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Daring Fireball

A feed by John Gruber


Dithering’s July Album Art

Permalink - Posted on 2020-07-04 02:27, modified at 02:52

Part of the schtick with Dithering — the new thrice-weekly podcast from me and Ben Thompson — is that we’re putting out new album art each month, with the help of designer extraordinaire Brad Ellis. The mask on the batter at the plate in this month’s art is not Photoshopped — that’s really how they played baseball during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. Everything old is new again.

July 2020 cover art for Dithering, depicting a baseball player in 1918 wearing a face mask while at the plate.

Anyway, the show is a lot of fun. 15 minutes per episode — not a minute less, not a minute more. $5 per month — cheap! If you’re not subscribed you’re missing out.

Link: dithering.fm/

On iOS Apps Peeking at Your Clipboard Contents

Permalink - Posted on 2020-07-04 00:24, modified at 00:25

Catalin Cimpanu reporting for ZDNet’s Zero Day:

In a video shared on Twitter, the Urspace developer showed how LinkedIn’s app was reading the clipboard content after every user key press, even accessing the shared clipboard feature that allows iOS apps to read content from a user’s macOS clipboard.

Erran Berger, VP of engineering at LinkedIn:

Appreciate you raising this. We’ve traced this to a code path that only does an equality check between the clipboard contents and the currently typed content in a text box. We don’t store or transmit the clipboard contents.

I know a lot of people are so cynical — justifiably — from never-ending news of privacy disasters that they just assume the worst about all these apps being revealed for looking at the clipboard contents. But I think almost all of this is just sloppy programming, not data collection. Even if you really did want to make an app that steals people’s clipboard contents, there’s absolutely no reason you’d check the clipboard contents this frequently. It’s just sloppy programming. But once revealed, a sloppy implementation like LinkedIn’s looks sketchy as hell.

It’s also the case that there are plenty of good reasons why an app might look at the clipboard without your having performed a manual Paste action. Think about image editors: for as long as I can remember, if you have an image on the clipboard, you can use File → New in MacOS’s built-in Preview app to make a new image with the contents of the clipboard. This does more than just save you the step of manually pasting — the new image is sized exactly right for the clipboard contents. It saves you a bunch of steps, not just one ⌘V. Same thing for podcast clients and RSS readers — if it looks like you have a feed URL on the clipboard, they can save you a few steps when subscribing.

It’s like managing camera and microphone access. Most apps want to access these things for good, honest reasons, but because some don’t, we need OS features to defend against the bad actors. And it winds up adding a bit of unfortunately necessary friction.

Link: zdnet.com/article/linkedin-says-ios-clipboard-snooping…

On Ming-Chi Kuo’s Report of a 24-Inch ARM iMac

Permalink - Posted on 2020-07-03 20:08, modified at 23:42

Old pre-WWDC news I’m catching up on. From a note by Kuo on what he expects to be the first Macs to ship with Apple silicon chips:

(1) ARM 13.3-inch MacBook Pro:

The new model’s form factor design will be similar to that of the existing Intel 13.3-inch MacBook Pro . Apple will discontinue the Intel 13.3-inch MacBook Pro production after launching the ARM 13.3-inch MacBook Pro .

(2) ARM iMac:

ARM iMac will be equipped with the all-new form factor design and a 24- inch display. Apple will launch the refresh of existing Intel iMac in 3Q20 before launching the ARM iMac .

Something’s got to go first, so it might as well be the 13-inch (14-inch?) MacBook Pro. But it’d be a little weird for the smaller, cheaper MacBook Pro to move to Apple silicon before the 16-inch MacBook Pro, because Apple’s laptop chips are going to blow Intel’s away in performance. We can safely bet the house on this based solely on the performance developers are seeing from the A12Z-based dev kit hardware. If the smaller MacBook Pro moves to Apple silicon before the 16-inch model does, we’ll have a gap where the highest-performing model, by far, is the cheaper smaller one.

As for a 24-inch iMac, that size only makes sense if it’s a replacement for the 21-inch iMac, in which case there should be a new 30-inch iMac to take the place of the current 27-inch models. Going from 27 to 24 inches would be a huge downgrade in display size. It makes no sense at all that this would be the only iMac Apple would make, and makes almost no sense that it would be the first iMac they’d release with Apple silicon.

Link: macrumors.com/2020/06/21/apple-arm-13-inch-macbook-pro-imac…

Apple Card Now Has a Website and It Is Excellent

Permalink - Posted on 2020-07-03 03:00, modified at 23:59

It’s quintessentially Apple-y that Apple Card didn’t have a website until now — but this is a very good website.

Update: I mean seriously this is an outstanding website. The more I think about it and click around, the more amazed I am. There’s no bullshit. Anything you want to do is easy and obvious to do: Payments, Statements, Settings, Support. That’s it and that’s all there should be. It’s so minimal that one might be tempted to think not much work went into it, but making something this simple and clear takes a ton of work.

Link: card.apple.com/

Retrobatch 1.4 and JavaScript Expressions

Permalink - Posted on 2020-07-03 02:43

Gus Mueller, writing back in March about the then-new Retrobatch 1.4:

There’s a couple of interesting new features in this update I’d like to call out. First up is JavaScript expressions in Retrobatch Pro. Various nodes in Retrobatch which allow you to set the size or length of a value (such as the Crop, Border, Gradient, Adjust Margin nodes) now have an option of running a little snippet of JavaScript code to figure out the value. This is a super powerful feature, which you can read about in our JavaScript Expressions documentation.

First, Retrobatch is super cool. It’s a batch image processor for the Mac — think of it as something like Automator or Shortcuts but just for image processing, with almost all the power of Acorn. It’s a really useful way to effectively write your own custom image processing workflows, which run really fast — but rather than using a scripting language, you do it graphically using nodes. It’s powerful but the experience of creating and tweaking your own workflows is largely self-explanatory.

But sometimes what you really want to do when you’re automating a task is just write a little bit of actual code — the process you want to define is best expressed (or can only be expressed) in code. Being able to just write a JavaScript expression is just what the doctor ordered. I feel like iOS Shortcuts could learn something from this.

Also new, and personally quite useful to me:

And finally for my short list, you can now make a droplet which doesn’t take any files. Why is this useful? Well, imagine you have a workflow that reads an image from the clipboard, resizes it to a specific width, and then writes it back to the clipboard. Now you can make a little droplet to do just this. Just a double click from the Finder (or a single click from the Dock) and your workflow is run.

Link: flyingmeat.com/blog/archives/2020/3/retrobatch_1.4_is_out…

Facebook Admits Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire Has Engaged in Pay-for-Engagement Scam

Permalink - Posted on 2020-07-02 22:55

Judd Legum, reporting for Popular Information:

Facebook has concluded there is an undisclosed financial relationship between The Daily Wire, the website founded by right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro, and Mad World News, a notorious outlet that exploits fear and bigotry for profit. This relationship, Facebook acknowledges, violates its rules.

Last week, Popular Information exposed how The Daily Wire has gained unprecedented distribution on Facebook through its relationship with Mad World News. Five large Facebook pages controlled by Mad World News expanded The Daily Wire’s audience by millions through the coordinated posting of dozens of links from The Daily Wire each day. […]

“After further investigation, we’ve found that these Pages violate our policies against undisclosed paid relationships between publishers. Our enforcement typically focuses on the Page distributing the cross-promoted content, which is why we are temporarily demoting Mad World News. We are also warning Daily Wire and will demote them if we see this behavior continue,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

Put aside the politics and it’s clear that Facebook “engagement” is a game riddled with grifters. Kind of hard to put aside the politics though:

The disparate treatment between Mad World News and The Daily Wire raises questions. Why are the sites being treated differently when they conspired together to violate the same Facebook rule? What was the influence of Shapiro’s personal relationship with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg?

