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.

Lisa Source Code Released to Mark Machine’s 40th Anniversary →

Carina Sweet at The Computer History Museum:

Mountain View, CA – Jan. 19, 2023: The Computer History Museum (CHM), the leading museum exploring the history of computing and its impact on the human experience, today announced the public release and long-term preservation of the source code for the Apple Lisa, including its system and applications software, as part of its Art of Code series. Forty years ago today, Apple, Inc. released the Lisa computer, a milestone in computing history for its innovative use of a graphical user interface (GUI) in a personal computer (PC).

The source code can be downloaded here as a 7.2 MB zipped archive.

Apple Announces Second-Generation HomePod →

In its second product announcement in two days, Apple has unveiled a new HomePod:


Oh shoot, that’s the original HomePod. Here’s an image of the new one:

New HomePod

The two generations are very similar on the outside. The display at the top on the new one looks much more like what’s on the HomePod mini, and the new speaker comes in both white and midnight, but it’s hard to spot the differences in color in Apple’s images. Sadly, the big HomePod doesn’t come in the great colors its smaller sibling does.

On the inside, the HomePod has learned some new tricks, as outlined in the press release announcing it:

With Sound Recognition, HomePod can listen for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and send a notification directly to the user’s iPhone if a sound is identified. The new built-in temperature and humidity sensor can measure indoor environments, so users can create automations that close the blinds or turn on the fan automatically when a certain temperature is reached in a room.

(The HomePod mini apparently also has a temperature and humidity sensor lurking inside. It should be enabled with iOS 16.3)

Those seem like great additions, as does Matter support, which arrives with this new HomePod as well. It also supports Ultrawide Wideband for audio handoff, eARC, Find My and more. The HomePod is powered by the S7 system on a chip which debuted in 2021’s Apple Watch Series 7. This means the HomePod is limited to 802.11n for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0.

These features are outlined in Apple’s video:

The new HomePod is $299, which is what the original HomePod went for by the end of its life, down from the original’s initial price of $349. Compared to the $99 HomePod mini, I’m hard pressed to see the $299 price as a great value, but if it sounds as good as the original did, I’m sure it will find its fans. Order open today, and the HomePod ships on February 3.

Apple Announces Updates to MacBook Pro, Mac mini

The 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros have been bumped to the new M2 Pro and M2 Max chips. Apple even put together a short video with all the news:

The specs for these new machines are just bonkers, with up to 12-core CPUs, 38-core GPUs and 96 GB of unified memory. Here’s a bit from the press release:

Apple today announced the new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro featuring M2 Pro and M2 Max, Apple’s next-generation pro silicon that brings even more power-efficient performance and battery life to pro users. With M2 Pro and M2 Max — the world’s most powerful and efficient chip for a pro laptop — MacBook Pro tackles demanding tasks, like effects rendering, which is up to 6x faster than the fastest Intel-based MacBook Pro, and color grading, which is up to 2x faster. Building on the unprecedented power efficiency of Apple silicon, battery life on MacBook Pro is now up to 22 hours — the longest battery life ever in a Mac. For enhanced connectivity, the new MacBook Pro supports Wi-Fi 6E,3 which is up to twice as fast as the previous generation, as well as advanced HDMI, which supports 8K displays for the first time.1 With up to 96GB of unified memory in the M2 Max model, creators can work on scenes so large that PC laptops can’t even run them.4 Rounding out the unrivaled features of MacBook Pro are its renowned Liquid Retina XDR display, extensive array of connectivity, 1080p FaceTime HD camera, six-speaker sound system, and studio-quality mics.

MacBook Pro with M2

The new MacBook Pros come in the same excellent designs Apple unveiled back in October 2021.

On the desktop side of things, the Mac mini was updated to the same M2 system on a chip that first shipped in the new MacBook Air and some other computer in June 2022. The new system starts at $599, but the bigger news is that Apple has also shipped a Mac mini with the M2 Pro. That machine starts at $1,299 with a 10-Core CPU, a 16-Core GPU, 16 GB of unified memory and 512 GB of storage.

M2 Mac mini

Notably, the M2 Pro Mac mini has marked the end of the line for the 2018 Intel model, which was on sale until today. It always struck me as odd that the M1 Pro only ever appeared in the MacBook Pro, so I’m glad to see the Mac mini get the M2 version.

Like the MacBook Pro, the new Mac mini ship starting January 24. While we wait, we can all bask in these ridiculous numbers:

M2 Specs

M2 Pro Specs

M2 Max Specs

  1. Editor’s Note: That’s HDMI 2.1. 

Timing Updated to Import iPhone and iPad Screen Time →

Timing is a great way to automatically track and sort your time while using a Mac, but today the app spreads its wings:

We are excited to announce Timing 2023.1, which introduces a new feature that a lot of you have been asking for: Timing can now import your iPhone and iPad usage from Screen Time!

This feature, available to all Timing Expert customers, lets you manage your time spent on mobile devices just like your Mac usage, with the full functionality of Timing’s timeline and activity list. Even Timing’s rules are available to automatically categorize your mobile device usage.

If you’re a Timing user, this is very cool. I played with the beta over the holiday break and it really does let the app get a fuller sense of how you’re spending your time.

Report: Mac Updates Coming This Week →

Chance Miller, writing at 9to5Mac:

Apple could be making its first announcement of 2023 as soon as tomorrow, sources say. The company is holding Mac-related briefings with influencers and select members of the press this week, and an announcement could be made via Apple’s Newsroom website on Tuesday…

The details here are sparse at the moment. 9to5Mac has independently heard that Apple is holding press briefings this week related to the Mac. This has also been corroborated by other sources on Twitter, including friend of the site Ian Zelbo. Additionally, leaker Jon Prosser has teased: “keep an eye on Apple’s newsroom tomorrow.”

