Archive for February 23, 2024

Friday, February 23, 2024

Vice and Engadget “Content”

Bruce Dixon:

We create and produce outstanding original content true to the Vice brand. However, it is no longer cost-effective for us to distribute our digital content the way we have done previously. Moving forward, we will look to partner with established media companies to distribute our digital content, including news, on their global platforms, as we fully transition to a studio model. As part of this shift, we will no longer publish content on, instead putting more emphasis on our social channels as we accelerate our discussions with partners to take our content to where it will be viewed most broadly.

Via Nick Heer:

The way Vice has “distributed [its] digital content […] previously” is by having a website. That it is not “cost-effective” to run a website is creating rumours that it is about to be shuttered without any real effort at preservation.

This is a real shame; Vice had some of the best privacy and security coverage in the industry.

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai:

There will never be a website like Motherboard.

A product of a time and place that will never be replicated. And for all its faults (and there were millions of them), Vice was smart enough to let us thrive on our own.

Brian Merchant:

Just incredible. The CEO of VICE is giving up on one of the most popular global media brands, firing its journalists and shutting down in order to “transition to a studio model” which means… what? Posting brand stuff to Instagram?

VICE has always been a mess, but this is such a sad and ignominious end to a place that for all its many faults, produced some excellent work and a very talented stable of journalists who deserve a hell of a lot better than this.

Ernie Smith (via Hacker News):

It’s confirmed. The Vice website is shutting down.

See also: Samantha Cole.

Mia Sato (via John Gruber):

The nearly 20-year-old tech publication Engadget is laying off staff and restructuring editorial teams today with a new focus around traffic and revenue growth. The changes are designed to give the outlet a stronger emphasis on commerce revenue, while removing key editorial leaders from its newsroom, including its editor-in-chief.

Engadget, which is operated by Yahoo, will lay off 10 employees, according to people with knowledge of the situation who say staff were “blindsided” by the decision. In addition to cutting staff, the editorial team will split into two sections: “news and features” and “reviews and buying advice.” The news teams will focus on traffic growth, while the reviews teams will report to commerce leaders.

Via John Gruber:

The sort of executive who calls what their own publication creates “content” is exactly the sort of asshole who thinks talented editors and writers can be laid off while increasing “velocity” and the quality of the work.


Apple Sports

Apple (MacRumors):

Apple today introduced Apple Sports, a free app for iPhone that gives sports fans access to real-time scores, stats, and more. Designed for speed and simplicity, the app’s personalized experience puts users’ favorite leagues and teams front and center, featuring an easy-to-use interface designed by Apple. Apple Sports is available to download now in the App Store in the U.S., the U.K. and Canada.

John Gruber:

Apple Sports is indeed incredibly fast to load and update. Nearly instantaneous. You might think, “So what, it’s just loading scores and stats, of course it’s fast”, but the truth is ad tech, combined with poor programming, has made most sports apps slow to load. Most apps, period, really. Just being very fast to load ought not be a hugely differentiating factor in 2024, but it is.


Sports doesn’t — yet — offer any Home Screen widgets.


There’s no compatible version for Mac, Vision, TV, or Watch. […] But on iPad, it just runs in an iPhone layout.

John Gruber:

A bunch of readers emailed to ask how to get Live Activities from Sports. Turns out, it’s not the new Sports app that provides them, it’s the existing TV app[…]

Jason Snell:

And it has led to a lot of confusion about what the Apple Sports app does and doesn’t do, which highlights just how scattered Apple’s current effort to bring information to sports fans really is. I imagine that it wasn’t planned to work this way, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple connects all of its disparate sports pieces eventually, but in the meantime things are a little confusing.


On the iPhone, at least in the U.S. (I’m told this isn’t the case in the UK?!) the TV app has the ability to place the scores of your favorite teams in a Live Activity on your lock screen and in the Dynamic Island. In fact, it’s more than that: you can place any game in a Live Activity by tapping on it in the TV app and tapping Follow Live.


This is the conundrum of the Apple Sports app: It avoids the complexity of adding a News tab and a TV tab and focuses on scores, which is good. But if you want to start a Live Activity or jump to watch the game, it’s at least one app and several taps away.

Basic Apple Guy:

I love the app idea. It’s a fast, simple, clean, ad-free, and uncluttered way to access sports scores and basic game analytics for the games I care about. For a short while, Apple has had an anemic sports-type section inside the News app that showed game scores, so I’m excited to see this next push toward a more comprehensive & dedicated sports app.

Francisco Tolmasky:

People who say that Apple is anti-web have no idea what they’re talking about. Just this week they released the Apple Sports app specifically to showcase why Web Apps are so often a better choice than native apps. It’s a masterful proof by example. By stripping what could have been a fun app down to its barest components, a flat list of scores with no design whatsoever, they can focus on demonstrating how these “list apps” are usually just the thinnest of wrappers around a JSON API.

I really have to commend them for resisting the temptation to ship a really great iPad experience. This does an excellent job of showing how even the simplest CSS framework would have probably given you a better iPad experience than what you get by default from UIKit/SwiftUI/etc.


Most people might think this is an odd omission, that a Sports Widget actually makes even more sense than a Sports App, that the whole point of a Sports App might be to deliver a Sports Widget. But here Apple is showing us that mere existence of native-only features in no way guarantees that developers will bother actually taking advantage of them.


Update (2024-02-28): Sam Henri Gold (tweet):

We do internal design critiques quite often, but we noticed a few things worth mentioning for designers and developers thinking about modern iOS design practices.


Apple has been playing with navigation bars a lot recently. We could probably write a whole thread about just the nav bar. Take a look at how it stretches during over-scroll and transitions to a squished state when collapsed.

