GM to Drop Android Auto, CarPlay Support from Future EVs →

Jonathan Gitlin, writing at Ars about a huge mistake GM is about to make:

In surprising car news today, we’ve learned that General Motors is planning to drop support for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto from new electric vehicles it plans to launch in the next few years. The decision won’t affect any GM vehicles already on the market, nor will it apply to gasoline- or diesel-powered GM vehicles in the coming years—just EVs.

“As we scale our EVs and launch our Ultifi software platform, we can do more than ever before with in-vehicle technologies and over-the-air updates. All of this is allowing us to constantly improve the customer experience we can offer across our brands,” said Edward Kummer, GM’s chief digital officer.

GM told Ars that it’s moving away from phone projection to offer customers a more integrated solution that sees Google Maps, Google Assistant, Audible, Spotify, and other applications run natively on its cars’ infotainment systems.

I don’t plan on ever purchasing a car without CarPlay again. I suspect a lot of folks feel the same way.

The White House Won’t Chip in for Twitter Verification →

Sara Fischer:

The White House will not pay to have its staff’s official Twitter profiles continue to be verified, according to guidance issued to staffers via an email obtained by Axios.

Official White House staffers rely on their verified accounts to inform the public on behalf of the administration. Verification, combined with the designated Twitter profiles, helped to ensure the public could trust those messages.

“It is our understanding that Twitter Blue does not provide person-level verification as a service. Thus, a blue check mark will now simply serve as a verification that the account is a paid user,” White House director of digital strategy Rob Flaherty told staffers in an email sent Friday afternoon.

Under the current scheme, official government accounts carry a gray check mark, media outlets and companies get gold ones and suckers get to show a blue one, perhaps optionally.

I expect mine will go away very soon.

Connected #443: You Don’t Deserve Me at 3x →

This week’s Connected is JAM PACKED with stuff:

WWDC 2023 was announced about 60 seconds after the guys started recording. After booking their travel, Myke, Federico and Stephen regroup to discuss a possible iPhone Action Button, how people use Shazam, iOS 16.4 and more. They also honor the work of Alex Hay.

If you Federico, Myke or I at WWDC, we may be cosplaying as Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs.

There’s an App for That… Unless You’re Apple’s Passwords Feature →

Cabel Sasser:

We all know that Apple has nice built-in password management in macOS and iOS. But very, very few people know that Apple’s passwords can also:

  • Autofill any 2FA verification codes, which you easily can add by scanning QR codes!
  • Keep a “Notes” field where you can add extra data, like 2FA backup codes, for each password!
  • Import passwords exported from another app, like 1Password! (And it all syncs across your devices, for free?!)

Very few people know these things because Apple tucks all of their important password features away in weird little Settings panels, instead of in a Proper Real App. I think this is a mistake.

Kbase Article of the Week: Apple Music Classical →


With the Apple Music Classical app, you can access the world’s largest classical music catalog.1 Search by composer, work, conductor, and more to quickly find any recording. Explore composers, periods, instruments, and more through curated playlists and composer biographies. Get detailed information about what youʼre listening to. And access more features for listening to classical music.

Apple Music Classical is included with an individual, student, or family subscription to Apple Music and is currently available only on iPhone.

  1. Editor’s Note: Except on an iPad (unless you use the iPhone app), Mac or in CarPlay. 

TRAPPIST-1 b is Not a Very Nice Place →

Nancy Atkinson:

With the James Webb Space Telescope’s ability to detect and study the atmospheres of distant planets orbiting other stars, exoplanet enthusiasts have been anticipating JWST’s first data on some of the worlds in the famous TRAPPIST-1 system. This is the system where seven Earth-sized worlds are orbiting a red dwarf star, with several in the habitable zone.

Today, a new study was released on the innermost planet in the system, TRAPPIST-1 b. The authors of the study were quite frank: this world very likely has no atmosphere at all. Additionally, the conditions there for possible life as we know it only get worse from there.

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Apple’s Live Activity for Timers Already Needs a Refresh

Apple’s Live Activity feature has begun to take off, with more and more apps doing interesting things with the new user interface. Sadly, one of Apple’s own uses for it doesn’t work the way it should.1

In this image, you can see the Live Activity on the lock screen, expanded from the Dynamic Island and a screenshot of itself:

A Live Activity for a Timer running on iOS 16.4 RC1

First, we have the issue of the Live Activity on the lock screen. Live Activities from third-party developers open the corresponding app when the Live Activity is tapped. Apple’s timer Live Activity doesn’t follow this convention. Instead, tapping the timer itself doesn’t do anything whatsoever. A user can pause or cancel the timer from the Lock Screen, but managing anything past that requires launching from somewhere else in the system.

I understand that Apple’s apps are often able to do things that third-party apps can’t, but these features make the timer Live Activity behave so differently than other Live Activities that it can be frustrating to use. It’s easy to cancel a timer, but hard to open the app that manages the timer itself.

When an iPhone 14 Pro is in use, the timer icon shows up in the Dynamic Island as expected. Pressing and holding it will expand the timer, showing the same controls as what is present on the lock screen. However, here — and only here — does tapping the Live Activity open the

For bonus points, I would love it if Apple would show the time at which the timer will go off, on both the lock screen and the expanded view within the Dynamic Island. Alas, that information isn’t visible anywhere except within the Clock app.

… which makes the fact that opening the Clock app from the timer Live Activity doesn’t open Clock to the timer tab feel pretty pretty pretty pretty bad. Instead, opens to either the last tab the user was using, or if the app has been fully quit, it opens to the World Clock. Tapping a timer should always open the corresponding panel in the Clock app.

None of these bugs are showstoppers. I use my iPhone2 to set timers several times a week, but the user experience is clunky and comes across as downright buggy.

I’ve filed a Feedback with Apple about this: FB12078863.

PS: Where’s the stopwatch Live Activity, Apple?

  1. Ah yes, another article about how Apple is bad at timers. 
  2. Don’t get me started on how clunky timers are on watchOS, but at least it can do multiple timers! 

Framework Updates Its Modular Notebook Line →

Framework is a company creating PC notebooks that are designed to be upgraded and repaired over time, and they’ve refreshed their products, as Andrew Cunningham reports:

For the second year in a row, Framework has announced new upgrades for its modular, repairable Framework Laptop that can be installed directly in older versions of the Framework Laptop. There are two motherboards: one with a predictable upgrade from 12th-generation Intel Core CPUs to 13th-generation chips and one that brings AMD’s Ryzen laptop processors to the Framework Laptop for the first time.

Framework has also formally renamed its first laptop design; the 13-inch model picks up the “Framework Laptop 13” retronym to distinguish it from the new Framework 16 gaming laptop.

You read that correctly; new motherboards can be installed into existing notebooks. There’s even an enclosure available for purchase to turn the old board into a desktop machine.

The Framework 13’s swappable ports made it easy to change out the I/O in case of damage, or to better reflect the user’s needs. The new 16 takes it even farther, as Cunningham writes in a second article:

The other noteworthy thing about the Framework Laptop 16 is its “Expansion Bay System,” which will primarily be used for dedicated GPUs. These GPU modules use eight lanes of PCIe bandwidth (the PCIe version will depend on the motherboard you have installed since the GPU’s PCIe lanes are usually built into the CPU) and can be plugged in and unplugged without modifying anything else about the laptop. Framework’s photos show an Expansion Bay jutting out of the back of the system—not having to fit the GPU within the body of the laptop itself will add size and weight, but it also means that more powerful GPU modules can make room for larger fans and heatsinks, and it’s up to the user to decide on the best combination of performance and size/weight.

Framework 16

These notebooks aren’t the best looking on the planet, nor do they sell in huge numbers. But they seem very, very cool — and important —e to this MacBook Pro user.

I Asked Bing to Make Some macOS Wallpapers

I love macOS wallpapers, so when I saw that Bing had incorporated image creation into its probably-not-going-to-kill-us-all-but-maybe AI tools, I took it for a spin with this prompt:

Make some wallpapers in the style of Mac OS wallpapers from Jaguar, Panther and Tiger

I got these back:

That’s not really what I had in mind, so while the AI’s reading of my prompt made me laugh, I decided to try again:

Make some wallpapers in the style of the blue wallpapers found in early versions of Mac OS X

This went a little better:

I wanted to see if I could get something closer to my beloved OS X images, so I got rid of the OS X language and asked Bing to create wallpapers using various shades of blue that are calming but still portray some level of movement and happiness. I got these back:

Honestly, the last one isn’t too bad.