Link: popular.info/p/facebook-admits-ben-shapiro-is-breaking

[Sponsor] YES PLZ — the Best Coffee in Your Kitchen

Permalink - Posted on 2020-07-03 03:54

The best cup of coffee you ever drink will be one you make in your own kitchen — and it’s easy and fun. Yes Plz sends the very best beans to your door alongside a weirdly eclectic print zine covering topics like food, culture, and music. From the same crazy bean-geniuses who brought you Tonx Coffee back in the day. Try it now — no-hassle, no commitment, pause or cancel anytime. We’re giving DF readers $5 off their first bag using promo code FIREBALL5 at checkout.

Link: yesplz.coffee/?promo=fireball5&utm_source=rss&utm_medium…

Netflix Hires Bozoma Saint John as Chief Marketing Officer

Permalink - Posted on 2020-07-02 03:43

Todd Spangler, reporting for Variety:

Netflix has tapped marketing veteran Bozoma Saint John, a former senior exec at Apple, Uber and most recently Endeavor, as its new CMO, the company announced.

Saint John is Netflix’s third chief marketing officer in less than a year. She replaces Jackie Lee-Joe, the one-time CMO of BBC Studios, who had only been at Netflix for 10 months. According to Netflix, Lee-Joe is exiting the streamer for personal reasons; she has been living in Australia with her family since March since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Lee-Joe had been named to succeed former Netflix CMO Kelly Bennett, who announced his retirement from the company last year.

Saint John will start at Netflix this August, reporting to chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

Link: variety.com/2020/digital/news/netflix-bozoma-saint-john-cmo…

Unofficial Pin Set for WWDC 2020

Permalink - Posted on 2020-07-01 18:00

I’m not a pin person — I just give away my WWDC pins each year to the first person I run into who wants them — but this is a neat Kickstarter campaign for those of you who dig them.

Link: kickstarter.com/projects/josephslinker/wwdc-2020-pin-set

YouTube TV Raises Price to $65 Per Month

Permalink - Posted on 2020-07-01 16:41, modified at 21:47

Sarah Perez, reporting for TechCrunch:

YouTube TV is getting another price hike, making its live TV streaming service less competitive with the cable TV services it aims to replace. The company announced today its service would now cost $64.99 per month, starting today, June 30, for new members. The change will also be reflected on the next billing cycle for current members after June 30.

The bump in pricing is now one of several price increases YouTube TV has seen since its debut, starting with a modest $5 per month bump in 2018, followed by a much more substantial price hike last year to $50 per month.

$65/month is $780/year — still less than most cable TV packages (or at least less than my cable TV package here in Kabletown), but a lot of money. And the whole “Well of course we had to raise your monthly rate, we added a bunch of new channels you may or may not even want” angle has been the unofficial motto of the cable industry for 40 years. Cord-cutting is quickly devolving into something that’s merely different from traditional cable TV, not cheaper than cable TV.

Link: techcrunch.com/2020/06/30/youtube-tv-hikes-price-to-64-99…

The Talk Show: ‘It Shouldn’t Be Hard to Get a Smoothie’

Permalink - Posted on 2020-07-01 03:58

Dan Frommer returns to the show for more analysis of WWDC 2020, including App Clips and the Mac’s transition to Apple silicon.

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Link: daringfireball.net/thetalkshow/2020/06/30/ep-288

Safari 14 Does Not Block Google Analytics

Permalink - Posted on 2020-07-01 01:23, modified at 03:35

Simo Ahava:

When Safari says it blocks or prevents a tracker, what it means is that the ITP algorithm has flagged some domain as having cross-site tracking capabilities, and Safari has, among other things, stripped it of its capabilities to carry cookies in cross-site requests, also known as third-party cookies.

This is what Safari means when it’s prevented a known tracker in google-analytics.com. That domain has been flagged as a cross-site tracking domain, and Safari assigns certain protective measures to any communications to and from that domain (you can read more about them here).

Apple’s current UI description for this feature sure makes it sound like Google Analytics is being blocked.

Link: simoahava.com/analytics/no-safari-does-not-block-google…

Always Clarifying Advice: Take Pride in Your Work

Permalink - Posted on 2020-07-01 00:56, modified at 01:08

Nilay Patel, on Reddit CEO Steve Huffman’s decision to boot racist jerk subreddits:

It’s so easy to get lost in the technical lawyer nonsense of 230 and free speech and on and on, but sometimes the answer is as simple as people looking at the thing they’ve made and deciding they would like to be more proud of it than they are.

That’s a clarifying way to look at these decisions. Simple question: is Jack Dorsey proud that Trump used Twitter to promote a video of an old white guy shouting “White power!” at Black Lives Matter protestors? Is anyone at Twitter proud of this? If you’re ashamed of it, why allow it?

Link: twitter.com/reckless/status/1277654841620381703

2020 Apple Design Awards Include Zero Mac Apps, But at Least the Award Graphic Looks Awful

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-30 19:19, modified at 19:20

Such a great year for the Mac at WWDC, but not one ADA winner. But yet the ADAs are currently the top feature story in the Mac App Store app. And just look at the virtual ADA award in that promo graphic — who made that? It just seems bizarre that the ADAs — awards for those who pay obsessive attention to the smallest of details — are being promoted using a graphic seemingly made by someone who doesn’t understand 3D perspective.

Perhaps the ADA graphic was made by the same team that did this slide from keynote and completely phoned in the work for the icons in MacOS Big Sur?

Link: apps.apple.com/us/story/id1517413678

Woodrow Wilson Was a Racist Shitbag

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-30 18:03, modified at 18:11

Colin Woodard, writing at TPM Cafe:

“Division and Reunion” was met with mixed reviews, but was a commercial success, as it embraced an account that let white Americans put the Civil War and civil rights behind them. And it inspired Wilson to write “A History of the American People,” a poorly written and shoddily researched five-volume, illustrated tome published in 1902. (“A disappointment after the pleasure of examining the pictures is past,” a leading journal wrote of it.) It furthered the white supremacist arguments in “Division and Reunion,” calling freed slaves “dupes” and the KKK a group formed “for the mere pleasure of association [and] private amusement” whose members accidentally discovered they could create “comic fear” in the Blacks they descended on. Immigrants were a problem because they were no longer “of the sturdy stocks of the North of Europe” but contained “multitudes of men of the lowest classes from the South of Italy and men of the meaner sort out of Hungary and Poland” and Chinese people, “with their yellow skin and strange, debasing habits of life,” who seemed “hardly fellow men at all, but evil spirits” and who provoked understandable mass killings by white mobs.

Josh Marshall:

Wilson was a thoroughgoing racist even by the standards of his own day. His attitude toward African-Americans and their political rights don’t just look bad from the perspective of the day. They were widely considered retrograde even in his own day.

It’s absolutely flabbergasting to compare these basic facts to what I learned about Woodrow Wilson in high school, which was more or less just the facts of World War I and that Wilson’s spearheading of the League of Nations was noble.

