Archive for June 13, 2024

Thursday, June 13, 2024

iPhone Mirroring

Filipe Espósito (Reddit):

Both macOS 15 and iOS 18 introduce iPhone Mirroring, which is a new way of interacting with your iPhone from your Mac. The feature lets you see and control your iPhone screen from your computer without having to touch your phone. You can also drag and drop files between macOS and the mirrored iPhone.

At least in beta 1, this feature is not available.

Wayne G:

iPhone Mirroring steps things up considerably, allowing you to use your phone, see notifications, and use your apps—all from your Mac desktop. Because this is a Continuity feature, it does require that your iPhone be on the same WiFi network as your Mac and have Bluetooth enabled.

When you launch iPhone mirroring, your iPhone’s Home Screen appears in a window on the Mac desktop. From there you can use your keyboard and mouse/trackpad to navigate the phone, swiping between Home Screen pages, and launching and browsing apps.

I’m really looking forward to this, both so that I can access my phone when it’s locked and so that I can fly through tasks with the keyboard and mouse that would be awkward on the touch screen. Universal Clipboard helps but doesn’t go far enough.

Matthias Gansrigler:

iPhone Mirroring. Aka “I can finally post to Instagram from my Mac”

Matt Birchler:

Bezel has done something like this before, but Apple uses their elevated position as the platform owner to take this to the next level.

This looks sick and is really cleverly done. The thing that gets me most excited is the ability to have notifications appear on my Mac and not just on my iPhone. The fact that clicking on that notification opens that on my iPhone on my Mac’s display is just awesome. And again, since Apple has elevated powers here, the fact that your phone screen remains off while all this is happening is just a cherry on top.

I can’t help but snark that Apple lets you use your iPhone with a mouse and everyone thinks it’s awesome, but touching a Mac remains beyond the pale and something only a fool would suggest 😉

Christina Warren:

So if I can control my phone from my Mac with a touchpad — wouldn’t it be cool if I could I dunno, control those apps on my Mac with a touch screen? What if I just got a touch screen on my Mac!

Previously:

Update (2024-06-24): M.G. Siegler:

iPhone Mirroring on macOS Sequoia still may be the star of the entire show to me.

Also, how about we do the same thing with Mac Mirroring on an iPad?

Previously:

Update (2024-06-25): Juli Clover:

With the second developer beta of macOS Sequoia, Apple has added support for iPhone Mirroring, one of the main updates coming to the Mac.

Update (2024-07-01): George Garside:

By default, the iPhone Mirroring window on macOS Sequoia appears at actual size and cannot be resized. The frame of the iPhone with iOS 18 is not draggable and the size of the iPhone cannot be enlarged. However, it is possible to make the window larger through a hidden setting.

Dark Mode iOS 18 App Icons and Home Screen Personalization

Apple:

People can customize the appearance of their app icons to be light, dark, or tinted. You can create your own variations to ensure that each one looks exactly the way you way you want. See Apple Design Resources for icon templates.

Design your dark and tinted icons to feel at home next to system app icons and widgets. You can preserve the color palette of your default icon, but be mindful that dark icons are more subdued, and tinted icons are even more so. A great app icon is visible, legible, and recognizable, even with a different tint and background.

Louie Mantia:

It appears to me that all white-glyph icons in dark mode use their background color as their foreground color. Mail’s white envelope becomes blue. The blue background becomes black. A blue envelope is a little weird, but it’s rendered as a symbol, unlike Wallet or Files, which have minor shading.

The white-background icons simply become black-background icons. Maps utilizes a dark mode color palette from the app itself, Weather turns the sky black, but oddly keeps the sun rather than switching to the moon. This could be a rule Apple enforces only for themselves, where their app icons won’t change shape, only coloration. The Photos petals are now additive color rather than subtractive.

Unfortunately, some icons appear to have lost or gained weight in dark mode. For example, the Settings gear didn’t change size in dark mode, but it appears to occupy less space because the dark circle around it blends with its background. That makes it appear smaller than the Find My icon, which now looks enormous next to FaceTime. This is a remnant of some questionable design choices in iOS 7 that have lingered now for the last decade.

[…]

Now, let’s walk through some icons I adapted into dark mode to see how we might tackle this new challenge.

Nick Heer:

I think it is safe to say a quality app from a developer that cares about design will want to supply a specific dark mode icon instead of relying upon the system-generated one. Any icon with more detail than a glyph on a background will benefit.

Also, now that there are two distinct appearances, I also think it would be great if icons which are very dark also had lighter alternates, where appropriate.

Ryan Jones:

These tinted icons are… something.

Includes a Large icon option. 🫣

Matt Birchler:

On Android, app developers need to submit their icons in a specific way to make them available for theming like this. If an app developer doesn’t do this and just has an image file for an icon, then they won’t get themed. What this ends up meaning is that icons that are set up for theming look great and those that are not stick out like a sore thumb.