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The Apple History Digital Calendar & Wallpapers Now For Sale →

In 2021, I launched my first Kickstarter campaign, for a wall calendar celebrating dates in Apple’s hardware history. The next year, I followed it up with a project focused on Apple’s software history. I’ve got something cooking for the third installment, but that’s a story for a different time.

Each project was more than just a beautiful wall calendar, however. Each campaign included digital goodies: wallpapers made of the images in the calendars and digital versions and .ics files for each project’s dates.

Each of these is for sale for just $5 each over on Gumroad:

Dan Moren Reviews Apple Maps’ Take on Boston Landmarks →

Writing on Six Colors:

Over the past couple years, Apple’s been rolling out its “Detailed City Experience” in Maps to cities across the world and finally, at long last, those improved maps and better landmarks have come to my hometown of Boston, as first noted by Frank McShan on Twitter.

These are really nice looking. The closest thing I’ve seen here in Memphis is the Bass Pro location inside the Pyramid, and it really doesn’t come close to these new Maps illustrations:

Bass Pro in Apple Maps

I’d love for Apple to smooth those sides down. At least the seating in our football stadium works:

Liberty Bowl in Apple Maps

The Apple II Age →

Laine Nooney has a new book coming out all about the Apple II:

The Apple II was a versatile piece of hardware, but its most compelling story isn’t found in the feat of its engineering, the personalities of Apple’s founders, or the way it set the stage for the company’s multi-billion-dollar future. Instead, as historian Laine Nooney shows, what made the Apple II iconic was its software. In software, we discover the material reasons people bought computers. Not to hack, but to play. Not to code, but to calculate. Not to program, but to print. The story of personal computing in the United States is not about the evolution of hackers — it’s about the rise of everyday users.

John Gruber, in his linked post about the book:

Did I preorder a copy immediately? Come on, you know the answer.

My debit card literally jumped out of my wallet and at the screen of my MacBook Pro.

Prepping the Rogue Amoeba Historic Screenshots for Social Media →

Neale Van Fleet, writing on the Rogue Amoeba blog:

As part of the unveiling of our Historic Screenshot Archive, I made some fun images to post to our social media accounts. Making those images was tricky, because interfaces were much smaller in the pre-Retina era.

Working on this project with Rogue Amoeba was a real blast, but I had been wondering how they prepped the images used on social media. Now I know!

That One Brother Printer Everyone Seems to Have →

Nilay Patel, writing at The Verge:

Here’s the best printer in 2023: the Brother laser printer that everyone has. Stop thinking about it and just buy one. It will be fine!

Seriously, ask around or just look in the background of Zoom calls: there’s a black Brother laser printer sitting there. Some people have the bare-bones Brother HL-L2305DW, which costs like $120. We have the $270 Brother MFC-L2750DW, which adds a sheet-fed scanner, because my wife is a lawyer and scans things for judges or whatever she does with it. It doesn’t matter. We only bought that one to replace our previous Brother laser printer that we lost in a move, and even then, I didn’t even look at the model numbers. It has been connected to our Wi-Fi for like six years straight, and I have never replaced the toner. It prints Amazon return labels from my phone without complaining, and it does not feel like the CEO of Inkjet Supply and Hostage Situations Incorporated is waiting to mug me or enable DRM at the slightest provocation.

Know what’s sitting in a closet in my house, plugged into power and Ethernet? A Brother HL-2270DW that I bought in August 2014. It’s the oldest thing on my network.

Kbase Article of the Week: Power Mac G5 (Late 2005), iMac G5 (Ambient Light Sensor): FireWire Bus Stops Responding After Computer Restarts with FireWire Audio Device Attached →

Apple Support:

Issue or symptom
If a FireWire audio device is connected to a Power Mac G5 (Late 2005) or an iMac G5 (Ambient Light Sensor) while the computer is restarting, the FireWire bus will stop responding and no FireWire devices will be detected on the bus. The device may stop responding or stop charging, depending on the specifics of the device.

You can restore the Firewire bus by resetting the SMU (System Management Unit).

100,000,000 Downloads of Widgetsmith →

David Smith, writing on Mastodon:

Widgetsmith just reached a truly remarkable milestone, its 100,000,000th download. I am genuinely staggered by this and incredibly grateful.

He continues on his blog:

A number that I can’t really wrap my mind around. A number larger than the population of all but 14 countries.

I was very conflicted about whether I should share and observe this milestone publicly. I am by nature a very shy, quiet person and not one to seek the spotlight.

Also, in the many years I’ve been working at this career I have very often been someone struggling to find traction and stability for my apps, and while I could be genuinely happy for the success of others, it also still stung painfully when I saw it.

My hope is that my 12+ years of consistent podcasting and blogging can speak witness to my motives here in communicating encouragement, not boasting.

Ultimately I decided to share this milestone for two reasons Gratitude & Community.

I know I am not alone in this feeling, but I’m going to add my voice to the chorus — none of this could happen to a nicer, more caring guy that David. I’m proud to be his friend, and proud of his achievement today.

Kbase Article of the Week: PowerBook G3 Series (Bronze keyboard): How to Differentiate From Other PowerBook G3 Series Computers →

Whoever was assigned to task to write a support article explaining the differences between the PowerBook G3 models drew the short straw that week at Kbase HQ:

This article describes the differences between the PowerBook G3 Series (Bronze keyboard) introduced in May, 1999, and earlier PowerBook G3 Series computers.

There are a number of visual cues for distinguishing the new PowerBook G3 Series.

They are:

  • The keyboard and trackpad button have a bronze or mocha color.
  • The inside display bezel has a white Apple logo at the top.
  • The rear ports are all enclosed by the I/O door and the modem port is now in the rear of the unit.
  • There are two USB ports.
  • It has a single, manual eject PC card slot which supports Type I and II PC cards.
  • The display clamshell latch mechanism release is on the base of the PowerBook instead of the clamshell.

Report: Next iPhone to Drop Ringer Switch for Button →

Filipe Espósito, writing last week at 9to5Mac:

9to5Mac last month revealed a first look at the design of the entire iPhone 15 lineup based on CAD files used to build the phones and also compatible accessories. But one thing that remained unclear was the layout of the volume buttons, which reportedly will be capacitive rather than physical. 9to5Mac has heard from a source that iPhone 15 Pro will have new unified volume buttons, plus a “pressing type” mute button.

According to our source, who’s familiar with making certified accessories for Apple products, the iPhone 15 Pro models will ditch the separate volume up and volume down buttons for a new single button that works both ways depending on where the user presses it.

I didn’t link to this when it came out because I couldn’t work out why I felt so weird about the idea of the iPhone’s ringer switch going away.

It hit me today: the ringer switch is one (of the ever-shrinking number) of the hardware feature of the original iPhone that is still with us today.

Original iPhone

Since the beginning, we’ve been able to flip a switch, without looking, and know that our iPhones wouldn’t make noise. Some of us flip that switch on a new phone and never switch it back to allow sounds at all. I am thrilled to read that the functionality will continue, even if I am a little sad1 about losing part of the original iPhone design.

  1. I’m still not really over Apple taking a similar switch away from the iPad. In that case, Apple let you choose between the switch working as it does on the iPhone and use it as a rotation lock. It was awesome. 

Florida Bloggers Face First Amendment Challenge →

There’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the First Amendment in this country. It does not protect you from being banned from Twitter or moderated on Facebook or even in a Discord. It’s all about the relationship between the individual and the government when it comes to terms of speech. No matter how loud your conspiracy-slinging uncle cries foul, it’s just not the issue he claims it is.

Jon Brodkin over at Ars has a story that much more to the point where the First Amendment lives:

A proposed law in Florida would force bloggers who write about Gov. Ron DeSantis and other elected officials to register with a state office and file monthly reports or face fines of $25 per day. The bill was filed in the Florida Senate Tuesday by Senator Jason Brodeur, a Republican.

