Archive for November 13, 2023

Monday, November 13, 2023

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Permissions Requests

Jason Snell (Reddit, Hacker News):

Due to an extremely weird series of troubleshooting maneuvers, I recently found myself having to set my Mac up from scratch without migrating any of my preferences for the first time in longer than I’d like to admit.


More than anything else, though, the experience reminded me that Apple has a lot of work to do when it comes to making the experience of upgrading or migrating to a new Mac more pleasant—and that its Security and Privacy team clearly has too much say in the overall macOS experience.


Pick your poison: You can die quickly thanks to a barrage of privacy warnings, or you can die slowly by having to deal with privacy warnings every time you run a new app. Either way will kill you.


macOS needs to find a better way to let users broadly approve permissions for specific apps. Why am I asked to approve three or four items in sequence instead of being given some sort of simple window indicating all the permissions that are being requested, allowing me to approve or disapprove individually or all at once?

Joe Rosensteel:

I paused, and I read that a few times to make sure I was comprehending the warning. I was warned that the application was downloaded from the internet (I downloaded) and asked “Are you sure you want to open it?” because I had double-clicked on it to open it. Both of those things were definitely true, so what does the little gray text mean? Oh, it wants to tell me the time it was downloaded by Safari, which I guess I could put in my personal journal, but most importantly that Apple checked it for malicious software and none was detected.

Are you sure you wanted to do the thing that you told the computer to do even though it’s safe?!

Mike Rockwell:

macOS feels more restrictive and more annoying to use with each release. Despite having the best hardware in the industry, the operating system is starting to push me toward alternatives.

Jason Snell (Hacker News):

My point wasn’t to ask Apple to make the Mac less secure. It was for Apple to find some ways to improve the user experience while keeping Mac users safe by default. It feels like there’s an imbalance where security is being prioritized but the user experience is allowed to lag, and it’s a problem.


Here’s a screenshot I took right after my new Mac booted for the first time after migration[…]

What’s happening here is that Migration Assistant has migrated all my apps, and has automatically launched any of them that are listed in Login Items or are set to automatically launch in the background. They all launch, all at once, and every single one of them then prompts me for permission to do all the things they already had permission to do on my previous Mac.


Setting up a new M3 iMac should be a pleasure. When I was done, I felt like a swarm of bees was buzzing in my head.


Update (2023-11-20): freediverx:

Mac Vs PC commercials - Cancel or Allow?

Update (2023-12-06): John Gruber:

I went through the exact same thing. Except if I had taken a screenshot of all the security-permission alerts I had to go though, there would have been more of them — and Snell’s screenshot looks like a parody. Back in the heyday of the “Get a Mac” TV ad campaign, Apple justifiably lambasted Windows Vista for its security prompts, but that’s exactly the experience you get after running Migration Assistant on a Mac today. It’s terrible.


MacOS itself stores too many security/privacy settings in a way that are tied to the device, not your user account. There ought to be some way to OK all these things in one fell swoop.

Update (2023-12-12): Paulo Andrade:

“The Security and Privacy team clearly has too much say in the overall macOS experience”.

They not also have too much say but their solution is always to alert the user. It’s the easy way out… once the user has alerted the it’s now the user’s fault.

Final Cut Pro 10.7 and Final Cut Pro for iPad 1.3


Final Cut Pro now includes improvements in timeline navigation and organization, as well as new ways to simplify complex edits. The apps leverage the power-efficient performance of Apple silicon along with an all-new machine learning model for Object Tracker, and export speeds are turbocharged on Mac models powered by multiple media engines. Final Cut Pro for iPad brings new features to further enhance the portable Multi-Touch editing experience, including support for voiceover recording, expanded in-app content options, added color-grading presets, and workflow improvements.

Juli Clover:

Editing is being sped up through new keyboard shortcuts for voiceover and grouping clips, plus there are new color-grading presets and titles.

The new versions of Final Cut Pro will be coming to the App Store later this month and they will be free to existing users. Final Cut Pro for Mac is priced at $300, and Final Cut Pro for iPad is priced at $4.99 per month or $49 per year.

John Gruber:

I mentioned last week that video editors took notice that Apple’s behind-the-scenes look at their “Scary Fast” keynote showed the film being editing in Premiere Pro, not Final Cut Pro, and that it wasn’t helping allay the fears of Final Cut Pro devotees that Apple was losing interest in it, a la the still-lamented Aperture.

It’s good to see another significant update after only six months. It sounds like there’s still no common file format.


