June 15, 2018

Quentin Carnicelli, Rogue Amoeba blog, posts this list of last updates from the indispensable MacRumors Buyer’s Guide:

  • iMac Pro: 182 days ago
  • iMac: 374 days ago
  • MacBook: 374 days ago
  • MacBook Air: 374 days ago
  • MacBook Pro: 374 days ago
  • Mac Pro: 436 days ago
  • Mac Mini: 1337 days ago

And:

Worse, most of these counts are misleading, with the machines not seeing a true update in quite a bit longer. The Mac Mini hasn’t seen an update of any kind in almost 4 years (nor, for that matter, a price drop). The once-solid Mac Pro was replaced by the dead-end cylindrical version all the way back in 2013, which was then left to stagnate. I don’t even want to get started on the MacBook Pro’s questionable keyboard, or the MacBook’s sole port (USB-C which must also be used to provide power).

As if by magic, Apple released four new Mac ads yesterday, obviously a coincidence, but a good sign nonetheless.

Follow the money. We recently posted this article quoting numbers from Apple’s last holiday quarter:

  • iOS revenue: $68 billion
  • Mac revenue: $6.9 billion
  • iOS units sold: 90.4 million
  • Mac units sold: 5.1 million

Going purely by the numbers, clearly iOS should have Apple’s attention. But the Mac remains a vital part of Apple’s ecosystem. Given the WWDC announcement of the effort to port iOS apps to the Mac, and the new ad campaign, I have to feel a bit optimistic that Apple is turning their massive battleship back towards the Mac.

June 14, 2018

AdAge:

“Welcome Home,” Apple’s fanciful spot from TBWAMedia Arts Lab, and the “It’s a Tide Ad” Super Bowl campaign from Saatchi & Saatchi, took top honors at the Association of Independent Commercial Producers Show at the Musieum of Modern Art in New York City Thursday night.

Apple’s musical short film was directed by Spike Jonze from MJZ and features FKA Twigs as a forlorn office worker who finds her world literally expanded by a song by Anderson .Paak played on her Apple Home virtual assistant. The spot won in the Advertising Excellence/Single Commercial category.

“Apple Home virtual assistant”? It’s a speaker. Call it that. Regardless, congratulations to Apple on the award.

The Ringer:

Released 30 years ago this week, the romantic comedy tells the tale of aging career minor league catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Costner), rocket-armed phenom “Nuke” LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), and wise English professor Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon), who keeps the two in check.

The movie’s uniqueness stems from its conflicted feelings toward baseball. The characters, like Shelton himself, both love the game and curse how cruel it can be. This blend of devotion and irreverence led to the most honest on-screen portrayal of the sport ever made. He may not have been able to re-create the visuals of a World Series broadcast, but the director did manage to take us inside an athlete’s world.

I don’t think there’s any doubt – Bull Durham is the best sports movie of all time.

Bloomberg:

Apple CEO Tim Cook talks about working with Steve Jobs, the values at Apple, including privacy and equality, and if he’d run for president. He speaks with David Rubenstein on “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations,” taped May 13.

As always, an interesting interview with Cook.

The Verge:

There were a lot of great features announced last week at Apple’s WWDC, but the one that’s going to have the biggest effect on my day-to-day life is the overhaul to how notifications are managed in iOS 12.

I suspect that the features Apple added to iOS 12 will go a very long way toward helping people get control over their notifications. Dealing with notifications was one of the iPhone’s most glaring UI deficiencies compared to Android, and I am glad to see something a little closer to parity coming.

I don’t get nearly the amount of notifications Bohn has (mostly because I manage them better than he does) but anything that helps tame them will be a big help.

Macstories:

While it’s still too early to comment on the long-term impact of Shortcuts, I can at least attempt to understand the potential of this new technology. In this article, I’ll try to explain the differences between Siri shortcuts and the Shortcuts app, as well as answering some common questions about how much Shortcuts borrows from the original Workflow app. Let’s dig in.

I’m not convinced Shortcuts will take off for the average user but it will be interesting to see how developers and techies take advantage of them.

Lifehacker:

Are you using Google effectively as possible? If you’re just entering words into the search field without using these totally basic but totally essential tricks to improve your results, you’re missing out. We like to think of ourselves as Google ninjas at Lifehacker, but even we need a reminder of these crucial shortcuts now and then.

As the “new” father of a 12-year-old, some of these tricks will come in handy when he starts doing research for school projects.

You can make the beautiful game even more beautiful. Just follow these tips and techniques to take your photos and videos to the next level.