If enacted, the proposed law would likely be challenged in court on grounds that it violates First Amendment protections of freedom of speech and the press. Defending his bill, Brodeur said, “Paid bloggers are lobbyists who write instead of talk. They both are professional electioneers. If lobbyists have to register and report, why shouldn’t paid bloggers?” according to the Florida Politics news website.

Bloggers-as-lobbyists is just a wild argument. No one tell Brodeur that blogging is dead and all the real action is on social media.

That aside, this clearly seems to be an attempt to limit the speech of influential writers in Florida politics, as well as random folks writing on Medium.

Bonus Kbase Article of the Week: Get a Depth and Water Seal Test for your Apple Watch Ultra →

Apple Support:

If you have Apple Watch Ultra and want to check that its depth gauge and seals are working properly, you can get a Depth and Water Seal Test from Apple.
You might want to send your Apple Watch Ultra for a Depth and Water Seal Test if:

  • You’d like to check the functionality of the depth gauge in your Apple Watch Ultra.
  • You might have caused unseen damage to your Apple Watch Ultra — for example, by crashing while bicycling, or hitting your watch on a rock during a hike.

Having broken an Apple Watch in a bike crash and another one cliff jumping at a lake, I have to say that being personally attacked by a support article is new to me.

Announcing the Rogue Amoeba Historic Screenshot Archive →

For the past several months, I’ve been working on a secret project with my friends over at Rogue Amoeba:

20 years ago today, on March 3, 2003, Rogue Amoeba released Audio Hijack Pro 1.0. This was a crucial event in the company’s history, as sales grew a much higher level, taking Rogue Amoeba from a hobby to a viable business.

On this anniversary, it seems fitting for us to unveil something else special: the Rogue Amoeba Historic Screenshot Archive. It’s an in-depth collection of images and information about key versions from our 20+ years in business, and we think it’s well worth a look.

Audio Hijack Pro 1.0

Over on his blog, Paul Kafasis wrote a bit more about the project:

It’s quite gratifying to be able to look back on our work, which now spans more than two decades.

It can also be humbling and amusing, and thus worth writing about on this mildly-popular humor site.

It was a ton of fun to spend time with twenty years worth of indie Mac development history. I think you’re going to love scrolling through the archive on Rogue Amoeba’s website.

Pedometer++ 5.0 →

Earlier this week, Underscore David Smith launched version 5.0 of his excellent step-tracking app, Pedometer++, which I have used (and loved!) since its debut back in 2013.

Here’s David on his blog, writing about about the new features:

There is a delightful freedom in building an app tailored for your own personal preferences. This app is perfect for how I hike. During its development I have enjoyed countless long hikes into nature and find that it is a worthy companion of those adventures.

Tweetbot and Twitterrific Updated One Last Time

Dan Moren:

When Twitter shut down third-party clients in January, it not only left out in the cold the users of those apps, but the developers too. Many of those apps were significant sources of revenue for the teams behind them, and that income was cut off capriciously, without any warning.

One additional complication is that some clients had shifted to a subscription-based system in recent years, with users paying by the month or the year. Since those subscriptions were generally prepaid, users ended up in a situation where they essentially no longer had access to the app they’d paid for.

John Gruber:

Twitter’s kneecapping of third-party clients didn’t just mean that their future revenue was gone — it meant revenue they’d already collected from App Store subscriptions would need to go back to customers in the form of prorated refunds for the remaining months on each and every user’s annual subscriptions. Consider the gut punch of losing your job — you stop earning income. It’s brutal. Now imagine that the way it worked when you get fired or laid off is that you’re also suddenly on the hook to pay back the last, say, 6 months of your income. That’s where Tapbots and The Iconfactory are.

I can’t recall a situation like this, with an ecosystem of third-party clients collecting subscriptions and then having the first-party service yank the carpet out from under them — and their customers — with zero warning or sunset period. A proper sunset period would have allowed such third-party partners — and developers like Tapbots and The Iconfactory were indeed partners of Twitter— to stop accepting new subscriptions and renewals, and allow existing subscribers to run out the clock with service for the period they already paid for.

Chromium Boasts Battery Gains for MacBook Users →

François Doray, a software developer on the Chrome team:

With the latest release of Chrome, we’ve made it possible to do more on your MacBook on a single charge thanks to a ton of optimizations under the hood. In our testing, we found that you can browse for 17 hours or watch YouTube for 18 hours on a MacBook Pro (13″, M2, 2022) And with Chrome’s Energy Saver mode enabled, you can browse an additional 30 minutes longer on battery. Of course, we care deeply about all our users, not just those with the latest hardware. That’s why you’ll also see performance gains on older models as well.

I really hope this pans out in real-world usage.

Kbase Article of the Week: Apple Adjustable Keyboard & Compatibility with A/UX 3.x →

Apple Support:

Is the Apple Adjustable Keyboard compatible with A/UX 3.x?

No, the Apple Adjustable Keyboard does not work completely with A/UX
3.0 or 3.0.1.

Because the CommToolbox tool(s) are built into the kernal with the keyboard
IDs, some of the keys, such as arrow keys and ‘~’, key do not
respond with the same ANSI escape sequences as they do in CommandShell.

The problem has been reported and is known to A/UX engineering.


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25 Years Ago, Apple Killed the Newton

When Steve Jobs made it back to Apple, the company had dozens of products that would not survive the company’s move to a much simpler product matrix. In a sea of forgettable Macs and accessories, the biggest loss was the Newton.

The Newton MessagePad 2100

Here is the announcement itself, in its entirety:

Apple Computer, Inc. today announced it will discontinue further development of the Newton operating system and Newton OS-based products, including the MessagePad 2100 and eMate 300.

“This decision is consistent with our strategy to focus all of our software development resources on extending the Macintosh operating system,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s interim CEO. “To realize our ambitious plans we must focus all of our efforts in one direction.”

Apple is committed to affordable mobile computing, pioneered by the eMate, and will be serving this market with Mac OS-based products beginning in 1999.

Apple will continue to market and sell its current inventory of MessagePad 2100 and eMate 300 computers, as well as to provide support for their installed base of users. The Company is committed to working with its customers and developers to ensure a smooth transition to Mac OS-based products.

In hindsight, it’s easy to poke fun of the Newton, but its user base was passionate about the platform, and didn’t take the news well. A small crowd of them showed up at Apple’s Inifinite Loop campus to make their point known, as was reported by CNET at the time:

As Newton developers gathered outside Apple Computer (AAPL) headquarters today to protest the computer maker’s decision to discontinue the handheld device, company executives responded in low-key fashion.

Apple reserved space in its parking lot and supplied cookies, pastries, coffee, and other drinks to Newton protesters on what has turned out to be a crystal-clear day after yesterday’s rainfall.

Perhaps 100 protesters turned up, carrying signs reading “Newton forever,” “Newton is my pilot,” and “I give a fig for the Newton.”

The article goes on:

Apple has scheduled a teleconference Tuesday with Newton developers to answer questions and hear their feedback.

Meanwhile, Apple is offering a number of sweeteners to lure the Newton developers to the Mac platform, including a free membership in the Apple developers program.


“We understand it was a tough decision and they’re disappointed,” said Apple spokeswoman Rhona Hamilton. “Part of our giving them some space today is to appreciate that it’s a technology that people like and we discontinued it.

“But it is very unlikely that we will change this decision because it was a business decision,” she added. “We hope to convert them to using the Macintosh platform.”

In the June 1998 edition of Pen Computing Magazine, David MacNeill1 wrote a comprehensive history of the platform, then got into some of the possible reasons for its death. He also pointed out that customers weren’t the only ones on the losing end of the decision:

Though Newton owners certainly have good cause to be angry with Apple, developers have been hit the hardest by the untimely death of the Newton platform. Many hard-working companies lost their reason for existing overnight, and have suffered substantial financial losses as a result. Though less visible than commercial software companies, we know of quite a few Newton-specific development efforts involving years of work on vertical market solutions that will never ship due to a lack of hardware.

“Hundreds of businesses have been hurt by Apple’s decision to kill the Newton,” says Newton consultant Josh Weisbuch. “Companies such as Transport Data were well into the development of a ruggedized handheld for the emergency medical and law enforcement industries. Renaissance Digital was working with Children’s Hospital here in Boston to create a completely Newton-based otolaryngology department.”

