Connected #169: Really Regular Nightstand »

This week on Connected:

Stephen is struggling with a lot of things and makes a task management confession, but Federico broke his iPhone X, so it all comes out in the wash. Oh, and Myke is gone, so don’t tell him he was right about the HomePod being delayed.

My thanks to our sponsors:

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  • Simple Contacts: Contact lens prescriptions from home: Use offer code Connected for $30 off your contact lenses

On Dual Lens Switching on the iPhone X »

Dan Provost from Studio Neat has gotten nerdy with iPhone X’s camera system:

I created a test to hopefully get a rough idea of how much light is required before an iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone X decide to switch to their respective telephoto lenses in 2X mode. I placed an object (in this case, an old Rolleiflex camera) on a white backdrop, and flanked it on both sides with two LED studio lights. I set up the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone X on tripods (using the Glif, natch) and positioned them to keep the framing as similar as possible. Then, starting from a completely dark room, I slowly raised the light levels and observed when the lens switched on each camera.

I love this.

On That ARM Chip in the iMac Pro »

Eric Slivka at MacRumors has rounded up a weekend of tweets from Steve Troughton-Smith, Guilherme Rambo and Jonathan Levin concerning the iMac Pro:

…the upcoming iMac Pro appears to feature an A10 Fusion chip with 512 MB of RAM. While the full functionality of the A10 chip isn’t yet known, it appears the chip will enable support for “Hey Siri” functionality, potentially even when the iMac Pro is turned off.

The A10 looks like it can do a lot more than just Hey Siri, as Steve points out:

In short, the A10 may first fire up BridgeOS, then boot macOS once a set of security and system integrity checks are passed.

There are a lot of questions here, but one thing seems settled: Face ID isn’t present in what we know about the iMac Pro. That’s a real bummer, as I was hoping to see the technology first surface in the iMac Pro.1

That aside, there is a ton of interesting stuff going on with the iMac Pro. It may be used to usher in a new era of Mac security and complexity, perhaps at the expense of pro users’ tinkering habits. Hopefully we’ll find out soon enough.

  1. As the iMac Pro is shipping with an A10, and not the new A11, I assume it doesn’t have the Secure Enclave and neural network support required for Face ID. The iMac Pro may have come together before the A11 was really ready to go, or maybe the chip’s ability to store just one face was seen as a bigger limitation on the Mac than it is on the iPhone. 

The 512 Pixels Holiday Gift Guide for People Like Me 

If you have a nerd in your life, let me save you some stress and suggest some holiday gifts they may enjoy:

HomePod Delayed Until 2018 

Apple, in a statement today:

We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple’s breakthrough wireless speaker for the home, but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers. We’ll start shipping in the US, UK and Australia in early 2018.

At WWDC, Apple said that its home speaker would be out “by the end of the year.”

No word on the iMac Pro, but Apple’s website still says “Available December” for that product.

Apple Begins High Sierra Automatic Rollout 

I have heard rumblings that Apple was considering making a bigger push for macOS users to upgrade to High Sierra. At the time, I was very unsure what that meant.

Forcing updates for patch releases, such as 10.13.0 to 10.13.1 is one thing; moving users from Sierra to High Sierra with little input is another thing altogether.

I’ve had this rattling around in the back of my mind, then I spotted this TidBITS article by Adam Engst:

If you’re running macOS 10.12 Sierra or earlier, and do not want to upgrade to 10.13 High Sierra right now, be careful because Apple has started pushing High Sierra to older Macs and making it all too easy to upgrade inadvertently.

Here’s the deal: Sierra users are seeing a macOS push notification banner titled “Upgrade to macOS High Sierra. Enjoy the latest technologies and refinements to your favorite apps.”

This banner has two buttons: Install and Details.

Hitting Install will prompt the user for their administrative password and the installer will begin. It happens instantly because macOS has already downloaded High Sierra in the background. Once the Installer is on the disk, the notification is triggered.

The Details button launches the App Store page for High Sierra.

As Engst points out, Apple has confirmed this behavior in support article #HT201475:

If you’re using OS X El Capitan v10.11.5 or later, High Sierra conveniently downloads in the background, making it even easier to upgrade your Mac. When the download has completed, you receive a notification indicating that High Sierra is ready to be installed. Click Install in the notification to get started.

If you want to install High Sierra later, just dismiss the notification. Install it at any time by opening the file named Install macOS High Sierra from your Applications folder, Launchpad, or Spotlight. Or delete the installer by dragging it to the Trash. You can always get it again from the App Store.

I understand Apple’s desire to move its user base to High Sierra. Having as many Macs in the world as possible on the most recent version of macOS is good for the company, third-party developers and ultimately users.

That said, this approach feels too heavy-handed to me. I don’t have a problem with the notification itself. It feels like nagging, but it may be the only way some users may hear that a new version of macOS is available.

However, having the OS download the 5.21 GB Installer in the background is some serious bullshit. Many users have limited disk space, bandwidth, or both.
Clicking Install on the notification should trigger the download, not the other way around.

If this sounds familiar, it should, as Apple did this with Sierra. I wrote this same blog post last year, so let me quote myself:

More importantly, this move may lessen the perceived significance of installing a major update to macOS. While Sierra doesn’t bring sweeping changes, putting it on the same level of updating Tweetbot feels a little problematic.

Time is a flat circle of macOS installers, as it turns out.

I don’t know if this is what the whispers about forced upgrades was about or not. I really don’t want Apple to get even more aggressive about this.

Fixing Media Playback Control Keys on High Sierra »

With High Sierra, Apple changed how the media playback control keys work on Macs without Touch Bars. In the past, these keys were locked to iTunes, even if media was playing in Safari, Messages or another application. Now, if I view an Animoji video from someone in Messages, the media keys become disassociated with iTunes, and they seem to get stuck with Messages far too long.

This has been driving me crazy on my iMac, where I keep iTunes running nearly all day. Thankfully, Milan Toth has fixed this regression with a little free Mac app named High Sierra Media Key Enabler. I’ve been running it since I saw Brian Stucki tweet about it, and it’s pretty great.