Gradients are used a LOT in this app. This nav bar gradient effect is becoming pretty common throughout first-party apps as well — first with the iOS 17 Health app, then Journal, and now Sports. watchOS 10 is full of gradients. (Actually, the Journal app is entirely gradients!)

Take a look at the “Yesterday / Today / Upcoming” picker right above the list. This is functionally a segmented control, but they did not opt to use the stock style.


Finally (and this is a big one): motion backgrounds.

Josh Renaud:

I’m so disappointed in the design of the new Apple Sports app, which does not degrade gracefully on smaller screen sizes, like my iPhone SE2.

Apple used to get this stuff right.

Apple is still selling phones with that screen size.

Update (2024-03-28): See also: Sam Gold.

Update (2024-04-08): Kontra:

I’m giving up on Apple Sports.

Besides the ridiculously long post-game Standings updates, interns-all-the-way level of incompetence: last night NBA Standings was showing only the Western Conference. How does one ship such a thing!

Update (2024-04-26): Dr. Drang (Mastodon):

But scores are only part of what a good sports app is about. Sports apps are used not only when you can’t watch a game and want to be kept plugged in, they’re also used—even more often used, I think—to give you background information on the game you’re currently watching. Announcements during a broadcast are ephemeral, but a sports app can tell you how many fouls Nikola Jokić has at any time. And this is where Sports falls down.

In basketball, for example, the box score statistics are thin. There’s no info on free throws, steals, blocks, turnovers, or personal fouls. League standings are missing common stats like the home/away record, record over the last 10 games, and win/loss streaks, These are things fans want and that other sports apps provide. No amount of beautiful presentation is going to make up for missing data.

And, weirdly for an Apple app, the presentation isn’t beautiful—it’s actually awful.

IAP Required for Insight Timer Tips

Sarah Perez:

The CEO of meditation app Insight Timer, Christopher Plowman, is frustrated. He doesn’t think the teachers who leverage his app’s marketplace to reach their students should have to share 30% of their income with Apple — its commission on in-app purchases — and for the past 12 months, Apple had also agreed. After Apple loosened its rules around in-app donations in 2022, Insight Timer took advantage of the option to adjust a digital donations feature that allowed Insight Timers’ teachers to collect “tips” from their user profiles and during live events. Apple reviewed the app and approved its release on the App Store. Now the tech giant has changed its mind — it wants to collect a commission from this content, and Insight Timer had no choice but to comply or have its iOS business shut down, Plowman says.


Like many App Store businesses, Insight Timer generates revenue by selling subscriptions. In 2023, it earned around $20 million in subscription revenue, with a third of that (30%) paid to Apple, per its commission guidelines.

However, the company also offers a donation feature that allows customers to tip their favorite meditation teachers to thank them for their time and effort.

Chance Miller (Hacker News):

The change apparently comes after Apple allowed the app to use its own Stripe-based in-app purchase system for over a year.

Juli Clover:

Apple approved 47 Insight Timer updates that had the tipping functionality, but late last year, Apple’s review team decided that these payments weren’t considered tips, but digital goods purchases, which subjected them to the App Store in-app purchase fee.

App Store rule 3.2.1 vii says that apps can allow users to give a gift to another individual without using in-app purchase, so long as the gift is an optional choice and 100 percent of the funds go to the receiver of the gift. This was the case with Insight Timer, as it was not taking a cut of tips, but the individual to individual wording is what became murky, as well as an addendum to that rule that says a gift “connected to or associated at any point in time with receiving digital content” requires in-app purchases.

Christopher Plowman:

Just as homeowners don’t pay 30% of their Airbnb income to Apple - imagine the outrage - teachers shouldn’t have to pay Apple 30% of their donation income either. Many Insight Timer teachers are doctors, nurses and educators who return home from their day jobs to work in the evenings on Insight Timer for critical supplemental income. They give up their personal time recording audio replies to classroom questions, responding to user reviews, hosting live events, writing music, creating guided meditations and leading discussion groups. There’s nothing ‘digital’ about these experiences no matter how much the definition is contorted. The more teachers work, the more they earn. The correlation is obvious and the term ‘digital content’ simply does not apply.

Everything rests on Apple’s interpretation of the words “digital content”. When Apple wrote clause 3.1.1 it was most probably intended for Apple’s gaming developers. These companies make billions selling virtual items like ammunition upgrades, sharper swords, bigger shields, extra lives, golden coins and cooler Fortnite skins. These items are ‘digital content’ because they have no inherent value and cost nothing for gaming developers to digitally replicate. If Apple wants to take their 30% cut, fair enough. But virtual coins and ammunition upgrades are light years from the time spent by teachers working to engage with Insight Timer’s community. No reasonable person could miss the difference here.

Plowman’s argument makes sense to me, but Apple’s position seems to be consistent with their handling of events and classes facilitated with an app, which they temporarily changed during COVID-19. Then Apple announced that as of June 2022 it would be collecting the fees again. So why are we just hearing about this Insight Timer issue now, nearly two years later? Have they been getting an exemption all this time? Plowman says the dispute has only been going on for “months.” Was there a guidelines change in late 2023 that I missed? Or did Apple just suddenly decide to interpret the rules differently, as they did with WordPress?


Swift Scripts Importing Cocoa Frameworks Broken on macOS 14

Jesse Squires:

On macOS 14 Sonoma there is a regression in Swift 5.9 which causes Swift scripts that import Cocoa frameworks to fail.


The current workaround (also posted by @rdj) is to update the shebang, #!/usr/bin/swift, by replacing it with the following:

#!/usr/bin/env DYLD_FRAMEWORK_PATH=/System/Library/Frameworks /Applications/