Many developers rode the “Newton is dead” rumor roller coaster throughout 1997 and 1998, and ended up losing tons of money spent on damage control when their big customers got spooked. Many Newton evangelists reluctantly recommended that Apple remove its logo from Newton devices to make them more palatable to corporations. “Apple never understood the critical importance of vertical markets in creating new markets and still can’t justify investing in creating them,” says John Covington. “It’s one of the reasons I left Apple.”

Many were not happy about this change in direction, but as someone once said, focus is about saying no. If the Apple of 1998 needed to do anything, it was focusing what was working well.

If you want to read more about the Newton, I rounded up some great links a few years ago.

  1. His whole series on the Newton serves as a great time capsule. 

What Do You Get When You Combine a ThinkPad 701C and Framework Laptop with an iPad Display? →

You get something wonderful. Karl Buchka writes:

I’ve been working on this project on and off for the last six months or so. There’s still lots left to do, but I did the first major mock-up today and I’m pretty pleased with the outcome so far.

TL;DR summary:

  • Framework powered Thinkpad 701C
  • iPad 7 display panel (2160×1620)
  • Fully working original keyboard and trackpoint
  • Ports/peripherals: 3x USB-A, 2x USB-C, 1x GigE, headphone jack, Wifi, Bluetooth

Here’s a photo of the project:

ThinkPad 701C

If you aren’t familiar with the ThinkPad 701C, it’s one of my all-time favorite laptop designs for two reasons:

  1. I love ThinkPads.
  2. It’s bonkers.

The 701C came with a foldout keyboard that let the laptop be compact when closed and feature a full-sized keyboard. LGR has a thorough review of the machine on YouTube:

Inside, Buchka stuffed the components from a Framework notebook, which was designed to be as upgradable and repairable as possible. Using an iPad panel as the display is the perfect finishing touch.

via 512 Pixels reader Zac

Bluetooth Database Spills the Beans on New Macs →

Rumors about that new 15-inch MacBook Air and the future Mac Pro keep heating up, as Joe Rossignol reports:

Apple this week filed a new listing in the Bluetooth Launch Studio database, a move that sometimes foreshadows the launch of new products. The filing does not mention any specific products, but it lists the latest Bluetooth 5.3 standard and references a prior macOS-related listing, suggesting the filing could be related to upcoming Macs.

Apple is rumored to be planning new versions of the MacBook Air and the Mac Pro for release in the first half of 2023. The new MacBook Air is expected to feature a larger 15-inch display and the M2 chip, while the new Mac Pro is expected to have the same design as the 2019 model with a new M2 Ultra chip. Both new Macs could be announced as early as March or April, potentially alongside the release of macOS 13.3. However, there remains a possibility that the new Macs will not be announced until WWDC in June or later.

Bluetooth 5.3 is present in a bunch of new Apple hardware, including the new M2-based MacBook Pros and the M2 Mac mini. It is not present on the M2 MacBook Air introduced last year. That machine ships with Bluetooth 5.0.

Kbase Article of the Week: iWeb: Menu Items are Unavailable After Reinstall →

Apple Support:

When iWeb is opened after a reinstall of the original disc, many of the menu items may be unavailable and new page creation may not be possible. Also the theme selection screen may not appear if there was no existing site in iWeb.

Note: These issues could occur if the iWeb software was updated prior to a reinstall using the original disc.

When you perform a reinstall from the disc, the original version of iWeb that shipped with the computer is installed, but the Receipts from the updated version of iWeb is still in place causing Software Update not to recognize that an update is needed. To resolve this issue, simply download and install the latest version of iWeb.

KeyboardCleanTool →

This weekend, I was using someone else’s MacBook Pro and wanted to clean their keyboard. I could not shut it down for cleaning, as it was downloading a macOS update. This prompted me to look for an app that could lock the keyboard for me to wipe it down.

This led me to KeyboardCleanTool, a free utility by Andreas Hegenberg, the genius behind apps like BetterTouchTool.

Sponsor: DEVONthink of DEVONtechnologies →

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DEVONthink for Mac

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Of course, whatever you keep in your databases remains yours. It’s all stored locally, nothing is uploaded anywhere unless you say so. Flexible synchronization technology with strong encryption makes sure that you have all your important documents with you on whatever device you’re working on or taking with you. Use iCloud, Dropbox, any WebDAV service you may have booked. Or synchronize directly over your local network.

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Mac Power Users #680: Workflows with Marco Arment →

This week on Mac Power Users, developer and podcaster Marco Arment joins the show to talk about his desktop-laptop setup, the current state of development on Apple’s platforms and what the company may do in 2023.

It is always a treat to record with Marco, and I love how this episode came out. Don’t miss the More Power Users segment, where he shared his experience with Family Setup on the Apple Watch.

Meta Announces Verification Program, Complete with Blue Badges →

Mark Zuckerberg:

Good morning and new product announcement: this week we’re starting to roll out Meta Verified — a subscription service that lets you verify your account with a government ID, get a blue badge, get extra impersonation protection against accounts claiming to be you, and get direct access to customer support. This new feature is about increasing authenticity and security across our services. Meta Verified starts at $11.99 / month on web or $14.99 / month on iOS. We’ll be rolling out in Australia and New Zealand this week and more countries soon.

At least you won’t have to pay to use SMS 2FA.

Considering the Next Mac Pro →

Jason Snell, writing at Macworld:

So what makes a Mac Pro a Mac Pro? If it’s a tower enclosure, Apple’s got a relatively fresh one from 2019 that it can just roll out again. (Gurman says that’s now the plan, which is also a little disconcerting when you consider that the original reports suggested a new, half-height enclosure and that quad-M2 chip.) But what’s inside the Mac Pro matters, and if it’s just an M2 Ultra chip, it’s hard not to consider the new Mac Pro just a Mac Studio that moved out of its apartment and into a mini-mansion.

Does it help if there’s expandable internal storage? Sure, I suppose–it’s certainly a lot neater than attaching drives via external ports. Does it help if Apple offers additional M2 GPU cores via some sort of proprietary add-on card system? Maybe, if it’s done the extra engineering work. What about RAM expansion? Sure, but again, such a choice would undercut the work Apple has done to create a pool of fast, shared memory right next to the CPUs and GPUs.

And all that custom work, all those distortions to what makes Apple silicon so successful, would be done for a product that’s a niche of a niche–and it’s work that Apple’s chip design team could have spent on a next-generation chip for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

On Login Items, Background Items and macOS Ventura →

Howard Oakley:

There was a time when the great majority of apps consisted of just an app bundle, created their own settings file in ~/Library/Preferences, and that was that. For various reasons, this became steadily more complicated, with some apps assembling arrays of files and folders in /Library/Application Support, and in recent years many apps have required helpers too. One common reason for this is that they need to perform certain functions with elevated privileges, such as root. To do that, they have become even more elaborate, with Login Items, property lists installed in folders like /Library/LaunchAgents, and more. This article explains how Ventura is trying to make things simpler again.

We spoke about this recently on Mac Power Users. While the new system attempts to give users more control over what’s happening on their Macs, I can’t help but think the UI for it is too confusing for most users:

Login Items in macOS Ventura

Microsoft Blesses Parallels as Official Way to Run Windows on Apple Silicon Macs →

Andrew Cunningham, writing at Ars Technica:

In the absence of a version of Boot Camp that runs on Apple Silicon Macs, the best way to run Windows on them has been to use a virtualization app like Parallels or (more recently) VMware Fusion. The problem is that, until now, the Arm version of Windows that runs on Apple Silicon Macs hasn’t technically been allowed to run on anything other than Arm PCs that come with it due to Microsoft’s licensing restrictions.

These licensing problems haven’t technically stopped people from running the Arm version of Windows on other hardware, including Apple Silicon Macs and the Raspberry Pi, but it could be more of an issue for IT managers who wanted to deploy Windows on Macs without worrying about legal liability.

