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The Canonical List of All-In-One Macs

Dec 1, 2022



The all-in-one computer has been a staple of the Mac since its inception.

It was the only form factor available until the Macintosh II debuted in 1987. The Macintosh then grew into a large family of (arguably too many) different models — but at any point in time, Apple has offered an all-in-one Mac as a simple home computer for the average consumer.

Here’s the definitive continuity:

  1. The Macintosh
  2. The Macintosh 512K
  3. The Macintosh Plus
  4. The Macintosh SE and SE/30
  5. The Macintosh Classic and Classic II
  6. The Macintosh Color Classic and Color Classic II
  7. The Macintosh LC 500
  8. The Power Macintosh 5200, 5400 and 5500
  9. The iMac G3
  10. The iMac G4
  11. The iMac G5
  12. The Intel iMac
  13. The Aluminum iMac
  14. The Unibody iMac
  15. The Slim iMac
  16. The Retina iMac
  17. The Apple Silicon iMac

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Apple’s ‘Take Note’ Announcements

Oct 21, 2022 • Apple Event



Don’t call it an Apple Event. It was a day of unprompted product announcements via press release! We haven’t had one of these since I started writing up summaries for Extra Ordinary. (I didn’t think about that when I made the ‘Apple Event’ tag for these articles. No ragrets.)

No Mac news today — you can read my attempt to manifest the Mac mini I want into existence at Cult of Mac.

Apple TV 4K

The headline feature here is that the prices are significantly lowered. The base model goes from $179 to $129. The upgraded model goes from $199 to $149. The old HD model goes from $149 to discontinued.

The second best feature is that the Siri Remote switches to USB-C. With the European Union inching ever closer to requiring USB-C by 2024, this to me is an indicator that Apple won’t push back. This is an inconsequential peripheral that Apple is switching to the USB-C train far ahead of time.

Storage options also doubled.

It also features HDR10+ and Dolby Atmos — great features for everyone out there who has a really expensive TV with these premium features but bad enough built-in software that someone would want to spend another $129 on an Apple TV. All twelve of them.

Even though I only rated the second generation Apple TV 4K three out of five stars, it is by far the best TV operating system and interface. This market is crowded with terrible products.

iPad

Since 2017, the bottom of the iPad line has been held down by the no-adjective iPad at $329. The formula is not unlike the iPhone SE or Apple Watch SE: piece together the cheapest parts from the bin without skimping out on the chip. It uses the original iPad Air-shaped case, a cheap rectangular display, a Home Button and a one- or two-year old A-series chip.

They were able to pull that off four years in a row without raising the price while dripping in new features: support for the first-generation Apple Pencil, the Smart Connector, True Tone and Center Stage.

This was the fleet vehicle iPad if you just want a big iOS canvas and you don’t need any fancy features. The iPad Air bridged the gap with a modern design and modern features; the iPad mini was brought in sync as a smaller size of the Air; the iPad Pro represented the top of the line with all the latest tech for people who get their daily work done on an iPad.

It was only a matter of time before the basic iPad moved on to the small-bezel design, ditching the Home Button and getting its flat-sides makeover. Apple prioritized the wrong features and jumped the gun to get it there.

Sure, it has the modern square design. But the chief benefit of that is compatibility with the second-generation Apple Pencil, which snaps on magnetically and stays permanently charged. Keep it there whenever you’re not using it and you’ll forget it even has a battery inside. With the first-generation Apple Pencil, not only do you not have a place to keep it — not only do you need to plug it into the iPad to charge it — but the iPad doesn’t have a Lightning port, so you need to first plug it into an adapter, then into the USB-C cable dangling off of your iPad.

Sure, it has virtually the same dimensions as the iPad Air, but it isn’t compatible with the same attachable keyboard and trackpad accessory. It needs a completely different one with an extremely confusing name.

These could be forgiven if they were necessary tradeoffs in order to maintain the $329 price point. But they aren’t. The previous iPad 9 is still for sale at $329; the new iPad 10 is priced at $449. If they were willing to raise the price anyways, why not support the good Apple Pencil?

Yes, those components cost money. The original Apple Pencil does not require any hardware in the device itself; the second generation requires magnets and an internal charging component. Why not raise the price a little more? They have already lost on keeping it as the cheapest $329 iPad; selling it at $459 instead of $449 will hardly lose any additional sales, and users get this instead of this.

iPad Pro

The new 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models have a drop-in upgrade to the M2. You can use that extra power by crashing Stage Manager up to 15% faster than M1.

The smaller one does not get the mini-LED display of the bigger one and neither of them get the horizontally-mounted camera of the iPad 10.

Today’s iPad announcements introduce more exceptions and asterisks to an iPad lineup that is dangerously close to boiling over.

Apple AR/VR Headset

Mission failed, we’ll get ’em next time.

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What’s in a Mac app?

That which we call an app by any other operating system…

Oct 7, 2022



Why do Mac users care so much about consistency? Jack Wellborn, for Worms and Viruses:

Surface area.

iOS and Android apps always run in full screen. iPadOS apps mostly run in full screen. Even many Windows apps typically run in full screen. Most Mac apps, on the other hand, are typically windowed and expected to share the desktop with other windowed apps.

When surface area is high, the role of the operating system shifts […] to providing a cohesive user experience for all apps.

‘Surface area’ is a great turn of phrase that instantly clarifies Wellborn’s theory. I can believe this as a contributing factor, but I don’t think it’s the full story.

You rarely hear Windows users complain about programs not being “Windows-like”, and there isn’t really any fervent calls for “iOS-like” or “Android-like” apps either, but “Mac-like” (or Mac-assed, if you prefer) is something that exists.

Proof by counter-example: iOS-like apps are definitely a thing.

iOS has a strong convention towards bottom tab bar navigation; each tab can have its own view stack that you can swipe backwards to navigate. Android has long pushed towards “hamburger menu” navigation and the system back button. Apps that reverse that feel very much out of place and ordinary people do notice.

Take Apollo versus Reddit, Aviary versus Twitter, Overcast versus Spotify. Three indie apps that are broadly praised for their respect of the iOS platform versus three apps that are widely panned for breaking its conventions.

Let’s go deeper

There’s an underlying question worth exploring. Why do I feel compelled to maximize everything in Windows, yet cram as many things as I can fit at once on my Mac? I think it comes down to three forces inflicted by the design of each operating system:

  1. Windows has a prominent Maximize button on every window. The Mac, throughout most of its life, used the same button to fit the window to the exact size of its content.

  2. Most Windows programs assign a single window to a single program. This technical limitation had already come back to bite them by Windows 3, where they introduced the window-within-a-window. This lived on for over 20 years in Microsoft Office. The Mac has always separated windows from apps; this pushed people towards the pattern of opening many files across many different windows.

