Archive for November 16, 2023

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Apple to Add RCS Messaging in iOS 17 Update

Lance Ulanoff (Hacker News, MacRumors):

Apple will finally add RCS messaging standard support to the iPhone through a software release early next year, the company told TechRadar.


“Later next year, we will be adding support for RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association. We believe the RCS Universal Profile will offer a better interoperability experience when compared to SMS or MMS. This will work alongside iMessage, which will continue to be the best and most secure messaging experience for Apple users,” said an Apple spokesperson.

Apple now acknowledges that RCS is an improvement over MMS and SMS but made it clear that RCS is not replacing iMessage and its host of features like memojies, stickers, and the ability to edit and unsend messages. Instead, the RCS standard support will arrive in an unspecified software update and then it will be up to carriers to add it.


Apple says it won’t be supporting any proprietary extensions that seek to add encryption on top of RCS and hopes, instead, to work with the GSM Association to add encryption to the standard.

Chance Miller (Hacker News):

Apple’s decision comes amid pressure from regulators and competitors like Google and Samsung. It also comes as RCS has continued to develop and become a more mature platform than it once was.


RCS brings many iMessage-style features to cross-platform messaging between iPhone and Android devices. This includes things like read receipts, typing indicators, high-quality images and videos, and more.

Apple’s implementation of RCS will also give users the ability to share their location with other people inside text threads, the company says. Unlike regular SMS, RCS can work over mobile data or Wi-Fi as well.


The elephant in the room is impending legislation in the European Union that could’ve ultimately required Apple to open up iMessage.

John Gruber:

Also color me utterly unsurprised that Apple has no intention to support Google’s proprietary extensions to RCS that allow for E2EE. It’s a disgrace, in my opinion, that E2EE wasn’t a foundational part of the RCS spec from the start, but if Apple is going to support RCS, they should support RCS by-the-spec, not Google’s proprietary version.

I suppose that’s fair if Apple is genuinely working to add E2EE to the standard and thinks Google would support that. But Apple supports all kinds of things that aren’t part of an open spec. And most of the potential recipients already have access to Google’s implementation. It seems like Apple wants to be able to brag that iMessage is more secure, even though they’re the ones putting their customers at risk by choosing not to support encryption. Still, I’m happy to see RCS added because this should at least make it possible to share high-quality photos in conversations that include Android users and to communicate with them when there’s no cellular service.

It remains to be seen what the user experience will be like. I can’t imagine there being blue bubbles. How will it sync and work with Macs? Right now, the hybrid SMS-iMessage experience is so bad, even aside from the photo quality. I regularly see problems with some people not receiving some of the messages and with conversations splitting. Maybe it would be more reliable if the user could designate a conversation as RCS-only. The hybrid stuff is either too hard to get right or Apple doesn’t care enough to make it great. And with even pure iMessage being unreliable, in my experience, I would love to try out messaging all my iPhone-using friends/family with pure RCS.

Nick Heer:

For what it is worth, I am expecting an updated SMS-like experience, but I will be pleasantly surprised if it is more full featured. As Ulanoff notes, RCS does not itself support end-to-end encryption. The latest spec, released in 2019, does not even mention end-to-end encryption, nor does it prohibit text message bubbles from having a green background.


Interestingly enough the person who wrote the white paper for the signal protocol implementation in Googles RCS, Emad Omara, now works for Apple.


Update (2023-12-11): Jason Snell:

iPhone communications with Android devices via Messages will improve. Currently Messages uses the old SMS and MMS standards for sending texts and media to Android phones. RCS supports better image transfers, pass-along of location data (used in several Messages features), and more.

Chance Miller:

Apple has confirmed to me that blue bubbles will still be used to represent iMessages, while green bubbles will represent RCS messages. The company uses blue bubbles to denote what it believes is the best and most secure way for iPhone users to communicate, which is iMessage.

Jason Snell:

When Apple announced its RCS gambit—really an IOU payable later next year—I saw a lot of people who were disappointed because they enjoyed the fact that Android users would no longer be as severely punished for their heresy. It’s a bad look, but I was also surprised that there was so little regard for the ramifications of that decision for the customers who use Apple’s products.

For any iPhone user in the U.S. who texts with Android users, Apple’s stubborn refusal to support something better than old-school SMS and MMS formats has been miserable to deal with. It degrades the iPhone user experience by making text threads weird and unreliable and by lowering the quality of media.

Shouldn’t the user experience be the most important part of the story here?

See also: Slashdot.


Update (2024-03-29): Joe Rossignol:

Google said that Apple would be adopting RCS on the iPhone in the “fall of 2024.” This timeframe suggests that RCS support will be added to the iPhone with iOS 18, which should be available in beta in June and released in September. At the latest, support should be added in iOS 18.1, which is likely to be released in October.

Why Do People Still Use VBA?

Sancarn (via Hacker News):

From these data, we can clearly see that the majority of people who use VBA do so mainly because they have no other choice. Many organisations run their entire business processes with Excel, and when a little bit of automation is required VBA is usually #1 on the list.


Looks like the only automation platforms which can connect to all the data sources we need is VBA and Powershell. Power BI Desktop has been introduced in our business but doesn’t hit all the platforms which VBA does, and even if it did Power BI cannot be used for process automation where-as VBA can, so what’s the point making the switch? Users who do use Power BI to target these other datasets usually generate CSVs of this other data and store these in cloud sharepoint system, but what generates those CSVs? VBA.