9to5Mac has been told by an anonymous tipster that the briefings will be held on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, with an embargo slated for Monday, January 23. This pattern makes sense and matches what we’ve seen in the past: an announcement on Tuesday, briefings and review unit distribution on Wednesday and Thursday, and a review embargo lift on the next Monday.

My money is on M2 Pro/Max MacBook Pros and an M2 Mac mini, all announced via press release.

Exploring the $69 OS X Lion USB Installer

While working on a Top Secret project,1 I needed to install OS X Lion on an older MacBook Pro. I have my own USB installer that I created, but I thought it would be a good time to use the USB installer Apple sold for $69 back in the day.2

Physically, the USB key is about as minimal as you can get. It’s just a thin piece of plastic with exposed USB contacts on side that slid right into a USB A port:

Lion USB Installer

It mounts in Finder like any other volume, complete with a custom icon. Here it is in Mac OS X Snow Leopard:

Lion USB Installer Icons

Installing off the USB Key is just like installing Lion from the App Store. Once I had the new OS up and running, I was curious to see how the system would handle the USB volume.

It can explored in Finder just like any of Apple’s downloaded macOS installer, and Terminal shows its contents like any other volume. Lion’s version of Disk Utility has no idea what to make of it, showing it as optical media:

Lion Installer in Lion

However, Disk Utility in later versions of macOS sees it as a regular USB volume, as seen here on macOS Ventura:

Lion USB Installer in Ventura

It’s a bit of a shame that Lion’s USB installer was a one-and-done thing, but I can’t imagine it sold very well. Downloading new versions of macOS quickly became the norm, no matter how neat this tiny USB key is.

  1. All will be revealed soon. 
  2. OS X Lion was just $29 in the Mac App Store, the same price as Snow Leopard before it. 

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DEVONthink for Mac

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Popular Third-Party Twitter Apps Currently Suspended →

Hanlon’s razor says “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity,” but it’s impossible to tell the difference with Twitter these days.

In a surprise to no one, developers of these apps have been left in the dark, as The Iconfactory points out in a blog post:

There’s been no official word from Twitter about what’s going on, but that’s unsurprising since the new owner eliminated the employees dedicated to keeping the API up and running smoothly, including the developer evangelists who previously provided communication with third-parties.

We wouldn’t know whom to reach out to at Twitter even if such people existed. We’re in the dark just as much as you are, sadly.

As soon as we have a better understanding of what has happened, we’ll update this blog post and let you know. In the meantime, if you own a Mac you can use Twitterrific for macOS (but we don’t know how much longer this will last).

January 14 Update: Twitter hasn’t announced anything, but it looks like this is indeed intentional.

iTunes for Windows Being Replaced by Three New Apps →

Andrew Cunningham, writing at Ars:

Today, as part of a new Windows 11 preview build for Windows Insiders, Microsoft has announced that previews of new Apple Music, Apple TV, and Apple Devices apps are available in the Microsoft Store for download.

The Apple Music and Apple TV apps handle iTunes’ music and video functionality, just as they do on macOS, and provide access to the Apple Music and Apple TV+ subscription services. The Apple Devices app is what you’ll use to make local device backups, perform emergency software updates, sync local media, and the other things you can do with an iDevice that’s plugged into your PC (in macOS, similar functionality was added to the Finder, rather than being broken out into its own app).

Bloomberg: Apple Planning Macs with Touch Screens →

Mark Gurman:

Apple Inc. is working on adding touch screens to its Mac computers, a move that would defy long-held company orthodoxy and embrace an approach that co-founder Steve Jobs once called “ergonomically terrible.”

Apple engineers are actively engaged in the project, indicating that the company is seriously considering producing touch-screen Macs for the first time, according to people familiar with the efforts. Still, a launch hasn’t been finalized and the plans could change.

Don’t take this the wrong way, but Jobs has been gone a long time and this move would be long overdue if it comes to pass.

I have a lot of thoughts on this, but for now let me say this: discussions about touch-enabled Macs don’t have to be forever framed by what Apple of ten years ago thought.

Kbase Article of the Week: Macintosh: Remote Power Up →

This week, we’ve got another Q&A-style support article:

I want to remotely power up and remotely reset a Macintosh computer? Are
there Apple or third party solutions available?

Depending on the Macintosh model you have, there are different software and
hardware solutions available. Many Desktop (examples: Macintosh IIcx, IIci)
and PowerBook models are capable of being remotely powered up or restarted.

The document has a lot more detail if you find yourself needing this in 1993.

My Homemade iPad mini Bike Mount

I love bike riding — both on and off the road — but I hate riding in the cold weather, so for several months out of the year my road bike is mounted to a trainer in my garage.

Riding inside is great when it is cold outside, but it’s boring. For years, I would balance my iPad on something in the garage, hoping it wouldn’t tumble to its death, but this year, I came up with something quite a bit more sturdy:

iPad mini on bike

Ok, I know it looks like my iPad mini is just balanced on the handlebars, but the real magic is out of sight. It starts with the Peak Design Out Front Bike Mount, coupled with the company’s universal adapter.

I am a big fan of Peak Design’s mounting system. It uses both magnets and a physical connection to keep things locked down. If I’m out and about on a bike, I have my iPhone 14 Pro in their compatible case, but the universal adapter opens up a lot of possibilities.

To complete my bike setup, I took a Smart Cover and cut the front panel off, sticking the adaptor to the back. This means the Smart Cover is attached securely to the bike. When I go out to the garage, I take my iPad mini and sit it on the the Smart Cover. Its magnets grab the iPad mini and hold it in place quite nicely.

I wouldn’t ride on the street with the iPad mounted this way, but sitting still in the garage, it’s more than secure enough to watch a TV show or basketball game when I get some stationary miles in.

Apple Maps Adds New Parking Features →

Joe Rossignol, MacRumors:

In partnership with parking platform SpotHero, Apple Maps now provides parking information for more than 8,000 locations across the U.S. and Canada. Parking availability can be filtered based on EV charging, wheelchair accessibility, and more.