Link: talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/woodrow-wilson-was-even-worse…

★ Working the Refs Worked: ‘How Facebook Wrote Its Rules to Accommodate Trump’

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-30 03:59, modified at 04:40

Elizabeth Dwoskin, Craig Timberg, and Tony Romm, reporting for The Washington Post in a remarkable story that takes a while to get to the juicy parts:

The document, which is previously unreported and obtained by The Post, weighed four options. They included removing the post for hate speech violations, making a one-time exception for it, creating a broad exemption for political discourse and even weakening the company’s community guidelines for everyone, allowing comments such as “No blacks allowed” and “Get the gays out of San Francisco.”

Facebook spokesman Tucker Bounds said the latter option was never seriously considered.

The document also listed possible “PR Risks” for each. For example, lowering the standards overall would raise questions such as, “Would Facebook have provided a platform for Hitler?” Bickert wrote. A carveout for political speech across the board, on the other hand, risked opening the floodgates for even more hateful “copycat” comments.

Ultimately, Zuckerberg was talked out of his desire to remove the post in part by Kaplan, according to the people. Instead, the executives created an allowance that newsworthy political discourse would be taken into account when making decisions about whether posts violated community guidelines.

I don’t get the “on the other hand” here regarding whether Facebook’s rules would have provided a platform for Adolf Hitler. A blanket “carveout” for “political speech” and “newsworthy political discourse” certainly would have meant that Adolf Hitler would have been able to use Facebook as a platform in the 1930s. That sounds histrionic to modern ears, but Hitler wasn’t universally seen as Hitler the unspeakably evil villain until it was too late. Infamously, as late as August 1939 — 1939! — The New York Times Magazine saw fit to run a profile under the headline “Herr Hitler at Home in the Clouds” (sub-head: “High up on his favorite mountain he finds time for politics, solitude and frequent official parties”).

An anything goes exception for political speech from world leaders is the exact same hand as serving as a platform for Hitler. It’s goddamn Nazis who are crawling out of the woodwork now.

Two months before Trump’s “looting, shooting” post, the Brazilian president [Jair Bolsonaro] posted about the country’s indigenous population, saying, “Indians are undoubtedly changing. They are increasingly becoming human beings just like us.”

Thiel, the security engineer, and other employees argued internally that it violated the company’s internal guidelines against “dehumanizing speech.” They were referring to Zuckerberg’s own words while testifying before Congress in October in which he said dehumanizing speech “is the first step toward inciting” violence. In internal correspondence, Thiel was told that it didn’t qualify as racism — and may have even been a positive reference to integration.

Thiel quit in disgust.

If that post is not dehumanizing, what is? If that post is acceptable on Facebook, what isn’t?

Facebook’s security engineers in December 2016 presented findings from a broad internal investigation, known as Project P, to senior leadership on how false and misleading news reports spread so virally during the election. When Facebook’s security team highlighted dozens of pages that had peddled false news reports, senior leaders in Washington, including Kaplan, opposed shutting them down immediately, arguing that doing so would disproportionately impact conservatives, according to people familiar with the company’s thinking. Ultimately, the company shut down far fewer pages than were originally proposed while it began developing a policy to handle these issues.

A year later, Facebook considered how to overhaul its scrolling news feed, the homepage screen most users see when they open the site. As part of the change to help limit misinformation, it changed its news feed algorithm to focus more on posts by friends and family versus publishers.

In meetings about the change, Kaplan questioned whether the revamped algorithm would hurt right-leaning publishers more than others, according to three people familiar with the company’s thinking who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. When the data showed it would — conservative leaning outlets were pushing more content that violated its policies, the company had found — he successfully pushed for changes to make the new algorithm to be what he considered more evenhanded in its impact, the people said.

Complaints about bias are only legitimate if the underlying allegations of unfairness are credible. Let’s say there’s a basketball game where the referees whistle 10 fouls against one team and only 1 against the other. Are the refs biased? We don’t know from those facts alone. What matters is how many fouls each team actually committed. If one team actually did commit 10 fouls and the other 1, then the refs are fair and the results are fair. If both teams actually committed, say, 5 fouls apiece, but the refs called 10 violations against one team and only 1 against the other, then the refs are either crooked or just plain bad and the results are, indeed, unjust.

Joel Kaplan wanted Facebook to call the same number of fouls against both sides no matter what fouls were actually committed. And that’s exactly how Facebook has run its platform. If you don’t punish cheaters and liars you’re rewarding them. Far from being biased against Republicans in the U.S. and right-wing nationalists and authoritarians around the globe, Facebook has been biased for them.

Marques Brownlee Interviews Craig Federighi

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-30 03:51

Loved this interview. So good, including the long-pondered question of why iPad doesn’t have a built-in Calculator or Weather app.

Link: youtube.com/watch?v=Q2aaCDNjWEg

Nieman Journalism Lab on The New York Times Pulling Out of Apple News

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-30 03:35

Ken Doctor of Nieman Journalism Lab, interviewing NYT COO Meredith Levien:

In short, the Times audience machine is proving more able to move towards its goal — 10 million subscribers in 2025 — on its own.

“This has been a moment where something like 250 million — somewhere between 250 and 300 million people — used The New York Times at the height of the COVID crisis,” Levien said. “When something like 6 in 10 American adults used The New York Times in March. And that’s a bigger opportunity than we’ve had before to drive relationships with people.”

This whole piece is a really interesting and comprehensive look at this decision.

Link: niemanlab.org/2020/06/newsonomics-the-new-york-times-is…

The New York Times Pulls Out of Apple News

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-30 03:27, modified at 19:24

Kellen Browning and Jack Nicas, reporting for The New York Times:

The Times is one of the first media organizations to pull out of Apple News. The Times, which has made adding new subscribers a key business goal, said Apple had given it little in the way of direct relationships with readers and little control over the business. It said it hoped to instead drive readers directly to its own website and mobile app so that it could “fund quality journalism.”

The Times mobile app is pretty bad in a bunch of ways. I keep giving it a try and keep running back to reading the Times on the web. That’s neither here nor there, perhaps — I don’t think the Apple News app is all that good either.

“Core to a healthy model between The Times and the platforms is a direct path for sending those readers back into our environments, where we control the presentation of our report, the relationships with our readers and the nature of our business rules,” Meredith Kopit Levien, chief operating officer, wrote in a memo to employees. “Our relationship with Apple News does not fit within these parameters.”

An Apple spokesman said that The Times “only offered Apple News a few stories a day,” and that the company would continue to provide readers with trusted information from thousands of publishers.

The Times never really embraced Apple News. And it’s worth pointing out that this has nothing to do with Apple News+ — Apple’s subscription offering. The Times was never part of News+ and what they’re doing now is pulling out of the free part of Apple News. Times articles will no longer be in Apple News at all.

I think it’s fair to say that the Times’s approach to Apple News is a lot like Netflix’s approach to Apple TV — neither wants to be a small part of a larger bundled subscription offering or even a bundled user interface. And they might both be right — both are in rarefied positions to serve as bundled offerings in and of themselves.

Link: nytimes.com/2020/06/29/technology/new-york-times-apple-news…

Reddit Bans ‘The_Donald’ Subreddit

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-29 17:14, modified at 17:49

Mike Isaac, reporting for The New York Times:

Reddit, one of the largest social networking and message board websites, on Monday banned its biggest community devoted to President Trump as part of an overhaul of its hate speech policies.

