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By John Gruber
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-06 17:30
Jason Snell, writing at Six Colors:
I was struck by this section of a report by Politico’s Eric Geller involving the deletion of Secret Service messages related to the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol:
The phone resets occurred as the Secret Service was implementing a new mobile device management (MDM) platform, a technology that employers use to centrally manage and preserve emails, photos and other data stored on employees’ phones. Apple’s iMessages cannot be backed up by this system, because they are encrypted and stored on users’ devices, unlike regular text messages.
This explanation seemed off to me, because while iMessage data is end-to-end encrypted in transmission and not stored by Apple as a part of the transmission process, it’s not actually encrypted on the device itself. Which is why iCloud backups, which are unencrypted, can contain the entire contents of iMessage conversations. [...] I ran it by Tom Bridge, Principal Product Manager at JumpCloud and co-host of the MacAdmins podcast, in the Six Colors Discord, and here’s what he had to say.
Ever since this story about wiped Secret Service “text messages” has broken, it has annoyed me greatly to see them repeatedly referred to as “texts”. What type of text messages is essential to any understanding of the story. SMS messages are not encrypted in any way, and thus, one would hope Secret Service agents never send them in the line of duty. It seemingly turns out the deleted messages were sent using iMessage, which — as Bridge explains — is a different ballgame.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-06 02:19
Tom Warren, reporting for The Verge:
Amazon has signed an agreement to acquire iRobot, makers of Roomba robot vacuums. The deal is valued at approximately $1.7 billion, and Amazon will acquire iRobot for $61 per share in an all-cash transaction.
“Customers love iRobot products — and I’m excited to work with the iRobot team to invent in ways that make customers’ lives easier and more enjoyable,” says Dave Limp, SVP of Amazon Devices. It’s not immediately clear how iRobot will be integrated into Amazon once the deal is finalized and cleared by regulators, but Amazon intends to keep Colin Angle as the CEO of iRobot.
We’ve had a Roomba for our main living floor for a few years. We like it enough that we bought another one for upstairs. It’s such early days for robot vacuum cleaners that you kind of need one for each floor you want cleaned, because they can’t climb stairs.
It’s very clear to me that we’re going to get helpful household robots soon, and we’ll wonder how we ever lived without them. Something like a cross between C-3PO and R2-D2 — speaks to you like Threepio, but rolls around and serves more practical purposes like Artoo. Amazon, clearly, sees the same inevitable product category I do. “Roomba, I need you to clean up a mess in the kitchen. And bring me a fizzy water when you’re done. Thanks.”
(I like saying thanks to my AI assistants. My wife thinks I’m nuts. But I worry we, collectively, are going to be dreadfully rude to them by the time they’re essential elements of our daily lives.)
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-06 02:04
Ming-Chi Kuo, on Twitter:
My latest survey indicates Foxconn’s iPhone production site in India will ship the new 6.1” iPhone 14 almost simultaneously with China for the first time in 2H22 (India being one quarter or more behind in the past).
In the short term, India’s iPhone capacities/shipments still have a considerable gap with China, but it’s an important milestone for Apple in building a non-Chinese iPhone production site. >
It implies that Apple is trying to reduce the geopolitical impacts on supply and sees the Indian market as the next key growth driver.
The best time for Apple to decrease its reliance on China was a long time ago. The next best time is now.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-06 01:55
Cheng Ting-Fang and Lauly Li, reporting for Nikkei from Taipei:
Apple has asked suppliers to ensure that shipments from Taiwan to China strictly comply with Chinese customs regulations after a recent visit by senior U.S. lawmaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei stoked fears of rising trade barriers.
Apple told suppliers on Friday that China has started strictly enforcing a long-standing rule that Taiwanese-made parts and components must be labeled as being made either in “Taiwan, China” or “Chinese Taipei,” sources familiar with the matter told Nikkei Asia, language that indicates the island is part of China.
Apple’s reliance on China has put the company in a spot where it must insist its suppliers print a falsehood on components to comply with communist propaganda. Taiwan is not part of China. Everyone knows this. Everyone in Taiwan knows it, everyone in the CCP in China knows it, and everyone at Apple knows it. But there it will be, stamped on every Taiwanese-made part.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-06 01:05
Emily Feng, reporting for NPR:
China has fired several waves of missiles over the Taiwan Strait, hitting targets in the waters that encircle the island of Taiwan after a visit from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi triggered a tense military standoff in the East Asia region.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry confirmed 11 Chinese Dongfeng type missiles were fired in Taiwan’s direction between 1:56 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon, local time. Taiwan’s armed forces said it was on high alert status, monitoring Chinese military activity in the region, and that the island’s long-range radar had detected the incoming missiles.
“We condemn such irrational action that has jeopardized regional peace,” Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.
No big deal for Apple, a company that relies entirely on chips that can only be fabricated by TSMC in Taiwan and iPhones that can only be assembled at sufficient scale in China.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-05 16:31
I disable the option for automatic updates to apps installed via the App Store on all my devices. I think Apple is correct to make automatic updates the default — for typical users, they should just have the latest versions installed automatically. But I like knowing what apps have been updated. Some apps actually tell you more than “Bug fixes” in their release notes, too.
Typically what I do every few days is scroll through the list of updated apps, see if any of them look interesting, (and take the opportunity to just delete any updated apps that I no longer use), and then hit “Update All” and check back again in a few days.
Last week I noticed an update for an app on my iPhone with a name that struck me as odd: “Dropbox: Cloud Photo Storage”. I have long had the regular Dropbox app installed. I also have Dropbox’s Paper app installed. But I never installed nor would install a dedicated photo-storing app from Dropbox.
I quickly determined that this was just the regular Dropbox app. Dropbox has simply renamed it to include “Cloud Photo Storage” in the name for SEO purposes. This apparently works so well, at the moment, that some apps are putting these descriptions before the actual name of the app in their App Store listings. App Store entrepreneur Jake Mor explicitly recommends this in a long Twitter thread delineating his current recommendations for App Store success:
Take the top result of #46, and change your app’s title to “Keyword - App Name”. For example, “Personal Trainer - FitnessAI”.
I find this unsurprising but depressing. (Mor’s whole thread is a bit depressing.) The App Store should discourage SEO nonsense like keyword spamming, not reward it. I don’t blame developers for using unseemly naming tricks that work; I blame Apple for running a search engine that rewards such chicanery.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-04 23:23
Juli Clover, MacRumors:
Apple today released an updated version of the 15.5 firmware for the Studio Display, with the update coming more than two months after the Studio Display firmware was last updated. The prior version of the 15.5 firmware had a build number of 19F77, while the new version is 19F80. [...] Apple last week sent out a memo to authorized service providers, acknowledging that some customers have had issues with the Studio Display speakers cutting out or offering distorted playback.
I believe I’ve encountered this audio issue twice since March. I wrote about it back in April, complaining particularly about the fact that the only way to resolve it was to yank the display’s power cord, because it doesn’t have a power button. It happened again about a month ago. I spent $40 on a HomeKit power outlet to work around the Studio Display’s lack of a power button.
So here’s a question. I installed this firmware update this afternoon, and it requires you to restart your Mac to apply the update to the Studio Display. Why? There was no MacOS update today — just the Studio Display. My guess is that Apple thinks it’s less weird to require rebooting the whole machine just to update the display firmware than to have a Mac without a functional display for 3 or 4 minutes.
Update: It’s apparently problematic to update the Studio Display firmware from a beta version of MacOS 13 Ventura.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-03 23:58
Aidan Ryan, The Information, “The Metaverse Real Estate Boom Turns Into a Bust”:
The metaverse is in the midst of a real estate meltdown. Sales volumes and average prices for virtual land have plunged this year, part of a broader slide in crypto and non-fungible token prices.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-03 23:53
In a city renowned the world over for its celebrities, no one was more popular.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-03 17:30
Vin Scully, who was celebrated for his mastery of the graceful phrase and his gift for storytelling during the 67 summers he served as the announcer for Dodgers baseball games, first in Brooklyn and then in Los Angeles, died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 94. [...]
For all the Dodgers’ marquee players since World War II, Mr. Scully was the enduring face of the franchise. He was a national sports treasure as well, broadcasting for CBS and NBC. He called baseball’s Game of the Week, All-Star Games, the playoffs and more than two dozen World Series. In 2009, the American Sportscasters Association voted him No. 1 on its list of the “Top 50 Sportscasters of All Time.” [...]
“I regard him, all things considered, as the master of radio and TV,” the sports broadcaster Bob Costas once told The Arizona Republic, recalling listening to Mr. Scully with a transistor radio under his pillow as a youngster in Los Angeles in the early 1960s. “I regard him as the best baseball announcer ever.”
Costas, of course, knows that of which he speaks.
