HomePod mini holiday ad

[VIDEO] Nice spotlight ad, featuring a pair of songs by Tierra Whack. Video embedded in main Loop post.

Apple Silicon M1: Black. Magic. Fuckery.

You know me. I love a good headline.

But that’s (almost) never enough. And this post is a good one. It’s a rollup of tons of public takes on the magic of the M1 Macs. Fun to scroll through, even if you just scan the tweets.

And it’s a pretty great headline.

Rene Ritchie: 8GB vs 16GB for M1 Mac — The TRUTH About RAM!

[VIDEO] Rene Ritchie digs into the question of whether or not to plunk down the extra bucks to upgrade your M1 order from 8GB to 16GB. Video embedded in main Loop post.

The whole video is fascinating and focused on the topic at hand. But if you are short on time, jump to 3:05 and start listening there. And keep going, even after the “my recommendation is” section. Thoughtful breakdown of the topic, worth your time.

Rogue Amoeba’s apps updated for M1 – With a catch

Jason Snell:

I love Rogue Amoeba’s audio apps and rely on them every day. Audio Hijack is the best. Loopback is a vital tool when I’m streaming video live.

With you on this, Jason. I use Audio Hijack every week to record The Dalrymple Report. It is lightweight, easy to use, and let’s me customize my recording process precisely.

This year, though, Apple made some major changes to how audio on macOS is handled, and that required major changes to ACE, the engine that enables most of Rogue Amoeba’s apps. The company managed to get versions supporting Big Sur out just before the official release of the operating system, and today it posted beta versions that work with M1 Macs.

I wanted to do this week’s podcast from my new M1, but ran into a brick wall trying to run Audio Hijack. It put up a “this won’t work” alert when I launched it. Feh.

But good news on the new M1 beta versions. But, as Jason says, there’s a catch:

There is one big caveat, however, and it’s all down to Apple’s increased focus on security. To install an app like ACE, which requires a system extension to function in Big Sur, you have to reboot. That’s not great—rebooting to install software feels very 1990s to me—but at least it’s palatable.

On M1 Macs, though, the situation intensifies. Before you can reboot to enable ACE, you first have to reboot into Recovery Mode in order to tell the system to allow extensions. Then you have to change a setting from “Full Security” to “Reduced Security,” and check a box allowing kernel extensions from identified developers.

I’ve jumped through these hoops, and they are both intimidating and cryptic. Neither are Rogue Amoeba’s fault. If I want to use Audio Hijack, I have to jump through the cryptic hoops, and trust that it’s OK to accept “reduced security”.

I get it. I just hate that this is where we’ve landed. And, hopefully, I’ll be using Audio Hijack to record this week’s podcast.

Interesting “Infinite Bad Guy” YouTube experiment

Kait Sanchez, The Verge:

Somehow, perhaps by some cosmic intervention, I haven’t gotten tired of hearing Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” on the radio. Apparently, I’m not the only one because tens of thousands of people have gone to the effort of making covers of the song and uploading them to YouTube.

In celebration of its music video passing 1 billion views, YouTube and Google Creative Lab have turned all of those covers into an interactive AI experiment. “Infinite Bad Guy,” which YouTube calls “the world’s first infinite music video,” collects thousands of covers and blends them together, using machine learning to align each one within quarter-beats of the original.

Here’s a link to the “Infinite Bad Guy” page. Follow the link, let the site load, then tap the “Click to Play” button. The original video is in the middle, so tap one of the two side videos to start the ball rolling.

Play around with the interface. Don’t miss the Chiron crawl at the bottom with hashtagged keywords, like #guitar, #ukulele, #piano, and lots more.

Apple M1 MacBook vs PC desktop workstation for Adobe Creative Cloud

This is a very interesting article comparing four different machines on how they tackle specific tasks using Adobe software. Definitely a test on the Pro side of things.

The four machines:

  • Apple M1 MacBook Air with 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU, 16GB RAM
  • Apple M1 MacBook Pro with 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU
  • AMD Ryzen 7 5800X, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 GPU, 16GB RAM
  • AMD Ryzen 9 5800X, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 GPU, 64GB RAM

Note that second two machines are desktop machines, coming in at $2400 and $3500 respectively, with the last machine built with 64GB RAM. And those two desktop machines feature external GPUs.

In a nutshell, the desktop machines outperform the M1 Macs. Lots of reasons for this, and not really a fair comparison, since the Macs are laptops, and the desktop machines have discrete GPUs, and are much more expensive.

But I did find the comparison worth seeing.