The community or “subreddit,” called “The_Donald,” is home to more than 790,000 users who post memes, viral videos and supportive messages about Mr. Trump. Reddit executives said the group, which has been highly influential in cultivating and stoking Mr. Trump’s online base, had consistently broken its rules by allowing people to target and harass others with hate speech.

“Reddit is a place for community and belonging, not for attacking people,” Steve Huffman, the company’s chief executive, said in a call with reporters. “‘The_Donald’ has been in violation of that.”

It’s a race to get out of Dodge as the whole world gets its footing back on the rightful notion that bigotry is shameful and must be shunned.

Link: nytimes.com/2020/06/29/technology/reddit-hate-speech.html

Atoms Everyday Face Mask

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-27 21:16

My thanks to Atoms for sponsoring this week at DF. Atoms stands for quality, and the Atoms Everyday Mask is made with premium materials, combining innovation and comfort with the antimicrobial properties of copper, making it one of the most effective masks on the market. Available in a variety of colors, it’s breathable, washable, and reusable. Plus, Atoms donates a mask to a charity with each purchase.

Like a lot of you, I went from owning no face masks to owning a bunch. My favorite, by far, is my Atoms mask. Comfort, fit, materials — everything. I hadn’t realized this but apparently I have a big face — being able to order my Atoms mask in a size large makes a huge difference in fit. It really is my everyday mask.

You may recall Atoms from their previous appearances here at Daring Fireball to promote their ultra comfortable Atoms Everyday Sneaker. They’re available in quarter sizes — including the ability to order your left and right shoes in different sizes — to get a truly precise fit. They’re super lightweight, super comfortable, and very durable. I’ve got a pair that’s over a year old and they still look great. You can’t see them on camera, but I was wearing them last week when I recorded The Talk Show Remote From WWDC 2020 — comfortable shoes are a must.

Link: atoms.com/dfm

Milton Glaser, Designer of ‘I ♥︎ NY’ Logo, Dies at 91

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-27 21:09, modified at 22:02

“But I’m flabbergasted by what happened to this little, simple, nothing of an idea. It just demonstrates that every once in a while you do something that can have enormous consequences… it was a bunch of little scratches on a piece of paper!”

Link: nytimes.com/2020/06/26/obituaries/milton-glaser-dead.html

How to Remove YouTube Tracking

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-27 20:48, modified at 20:51

Dries Buytaert:

After some research, I discovered that YouTube offers a privacy-enhanced way of embedding videos. Instead of linking to youtube.com, link to youtube-nocookie.com, and no data-collecting HTTP cookie will be sent. This is Google’s way of providing GDPR-compliant YouTube videos.

Now that Safari is including tracker counts and blocking ad trackers by default, I ran into this when I embedded the video for The Talk Show Remote From WWDC 2020 this week — it doubled the number of “trackers” Safari flagged on DF from 1 to 2. No more.

(The remaining tracker is Google Analytics, which I’ve been meaning to replace for a while. On it.)

Link: dri.es/how-to-remove-youtube-tracking

The Talk Show: ‘Patina of Usefulness’

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-27 03:32

Special guest Matthew Panzarino joins the show to talk about WWDC 2020.

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Link: daringfireball.net/thetalkshow/2020/06/26/ep-287

‘Repetitive, Spammy Behavior’ Indeed

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-27 02:20, modified at 21:06

Juli Clover, reporting for MacRumors:

A new feature in iOS 14 alerts users when apps read the clipboard, and it turns out some apps have been reading clipboard data excessively. TikTok users who upgraded to iOS 14, for example, quickly noticed constant alerts warning them that TikTok was accessing the clipboard every few seconds. After being caught, TikTok now says that it’s removing the feature.

In a statement to The Telegraph, TikTok said that it accessed the clipboard to identify spammy behavior.

“Following the beta release of iOS 14 on June 22, users saw notifications while using a number of popular apps.

“For TikTok, this was triggered by a feature designed to identify repetitive, spammy behavior. We have already submitted an updated version of the app to the App Store removing the anti-spam feature to eliminate any potential confusion.

[…] TikTok did not say whether the feature would be removed from Android devices, nor whether clipboard data was ever stored or moved from user devices.

TikTok, I probably don’t need to remind you, is a Chinese company whose popularity algorithm is a black box. If you use TikTok you should assume they’ve stored a copy of anything and everything you’ve had on your clipboard while using the app. Their slogan might as well be “Chinese state-sanctioned social media” — which to me says don’t use them, but maybe that’s just me.

I mean, their explanation makes no sense at all. How is it an anti-spam feature to look at the clipboard contents of every single person using their app every three seconds? That’s like finding out that when you visit a certain store, they’ve been X-raying your pockets and bags every few seconds, without consent or warning, and when confronted, they say “Oh yeah, we were just looking for shoplifters.” Like that’s even vaguely acceptable.

Link: macrumors.com/2020/06/25/tiktok-clipboard-access-ios-14…

Microsoft to Close Most of Its Retail Stores

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-26 19:37

John Moltz:

I do enjoy their PR headline: “Microsoft Store announces new approach to retail.” The new approach: not doing retail.

Link: verynicewebsite.net/2020/06/microsoft-closing-almost-all…

On iOS 14 Picking Up Features Android Had First

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-26 03:05, modified at 03:06

Raymond Wong, writing for Input:

There used to be a time and place for pointing fingers and bashing one company for blatantly copying another’s ideas. But now it feels juvenile. Who really cares? “Good artists copy, great artists steal” as the saying goes. Everyone borrows. Everything is inspired by something before it.

iOS 14 may not be a complete overhaul with a system-wide-UI upgrade à la iOS 7, but that’s okay because the sum of everything new in iOS 14 is so robust that there are virtually no meaningful reasons to pine for Android’s green pastures.

The headline for Wong’s piece is clickbait-y (“After iOS 14, There’s Almost No Reason to Buy an Android Phone Anymore”) but the actual article is thoughtful. Above and beyond any specific features — home screen widgets, app clips, built-in language translation — it occurs to me that there’s simply an enthusiasm gap.

Do you get the sense that Google, company-wide, is all that interested in Android? I don’t. Both as the steward of the software platform and as the maker of Pixel hardware, it seems like Google is losing interest in Android. Flagship Android hardware makers sure are interested in Android, but they can’t move the Android developer ecosystem — only Google can.

Apple, institutionally, is as attentive to the iPhone and iOS as it has ever been. I think Google, institutionally, is bored with Android.

Link: inputmag.com/tech/after-ios-14-theres-almost-no-reason-to…

Apple Approves Hey Update for App Store

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-25 20:35, modified on 2020-06-26 04:13

David Heinemeier Hansson:

Apple has definitively approved HEY in the App Store!! No IAP, no 30% cut, but we’ve opened the door to a free temp address service, and use same app for work accounts. I’m so incredibly relieved! And now HEY is open to EVERYONE! No invite code needed.

Glad to hear it.

My quick take on Hey, a few weeks into using it: it’s really great, especially on the phone. I feel super efficient in every single aspect of using it on the phone — triage, reading, responding. Adrian Holovaty nails it:

hey.com is the most exciting app I’ve used in years. A complete rethinking of email, full of bold, brilliant ideas. Highly recommended. Not only for the product itself, but because its boldness will inspire you to question your assumptions and think differently.

Mike Davidson:

If you designed email from scratch such that it vigorously protected your privacy and your time, this is what it would look like.