On the iPhone, users can open the Apple Maps app and search for a popular destination such as Madison Square Garden in New York or Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, tap on the “More” button in the place card, tap on the “Parking” option in the menu, and proceed to search for and reserve nearby parking on the SpotHero website without leaving Apple Maps. SpotHero says the feature will also be available on the Mac.

Mac Power Users #674: Workflows with Shawn Blanc →

This week on Mac Power Users, I got the chance to catch up with one of the folks I’ve known the longest online:

Shawn Blanc left his job back in 2011 to become a full-time writer. Twelve years later, he’s the mastermind behind sites like The Focus Course and The Sweet Setup and more. Stephen and David ask him about that journey and how he’s grown his operation from a solo venture to a team running multiple projects.

Shawn gave me my first paid gig on the Internet a decade ago when he hired me to write for Tools and Toys. We went on to start The Sweet Setup together. It was a true joy to have him on the show.

Sponsor: The Weather Machine, by Hello Weather →

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Weather Machine

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Using Loopback to Play Audio Through a Pair of Studio Displays

I recently sold my Pro Display XDR and moved to a pair of Studio Displays.

The Studio Display is pretty great, especially with the optional height-adjustable stand. I didn’t use any of the high-end features of the XDR, and after just a few weeks, I’ve fallen in love with this setup, minus some cables that still need tidying:

My desk

As the Studio Display comes with a better-than-expected set of internal speakers, this has marked the retirement of the pair of SoundSticks that I’ve been using as my speakers basically forever. As one of them had hot glue holding it together, it felt like it was time.

You know what’s better than one set of Studio Display speakers, though? Having two sets play at the same time. Yesterday, I was wondering how to do this, and then it hit me:


The full extent of what this application can do is far beyond the scope of this blog post, but in just a few minutes, I had all system audio passing through Loopback to both Studio Displays:

Loopback Screenshot

In this setup, the same audio is piped to both displays, so audio on the left channel plays through the left speaker on both displays. This means that the two speakers are playing the exact same thing.

As I sit in front of one display, with the other to my left, this works best for me. However, if I wanted the left display to play just the left channel, and the right one to play just the right, then Loopback would look like this:

Loopback Screenshot

One side effect of this is that a pair of Studio Displays is way louder than one Studio Display. Thankfully, Loopback makes it easy bump down the maximum volume on a per-device basis. Knocking them back to 65% each is working well for me.

Loopback Screenshot

This sort of thing is what makes being a macOS user so much fun.

My Evolving Setup

Last week, I was putting things together for an upcoming episode of Mac Power Users1 and came across a few old posts in which I shared my Apple setups. I thought it would be fun to put them all in one place:

  • October 2009: This was my desk in the first apartment my wife and I lived in after getting married. It was about a year after I started this blog and our oldest son was 11 months old. Now he’s 14.
  • September 2010: That was a very good iPad wallpaper.
  • December 2011: I believe this was my first home screen post over on David Sparks’ site. The images seem lost to time.
  • October 2012: I have no idea why I didn’t take any photos for this one. One star.
  • March 2014: The desk featured in this article was at the last company I worked for. We would launch Relay FM about six months later.
  • September 2014: Sparks’ site does have these images! I look so young.
  • September 2015: After I quit my job to go indie, I split my time between a home office (shown below) and this space, which I rented with my brother’s non-profit.
  • August 2016: This setup was outlined right before I moved into my current studio. This desk was shoved into what was a spare bedroom in our house that is now home to our youngest son.
  • September 2018: I was really excited about this one and I love that photo.
  • March 2020: It’s amazing how little my homescreen has changed over the last three years.

If you want a much more updated accounting of things, check out my Gear & Studio page.

  1. It will be published on Sunday, January 8. 

Another Year in the Books

It’s hard to believe it is January again. The new year means I get to put another bundle of used Field Notes on my shelf:

A collection of Field Notes

Long time readers — and viewers — will know that I’ve done this for over a decade, but I carry a notebook with me just about all the time. Their contents range widely and I can’t imagine life without them.

Flipping through my 2022 notebooks, I spotted everything from Podcastathon planning and meeting notes to questions for my therapist and grocery lists. When one gets filled up, I scan it, toss the PDF on Dropbox and put the notebook on the shelf.

Mac Power Users #673: Apple’s New Freeform App →

It’s a big start to the new year on Mac Power Users:

It’s not every day that Apple releases a new productivity app, but with iOS 16.2 and macOS Ventura 13.1, the company launched Freeform, an infinite canvas app for sketching, organizing and sharing information. David and Stephen have been using it extensively and break it all down this week.

We did all of out show prep in Freeform itself:

MPU 673 Notes in Freeform

There are some very 1.0-feeling things in Freeform, but overall, it’s already a great tool and if Apple doesn’t let it wither on the vine, I think it has a bright future.

Apple Guiding Dark Sky Users to Apple Weather →

Apple Support:

Dark Sky’s features have been integrated into Apple Weather. Apple Weather offers hyperlocal forecasts for your current location, including next-hour precipitation, hourly forecasts for the next 10 days, high-resolution radar, and notifications.

Apple Weather is available on devices running iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS 13 Ventura. If you’re new to Apple Weather, here are some tips to get started.

What’s Left in the Apple Silicon Transition

Over at MacRumors, Hartley Charlton pointed out something that hadn’t crossed my mind:

Historically, Apple released at least one new Mac model every year in the fourth quarter that runs between October and December, starting in 2001 with the launch of the iBook G3. This means that there has been a new Mac toward the end of the year for the entire lifespan of product lines including the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. The last Mac that Apple released is the M2 MacBook Air, which launched on July 15. Depending on how long Apple waits to launch its next Mac, the time following the launch of the MacBook Air could be among the longest periods with no new Mac models at all.

When announced back in June 2020, the transition was promised to take two years. Whether you started counting at WWDC 2020, or when the M1 was unveiled in November, Apple has missed its deadline.

