Archive for February 22, 2024

Thursday, February 22, 2024

MacSymbolicator 2.6

Mahdi Bchatnia (via Daniel Jalkut):

A simple Mac app for symbolicating macOS/iOS crash reports.

Supports symbolicating:

  • .crash and .ips crash reports
  • sample and spindump reports

Muse Retrospective

Adam Wiggins (via Peter Steinberger):

You’ve probably seen the meme about product distribution, and I went into this venture knowing that productivity software is particularly difficult to market.


I’m deeply grateful to the folks inside the App Store editorial team who were rooting for us from the beginning. Getting featured here really is a game-changer. […] Also, leads that came via the App Store were very low quality. People would rarely see our website, or even read much on the App Store listing page. They would just think “oh cool a new whiteboard app, I’ll try it” and then immediately bounce out at the first moment of confusion or friction inside the app. Often coupled with a one-star review!


But we were often running up against a problem: many people followed our work via Twitter and the podcast but would say: “Love what you’re doing, but I don’t use an iPad.”


But a Mac app alone wouldn’t be enough. We needed your Muse boards to be available on both devices. After extensive experiments with iCloud (slow, unreliable, impossible to debug) and Firebase (better but not really suitable for the large data sizes our best customers had) we decided to import another piece of bleeding-edge research technology from Ink & Switch. Namely: local-first sync with CRDTs.


Apple platforms are great, but you have to be on the web. In terms of development speed, quality of the resulting product, hardware integration, and a million other things: native app development wins. But ultimately your product does have to have some web presence. My biggest regret is not building a simple share-to-web function early on, which could have created some virality and a great deal of utility for users as well.


2023 Six Colors Apple Report Card

Jason Snell (Hacker News):

John Gruber wrote: “By the end of the year, every single Mac in the lineup, save one [the Mac Pro], is arguably in the best shape that model has ever been.


Matt Deatherage wrote: “It’s difficult to ding Apple’s Mac performance. With Apple Silicon leading the way, the Mac hardware seems to be hitting all the sweet spots, and even the iMac finally got an M3 upgrade after 2 1/2 years. But they might as well have named the Mac Pro the ‘Mac Elite,’ priced way out of range for most professionals in most jobs. macOS security features that were individually good ideas have become a tangle of dozens of dialog boxes that simultaneously demand immediate attention and won’t respond because other dialogs are popping up.

“Apple pours its Mac resources into technologies we now know are critical to Apple Vision (VRKit, ARKit, Metal). Meanwhile, critical systems like Mail lose old plug-in functionality in favor of extensions that lack key features (and don’t implement their documented features thanks to bugs that go unfixed for years). Even using newer replacements for older kernel extensions (like Rogue Amoeba) still requires kernel access, a security setting that requires two reboots and disables Apple Pay. It’d be nice if 2024 Macs weren’t missing productivity features from 2008 Macs.”


[John Siracusa:] “Apple’s pricing for Mac storage and RAM upgrades has been absurd for decades, but the lack of most other forms of configurability in recent years has really highlighted this problem. Apple seems to be carrying all of its (considerable) Mac profit margins on the backs of these two options, leading to upgrade prices that are often four times higher than market prices for the same amounts of storage and memory.


David Sparks wrote: “The iPad, to me, remains a disappointment not because of what it is but because of what it could be. I use mine often, but also often set it down because the next thing I need to do is too difficult (or impossible) on iPad. When the iPad launched (in 2010), I expected it would be much more than it is now in 2024. It may be unfair to judge a product against expectations, yet I feel, at this point, it is justified.”


Alex Lindsay wrote: “I hate the silver controller and greatly dislike the evolution of the Apple TV interface. It really seems like Apple has given up the simplicity that made the Apple TV great and are slowly falling back to what everyone else does. As someone that has bought every Apple TV since v1 and uses it as my sole entertainment device, it find these developments frustrating.”


[Josh Centers:] “Apple’s developer relations have never been worse and it would take years to repair the damage, assuming Apple even cares.”

Note that the developer relations comments were made before the recent developments with external links, the DMA and marketplaces, and PWAs.

Nick Heer:

My expectations are not that high. I only wish MacOS, in particular, would not feel as though it was rusting beneath the surface.

I’m shocked that the software quality ratings are as high as they are (an all-time high of 3.6/5), with some people even writing 5/5. iOS certainly has fewer issues than macOS, but even there I’m constantly running into bugs as well as well as missing features like reordering Lock Screen widgets that feel like bugs.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Pundit opinion of iPad is in a nosedive, in a year where even ports of Final Cut and Logic couldn’t save it.

iPad is scoring lower than the Mac did in 2016 with the butterfly keyboard debacle, and iPad doesn't even have a debacle to blame.