Today, Microsoft is formally blessing Parallels as a way to run the Professional and Enterprise versions of Windows 11 on Apple Silicon Macs. Windows running under Parallels has some limitations—no support for DirectX 12 or newer OpenGL versions, no support for the Linux or Android subsystems, and a few missing security features. But it can run Arm-native Windows apps as well as 32- and 64-bit x86 apps thanks to Windows 11’s code translation features; pretty much anything that isn’t a game should run tolerably well, given the speed of Apple’s M1 and M2 chip families.

It’s good to see this get official support from Microsoft, as running Windows was on of the last dominos to fall in the ability in just about everyone to switch to Apple silicon.

Kbase Article of the Week: Applications With Calendars Cannot Add March Events With Abbreviated Month Name →

Apple Support:

You may experience difficulty when adding events for the month of March in applications with a calendar feature, such as Microsoft Entourage v. X. This occurs when the date region is set for Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, or Switzerland (Italian).

Note: This issue occurs any time you schedule an event for March, whether or not it is March when you attempt to schedule the event.

Report: 15-inch MacBook Air Coming Soon →

Chance Miller, writing at 9to5Mac:

Apple’s highly-anticipated big-screen MacBook Air is nearing a launch, according to a new report. DSCC analyst Ross Young reports today that the 15.5-inch MacBook Air has started panel production this month, suggesting an “early April launch.” All I have to say is this: take my money.

Young, as well as Bloomberg, have previously reported on the possibility of a 15-inch MacBook Air. Bloomberg, in particular, previously pointed to a potential launch in the spring of this year. Ross Young then corroborated that spring 2023 launch back in December.

In a post to his Super Follows on Twitter today, seen by 9to5Mac, Young confirmed that this 15-inch MacBook Air is still on track for that spring release. “15.5-inch MacBook Air started panel production this month,” Young said. “We would expect an early April launch.”

Makes sense to me!

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Second Russian Ship Springs Leak at ISS →

Eric Berger, writing at Ars Technica:

Russia’s state-owned space corporation, Roscosmos, reported Saturday that a Progress supply ship attached to the International Space Station has lost pressure in its external cooling system.

In its statement, Roscosmos said there was no threat to the seven crew members on board the orbiting laboratory. NASA, too, said the hatch between the Progress MS-21 vehicle and the space station was open. Notably, the incident with the supply ship came within hours of the safe docking of another Progress ship, MS-22, which is in good health.

Twitter Blue Customers Can Send Tweets up to 4,000 Character in Length →

Huge news for those paying for Twitter Blue:

Twitter has launched a longer tweet feature, giving Blue subscribers in the US the ability to post up to 4,000 characters at once. If someone you follow uses the feature, the tweet in your timeline will have a “show more” button to keep it from taking up your entire screen.

Currently, there are a few limitations to the feature (besides the big one that it’s behind a paywall). If your tweet is over the standard 280 characters, you can’t save it as a draft or schedule it for later. However, most other normal features should work as usual — you can add hashtags or pictures, and non-Blue subscribers will still be able to interact with the posts as normal.

There’s some irony in Twitter becoming like a smaller, more poorly-designed Medium.

My Full Answers to the 2022 Six Colors Apple Report Card

Yesterday, Jason Snell published the 2022 Apple Report Card over on Six Colors. This year, I saved my full answers for publication here as well.

M2 MacBook Air

The Mac: 5/5

Apple is entering the third year of its two-year transition to Apple silicon. While the company has been tight-lipped about why it missed its self-announced deadline, the Apple silicon machines that have shipped are all very impressive. The malaise that Mac hardware found itself in in the latter 2010s continues to fade into history. The Mac Studio and Studio Display in particular stand out when thinking about 2022, but the M2 MacBook Air is probably the highlight of the Mac’s year in hardware.

On the software front, 2022 brought the first new productivity app from Apple in ages. Freeform isn’t as powerful as some third-party options, but it fits in nicely between the iWork apps and Notes.

macOS continues to receive updates that let it keep up with iOS and iPadOS features, even if Stage Manager leaves something to be desired for many of us.

iPhone 14 Pro

The iPhone: 4/5

The iPhone 14 Pro’s Dynamic Island is the biggest UI change to come to iOS since the iPhone X ditched the home button back in 2017. Having quick access to media controls, sport scores, weather and more, from anywhere in the system, makes the iPhone feel more useful and alive, somehow.

The 14 Pro also brought with it an always-on display, something seen on Android phones for years. The iPhone’s take was decidedly whimsical, with Apple keeping a user’s wallpaper on the display all the time. Not everyone loved this, and iOS 16.2 added a toggle to disable the always-on wallpaper feature. I flipped the switch as soon as it popped up in the iOS betas, and much prefer the all-black look, with just the time and my selection of Lock Screen widgets staying on all the time — plus whatever notifications have come in.

Speaking of Lock Screen widgets… I love this feature, but would like to see Apple add more flexibility in terms of layout and design. That said, I currently have Calendar, Carrot Weather and Todoist gracing my Lock Screen. Sadly, just like Shortcuts, the teams behind several Apple apps and features didn’t seem to get the memo about the new feature, and don’t offer any support for it.

As inventive as the iPhone 14 Pro is, the regular iPhone 14 is a bit of a swing and a miss. Many of us believed that the larger iPhone 14 Plus would be a huge hit, but reports indicate that the device — with last year’s system on a chip and an even older industrial design — isn’t selling well. The 14 Plus’ struggle in the market is probably not enough to soothe the tears of iPhone mini fans. I expect something to give here, with the iPhone 15 being more attractive than the 14 has proven to be.

Oh, and hopefully this is the last crop of iPhones with Lighting. USB-C is here to stay, and I don’t even mind if Apple claims faster file transfers for things like 4K ProRes video as a reason for the switch.

10th-generation iPad

iPad: 3/5

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the iPad lineup is a mess. The 10th-generation iPad and M1 iPad Air make the M2-powered 11-inch iPad Pro seem both expensive and redundant. Rumors indicate the iPad Pro is going to go up in size at some point, and I suspect the 11-inch will go away at that point.

Besides the cost/price confusion in the iPad line, the mis-match of features between the various products makes me think that something in Apple’s plans derailed over the last couple of years. I can’t imagine it was the initial plan to ship the 10th-generation iPad with its function keys and its camera-on-the-correct-side, all just to sell it with the first-generation Apple Pencil. And why didn’t the iPad Pro get some of these changes when it got bumped to the M2? Something doesn’t add up here.

Then there’s iOS 16 and Stage Manager. Lots of digital ink has been spilled on the subject, and I think it’s clear that Apple missed the mark with this new feature. It should have spent more time incubating within the company before shipping as the hot mess it still is as of iPadOS 16.2. iPad power users simply deserve better.

Apple Watch Ultra

Apple Watch: 4/5; Wearables: 4/5

The Apple Watch Ultra is the biggest departure from the original’s design that we’ve seen so far, at least in terms of physical design. I’ve been wearing mine daily since it shipped and truly love its combination of larger size, incredible battery life and rugged construction. It’s a beast, and it’s the first time in years that I’ve been tempted to leave my Apple Watch on the charger some days. Sure, watchOS could take better advantage of the larger screen, but the same could be said for iOS, so I’m willing to mostly overlook it.

The rest of the 2022 Apple Watch lineup is far more pedestrian, but shouldn’t be overlooked. Year-over-year, the Series 8 isn’t a big upgrade, but if you have a Series 4 or 5 on your wrist, it’s a really nice jump in terms of features.

Mercifully, 2022 saw the demise of the Apple Watch Series 3, which was on sale for approximately 84 years too long … not unlike the iPod touch, which was also killed in 2022. The Apple Watch SE doesn’t quiet hit the old Series 3 price point, but it’s close enough for most … even if a gently-used Series 6 or 7 may be a better buy.

Apple’s AirPod line continues to do well, with the second-generation AirPod Pros 2 being universally-acclaimed. I upgraded from an aging pair of AirPods 2 and couldn’t be happier with them.

While the earbuds line continues to grow and improve, the costly AirPods Max are now two years old, and due for an upgrade that should include better sound quality, USB-C support and a new carrying case. Really, even just the last one would be more than welcome for anyone who has had to wrestle with the worst case Apple has shipped since the atrocity it sold for the first-generation iPad back in 2010.