There are several reasons for this, ranging from the loss of key individuals on the Apple silicon team to the on-going global supply chain and economic uncertainty. While many of us know that the Mac keeps going forever, it’s clear that something has made the transition from Intel to Apple silicon take more time than planned.1

Given that we now live in this Already-But-Not-Yet Phase, let’s think about what could be left on Johny Srouji’s “Transition” list in Reminders:

Order 66 Those Intel Macs

Here at the end of 2022, there are two Intel Macs still for sale that need to be murdered in cold blood taken care of:

Apple doesn’t want to be selling Intel Macs anymore. The more time goes on, the longer Apple is going to have to support Intel machines with new versions of macOS and its other applications.2

The Mac Pro

2019 Mac Pro

In its transition to Intel, Apple replaced the iMac G5 and PowerBook G4 first, with the Intel iMac and the initial MacBook Pro. They were both announced in January 2006, with the Intel Xserve and the Mac Pro bringing up the rear in August of that year.

We’ll circle back to the Mac mini, but assuming that is sorted out quickly, the Mac Pro will once again be the final Mac to cross into this new era. This isn’t too surprising, as it just makes sense to start with the more mainline product lines and eventually making it to the more obscure models. Unique to our current transition, Apple is working up to whatever will power the new Mac Pro. Back in the day, the Xeon wasn’t new to Intel.

As long as there has been a Mac Pro, there has been handwringing about the next Mac Pro, and today is no different. As recent as a couple of weeks ago, Mark Gurman reported that work on a custom high-end “M2 Extreme” chip had been called off.

Regardless of what SoC Apple uses in the new Mac Pro, there are many unanswered questions about how Apple silicon will scale up to the Mac Pro.3 The biggest is what comes of the Mac Pro’s many PCI ports and the MPX Modules that debuted in the 2019 model.

From the first A4 to the M2 Ultra, Apple’s SoCs use GPUs integrated in the package itself, to impressive results so far. However, there are users — from gamers to artists to scientists to Siracusas — who want or need more than what any on-die graphics hardware can do. Is Apple willing to spend the engineering effort to extend what its chips can do for one low-volume machine? The 2019 Mac Pro says yes, but it’s a different ballgame now.

Beyond GPUs, PCI slots are great for expanding I/O, increasing internal storage and more. I am assuming the new Mac Pro will retain some number of PCI slots and I’m hopeful that those slots will support at least a selection of third-party GPUs.

Unveil the Timeline

We are still too early into the Apple silicon transition to really understand how often Macs are likely to get updated. So far, we have only seen two computers receive updates — the MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro with … checks notes … Touch Bar. The M1 Mac mini was introduced at the same time as those two machines but was not bumped to the M2 at WWDC 2022 like its siblings.

The M1 iMac’s two-year anniversary will arrive in April 2023, with the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros’ following in October. Will Apple take a full two years to update these machines to the M2, if it does at all?

I assume Apple thought they’d be further along by now, but once the COVID dust settles, I hope that the company finds a regular pace for updates that it can keep up in the long run.

Make it the Mac many

As mentioned above, the Mac mini is having a hard time. The 2020 M1 machine starts at $699, but can’t escape the literal shadow of the 2018 Intel model, which offers a much higher RAM limit and is still attractive to a small set of customers.

Theoretical Mac mini family

I don’t know why the Mac mini didn’t get the M2, but my suspicion is that Apple is planning two Mac minis that would launch simultaneously — a standard model with the same M2 as in my MacBook Air, and a higher-end model powered by the M2 Pro. I find it very interesting that the M1 Pro didn’t end up in anything other than the two larger MacBook Pros. I can’t help but think that fact is one side of a coin, with the Intel Mac mini on the other.

Chart a Course for the Future

Despite these hiccups, the transition to Apple silicon has been remarkably smooth. Apple is probably the best company on the planet when it comes to being willing and able to pull off large-scale technical shifts in existing product lines. Even if it is taking longer than initially promised, the results of this work already speak for themselves. The Apple silicon machines are a huge hit and have breathed new life into the Mac line. I think the delays we currently see will be forgotten soon enough.4

  1. Whereas the transition from PowerPC to Intel took less time than planned. 
  2. This of course raises the question of how long Apple may support Intel Macs once they have stopped shipping. In June 2009, Snow Leopard was announced to be the first release of Mac OS X not to support PowerPC machines, a mere thee years since the transition wrapped up in August 2006. 
  3. If the M2 Extreme is indeed DOA, some of those questions are answered in the Mac Studio’s M1 Ultra chipset, I suppose. 
  4. I couldn’t find a place for it, but I’d like to see the return of the larger iMac, too. But that’s not quite a requirement to complete the transition to Apple silicon. 

iPod Socks Wallpaper →

Basic Apple Guy:

Confession: I have a disproportionate, bordering on irrational, adoration for iPod Socks! I couldn’t really explain to you why. Maybe the iPod Socks got wrapped up in the halo of the early days of owning my first iPod, with all the nostalgia and delight of discovering & enjoying new music while having all my favourite tracks all on one beautiful device. Or maybe they’re just cute, and I’m obsessively weird about it. Who knows? There are loads of cute things in the world, but few are on par with iPod socks.

I totally get that, and these wallpapers are a lot of fun.

1Password for Families PSA →

Did you know that 1Password Business comes with free 1Password Family memberships for employees? This came up in the Discord for Relay FM Members today:

When you’re part of a team that uses 1Password Business, you get a complimentary 1Password Families membership, which you can share with up to 5 family members.

To redeem your free membership, link your family account to your business account. Only your subscription status will be linked. No other information is shared.

I had forgotten about this, so logged in to see what I needed to do to take advantage of this feature:

To apply your free membership to an existing account, click “Apply to existing account”. Then sign in to your family account and click Apply. If you sign in to an individual account, you’ll be asked if you want to convert it to a family account.

It took me about three seconds to link my existing Family plan to Relay FM’s business account.