[…]

iOS 18 takes a different approach, in that it will change every single icon for you, no matter what. This removes the case above where apps like Letterboxd and Readwise Reader don’t support theming, but in my view, also makes it so that every icon looks pretty bad.

Previously:

Update (2024-06-18): United States Graphics Company:

Icons as they are supposed to be.

The whole point of icons is to identify and differentiate using semiotics, not assimilate as a sleek monochromatic slop of washed out minimalism.

See also: Eli Schiff.

Update (2024-06-19): Craig Grannell:

Still floored that the new iOS 18 iPhone Home Screen gives you four different options for how your icons can look, at two different sizes, but no sorting options. Apple execs must like busywork and fiddling around, rather than efficiency.

At least it will be easier to rearrange them using a mouse with iPhone Mirroring.

Remo_Pr0:

Wait if every app icon must have a dark mode and tintable icon then what would happen to additional app icons? Now in apps like for example @marvis_app there must be two extra icons for every additional style?

Via Eli Schiff:

Apple in their new theming paradigm makes redundant the functionality they made available a few years ago to allow devs to include custom icons. Oh, they still let you supply them. But they’ll just stick out.

Eli Schiff:

There is a reason designers have never done monotone blend modes/maps on top of their icons. They don’t look good. We can see here in this example. Just look at the two on the left. But now that Apple’s forced the matter somehow people say mono looks good.

Update (2024-06-24): John Brayton:

If an app has several icon options that vary only by color combination, it seems natural to let the user choose one option for light mode and another for dark mode. But there is no way to do this without providing n2 app icon entries in the asset catalog. It also seems like the tinted icon should be the same for each option when they only vary by color combination. But the only way for several icon options to use the same tinted variant is to copy the same PNG into each app icon asset catalog entry.

My ideal solution to this would be a new setAlternateIconName method on UIApplication that accepted 3 different parameters: a light mode icon name, a dark mode icon name, and a tinted icon name.

Update (2024-07-09): Sebastiaan de With:

iOS 18 beta 3 seems to be doing an intelligent auto-dark tint on some third party app icons. It’s reliably triggered by being a clearly delineated shape on a white background. Other icons just get a slight ‘darkening’ effect applied.

BUT! check out that Facebook icon invert. Some kind of computational icon design happening here. Wild.

Sebastiaan de With:

it’s super interesting to me how iOS 18b3 inverts colored icons: it seems to grab icons with a flat color or 90° gradient and somehow turns the main shape into a mask to cut out its previous background gradient?

Redesigned Photos App in iOS 18

Federico Viticci:

The Photos app is getting a big redesign in iOS 18 that is surely going to take some time getting used to. The new design revolves around a single-page UI that eschews a tab bar in favor of a split-screen approach with your grid of photos shown at the top, followed by a series of collections that encompass both traditional albums, previous categories such as ‘People and Pets’ and Memories, as well as new sections such as Trips and Recent Days.

The best way to think about this redesign – which I’m sure will be debated a lot this summer – is that everything can now be considered a “collection” that you can pin for quick access to the top of the Photos UI. The top of the interface is still taken up by the regular photo grid (which you can more easily filter for content now), but that part can also be scrolled horizontally to swipe between the grid and other collections. For example, you can swipe from the grid of recents to, say, featured photos, your favorites, or any other collections you want to pin there.

[…]

It’s a lot to take in at once, and this new design can be quite daunting at first. I understand that Apple wants to try a unified design for the Photos app to put a stronger emphasis on rediscovering memories, but I wonder if maybe packing too much information all at once on-screen could be disorienting for less proficient users. The new Photos design almost feels like an exercise in showing off what Apple can build with SwiftUI just because they can; time will tell if users will also appreciate that.

The new Photos interface reminds me of the TV and Music stores, which are among my least favorite Apple designs. I never want to see horizontal scrolling.

Ryan Christoffel:

Photos in iOS 18 now puts all your content on a single screen. Similar to the Journal app introduced last year, the entirety of Photos navigation is done in a single screen that you scroll through to find all your content. That’s it. One screen, scroll up and down, scroll side to side for carousels—everything in the app lives there.

I suppose I should reserve judgement until I try it, but this sounds dreadful.

Juli Clover:

These changes to Photos are in iPadOS 18 and macOS Sequoia as well as iOS 18.

The Mac version does still have a sidebar.

Benjamin Mayo:

iOS 18 Photos app is weird. It’s like they tried to simplify it, but in reality it is now more complicated. No tab bar means there’s nothing to permanently ground navigation.

Ryan Jones:

iOS 18 Photos app is NOT going to go over well.

