Alastair Houghton on the story behind Aura, a new utility he’s just released that allows any Mac to output 5.1 surround sound. Long story short, he spent a year working on it but was on the cusp of shelving it, unreleased, due to licensing problems. It was saved only through serendipity. I don’t want to say any more — it’s a great story.
The Children Who Mine Cobalt ★
Alex Crawford, reporting for Sky News:
At one cobalt mine, children toiled in the drenching rain carrying
huge sacks of the mineral.
Dorsen, eight, had no shoes and told us he hadn’t made enough
money to eat for the past two days - despite working for about 12
hours a day. His friend Richard, 11, talked about how his whole
body ached every day from the tough physical work. […]
The mine tunnels are dug by hand by miners who have no protective
equipment. The tunnels have no supports and are prone to collapse,
especially in the rain.
There are thousands of unofficial, unregulated, unmonitored mines
where men, women and children work in what can only be described
as slave conditions. In one group, we found a circle of children
with a four-year-old girl picking out cobalt stones.
Perhaps Apple’s rumored decision to begin buying cobalt directly is less about operational strategy and more about humanitarian concerns.
‘Unsane’ — New Steven Soderbergh Film Shot Entirely on iPhone ★
Soderbergh said the overall experience of making a film on an
iPhone was good, although there were some drawbacks such as the
phone being very sensitive to vibrations.
“I have to say the positives for me really were significant and
it’s going to be tricky to go back to a more conventional way of
shooting,” he said.
Not having to make a hole in a wall or secure a camera to the
ceiling are big advantages, as is being able to go straight from
watching a rehearsal to shooting, Soderbergh said.
Putting this in a bit of context: the original iPhone didn’t even shoot video.
Why Facebook Won’t Ever Change ★
Google’s core DNA is search and engineering, though some would say
engineering that is driven by the economics of search, which makes
it hard for the company to see the world through any other lens.
Apple’s lens is that of product, design, and experience. This
allows it to make great phones and to put emphasis on privacy, but
makes it hard for them to build data-informed services.
Facebook’s DNA is that of a social platform addicted to growth and
engagement. At its very core, every policy, every decision, every
strategy is based on growth (at any cost) and engagement (at any
cost). More growth and more engagement means more data — which
means the company can make more advertising dollars, which gives
it a nosebleed valuation on the stock market, which in turn allows
it to remain competitive and stay ahead of its rivals.
‘Gun Rights, “Positive Good”, and the Evolution of Mutually Assured Massacre’ ★
Must-read column by Josh Marshall on how the false notion that more guns make us safer — which has now come to the absurd point where the president of the United States is endorsing the notion of arming schoolteachers — came to be.
Things’s New Custom URL Scheme for Automation ★
Things now supports a special kind of link (or URL) that starts
with “things:”. These links are just like the ones you use every
day on the web, except they allow you to send a variety of
commands to Things.
Here’s an example:
<things:///show?id=today>. Tapping this link will
open Things and tell it to show your Today list. Try it now if you
already have Things 3.4 installed.
This is pretty neat, and they’ve gone out of their way to make these URLs easy to create and understand, with a nifty helper tool and ample documentation.
And this is in addition to solid AppleScript support on the Mac, which I think Things has had for years. But there is no AppleScript on iOS, so for cross-platform automation, these URLs are an interesting alternative.
The AR-15 Is Different ★
Radiologist Heather Sher, writing for The Atlantic:
In a typical handgun injury that I diagnose almost daily, a bullet
leaves a laceration through an organ like the liver. To a
radiologist, it appears as a linear, thin, grey bullet track
through the organ. There may be bleeding and some bullet
I was looking at a CT scan of one of the victims of the shooting
at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who had been brought to
the trauma center during my call shift. The organ looked like an
overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, with extensive bleeding.
How could a gunshot wound have caused this much damage?
The reaction in the emergency room was the same. One of the trauma
surgeons opened a young victim in the operating room, and found
only shreds of the organ that had been hit by a bullet from an
AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle which delivers a devastatingly
lethal, high-velocity bullet to the victim. There was nothing left
to repair, and utterly, devastatingly, nothing that could be done
to fix the problem. The injury was fatal.
Update: Asha Rangappa:
This is a must-read. It illustrates why the NRA is so reluctant to
allow the CDC to research gun violence as a public health issue:
The facts would be devastating.
In the same way that it is lunacy that the U.S. doesn’t allow the ATF’s gun-tracing division to use computers for searching gun records, it is sheer lunacy that the Center for Disease Control is forbidden to research gun violence. Lunacy.
Picking the Latter ★
Alexandra Petri, in an op-ed for The Washington Post:
There are certain sorts of people whom we once thought we should
give respect and space to. Gold Star mothers. Gold Star fathers.