“Who was the best ____ ever?” is always a fun question. And for most things you might fill in that blank with, it generally makes for a debate. There is no serious debate that Scully was not, hands-down, the best baseball announcer ever. I don’t think there’s any debate that he was the best sports announcer ever. He was the broadcaster’s broadcaster. The more one knows about how difficult sportscasting is, the more one stands in awe of Vin Scully.
I grew up when Scully was in his prime, calling national broadcasts for baseball (of course), but also football and even golf. Scully was behind the mic for the first sports game that ever broke my heart (and, truth be told, resulted in a hysterical tantrum and a lesson from my dad that I remember to this day about learning how to lose) — the 1981 NFC Championship between the San Francisco 49ers and my beloved Dallas Cowboys. It was Vin Scully who called “The Catch”. Watch that clip to the end. Scully calls the play, lets the moment sink in, and then: “It’s a madhouse at Candlestick, with 51 seconds left. Dwight Clark is six-four; he stands about ten feet tall in this crowd’s estimation.”
My god. Goosebumps, still, 40 years later.
Scully called Hank Aaron’s record-breaking 715th home run: “What a marvelous moment for baseball, what a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia, what a marvelous moment for the country and world. A black man is getting a standing ovation in the deep South, for breaking the record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron.”
He called Mookie Wilson’s epic at-bat with two outs in the bottom of the 10th in game 6 of the 1986 Mets-Red Sox World Series. (“55,078 here at Shea, and they have really been put through the wringer.” Indeed.)
Sandy Koufax’s perfect game. (“A lot of people in the ballpark now are starting to see the pitches with their hearts.”) Don Larsen’s perfect game against the Dodgers in the 1956 World Series. (“Got him! The greatest game ever pitched in baseball history, by Don Larsen!”) The list goes on.
Most fittingly, it was Vin Scully at the mic for Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit home run in game 1 of the 1988 World Series, the Dodgers against the A’s. I was 15, watching it live with my friends. Who else to call such a moment in Dodger history? The whole at-bat epitomizes Scully’s gift. He let the drama build. Gibson was unable to start the game because he had not one, but two injured legs. The man could barely walk, let alone run. A mere hit could tie the game. Dennis Eckersley, the best relief pitcher in all of baseball, on the mound. Two outs. The count full. Then: “High fly ball into right field, she is ... gone!” And then, for 70 seconds, as Gibson hobbled triumphantly around the bases, as his teammates celebrated at home plate, as the full house at Dodger Stadium erupted in ecstatic pandemonium, Scully said not a word. 70 seconds. The moment belonged to Gibson, the Dodgers, and their fans. And then, this: “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.”
You could sit with pen and paper for a year and not come up with better words. Scully came up with them on the spot, every time. Transcripts of his calls read like literary essays. His joy for the game was as palpable as it was contagious. Even in retirement, at age 90, he was the best.
Vin Scully called Dodger games for 67 years, from 1950 through 2016. This is how he said goodbye.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-02 19:11
Yours truly and Ben Thompson’s podcast — two episodes per week, 15 minutes per episode. Not a minute less, not a minute more. If you’re not listening, you’re missing out. Best $5/month you’ll ever spend, trust me.
I aspire not to be this fellow while I’m on vacation.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-02 17:13
You know how on your iPhone when you visit a website like, say, Reddit or LinkedIn or TikTok or Quora — or dozens of others — and the website presents a popover panel that covers the whole damn page telling you how much better it would be if you’d install their app instead of using their website? It doesn’t just annoy me, it makes me angry every damn time. There’s a reason the verb is visiting a website. If I wanted a long-term lease I’d go to the App Store on my own. Here I am, having already loaded their bloated, poorly-coded webpage, trying to give their site a slice of my attention, and they’re covering their own content — the content I came to their site to see — with a dickpanel* suggesting that I install their app. Why would I want to give their software a permanent home on my device when I have an example of how they write software in front of my face, and that example serves only to prove that they have zero respect for my time or attention — or for their own content? It boggles the mind. It’s like going to a restaurant and ordering a sandwich, but when your sandwich is ready, they show it to you momentarily but refuse to serve it until you fill out a form to join, or decline to join, their rewards club. Fucking-A right I’m going to decline. No real-world restaurant would do this because it’s sociopathic, but it’s standard practice for a certain class of thirsty-for-“engagement” websites.
Banish is a new $2 content blocker for Safari by Alex Zamoshchin that does one thing and does it well: it nukes dickpanels in Safari on iPhone and iPad. I’ve been using it for over a week and have already gotten far more than $2 in value from it.
* dickpanel n. : a modal panel or popover a website or app presents, deliberately obscuring its own content, to frustrate the user with a marketing message; e.g. asking the user to install the website’s app, subscribe to a newsletter, or disable privacy controls and accept tracking cookies. See dickbar.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-01 19:45
Jason Zinoman, writing for The New York Times:
A solitary figure, a microphone and a stool. Those are the primary images of stand-up comedy — as reliable and ubiquitous as a book’s cover, spine and chapter titles.
But there is another element in the iconography, and it’s the most revealing: The water bottle.
I’ve thought about this offhandedly for years, whenever I watch standup. Zinoman took the deep dive. A fascinating piece, well-illustrated.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-01 19:13
Speaking of what’s new in iOS 16, I greatly enjoyed last week’s episode of Upgrade, wherein co-hosts Jason Snell and Myke Hurley interviewed a series of three guests to talk about what’s new in an area of their expertise: James Thomson (developer tools and frameworks), Shelly Brisbin (accessibility), and David Smith (widgets). Very fun, very informative.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-01 18:52
The iOS 16 and MacOS 13 “Ventura” fourth developer beta shipped last week. Most interesting to me are the updates to Messages and the new iMessage features announced at WWDC. The edit-a-message-you-just-sent feature, intended for fixing typos or mistakes, has been tweaked. The time limit for editing is now 15 minutes, sent messages can be edited up to five times, and the recipient of an edited message now has the ability to see the edit history by tapping the small “Edited” label under an edited message.
Undoing sent messages is now implemented too, with a two-minute time limit. I dig the balloon-popping effect you see as the sender after unsending the message. As the sender of the unsent message, you get a small-print status message in the chat timeline (the same style as “Delivered” and “Read” receipts) that says “You unsent a message. Recipient Name may still see the message on devices where the software hasn’t been updated.” On the recipient’s device, if they’re using MacOS 13 or iOS 16, the unsent message just disappears, but it’s replaced by a small-print status message that says “Sender Name unsent a message”.
Recipients do not get notifications for edits or unsends.
The unfortunate hitch with the new editing and unsending features is that they’re not backwards-compatible with the currently shipping versions of Messages. Unsent messages appear as they were originally delivered on recipient devices running older MacOS or iOS versions. Edited messages appear as discrete new messages on older OSes, in the form “Edited to ‘Updated text of message’”.
I like these features a lot, and think both of them will be much-used. It’s a shame they weren’t designed into the iMessage protocol years ago, but by year’s end, most people will be using iOS and MacOS versions that support them, and within a few years, almost everyone will.
The time limits, visible edit history, and even the fact that both features exist seem to be a source of minor confusion, though.
Why offer message editing if you can just delete a message and resend it with the typo corrected? A three-step Undo-Send / type-a-corrected-version-of-the-message / resend works as an alternative to the actual Edit feature if you do it immediately. But it doesn’t if the message with the typo is no longer the most recent message in the thread. Undo Send means “it was a mistake to send this message at all.”
Why offer an edit history? As the sender, it’s natural to wish that you could just fix a mistake without the recipient seeing the changes. But once the original typo-laden message arrives on the recipient’s device, it no longer belongs solely to the sender. There’s an implied property right, as it were, for the recipient to be able to see what was sent to them. An edit history is the best balance. (Slack, to name one example I’m familiar with, has shown an “Edited” label on edited messages for years, but won’t show you what the edits actually were. This annoys me occasionally.) The edit history can simply satisfy the recipient’s curiosity, but it also serves as strong discouragement against abuse. A malicious actor can’t send an abusive or misleading message and then edit it without a paper trail.
Why limit edits to five changes? Because stop screwing around. Five seems generous, really — my gut feeling is three strikes and you’re done.
Why have time limits? Because ink needs to dry.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-01 23:00
Sourcegraph helps you code better and stay in flow. It’s a code search and intelligence tool for all your company’s code to help you quickly understand code, find usage examples, track down bugs, assess the impact of a change, and more. Who uses Sourcegraph? Our customers include Databricks, Indeed, Reddit, Uber, Lyft, Canva, and GE — and we also serve many open-source communities such as Fedora, Julia, Coreboot, Bazel, Kubernetes, and Rust. You can use Sourcegraph on the cloud or self-hosted (free for up to 10 users).