  3. The Windows taskbar was introduced as an omnipresent interface that organized every open window, allowing people to switch between full-screen experiences with a single click. The most comparable interface element of the Mac, the Dock (and the MultiFinder menu that preceded it), is organized by app. Mac OS didn’t have a user interface for picking a specific window amongst every open window until Mission Control in 2011. But if you can see both windows at once, they’re only a single click away.

All of these forces push people towards maximizing everything in Windows and cramming apps side-by-side in macOS.

While some of these forces are no longer present — the green button on the Mac now toggles fullscreen — momentum is slow. The design paradigm of an operating system has knock-on effects on its developers for years.

Just ask Microsoft.

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Top Ten Silliest File Extensions to Pronounce as Words

Sep 30, 2022 • And More



  1. IPSW: ip-soo
  2. PDF: pa-doof
  3. DMG: dimmage
  4. EXE: eek-see
  5. PNG: ping!
  6. HEIF: heef
  7. BMP: bimp
  8. MD: mud
  9. AIF: afe
  10. AI: AYYYEEE!

And the honorable mention goes to GUID (gwid).

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Apple’s ‘Far Out’ Event

Sep 10, 2022 • Apple Event



I didn’t have the highest of expectations going into this event. I thought we knew everything — and what we knew was a bit boring. But as Jason Snell pointed out, maybe we shouldn’t underestimate the most successful company in the world.

Staging

Early prerecorded keynote videos had a bit more fun with the flexibility allowed by the format. This keynote significantly cut down on the fun and silly transitions. Maybe Apple thinks it’s all been played out by now.

Apple Watch

Tim Cook began the segment by playing a video featuring letters of people whose lives were saved by their Apple Watch. The scenes are reenacted, featuring the actual people in these stories. Apple Watch rescuing people from imminent death is a note they play with alarming frequency (in increasingly morbid ways) but it’s a message worth pushing. This is a great reason to buy an Apple Watch.

Apple Watch Series 8

Tim Cook introduced Jeff Williams who introduced Diedre Caldbeck who introduced Dr. Sumbil Ahmad Desai who introduced the Apple Watch Series 8. The two big only changes include a temperature sensor for cycle tracking and a high g-force accelerometer to detect if you’ve been in a car crash.

I find it interesting how the rumor mill got the temperature sensor wrong. Rumors indicated that the sensor would be used to detect signs of a fever but it wouldn’t give you an exact temperature. Instead, it is used for women’s health, combining heart rate data to give improved period predictions and retrospective estimates. It isn’t confident enough to record this data in the ‘Body Temperature’ section of the Health app; it adds a new section called ‘Wrist Temperature.’

Car crash detection works similar to fall detection: if your Apple Watch thinks you need help, you have a few seconds to respond in case of a false positive,1 after which the Apple Watch will automatically call emergency services.

Low Power Mode sounds like something that should have come to the Apple Watch sooner, but considering it doubles Apple’s battery estimation from 18 hours to 36 hours, it must be pulling a lot of strings behind the scenes beyond turning off the always-on display and automatic workout detection. Better late than never.

No changes to the colors this year.

Apple Watch SE

It is a well-internalized fact that as much as the Apple community discusses the interesting Macs like the Mac Studio and the 14″ MacBook Pro, a vast majority of Mac sales are of the cheapest MacBook Air. Yet somehow, I was completely blindsided when hearing 80% of new Apple Watch users buy the SE. It makes perfect sense that the pattern would continue, but the Apple Watch SE is such a forgettable product that it slipped my mind entirely.

And you know what? Now, 80% of new Apple Watch users will be buying a great product. The new SE model carries over a lot of features from the Series 8 at a lower price than before.

Best of all, the Series 3 may finally die in a hole be put to rest.

Apple Watch Ultra

When these schematics leaked earlier this week, I was totally convinced that the weird shape of the body was only part of the story. I thought there was going to be a rubber case around the metal body to finish the look. Why else would the display and the buttons protrude so far? Surely if this is the Apple Watch that has graduated from the school of hard knocks, you wouldn’t want a big protruding part of the body. Those hard corners will get banged up.

It’s a shame their battery test could only get 36 hours in standard use or 60 hours in what might or might not be Lower Power Mode.2 Apple likes to underestimate battery stamina, but not by much. Yes, just a few paragraphs ago I praised the ordinary Apple Watch Series 8 for achieving 36 hours in Low Power Mode, but the Apple Watch Ultra is their turbo-adventure watch. I think future versions will get these numbers up to a comfortable 48 and 72 hours.

A brief note on color is that they now have yet another name for unadorned bare metal. It used to be Silver. Last year gave us Starlight, which is Silver with a pinch of yellow. The Apple Watch Ultra comes in unadorned bare titanium, which is now deemed Natural.

The new watch bands are really cool.

I continue to agree with John Gruber that the watch band team is probably the most fun team to work on at Apple.

The Apple Watch Ultra has two GPS bands for greater precision. I can’t wait for this to trickle down to other products by the time I need a new phone and/or watch. I’ve noticed on walks along the local bike path that my watch’s estimation on distance traveled can be off by up to about 10%. It’s especially noticeable when my wife and I go together and have very different statistics for the same walk. On a recent road trip that stopped through Philadelphia I was reminded that this phenomenon affected my phone, too, when Apple Maps placed me totally incorrectly along a busy street corner.

A completely new addition to the Apple Watch user interface is an additional button on the left.3 Unlike the crown and side buttons, this button is open for use in apps and configurable by the user. I’m happy for developers but a little scared this will go the way of 3D Touch:

I hope I’m wrong here. I think another button would be a good addition to the Apple Watch paradigm. A litmus test for the success of this feature will be whether the Series 9 model next year has a left button.

One last note is that under the display lip, there’s a small plastic band that bears strong resemblance to the antenna bands on the iPhone. But the band doesn’t go all the way around, so the display lip isn’t actually fully separated from the body of the watch, ergo this is not an antenna band. Is it to absorb shock from corner impacts? A detail that the iFixit teardown may or may not reveal.

All in all, Apple has finally figured out the Apple Watch. The story of the Apple Watch thus far goes like so: the first few models, the original through Series 3, lacked focus or direction — let’s throw everything at it and see what people like. From the Series 4 onwards they knew that sports, exercise tracking and notification management were their strengths, leaning into each. Now that the flagship product has matured, they feel confident enough to go all in. They created a special watch face for orienteering and a special app for scuba diving.

This is far from a fashion object. They aren’t going to send a solid gold Apple Watch Ultra to Beyoncé.

AirPods Pro (2nd generation)

Apple plays their AirPods updates very well. Whether it’s intentional or not, it seems like new AirPods come out right around when the AirPods sold at launch lose their battery capacity. They give you plenty of good reasons to upgrade, too. People would feel jipped if they had to spend $250 every three years for the same product.