Link: twitter.com/dhh/status/1276157586434383874

★ The Talk Show Remote From WWDC 2020, With Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-25 03:59, modified on 2020-06-27 02:53

Special guests Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak join me to discuss the news from WWDC 2020: the Mac’s transition to Apple silicon, MacOS 11 Big Sur, iOS and iPadOS 14, and more.

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It’s a very different show this year, but I think you’ll enjoy it.

Facebook Creates Fact-Checking Exemption for Climate Deniers

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-24 22:13, modified on 2020-06-25 05:31

Judd Legum, writing at Popular Information:

Facebook is “aiding and abetting the spread of climate misinformation,” said Robert Brulle, an environmental sociologist at Drexel University. “They have become the vehicle for climate misinformation, and thus should be held partially responsible for a lack of action on climate change.”

Brulle was reacting to Facebook’s recent decision, made at the request of climate science deniers, to create a giant loophole in its fact-checking program. Last year, Facebook partnered with an organization, Science Feedback, that would bring in teams of Ph.D. climate scientists to evaluate the accuracy of viral content. It was an important expansion of the company’s third-party fact-checking program.

But now Facebook has reportedly decided to allow its staffers to overrule the climate scientists and make any climate disinformation ineligible for fact-checking by deeming it “opinion.”

Facebook can’t have it both ways. They can be a haven for right-wing disinformation or they can be a part of civil society. Zuckerberg seemingly thinks they can have it both ways, but it can’t hold.

Link: popular.info/p/facebook-creates-fact-checking-exemption?r…

Dieter Bohn on What’s New in iOS 14

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-24 21:59

Good overview of how you use and set up home screen widgets, app clips, the new App Library, and more. I think his conclusion is spot-on: by definition these features make the iPhone home screen more complicated, but there’s no downside to this added complexity because they’re all optional. Typical users don’t need to be aware of any of them. They’re traditional “power user” features that reward exploration.

Link: youtube.com/watch?v=d6ai8ZGoYjY

The Dalrymple Report: WWDC 2020 With Yours Truly

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-24 21:37

Jim Dalrymple:

John and I get together every year for a special podcast during WWDC to talk about the announcements. Despite the distance between us, this year was no different.

Bit different this year, but fun as always.

Link: loopinsight.com/2020/06/24/the-dalrymple-report-wwdc…

Olympus to Exit Camera Business After 84 Years

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-24 16:47

Kosaku Narioka, reporting for The Wall Street Journal (News+ link):

Olympus Corp. is getting out of the camera business after 84 years to focus on medical devices. […]

Olympus was a global consumer brand for decades thanks to its cameras, hiring the likes of supermodel Cheryl Tiegs to promote its products on television. It shifted readily to digital cameras in the 1990s and was No. 2 in market share behind Sony Corp. early this century.

As recently as 2007, the dawn of the smartphone era, digital cameras were a $3-billion-a-year business for Olympus. Within a few years, however, most of the market evaporated because people were using their phones to take pictures. Camera revenue shrank to just over $400 million in the year ended March 31, and the business has lost money for the past three fiscal years.

The times they are a-changing.

Link: wsj.com/articles/olympus-to-exit-camera-business-after-84…

MLB Announces 2020 Regular Season

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-24 14:56, modified at 15:03


MLB has submitted a 60-game regular-season schedule for review by the Players Association. In order to mitigate travel, the schedule would include 10 games for each team against its four divisional opponents, along with 20 games against the opposite league’s corresponding geographical division (for example, the AL East will play the NL East, and so on). […]

The designated-hitter rule will be used in both leagues in 2020, part of the league’s health and safety protocols for this season.

Everything about the rebooting of pro sports is — necessarily! — weird. But the DH in National League games is going to be the weirdest of all. I don’t see an answer for what this means for the postseason, but I suspect the DH will be used in all postseason games too. We might never see another MLB game without the DH.

Link: mlb.com/news/mlb-announces-2020-regular-season

Coming Tomorrow: The Talk Show Remote From WWDC 2020

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-24 03:49

I don’t often post to the DF YouTube channel — but when I do, it’s usually good. Or it’s just something silly. But tomorrow it’s going to be good.

Link: youtube.com/daringfireball

Apple: What’s New in Developer Technologies

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-23 23:56, modified on 2020-06-24 01:52

Apple Newsroom:

SwiftUI introduced developers to a modern UI framework that made it more intuitive than ever to build sophisticated app UIs. This year, new life cycle APIs let developers write an entire app in SwiftUI, and share that code across all Apple platforms. Developers who have already started with SwiftUI will easily be able to add new features to their existing code, and a new Lazy API ensures enormous data sets will offer great performance.

I still can’t quite put my finger on where SwiftUI fits in the grand scheme of things alongside Catalyst, but this is a big year-over-year step forward. And I just could not resist quoting the bit with “Lazy API”. (See Larry Wall’s “three great virtues of a programmer”.)

Additionally, two changes are coming to the app review process and will be implemented this summer. First, developers will not only be able to appeal decisions about whether an app violates a given guideline of the App Store Review Guidelines, but will also have a mechanism to challenge the guideline itself. Second, for apps that are already on the App Store, bug fixes will no longer be delayed over guideline violations except for those related to legal issues. Developers will instead be able to address the issue in their next submission.

Both of these changes sound great. The second one means bug fix updates (which are often security updates) won’t be held up by Apple while a broader dispute over App Store compliance is being resolved or negotiated. The first sounds like an even bigger concession on Apple’s part, but let’s see how it works in practice. If this is more than just lip service, wow, that’s huge.

Link: apple.com/newsroom/2020/06/apple-reveals-new-developer…

Senate Republicans Propose Law to Outlaw End-to-End Encryption

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-23 23:38, modified at 23:39

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee press release:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) today introduced the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act, a bill to bolster national security interests and better protect communities across the country by ending the use of “warrant-proof” encrypted technology by terrorists and other bad actors to conceal illicit behavior.

This is breathtaking. At least they’re being somewhat clear here: they’re proposing outlawing all end-to-end encryption. Encryption that is “warrant-proof” is everything-proof — there are no decryption keys in the middle. Encryption that can be undone at the behest of a lawful warrant can also be undone by anyone with access to the keys.

At the risk of oversimplifying things, it’s worth pointing out that you can’t just “add a backdoor” to a proper end-to-end encryption scheme. It’s the nature of the design not just that there are no backdoors but that there can be no backdoors. You can prove it, cryptographically, which is how you can trust it.

The Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act is a balanced solution that keeps in mind the constitutional rights afforded to all Americans, […]


while providing law enforcement the tools needed to protect the public from everyday violent crime and threats to our national security.

Read the room, Republicans.

The bill would require service providers and device manufacturers to provide assistance to law enforcement when access to encrypted devices or data is necessary — but only after a court issues a warrant, based on probable cause that a crime has occurred, authorizing law enforcement to search and seize the data.

That’s how the law works today. What these fools are proposing is to make it illegal to build systems where even the company providing the service doesn’t hold the keys.

The best hope for this legislation is that it’s mere posturing by Republicans.

Link: judiciary.senate.gov/press/rep/releases/graham-cotton…

WWDC 2020: The Little Stuff You Might Have Missed

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-23 23:18, modified on 2020-06-24 20:08

Dan Moren, writing at Six Colors:

Apple effectively killed 3D Touch last year by replacing it with the haptic touch feature in the iPhone 11 line, but it looks like its old-friend/the-same-exact-feature-with-a-different-name Force Touch is not long for the world either. MacRumors reports that watchOS 7 is shifting developers away from using the Force Touch interaction, in favor of exposing those features in other ways.