From the conclusions:

From a performance standpoint, the new Apple M1 MacBooks do fairly well considering that they are using a complete processor based around the ARM instruction set and software that is likely not fully optimized yet. But compared to a typical desktop workstation from Puget Systems that is around 2-3x faster on average (albeit at a higher cost), they certainly can’t keep up.

These units only cost around $1,500 as configured, however, so the fact that they are half the performance shouldn’t be unexpected since they are also half the cost. What will be very interesting to see is how performance will shake out as Adobe improves support for native Apple Silicon and when (or if) Apple launches a higher-end laptop – or even better, a more powerful desktop variant than the Mac Mini.

That last bit sticks out to me. Will we see a higher end M1 laptop with more RAM? Will we see an M1 Mac Pro? If we do see a desktop Mac Pro, will it feature a discrete GPU?

[H/T Evadne W]

With M1 Macs, memory just isn’t what it used to be

With the advent of the M1 Mac, a question that sticks in my mind is, “Is 8GB on an M1 more effective than 8GB on an Intel Mac?”

This question first emerged for me when I was deciding between an 8GB or 16GB M1. I ended up going with 16GB, but mostly driven by memories of my old 8GB Intel Mac and the constant appearance of the rainbow cursor of death until I upgraded to 16GB.

Is that still a valid worry? Is there something magic about unified memory on the M1?

If you also have this question, you might want to check out this Twitter post and, more importantly, the responses that follow.

If I had to boil it down, I’d say, if you’re ordering an M1, 8GB should be plenty, if all you do is “normal” stuff, like email, reasonably small document editing, and web browsing. If you are more of a power user, do some light programming, occasional video rendering, small Logic Pro audio projects, etc., then 16GB might be worth the investment.

And if you do anything with very large data files, such as massive photo editing, large project programming, regular large scaled video editing, you might want to wait until more memory becomes available.

That’s purely my layman’s opinion. But it’s where I’ve landed, at least at this point.

Turning to the linked article, here’s Jason Snell:

The biggest difference is that in the M1, the memory is a part of the M1 architecture itself. There’s no memory slot or slots on the motherboard of an M1 Mac, nor is there an area where a memory chip has been permanently soldered on. Instead, the memory is integrated into the same package that contains the M1 itself.

What this means is that when you buy an M1-based Mac and choose a memory configuration, that’s it. There have been many other Macs with soldered-on memory that couldn’t be upgraded, but this is a little different, since the memory is basically part of the M1 package itself.

And that explains why we’ve only got two choices when it comes to memory: 8GB or 16GB.

The M1 processor’s memory is a single pool that’s accessible by any portion of the processor. If the system needs more memory for graphics, it can allocate that. If it needs more memory for the Neural Engine, likewise. Even better, because all the aspects of the processor can access all of the system memory, there’s no performance hit when the graphics cores need to access something that was previously being accessed by a processor core. On other systems, the data has to be copied from one portion of memory to another—but on the M1, it’s just instantly accessible.

And:

What would cause your Mac to run out of physical memory? If you leave an awful lot of apps open at once, or if your browser has hundreds of tabs open, or if you’re using an app that loads a very large file (like, say, a Photoshop file) into memory. If you’re someone who does this a lot, you probably want more memory…. but then again, if you’re someone who does this a lot, you might not want to buy one an M1 Mac right now. The mid-range and high-end models that will undoubtedly offer more RAM options and more processor power are undoubtedly coming next year.

This seems right on.

That said, I’m living on my M1 MacBook Air with 16GB and I have yet to stress it in any way, doing my regular power user stuff. I’ve never done a single thing to slow it down, even running apps via Rosetta. And, as I’ve said before, the M1 is wicked fast, and the battery life is crazy good.

My experience, as a relatively early adopter of this new technology, has been aces. Zero regrets.

Booting a computer from a vinyl record

[VIDEO] This is crazy old school. But it’s legit. Harkening back to the days of backing up computers on cassette tapes.

Follow the headline link for the details, but here’s a video (embedded in main Loop post) of this in action. Might want to lower the volume, since the record itself is like listening to some old modem screeching.

Apple’s Chief Security Officer, others, indicted in iPads for concealed-carry license bribery schemes

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Palo Alto Online:

A grand jury issued two indictments ​on Thursday, Nov. 19, against Undersheriff Rick Sung, 48, and Capt. James Jensen, 43, who are accused of requesting bribes for concealed firearms licenses, also known as CCW licenses. Insurance broker Harpreet Chadha, 49, and Apple’s Chief Security Officer Thomas Moyer, 50, are accused of offering bribes to receive the permits, District Attorney Jeff Rosen said during a press conference on Monday morning.