The pressure-sensitive stems are now touch-sensitive, so you can adjust the volume on your AirPods themselves. I’m curious to see how this works on such a short linear distance. Surely shifting your finger a half inch won’t take it from 0 to 100.

A more powerful H2 chip has more brains for audio processing in noise-cancelling mode. Combined with tighter-engineered internal components, outside noise is twice as quiet. ‘Twice’ doesn’t come up very often in a single-generation product update. Transparency mode is smarter, too, filtering out annoying sounds like construction. The H2 chip increases battery life by about 30% — this doesn’t just increase the lifetime of a single charge; this reduces the wear on the battery over time.

The case has some tricks up its sleeve, too. A built-in speaker can play a tone to help you locate it when it’s lost. It has a built-in U1 chip, so it’s basically an AirTag. You can charge it with a Qi charger, MagSafe puck and now, an Apple Watch puck.4 The case has a loop in the side where you can attach a lanyard.

This new charging case is very emblematic of the new design philosophy at Apple. The original AirPods case was a near-perfect white object. If they could have figured out how to charge the original AirPods case on the Apple Watch puck of the time, they would have, just to remove the Lightning connector from the bottom. It didn’t even have a charging light on the outside. Now it has a button on the back, a charging light, speakers, a Lightning connector and a lanyard loop. And Apple doesn’t even bother making their own lanyard. They know that if they did, they would only be made fun of for it.

iPhone

iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus

Well, here it is. The story of the mini iPhone comes to a tragic end. I’m happily married, but the mini iPhone feels like the one that got away. I ended up with the iPhone 12 Pro because I couldn’t stomach losing the 2× camera lens. In its place is a phone that is neither easy to use in an average human hand nor takes the best pictures, the iPhone 14 Plus. The ‘Plus’ moniker is fitting, since I had similar disdain for my Plus-sized iPhone.

But it’ll make normal people happy and make Apple a kajillion dollars. Add this to the long list of reasons, but still pretty high up there, of why I am not the CEO of Apple.

Anyways.

Deep Fusion, a process that takes several pictures and combines them for capturing the most detail, is now pushed farther up the image processing pipeline in order to keep images brighter and colors more vibrant.

The front-facing camera has long been a weak part of the camera system for its lack of autofocus, but that ends now. It took twelve years, but hey, better late than never (again).

Action mode is a video mode with powerful stabilization, smoothing out the huge bumps and shakes you can get while running. That this is a special mode and not simply enabled every time you shoot video means there are probably some compromises. I’m curious what those are.

In the United States, the iPhone no longer has a SIM tray. They are switching entirely to eSIM. I switched my phone to eSIM a few months ago — it was as easy as pushing a button and waiting a minute. This will significantly curtail the risk of losing your iPhone since thieves can no longer remove the SIM card of a found phone. Without the SIM tray, more room is left over for bigger cameras or batteries.

But this change only comes to U.S. models. So will there just be an empty part of the phone where the SIM tray would have been? There will still be the tangential benefit of being slightly more waterproof, but until carriers all around the world catch up, we won’t truly reap these benefits.

Emergency SOS via satellite might sound simple. Your phone has radios for talking to cell towers; Apple added one that talks to satellites, right? No. Apple thought everything through here. From compressing text messages to developing a system of pre-filled responses for streamlined communication to setting up relay centers fully staffed with specialists — when they say this was a years-long endeavor, I believe them.

But none of this matters if the feature is hard to find. How will it be activated, from the ‘slide to turn off your iPhone’ screen? Apple is at risk of crowding that screen with options. Maybe it’ll only appear when your phone is out of cell service. Read more in my upcoming story for Cult of Mac where I strand myself in the desert.

iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max

The Dynamic Island is a great feature that is hard to put into words. So here goes: The sensor area has been redesigned, placing the proximity sensor underneath the display, so what was a notch jutting out from the top is now a lozenge cutout floating in the middle. Notifications and ongoing background activities playfully interact with this space, which grows and shrinks. Now, even in the passive state, the sensor area doesn’t feel like missing space, it feels like it’s just waiting for something to happen.

Here’s the word ‘twice’ again. The new display on the iPhone 14 Pro models is twice as bright, up to 2,000 nits. That’s far from the biggest story of the display, but an improvement like that deserves time under the sun, so it makes sense why Apple put this ahead of everything else. Time will tell if it’ll actually be able to hold that level of brightness without shooting back down to half power from the heat that is typically associated with bright sunlight.

Everyone knew this was coming, so here it is: the always-on display. The ProMotion variable display controller of the iPhone 13 couldn’t get down to 1 Hz. Apple deems this necessary so that the always-on display doesn’t drain so much battery life. Surprising to most (but not all) people, your Lock Screen background stays on, too, so you can always see your dog or your kid. A detail found on the website that wasn’t in the keynote: the always-on display is always off when it’s in your pocket.

The A16 Bionic chip uses a new 4 nm process. They’ve lapped Qualcomm four times now, who are still trying to catch up to the A13 from 2019. 50% more memory bandwidth in the GPU won’t go unnoticed, either.

The iPhone 14 Pro models get all the camera improvements above, but wait, there’s more!

The main camera now has a 48 MP quad-pixel sensor that lets in four times more light. It’s 65% larger. Does that mean that you can finally take the horrible impressionist painting pictures like the Galaxy S20? No, it puts it to better use, combining nearby pixels to significantly reduce noise and double low-light performance. You can get better, clearer pictures without switching to Night Mode.

Last year, when Apple switched the telephoto lens from 2× to 3×, I wrote that it was “less practical for day-to-day photography.” It’s too much zoom for taking portraits but not enough zoom if there’s something very far away. Well, since the new camera sensor has four times the resolution, you get the best of both worlds. Apple can crop in the sensor to get back the 2× zoom, still at full resolution.

The ultra wide camera has the hardest job for capturing such a wide field of view, so a 3× improvement in low light performance is certainly welcome.

The iPhone 14 Pro brings the first change to the LED camera flash in a long time, switching from four to nine LEDs. Not that you’ll really need it, what with all of the improvements to low light in every camera.

Most impressive of all, the prices are the same as last year. All across the board. In fact, the Apple Watch SE is cheaper than before.

Apple AR/VR Headset

Mission failed, we’ll get ’em next time.

Footnotes

  1. I imagine it will be much harder to get a false positive car crash than a false positive fall.
  2. Apple is weirdly vague on what the name of this feature is for this particular model.
  3. Called by Graham Bower before it was even rumored. In Connected parlance, that’s a correct Risky Pick!
  4. The only technology from AirPower that will ever ship.

