, a bunch of trailers shown in the U.S. version; right, basically nothing in the Canadian version.

Still no way to access trailers in the TV app in Canada.

Nick Heer:

My eyes hurt. Does anybody at the world’s most valuable publicly-traded corporation with a reputation for design and attention to detail review these things before they are pushed to the world?


Update (2023-09-04): Greg Hurrell:

Never used the app or even knew it existed, but I remember back around 2000 when Apple was the place to get movie trailers in high quality, as they pushed hard to market QuickTime and their hardware as the premiere technology for media reproduction and production.

Samuel Axon (Hacker News):

Unfortunately, the trailer section of the TV app lacks most of the features that iTunes Movie Trailers had—there are no sorting options, for example.

So pour one out for a truly classic web service—a relic of another era that was not that long ago but somehow feels like another epoch of the Earth. You might be surprised it was still around, but it's sad to see it go.

Apple to Drop Customer Support via Social Media

Joe Rossignol (via Dave Mark, Jeff Johnson):

Apple is planning to eliminate social media support advisor roles across Twitter, YouTube, and the Apple Support Community website starting later this year, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. When this change takes effect, customers will no longer be able to receive support from an Apple employee on these platforms.


Apple is offering hundreds of affected employees the opportunity to transition to a phone-based support role in the company, but some advisors are unable to or unwilling to make the switch, the sources said. Apple is not allowing employees to switch to another chat-based support role in the company unless medically necessary, which has caused anger and frustration for some members of the social media team, one of the sources said.

On the one hand, I like the idea of meeting customers where they are and offering assistance proactively. Without this, many of them would probably not seek out direct help, and the issue would remain unresolved. On the other hand, my experience as an observer and occasional venter has been that the Apple representative would often chime in to a discussion without really reading the context of what was being discussed, which made them look out of touch. Or they would immediately suggest taking the discussion private, in which case there was no community benefit of seeing the troubleshooting steps and solution.

I don’t understand why these employees aren’t being transitioned to chat support roles.


Making Your App Extensible with JavaScriptCore

Christian Tietze:

The idea here is that JavaScript is basically the only way nowadays that you can ship plugins or scripts with your apps on macOS that is not broken since Big Sur, I think. Because Ruby and Python and all these other scripting languages were yeeted from the operating system.

Of course, apps can still offer places where users can hook in AppleScripts.

So it’s not like new technology. It works with really old stuff. And the thing I’ve found is that you can actually make plugins for your applications that don’t expose the app’s internals or the user’s file system or any sensitive data unless you actually decide to expose this. Which means that plugin installing can become rather safe. It’s easy to break things, but it’s also easy to make things secure.


The most important piece that I found is the context, and the JSValue that you see below, and the JSManagedValue, which is something we will completely ignore. If you have worked with CoreData, for example, you will know the NSManagedObject, and the JSManagedValue is kind of similar: It’s bridging into the JavaScript context and automatically updates when you mutate an object from within the script. And the JavaScript site sees values reflected as you change them in your swift code on these managed values. This is very handy, I guess, but it’s something that I find, well, utterly unnecessary for my purposes. And too hard to control.


I’m teaching the script to call a function for the input and I call function for the output.