Update (2024-04-30): Steve Troughton-Smith:

All the RAM and virtual memory in the world didn’t stop Final Cut Pro for iPad from cancelling an export the moment I switched to another app in Stage Manager for a split second

Final Cut Pro for iPad is a real struggle you guys. I’ve been using FCP for 23 years, but this is every bit an ‘iPad app’ in all the worst ways I really hope a v2.0 is on the horizon…

iPhone Parts Pairing

Tripp Mickle, Ella Koeze, and Brian X. Chen (via Hacker News):

Unlike cars, which can be repaired with generic parts by auto shops and do-it-yourself mechanics, new iPhones are coded to recognize the serial numbers for original components and may malfunction if the parts are changed.

This year, seven iPhone parts can trigger issues during repairs, up from three in 2017, when the company introduced a facial recognition system to unlock the device, according to iFixit, a company that analyzes iPhone components and sells parts for do-it-yourself repairs. The rate at which parts can cause breakdowns has been rising about 20 percent a year since 2016, when only one repair caused a problem.

The software phenomenon, which is known as parts pairing, has encouraged Apple customers to turn to its stores or authorized repair centers, which charge higher prices for parts and labor. In recent years, only approved parts and sanctioned repairs have avoided the problems. Replacing a shattered screen typically costs nearly $300, about $100 more than work done by an independent shop using a third-party screen.


Update (2023-11-20): Nick Heer:

So long as everything we use moves closer to becoming a computer, this problem will grow because some legislation does not explicitly prohibit it while other laws have loopholes. Right to repair advocates and the Times have framed this as a financial issue. But I am not sure that is the case; as I have written before, it is much more likely that these companies simply do not prioritize repairability. To be clear, that is not an excuse. If anything, I think that is even worse; it implies a lack of caring in how something is built if it is not made with repair in mind. Remember Apple’s butterfly keyboard? Shipping a faulty family of keyboards for years was bad enough, but it was made a fiasco because of how it was assembled — it was often easier to replace the entire top case of an affected laptop, at a cost of hundreds of dollars, instead of changing individual keys.

Fitbit Charge 6 and Google Pixel Watch 2

Victoria Song:

Fitbit is back with the Charge 6 — and on paper, this one feels like the most Fitbit-y Fitbit since Google actively began folding the company into its ecosystem. Not only has the price been lowered from $179.95 to $159.95 but the device also adds an improved heart rate tracking algorithm, compatibility with certain gym machines, and better integration with Google services. Oh, and the side button is back, baby.


That said, this functions more like a remote control than onboard music because it doesn’t support offline playlists. Plus, you’ll need a YouTube Music Premium subscription. This fills part of the gap left by Fitbit’s decision last year to remove access to Spotify, Pandora, and Deezer, as well as the ability to transfer music from your computer, but it doesn’t exactly make up for the fact that there used to be multiple music options and now there’s just YouTube Music.

If that seems a bit like shepherding people into the Google-verse… it is. Buying a Charge 6 also means you’ll have to migrate your Fitbit data over to a Google account to use the device.

Victoria Song:

Google’s got a more powerful and more power-efficient processor under the hood, and Wear OS 4’s whole schtick is better battery life. It shows here. This watch is zippier than the original, and for the past week, I’ve had it on maximum brightness, along with the tilt-to-wake gesture and the always-on display enabled. I’ve actively used many of its features and logged 30 to 45 minutes of GPS workouts per day. I am consistently getting 24 hours on a single charge, give or take an hour, with no battery-saving features. And I didn’t even have to wait a day or two for the watch to calibrate to my usage.


Last year, I had a long list of things Google and Fitbit needed to work on. (Battery life was written in all caps, underlined several times.) This year, that list is much smaller. What the next Pixel Watch needs to deliver is repairability, durability, and a larger size option. Everything else — including wonky GPS — I expect is due to pre-release software or will improve via updates, just as it did last year.


With the Pixel Watch 2, Google is almost there. More so than with its Pixel phones, Android smartwatches are where Google has a shot of being really good at something.

Jonathan Lamont (Hacker News):

Google has pulled Fitbit from nearly 30 countries, leaving the fitness trackers available in just 23 countries, including Canada.

Reporting by Android Authority and 9to5Google detailed the Fitbit exodus, with the combined efforts uncovering a total of 29 countries that would lose Fitbit. The move comes after Google acquired Fitbit in 2021 — at the time, the search giant said it wanted to make health features “more accessible to more people.”