PCalc Turns 30 →

James Thomson:

This is an updated version of a piece I wrote for the 20th anniversary, with an extra ten years of history!

Many people using PCalc on their shiny devices today don’t realise that the app has been around for a lot longer than they think. In some cases, a lot longer than they’ve been thinking.

PCalc is twenty thirty years old on the 23rd of December 2022, so I thought I should take the opportunity to look back at how it has evolved over the last two three decades.

To celebrate, PCalc is currently 30% off, but make yourself a reminder to buy it tomorrow at full price when the sale is over.

Goodnight, Insight →


NASA’s InSight mission has ended after more than four years of collecting unique science on Mars.

Mission controllers at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California were unable to contact the lander after two consecutive attempts, leading them to conclude the spacecraft’s solar-powered batteries have run out of energy – a state engineers refer to as “dead bus.”

NASA had previously decided to declare the mission over if the lander missed two communication attempts. The agency will continue to listen for a signal from the lander, just in case, but hearing from it at this point is considered unlikely. The last time InSight communicated with Earth was Dec. 15.

Space Explored has a nice article up outlining the lander’s mission and lifespan.

Apple’s Self Service Repair Program Expanded →

The program now covers the M1 iMac, M1 Mac mini, Mac Studio and Studio Display.

With this comes a new batch of Repair Manuals, which I naturally downloaded and looked through. I love this exploded view of my beloved Mac Studio:

Mac Studio Exploded View

Here’s what all of those parts are:

  1. Bottom cover screw pad
  2. Bottom cover screw pad adhesive strips
  3. Bottom cover
  4. Power supply
  5. Bus bar insulator cover
  6. Internal frame
  7. Internal frame plate
  8. Antenna 2
  9. Antenna 3
  10. SDXC card slot board
  11. SDXC card slot board flex cable
  12. SDXC card slot board connector cowling
  13. SDXC card slot board connector cowling
  14. Front USB-C ports connector cowling
  15. Front USB-C ports
  16. Front USB-C ports bracket
  17. Back Thunderbolt 4 ports connector cowling
  18. Back Thunderbolt 4 ports (2)
  19. Ethernet board
  20. Ethernet board connector cowling 1
  21. Ethernet board flex cable
  22. Ethernet board connector cowling 2
  23. Power cord port
  24. Combination input/output board
  25. Power button
  26. Combination input/output board connector cowling
  27. HDMI flex cable
  28. USB-A flex cable
  29. Combination input/output board connector cowling
  30. Bus bar
  31. SSD module cover included with a replacement SSD module
  32. SSD modules (flash storage)
  33. Power supply signal cable
  34. Speaker
  35. Logic board
  36. Antenna 1
  37. Fan
  38. Housing

Compared to this thing, the inside of the Mac mini is downright simple.

Sponsor: MarsEdit 5 →

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MarsEdit is used by top bloggers to maximize their productivity and enjoyment of blogging. It’s great for pros like John Gruber of Daring Fireball and yours truly, while also being simple enough to remove the mystery of blogging for everyday folks who just want to share their thoughts with the world.

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Free Speech Champion Elon Musk Bans Links to Alternative Networks →

Twitter Support:

Twitter is where the public conversation is happening, and where people from all over the globe come to promote their businesses, art, ideas, and more. We know that many of our users may be active on other social media platforms; however, going forward, Twitter will no longer allow free promotion of specific social media platforms on Twitter.

At both the Tweet level and the account level, we will remove any free promotion of prohibited 3rd-party social media platforms, such as linking out (i.e. using URLs) to any of the below platforms on Twitter, or providing your handle without a URL.

Offenders include:

  • Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribel, Post and Nostr
  • 3rd-party social media link aggregators such as,

Seems about right.

Update: And a day later, the rule is gone, after Twitter Safety ran a poll on the issue. What a joke.

F-150 Lightning Prices Increase Again →

Emma Roth:

Ford’s raising the price of its F-150 Lightning pickup yet again — this time, by about $4,000 (via CNBC). The increase affects both the entry-level Pro model for business customers and the consumer-focused XLT trim with no added options, which now start at $55,974 and $63,474, respectively.

For comparison, the Pro work truck initially started at $39,974 when it launched back in April, but subsequent price hikes brought the price up to $46,974 in August and $51,974 in October. The base XLT, on the other hand, launched with a sticker price of $52,974 before that increased to $59,474 several months later.

I would still love a Lightning, but Ford is pricing me right into the arms of my 8-year-old-and-already-paid-for Tacoma.

ChatGPT Has Hot Performa Takes

I recently asked ChatGPT a complicated question:

Which Performa was the best?

Here’s what it replied:

It is difficult to say which Performa model was the best, as it ultimately depends on individual preferences and needs.

The Performa line of computers was introduced by Apple in 1992 and included a range of models with varying specifications and features. Some of the most popular Performa models included the Performa 600, which featured a 66 MHz PowerPC processor and 8 MB of RAM, and the Performa 6116CD, which featured a 120 MHz PowerPC processor and 16 MB of RAM. These models were popular among home users and were known for their speed and reliability.

As no human — not even yours truly — can keep up with every Performa model, I decided to look up on the two systems mentioned.1

The Performa 600 was a desktop Mac with a 32 MHz 68030 CPU, and came stock with 4 MB of memory. As confident as it sounded, ChatGPT got this one wrong.

(Here’s a little trick when it comes to all Performas. If it has a 3-digit model name, it’s powered by a Motorola 680×0. If it’s got a 4-digit designation, then it’s a PowerPC model.)

The Performa 6116CD came in a low-profile desktop case and ran at 60 MHz and came with 8 MB of RAM by default, so once again ChatGPT doubled its specs.

As far as the line about these computers being “popular among home users and were known for their speed and reliability,” I’ve got mixed feelings.