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What’s Next for Photos.app

Aug 31, 2022



I am still reveling the delight of iCloud Shared Photo Library, new to iOS 16 and macOS Ventura. No more AirDropping my wife pictures from a weekend outing. No more digging for a specific picture only to find out later it was in her library all along.

But there’s still much to be done. As I spend many hours curating my photo library, here are the remaining features on my wishlist.

Easier face tagging

I tag the faces of friends and family members extensively. Not only can I find a specific picture remarkably fast if I know everyone who’s in it, but seeing albums of specific people over the years is a really touching way to connect with the photos I have.

This is an old feature of iPhoto — long before iCloud Photo Library of any kind, long before the modern Photos.app launched in OS X Yosemite.1 Apple ran ads on this feature back in 2009.

A feature of iPhoto that was lost in the switch to Photos was a particular view that let you see every face in your photo library that was untagged and/or unnamed. As it stands, you can still tag faces, search by faces and see every tagged face — but you can’t see every untagged face. For all I know, there could be a great picture of a close friend in my library that’s lost in the mix because it isn’t tagged.

Animal tagging

Photos can detect dogs in pictures. You can even search ‘dog’ and see every picture of every dog in all your pictures. It can even detect specific breeds and provide lookup information.

I would love for them to take this one step further and allow me to tag a dog just like I can tag a friend.2 Hell, my dogs are more important to me than most of my friends. Using the search field is far from an exact science — there are a lot of pictures that aren’t correctly classified — so tagging animals would give me a place where I can quickly find every picture of a particular animal.

A fantastic feature is visual search. I can search for ‘computer’ or ‘car’ and get hundreds of results, even the weird ones that hardly resemble computers or cars at all.

Sometimes, a raccoon will appear in a search for a cat, a store will appear in a search for a house or a tripod will appear in a search for a chair. Artificial intelligence is closer to hardly functional than hardly perfect.

I would love to help train the model. Let me long-press on a picture in a search field and reclassify it. This interface already exists for people — if my phone thinks a picture of me is a picture of my brother, I can long-press on it and either change the name or tap “Not this person.”

I would spend even more time happily cleaning up my photo library with any one of these features… maybe it’s a good thing I don’t have it yet.

Footnotes

  1. Photos.app did not ship with OS X Yosemite — it was delayed until the following March. This sort of off-cycle release of a major feature is commonplace now. Pointer support came with iPadOS 13.4 in March; Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch came with iOS 14.5 in April; Universal Control came with iOS 15.4 in March. But the time, it was considered unusual.
  2. This was never an official feature, but there was a workaround allowed in iPhoto that Apple later shut the door on in Photos.app. In iPhoto, you could manually add a tag anywhere in a picture. You could simply add a tag on a cat or dog, and with enough consistency, it would automatically detect the animal in other pictures.

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My Problem With Apple Watch Sleep Tracking

Aug 4, 2022



I’ve been trying out Apple Watch sleep stage tracking over the last few weeks for an article on Cult of Mac. Overall, I think it’s fantastic. Without adding any additional sensors, through a software update alone, everyone with insomnia or sleep apnea can understand their condition better with their Apple Watch.

I don’t need to track my sleep; I just think it’s neat. But I do have one very big problem with it.

Since it so accurately sees when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake, it would be great if it could catch you falling back asleep after your alarm goes off. It knows if you’re in deep sleep or core sleep immediately before your alarm, but if you tap to turn off your alarm instead of snooze — and it’s very likely this could happen by mistake, because the screen is so tiny — it just trusts that you’ll wake up.

The Apple Watch even knows when you’re standing up and moving. That’s kinda its whole thing. But like a bar tender carelessly tossing back the car keys to a patron they have personally been serving drinks all night, it just blindly believes you if you tap Turn Off instead of Snooze.

Filed as FB10849326.

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Interview with Shihab Mehboob, Developer of Aviary

Jul 26, 2022 • Interview



A Twitter client for iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch

Shihab Mehboob has just released the biggest update yet to Aviary, a simple yet powerful Twitter client.

Aviary 2 has been completely rebuilt with a stronger, more reliable foundation. This has enabled a wide swath of new user features and customization options. As before, the interface is native to iOS and strictly follows Apple’s design principles.

Aviary 2 costs either $1.99 per month or $15.49 for a full year (a 40% discount); if subscriptions aren’t your style, you can buy it forever for $49.99 (an ROI of three years, three months). No ads, no suggested tweets from people you don’t follow filling up your timeline, no notification bait, and let me say this one more time for emphasis, no ads? It’s a no-brainer for an app I use every day.

Shihab is a very active developer. It’s not surprising that he’s also very active on Twitter — a good person to follow in the independent developer community. He has also published Vinyls, an Apple Music client designed around listening to albums; Get Sum, a shopping list; Agree, a group voting app; Textcraft, a text formatting tool; Memo, a Time Machine-inspired note-taking app and even more.

Interview

I interviewed Shihab by email in the week leading up to its release.

First and foremost, why a Twitter client?

Twitter is something I’ve been using for over a decade now across a variety of devices and platforms. After seeing what has been possible by Tweetbot, especially in the early days, I’ve always wanted to make my own client that elevates the experience.

Aviary 2 was, as you say, “rebuilt and redesigned from the ground up.” Starting over is not a decision developers take lightly, and this rebuild took half a year. Was this a hard decision to make?

Initially, it was quite a hard decision to make. I was facing various issues with the first version of Aviary that were causing frequent and spontaneous crashes and hangs which I couldn’t seem to resolve. I still had a lot planned for Aviary with features I wanted to add and new API endpoints I wanted to adopt.

Development was struggling, so I made the difficult decision to start from scratch and be more cautious with my development. I adopted new technologies wherever possible, opted to hop abroad the Twitter V2 API early on and tested extensively every step of the way. While it was a difficult decision, the result has been effective and made further development much easier.

Aviary 2 is available as a monthly or yearly subscription or a single lifetime purchase. What brought you to this pricing model?

I find that this model has a spot for everyone whether you’re a casual user, a more seasoned user or someone who’d prefer to own the app outright. The subscriptions also help keep frequent development going and is far more sustainable for me as a developer.

Twitter has been having, let’s say, a rough few months. How confident are you in the future of Twitter as a platform?

Twitter has always had rough times through its life, but it’s always bounced back. I’m confident that it will do the same again. Especially now that they’re a lot more transparent with their users and developers alike.

Do you find credence in the idea that Twitter has great value to society as a public forum, or do you find that a bit idealistic?

I personally find that Twitter provides great value to those that use it as such. It is what you make of it, and entirely depends on who you follow, who you interact with, what you choose to see and engage with. As with any forum, it can end up being an echo chamber, and that chamber is built by yourself.