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-01 16:55
Special guest Michael Steeber joins the show to discuss his new project, The Apple Store Time Machine — an intricately-detailed explorable walkthrough of four of Apple’s original retail stores.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-01 15:09
John Voorhees, writing at MacStories:
For the past several weeks, I’ve been using Mail exclusively on all of my devices, which has been a refreshing change of pace. Still, it’s not perfect. Of the features I use most in third-party mail clients, the single biggest shortcoming of Mail is its clunky implementation of deep linking.
I drop links to email messages in my notes and tasks all the time as a way to quickly access important contextual information. Mimestream offers Gmail URLs, and Spark can create its own app-specific and web URLs right within those apps’ UIs.
In contrast, on iOS and iPadOS, you can only link to a Mail message by dragging it out of Mail into another app’s text field. I’ll take it, but I’d prefer if I could quickly generate a link from the share sheet or with Shortcuts instead. The situation on the Mac isn’t much better, requiring users to resort to AppleScript to construct a URL that links back to a Mail message.
With weeks of Ventura testing ahead of me, I decided to see what I could do to improve the situation.
His solution relies on an AppleScript I shared here 15 years ago — which I still use, unchanged, several times per week. Say what you want about AppleScript, but when you find something that works it tends to keep working.
The basic idea here is that Apple Mail has long supported a
message:// URL protocol for creating links to specific email messages. Every legitimate email message ever sent has a unique message ID; Mail’s
message:// URLs take the form of
message://<UNIQUE-ID-HERE>. For compatibility reasons, the angle brackets are best encoded as
>). Without knowing it, if you use Apple Mail, you’ve probably made use of these URLs. For example, when you create a calendar event from a date in an email, that event links back to the message from whence it came, and that link is a
But 15 years after adding support for these URLs, Apple still hasn’t exposed a direct way to copy them from any given message other than drag-and-drop. And when you drag a message from Mail to the Finder, you get a file with the exported contents of the message, not a URL clipping (like you get when you drag a URL from Safari to the Finder). Try dragging from Mail to Notes to get a link. Hence the continuing utility of my AppleScript — it’s still the best way to just put the
messages:// URL for a given message on the clipboard.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-31 20:42
Over a 15-year period, beginning with his junior year at the University of San Francisco, Russell had the most remarkable career of any player in the history of team sports. At USF, he was a two-time All-American, won two straight NCAA championships and led the team to 55 consecutive wins. And he won a gold medal at the 1956 Olympics.
During his 13 years in Boston, he carried the Celtics to the NBA Finals 12 times, winning the championship 11 times, the last two titles while he was also serving as the NBA’s first Black coach.
Bill Russell 21-0 in winner-take-all games: All NCAA games, Olympic medal round, best-of-5’s, best-of-7’s. Greatest resume of anyone. Period.
Here’s a guy who says the above oft-cited 21-0 winner-take-all record is incorrect — and that he was 22-0. Russell’s career stats (22.5 rebounds per game!) were amazing, but he was a winner above all else. In addition to the above, he won two state championships in high school. In 2009 the NBA named the Finals MVP trophy in Russell’s honor. That’s fitting and fair, but I’ve always thought it was a bit incongruous, because Russell never cared about any awards other than the only one that truly mattered: the team championship.
His last two championship seasons with the Celtics, he was the team’s head coach in addition to remaining its best and most essential player. He was the first black head coach for any major American sports team.
Personal anecdote. WWDC 2016, the last one held in San Francisco. Early Sunday evening, June 12, the InterContinental hotel lobby. I’m hanging out with my wife and our friend Paul Kafasis, waiting for friends before heading to dinner. At the bar, sitting alone: the man himself, Bill Russell. Bill Russell! We figure he was there for the NBA Finals — game 5, Cavs at Warriors, would be played the next night in Oakland. He walked with the aid of a cane but he looked great. The man had a presence about him, and it wasn’t just his 6′10″ frame. Dignity and grace, personified. What a thrill, just to see him.
What was he doing? Playing with his iPhone, of course.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-30 22:14
My thanks to Beam — now in public beta — for sponsoring this week at DF. Beam is a
browser new type of software for searching healthy thinking on the internet.
It’s a Mac app with some really clever ideas — like built-in notes (with Markdown support) — and an exquisite attention to detail in the UI. Download for free and try it yourself.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-29 02:53
Jason Snell, Six Colors:
Apple’s fiscal results are out. The company generated $83B in revenue. Compared to the year-ago quarter, Mac sales were down 10%, iPad sales down 2%, iPhone up 3%, Services up 13%, and Wearables down 8%.
At a glance it looks bad that Mac revenue is down 10 percent year-over-year. M2 MacBook Airs didn’t go on sale until July, which is Q4, but I don’t think that’s relevant to this dip. (Most M2 MacBook Air configurations are backordered about two weeks, but I think that’s because of supply chain bottlenecks, not unexpectedly high demand.) The dip is because so many businesses and consumers bought new laptops during the pandemic because they needed them for work-from-home and school-from-home. The big tell on that for Apple is the monster quarter the Mac had back in the July–September quarter in 2020. That was the quarter before Apple unveiled the first M1 Macs (including the bestselling MacBook Air), but after Apple told the world that they’d be shifting the entire Mac platform to its own silicon by the end of the year.
I realize a lot of normal people would have bought MacBooks in that quarter of 2020 even if COVID hadn’t happened, because they’re not nerds and didn’t know or care about Apple silicon vs. Intel, but that quarter was record-breaking for Mac sales. Sales weren’t just up year-over-year, they were up 29 percent!
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-29 02:04
If you haven’t been paying attention to Instagram lately, they’ve been steadily dialing up the algorithmic content users see in their feeds, especially video. More stuff in your feed from accounts you don’t follow, selected by machine learning algorithms, at the expense of stuff from people and brands you have chosen to follow. To top it off, they recently rolled out a limited test to a small — but not that small — number of users that turned those users’ timelines into something basically like TikTok: full-screen videos (and some images) that you go through one at a time. This did not go over well.
They are listening though, and they’re rolling back some of those changes for everyone and, for now, cancelling the TikTok-style timeline test. This news was announced by Instagram chief Adam Mosseri today in a deft interview by Casey Newton at Platformer:
But Instagram will temporarily reduce the amount of recommended posts and accounts as it works to improve its personalization tools. (Mosseri wouldn’t say by how much, exactly.)
“When you discover something in your feed that you didn’t follow before, there should be a high bar — it should just be great,” Mosseri said. “You should be delighted to see it. And I don’t think that’s happening enough right now. So I think we need to take a step back, in terms of the percentage of feed that are recommendations, get better at ranking and recommendations, and then — if and when we do — we can start to grow again.” (“I’m confident we will,” he added.)
Mosseri made clear that the retreat Instagram announced today is not permanent. Threats to the company’s dominance continue to mount: TikTok is the most downloaded app in the world, the most popular website, and the most watched video company. Meanwhile, Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature has blown a $10 billion hole in Meta’s core advertising business, and on Wednesday Meta reported its first-ever quarterly revenue decline. Zuckerberg has assumed a war footing, and promised that many more changes are on the way.
It goes without saying that Instagram has no plans to allow users to turn off recommendations. Instagram users will be getting “recommended” content whether they want to see any of it or not, they’re just going to try to do a better job with it.
Users serve Instagram, not the other way around.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-28 03:59
Most of all, though, the phone resembles the Liberty Ghost Phone, announced in May in a since-deleted tweet — and the relationship does not appear to stop there. Liberty is promoting the Unplugged suite on its own website, and both phones run the Android fork LibertOS which sports “government-grade” security, whatever that means. The specs of the Ghost Phone are nearly identical to those of the Unplugged; the sole difference I can see is the resolution of the main rear camera. Indeed, if you try to pre-order the Liberty Ghost Phone, a notice appears on the shopping cart page advising you to read the full pre-order terms on Unplugged’s website. It is almost enough to make you think these are the same company.
But there is one more thing: Liberty explicitly claims its “phones are never made in China”, and all of the similar phones I can find are made by Chinese firms. To be clear, I cannot find the same claim on Unplugged’s website or marketing materials. But it is odd, right? I just cannot help but wonder what the chances are that two companies make nearly identical phones that seem to be based on devices from Chinese companies, but one of them says theirs is not made in China. I sent a list of questions to Unplugged, but my email went unanswered; I will update this article if I hear back.
This whole piece by Heer is glorious, including the footwork he put into contacting the subjects involved, including Glenn Greenwald, who was seemingly pulled into this weird story without his knowledge or permission.