With the start of the World Cup today, Apple made all of the new videos soccer focused. Regardless of the sport, these tips are always useful when you’re learning about your iPhone’s camera.

June 13, 2018

The Dalrymple Report: WWDC, Siri Shortcuts, and hockey with Dave Mark

Dave and I wrapped up some discussions on WWDC and talked about our overall thoughts on the conference, including some of our favorite features.

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The New York Times:

Apple is closing the technological loophole that let authorities hack into iPhones, angering police and other officials and reigniting a debate over whether the government has a right to get into the personal devices that are at the center of modern life.

But privacy advocates said Apple would be right to fix a security flaw that has become easier and cheaper to exploit.

While this may be bad news for law enforcement, keep in mind what Rich Mogull says on Twitter:

In every conversation I have with people (at Apple) it’s about making things inherently more secure, not about trying to stymie any particular government or agency.

To get us started, we turned to Manhattan audio guru Chuck Zwicky, a platinum-selling producer, engineer and mastering ace who’s worked with Prince, Soul Asylum and Nine Inch Nails, Zwicky has helped create numerous UAD presets for the MXR Flanger/Doubler, Lexicon 224 Digital Reverb, Pure Plate Reverb, and, today’s focus, the acclaimed Manley VOXBOX Channel Strip plug‑in, which Zwicky played a key role in refining during its early stages.

This is a new series from Universal Audio called “Producer Presets Unpacked”. It is absolutely fascinating.

8 year old drummer nails Zeppelin tune

Her name is Yoyoka Soma and she’s 8 years old. Oh, and she rocks. As you’ll see. Great song choice, no easy drum pattern.

Per usual, Jeff Benjamin does a wonderful job walking through macOS Mojave. So much new stuff. Love the new screenshot capabilities. Another tick towards iOS with the screenshot hanging around in a floating window for you to edit.

Rene Ritchie, iMore:

Developers can tap into the Continuity-derived user activity to make locations available within their apps. And they can use a new Intents API to let the system know, more expansively, the actions available in the app.

Once that’s done, Siri keeps track of what you do with them and when you do it, and tries to guess when you’ll do it next.

Rene clarifies this with examples:

For example, if you always order pizza before the game on Sunday, instead of having to go to the pizza app, pick your favorite, and place your order, it’ll have a banner waiting for you right on your Lock screen ready with your favorite order.

If you always text your child to say you’re on your way home from work, instead of having to go to messages, find the conversation with your child in the list, and tap to start a new message, a banner will be waiting for you, ready and able to send that message with a single tap.

Rene’s article is long and full of interesting detail. But the part that struck me was the way he distinguished between shortcuts you create yourself (using the Shortcuts app, rebranded from Workflow), and the voice triggers you create to label shortcuts (Hey Siri “Get pizza”), and the shortcuts Siri creates (driven by user activity reported by various apps) and suggests to you.

I’ve been using the iOS 12 beta for a week now. In that time, my Lock screen has offered to put my phone into Do Not Disturb when a Wallet pass, Open Table, and even simply iMessage indicated I might be having dinner or breakfast.

I hasn’t offered to let me order my usual Philz Mint Mojito, because I don’t have the Shortcuts enabled version of that app — yet! — but it has offered me directions to Philz after I used Maps for walking directions the first couple days of the conference.

Read Rene’s post to take advantage of his iOS 12 experience, wrap your head around what’s coming. Good stuff.

Paul Stamatiou:

Against my better judgement, I decided to give tablets one more chance. On the last day of a vacation that started in Rwanda and ended in the UK, I walked into the Regent Street Apple Store in London and purchased a 12.9″ iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard.

That was a few months ago. A few months in which my 13″ MacBook Pro has not even been powered up once. Any new gadget novelty has long since worn off and I’m still loving and using this iPad Pro daily.

What changed this time around?

Let me be clear about something. Though I often write about why I am still on a MacBook and the things that prevent me from moving full-time to an iPad Pro, I would love to make that move. I would love for an iPad to fill all my needs. I own a number of iPads and use them all the time.

Every time I read one of these stories, I dig down to see if, perhaps, the time has arrived. I do see us getting closer, but there are still a few things that make the MacBook my central computing device.

From Paul:

The viewing angle of the iPad Pro is not adjustable. You just get the two modes and that’s it. It’s okay most of the time but on a few occasions (usually when I’m slouching in a chair…) I have found myself stuffing something behind the iPad Pro to prop it up a bit more.

And:

Rather trivial but it’s hard to use the keyboard in a more relaxed, casual couch setting without placing a hard surface underneath.