One of my favorite Aviary features is the ability to share a tweet as a high-quality image. I use this every day to share tweets to people without Twitter accounts or to save tweets to my photo library. Do you, like me, also get sad when you see bad low-resolution screenshots of tweets or Tumblr posts go viral?

100%. I’m really glad that this is one of your favorite features, because it is mine too! I’ve always been kind of sad to see badly cropped or distorted social media images circulating on unrelated sites, and to be able to output content in better ways is a no-brainer.

Making this super easy to do — with a variety of toggles to hide on-screen elements and adjust backgrounds — is a huge plus for anyone that’s particular about the style of content they wish to share.

One of the more unique features is the ability to view media in AR. Are you excited by what Apple is doing with AR?

Very. I’m a huge believer in Apple’s push towards AR and all that comes with it. I suspect that they’ve been laying the groundwork for the past few years in ways that we haven’t even comprehended yet. From AirTags to Spatial Audio, and LiDAR to UWB chips, it’s all smaller pieces of the same larger puzzle.

If anyone can pull off AR in a meaningful and useful way, Apple can.

On a completely unrelated note, do you foresee Aviary running on an AR/VR hardware device sometime in the future?

Yes! Being able to view tweets without having to pull up a physical screen would be a game-changer.

I was really struck by the pace of development in your TestFlight. It feels like a new build arrived every day — and with a lot of new fixes and features every time. What does a day of work look like for you?

I tend to stay very organized and methodical in my development approach. I keep lengthy lists of things to do, things that are in progress, things that are done and any future ideas that would be nice to have. I tend to pick out low-hanging fruit alongside larger, more important tasks for each release so that a wide variety of features can be included in each one.

I’ll often start my day with a cup of tea, coupled with any small UI changes that I spotted the previous day browsing Aviary (and added to my list), then quickly transition to attacking the largest feature I have planned for the day. This often takes up most of my morning.

After lunch, I’ll focus on smaller issues, bug fixes and other additions that would be nice to have. If Twitter had released a new API endpoint the previous day, I’d get the model for that set up and have a play around with that as fast as I could so that I could claim to be the first to have adopted it. Worth bearing in mind that I’m in the UK time zone — almost all tech releases happen in the US timezone, after the end of my workday, so I can only really get to it the next day.

I usually unwind after 5 P.M. with some games, movies or going for a walk.

A fun easter egg in Aviary was a hidden 2048 number swiping game. Now, in Aviary 2, you built in a full-blown chess game — which, I must say, is the most beautifully designed, elegant little chess app I’ve ever seen. What inspired this?

I was inspired by James Thomson’s PCalc! He’s the king of fun easter eggs and I wanted to invoke that same level of awe for my users. I also love delivering more than promised, so this little addition will hopefully put a smile on people’s faces.

Are you a big fan of Chess.app on the Mac?

Yes! Although I do prefer my chess more physical and in the real world. There’s an untold joy in tangible products.

I have to ask: Your previous apps have been made entirely in Swift with UIKit. Have you used any SwiftUI in Aviary 2?

Not really. I have only used SwiftUI for my widgets, because that’s the only way to build them.

Apple boldly stated this year that Swift and SwiftUI is “the best way to build an app.” Independent developers like Marco Arment and Steven Troughton-Smith have been critical of its unreliability and limited utility, with Ethan Lipnik saying, “I couldn’t deliver a good product if it was 100% SwiftUI.”

Where do you stand on this, and what would Apple have to do for you to adopt SwiftUI in more places?

I agree with them. I too personally find SwiftUI too unreliable at the moment to use in a fully-fledged feature-rich app. I think it’s great for standalone screens (settings, in-app purchase, etc.), but wouldn’t dream of building an entire app that relies on it.

It is also constantly evolving and changing with each release, which must make large swaths of your code redundant with each cycle.

I think Apple would have to prove it’s stable, unlikely to make breaking changes every year and have a well-defined set of standard approaches to achieve typical use-cases for me to adopt it in a serious manner. I’d love to use it and get to grips with it more because it seems to be the sole method to adopt new features going forward, but it’s still a few years off before that seems feasible — or at least until it becomes a requirement for Apple’s AR efforts.

Do you have a back pocket, pie-in-the-sky idea for an app you would love to work on if you had unlimited time and resources?

I would love to make a custom dashboard for your day. Something that pulls in your region’s transport data, weather and maps; all your messaging platforms’ texts, media, and data; local toilets, bins, and other amenities; as well as all other useful information that we as humans need, but not yet provided via any global APIs. I think something like that would greatly enhance people’s lives.

What led you to development on the Apple platform?

I’ve always wanted to make things that I could put in people’s hands and see them use. I have always been proud of my work; being able to share that is a great feeling.

With how many people own Apple products, and how vast the App Store is, it seemed like a no-brainer to go down the Apple route. I’m a huge fan of Apple and their software and hardware. Their design sense and attention to detail really resonates with me — I try to follow the same ethos where I can.

What was your first Mac?

An 11-inch MacBook Air with 4GB of RAM! It was mind-blowing at the time. I did all my development on that, but I don’t think I could ever go back to that little RAM and that little screen real-estate ever again.

These days, I seek out the largest screens and largest RAM offerings.

What is your ‘fast and sad’ meal — what you cook when you’re feeling down and need to cook a quick dinner?

Pasta or deep fried food! I love cheese and butter and I’m a glutton for oil. It’s quite bad, but it’s very satisfying.

What will you do to unwind after Aviary 2 launches?

I am going to go on holiday!

Click here to download Aviary:

Thanks to Shihab for the interview. Have a great holiday.

Aviary is not a sponsor of Extra Ordinary. Questions and answers have been edited from their original text for formatting, grammar and accuracy.

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My Top Tip for Apple Developers

Jul 17, 2022



If you start developing apps for iPhone, you will randomly be prompted at some indeterminate time in the future, “Do you trust your computer?” Always tap Trust. No matter what.

This might seem extremely counter intuitive. Surely, you have been told not to trust random dialog boxes, especially ones you don’t expect, especially if you aren’t even at your computer.

But the downsides to tapping Cancel are clear and measurable.

The next time you build your Xcode project, it will not compile. You will not understand why. The error will be bizarre and inscrutable. You will look for typos and you will not find any. You will close the project and open it again. You will quit Xcode and open it again. You will reboot your Mac. You will reboot your iPhone.

Somewhere in the mix, it’ll work again, and you’ll try to remember the last thing you did that made it work, but you will not remember. After reading this, though, you will remember to always tap Trust.

Steve used to quote Arthur C. Clarke and say, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” I would like to tweak that: “Any sufficiently advanced code signing is indistinguishable from black magic.”

The Gods work in mysterious ways. They may come to you when you least expect it. Do you trust them?

Always.