Apple TV Plus

Apple TV: 3/5

The newest version of the Apple TV 4K continues Apple’s long line of set-top boxes that are overkill for almost anyone’s needs. At least they haven’t messed up the remote in a little while.

tvOS feels the most stagnant (or stable, if you’re a glass half-full kind of person) of all of Apple’s operating systems, as the TV app continues to be a bit of a confusing mess and the company still unable to get more streaming services to play ball with Apple’s user interface … cough Netflix cough.

Apple Fitness+

Services: 4/5

After years and years of begging, users of iCloud Photos have finally heard their cries answered in the form of Family Sharing. I turned it on for my wife and I to share photos, but now have a mountain of work ahead of me to sort out duplicates and add metadata to photos that are missing dates, GPS information and more.

To my great sadness, Album support is lacking in the family library, but it’s forcing me to add tags and the other metadata mentioned above for easier searching. I’m sure that as soon as I finish that work in 2027, Apple will add Albums to the product.

In terms of other Services, TV+ and Fitness+ continue to be bright spots, with both receiving regular content. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how well run both seem to be run.

That’s in sharp contrast to Apple News, which is stuffed with some of the worst ads I’ve ever seen. As someone paying for Apple One, I should not see them.

The rest of Apple’s Services are not something I think about regularly, which is probably how things should go. iCloud is keeping all of my notes, contacts, events, bookmarks, iMessages and more in sync, quietly in the background.

HomeKit/Home: 3/5

As I write this, there’s a big question as to why Apple paused the rollout of its “new architecture” for HomeKit that arrived with iOS 16.2. For what it’s worth, I hit the upgrade button on day one, before the feature was pulled, and nothing has exploded for me. I wish Apple would be more open about what happened here, but that feels like a long shot.

2022 felt like a year in waiting for HomeKit, with Matter rolling out at the end of the year. It promises cross-vendor support for a wide range of products. For HomeKit users, it should unlock the world of Amazon-backed products… assuming vendors actually bother to update their existing products. Time will tell how successful that undertaking is.

In terms of the Home app itself, the new design is an improvement, but like many Apple software products, it feels like too many things are behind hard-to-find menus. I mostly interact with my HomeKit products via Siri or Shortcuts, so at least I don’t have to spend too much time in there.

Overall Reliability of Apple’s Hardware: 5/5

Apple has pretty much perfected their work with both aluminum and glass over the years, and now that the Butterfly Keyboard is gone, I don’t have any real complaints here. Users can even get their own parts now through the Self Service Repair Program! What a world we live in.

Apple Software Quality: 3/5

It’s been years since I’ve had a Mac experience a kernel panic or even had an Apple application crash on a regular basis … with the exception of the macOS version Freeform, which I could make crash 100% of the time when interacting with text written on an iPad. Seeing as that’s a 1.0, I’m mostly willing to forgive that.

Apple’s software issues are more subtle than crashes and reboots. It’s the little things that bother me, like the mis-match of features found in the Mac and iOS version of Reminders, or how the Mac version of Messages still struggles to catch up with iCloud upon its first launch after sleeping over a long weekend.

On another note, I fully understand that Mac developers have to choose between Cocoa, Catalyst and SwiftUI as Apple continues to make its slow transition away from Objective-C and its traditional methods of building apps, but I continue to be disappointed with SwiftUI on macOS. Look no further than Ventura’s new System Settings app to see just how badly this technology falls short at this point. I’m not convinced that a UI toolset designed for touch will work well on the Mac without a massive amount of additional work on Apple’s part.

Whether an app is written in SwiftUI or not, the trend of Apple’s designers hiding controls and features behind buttons and menus continues to add unneeded complexity to macOS in particular. UI clutter is bad, but it’s far lesser evil than UI confusion.


Developer Relations: 2/5

It’s harder to think of a harder self-own than Apple’s rollout of additional App Store ads in late 2022. The App Store was instantly flooded with ads for low-brow titles like gambling and hook-up apps.

Seeing those ads instantly made the App Store feel like a worse place to be, but having them placed at the bottom of an individual app’s page was simply a bridge too far. It’s like Apple was trying to burn goodwill with developers with the move.

Apple continues to be willing to die on the hill of its 30% cut of App Store purchases. Things like additional price points or the 15% commission on subscriptions that are older than one year are nice, but the market — and government regulators — are ready to see Apple’s iron-fisted control over the App Store loosen.

There are a couple of bright spots here, though. Being at WWDC with developers was a welcome change after two years of COVID forcing the conference to be online-only. The Developer Center is a physical promise on Apple’s part to communicate better with developers. The “Ask Apple” Slack-based Q&As are a good step in the right direction as well.

Social/Societal Impact: 3/5

Apple continues to do important work in the areas of environmental conservation and social issues, but the back-and-forth over its Return to Work plans and it’s willingness to look the other way in China continue to be troublesome, if not downright hypocritical. Apple needs to do better the world over, not just in parts of the world far from its factories.

The Six Colors Report Card →

Jason Snell:

It’s time for our annual look back on Apple’s performance during the past year, as seen through the eyes of writers, editors, developers, podcasters, and other people who spend an awful lot of time thinking about Apple.

This is the eighth year that I’ve presented this survey to a hand-selected group. They were prompted with 12 different Apple-related subjects, and asked to rate them on a scale from 1 to 5 and optionally provide text commentary per category. I received 55 replies, with the average results as shown below.

It’s always a pleasure to participate in this. If you got lost in the woods last year and just made it back to civilization, this post will get you caught up.

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Ultra, Indeed →

Emma Roth, writing at The Verge:

Apple’s exploring the possibility of launching a more expensive iPhone “Ultra” above the iPhone Pro and Pro Max models, according to Apple tracker Mark Gurman. The high-end device could arrive as soon as 2024 with the iPhone 16 lineup.

Last September, Gurman predicted that an “Ultra” model could replace the Pro Max branding with this year’s iPhone 15, but his latest theory suggests that Apple wants to establish a more powerful — and more expensive — tier of iPhones. That means the device could have an even higher price tag than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which starts at $1,099.

I’m still hoping the “Pro Max” branding will fade away.

On Art and Stage Manager →

Federico Viticci, writing at MacStories:

There is no doubt in my mind that the essence of iPadOS – how menus appear, lists scroll, buttons are tapped, heck, even what a pointer should look like – has been designed with more taste, thought, and care than anything in Windows 11. There is no checklist that can quantify when an interface “feels” nice. The iPadOS UI, particularly in tablet mode, feels nicer than any other tablet I’ve tried to date.

The problem is that an iPad, at least for people like me, isn’t supposed to be a companion to work that happens somewhere else. It is the work. And ultimately, I think it’s fair to demand efficiency from a machine that is supposed to make you productive. I feel this every time Stage Manager doesn’t let me place windows where I want on an external display; every time I can’t place more than four windows in a workspace; every time I can’t record podcasts like I can on a Mac; every time a website doesn’t work quite right like it does on a desktop; I feel it, over a decade into the iPad’s existence, when developers like Rogue Amoeba or Raycast can’t bring their software to iPadOS.

We can’t talk about art in software in a vacuum. As a computer maker or app developer, you have to strike that balance between the aspirational and the practical, the artistic and the functional – the kind of balance that, by and large, Apple is achieving on the Mac. Unfortunately, when it comes to iPadOS, I feel like Apple has been prioritizing the artistic aspect over the functional, and it’s not clear when that will be rectified.

Taking Stock →

Richard Fausset, writing at The New York Times:

Keedran Franklin, a community organizer and social justice activist, runs a South Memphis food truck these days called “The Check-in.” The idea, he said, is not only to feed the people of Memphis, but also to ask them how they are getting by, emotionally and spiritually, in one of the poorest large American cities, and one of the most dangerous.

“It’s a combustion chamber of trauma — that’s what Memphis is,” said Mr. Franklin, 36. “We push it down and push it down, until it explodes. That’s what happened with Tyre.”

The funeral this week for Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old FedEx employee and skateboarder who died after being severely beaten by Memphis police officers who said they pulled him over for a traffic infraction, triggered a national moment of mourning — for Mr. Nichols, and for the many other Black men brutalized at the hands of American police. At the same time, the bloody incident took its place on an ignominious roster of events that have shaped the story of Memphis as much as its 20th-century musical innovations, justly celebrated for transforming pop culture.