Waaaaaaay too little org hierarchy.

iOS 18 Photos == iOS 15 Safari

Steve Troughton-Smith:

If the new Photos app is the new poster child for ‘rewritten in SwiftUI’, hoo-boy…

Previously:

Update (2024-06-18): CTD:

Still very surprising and longstanding omissions in iOS and iPadOS Photos including no support for viewing or adding keywords. No Smart Albums.

Update (2024-07-02): See also: Brandon Butch and Trevor.

Update (2024-07-08): Chance Miller:

Billy Sorrentino, senior director at Apple’s human interface design team, explained the motivation behind this dramatic redesign.

“As our features, users and libraries have grown, so has the density of the [Photos] app. So rather than hunt and peck throughout, we’ve created a simple streamlined single view photos experience based on deep intelligence,” Sorrentino explained. “Ultimately, we wanted to remove friction.”

[…]

“Lots of deep intelligence combined with customization means that Photos can be more personal,” Apple’s Della Huff, manager of the camera and photos product marketing team, explained. “Everyone has a different workflow and so automatic customisation is really key here.”

Emphasis added.

Frank Rausch:

It’s a typical modern UI: You don’t get to form a fitting mental model / cognitive map of how the app is structured and how it works; instead you react to whatever pops up on screen and tap to see what happens.

Mario Guzmán:

This is the current state of app design. And I hate it. Also, what makes it more frustrating is that the old HIG used to have a section on mental models.

But it feels like prominent apps like Photos get redesigned so often that even if you adapt your mental models around the app, you’ll have to re-adapt again shortly because they will be introducing a whole new design soon.

I also hate that it is “Suggestions-first” rather than let me just go to where I need to go to.

Mario Guzmán:

For any designer who has lost their way… here is some information on Metaphors and Mental Models when designing your app’s UX from the original Mac Human Interface Guidelines. I hope this helps.

Federico Viticci (Mastodon):

It’s been a few weeks since I installed iOS 18 on my primary iPhone, and I feel pretty confident in saying this: I was wrong about the new Photos app at first.

I’ll reserve more in-depth comments for the public beta and final release of iOS 18; of course, given the drastic redesign of the app, there’s also a chance Apple may scrap their plans and introduce a safer update with fewer structural changes. However, over the past few weeks, I noticed that not only do I find myself discovering more old photos in iOS 18, but the modular approach of the more customizable Photos app really works for me. I was able to fine-tune the top carousel to my liking, and I customized pinned collections with shortcuts to my favorite sections. Put simply, because of these changes, I use the Photos app a lot more and find navigating it faster than before.

John Gordon:

Things are bad when Apple execs bother to say anything about Photos.app

In my hallucinations the EU forces Apple to make PhotoKit a full platform for third parties to replace Photos.mac with their own product.

Update (2024-07-15): D. Griffin Jones:

With the major Photos app redesign coming in iOS 18, Apple aims for simplicity. However, the version of the Photos app in iOS 18 developer beta 3 is a hodge-podge of design that will confuse users. I think that if Apple doesn’t revise its approach, the company will face significant backlash when it releases the updated app to the public this fall.

Update (2024-07-16): Steve Troughton-Smith:

The new Photos app in iOS 18 just doesn’t do it for me; in fact, I can’t stand the changes they’ve made to the UI and navigation. I am firmly in the camp that feels the photo library is a feature, a utility to be used by other apps. Apple, however, wants Photos to be a destination, a product with a unique UI, flashy features and user retention gimmicks. Whether these two things should be two different apps, I don’t know, but what we’ve got here isn’t an app I want to have my photos in anymore.

It’s worth saying: none of this would be a problem if the Photos app were a user-replaceable component like antitrust regulators in the EU desire. I could just replace the Photos app, which is clearly going off in a direction I want nothing to do with, with an alternative that looks and functions like the old one.

Jason Snell:

I 100% understand the impulse and think it might be forgivable if you could dismiss the other thing and keep it gone, but I can’t get over the whole thing where you launch into the MIDDLE of a scrollable area with different destinations up, down, and (sort of) to the right. It’s bananas.

Machiel:

There is no sense of place. You are lucky if it shows you what you want to see because good luck finding it yourself. Good luck organizing.

There is no way to manage photos properly with this design.

Collin Donnell:

A lot of modern Apple apps on macOS are really lacking in the keyboard shortcuts department. Apple Photos are Freeform are two big ones for me.

Catalyst (Not) at WWDC24

As far as I can tell, there were no Catalyst sessions this year. Apple hasn’t talked about it much since 2021.

The Mac developer page says:

Choose your app-builder technology

Another early choice to make is which app-builder technology to use for your interface. Apple’s app-builder technologies provide the core infrastructure macOS needs to communicate with your app. They also define the programming model you use to build your interface, handle events, and more.