Here’s a bit from LowEndMac about the Performa 600:

The Performa 600 was an okay computer, but a big “Huh?” for Mac IIci users. Where the LC and LC II had been compromised by using a 32-bit processor on a 16-bit data bus, the Performa 600 ran a 32 MHz CPU on a 16 MHz bus. This gave it slower performance than the 25 MHz IIci, which was still available. In fact, the old 16 MHz Mac IIx outperformed the Performa 600 on some benchmarks!

Worse yet, the Performa 600, doesn’t support a level 2 cache in the Processor Direct Slot, although it will accept accelerators.

The 600 did have some things going for it, as it was the first Mac available with a built-in CD-ROM drive, but overall, it was a bit of a dud.

Then there’s the 6116CD, which was bundled with a package of software aimed at small businesses. Being a later model, it also had Mac OS 8.0 support, which the 600 never got. The 6116CD also got a price cut in February 1996, seven months after its introduction in July 1995. Like other Performa models, it didn’t come with discrete video memory, instead pulling from system RAM for video output. Thankfully, the PDS slot meant users had an upgrade path on that front.

As it tunrs out, ChatGPT is a terrible Apple historian. AI won’t be taking that part of my job over any time soon … probably.

  1. I did remember that the first Performas were launched in September 1992. I don’t know if Apple pre-announced them in April, however. 

The Divorce →

Casey Newton, in an excellent edition of Platformer:

From the start, my strategy on Twitter has been to tell jokes about tech, use the engagement on those posts to grow a following, and then promote my work to that following. (Some people who read my tweets also became friends and sources; Twitter was great for that, too.)

Now, awaiting Musk’s latest tweets, I find myself anxious that one of his former employees could be physically assaulted or worse over what the CEO is posting. I don’t know how, in that environment, to make little jokes about Google’s latest failed messaging app, or bad PR pitches, or any of the other bits I have been doing on Twitter forever. I don’t know how to pretend that what is happening is not actually happening. I don’t want to provide, even in the smallest of ways, a respectable backdrop against which hate speech against my fellow LGBTQ people, or Black or Jewish or any other people, can flourish.

This part really resonated with me:

No company has influenced the media more in my career than Twitter has. For more than a decade it has shaped what news gets covered, how, and by whom. It is also the largest platform I have, at least by number of followers, and has been the primary way Platformer has found new customers since I launched the newsletter in 2020.

At the same time, when I started writing an email newsletter in 2017, I did so out of anxiety that I would find myself at a crossroads like this: with a malignant landlord standing in between me and the audience I had cultivated. I feel fortunate that the Platformer audience — now just shy of 100,000 readers — can make a divorce like this seem possible.

I owe a ton of my success to the early days of Twitter and the relationships that bloomed there, but those days are gone, and so am I.

Bonus Kbase Article of the Week: How to turn on Advanced Data Protection for iCloud →

Apple Support:

Advanced Data Protection for iCloud is an optional setting that offers Apple’s highest level of cloud data security. If you choose to enable Advanced Data Protection, the majority of your iCloud data — including iCloud Backup, Photos, Notes, and more — is protected using end-to-end encryption. No one else can access your end-to-end encrypted data, not even Apple, and this data remains secure even in the case of a data breach in the cloud. Before you turn on Advanced Data Protection, you can learn more about how your data is protected with standard data protection and if you enable Advanced Data Protection.

Before you turn on Advanced Data Protection, you’ll be guided to set up at least one alternative recovery method: a recovery contact or a recovery key. With Advanced Data Protection enabled, Apple doesn’t have the encryption keys needed to help you recover your end-to-end encrypted data. If you ever lose access to your account, you’ll need to use one of your account recovery methods — your device passcode or password, your recovery contact, or recovery key — to recover your iCloud data.

If you’re like me, when you walk through this process, you’ll be surprised at some old devices that may still be signed in to your account. To get this going, you’ll need to have all of your devices updated to iOS/iPadOS/tvOS 16.2, watchOS 9.2 and macOS macOS 13.1. I’m setting it up now, and we’ll be talking about this on Connected tomorrow.

Changes Are Coming for the App Store →

There’s no secret that the EU and other governments are looking at Apple’s control over the App Store with an increasingly critical eye. Even with that in mind, this report from Mark Gurman is still wild:

Software engineering and services employees are engaged in a major push to open up key elements of Apple’s platforms, according to people familiar with the efforts. As part of the changes, customers could ultimately download third-party software to their iPhones and iPads without using the company’s App Store, sidestepping Apple’s restrictions and the up-to-30% commission it imposes on payments.

Over at Six Colors, Dan Moren writes:

The rationale behind such a change is the Digital Markets Act, a European law that comes into effect in 2024, which mandates more control in the hands of users instead of platform owners. Critics have taken shots at some of the aspects of this law, such as interoperability between messaging protocols, but there’s no getting around that the European Union is a major market for tech companies, and its laws have a way of enforcing sweeping changes—for good or ill. (See the similar law enforcing the use of a standard charging connector on smartphones which is reported to helped spur Apple’s decision to shift the iPhone from its proprietary Lightning connector to USB-C.)

But Apple has been a staunch defender of its App Store approach, on the ground of security and privacy—not to mention protecting its 30-percent cut. That’s proved unpopular with developers, including major opponents like Epic Games and Spotify, both of which have taken shots at Apple for its restrictions.

Opening up app installations on the iPhone would radically change how the product works for some users, but I think many would choose to continue to use the App Store exclusively.

Kbase Article of the Week: iBook — White Greasy Substance in Battery Bay →

Apple Support:

If you see a white, greasy substance in the computer’s battery bay, frequently near the battery electrical contact points, it is no cause of concern. The substance is merely a non-harmful grease that is applied during production of the iBook computer.

The grease is applied to the springs in the battery bay to help ease removal of the battery.

If there is excessive grease, you can remove it with a clean, dry, lint-free cloth.

Note: While the grease does not represent any potential harm if it comes in contact with the your skin, it should be washed off using soap and warm water.