The thing I’m reminded of is the “Freedom Phone” — a $500 phone that was announced last year by cryptocurrency genius Erik Finman and promoted to MAGA wingnuts as being super-duper secure, free from Apple and Google’s nefarious control, and most definitely not made in China. It turned out to be a rebranded piece of shit $120 Chinese phone — shocker.
The snake oil practically sells itself. Wingnuts have been convinced that both Apple and Google are on the wrong side of the woke-commie-libtard / heroic-patriot tribal divide. But, just like people who are sane, wingnuts’ phones are deeply integrated into their lives. They’re thus stuck in a catch-22 — they don’t trust Apple or Google and definitely don’t want either company to profit from them, but seemingly every phone they might want to buy is either an iPhone or an Android phone dependent on Google services. So you just pretend to have what they want and some of them will buy it because they’re idiots.
It’s easier to convince a nutter that Earth is a flat disk — which, of course, is not just false but preposterously nonsensical — than that the planet is, say, cylindrical — which is also false, but not nearly as preposterously so. Likewise with convincing a derpy MAGA loon that some upstart company founded by an established member of the wingnut tribe has made a feature-competitive extra-secure modern phone — hardware, software, and services — without any involvement from any company you’ve ever heard of or any Chinese-made components. The unlikelihood of that makes it more believable to the wingnut mind.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-28 02:00
Oculus Quest 2 debuted at $299 in 2020, $100 cheaper than Oculus Quest from 2019. In 2021, Facebook bumped the base Quest 2 headset’s storage from 64GB to 128GB while holding the suggested entry price firm at $299. Earlier this year, Meta changed the headset’s branding on the physical device to its new corporate identity — officially becoming Meta Quest 2.
The price change will kick in officially on August 1, with the 128GB model increasing to $399 and the 256GB model increasing to $499.
Zuckerberg, one year ago:
“Unlike some of the other companies in the space that basically charge premium prices as their business model, one of our core principles is we want to serve everyone. I’m very focused not only on how you can create a good VR and AR device, but how do you make it so it’s $300 instead of $1,000.”
Inflation, of course, is a real issue, but Zuckerberg’s the one who said he was focused on selling headsets for $300.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-27 18:40
I’ve been using the iOS 16 public beta for the past couple of weeks. It’s nice in that it’s pretty stable. But it’s also honestly not that different in day-to-day usage. Except for three really key and really awesome changes.
I agree on all three of his features. But one of them I did not even know existed until I read M.G.’s post — an option to turn on haptic feedback for the on-screen keyboard. I’ve now gone from thinking “Hey, iOS 16 betas are pretty damn stable this year” all the way to “I might have to install this on my primary iPhone right now”.
And might I suggest pairing it with sound? As in, the sound turned on. My phone is almost always muted of any noise, but I’ve long loved the iOS keyboard faux “clicks” and wish I could just turn those on and nothing else. Now I want that even more with haptic feedback. Because it makes typing on the device almost fun. Sort of whimsical.
I know most people seemingly despise the key click sounds, but I have always loved them. I don’t know if I do type better on-screen with them, but I feel like I do, which is actually more important. I’ve long wished for an option in Settings to keep key clicks audible even when the hardware mute switch is engaged. (If anyone at Apple is listening, go ahead and put that option somewhere inside Accessibility, where all the other awesome “secret” settings are.)
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-27 18:37
Ry Crist, reporting for CNet:
Ring, the Amazon-owned video doorbell and home security company, came under renewed criticism from privacy activists this month after disclosing it gave video footage to police in more than 10 cases without users’ consent thus far in 2022 in what it described as “emergency situations.” That includes instances where the police didn’t have a warrant. [...]
The disclosure, released in response to questioning from Sen. Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, comes after years of extensive and controversial partnerships between Ring and various police institutions. Now privacy advocates at organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation say that warrantless footage requests endanger civil liberties.
While Ring stands alone for its extensive history of police partnerships, it isn’t the only name I found with a carveout clause for sharing user footage with police during emergencies. Google, which makes and sells smart home cameras and video doorbells under the Nest brand, makes as much clear in its terms of service.
“If we reasonably believe that we can prevent someone from dying or from suffering serious physical harm, we may provide information to a government agency — for example, in the case of bomb threats, school shootings, kidnappings, suicide prevention and missing persons cases,” Google’s TOS page on government requests for user information reads. “We still consider these requests in light of applicable laws and our policies.”
Others, most notably Apple, use end-to-end encryption for user video as the default setting, which blocks the company from sharing user video at all.
“HomeKit Secure Video is end-to-end encrypted, meaning even Apple cannot access it,” a company spokesperson said.
Surveillance camera systems that don’t use end-to-end encryption should have a policy where footage is shared with third parties if and only if device owners have explicitly opted in to sharing footage with any entity, including the police, including in emergencies, without a warrant. Not just some small print in a long terms of service agreement, but a simple explicit dialog box along the lines of Apple’s “Ask not to track” opt-in. And in all cases, owners should be immediately notified when footage has been shared, with all pertinent details: what footage, shared with whom, for what reason.
I don’t know what Amazon is thinking with regard to this cozy-with-the-police policy with Ring. It’s the number one reason people are saying “Fuck no” regarding their prospective acquisition of One Medical. I’m no expert on HIPAA, but it looks like the law here in the U.S. has several carveouts allowing/requiring medical providers to share personal health records with law enforcement. So as a consumer, what it comes down to is trust. I trust every doctor I have an ongoing relationship with, and if I didn’t, I’d find new doctors.
I think Amazon has a good reputation on privacy — except for their ongoing stewardship of Ring. And handing camera footage over to police without a warrant is a big exception. I don’t know what Ring is worth to Amazon financially, but I genuinely wonder if they’ve done more reputational harm to Amazon’s overall brand than Ring is worth dollar-wise.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-26 13:13
Zachary Schermele, reporting for NBC News:
A Republican lawmaker attended his gay son’s wedding just three days after joining the majority of his GOP colleagues in voting against a House bill that would codify federal protections for same-sex marriage.
The gay son of Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., confirmed to NBC News on Monday that he “married the love of [his] life” on Friday and that his “father was there.” NBC News is not publishing the names of the grooms, neither of whom is a public figure.
Via Dan Rather, who wrote “Sharing without further comment.”
I’ll add one comment: Yes, the hypocrisy is maddening, but if you put yourself in the shoes of anyone in this family, imagine the actual interactions and conversations and arguments and the feelings, it’s just profoundly sad.
Make it two comments: I sincerely hope the wedding was a joyous affair for the couple and for all their friends and family who support them openly and wholeheartedly.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-26 02:14
I asked this on Twitter this morning — poll runs for another 12 hours. I’m genuinely curious how much this feature is used.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-26 01:07
Marco Arment returns to the show to talk about the new M2 MacBook Air and stuff.
Brought to you by these fine sponsors:
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-25 19:11
Ingrid Lunden, reporting for TechCrunch:
Today, a company called TextExpander — which has identified and built a way to fix a similar gap in another repetitive aspect of business life, communications, by letting users create customized shortcuts to trigger longer text-based actions such as specific phrasing around a topic, calendar events, emails, messages, CRM systems and many other environments — is announcing $41.4 million in funding to expand something else: its business.
Alongside the funding, the company is also appointing a new CEO, J.D. Mullin, who is taking over from Philip Goward, who co-founded the company originally with Greg Scown. TextExpander was born out of another developer platform they built called Smile — you can read more about that early history, with an interesting nod to how they originally met at Macworld and how the threat of a clone led them to build for iOS after first launching on Mac, here — and both are keeping seats on the board and remaining involved in aspects of development.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-25 23:30
browser new type of software for searching healthy thinking on the internet.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-25 17:50
The Apple Store Time Machine is a celebration of the places and products that have shaped our lives for more than twenty years. This interactive experience recreates memorable moments in Apple history with painstaking detail and historical accuracy.
What Steeber has made here is astonishing. It’s effectively a Mac game that you download and explore. The “levels”, as it were, are exquisitely-detailed 3D recreations of four iconic Apple Stores, including the Fifth Avenue “cube” in New York. Each store has been rebuilt to look exactly like it did on grand opening day, right down to the boxes of software on the shelves. However uncannily accurate, nostalgic, and fun you might be thinking this sounds based on the above description, you’re underestimating it.
It’s free to download and explore, if you choose, but Steeber also has an option to pay a voluntary amount. If this pleases you even half as much as it does me, I’m sure you’ll do what I just did and pay for it.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-23 23:19
My thanks to RevenueCat for sponsoring this week at DF. If you’re a developer, you know in-app subscriptions are a pain. The code can be hard to write, time-consuming to maintain, and full of edge cases. RevenueCat makes it simple so you can focus on building features, not a subscription back end.
With RevenueCat, you also get out-of-the-box subscription metrics and charts that you can’t get from App Store Connect. Plus, pre-built integrations make it easy to sync customer events and revenue data to every tool in your stack.