Gotta say, I’m not broken up about that. Force Touch was clever, but too often it concealed features that were not easily discoverable.

I agree. It’s a very clever idea, and on the Watch in particular it makes for an effective use of severely limited screen real estate. But for most users, if they can’t see it, it might as well not be there. I think most Apple Watch users are completely unaware of any of the features exposed by Force Touch.

Link: sixcolors.com/post/2020/06/wwdc-2020-the-little-stuff-you…

Monday at WWDC in Under Two Minutes

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-23 22:30

Killer “day one in a nut” of the major news from yesterday — from our old friend Serenity Caldwell. Works well both as a high-level summary for anyone who missed the keynote, and as a refresher for those of us who did watch but lost track of everything new.

As a side note, I love that Serenity gets credit for this video, as well as the fact that everyone in yesterday’s keynote got on-screen credit by name. A subtle but very welcome change.

Link: developer.apple.com/videos/play/wwdc2020/10691/

[Sponsor] Atoms Everyday Face Mask

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-23 04:10

Atoms stands for quality, and the Atoms Everyday Mask is made with premium materials, combining innovation and comfort with the antimicrobial properties of copper, making it one of the most effective masks on the market. Available in a variety of colors, it’s breathable, washable, and reusable. Plus, Atoms will donate a mask to a charity with each purchase. While you’re there, check out the ultra comfortable Atoms Everyday Sneaker. Quarter sizes promise a precise fit, while copper lining fights odor. They’re so light, it’ll feel like you’re walking on air.

Link: atoms.com/dfm

Apple Announces Mac Transition to ‘Apple Silicon’

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-22 20:00, modified on 2020-06-24 04:13

Apple Newsroom:

The DTK, which must be returned to Apple at the end of the program, consists of a Mac mini with Apple’s A12Z Bionic SoC inside and desktop specs, including 16GB of memory, a 512GB SSD, and a variety of Mac I/O ports. Developers can apply to the program at developer.apple.com, and the total cost of the program is $500.

$500 rental — great deal, really.

Interesting but not surprising that Apple (a) never once mentions “ARM” by name, and (b) hasn’t revealed the name of their custom Mac chips yet. They’re just saying “Apple Silicon” as a placeholder for a name to be revealed when they begin unveiling actual consumer hardware.

Link: apple.com/newsroom/2020/06/apple-announces-mac-transition…

iOS 14 Will Let You Change Your Default Email and Web Browser Apps

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-22 19:17

This is a big feature to just get a mention on an overview slide — certainly one that a lot of people have been waiting for.

Link: 9to5mac.com/2020/06/22/ios-14-default-apps/

Nilay Patel’s Summary of the Apple/Hey Drama

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-22 15:49, modified on 2020-06-23 23:40

Nilay Patel:

This, I swear to you, is the short version.

Just from a dramatic sense, this whole thing has been fun to watch.

Link: theverge.com/2020/6/22/21298552/apple-hey-email-app…

Apple, Hey, and the Path Forward

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-22 14:48, modified at 15:01

Jason Fried:

Late Friday night, on June 19th, Apple’s App Store Review Board surprised us by approving the pending bug fixes to the HEY iOS app that were held up all last week.

Fascinating resolution — or at least abatement — of some pre-keynote drama. Also, a really clever idea for a free feature to make the app useful out of the box.

We care as much about the user experience as Apple, and this is a good compromise. Apple’s iOS customers can sign up for a new free version of HEY, and we can continue to take the same exceptional care of all our customers, regardless of platform. Plus, iOS customers get access to a popular new email service with all the bug fixes and new features we’ve committed to pursue, without having to pay higher prices than customers on other platforms.

Also a fascinating lesson in how you can argue, vigorously, for your own interests and what you believe to be right and just, without burning bridges.

Link: hey.com/apple/path/

★ Sponsorship Openings and The Talk Show Remote From WWDC 2020

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-20 03:59, modified on 2020-06-25 05:31

Next week is WWDC, and, as I’ll bet you know, during WWDC I usually do a special episode of The Talk Show in front of a live audience with one or more special guests joining me on stage. Needless to say, there’s nothing usual about this entire year, or this year’s WWDC. But I’m happy to announce that there is going to be a special episode of the show, and, if I do say so myself, I think it is going to be pretty good.

No audience, of course. I’m not leaving the house. But one or more (socially distant) special guests? Yes. Who? Special. Guests.

Not just audio, either, but video — a real show to watch, conducted remotely. Not broadcast live, but, you know, live on tape. (But not on actual tape.) The traditional schedule is to hold the live show on Tuesday evening, West coast time, and we’re shooting for a similar schedule for the release of this year’s show. I’d say more but I can’t. Yet.

But there’s this: sponsorship openings for the show. Sponsorship-wise, this show gets the biggest audience and is the highest profile thing I do each year. It’s the highlight of the Daring Fireball calendar. Sponsors get a mention up front, a title card in the credits, and a thank-you at the end. And the audio from the show goes into the regular podcast feed as a regular episode of The Talk Show. Check out last year’s show for how it looks and sounds.

If you have a product or service you’d love to get in front of the biggest Daring Fireball audience of the year, send me an email. I’ll be working all weekend.

Speaking of sponsorships and advertising, you may also be aware that the whole global pandemic thing has, to say the least, not been good for the advertising market. Advertising is always the first budget to take a hit in a recession. That’s always been true, and I suspect always will be true, not matter how the advertising industry changes in terms of media and technology. So it goes.

I’m doing alright here at DF. But what’s a bit weird is that pre-pandemic, podcast spots on The Talk Show had been selling more strongly than the weekly sponsorships on the website, a trend that had been consistent for a while. Broadly, podcast ad spending had been growing, and web ad spending (outside the Facebook/Google duopoly) had been shrinking. Post-pandemic, though, that dynamic flipped around. Weekly spots here on DF are now selling out further ahead than podcast spots are.

My theory on why is that the weekly spots here at DF tend to sell to smaller indie-minded companies. The sponsors here on DF really know exactly what Daring Fireball is, who I am, who my audience is (people like you), and why DF’s sponsorships are a unique opportunity and a great value. Basically, web/RSS sponsorships at DF are fundamentally very different from typical web advertising. Try explaining to a mass market ad agency what an RSS sponsorship is, or why DF web ads don’t allow any sort of JavaScript tracking or cookies — trust me, it’s not easy.

Whereas sponsorships on The Talk Show are pretty typical for popular podcasts. It’s a standard format — me, the host, reading the spot. If you listen to more than a handful of podcasts you know that a lot of The Talk Show’s sponsors also sponsor a lot of other podcasts. And most of those sales go through agencies. That’s not good or bad, it just is the way it is. Everyone needs a mattress at some point.

Basically that means DF weekly sponsorships are more independent, almost a market unto itself,1 whereas The Talk Show sponsorships are much more a part of the general advertising market.

But so here’s the thing: I think the sort of smaller indie companies who sponsor the DF website are underrepresented as sponsors on The Talk Show. I would love to have more indies sponsoring the show. We’ve got more openings than usual for the summer (see above), so if you’re interested, get in touch with Jessie Char at Neat FM — she manages all the regular podcast spots for me, and we’re willing to sell spots to indies for less than the listed price.