Now, we’d love to use a higher level language in our organisation to handle this business automation. However, every request for a high level language to be installed across the team/business e.g. Python / Ruby / Node / Rust etc. has been rejected by CyberSecurity in favour of technologies like PowerAutomate, PowerApps which as you can see above barely touch any of the data we need. It is supposedly “Against the technology strategic vision of the company” to allow “end-users” access to high level programming languages.


I’ve been surprised to see many pro devs using Excel/VBA as a secondary tool.

One example: a couple years ago I was working with a big hedge fund and one of their data analysts sent me an Excel model he had built and I was tickled to see the .xlsm extension (i.e., VBA code on board).


He said something that stuck with me, “Excel makes it easy to understand the dependency structure that is implied by computations. If I had done this in Python, I’d be answering questions about it all day long.”

Update (2023-11-20): randmbits:

I used to be a VBA wizard and it was because it was the only thing the org didn’t regulate away. It took forever to get approval to use it too. We had a party when they eventually allowed us to use SQL.

Lightroom Classic 13.0.1


Blur any image to make it seem like it’s been taken with a wide aperture lens. Lens Blur easily alters the background or foreground of your images by making a depth map using Adobe Sensei.


Edit, display, and save images in High Dynamic Range (HDR) to experience increased depth with brighter highlights, deeper shadows, and vivid colors. You can now view and edit HDR images with compatible HDR displays.


Adjust individual colors with professional-grade precision, including the ability to control the range across Hue, Saturation, and Luminance.


  • Improved performance of metadata operations like reading, writing, and metadata status.
  • Faster response in XMP writing and reading.
  • Improved stability and performance of folder move operations and folder delete operations.

It actually does seem a lot faster at moving photos between folders. It’s still unresponsive during large imports, though, and I’m now seeing incorrect counts in the Library Filter column view.


The Myth and Reality of Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Jeff Johnson (Mastodon):

This famous keynote slide was, to put it euphemistically, a bit of product marketing. Non-euphemistically, it was a big lie. Snow Leopard had quite a few new features, including significant changes “under the hood”, so to speak. In fairness, though, 10.6 was a smaller update than 10.5, 10.4, 10.3, or 10.2, and its price reflected its modest ambition: $29, compared to $129 for its predecessors. (Remember when major Mac updates cost money?)

Since 2009, the myth of Snow Leopard has only grown. As memories (and accuracy) fade, Snow Leopard has come to be known as a “bug fix update”.


Snow Leopard was not a bug fix release. In fact, Snow Leopard was quite buggy, and Mac OS X 10.6.0 was certainly much buggier than Mac OS X 10.5.8, released a few weeks prior. So why do countless people still look back fondly at Snow Leopard as a high point in Apple software quality?


When you look back fondly at Snow Leopard, I suspect that you’re not remembering version 10.6.0 but rather version 10.6.8 v1.1, which was released almost two years after 10.6.0.

And the fact that you could actually use that stable version for a long time. There was much less pressure to update, e.g. for Xcode support, in those days. The annual release schedule has not been good for the Mac.


Update (2023-11-20): Jerry Nilson:

It worked better and perceivably faster than Leopard. You could run all OSX ported software still. It came with faster and better hardware. The Mac really came back then at last.

During Snow Leopard it was the easiest time during all time to convince people to move to the Mac (much easier than today). From a developer point of view it might not seem like a big moment, but for users it was.

Jeff Geerling:

Dear Apple: macOS sorely needs a bugfix release.

10.1 and 10.6 (Snow Leopard) were the two best releases of OS X.

We need another no-features release, not just one week of bugfixing.

Michael Steeber (2018):

Was Mac OS X Snow Leopard really the gold standard of software releases, an undefeated champion in the halls of computing history? Believe it or not, the meme is almost as old as the software itself.


Early updates to Snow Leopard were packed with fixes to a long list of bugs. A 2009 article from iLounge on Snow Leopard’s reliability is filled with comments from frustrated users, some considering moving back to Leopard.

Time heals all wounds, right? It didn’t take long for Mac users to begin to wax poetic about Snow Leopard. In February 2012, this tweet made an astute prediction[…]

Apple INA Hiring Discrimination Settlement

Jon Brodkin (Hacker News, 9to5Mac, ):

Apple illegally discriminated against US citizens and other US residents in its hiring and recruitment practices for certain types of positions that went to foreign workers, the US Department of Justice said yesterday. Apple agreed to pay up to $25 million in back pay and civil penalties to settle the DOJ allegations.


The $25 million payment was called the largest ever collected by the Justice Department under the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).


Apple did not advertise PERM positions on its external job website like it does with other positions, the DOJ said. “It also required all PERM position applicants to mail paper applications, even though the company permitted electronic applications for other positions,” the DOJ said.

Emma Roth:

Apple denies engaging in illegal hiring practices in the terms of the settlement. “When we realized we had unintentionally not been following the DOJ standard, we agreed to a settlement addressing their concerns,” Apple spokesperson Fred Sainz said in an emailed statement to The Verge. “We have implemented a robust remediation plan to comply with the requirements of various government agencies as we continue to hire American workers and grow in the U.S.”


Aside from Apple, the DOJ also hit SpaceX with a hiring discrimination lawsuit, alleging the Elon Musk-owned company refused to hire asylum seekers and refugees. However, SpaceX managed to block the case by arguing the administrative judges overseeing the case were “unconstitutionally appointed.”


If the PERM process at Apple is anything like what I saw at Facebook a couple of years ago, then all these “applicants” are actually people already working at the company on non-immigrant visas whom the company wants to retain.