Learn more at RevenueCat’s website and see why thousands of the world’s best apps trust RevenueCat to power subscriptions on iOS, Android, and the web.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-23 23:05
Jack Wellborn, “A Burger Without Heinz” at Worms and Viruses:
Wirecutter’s exclusion of MacBooks from a category that is effectively “best laptop” is the latest bit of evidence in a recent trend I’ve noticed wherein reviewers have inexplicably stopped comparing Wintel laptops to Apple’s MacBooks. Compare ArsTechnica’s review of the Surface Laptop Go 2 from this month to their review of the Surface Book 2 from 2017. The current review only includes other Wintel laptops in benchmarks whereas the one from 2017 included that year’s MacBook.
If memory serves, including Macs in PC hardware comparisons was more or less the norm just a few years ago. I can’t fathom why some reviewers have recently stopped doing so. Is it that reviewers don’t think they could fairly compare x86 and ARM laptops? It seems easy enough to me. Are they afraid that constantly showing MacBooks outperforming Wintel laptops will give the impression that they are in the bag for Apple? I don’t see why. Facts are facts, and a lot of people need or want to buy a Windows laptop regardless.
I can’t help but wonder if, in the minds of many reviewers, MacBooks were PCs so long as they used Intel, and therefore they stopped being PCs once Apple switched to using their own silicon.
I feel quite certain Wellborn had it right the first time: reviewers at ostensibly neutral publications are afraid that reiterating the plain truth about x86 vs. Apple silicon — that Apple silicon wins handily in both performance and efficiency — is not going to be popular with a large segment of their audience. Apple silicon is a profoundly inconvenient truth for many computer enthusiasts who do not like Macs, so they’ve gone into denial, like Fox News cultists with regard to climate change. It’s that simple. There’s no other explanation for omitting MacBooks from comparisons like Ars Technica’s.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-23 18:24
I really don’t mean to keep writing about Humane’s Change Everything teaser, but a DF reader emailed to say that the gist of it — that our collective addiction to our phones is a problem, and that Humane has struck upon a solution — reminded him of Microsoft’s ad campaign when they launched Windows Phone 7 in 2010.
I hadn’t thought about that in a while, but yes — yes it does. The first spot in Microsoft’s campaign has seemingly vanished from the internet, but the second spot in the campaign — which is very fun and exquisitely well-executed, replete with an excellent choice of song — is available on YouTube. I highly recommend giving this old ad a minute of your time for a rewatch. (Update: Here’s a copy of the first ad in the campaign — it’s just as funny as I remember. Worth watching! But a clever well-made short film is not a good ad if it doesn’t make people want to buy the product.)
The gist of Microsoft’s 2010 Windows Phone campaign was the same — everyone devotes too much attention to their phones and Microsoft has hit upon a solution. Here’s what I wrote then:
And do iPhone / Android / BlackBerry addicts really see this as a problem that needs to be solved? I feel like I spend so much time on my iPhone not because it’s inefficient, but because it’s so good. I’m never more than a few seconds away from something at least somewhat engaging.
I.e., Microsoft’s premise here is that WP7 has a dashboard and system-wide interface that’s optimized for getting you through a finite amount of “checking in” or “catching up” in significantly less time than other mobile systems. But I don’t think people are on their iPhones / Androids / BlackBerrys all the time because of inefficient UI design. I think it’s because we want to be on them. These devices are where our minds are drawn — like moths to a flame, perhaps — whenever we’re otherwise unoccupied.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-23 17:50
My longstanding complaint about
The Wirecutter is that they institutionally fetishize price over quality. That makes it all the more baffling that their recommended “Best Laptop” — not best Windows laptop, but best laptop, full stop — is a Dell XPS 13 that costs $1,340 but is slower and gets worse battery life (and has a lower-resolution display) than their “best Mac laptop”, the $1,000 M1 MacBook Air.
They do have a “Mac or Windows (or Something Else)?” preface to the whole comparison, but if you’re going to name a “best laptop”, putting aside OS preference, it’s incompetent not to conclude that MacBooks are both technically superior and better values for the dollar thanks to Apple’s exclusive silicon advantage.
(The core of my discontent with Wirecutter is that they — like so many people — incorrectly conflate value with price. Value is nuanced and multivariate; price is simply one variable in the value equation.)
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-23 14:17
Molly White reports on an NFT “joke gone wrong” — but I read it as a joke gone right. Delicious.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-23 13:49
Catherine Thorbecke, writing for CNN:
Despite its pervasiveness, the technology is still prone to headache-inducing issues, whether it’s the struggle to set up a new device to connect with, switching headphones between devices or simply being too far out of range to connect.
“I have a very love-hate relationship with Bluetooth,” said Chris Harrison, a professor of Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Melon University. “Because when it works, it’s amazing, and when it doesn’t, you want to rip your hair out. The promise was to make it as seamless and easy as possible. Bluetooth never quite got there, unfortunately.”
The good news is, Bluetooth is an open industry standard, governed by a consortium. Consortiums are a great way to develop and advance reliable technology — so agrees no less a body of technical expertise than the European Commission. So, next year, I bet, Bluetooth is finally going to get good.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-22 23:58
I got more notes from readers than usual about this item — it seemingly struck a chord. But one thing that surprised me were the number of people who wrote to me who admitted that even after my post, they hadn’t watched the film. I realize that in the mass market, most people spending time “on the internet” do little other than watch videos, but for some people, I think there’s severe video fatigue. Some people want to do anything but watch yet another video. (If that sounds like you, Daring Fireball is here for you, baby.)
For those people, and for posterity, allow me to summarize Humane’s short film in prose. Our protagonist is a young woman, in full color, lost in a crowd of thousands of faceless, monochromatic people who are all either staring at their phones or wearing XR headsets. Our hero has neither a phone nor headset, and thus she’s the only one who notices a solar eclipse is occurring. She follows the direction of the sun and finds herself in a jungle or forest, discovers something mysterious projecting onto the palm of her hand, and is happier for it.
She spends most of her minute-long journey staring directly into the eclipse.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-22 05:39
I found this post from Andrew Bosworth insightful.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-22 00:35
Minecraft (which has been a subsidiary of Microsoft since 2014):
In our Minecraft Usage Guidelines, we outline how a server owner can charge for access, and that all players should have access to the same functionality. We have these rules to ensure that Minecraft remains a community where everyone has access to the same content. NFTs, however, can create models of scarcity and exclusion that conflict with our Guidelines and the spirit of Minecraft. [...]
Each of these uses of NFTs and other blockchain technologies creates digital ownership based on scarcity and exclusion, which does not align with Minecraft values of creative inclusion and playing together. NFTs are not inclusive of all our community and create a scenario of the haves and the have-nots. The speculative pricing and investment mentality around NFTs takes the focus away from playing the game and encourages profiteering, which we think is inconsistent with the long-term joy and success of our players.
A remarkably clear policy and explanation. The rest of the gaming industry would do well to follow. (The response from NFT Worlds is a lot of ✊🍆.)
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-20 18:08
Humane is an intriguing, secretive startup founded by the husband-and-wife team of Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno. You may recall I linked to an interview with them in January 2020. Chaudhri and Bongiorno are both former Apple executives, and many of Humane’s employees are ex-Apple too. That’s a major reason why there’s so much interest in what they’re working on. I have a samizdat copy of a Humane investor slide deck from 2021, which describes a sort of button you wear on your chest. The button is equipped with a camera and lidar to see and record the world, recognize hand gestures, and maybe uses lasers or something to project an interface onto surfaces like your hand. Or in the words of Humane’s slide deck, they’re building a “cloud connected sight enabled AI platform with server side app echo system.” (Not sure if that needs a “sic” or not — my copy of the slide deck says “echo system” not “ecosystem”.)
Anyway, still silence from Humane on the product, but they spent the first weeks of July hyping a short film the company commissioned, titled Change Everything. Bongiorno says they’ve had the film envisioned for years.
The film is out, and the only effect it had on me was to increase my skepticism about what Humane is building. It feels like something that aspires to the punch of Apple’s iconic 1984 ad by Ridley Scott, but with the punch and swagger replaced by New Age vapidity and hubris. (Also worth noting: Steve Jobs pulled the first Macintosh out of its bag on stage two days after 1984 aired.)
Sometimes a dead canary is just a dead canary, and sometimes a dud ad is just a dud ad, but I’d check the Humane mine for methane just in case.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-20 16:29
After over 2 years as a full-time creator, I’m taking on a new role at YouTube as Creator Liaison (@YouTubeLiaison)! Of course, I made a quick video collab with some creator and YouTube friends to help give you all the details.