Lastly, while weekly sponsorship sales here at DF are, as I mentioned, holding up, there are openings for July and all of August. Get in touch.

See you next week. Well, you’ll see me.

  1. This was very obvious back in the global recession of 2008-09 — DF sponsorship revenue actually rose significantly during that recession, because DF was more affected by the early go-go years of the iPhone and App Store than it was the broad mass market decline in ad spending. ↩︎

★ The Flimsiness of ‘Business vs. Consumer’ as a Justification for Apple’s Rejection of Hey From the App Store for Not Using In-App Purchases

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-17 01:24, modified at 23:22

David Pierce, in an update to his Protocol report (which I commented on earlier):

Apple told me that its actual mistake was approving the app in the first place, when it didn’t conform to its guidelines. Apple allows these kinds of client apps — where you can’t sign up, only sign in — for business services but not consumer products. That’s why Basecamp, which companies typically pay for, is allowed on the App Store when Hey, which users pay for, isn’t.

This statement is paraphrased by Pierce, not a direct quote, but on its surface this business/consumer distinction seems untenable.

First, no such distinction is made in the App Store Review Guidelines. The lone instance of “consumer” refers to the “Consumer Health Records API”. The price that Basecamp pays for not supporting in-app purchase in their iOS app is that they lose whatever number of users would have signed up in-app but won’t sign up out-of-app. That’s competition. Again, putting aside arguments that Apple should allow apps to use their own payment systems in apps, or be able to link to a website for sign up, or at the very least just tell users how to sign up — the makers of an app should be able to say “OK, we won’t even tell users how to sign up within our app; our app is only for existing customers and we’ll obtain all of them outside the app”. That seems to be within the written rules of the App Store Guidelines. Update: It actually isn’t within a close reading of the written rules, but Apple has long carved out a bunch of exceptions to this — as indicated by their own statement to Pierce.

Second, how could such a distinction be made in writing? There are some apps that are definitely “business services” and some that are definitely “consumer products” (games for example), but to say that the area in between encompasses many shades of gray is an understatement. The entire mobile era of computing — an era which Apple itself has inarguably largely defined — is about the obliteration of distinct lines between business and consumer products.

By sheer coincidence, before this controversy erupted I switched (at least temporarily) my public contact address for Daring Fireball to my @hey.com email address. I’m paying for Hey using the same company credit card I use to pay for Basecamp. How is that not a business service? I’m sure as shit reporting it to my accountant that way. Who exactly is paying $100/year for email service and not using it for business in some way?

I’m not trying to be coy, but what is the iPhone itself? A business device or a consumer product?

Using or instead of and as the conjunction there is clearly laughable. iPhones (and iPads, and Macs, and AirPods, and just about everything else Apple makes) are both serious work-related business devices and totally fun great-for-play consumer products — often for the very same people. The same is true for almost any communication service. Is Apple’s own iMessage for business or consumers? Of course it’s both.

Pierce, in a follow-up on Twitter:

One other distinction: Apple allows “Reader” apps — things like Netflix and Kindle and Dropbox, where you’re using the app to access existing subscriptions — as long as they don’t offer a way to sign up. But email, messaging, etc. don’t count as Reader apps.

At some level there’s a clear distinction here — Netflix and Kindle are clearly consumption services.1 But Dropbox? Dropbox is a lot closer to an email or messaging service like Hey than it is to Netflix or Kindle. The stuff in my Dropbox account is every bit as personal as the stuff in my email account. When you put Dropbox in the same bucket with Netflix and Amazon Kindle, it seems to me like the distinction is not so much between what is and isn’t a “reader” app or what is or isn’t a “business” app, but between companies which are too big for Apple to push around and those they can.

The tragedy here is that Apple, since its inception, exemplified the folly of such distinctions. The Apple II and Macintosh weren’t consumer/toy computers in answer to ostensibly professional/serious computers from suit-and-tie companies like IBM. Apple’s own hardware and software showed that such distinctions were not just unnecessary, but were harmful, holding back the entire industry under artificial signifiers of “seriousness” that were every bit as much bullshit when it came to how computers looked and worked as was how the employees of the companies that made them dressed for work.

Here, to me, is the only sensible response to any attempt to draw a stuffy distinction between “business” and “consumer” computing.

Steve Jobs outside IBM’s Manhattan headquarters in 1983.

  1. As for the term “reader app”, that certainly applies to Kindle quite literally, but Netflix not so much, insofar as Netflix — unless you dig deep into its settings — won’t even let me read the goddamn credits for the show I just watched before trying to hustle me on to the next episode. But that’s neither here nor there. ↩︎

★ On Apple Announcing the ARM Mac Transition at WWDC This Month

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-09 20:40, modified on 2020-06-17 22:19

Mark Gurman:

The company is holding WWDC the week of June 22. Unveiling the initiative, codenamed Kalamata, at the event would give outside developers time to adjust before new Macs roll out in 2021, the people said. Since the hardware transition is still months away, the timing of the announcement could change, they added, while asking not to be identified discussing private plans.

I’m not sure what the hedging is about there, other than the fact that anything reported about anyone’s future plans could, in theory, change. If ARM-based Macs are coming in 2021, and by all accounts they are, Apple almost has to announce them at WWDC.

I know there are some folks who think Apple might simultaneously announce the transition while unveiling ARM-based Macs for immediate availability, but that just doesn’t make much sense. If Apple could do it that way, they would, because they do like surprises and they do not like pre-announcing future products (a lesson recently relearned the hard way), but developers need time to get Mac apps ready. Some developers — the smart ones — are effectively ready to go, and will be able to recompile their apps for ARM as soon as Apple makes a new version of Xcode available. But others will need time. I mean just look at all the consternation this past year over MacOS 10.15 Catalina dropping support for 32-bit software — a transition Apple announced several years in advance. I don’t think the transition from x86 to ARM will be nearly as rocky as the 32-bit to 64-bit transition, but for some apps it will take time. (Really, the deprecation of 32-bit software was the first step of a multi-year transition to 64-bit ARM software on all platforms.)


At WWDC in 2005, Steve Jobs announced a move from PowerPC to Intel, and Apple rolled out those first Intel-based Macs in January 2006. Like it did then, the company plans to eventually transition the entire Mac lineup to its Arm-based processors, including the priciest desktop computers, the people said.

There’s been some reasonable speculation that Apple might use ARM chips only for portable Macs and consumer desktops, and stick with high-end Intel chips for pro desktops, but I think that’s simply based on our never having seen Apple even try its hand at high-performance chips. If you’re going to switch, switch.

If you want to see how this is going to play out, just rewatch Steve Jobs’s 2005 announcement of the PowerPC-Intel transition. As I wrote back in 2018, it’s uncanny how similar the explanation could be: Apple’s in-house ARM-based chips offer vastly superior performance-per-watt compared to Intel’s, and Apple has ideas for future Macs that they can’t build without that superior performance-per-watt. All computers benefit from superior performance-per-watt, not just portables. That was the story in 2005, and it should be the story in 2020.

There are other reasons too. It’s cheaper for Apple to make its own chips than to buy Intel’s. They already make a $400 iPhone that out-benchmarks a $3,000 top-of-the-line MacBook Pro in single-core CPU performance. That’s bananas when you think about it. And there is a cross-platform developer story. With one consistent set of system-on-a-chip designs, all software for all Apple platforms can target the same Metal APIs for the GPUs, and the same Neural Engine APIs for machine learning and AI tasks.

