Archive for October 18, 2023

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Apple Pencil (USB-C)

Apple (Hacker News):

Today, Apple is bringing more choice to iPad users with a new, more affordable Apple Pencil. With pixel-perfect accuracy, low latency, and tilt sensitivity, the new Apple Pencil is ideal for note taking, sketching, annotating, journaling, and more. Designed with a matte finish and a flat side that magnetically attaches to the side of iPad for storage, the new Apple Pencil pairs and charges with a USB-C cable.

Hartley Charlton:

The new Apple Pencil features low latency and tilt sensitivity like the other Apple Pencil models, but misses out on pressure sensitivity, wireless pairing and charging, double tap to change tools, and free engraving. However, unlike the first-generation Apple Pencil, it does support Apple Pencil hover on the latest iPad Pro models.


The new Apple Pencil is priced at $79 and launches in early November. The first- and second-generation Apple Pencil models continue to be available for $99 and $129, respectively.

It seems pricey even for a budget model, but at least now there’s no cap to lose.


Update (2023-10-24): John Gruber:

On the other hand, though, the fact that there are now three Apple Pencil models, all with different features and which are supported by different iPads, exemplifies just how over-complicated the iPad product lineup is.

Jason Snell:

This is a product that, at least in part, addresses one of the most baffling features of the 10th-generation iPad: support only for the first-generation Pencil via a rickety Lightning-to-USB dongle. This seems to be the Apple Pencil that should’ve been shipped a year ago for that iPad. Why did it have to wait a year?

After that, though, one might start interrogating the structure of the entire iPad product line, but don’t poke a stick in there—you might get a face full of bees. It feels like the iPad product line isn’t quite coherent, but the mess at the low end is the consequence of Apple’s Tim Cook-era strategy to keep old products around to hit specific price points.


But by keeping old products around, Apple is also free to release updated products more often. If Apple had determined that it couldn’t sell the 10th-generation iPad at a price its education customers would pay, it could’ve just… not released the product. Instead, we’ve got a messy product line with two low-end iPads in it, but at least people who want to buy a more modern iPad can do so.

Eric Schwarz:

Although Apple doesn’t share sales figures by model, I’d guess that the best selling iPad is the 9th generation model, followed by the Pros. These changes would create a good/better/best lineup that doesn’t lend itself to “should I buy the regular iPad, the iPad Air, or the 11″ iPad Pro?” and any accessories will work with any iPad (outside of keyboards that only fit based on screen size). The 12.9″ iPad has a very specific customer, as does the mini, so those can be the weird outliers. It may make sense to keep another “step” around in the middle, although it currently feels like there’s a lot of overlap in the middle of the lineup.

Update (2023-11-22): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

USB-C Cables Comparison

lumafield (via Hacker News, tweet):

Does Apple’s Thunderbolt 4 cable really warrant its $129 price tag? Or does a $5 cable get the job done just as well? We’ve used our Neptune industrial X-ray CT scanner to uncover the hidden engineering differences between them.


Overall, the Thunderbolt cable is a stunning piece of precision engineering.


Less than 1/10th the price of the Apple cable, the Amazon Basics USB-C to USB-C 2.0 Fast Charger Cable offers charging up to 60 W and data transfer speeds up to 480 Mbps.


The $5.59 NiceTQ USB-C cable claims to transfer data at up to 10 Gbps, lower than the Thunderbolt cable’s 40 Gbps but higher than the 480 Mbps claimed by the Amazon Basics cable.


Update (2023-10-24): Nick Heer:

Lumafield has not presented a useful way to pit the very expensive Thunderbolt cable against comparable alternatives.


I would have loved to see what makes Apple’s $130 cable different from, say, Monoprice’s $50 equivalent or a $20 Maxonar-branded cable. Both seem to have the same specs as Apple’s, and I think assessing the construction differences between those would be more useful. Perhaps Apple’s price tag is not pure markup; there is a surprising difference in the quality of power adapters, for example.

See also: ArsTechnica.

Update (2023-10-30): John Gruber:

Adam Savage has a video up on YouTube with more details, based on the same CT scans from Lumafield that are in the Twitter thread I’m linking to. Amazing stuff.

Clicking to Hide Others in Sonoma

Chip Loder:

In previous versions of macOS, if you wanted to hide all running apps containing a UI on your display, you could simply Option-click anywhere on the Finder’s Desktop. This would hide all other visible running apps and display only the Desktop. [see comment]

Now in macOS Sonoma, if you Option-click on the Finder’s Desktop, only the frontmost running app is hidden. All other visible running apps are still visible in the background.

If you want to hide all visible running apps except Finder in macOS Sonoma, you now click on the Finder’s Desktop without holding down any keys on your keyboard.

I end up triggering this by accident when I click on the desktop to clear the current Finder selection.

If you want the same behavior as in previous versions of macOS - namely to be able to instantly hide all non-Finder apps without the new border or zooming animation, you can still do so. Just Command-Option-click anywhere on the Finder’s Desktop to immediately hide all visible apps.

Or you can turn off the new behavior in System Settings ‣ Desktop & Dock by setting Click wallpaper to reveal desktop to Only in Stage Manager.

Update (2023-10-24): Christian Tietze posted a screenshot of the “notification” the first time you click on the desktop.

Update (2023-10-27): ednl:

An annoying side effect: now, when another app like Safari has focus and I select files on the desktop to delete, the Finder doesn’t get focus! So I can’t immediately use Cmd-Backspace. Example video: starts with Safari in focus, drag on desktop files, Safari still has focus, click on selection to give Finder focus (and don’t lose selection..).

Retcon Beta

Nathan Manceaux-Panot (Mastodon):

Retcon makes rewriting git history effortless.

Move a commit back in time with a single drag-and-drop. Squash, edit or delete in a few keystrokes. In place—no need to enter a special mode and lose all context. Skip rigidly planning everything ahead, and instead manipulate with instant feedback.

Then change your mind: undo anything with ⌘Z, with step-by-step granularity. Never waste time starting a rewrite over; instead, just edit that one line, in that one file, in that one conflict resolution, and then move on.