And:

The two-year investigation by the district attorney’s office found that Sung, who was allegedly aided by Jensen in one instance, held up the distribution of CCW licenses and refused to release them until the applicants gave something of value.

And:

Sung and Jensen allegedly held up four gun licenses from Apple employees and extracted from Moyer a promise that Apple would donate iPads to the sheriff’s office. A donation of 200 iPads worth nearly $70,000 was ended at the last minute after Aug. 2, 2019, when Sung and Moyer learned that the district attorney’s office had issued a search warrant seizing all of the sheriff’s office’s CCW license records.

Apple’s response:

“We expect all of our employees to conduct themselves with integrity. After learning of the allegations, we conducted a thorough internal investigation and found no wrongdoing.”

That last bit is important. Apple publicly stated they found no wrongdoing. Would they do that if Moyer was guilty? Or would they distance themselves from the scandal and quietly start negotiating Moyer’s exit? Obviously, we’ll see how this plays out.

Woz, Steve Jobs, and Dylan

First things first, this from CNN on the sale of a treasure trove of Bob Dylan memorabilia:

A collection of Bob Dylan memorabilia including letters, unpublished lyrics and handwritten lyrics to “Blowin’ in the wind” have sold for nearly half a million dollars, auctioneers say.

The items belonged to the estate of Dylan’s friend and fellow musician Tony Glover, who died last year. They were put up for sale in a week-long auction run by RR Auction Company.

Glover’s collection of Dylan memorabilia included personal letters and the transcripts from an interview carried out by Glover and hand-annotated by Dylan.

The collection sold for $495,000 to an unnamed seller.

Steve Jobs was, famously, a big Dylan fan. Woz weighed in with this thought on the auction and purchase:

In my opinion, someone got a bargain. These are the sort of rambling words that filled the Dylan liner notes and lyrics and brought me heavily into his world. The day I met Steve Jobs I brought him down to my house to see all the Dylan albums with strange liner notes and lyrics, since Jobs didn’t have albums. Thus Dylan became an important part of our friendship. We pursued Dylan memorabilia and trivia and concerts back then. I kept wondering how such words could come into any mortal mind.

A nice, if tiny, little look back at a friendship that launched Apple.

New 3rd party Apple TV remote with buttons, Siri access, coming soon

Universal Electronics:

Introducing a remote control for Apple TV specifically developed and designed to meet the needs of cable, satellite, IPTV and other Multichannel Video Program Distributors (MVPDs). Available starting next year, this new remote offers controls to specifically enhance the live TV experience with Apple TV 4K available through MVPDs, including instant EPG access and channel buttons.

Not clear if this remote will ever be offered directly to consumers, but I suspect a channel will open up somewhere to allow non-subscribers to get their hands on one.

One key feature from the press release:

Customers can ask Siri to find and access content across live TV and streaming apps

This is a huge difference from previous 3rd party Apple TV button remotes and intimates, at least to me, that this project is blessed by Apple.

“We are giddy”—interviewing Apple about its Mac silicon revolution

I’ve now spent a few days living with one of Apple’s new M1 laptops. I have to say, the experience has been glorious, every bit as good as the hype hinted at.

I’ve run power hungry apps side-by-side, on both my M1 MacBook Air and a 2018 Intel MacBook Pro, and it’s not even close. As an example, I ran an audio-processing app that analyzes and modifies audio files, byte-by-byte. Lots of disk access, lots of multi-thread processing. Chewing through an hour long audio file on the Intel machine took about 10 seconds. On the M1? It was done before I could even switch windows. Ridiculous performance. And this was in Rosetta.

Part of this is the double-speed SSD, part of this the M1 itself. But I feel comfortable saying, this machine screams, and Rosetta is an amazing piece of technology. Add in the crazy good battery life, and this feels like one of the best Apple purchases I’ve ever made.

With that in mind, click the headline link and follow along as Craig Federighi, Johny Srouji, and Greg Joswiak tell us the Apple Silicon story. A wonderful read, worth setting aside a few minutes to make your way through the whole thing.

Joanna Stern and John Gruber on CNBC’s Squawk Alley: Whose webcam is better?

[VIDEO] Joanna Stern and John Gruber appeared on Squawk Alley to talk M1. The interview was interesting enough, but part of the discussion was the quality of the new M1 Mac webcam. Without sound on, can you tell which video feed looks the best? The video is embedded in the main Loop post.

With your answer locked in, turn on the sound. I found this interesting. All the complaints about the 720p FaceTime camera seem overblown. Judge for yourself.

Details on installing and forcing apps to use Rosetta

Nothing complex here, but worth a look if you’ve got an M1 Mac coming.