The rumor mill currently leaves some big questions unanswered, though:


Will ARM Macs run older x86 software via emulation? Apple shipped a rather amazing emulator in the transition from Motorola 680x0 chips to PowerPC in the 1990s, and again in the 2000s with the PowerPC to Intel transition (Rosetta). There are seemingly no rumors one way or the other regarding emulation for the Intel-to-ARM transition. If I had to bet right now, I’d say no, there will be no x86 emulation on ARM Macs — and that factors into why Apple is pre-announcing this transition months ahead of releasing hardware. But that’s just my guess. In the 90s in particular, and the 2000s to a lesser degree, there was a lot of important third-party software that wasn’t easily ported. I don’t think that’s as much the case today.

Developer Transition Hardware

In 2005 Apple made available Developer Transition Kits — Intel-based PC hardware housed in Power Mac cases. They “sold” them to developers for $1000 but under terms that required them to be sent back by the end of 2006; when developers returned the Developer Kits, they were offered first-generation Intel iMacs to keep. (It was a good deal for developers.)

What’s the story on how developers will build and test ARM Mac software during this transition? I’ve seen a lot of people speculating that Apple will use iPad Pros for this. I don’t buy that (and in fact bet a friend a nice steak dinner that it won’t happen). Technically it seems possible, but iPad Pros only have 6 GB of RAM — no Mac has shipped with less than 8 GB in many years, and developers aren’t buying machines with 8 GB of RAM. Honestly, I think the RAM is a deal-breaker on the iPad Pro-as-ARM-Mac-dev-kit idea. Plus there are philosophical barriers. Even though they’re moving to the same chip platform, I think Apple sees iPads as iPads and Macs as Macs, and never the twain shall meet.1 A version of MacOS for iPad would be tantamount to shipping an official jailbreak kit for iPad in some ways. The whole notion just doesn’t feel like something Apple would do — it feels like something some users would like Apple to do. It feels wrong, for example, to run an OS without touchscreen support on a touchscreen tablet. And if you think or even just hope that part of this transition might include Apple adding touchscreen support to MacOS, that doesn’t strike me as something Apple would announce now — that’s something Apple would hold until it had actual touchscreen Mac hardware to unveil.

Basically, Apple likely wants ARM Mac developer transition hardware to be practical but boring. iPad Pros running MacOS would be neither.

My best guess would be Mac Minis or iMacs with ARM chips inside, rented rather than sold, like in 2005. Or maybe a MacBook? At this point, a MacBook might be the canonical generic form factor for developer hardware. There must be a lot of developers out there who’ve never bought a desktop Mac, and whose workspaces might not accommodate one.

Boot Camp and Virtualization

What happens with virtualization software like Parallels and VMware Fusion? The obvious answer is they emulate x86 or they go away. How will that perform? My understanding is that however good the performance of ARM chips is, the instruction set differences make it slow for ARM to emulate x86. This is no little thing — there are a lot of developers whose workflows depend on virtualization software.

Boot Camp is a related question — but one that’s entirely up to Apple to answer. Microsoft has a version of Windows 10 for ARM PCs, so in theory, Boot Camp could continue to officially support booting Macs into Windows. Does Apple care enough to support that? I’d bet no — but it feels like a coin flip, given how many people have a professional need for it. Is Windows where the puck is going?

And if your interest in Boot Camp is for running games, support for Windows on ARM almost certainly isn’t a great solution.

The Osborne Effect

What happens to current Intel-based Mac sales after Apple announces this big exciting transition months in advance? My guess: not much. Enthusiasts might wonder who would buy an Intel-based Mac after they’re essentially deprecated, but most people have no more idea what the difference is between Intel and ARM CPUs than they do 32-bit vs. 64-bit software. You might as well tell them you’re “switching from gizmos to widgets under the hood”.

I think the story is basically, again, the same as the one from 2005: “Our current hardware is great and will be supported for many years to come; we’re making this transition for the future.

Today’s MacBook lineup is in fact in great shape: the Air and both sizes of MacBook Pro have been updated in the last six months, and they’re all good machines. The long-awaited Mac Pro is also new, and the Mac Mini is fine.

The iMac models and iMac Pro, however, are long in the tooth. The iMac Pro, in fact, has never been updated — it’s 908 days old and counting. Tipster Sonny Dickson claimed, just today, that new iMacs are coming at WWDC:

New iMac incoming at WWDC. iPad Pro design language, with Pro Display like bezels. T2 chip, AMD Navi GPU, and no more fusion drive.

As for the iMac Pro, maybe pro-level configurations get folded into one cohesive range of just-plain iMacs? Or, long in the tooth though it may be, perhaps the roadmap for iMac Pro is just “wait for ARM”.

  1. It’s fun to think about iPads running MacOS and touchscreen MacBooks running iPadOS, but the names alone seemingly throw a monkey wrench in the idea. Although it’s worth noting that Apple used the PowerPC-to-Intel transition to rename PowerBooks to MacBooks. Names can change, and with Apple they often do. As weird as “MacBook” sounded at first, in hindsight it seems odd that until 2006 there had never been a Mac laptop with “Mac” in its name. The 16-pound (!) Macintosh Portable was definitely a Mac but only arguably portable. ↩︎

★ Translation From VC-Backed PR Jargon to English of Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz’s Statement That He’s ‘Stepping Down’

Permalink - Posted on 2020-05-29 05:35, modified at 05:48

From a company-wide memo sent by Magic Leap founder Rony Abovitz Thursday:

As we’ve shared over the last several weeks, in order to set Magic Leap on a course for success, we have pivoted to focus on delivering a spatial computing platform for enterprise.

As nearly everyone has finally realized, our actual technology is nothing at all like what we promised, lied about for years, and sold gullible deep-pocketed investors on. Our con is falling apart at the seams, so we’ll milk the last few dollars out of the only investors dumb enough to give us even more money, by repeating the word “enterprise” and doing that thing with our fingers like Obi-Wan Kenobi.

We have closed significant new funding and have very positive momentum towards closing key strategic enterprise partnerships.

You’re not going to believe this but we somehow raised another $350 million. I know, right?

As the board and I planned the changes we made and what Magic Leap needs for this next focused phase, it became clear to us that a change in my role was a natural next step.

Everyone agrees the jig is up.

I discussed this with the board and we have agreed that now is the time to bring in a new CEO who can help us to commercialize our focused plan for spatial computing in enterprise. We have been actively recruiting candidates for this role and I look forward to sharing more soon.

Our Craigslist ad: “Florida company seeks Bernie Madoff type.”

I have been leading Magic Leap since 2011 (starting in my garage). We have created a new field. A new medium. And together we have defined the future of computing.

No one will remember us or anything we’ve done — unless Netflix makes one of those documentaries like the Fyre Festival one. I love that movie. Which makes me think maybe we should change our Craigslist ad to “Billy McFarland type”. Actually, when does he get out of prison?

I am amazed at everything we have built and look forward to everything Magic Leap will create in the decades to come.

I am amazed that we raised $2.4 billion and have managed to stretch this con out for 7 years and counting. We even convinced Google to invest. Google! Those guys are smart!

I will remain our CEO through the transition and am in discussions with the board with regards to how I will continue to provide strategy and vision from a board level. I remain super excited about Magic Leap’s future and believe deeply in our team and all of their incredible talent and capabilities.

I guess I should be ashamed of myself but I’m not.