Situated in the heart of the South’s old cotton kingdom, on the lip of the Mississippi Delta, Memphis has always had a front seat to the brutal consequences of slavery and organized racism, tangibly reflected in the city’s 26.5 percent poverty rate for Black residents. And Memphians readily admit that the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on a balcony of the Lorraine Motel opened a gash in the collective psyche that has never quite healed.

This week, as an ice storm paralyzed much of the city, Memphians seemed to be taking stock, amid their rage and grief, of how far they have come and how far they must still go, if they are to not only endure the latest wound, but heal from it.

No one thinks it will be easy.

Twitter Replacing Free API With Unknown ‘Paid Basic Tier’ Next Week →

Jess Weatherbed, writing at The Verge:

Twitter will no longer provide free access to the Twitter API from February 9th. As announced by the official Twitter Developer account late Wednesday night, Elon Musk’s social media hobby will stop supporting free access to the Twitter API and will instead provide a “paid basic tier.” Twitter hasn’t provided any information regarding pricing, but said that it will provide “more details on what you can expect next week.”

“Over the years, hundreds of millions of people have sent over a trillion Tweets, with billions more every week,” said the Twitter Developer account. “Twitter data are among the world’s most powerful data sets. We’re committed to enabling fast & comprehensive access so you can continue to build with us.”

This probably means the end of this site auto-posting things to Twitter, so now is probably good time to get subscribed in other ways:

PodSearch →

Underscore David Smith:

Back in 2017 I had created a site which took the the audio of some of my favorite podcasts and tried to make them searchable by passing them through an automated speech-to-text engine.

In the original version of this the transcription was done with very rough, slow, low accuracy system which resulted in transcripts that were fit for keyword searching but not much else.

Thankfully since then OpenAI has released Whisper a powerful speech-to-text engine that I can run right on my Mac and results in transcripts that are shockingly good. They aren’t quite at the level of a human transcriber but they get darn close in many instances. Getting close to the level where you could use them to grab a pull quote with only a little bit of tidying up to do.

I’m thrilled that Connected is archived in the new version of PodSearch. This tool is amazing.

Looking Back at Columbia, Twenty Years Later

Two decades ago, the space shuttle Columbia broke up during re-entry. I was in high school, and remember it well, feeling the connection with the shuttle disaster that took place the day I was born.

There’s a lot of great stuff out there marking the anniversary:

If you’ve never heard the Song Exploder episode on The Long Winters song “The Commander Thinks Aloud,” it’s a great listen.

Last 2001-Era Apple Store Getting Renovated →

Michael Steeber:

Updates are coming to Apple Tice’s Corner in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. The store will be temporarily closed from January 31. I’m a little bit nervous about this renovation because Apple Tice’s Corner is the last location in the world with an original 2001 storefront design, and I wish for it to remain intact perpetually.

I can’t imagine the original design will remain after the remodel, so it’s a good time to soak in this iconic design:

Apple Tice's Corner

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Mac Power Users #677: Software Club: Fantastical →

This week on Mac Power Users, David Sparks and I return to our “Software Club” episode format and talk about Fantastical before being joined by one of the people behind the app. Michael Simmons discusses Fantastical’s history and the changes he’s seen in the Apple software ecosystem over the years. It was a really interesting conversation about an app that has been a mainstay for Apple users for a long time.

Apple Increasing App Store Prices in 14 Countries Starting February 13 →

Ah yes, a Friday evening news dump from Apple:

On February 13, 2023, prices of apps and in-app purchases (excluding auto-renewable subscriptions) on the App Store will increase in Colombia, Egypt, Hungary, Nigeria, Norway, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Prices in Uzbekistan will decrease to reflect a reduction of the value-added tax rate from 15% to 12%. Your proceeds will be adjusted accordingly and will be calculated based on the tax-exclusive price.

If you live in one of these countries, I’d check out this article to know what to expect.

They’ll Leave the Light on For You

Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica:

The lights at Massachusetts’ Minnechaug Regional High School burn ever bright. They actually never turn off. They can’t turn off. The smart lighting system for the entire building is broken, and it’s stuck in the “on” position. It has apparently been this way for over a year now, and the electric bills are really starting to pile up.

“We are very much aware this is costing taxpayers a significant amount of money,” the school district’s assistant superintendent of finance, Aaron Osborne, told NBC News. “And we have been doing everything we can to get this problem solved.”

That is … wild … but it gets worse:

The school’s entire “green lighting system,” some 7,000 lights, was installed over a decade ago and was supposed to save money, but according to the report, “the software that runs it failed on Aug. 24, 2021” and no one has been able to turn off the lights for the following 17 months. Teachers are adjusting by unscrewing light bulbs at the end of the day and throwing some breakers not connected to vital parts of the school. Dimming the lights to show movies or something projected on a whiteboard has also been difficult: The lights are on full brightness all the time.

According to Lilli DiGrande, News Editor of the student newspaper, the reason behind the lights being on all the time is software that no one knows has access to anymore.

Edward Cenedella, the Director of Facilities and Operations for the Hampden Wilbraham Regional School District, says that the issue is more complicated than just a computer server problem.

When the high school was rebuilt in 2012, an energy conservation software was added which relied on a daylight harvesting system for the lights to use daylight to equalize the light in the room. Cenedella estimates that there are about 7,000 lights in the building, all of which individually send information through wires to a computer which determines how much light to keep that particular one on. This system is owned by a company called 5th Light.

“On occasion, the software would go down and it would somehow get corrupted. We would try to recycle it and eventually everything would come back on,” Cenedella said. “Unfortunately the last time it got corrupted it was unfixable.”

It gets worse again:

Gaining access to the software that runs the lights is one of the main reasons why the lights can’t be adjusted correctly. “[5th Light] no longer has any of that information. They don’t have the software,” Cenedella said. “The old information is proprietary, so they wouldn’t originally give it to us. Now, they say that they don’t have it and that it’s unavailable.”

It seems that 5th Light has had several owners in the decade since the installation at Minnechaug Regional High School, and the current company — now named Reflex Lighting — says the only way to resolve the issue to replace the entire system.

Kbase Article of the Week: FAXstf: “Set To Answer” Conflict With America Online →

Apple Support:

The version of America Online (AOL) originally bundled with the PowerBook 3400 is 3.0D. This version does not properly deal with the situation when another application, such as FAXstf, is set to answer. Upgrading to AOL version 3.0.1 or later will remedy the situation.

The 3400 was a bangin’ machine, but even the best computers of the 90s often fell to badly written AOL software.

It Was Always Going to Be This Way

M2 Pro and Max

Today’s embargo day for Apple’s new M2 Pro and M2 Max MacBook Pros, as well as the M2 and M2 Pro Mac mini, but last week David Price wrote a column for Macworld that has been bugging me all weekend.1

Let’s start at the top. After giving a recap of the Apple silicon transition to date, Price writes:

It’s hard to stay excited for two and a half years, especially when the start was so strong. There was a noticeable leap forward once the MacBook Air was released from the constraints of Intel’s underpowered Y-series processors, as noted in our review of the late-2020 model that called out its “dramatically better performance and battery life,” and conceded that “the hype is real.” The same was true for the M1 Mac mini and 13-inch MacBook Pro.

But that progress hasn’t been sustained. There’s nothing wrong with this week’s releases, but they’re incremental speed bumps rather than big steps forward. Perhaps the initial M1 speed bump was exaggerated by the eccentric or overcautious choice of Intel chips towards the end of the companies’ relationship, and like Intel and AMD, big gains only come around once in a generation. Benchmarks will likely show decent-enough gains, but this week’s Mac announcements felt as formulaic as they did during the Intel years.

This is always the case when it comes to processor transitions. When Apple moved from PowerPC to Intel, Apple got to throw around graphics like these:

PowerPC to Intel

By the time the 2008 iMac and MacBook Pros rolled around, Apple wasn’t able to claim “2x faster” and “4x faster” with a straight face.

To be fair to Price, he’s not the only one with takes like this. Look no further than the description under MKBHD’s review:

It’s an (impressive) bump instead of a quantum leap.