I did not have “Rene Ritchie gets a Google employee badge” on my bingo card, but that’s why I don’t play bingo. Congratulations to a good friend.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-16 23:44
My thanks to Sofa for sponsoring this week at DF. Sofa is a “productivity” app but it’s about being productive, and intentional, with your downtime. What do you do now when you hear about a new TV show, movie, book, or podcast you want to check out? You probably just throw it in your notes or to-do app with a zillion other types of things.
Instead, throw it in Sofa. Sofa lets you create lists of apps, video games, books, movies, shows, podcasts — even board games. Whatever you want to watch, read, listen to, or play for fun. Adding new items is a cinch — Sofa has a smart search feature that auto-completes what you’re typing. I’ve been using Sofa for a few weeks now and the habit has stuck.
Sofa is available for iPhone, iPad, and Apple silicon Macs. It has a really nice native UI. You can use it for free and it’s useful; the paid Super Sofa subscription makes it even better. Good support, good documentation, and a clever focused idea done well. Check it out today — it’s good.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-16 03:59
The M2 MacBook Air marks the second generation of Apple silicon Macs. But it still seems hard for us, collectively, to wrap our heads around the sea change these chips have enabled. When I reviewed one of the first M1 Macs — a 13-inch MacBook Pro — back in November 2020, I wrote:
Apple’s new Macs based on the M1 system on a chip, the first Macs based on Apple silicon, are that sort of mind-bending better. To acknowledge how good they are — and I am here to tell you they are astonishingly good — you must acknowledge that certain longstanding assumptions about how computers should be designed, about what makes a better computer better, about what good computers need, are wrong.
Some people will remain in denial about what Apple has accomplished here for years. That’s how it goes.
I was right, but perhaps denial was the wrong word. Denial is often about refusing to believe something you don’t want to be true. With Apple silicon Macs, many people are hesitant to believe something they want to be true — that these computers are as good as they are. That they run very fast, very cool, and very efficiently. People suspect there has to be a catch.
There is no catch.
The 2020 M1 MacBook Air was (and remains) a great laptop. The new M2 MacBook Air is clearly better in every regard.
It’s thinner, lighter, faster, and has a better brighter display and better speakers. All while getting the same battery life and bringing MagSafe back, which effectively gives you an extra USB-C/Thunderbolt port while charging.
The keyboard and trackpad are great. They both look and feel identical — or nearly so — to the keyboard and trackpad on the 2021 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros with the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. With its flat, untapered top and bottom surfaces, the whole MacBook Air looks and feels like the thinner sibling to those new MacBook Pros.
With the case closed, holding it, it is obviously thinner than the previous retina MacBook Airs. This has nothing to do with the previous MacBook Air models’ iconic wedge-shaped form, but instead is about the lack of subtle tapering on the new MacBook Air. That tapering had a slimming effect, but that effect was basically an optical trick. It made Intel MacBooks (and the first round of M1 MacBooks, which shared the same industrial designs) look thinner than they actually were or felt. This new design is more honest and feels great in hand. If there’s a downside to the new, untapered form factor, it’s that it makes these new MacBooks perhaps a bit harder to pick up from a table or desk using just one hand — without the tapering, it’s a bit harder to get one’s fingers underneath to lift it. But I say perhaps. It’s certainly not hard to pick up — and once in hand, it feels great.
The camera is fine for a built-in laptop camera.
There’s a notch. This looks weird at first, I know. But, as someone who’s been using a notched 14-inch MacBook Pro for months, trust me, you stop thinking about it after a few days. It’s a little bit weird when you use an app that has so many menus that one or more of them fall on the far side of the notch, but I don’t regularly use any apps with that many menus. I’ve got 26 apps running on this MacBook Air right now, and not one of them has too many menus to fit on the left of the notch.1
The display is bright and sharp. Unlike the new MacBook Pros, there’s no HDR and no ProMotion (dynamic high refresh up to 120 Hz). The 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro displays have a resolution of 254 pixels per inch; the MacBook Air’s display has a resolution of only 224 pixels per inch. The practical effect of this pixels-per-inch difference is that the default display resolution of the MacBook Pros is exactly 2×; on the Air, the default resolution uses scaling. You can configure the MacBook Air to use a display resolution that doesn’t use scaling, but that makes less content fit on screen. These display differences are a significant reason why the new MacBook Pros start at $2,000 and the new MacBook Air starts at just $1,200. It’s the difference between a truly exceptional display and a merely very good display.
The MacBook Pros have much better speakers too, but the speakers on the new MacBook Air are good.
Thermals are where people seem spooked. People are just so scarred from their experience with x86-based laptops (Apple’s or otherwise) over the last decade or so, as Intel lost the performance-per-watt plot, that they just can’t bring themselves to believe that a thin, high-performance, long-lasting, cool-running laptop with no fan (or, in Apple’s parlance, no “active cooling system”) is possible, let alone available at consumer-level prices. I’m here to reassure you: the new M2 MacBook Air is thin, high-performance, long-lasting, cool-running, and has no fan.
Compared to the M1 MacBook Air, the M2 Air is a better-looking lighter-weight device outside and a faster computer inside. Not like radically game-changingly faster than the M1, but nicely faster — pretty much exactly what you’d like to see a little over a year and a half after the M1. Apple says it’s about 10–20 percent faster. Benchmarks I ran peg it as ... about 10–20 percent faster. In the first two years of the Apple silicon era of Macs, the rest of the industry has not only failed to close the gap, they’ve fallen even further behind. The x86 Intel/AMD duopoly still has nothing that vaguely competes with the M1, and now Apple is shipping the M2 that’s even faster with the same or better energy efficiency.
There’s not much more to say about it.
Wait, there is one more thing. The hinge opens and closes very nicely. Apple’s MacBook hinge team does not get enough credit.
The aforementioned “sounds too good to be true” incredulity is, I think, why the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro exists. It’s why the M1 version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro sold well (second only to the MacBook Air) and why the new M2 version will continue to sell well. I expect it to remain the second-best selling Mac that Apple makes and yet, technically, it’s a machine almost no one should buy. But they do buy it, and like it, because they think they need it. It’s like people who think they want a big pickup truck or SUV yet never once use them for anything more than a smaller vehicle can handle. They just want it, because it feels like what they need, even though it isn’t in a practical sense.
Basically, there are millions of people whose computing needs would be more than met by the MacBook Air but who feel like they probably need a slightly thicker laptop with a fan on the inside and the word “Pro” stamped on the outside2 because their current ostensibly pro-level laptop — which may well be a MacBook Pro from Apple with Intel inside — struggles under the load of their daily work. It runs hot, the fans scream, and the battery doesn’t last long enough. Switching to this new thinner fan-less MacBook Air from a thicker MacBook Pro that makes frequent, clearly audible, use of its fan sounds like a downgrade. But for the overwhelming majority of Intel-based MacBook Pro users, it’s not. Switching to the new M2 MacBook Air would be the biggest upgrade in their computing lives.
I suspect this skepticism is exacerbated, even amongst somewhat technically-informed Mac users, by the fact that Apple tried to do this before with the 12-inch no-adjective MacBook and failed. A thin, lightweight design with no fans inside. That was the 12-inch MacBook — and the tradeoffs didn’t work out for a lot of people. It wasn’t noisy, because there was no fan, but because there was no fan it was slow. It started slow and throttled to run even slower to avoid getting hot. But the 12-inch MacBook wasn’t underpowered because a thin, fan-less, high-performance laptop was an impossible dream — it was underpowered because a thin, fan-less, high-performance laptop was and remains an impossible dream for the x86 computing architecture.
The Apple silicon architecture is a different ballgame. Trying to convince someone who’s never actually lived with an M1 (or, now, M2) Mac just how much better the Apple silicon platform is than x86 is like trying to convince a time traveller from the 18th century how great indoor plumbing is. Words alone do not suffice. You really need to let them take a shit indoors on a nice warm toilet in the middle of a cold winter night and see for themselves.
What is the ideal everyperson computer?
Apple has been on a decades-long quest pursuing the answer to that question.
The ideal everyperson computer is a laptop. That laptop has a full-sized keyboard and a beautiful 13-inch display. Maybe a 14-inch display with really small bezels. A smaller display is too small for most people’s taste (and may necessitate a slightly cramped keyboard); a larger display makes for too big and heavy a device for everyperson needs. The battery lasts all day despite active use and screen brightness being set to “plenty bright”. It has no fan because fan noise is abhorrent, but needs no fan because it’s equipped with chips that run more than fast enough without an active cooling system. The machine itself is physically durable and visually attractive. It has at least two high-speed modern I/O ports and a MagSafe port for charging. It doesn’t bother with legacy I/O ports, except, perhaps, a headphone jack, because that’s the only legacy port most people really will use. It only offers SSD storage. It runs just fine with the base amount of memory, but can be configured with up to two or three times more RAM, because more RAM is always better.3
This new M2 MacBook Air is that machine.