Sponsor: Unite 4.2 for macOS →

Unite 4 for macOS allows you to turn any website into an app on your Mac. Using a lightweight, WebKit powered browser as a backend, you can easily create isolated, customizable apps from any site.

Unite 4 includes dozens of new features, including support for native notifications, new customization options, and much more. Unite apps also serve as a great alternative for resource-hogging Electron apps or half-baked Catalyst apps.

Some examples of apps you could create in mere minutes with Unite:

  • A Gmail web client that behaves like a native mail client
  • A status bar app for Apple Music or Overcast
  • An isolated workspace for apps that may track you like Facebook
  • A Google Meet app that works efficiently without using Chrome
  • A fully featured Instagram app that has a resizable window
  • A Robinhood, Figma, or Roam Research app for your desktop

The newly launched Unite 4.2 makes the experience even better, with built-in password management, fully-featured status bar apps, and much more.

512 Pixels readers get 20% off this week when you purchase Unite 4 at or when you use the promo code ‘512Pixels’ at checkout.

You can also try Unite for 14 days absolutely free or use it as part of your subscription if you’re a Setapp subscriber!

Orion Splashes Down


NASA’s Orion spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, west of Baja California, at 9:40 a.m. PST Sunday after a record-breaking mission, traveling more than 1.4 million miles on a path around the Moon and returning safely to Earth, completing the Artemis I flight test.

Splashdown is the final milestone of the Artemis I mission that began with a successful liftoff of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket Nov. 16, from Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Over the course of 25.5 days, NASA tested Orion in the harsh environment of deep space before flying astronauts on Artemis II.

As Eric Berger writes at Ars Technica, this marks the end of a historic mission:

This has not happened in half a century. At times, it seemed like it might never happen again. But now, it is most definitely happening.

NASA’s progress back toward the Moon, and one day potentially Mars, has been at times lethargic. The political process that led NASA to this point in recent decades was messy and motivated by parochial pork projects. But on Sunday there could be no denying that this process has brought NASA, the United States, and dozens of other nations participating in the Artemis Program to the point where its human deep space exploration program is a very, very real thing.

It has been a long time coming.

Buying a Home Computer for Christmas? →

If you’re looking to buy a Mac this holiday season, Apple of 1995 has you covered:

Once upon a time, purchasing a family computer was more complicated than finding four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree. With recent price drops for personal computers and a proliferation of easy-to-use and useful software, there’s never been a more affordable or better time to bring your home into the 21st century.

Wish lists and children’s letters to Santa can be daunting enough without adding bits and bytes, RAM and ROM, to the equation. So here are 10 tips for buying a computer the whole family will use and enjoy for seasons to come.

Apple Announces Security Changes for iCloud, Expanding End-to-End Encryption for 23 Services →

Apple Newsroom:

Apple today introduced three advanced security features focused on protecting against threats to user data in the cloud, representing the next step in its ongoing effort to provide users with even stronger ways to protect their data. With iMessage Contact Key Verification, users can verify they are communicating only with whom they intend. With Security Keys for Apple ID, users have the choice to require a physical security key to sign in to their Apple ID account. And with Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, which uses end-to-end encryption to provide Apple’s highest level of cloud data security, users have the choice to further protect important iCloud data, including iCloud Backup, Photos, Notes, and more.

Snell has more, and Joanna Stern talked with Apple’s Craig Federighi about the changes.

MarsEdit 5 Released →

Daniel over at Red Sweater Software has released version 5 of his excellent blog editor for macOS:

MarsEdit 5 features a beautiful new icon, a “Microposting” feature for streamlined short-form blogging, enhanced plain-text editing with built-in Markdown syntax highlighting, a completely rebuilt rich text editor based on Apple’s latest WebKit2 technologies, and a variety of nuanced improvements to make your blogging workflow smoother, and more enjoyable than ever.

My favorite feature of the update is the Markdown syntax highlighting, which you can see in this screenshot:

MarsEdit 5

As someone who does all of his blogging in MarsEdit, it’s a great addition and helps ensure that I don’t make silly syntax errors.

The new version of MarsEdit also includes a new system-wide quick post feature that makes it easy to send short posts to a blog of your choosing:

Microposting in MarsEdit 5

As with previous versions, Daniel has upgrade pricing avaible:

This update is free for MarsEdit 4 users who purchased a license on or after June 1, 2022. For all other licensed MarsEdit 4 users, the upgrade fee is $29.95. For all other users the one-time purchase price is $59.95.

Users who purchased the in-app purchase via the Mac App Store can obtain the same upgrade discounts within the Mac App Store version of MarsEdit 5, when it becomes available, by locating a valid copy of MarsEdit 4 with premium features unlocked.

Version 5 should be in Setapp shorlty.

I’ve been using MarsEdit 5 in beta for a while,1 and it continues to be a critical tool in how I run 512 Pixels. The new version makes it all the better. I’m excited to see the new Microposting evolve over time, making my shift away from social media even easier.

  1. Disclosures: Red Sweater Software is a past — and future — sponsor of 512 Pixels and provided a license for MarsEdit 5 to me for free, but did not pay/approve/even see this blog post before it went up. I just really dig the app, which is why Red Sweater is a sponsor. 

Orion Due to Splashdown Sunday →

Eric Berger, writing at Ars:

The Orion spacecraft swung by the Moon on Monday, flying to within 130 km of that world’s surface as it set course for a return to Earth this weekend.

In making this “powered flyby burn” to move away from the Moon, Orion’s service module performed its longest main engine firing to date, lasting 3 minutes and 27 seconds. After successful completion of the maneuver, NASA’s mission management team gave the “go” to send recovery teams out into the Pacific Ocean, where Orion is due to splashdown on Sunday, during the middle of the day.

Don’t miss the amazing images the spacecraft took while near the moon.

Sports Alerts Brings Scores to Dynamic Island and Live Activities →

This app was mentioned on last week’s Upgrade, but I wanted to highlight it here as well, as it offers in-depth stats on the player, team and game level, as well as loads of customization in the app itself.