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Apple’s WWDC22 Event

Jul 10, 2022 • Apple Event



Writing this piece has taken quite a bit longer than my post-game analysis of prior events. Rather than watch the Keynote from my desk at home as I have for the last twelve years, I was flown to California, led onto the sprawling campus of Apple Park and invited to watch the Keynote in the audience of over a thousand developers in person.

This was all made possible by Cult of Mac. Leander Kahney very generously covered my plane ticket and stay in Sunnyvale. As the only Cult of Mac writer invited to the event, I had a special live blog with a play-by-play of how the event went down and published my full album of photos from the event.

The Keynote

Although iOS was born out of macOS (then called OS X), they significantly diverged over the years. Apple spent a great deal of time and effort in the mid 2010s reuniting the architecture between macOS, iOS and iPadOS.

The Mac renaissance, the totally painless transition from Intel to Apple silicon, the seamless way in which iPad apps can run on the Mac thanks to Catalyst and the breakneck pace at which Apple can introduce features that run identically across all of their major platforms are all thanks, in no small part, to this reunification effort. It was the underlying theme of WWDC last year and that theme continues this year.

If there were a theme for how this affects the user-facing features introduced this year, that would be the year of finally. It feels like Apple took the last year to knock down as many “I just wish that you could…” features all at once.

Let’s dive in.

Developers, developers, developers

The event starts with Tim Cook singing praises over Apple’s efforts to woo developers. Tim highlights the new Developer Center across from Apple Park, their initiatives to teach students around the world and the growing number of registered Apple developers.

One might assume this is a response to the developer community grumbling ever louder about the 15–30% cut Apple takes from all App Store revenue, the growing number of developers questioning whether the App Store needs to be the single source of apps on iPhone and the legal pressure Apple is facing from courts around the world — except for the fact that they start literally every WWDC Keynote like this.

iOS 16

Lock Screen

Changes to iOS start with a radical new Lock Screen.

The backgrounds are smarter. You can have the globe, centered on your location with live cloud coverage; a full-screen animated weather background, like in the Weather app; intelligently-selected photos from your library, filtered in artistic styles with depth effects; and of course, a horrifying emoji kaleidoscope legibility nightmare. They are a great deal of fun to play around with and customize before I ultimately go back to my plain black background.

Notifications now scroll up from the bottom of the screen instead of from the top. Putting notifications on the bottom is simple ergonomics; phones are getting big. By default, they are also on the bottom of the screen so you can see more of the wallpaper. I won’t be using this feature — I immediately changed it to show all notifications, but I appreciate the sentiment on behalf of people who use photo backgrounds (i.e. most people).

In tune with reusing code across platforms, you can populate the Lock Screen with the same complications you can add to Apple Watch. Confusingly, these are called Widgets, even though they’re closely related to Complications, but they are not related whatsoever to the Widgets of the Home Screen. For developers who already have a Watch app with Complications, creating Widgets for the new Lock Screen will be trivial. Other developers might go the other way, seeing the demand and creating a Watch app they had no prior plans for. It’s a win-win for users.

Other people have made this observation, but it seems that these Lock Screen widgets are an example of an iOS software feature laying the groundwork for a new iPhone hardware feature, a phenomenon I’ve documented before. These Widgets are speculated to appear in the always-on display of the iPhone 14 Pro.

Live Activities are a very smart solution to a common problem: push notifications can only push. For activities like tracking a sports game, ordering food delivery or waiting for a ride-sharing app, the most recent information is the only thing that matters. Because notifications can’t replace old notifications, they buzz your phone again and again, building up in a pile.

I’m a little concerned that Live Activities are actually too powerful a solution that might dissuade developers from thinking they need to go so far in their implementation. I think back to Snapchat, which has to send separate notifications for when someone is typing a message and when they send a message. We’ll see how this plays out.

Focus

Focus modes are now much easier to configure and activate. You can tie a Lock Screen to a Focus, and this works both ways: setting a Focus changes your Lock Screen and background; swiping between Lock Screens sets your Focus.

The Focus API is an example to me of Apple giving back their platform advantage. Last year, they introduced a new system-wide feature that only Apple apps have access to, inadvertently giving their built-in apps a leg up on third-party alternatives. This year, they are letting everyone in on Focus modes (and Shared with You, too).

iMessage

I never thought they would do it, but Apple has enabled editing and un-sending iMessages. Of course, it works with a few limits to avoid sticky situations: the recipient can see when a message has been edited or unsent and you can only do it within 15 minutes.

Marking a message as read or unread is also well-thought out: setting it as unread doesn’t get rid of the read receipt, it just puts the notification back on for you; marking a message as read, however, sends a read receipt. Gone are the days of tapping into a thread and immediately swiping back out to clear the notification badges.

It’s much harder to mark a pinned conversation as read or unread, because you have to long-press the icon and tap “Mark as Read/Unread,” a two-step process. Non-pinned messages can be marked with a quick swipe action. Apple doesn’t let you swipe on the icons of pinned messages — even though they already solved this design problem in the Apple News app, which lets you use the same swipe actions on small icon-sized news stories as you have on full-width news stories.

SharePlay

Initiating SharePlay over iMessage instead of FaceTime is a huge improvement — the big, obvious version-two feature. FaceTime can use a lot of network bandwidth on slow internet connections. If you’re then using SharePlay to watch a TV show with a friend, which, I assume, is 95% of the time SharePlay is used, you no longer need a second high-bandwidth video stream to use the feature.

Maps

Multi-stop routes in Maps is yet another finally. You can plan a route with three, four, five or more different destinations. When you’re in the middle of a route, you can add any stop with the full search capabilities, instead of the limited set before. And when you reach a stop, you can pause navigation until you’re ready to leave again.

My only remaining qualm is that at first when you search for your destination and tap “Directions,” there’s not a single-tap way to add a stop to the middle. You have to tap Add Stop, search for it, select it and reorder it to the middle. This makes it harder to add a stop along the way before you start navigating.

iCloud Shared Photo Library

Another finally.

There’s a lot of sticky design problems with a Shared Photo Library. Every picture in everyone’s library is a bad solution. My wife has thousands of random screenshots I don’t want in my library. But going the opposite way, opt-in only, where you have to select every picture you want in the Shared Library, is just as bad. If you require every picture to be shared manually after the fact, you’ll end up right back to square one, where everyone has an incomplete set.

I’ve long thought one potential solution would be a toggle in the Camera: when turned on, every picture you take will be added. Apple, of course, took this one step further: if it detects family members in the picture, or if they’re nearby when the picture is being taken, it’ll automatically add them to the Shared Photo Library.

My next hesitancy was that deletions are shared, too. Does that mean that someone could spitefully delete pictures from a few years ago, and if I don’t catch it within the 30 day window, they would be gone forever? No, because family members are notified when shared photos are deleted.