For the last decade-plus, the MacBook Air has been both the Mac that most people do buy, and the Mac that most people should buy. The M1 Pro/Max MacBook Pros introduced at the end of 2021 are the best MacBook Pros Apple has ever made, but with the M2 MacBook Air, it has never been more true that this is the Mac laptop the overwhelming majority of people should buy.
The main difference most people will notice between the M2 MacBook Air and the 14-inch MacBook Pro is how much thinner and lighter the MacBook Air is. The new MacBook Air is so thin that its entire height, sitting on a desk (thus, including the feet), is almost identical to the height of the bottom of the MacBook Pro. Like, if you just snapped off the entire display of the MacBook Pro, that’s how thin the MacBook Air is. Here’s the M2 MacBook Air next to my 2021 14-inch MacBook Pro:
The last difference most people will notice between the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro is that MacBook Pro has an active cooling system and the MacBook Air does not. They’ll never miss not having a fan in the Air and would never engage or notice the fan if they were instead using the Pro. If you doubt this, I beseech you, give indoor plumbing a chance.
I own a 2021 14-inch MacBook Pro. I’ve been using this 13-inch M2 MacBook Air all week, and because I started by cloning my personal machine using Migration Assistant,4 I’ve been confused at times which machine I was using at the moment. I find myself thinking, “Hey, I should be using the MacBook Air, I have a review to write” and then I look down and I am using the M2 MacBook Air. My review unit Air is starlight colored, with 1 TB storage and 16 GB RAM. My personal MacBook Pro is space gray, maxed out (no pun intended) with a 4 TB SSD and 64 GB RAM. In my daily use, this $1,900 MacBook Air feels identical to my $4,700 MacBook Pro.
What could be better on the Air?
In theory it could be even thinner and lighter. We’ll have to wait for future silicon for that to be possible without compromising performance or battery life. But such is the march of progress.
It’d be nice if the MacBook Air’s M2 chip could drive more than one external display. (The M1 Pro chip can drive up to three; the M1 Max up to four.) Instead of putting both Thunderbolt/USB-C ports on the left, it’d be nice if one of them were on the right.
As mentioned above, it’d be nice if the MacBook Air display’s physical resolution were higher, so that the default effective resolution wouldn’t require scaling.
There are several minor downsides particular to the entry model — the $1,200 configuration with 256 GB of storage. That base model has an 8-core GPU instead of 10-core, the result of chip binning. It costs $100 more to upgrade to a 10-core GPU. So far so good — for price-sensitive buyers, being able to trade 2 GPU cores for $100 seems fair. It feels like a cheapskate move, though, that the base model ships with the old 30-watt power adapter with a single USB-C port — all the other MacBook Air configurations include the new 35-watt power adapter with two USB-C ports, enabling you to charge two devices at once. Base model buyers can upgrade to this 35-watt charger for $20 (it costs $59 on its own), but a $1,200 MacBook Air should include that new charger by default. Apple even took time during the WWDC keynote to show this dual charger off. Lastly, there’s the kerfuffle over the fact that SSD read and write performance is slower with the 256 GB configuration, because it uses just a single NAND chip, whereas all other storage configurations use multiple NAND chips. It costs $200 to upgrade the base model to 512 GB storage. None of these are dealbreakers to me, just minor details to be aware of if you’re eying the $1,200 base model. It’s best, in my opinion, to consider the $1,500 configuration as the default model (10 GPUs, full-speed SSD performance, and the new 35-watt charger), and to consider the $1,200 configuration something more like the “discount” configuration.
I still miss the illuminated Apple logo on older MacBooks — it’d be nice if Apple could figure out a way to bring that back.
Otherwise, I’m grasping for straws here looking for anything that could reasonably be significantly improved, to be honest. The M2 MacBook Air is that close to ideal for what it’s meant to be.5
After the M1 iMacs shipped a year ago in an array of fun vibrant colors, the biggest surprise last month when Apple introduced the new MacBook Air is that it didn’t come in any fun vibrant colors. As mentioned above, my review unit is starlight. Starlight, to my eyes, is nice, but it’s subtle. It’s definitely well-named — it should not be called gold or “some adjective gold”. It’s more like silver with a warmer color temperature. Noticeably different from actual silver, but also not too far from neutral. The new midnight color is the darkest MacBook Apple has ever made from aluminum. I haven’t seen one in person since WWDC, but it looked really nice. But part of why I, personally, liked it so much is that it appeared only subtly blue — more like very dark gray with a hint of blue than “dark blue”. The new MacBook Air color choices are all rather conservative.
Many people say they wish the new MacBook Air came in colors like those of the iMac, or iPhones and iPads. And, at WWDC, it was a very common question members of the media asked representatives from Apple: why not offer the Air in colors like the iMac? As ever with Apple, they did not really explain themselves. But reading between the lines and consulting my Cupertino-ology translation handbook, the gist I took away from their non-answer answers was that vibrant-colored laptops don’t actually look good in use. One might think they would, but they don’t. I’m not saying that’s true — I’m saying that’s what I think Apple product marketing folks were trying to say without actually saying it. (Apple product marketing reps only like to talk about what Apple has done, not what Apple could have done differently.) If you think about it, though, this makes some sense. Laptops are unique. Note, for one thing, that iPhones and iPads have displays that take up their entire front faces. You can have a bright red iPhone or a very blue iPad but while you’re using it, you don’t really see the red or blue (or purple or pink or green or whatever) casing. And even with the M1 iMacs, the vibrant aluminum is all on the back — the chins are much more neutral. Not so with a MacBook, where the unibody aluminum is fully exposed when the laptop is open. When you’re using a laptop, you want the visual emphasis entirely on the display. Vibrant aluminum colors don’t distract from an all-display iPhone or iPad while in use; they might with a laptop. Again, I’m not saying I know that’s true, because I’ve never used a (say) Product Red MacBook — I’m just saying that seems to be what Apple folks were telling us, in so many words, and it does seem plausible.
That said, it’s worth considering that the teardrop MacBook Air form factor was with us for 14 years. This all-new MacBook Air design might be with us for a similarly long stretch. One way Apple can keep this basic design fresh year after year is by introducing new colorways. That’s what Apple does with the iPhone and iPad — form factors change only rarely, but color options change every year. I expect we’ll see MacBook Air colorways that are more fun eventually.
The biggest (and smallest) room for improvement with the new MacBook Air would be options for larger and smaller displays. If you want a large-screen MacBook — 15 or 16 inches — your only option is the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which starts at $2,500. That’s downright absurd given that the M2 MacBook Air has the performance and features necessary to serve as the primary Mac for the overwhelming majority of even serious Mac users. The 16-inch MacBook Pro costs $500 more than the correspondingly-specced 14-inch MacBook Pro. There should be a 15-inch MacBook Air that costs $400 or $500 more than the correspondingly-specced 13-inch Air.
Apple has never made such a big-screen non-Pro MacBook, but they should. But Apple has made smaller laptops before, and they should again. From 2010 through 2017, Apple made an 11-inch MacBook Air. It was one of my favorite Macs ever made. From 2015 through 2019, Apple made the 12-inch retina MacBook, which was particularly notable at the time because the MacBook Air didn’t yet have a retina display. Thin and light though the new M2 MacBook Air is, at 13 inches, it is noticeably heavier than either of those discontinued models:6
|2022 13-inch MacBook Air||2.70 lbs / 1.24 kg||1.13 cm|
|2015 11-inch MacBook Air||2.38 lbs / 1.08 kg||1.70 cm|
|2017 12-inch MacBook||2.03 lbs / 0.92 kg||1.31 cm|
Wishing that Apple made 11- and 15-inch models is a fair criticism of the company, but it’s not a fair criticism of this device, of course. And if there’s only going to be one size, this, clearly, is it. I am convinced that many people would prefer a larger or smaller MacBook Air, but I am even more convinced that most people are best served by this mid-range size. Some people do like their porridge cool or piping hot, but 13 inches is the Goldilocks “just right” size.
The M2 13-inch MacBook Air should not be thought of as version 2 of an Apple silicon MacBook Air. It’s more like version — I don’t know — 40 of what Apple thinks a standard Mac laptop should be. Apple silicon is what’s been missing — no-compromise chips that enable Apple to make the laptops they’ve always wanted to make. It’s taken decades of iterative refinement to get to this point: a nearly perfect laptop for nearly everyone.