The Info window for universal apps includes the setting “Open using Rosetta.” It enables email apps, web browsers, and other apps to use add-ons that haven’t been updated to support Apple silicon. If an app doesn’t recognize a plug-in, extension, or other add-on, quit the app, select this setting, and try again.

Key is that “Open using Rosetta” checkbox in the app’s Get Info window and the “Kind” field which tells you if the app is a Universal Binary or Intel or Apple Silicon native.

Which to buy? M1 MacBook Air or M1 MacBook Pro?

[VIDEO] This video (embedded in the main Loop post) is a nice, detailed look at the differences you can expect if you plunk down the extra bucks for an M1 MacBook Pro.

Lots of detail here. Bottom line, it’ll be worth it if you need to squeeze more performance out of your machine. But watch the video, see if these differences matter to you.

Man becomes instant millionaire after meteorite falls through his roof

Yeah, I know, the headline is clickbaity. But I found the story fascinating and decided to share in spite of the headline.

I mean, start with this:

Josua Hutagalung was working on a coffin outside his house in the town of Kolang when the 2.1kg rock came hurtling through the tin veranda outside his living room.

Yes. A coffin. And 2.1 kg is 4.63 pounds, in case you were wondering.

And this:

The meteorite is carbonaceous chondrite, an extremely rare variety estimated to be 4.5 billion years old – and reportedly worth around £645 per gram.

Amazing!

Halide’s Sebastiaan de With digs deep on the iPhone 12 Pro Max camera

If your iPhone purchases are driven by the camera, this is an excellent read. Sebastiaan lends his expertise here and shows the difference in the iPhone 12 Pro Max sensor, both in comparison to the older sensor, and in terms of what that bigger sensor means in practical terms.

In a nutshell:

Giving these sensor sites more room and making them larger makes them more sensitive to light. More light means more signal, less noise, and sharper results.

This point is backed up with images. As you scroll through, make sure you get all the way to the low light images as the sun starts setting. The lower the light, the more value the sensor brings to the table.

Apple and PBS team up for special broadcast airings of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

Nostalgia is a powerful force. Who knew that Snoopy and the Peanuts gang had such a strong following? When Apple TV+ gobbled up all the Peanuts specials, people without access were not happy. This had the potential to paint Apple as Grinch.

Making a deal to share the broadcast exclusivity with PBS was a great move on Apple’s part. A good look for Apple, and folks without Apple TV+ can still watch. Nice.

The over-performing M1 Mac mini — Be sure you have a wired keyboard and mouse

If you’re thinking about a new M1 Mac mini, definitely spend some time with Chris Welch’s review for The Verge.

Most importantly:

Getting up and running with the Mac mini can be a hassle. For initial setup, you need a wired keyboard and mouse; my Logitech ergonomic keyboard and MX Master 3, which both connect over Bluetooth, were useless. They work fine after setting up the machine, but just be aware so you don’t run into this initial headache like I did.

This is so important, I think Apple should put a note up on the order page so folks have time to grab these items if they need them.

UPDATE: Interestingly, it seems as if Apple’s wireless gear uses clever USB-protocol tricks so THEY work with the Mac mini setup. Not so for third party gear. Good to know.

Apple’s M1 MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro: Goodbye, fan noise!

[VIDEO] To some folks, fan noise really matters. If you do a podcast, you’ve no doubt spent some time finding and reducing as much noise as possible from your studio setup. And fans are subtle culprits.

In the video embedded in the main Loop post, The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern does a fun job talking about the gift of silence we’ve all gotten with the powerful, fanless M1 MacBook Air.

But in this review, John Gruber makes the case that the new M1 MacBook Pro’s active cooling system is no slouch at silence:

Apple, in its keynote last week, emphasized that the M1 MacBook Air has no fan. (Intel-based MacBook Airs most definitely do. The defunct 12-inch no-adjective MacBook was Apple’s only fanless Intel Mac.) Apple’s point there was to brag that the M1 runs so cool that a high-performance MacBook could be designed without one. Some Mac users, I think, mistakenly took this to mean that the Air had an advantage over the M1 MacBook Pro, in that the fanless Air would always run silently, if sometimes slower. I think this assumption was wrong: the M1 MacBook Pro is, to my ears, always silent as well. Whatever its active cooling system is doing, it isn’t making even a whisper of noise.

This is a point worth noting. The lack of a fan definitely pushed me towards the MacBook Air. The lower cost and smaller size also brought value, so no regrets, but I think Gruber’s point is well taken. The MacBook Pro can run silent, even if you push it.