Sports Alerts is one of the first apps I’ve found to bring live sports scores to the Dyanmic Island and Live Activies. I’m running the iOS 16.2 beta, and have had Apple’s own TV app prompt me to start a Live Activity for a handful of Memphis basketball games, but it seems hit or miss so far as to what games it can display.1

The UI isn’t the nicest I’ve seen; in fact, it feels a little like the iOS 7 days in places, but the killer feature is live scores visible from anywhere:

Score Alerts

Like every other application that offers them, Score Alerts cannot start a Live Activity on its own. In this case, you have to open the app, find your game, and manually start a Live Activity. I’ve enabled “Start of Game” notifications for my favorite teams to act as a reminder to pop into the app and start the Live Activity.

It’s still early days for this iOS feature, and I’m sure more well-known sports app will add Live Activities for games, but for now at least, Sports Alerts has earned itself a spot on my iPhone.

  1. After installing the 16.2 beta, I re-enabled push notifications for on my phone to test these new sports features, and I came to regret that after just a few days. I really dislike how many HEY COME WATCH THIS THING notifications sends. 

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Recreating Apple News with ChatGPT

The folks behind OpenAI have opened up a new AI tool that can return text when given a prompt. Naturally, I asked it to write about Apple products.

Prompt #1: Write 5 paragraphs in the style of a news article written by about Apple’s new iMac computer, complete with quotes from experts

Apple has released a new iMac computer, bringing updated hardware and a renewed focus on performance to the iconic all-in-one desktop. The new iMac features the latest Intel processors, with options up to a 10-core Core i9 chip, along with AMD Radeon Pro 5000 series graphics, delivering up to 55 percent faster performance than the previous generation.

“The new iMac is a powerful addition to Apple’s desktop lineup,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “With its updated hardware and sleek design, it’s the perfect computer for users who want the best performance and the best user experience.”

The new iMac also boasts improved storage options, with options up to 8TB of high-speed SSD storage, and support for up to 128GB of high-speed DDR4 memory. Additionally, the new iMac features a brighter and more vibrant Retina display, with support for the P3 wide color gamut, as well as True Tone technology for automatically adjusting the display’s white balance.

“The new iMac’s display is truly stunning,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing. “With its brighter colors and improved contrast, it’s a great choice for creatives who want to see their work in the best possible light.”

In addition to the updated hardware, the new iMac also includes macOS Big Sur, the latest version of Apple’s operating system. Big Sur brings a redesigned interface, improved app functionality, and new features such as Control Center, which provides quick access to commonly used settings and controls.

“macOS Big Sur is a major step forward for the Mac,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering. “With its redesigned interface and new features, it makes the iMac even more powerful and easy to use.”

Prompt #2: A tweet thread about the new iPhone camera system

Just got my hands on the new iPhone and the camera system is incredible! The triple-camera setup offers a huge range of focal lengths and the image quality is stunning.

The night mode feature is a game changer, producing photos with incredible detail and low noise in low light situations. The video capabilities are also impressive, with smooth stabilization and impressive 4K quality.

Overall, the new iPhone’s camera system is a huge step forward and sets a new standard for smartphone photography. #iPhoneCamera #NightMode #TripleCamera

Prompt #3: Initial impressions after using the Apple Newton in 1993, as a magazine column written by Jason Snell

As a long-time Mac user, I was excited to get my hands on the new Apple Newton when it was released in 1993. I had heard a lot about its revolutionary handwriting recognition technology and was eager to see how it performed in the real world.

After using the Newton for a few days, I have to say that I’m impressed. The handwriting recognition technology works surprisingly well, allowing me to jot down notes and have them automatically converted to text. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely good enough for everyday use.

One thing I really like about the Newton is its small size and portability. It fits easily into a pocket or purse, making it a great option for on-the-go note-taking. The screen is also nice and large, making it easy to read and write on.

Overall, I’m pleased with the Newton. It’s not without its flaws, but the handwriting recognition technology is a game-changer and makes it a worthwhile addition to any Mac user’s toolkit. I’m looking forward to seeing how it evolves in the future.

Prompt #4: The description for an episode of the Connected podcast, about the iPad Pro

In this episode of Connected, we dive into the new iPad Pro and all of its impressive features. We discuss the powerful M1 chip that powers the device, the stunning new Mini-LED display, and the vast improvements to the cameras.

We also talk about the new Thunderbolt port and the implications it has for connecting accessories like external displays and storage. Plus, we discuss the potential for the iPad Pro to replace a traditional computer for many users.

Tune in to learn more about the latest and greatest iPad Pro.

Prompt #5: A poem concerning the eMate 300

The eMate 300, a sight to see
A small and sturdy machine
With a keyboard and screen

It may not be the fastest
Or the most advanced device
But it’s rugged and reliable
And it gets the job done right

With its green and black design
It stands out in a crowd
And its long-lasting battery
Means it can go the distance

So here’s to the eMate 300
A humble workhorse of the digital age
May it continue to serve
Long into the future.

Prompt #6: A haiku about the HomePod

In the corner it sits
A small white orb of sound
Filling the room with song

Man Stranded in Alaska Saved via Emergency SOS →

It was a matter of time before an iPhone 14 popped up in a story like this. Joe Wituschek has details over on iMore:

As reported by the Department of Public Safety, on December 1st around two o’clock in the morning, Alaskan State Troopers were notified that “an adult male traveling via snowmachine from Noorvik to Kotzebue had activated an Apple iPhone Emergency SOS via satellite on his iPhone after becoming stranded.”

The NWAB SAR worked with Apple’s Emergency Response Center and local search and rescue teams to send “four volunteer searchers to the Nimiuk Point area directly to the GPS coordinates provided by the Apple Emergency Response Center. The adult male was located and transported to Kotzebue by the volunteer search team.”

Thankfully, the man was rescued safely without any injuries due to the iPhone feature and the team’s quick response.