BBEdit and Safari come the closest among my currently-running apps. Safari, because I have both its optional Develop and Debug menus enabled. One app I occasionally use that does have menus that span the notch gap is Safari Technology Preview — because the name of the app itself in the menu bar takes up so much space. ↩︎
Here’s a weird detail about the new MacBook Air: it doesn’t say “MacBook Air” (or even “MacBook”) anywhere on the case. The new 2021 MacBook Pros have “MacBook Pro” nicely embossed in the aluminum on the case bottom. The old M1 MacBook Air has “MacBook Air” printed (somewhat obnoxiously, in my opinion) in white on the black bezel underneath the display. But the new M2 MacBook Air is just completely unlabeled but for the mirror-polished Apple logo on the top of the case. ↩︎︎
Seymour Cray’s famous quip regarding swap: “Memory is like an orgasm. It’s a lot better if you don’t have to fake it.” ↩︎︎
I will repeat here a footnote from my review of the first M1 MacBook Pro back in November 2020: Migration Assistant is simply an astonishingly good tool. If you religiously set up all new Macs from scratch, I implore you to give it a shot. If you don’t like it you can always start over from scratch. Seriously, you’re missing out if you don’t use it. ↩︎︎
Here’s a gripe. The keys on Apple’s modern keyboards all develop a shine over time, starting with the most-used keys. It looks like oil from your skin, but it’s not — you can’t clean it off. It’s erosion of the plastic. Long story short, ABS plastic is more commonly used on keycaps because it’s cheaper; PBT plastic is more expensive. ABS plastic keycaps develop a shine the more they’re used; PBT keycaps do not. Apple has solved this problem before — the Extended Keyboard II I use at my desk was manufactured in the 20th century but the one and only key with any shine to it is the space bar. They should solve it again.
To be clear, I have no idea what kind of plastic Apple uses for its keycaps. I’m just saying that it’s well known that cheaping out on the materials used to produce keycaps results in keys that get shiny over time. Apple is a company that prides itself on its materials engineering and the durability of its products, and so they could fix this if they cared. And they should care. ↩︎︎
For what it’s worth, the M2 13-inch MacBook Air is significantly thinner and lighter (1.24 kg vs. 1.40 kg) than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro attached to a Magic Keyboard. Magic Keyboards are nice peripherals, but they make for a somewhat chunky whole compared to a true laptop. ↩︎︎
Permalink - Posted on 2022-07-13 01:48
Tripp Mickle, with a scoop for The New York Times:
Mr. Ive and Apple have agreed to stop working together, according to two people with knowledge of their contractual agreement, ending a three-decade run during which the designer helped define every rounded corner of an iPhone and guided development of its only new product category in recent years, the Apple Watch.
When Mr. Ive left Apple in 2019 to start his own design firm, LoveFrom, the iPhone maker signed a multiyear contract with him valued at more than $100 million. That made Apple his firm’s primary client, people with knowledge of the agreement said.
The deal restricted Mr. Ive from taking on work that Apple found competitive and ensured that the designer would inform the development of future products, such as an augmented-reality headset that it is expected to ship next year, the people said.
In recent weeks, with the contract coming up for renewal, the parties agreed not to extend it. Some Apple executives had questioned how much the company was paying Mr. Ive and had grown frustrated after several of its designers left to join Mr. Ive’s firm. And Mr. Ive wanted the freedom to take on clients without needing Apple’s clearance, these people said.
It remains unclear (to me at least) how much Ive (and LoveFrom) have been involved with Apple over the last three years, so it’s unclear whether the lapsing of this formal consulting agreement is largely symbolic, or if it marks a true parting of the ways.
Update: I’m hearing, from a few sources, that LoveFrom’s involvement with Apple has been more than symbolic over the past three years — which makes sense! — and that Apple folks have been reviewing new product designs with Ive as recently as a few months ago. This story in The New York Times is the first a lot of people inside Apple have heard about the purported breakup.
Update 2: A better question: Which side leaked this to Mickle? I’m thinking it was someone at Apple, not LoveFrom. The begrudgingness regarding LoveFrom’s high consulting fees certainly makes it sound like the leak came from Apple. Not a strategic leak, necessarily, but perhaps just someone at Apple who has Mickle’s ear. Strategically, I think Apple would have preferred to let the dissolution of this partnership go unnoticed. But it’s an interesting question.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-06-28 16:50
The culture war raged most hotly from the ’70s to the next century’s ’20s. It polarized American society, dividing men from women, rural from urban, religious from secular, Anglo-Americans from more recent immigrant groups. At length, but only after a titanic constitutional struggle, the rural and religious side of the culture imposed its will on the urban and secular side. A decisive victory had been won, or so it seemed.
The culture war I’m talking about is the culture war over alcohol prohibition. From the end of Reconstruction to the First World War, probably more state and local elections turned on that one issue than on any other. The long struggle seemingly culminated in 1919, with the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment and enactment by Congress of the National Prohibition Act, or the Volstead Act (as it became known). The amendment and the act together outlawed the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States and all its subject territories. Many urban and secular Americans experienced those events with the same feeling of doom as pro-choice Americans may feel today after the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Only, it turns out that the Volstead Act was not the end of the story. As Prohibition became a nationwide reality, Americans rapidly changed their mind about the idea. Support for Prohibition declined, then collapsed. Not only was the Volstead Act repealed, in 1933, but the Constitution was further amended so that nobody could ever try such a thing ever again.
The analogy isn’t perfect, but no analogy ever is. I’ll start by noting the obvious: that women’s reproductive rights and bodily autonomy are far more essential than the right to consume alcohol (or any other drug) recreationally. The stakes are immeasurably higher.
That said, I find Frum’s analogy compelling, politically. Optimistically, the repeal of Prohibition was resounding, and seemingly stands as proof that something so deeply unpopular cannot stand in a democracy. Pessimistically, the repeal of Prohibition — despite its deep unpopularity and obvious failure — took 14 years. From our perspective today, Prohibition looks like a bizarre, brief blip in American history; to those who lived through it, it was a long and painful slog.
More pessimistic, of course, is the fact that American democracy itself is in severe crisis. Deeply unpopular laws and the suppression of fundamental human rights are the norm in autocracies.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-06-27 19:52
I’ve written about this — e.g. here and here — but because I consider it one of the single most important things to know about iOS, I should write about it more often. Even if you’re not the sort of person who typically shares iPhone tips with your friends and relatives, this is one that you should spread the word about.
The problem is this: if you use Face ID or Touch ID on your device (and you almost certainly should), what happens if law enforcement (or anyone else for that matter) takes your device and physically forces you to unlock it biometrically? There is some legal precedent supporting the notion that police can force you to do this, but can’t force you to provide them with a passcode or passphrase.
Here are two essential things everyone should know.
The first is hard-locking. When you hard-lock your iPhone or iPad, it enters a mode that requires the device passcode to unlock. With recent iPhones and iPads, you enter this mode the same way that you turn off the device: by pressing and holding the power button and either of the volume buttons for about two seconds.1 You’ll know when you’ve pressed the buttons long enough because there’s haptic feedback.2 This takes you to the screen where you see a slider to power down the device, and on iPhones, where you can initiate an Emergency SOS call or view the device owner’s Medical ID (if they have one). The important thing to note is that you don’t have to do anything on this screen to hard-lock your device — once you’ve gotten to this screen, the device is already hard-locked and will require the passcode to unlock. You can’t use Face ID or Touch ID again until the passcode has been entered. This is important because it means you can easily hard-lock your iPhone without even looking at it, or removing it from your pocket or purse. That you can do this surreptitiously is very much by design.
Just press and hold the buttons on both sides. Remember that. Try it now. Don’t just memorize it, internalize it, so that you’ll be able to do it without much thought while under duress, like if you’re confronted by a police officer. Remember to do this every time you’re separated from your phone, like when going through the magnetometer at any security checkpoint, especially airports. As soon as you see a metal detector ahead of you, you should think, “Hard-lock my iPhone”.
The second thing is to know your rights. Never ever hand your phone to a cop or anyone vaguely cop-like, like the rent-a-cops working for TSA. If they tell you that you must, refuse. They can and will lie to you about this. If you really need to hand it over, they’ll take it from you. And they won’t get anything from it, because you’ll have already hard-locked it, and you’ll know that you cannot be required to give them your passcode.
You can also do the same thing by quickly pressing the side button alone five times. On older iPhones (iPhone 7 and earlier), rapidly pressing the side button five times will immediately initiate the SOS phone call to emergency services; on iPhone 8 and later it just takes you to the same lock screen as when you press and hold the side button along with a volume button. I find the press-and-hold method easier to remember. I think of it as squeezing my iPhone for a moment to protect its contents. ↩︎
This haptic feedback/confirmation only occurs if “Vibrate on Ring” is turned on in Settings → Sounds & Haptics. I feel like this haptic feedback should occur regardless of this setting. ↩︎︎