AnandTech:Technical deep dive into the M1 Mac mini

Andrei Frumusanu, AnandTech:

During the launch event, one thing that was in Apple fashion typically missing from the presentation were actual details on the clock frequencies of the design, as well as its TDP which it can sustain at maximum performance.

Apple got a lot of press on the low detail on its M1 charts. To me, this turned out to be an amazing job of underpromising and overdelivering. Everywhere you look, people are amazed at the low heat, high performance, and great battery life of all three M1 Macs.

But if it’s details you want, AnandTech has them, at least for the M1 Mac mini.

One example:

We can confirm that in single-threaded workloads, Apple’s Firestorm cores now clock in at 3.2GHz, a 6.66% increase over the 3GHz frequency of the Apple A14. As long as there’s thermal headroom, this clock also applies to all-core loads, with in addition to 4x 3.2GHz performance cores also seeing 4x Thunder efficiency cores at 2064MHz, also quite a lot higher than 1823MHz on the A14.

If this floats your boat, there’s a lot more detail, well presented in graphs, in the linked article. But if you just want the bottom line:

The performance of the new M1 in this “maximum performance” design with a small fan is outstandingly good. The M1 undisputedly outperforms the core performance of everything Intel has to offer, and battles it with AMD’s new Zen3, winning some, losing some. And in the mobile space in particular, there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent in either ST or MT performance – at least within the same power budgets.

What’s really important for the general public and Apple’s success is the fact that the performance of the M1 doesn’t feel any different than if you were using a very high-end Intel or AMD CPU. Apple achieving this in-house with their own design is a paradigm shift, and in the future will allow them to achieve a certain level of software-hardware vertical integration that just hasn’t been seen before and isn’t achieved yet by anybody else.

Amazing achievement on Apple’s part.

Apple cuts App Store commissions in half. And what happens if I make $1,000,001?

Apple:

Apple today announced an industry-leading new developer program to accelerate innovation and help small businesses and independent developers propel their businesses forward with the next generation of groundbreaking apps on the App Store. The new App Store Small Business Program will benefit the vast majority of developers who sell digital goods and services on the store, providing them with a reduced commission on paid apps and in-app purchases. Developers can qualify for the program and a reduced, 15 percent commission if they earned up to $1 million in proceeds during the previous calendar year.

This is major news for indie developers. Game changing.

The way I read it, if Apple pays you up to $999,999, across all your apps, in a single year, you pay 15% commission instead of the current 30%. You’ve just moved from 70% to 85% take (21% increase). That’s huge.

Specifics on the program, which launches January 1st:

  • Existing developers who made up to $1 million in 2020 for all of their apps, as well as developers new to the App Store, can qualify for the program and the reduced commission.

  • If a participating developer surpasses the $1 million threshold, the standard commission rate will apply for the remainder of the year.

  • If a developer’s business falls below the $1 million threshold in a future calendar year, they can requalify for the 15 percent commission the year after.

So what happens if you hit the magic $1 million threshold?

My understanding is that you’ll pay 15% on the first $1 million, then 30% on everything above that first $1 million.

Remember, this is across all apps, so if you have 10 apps, add all the revenue together to figure out where you are, commission-wise.

Great move on Apple’s part. Long time coming.

Apple M1: which apps are ready and which are not yet

Thinking about ordering an M1 Mac? Got one on order?

Follow the headline link and check the status of a bunch of apps. The list shows whether they are:

  • ✅: Intel and Apple Silicon compatible universal binary is available;
  • 🆙: the Apple Silicon version is almost ready and should be released before the end of the year;
  • 🔶: the Apple Silicon version is under development, but it will not be released immediately;
  • 🛑: no Apple Silicon version known for the moment.

Good resource.

UPDATE: This list on the MacRumors Forum is worth scanning, more comprehensive [H/T Maxim].

M1 MacBook Air SSD really is twice as fast as previous model

Arnold Kim, MacRumors:

The benchmarks confirm that the new ‌MacBook Air‌ SSD is approximately twice as fast as the previous model with 2190 MB/s writes and 2675 MB/s reads.

As promised by Apple, here:

The M1 chip’s storage controller and latest flash technology deliver up to 2x faster SSD performance

Apple promised a lot with these M1 chips, but everything I’ve read shows they’ve delivered on those promises. This is a major step forward.

Comparing M1 vs Intel MacBook Air temps under heavy load

[VIDEO] Does your Intel MacBook tend to run hot under heavy load? Like really hot? Well watch the video embedded in the main Loop post, and remember that the M1 MacBook Air does not have a fan.

To help folks who measure temps in Fahrenheit:

  • 26°C is about 79°F
  • 34°C is about 93°F

That’s a pretty big difference, especially for something sitting on your lap.