The day this is released, my wife and I will have a field day going through our libraries, adding everything we want to the shared library.

Safety Check

If you know 10 women, odds are, you know 3 women who have been in an abusive relationship.

Physical safety is of the utmost importance, but it’s not the only tool abusers have at their disposal. Giving people the ability to reset account security, sign out of all other devices and restrict access to Messages and FaceTime all from one screen will make a huge difference. People who are trying to escape a hostile situation don’t want to spend precious time futzing around with passwords on their phone.

Everything else

When you use Dictation from the keyboard, the keyboard stays open so you can quickly switch between typing and speaking. You can quickly double-tap to select a word and speak over it or type over it. Automatic punctuation, in my testing, sometimes gets confused by attaching what would be comma-separated phrases to the wrong sentence, but this will improve over time.

Live Text is easily my favorite feature introduced last year in iOS 15. I’ll eat up new Live Text features faster than a plate of properly-cooked pasta. Live Text in video? Automatic currency and unit conversions? Language translations from the camera? Yes, yes and yes, please.

Visual Look Up can now automatically cut out the subject of a picture so you can paste it somewhere else without the background, like a sticker. I’m not entirely sure why, or what it’s for, but it’ll be useful to someone, I’m sure. I’ve been copying random things out of pictures and throwing them into a note.

Many people are scared about the privacy implications of having your ID or Driver’s License in your phone’s wallet. I can’t blame them. Apple is trying to make sure it’s not just the same level of private and secure, but beyond that. Apps and websites (in theory, whenever this is implemented) won’t need to ask for your exact birthday, they just need to know if you’re old enough. As before, you don’t need to hand any officer your unlocked phone — scanning your ID uses NFC, just like checking out at a store. Whether it works this way in practice or not is yet to be seen. Even at drive-throughs, clerks will still ask to take my phone if I ask to use Apple Pay.

Apple Pay Later is Apple’s entrance into the buy-now-pay-later service. My impression of the established businesses in this market is that of scum and predatory practices. I’m a little disappointed to see Apple enter this market, but I would love to be proven wrong.

Order tracking in Wallet will either be a slow burn that ends up very useful in the long run, or no one will adopt it and it’ll fizzle out. Don’t uninstall your package tracker app yet.

The new Home app is another finally for a lot of people. I don’t use the Home app nor any smart home products because I still rent. Another WWDC attendee showed me the existing Home app, and now I understand what everyone was complaining about. It desperately needed burned down and rebuilt. The new app looks great and I hope to use it some day.

CarPlay

So, this is probably all that will ever come out of Project Titan, right?

Apple previewed a future version of CarPlay that replaces not just the navigation and entertainment functions, but the gauge cluster and all of the car controls.

The statistic they cited is that 98% of new cars have CarPlay and 79% of new car buyers in the US only consider CarPlay-capable vehicles. Reading between the lines, the remaining 2% of new cars and 21% of buyers have got to be Tesla cars and Tesla customers. It’s no surprise, then, that while they say the user interface can be completely reconfigured to accommodate a wide variety of layouts, brands, designs and styles, they prominently featured a layout that mimics the software of the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y.

My immediate question was whether or not, behind the scenes, there’s some new hardware device powering this in the car. Current CarPlay only works if you have an iPhone, because that’s the point: it’s the music and navigation from your phone, but in your car. As quoted from the Keynote, “your iPhone communicates with your vehicle’s real-time systems, in an on-device, privacy-friendly way” to power Future CarPlay, but that doesn’t exclude the possibility that other features are powered by hardware in the car itself.

As noted on the Accidental Tech Podcast, digital car gauges are required to use a real-time operating system. iOS cannot simply switch to being a real-time operating system when it’s on CarPlay; this is a fundamentally different operating system design the entire system needs to be built upon.

The list of brands they’ve partnered with includes:

It’s a little less impressive when you realize that half of the brands shown are sub-brands of others: Ford Motor Company (Ford and Lincoln), Nissan Motor Co. (Nissan, Infiniti, Renault), Volkswagen Group (Porsche, Audi), Honda Motor Company (Honda, Acura), Volvo Cars (Volvo, Polestar) and Jaguar Land Rover (I’ll let you figure this one out).

Cars with Future CarPlay won’t even be announced until late next year, so it could be until the 2025 model year that these cars actually ship.

watchOS 9

The biggest new feature of watchOS this year is the Workout app. It’s remarkable how much Apple is able to pull from a few sensors on a wrist. With machine learning on top of complicated math from the sensors, they are able to determine how high you bounce as you run, the length of your stride and how long your feet are in contact with the ground.

The new workout views are another big change to the Workout app. It’s like a different set of watch faces you can switch between as you’re working out that focus on different goals. One that caught my eye shows different energy zones, so you can see if you’re going too hard or if you need to pick up the pace; another graphs the amount of power you’re generating in Watts — a friendly existential reminder that we are still machines, we just happen to be made of conscious meat.

Racing against your previous best time on a run is one step short of racing against a ghost of yourself in Mario Kart.

Sleep stage tracking is pretty awesome. I never used sleep tracking in watchOS 8 (I don’t have any problems with my sleep), nor do I have any medical reason to track the stages of my sleep, but it’s cool enough that I’ve switched to wearing my Apple Watch overnight so that I can look at the cool graphs. I’m a sucker for cool interactive graphs.

The new watch faces are fun, I guess, but they’re still lacking for me personally. I don’t know exactly what I want, but I’d like a convincing reason to use a watch face other than Modular.

The share sheet is a powerful tool in iOS; I hope it will be a nice addition to watchOS.

Medication tracking might not seem like it needs to be a smart feature. It’s just Reminders but tailored for medication, right? Wrong. Apple’s implementation is thorough. It can warn you if two drugs you take have a combined side effect. You can add a drug by scanning the prescription label with your camera, so you don’t need to worry about fiddling with the settings and getting it right. This will be a big help for a lot of people.

Mac

Apple kicked off the Mac section with some new hardware announcements.

M2

We’re another fifteen or twenty years out from a single seismic shift as big as Intel to M1. So how much can we expect year-to-year? M2 offers some pretty big improvements.

The 16 GB memory ceiling really had to be raised, and now M2 caps out at 24 GB. The memory is faster, too, with a 50% increase in bandwidth. M2 comes with 18% greater CPU performance and a bigger cache, but where it really shines is its 35% performance leap in graphics, 40% faster neural engine and powerful built-in media engine.

All of these improvements are on the same 5 nm process. M3 is rumored to come with a die shrink down to 3 nm, which will be an even bigger leap. Another reason to hold off on buying a new Mac just a bit longer…

MacBook Air

Everyone was anticipating a MacBook Air in the formula of the iMac-to-go. Like what the iBook was to the 1998 iMac, the MacBook Air would be in pastel colors with a white face.