Let’s get back to this Macworld article:

It’s a bit of a giveaway when Apple compares the performance of the M2 Mac mini to the four-year-old Core i7 model rather than the M1 because this year’s gains are much less dramatic. The hoped-for jump to a 3nm manufacturing process hasn’t happened, and as my colleagues discuss in this week’s Macworld podcast, the new MacBook Pro and Mac mini models remain way behind PCs equipped with Nvidia GPUs on gaming performance and features. Apple silicon isn’t a panacea for the Mac’s limitations and was never likely to be.

I agree that Apple comparing the new M2 Mac mini to the old Intel machine is playing to the strengths of the transition, but most people aren’t going to be upgrading from an M1 Mac mini to an M2 model, so I’m willing to forgive it.

(Also, like, dude. Nothing is gonna fix gaming on the Mac.)

What’s harder to forgive is the obsession over process size that has taken over so much tech reporting. I actually blame Intel’s stagnation and inability to move to smaller processes, not to mention that different companies define their processes in different ways.

Did Apple want to be at 3nm for the M2 lineup? Probably, but given that nothing else in the Apple silicon lineup is using a 3nm, it wasn’t likely that the M2 was going to break the mold, especially mid-generation. Rumors had indicated otherwise, but it doesn’t seem like it’s come to pass.

The truth is almost no one in the real world even knows what process sizes are, and the M2 is doing just fine in terms of efficiency and heat output as it is.

Back to Price:

The weight of those expectations is likely to be accentuated when the Mac Pro arrives sometime this year. The latest rumors suggest that it won’t have the M2 Extreme chip as rumored but rather a slightly faster M2 Ultra with a 24-core CPU and 76-core GPU and slots for storage, graphics, media, and networking cards (but not memory). Apple silicon will allow Apple to upgrade it more frequently, but when you go from a $50,000 machine that absolutely trounces everything in its path to one that’s maybe 20 percent faster than the Mac Studio, it’s hard to get all that excited about it.

Even though I am looking forward to the new Mac Pro, rumors about it don’t really impact how I — or anyone else — should feel about the Mac mini or MacBook Pro.

Price goes on:

And while the new Mac Pro will almost certainly be cheaper that the current model, the move to Apple silicon has clearly, and some might say predictably, not resulted in lower prices across the range. Most notably, the M2 Mac mini brings that line closer to its original budget conception, but most Apple silicon Macs have either kept the same price or gone up. The new MacBook Air starts at $200 more than it once did, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is $100 more than its Intel predecessor, and in territories outside the U.S., prices for most models have gone up rather a lot.

Was it always likely that reduced manufacturing costs would fail to translate into lower prices for consumers? Yes. Should we have realized by now that corporations exist to maximize profit, not to make their customers’ lives better? Yes! But does the lack of meaningful price drops undermine one of the biggest hopes of the Apple silicon transition? Also yes.

Apple has always had bonkers margins and inflation is a problem around the world. I’d love for all of these computers to cost less, but only part of that is within Apple’s control. The company may not be writing big checks to Intel anymore, but Apple is now paying for the R&D of these chips and paying TSMC to produce them. Don’t get me wrong; I’d love to see prices come down, but I don’t think Apple silicon was ever going to do that in a notable way.

Next, we see that Price has somehow missed the last few years’ worth of news:

But perhaps the biggest problem with the Apple silicon transition is the fragmented and disorganized way Apple has handled it. While the M1 Mac mini arrived in November 2020, its costlier Intel sibling hung around for more than two years. After the 24-inch iMac arrived in March 2021, the 21.5-inch Intel model stayed on shelves until October. The Mac mini, which was in the first wave of M1 releases, didn’t get the M2 until seven months after the M2 MacBook Air arrived. And after a tease last March, we’re still waiting for the Apple silicon Mac Pro. Altogether you’ve got a recipe for confusion and disappointment.

The move from Intel to Apple silicon was supposed to last “about two years,” in the specific words of Tim Cook. We’re coming up on 31 months since that promise—or 26 if you measure the transition starting from the launch of the first M1 Macs. Apple only just removed the long-in-the-tooth Intel Mac mini from its store and the Mac Pro is still saddled with aging Intel chips.

Here’s quick rundown. We’ve had a global pandemic that derailed massive parts of the international supply chain. Sorry for the spoilers.

It’s not clear why the Pro has been left until last—the wait hardly inspires customers to spend a fortune on such a high-end machine when its components are so obviously outdated—or when its Apple silicon upgrade will finally happen, but the whole process has definitely taken longer than it should.

The Mac Pro was last in the move to Intel, too, according to this random blog post I found:

WWDC 2006, SAN FRANCISCO—August 7, 2006—Apple today unveiled the new Mac Pro, a quad Xeon, 64-bit desktop workstation featuring two new Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors running up to 3.0 GHz and a new system architecture that delivers up to twice the performance of the Power Mac G5 Quad. With advanced performance, greater expansion, higher performance graphics options and unprecedented customization, the newly designed Mac Pro is the ideal system for the most demanding user. The introduction of the Mac Pro marks the completion of a rapid and seamless transition for Apple, with the entire Mac family now using Intel’s latest processors.

The Mac Pro is going last this time for the same reasons it went last in 2006:

  • High-end users often have the most trouble when moving to a new architecture, and need to hang on to the old one while waiting for their applications, plug-ins, etc. to be updated.
  • High-end systems are built atop technologies found in lower-end models. Just look at the relationship between the M2, M2 Pro and M2 Max. As you move up the line, the systems get more capable. This takes time to develop.
  • Apple wants to put its best technology in the hands of as many people as possible. This means working on consumer devices first, then moving upstream.

Price wraps up with this:

All this isn’t to say switching from Intel to Apple silicon hasn’t reaped huge dividends. It was obviously a smart decision, but what started as a “huge leap forward for the Mac” has turned into a slow stroll. As Apple continues to sporadically roll out chips and confuse customers with a mixed-up range of options, it’s getting harder to feel the magic.

Speak for yourself, bud.

  1. And not just because the column’s “Different Think” name took years off my life after reading it. 

Apple Silicon’s Evolution →

Howard Oakley writing at The Electric Light Company on how Apple silicon has grown in the move to the M2 family:

Apple silicon CPU cores are grouped in fours, forming a cluster run at the same frequency and sharing cache. M1 Pro and Max chips are unusual in only having half a cluster of Efficiency (E) cores, for which their frequency is managed differently from the full cluster in a base M1 chip. This ensures that background tasks are completed no slower on their two E cores than they would be on a base M1 chip with twice that number.

Increasing the total number of cores for the M2 Pro and Max shouldn’t have been a difficult design choice. Adding more Performance (P) cores would have required a third cluster, greatly increased energy usage and heat production, and resulted in a larger and more expensive chip. E cores are smaller, more frugal in their energy use, and produce less heat. Adding two E cores was probably the least Apple could do to improve the performance of the M2 Pro/Max over those M1 variants.

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The End of an Era

Sean Herber at The Iconfactory:

Twitterrific has been discontinued.

A sentence that none of us wanted to write, but have long felt would need to be written someday. We didn’t expect to be writing it so soon, though, and certainly not without having had time to notify you that it was coming. We are sorry to say that the app’s sudden and undignified demise is due to an unannounced and undocumented policy change by an increasingly capricious Twitter – a Twitter that we no longer recognize as trustworthy nor want to work with any longer.

Two days ago, @TwitterDev tweeted:

Twitter is enforcing its long-standing API rules. That may result in some apps not working.

This was met with a lot of head scratching, but today we know more, as Karissa Bell at Engadget reports:

In case there was any doubt about Twitter’s intentions in cutting off the developers of third-party apps, the company has quietly updated its developer agreement to make clear that app makers are no longer permitted to create their own clients.

The “restrictions” section of Twitter’s developer agreement was updated Thursday with a clause banning “use or access the Licensed Materials to create or attempt to create a substitute or similar service or product to the Twitter Applications.” The addition is the only substantive change to the 5,000-word agreement.

The change confirms what the makers of many popular Twitter clients have suspected in recent days: that third-party Twitter services are no longer permitted under Elon Musk’s leadership.

Clearly the “long-standing” bit of that tweet was a lie, and just like that, Twitter has greatly harmed numerous developers who have made their living making the Twitter ecosystem better.