Here are my responses:

Mac: 3 Mac hardware is in a great place except for the lack of options for displays larger than the iMac. SSD pricing is looking even more unreasonable. It’s a shame that the Magic peripherals still use Lightning. The software side is still a mess, both in terms of reliability and design. I like Safari profiles.

iPhone: 4 The iPhone 15 Pro is great, though I’m not totally happy with the camera processing and depth of field. The iPhone 15 is way too slippery. I still wish for a smaller phone. iOS 17 is fine, though not very exciting.

iPad: 3 No new hardware except for the USB-C Pencil and minimal software improvements. The lineup remains confusing. I still haven’t really found what iPad is good for. It can do a lot, but any given task is almost always better on either my Mac, my iPhone, or my Kindle.

Apple Watch: 4, Wearables: 4 Apple Watch hardware continues to improve, though the software, particularly complications, continues to be a bit buggy. Why can’t on-device Siri do more? Not much happened with AirPods this year. Most models still use Lightning, but they work well.

Apple TV: 2 The hardware and remote haven’t improved. The software is poorly designed and increasingly unreliable.

Services: 1 I continue to have reliability problems with iMessage, and this year it lost several months of conversations. There was also a widespread bug where editing related names in Contacts would delete them from all devices. Siri is still slow and unreliable. The services apps are just not good.

HomeKit/Home Automation: 2 I got my first HomePod. The hardware is good, but I was shocked that there’s a bug where it can’t actually see many of the albums I’ve purchased from the iTunes Store. The automation features are more clunky and limited than I expected given how long the’ve been around.

Hardware Reliability: 5 All my hardware has been working well this year.

Software Quality: 1 Everything on macOS, and to a lesser extent iOS, still feels buggy: the same old bugs that never get fixed, plus some new ones. Bug reports are ignored. macOS Sonoma replaced Mail plug-ins with Mail extensions, but even after three major releases the API still doesn’t work properly. Sometimes Gatekeeper erroneously reports that apps downloaded from outside the Mac App Store are damaged and refuses to open them, with no way to override this except using Terminal—the worst possible first launch experience. Xcode 15 shipped with known bugs that prevented building apps for older versions of macOS, and it took three months for these to be fixed. It has now been almost ten years since Swift was released, and the compiler is still buggy and slow. SwiftData shipped this year in an immature state.

Developer Relations: 2 The same old issues with the App Store, documentation, and communication. Nothing seems to be getting better. Apple does not act as though it really cares about developers or their success, and developers see Apple as more an impediment than a help in building, maintaining, and distributing their products.

Social/Societal Impact: No vote [This is such a sprawling category that I never know how to boil it down to a number.]

See also:


Update (2024-02-23): See also: Upgrade.

Update (2024-03-20): John Gruber (Mastodon):

I’m publishing my full remarks and grades here.

2023 Apple Vision Accessibility Report Card

AppleVis (via Shelly Brisbin):

The 2023 Apple Vision Accessibility Report Card reveals slightly decreasing satisfaction with VoiceOver features and user experience across iOS, iPadOS and macOS compared to 2022, contrasted by mostly improved ratings for braille and low vision capabilities. While reactions to new 2023 vision accessibility features were moderately more positive with a 3.7 average rating compared to 3.5 in 2022, Apple’s performance in addressing critical bugs remains low at 3.0. Overall the latest report card points to regressions in the VoiceOver experience but progress expanding support for braille and low vision users, tempered by persistent dissatisfaction regarding bug fixes.


Jimmy wrote: It feels like Mac OS Voice Over has been left abandoned, and fallen behind its iOS version very far by now. There are so many helpful features offered on iOS that the Mac version does not. Examples include the ability to leave out unnecessary voice off of rotor selection, ability to customise Voice Over’s default keyboard commands or shortcuts, and the AI-powered screen recognition and image description features (not that although the option does exist on Mac, but its practical capacity is far inferior).


Bruce Harrell wrote: Apple takes entirely too long to fix serious bugs, such as safari not responding and voiceover focus. I no longer upgrade MacOS until the following August on the theory it will take Apple until August to correct MacOS accessibility bugs as much as they will, and I am very reluctant to upgrade IOS for the same reason.


In one question, we ask about the new accessibility features introduced in 2023. To help you answer this question, we recommend taking a look at the preview of these features and Scott Davert’s blog post discussing what’s new in iOS 17 accessibility for blind and deaf-blind users.