The MacBook is its own platform. You could balance it on your lap, a small tray table (think airplane), even on a soft patch of grass. The iPad keyboard combo is not stiff enough to work on non rigid surfaces. Sure, I can use my iPad anywhere, but to type at speed, I need the keyboard, and the iPad keyboard combo requires a rigid surface.

More from Paul:

Repetitively placing a cursor or selecting text is a chore. It’s tedious to constantly move your hand from the keyboard up to the middle of the screen as opposed to a closer adjacent mouse as you have become accustomed to with a computer.

The text editing thing is the one thing I can’t get past. I would love to write a Loop post on my iPad. But typing and editing anything more than a paragraph is a chore on my iPad. I wish I could solve this. I want to believe!

All told, Paul made the transition. Terrific read, lots and lots of interesting detail, all written on the iPad Pro.

Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. changed its App Store rules last week to limit how developers use information about iPhone owners’ friends and other contacts, quietly closing a loophole that let app makers store and share data without many people’s consent.

The move cracks down on a practice that’s been employed for years. Developers ask users for access to their phone contacts, then use it for marketing and sometimes share or sell the information — without permission from the other people listed on those digital address books.

Glad Apple made this move. Amazing to me that Apple continues to embrace privacy, with the constant lure of moving to the dark side.

Danny Crichton, TechCrunch:

[The repeal of net neutrality] will allow telecom companies like AT&T to prioritize their own content over that of competitors. In the past, AT&T didn’t have all that much content, but the addition of Time Warner now gives them a library encompassing Warner Bros. to TBS, TNT, HBO and CNN. Suddenly, that control over prioritization just got a lot more powerful and profitable.

And:

If Comcast bids and is successful in buying 21st Century Fox, then connectivity in the United States will be made up of a handful of gigantic content library ISPs, and a few software players that will have to pay a premium to deliver their content to their own subscribers. While companies like Netflix and Alphabet have negotiated with the ISPs for years, the combination of these two news stories puts them in a significantly weaker negotiating position going forward.

So if you get your internet from AT&T or DirectTV or Time Warner (or other AT&T owned/branded ISPs), keep an eye out for either Netflix packet slowdown or an offer to make your connection net neutral.

And what about YouTube? No reason AT&T wouldn’t slow YouTube packets to allow their own content to hog the fast lane. Will this threat rekindle the stuttering Google Fiber (now spun off into Alphabet) efforts?

In what world is this a win for consumers? Feh.

June 12, 2018

Canada’s own Ariana Gillis with a heartfelt cover, beautiful video

For those who aren’t familiar with the origins of this song, no spoilers. I love this aching performance, especially as the band joins in and her voice really goes to town.

But I also love the video itself, minimalist and well filmed, showing off the bands playing in closeup, as well as revealing all the gear they use to perform.

Wonderful.

Watch the video embedded in this tweet:

To me, this really puts the augmented in augmented reality. This is a taste of what’s coming.

Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note, starts things off by talking through the Marzipan rumors and then Craig Federighi’s famous “No.” slide, followed by the details of the Marzipan announcement.

All good, but what I really liked was when Jean-Louis turned to the numbers:

By some measure, there are approximately 2.1M iOS apps in Apple’s App Store. By contrast, macOS apps number in the low thousands — a slightly misleading measure since some Mac apps are available independent of the regulated App Store. But with that caveat, iOS apps certainly outnumber macOS apps by at least an order of magnitude — a ratio that parallels the macOS vs iOS revenue and unit numbers.

He follows that with a slide that lists revenues for the 2017 Xmas quarter, AKA, 3Q2017:

  • iOS revenue: $68 billion
  • Mac revenue: $6.9 billion
  • iOS units sold: 90.4 million
  • Mac units sold: 5.1 million

And this conclusion:

The iOS-macOS UIKit bridge will pump new blood into the (relatively) anemic Mac app world. The arrangement will benefit everyone: iOS developers will find new customers on the Mac, customers who pay multiples of $10 vs single digits for iOS apps; Mac users will be given a wider choice of apps; and Apple gets a livelier macOS store.

Well said, Jean-Louis. Per usual.

John Vorhees, MacStories:

Now that people have had a chance to dig deeper into macOS Mojave, a number of smaller features have been discovered that didn’t get mentioned during the keynote on Monday and weren’t included in our initial overview of the updated OS that will be released in the fall. Here are a few of our favorite discoveries.

This is a short read, interesting all the way. My favorite nugget:

What Apple didn’t explain when it updated the Mac App Store is that macOS updates have been moved from the Mac App Store to System Preferences.

To me, this is a step towards iOS. Can’t help but wonder if we’ll see a unified core framework for the basic App Store and software updating functionality. Looking forward to playing with Marzipan.