I think Jason Snell put it best: what kills the white borders, ergo the vibrant colors, is the notch in the display. Apple uses black glass on notched displays. This is a small oversight on behalf of everyone speculating the MacBook Air would come in the fun colors, myself included.

The “studio-quality” three-mic array and four-speaker sound system trickles down to the low-tier MacBook Air.

This new MacBook Air does not replace the M1 model; it’s positioned $100 above. I don’t find this the least bit surprising.

First of all, new designs are always more expensive. Apple spends a lot of money on tooling a new unibody design. The cost of setting up a manufacturing line for a completely new computer shape has to get paid for somehow. They could either ignore it and amortize the cost over the lifespan of the product, or they could play it safe by charging a little more for the product when it’s new and trickle the device down to lower pricing tiers over time.

Second, the cost of manufacturing the M1 MacBook Air probably hasn’t gone down. Computer components are more expensive now than they were in November 2020. It’s not as if the M1 MacBook Air was a brand new design when it was introduced that is now cheaper to make; it was already built using cheap parts when it was new. The only alternative to this pricing structure — keeping the M1 MacBook Air at $999, introducing the M2 MacBook Air at $1,099 — would be to drop the M1 MacBook Air, not push it down.

MacBook Amateur Pro

The middle MacBook has long been in a troubled spot. From the base model non-Retina MacBook Pro they sold unchanged from 2012 to 2016, to the MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar they sold during the Touch Bar era, Apple has had a hard time filling in the gap between Air and the real MacBook Pro. Apple struggles with meeting halfway on Pro features.

The M2 MacBook Pro carries over the M1 MacBook Pro design, which carries over the Intel MacBook Pro design, which carries over the Touch Bar, USB-C instead of MagSafe and thicker display bezels.

Although Apple is almost done transitioning every computer to Apple silicon, it’s becoming clear that the transition to new hardware designs across the entire lineup will take even longer. The MiddleBook Pro isn’t ready for its makeover yet. An iMac Pro is still coming… eventually, and the Mac Pro is nowhere to be found.

At least it got M2 at all. The Mac mini, the other M1 Mac unveiled at the November 2020 event, is untouched for now. It looks like they’re holding off on the Mac mini until they can redesign it and include the anticipated M2 Pro chip.

macOS Ventura

What a sexy name.

Stage Manager is a new window mode that organizes your screen for you. You can arrange sets of windows — Notes and Safari; Messages and Mail; Notes, Reminders and Safari; etc. and Stage Manager will keep all of the windows in a set visible on screen. With one click you can switch out which set you have. It’s a bit like single-window mode if you happen to fluent in early Mac OS X history or shrinkydink if you happen to be fluent in internal builds of OS X Leopard from 2006.

I’ve always found it frustrating how Spotlight is inconsistent across platforms. macOS Ventura has a new version of Spotlight more in line with the rich results you can get on iOS and iPadOS.

Safari, thankfully, is one of the apps that has a dedicated team with continuous attention (unlike Mail, which seems to get a new feature once every six years). The Safari and WebKit teams are both very active on Twitter. I don’t understand a fraction of what the web technology team does, but I am nonetheless thankful for the hard work I can only assume they are doing.

PassKeys. They are right in that the transition away from passwords will “be a journey.” When the transition is finally complete, our great grandchildren will really appreciate that.

Apple is trying to make yet another pitch to game developers that gaming on the Mac is totally a thing that can happen. MetalFX upscaling is a clever solution to Apple’s big problem: their displays are too high resolution. Retina displays double the resolution but have four times the number of pixels, so running a game at a high refresh rate at the native Retina resolution is simply out of the question. MetalFX upscaling leverages the Neural Engine (which just got 40% faster with M2) to take some weight off of the GPU and fill in additional frames.

Continuity camera is genuinely mind-bending.

iPadOS 16

The iPadOS section begins with a demo of collaboration features that I found very confusing because the feature isn’t new. I’ve shared documents in Numbers and Pages plenty of times before, and yes, with simultaneous live collaboration. What’s new here is that you can initiate it from the Share sheet and Messages. Neat? I don’t see why that needs to be given such a long segment in the Keynote.

Whereas the Mac struggles to be taken seriously with gaming, the iPad struggles to be taken seriously with finicky features usually left for desktop apps. Apple is making a big pitch to developers to reconsider adding in the little things. Here is the full list, which scrolls by very fast in light-gray-on-white text:

I’ll believe it when you can edit song and album metadata in Music.

Next, we have Stage Manager. This means we have, another finally, freeform app windows on iPad.

Craig explicitly said at the start of this section that the power of the M1 chip and virtual memory swap enable Stage Manager. Despite that, people are mad it is limited to iPads with the M1 chip.

I suspect the biggest hurdle in supporting Stage Manager is that it supports an external 6K display. Displays, especially 6K Retina displays at 60 FPS, are very graphically taxing. It also needs to continue driving the built-in iPad display, which is pretty high resolution on its own, too.

The other big hurdle is the number of apps Stage Manager needs to keep in memory. While Stage Manager supports up to 8 apps on screen at once, it actually has to keep 16 apps in memory so that you can switch between window sets without stuttering.

A commonly cited counterargument is along the lines of, “the Mac has had virtual memory swap for years, even on PowerPC; how does the A12X not support it?” To refute that claim, I challenge anyone to use a Power Mac G4. Those Macs were slow. Much slower than you remember. Even when they were brand-new, running the version of OS X they shipped with, everything lagged a little bit at best. The Mac could get away with that because the interface of a mouse and keyboard are indirect. People have higher standards for their iPhone and iPad; they need to react instantly to your touch. Apple says that only the M1 has the memory bandwidth necessary and I believe them.

The most finally? Weather on iPad.

tvOS 16

[THIS SECTION LEFT INTENTIONALLY BLANK]

Kidding aside, it seems clear that the TV is going back to a hobby for Apple, getting completely snubbed from the Keynote. And there are some pretty cool features, too:

Both of these, if adopted, would be a huge quality-of-life increase.

The Event

This is clearly the model Apple will use for WWDC going forward. They can still get a big crowd in, they can design the event free of traditional convention center restrictions and everyone at home can still watch the Keynote and sessions in the superior prerecorded format. For WWDC23, they might add additional events flowing into Tuesday and I bet they’ll mix in live footage with their prerecorded video. They could have done both of those this year, but I suspect they wanted to play it safe.

For a full album of pictures from the event, check out my post-event gallery on Cult of Mac.

A few remaining details and observations:

And that’s all. I will get back to my regularly scheduled twice-a-month posts here on Extra Ordinary. To all of the lovely people I met at WWDC, I hope to see you again next year.

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