The two technologies listed are SwiftUI and AppKit, with SwiftUI preferred. There is still a navigation bar item for Mac Catalyst, but I’m not sure Apple itself is using it much except for the apps like Messages and Home that it already ported. I wonder whether those will become SwiftUI in time. Initially, Catalyst sounded like a transition technology, but, as with Carbon, Apple didn’t paint it that way. Some in the iOS developer community like it. It started out with a lot more functionality than SwiftUI. But I don’t hear developers talk about it that much anymore, and Apple doesn’t seem to be using it for new apps. Freeform for Mac uses AppKit and nibs (along with SwiftUI). Journal curiously remains iOS-only.

Michael Love:

Catalyst appears to be dead, more-or-less.

Amber Neely:

Apple has announced a handful of new features coming to its Journal app this fall, but for reasons only it knows, the company hasn’t announced any plans to bring it to iPad.

Jesse Squires:

The iOS Journal app improvements look great.

Still a mystery why it is not available on iPad or Mac.

Even if it’s just catalyst or otherwise not customized for the other platforms, it would still be incredibly useful as is.

But instead, I’m going to be using iPhone Mirroring to use the journal app on my Mac. And that just seems so fucking dumb and absurd.

Previously:

Update (2024-06-14): See also: Steve Troughton-Smith.

Update (2024-06-18): Thomas Ricouard:

The last time Catalyst was ever mentioned at a WWDC was in 2021 lol.

Colin Cornaby:

I think what killed Catalyst is what’s slowly killing UIKit everywhere - it’s not flexible enough to adapt to multiple platforms. Does Vision Pro support UIKit? Sure. Is UIKit a good way to write Vision Pro apps? No. It’s not just the Mac. Across the board UIKit is generally not adapting well to other platforms. All the platforms support UIKit - and generally it’s half baked on all of them except iOS.

That’s not to say SwiftUI doesn’t have its own problems - but it’s still much more quickly adapting itself to new platforms. I don’t know if visionOS would be as easy to develop for without SwiftUI.

Update (2024-06-20): Marcin Krzyzanowski:

The way UITextView is broken on Catalyst, is beyond imagination. It is just plain broken editing.

Using Apple Accounts With macOS Virtual Machines

Andrew Cunningham (Hacker News):

But up until now, you haven’t been able to sign into iCloud using macOS on a VM. This made the feature less useful for developers or users hoping to test iCloud features in macOS, or whose apps rely on some kind of syncing with iCloud, or people who just wanted easy access to their iCloud data from within a VM.

Or even to run an app from the Mac App Store.

This limitation is going away in macOS 15 Sequoia, according to developer documentation that Apple released yesterday. As long as your host operating system is macOS 15 or newer and your guest operating system is macOS 15 or newer, VMs will now be able to sign into and use iCloud and other Apple ID-related services just as they would when running directly on the hardware.

Great news, but the version restrictions mean it will be most useful after the next WWDC.

Apple (via Hacker News):

Nested virtualization is available for Mac with the M3 chip, and later.

This means running a VM inside of a VM.

Marcin Krzyzanowski:

macOS virtual machine allows to install macOS AND USE ICLOUD

That is 99% what you need to have viable macOS simulator.

Miles Wolbe:

“Using a macOS 15 installer to upgrade an older VM doesn’t provide support for iCloud.”

Sadly, signing in to the App Store does not appear to be supported (for now?), returning “An unknown error occurred.”

Previously:

Update (2024-06-18): Howard Oakley:

This article explains the changes promised in macOS Sequoia as a host, and their consequences on VMs.

[…]

In previous versions of macOS, VMs have been unable to access most storage except in the VM’s own disk image or through shared folders. With Sequoia they will now be able to access USB storage through the UUID of the storage device. This should provide direct access to external disks, and any other external storage connected to the host via USB.

[…]

For those with Macs with Ultra chips and ample cores, there’s no indication that Apple has relaxed its licence to allow any more than two macOS VMs to be run at the same time.

Apple Account

Joe Rossignol:

Earlier this year, we reported that “Apple ID” would be renamed to “Apple Account,” and this change has now been officially announced.

Update (2024-06-18): Adam Engst:

Apple ID and Apple Account aren’t precisely parallel, since an Apple ID was primarily an identifier—it’s an email address—whereas an Apple Account would have both a username and a password.

The real problem comes when tech writers document features across multiple versions of Apple’s operating systems. We’ll probably use both terms for a while before slowly standardizing on the new term. Blame Apple if you see awkward sentences like “Continuity features require that you be logged into the same Apple Account (Apple ID in pre-2024 operating systems).” Or maybe writers will compress further to “Continuity features require that you be logged into the same Apple Account/ID.”