Nice job by Bryan M. Wolfe, iDownloadBlog. I came away from this thinking the core, recently rewritten iOS App Store code was repurposed for macOS Mojave. Made me wonder if the iOS to macOS Marzipan framework was at all involved here.

And, no matter, the results are excellent. Take a look.

Apple’s official macOS Mojave preview page vs the iOS 12 preview page

Yesterday we shared Apple’s gorgeous new iOS 12 preview page.

Today we’re posting a few Mojave specific posts, so seems right to start off with Apple’s official Mojave preview page.

I wonder if the two pages were built by two different teams. As you scroll through both pages, do you notice a difference between them? Here’s why I ask.

To me, the main difference is animation. As you make your way through the iOS 12 preview page, the images all come alive (they are short videos). Though there is some animation on the Mojave page, it’s doesn’t have the same liveliness. To see this for yourself, scroll down to the FaceTime section of each page.

Another difference? The iOS 12 images are all on a white background, the Mojave images are on a dark background (no doubt to showcase dark mode).

No complaints here. Both are graphically stunning. But I do think the iOS 12 page is more effective, does a better job of drawing you in. Just my 2 cents.

June 11, 2018

Macworld:

1Password 7 for Mac has a variety of small improvements and a fresher design that add up to a nice bump justifying the version number. But because its maker, AgileBits, switched to a subscription model as its dominant method of offering software, the company is clearly less obsessed with including the kitchen sink, as it tries to offer ongoing updates and new features between major releases to justify the cost to current subscribers.

1Password.com subscriptions start at $2.99 a month for an individual license. AgileBits also sells a standalone version of 1Password with version 7, which is $50 at introduction and $65 at some indeterminate point in the future.

There’s no doubt 1Password is the best and easiest to use password manager available for the Mac and iOS.

AppleInsider:

New developer guidelines released during WWDC set new rules for cryptocurrency apps distributed through both the iOS and Mac App Stores.

Apple has added new language to its App Store review guidelines related to cryptocurrency. Under the Hardware Compatibility section, Apple now states that “apps, including any third party advertisements displayed within them, may not run unrelated background processes, such as cryptocurrency mining.”

Good that they’re banning mining on the iOS device itself but not other aspects of cryptocurrency.

My thanks to Bare Bones Software for sponsoring The Loop this week. Do you sling code or compose with words? Whether you’re an app developer, web developer, systems admin or just want a powerful writing tool that stays out of your way, BBEdit is worth checking out.

BBEdit is crafted in response to the needs of writers, web authors, and software developers, providing an abundance of high-performance features for editing, searching, and the manipulation of text.

Back in the 90s, we built our Web sites from scratch, so we used BBEdit to hand-code everything we needed to get the site up-and-running. We didn’t just use BBEdit for building and maintaining the Website, we also used it as our default word processing tool. Every word written for the stories we posted was done in BBEdit.

Now, as BBEdit celebrates its 25th anniversary, I can still say I am a proud user. Congrats to the crew at Bare Bones Software and thanks for making such a great product.

To celebrate BBEdit’s 25th Anniversary, Bare Bones Software is creating commemorative apparel. Learn more!

BBEdit 12 is 64-bit ready. Download and try it today!

Viso uses your iPhone X’s TrueDepth camera and ARKit to allow you to use your face to control your Mac. To truly appreciate this, watch the video embedded below. Amazing work. Love the accessibility possibilities.

Kudos to the team that pulled this page together. It is graphically interesting, full of eye candy, but it also does a wonderful job showing off the incredible new tech of iOS 12. Worth your time.

Madeline Buxton, Refinery29:

In February, Samsung revealed AR Emoji, a clever (and slightly creepy-looking) way to create interactive avatars that speak onscreen as you speak IRL. Yesterday, Apple revealed their version of the interactive emoji, called Memoji (i.e. Animoji, but make it human).

Besides looking cute, rather than creepy, Memoji have another major plus over their direct competitor: They don’t require users to pick a gender. In fact, the entire creation process is gender neutral — there is no mention of male or female anywhere onscreen. This is an emoji set anyone can relate to, no matter how they identify, what their hair looks like, or even how many piercings they have.

Yet another reason Memoji are head and shoulders better than Samsung’s AR Emoji (which I just find creepy, way the wrong side of the uncanny valley).

As I’ve said before, I believe Memoji will help Apple sell a ton more Face ID devices.

This TidBITS post is a good read. Even if you already know how to do this, good to walk through the interface to see what’s changed since the last time you dug into this.