The victims of unthinkable tragedies, in the few days after those
tragedies. But that was when they had the grace to be silent and
let us determine, for ourselves, the moral of what they had lived
through. That was when they did not demand that we take
Now, if you don’t want to hear from any more high schoolers
traumatized by gun violence, then you either decide to try to
create a world where high schoolers are not traumatized by
gun violence, or decide to create a world where you do not
have to listen to the high schoolers. It looks like we’re
picking the latter!
The Life and Death of Twitter for Mac ★
Rene Ritchie had me and a few special guests on his show to talk about the late great Twitter for Mac. Forget about the fact that I’m on it — I’m really intrigued by what Rene is doing with this show and the video format.
Bloomberg: ‘Apple in Talks to Buy Cobalt Directly From Miners’ ★
Jack Farchy and Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:
Apple Inc. is in talks to buy long-term supplies of cobalt
directly from miners for the first time, according to people
familiar with the matter, seeking to ensure it will have enough of
the key battery ingredient amid industry fears of a shortage
driven by the electric vehicle boom.
The iPhone maker is one of the world’s largest end users of cobalt
for the batteries in its gadgets, but until now it has left the
business of buying the metal to the companies that make its
I am assuming this just means Apple is buying out/taking over an existing cobalt brokerage or two, just to have total control over the whole process, as opposed to sending Jeff Williams out to the mines with suitcases full of cash.
But this idea feels very Apple-y: one of the keys of the Cook/Williams operational success has been staying a few years ahead of the curve for in-demand resources, like the deal they made to secure ample supply of flash storage back in 2005, which they announced just weeks after Apple unveiled the first iPod that used flash storage instead of a hard drive.
Inside the Federal Bureau of Way Too Many Guns ★
Jeanne Marie Laskas, writing for GQ in 2016:
“It’s a shoestring budget,” says Charlie, who runs the center.
“It’s not 10,000 agents and a big sophisticated place. It’s a
bunch of friggin’ boxes. All half-ass records. We have about 50
ATF employees. And all the rest are basically the ladies. The
ladies that live in West Virginia — and they got a job. There’s a
huge amount of labor being put into looking through microfilm.”
I want to ask about the microfilm — microfilm? — but it’s hard
to get a word in. He’s already gone three rounds on the
whiteboard, scribbling, erasing, illustrating some of the finer
points of gun tracing, of which there are many, in large part due
to the limitations imposed upon this place. For example, no
computer. The National Tracing Center is not allowed to have
centralized computer data.
“That’s the big no-no,” says Charlie.
That’s been a federal law, thanks to the NRA, since 1986: No
searchable database of America’s gun owners. So people here have
to use paper, sort through enormous stacks of forms and record
books that gun stores are required to keep and to eventually turn
over to the feds when requested. It’s kind of like a library in
the old days — but without the card catalog. They can use
pictures of paper, like microfilm (they recently got the go-ahead
to convert the microfilm to PDFs), as long as the pictures of
paper are not searchable. You have to flip through and read. No
searching by gun owner. No searching by name.
The legislation that keeps the ATF from computerizing these records is lunacy, based entirely on the fever dream that such a database would lead to mass confiscation.
See also: Guns Found Here, a bracing, compelling 10-minute short from MEL Films that really hammers home how insane the constraints on the ATF National Trace Center are. All they’re trying to do is help law enforcement solve gun crimes and they’re forced to do it in the most inefficient way possible.
Why the Second Amendment Does Not Stymie Gun Control ★
It is impossible to say whether erasing the Second Amendment would
bring down gun deaths in America. But this is an academic query:
changes to the constitution require the unlikely assent of
two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate and three-quarters
of the states. The better question is whether repealing the
amendment is a must for pursuing gun control. It is not. The
Heller majority opinion did not, in the words of its author, the
late Justice Antonin Scalia, secure an “unlimited” right to buy or
carry weapons. The Second Amendment would not, for example,
scuttle bans on concealed weapons or machine guns. And Justice
Scalia emphasised that nothing in Heller “should be taken to cast
doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms
by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of
firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government
buildings”. Nearly every gun regulation under discussion today —
from expanded background checks to bans on military-style weapons
— would seem to pass constitutional muster.
It’s remarkable how effective the NRA has been at convincing people that the 2nd Amendment means something that it does not. We almost certainly cannot repeal the 2nd Amendment in the foreseeable future, but we absolutely can pass meaningful new gun regulations with the 2nd Amendment in place.
‘I’ve only had good years.’ ★
Robert Safian, interviewing Tim Cook for Fast Company after the magazine named Apple the world’s most innovative company:
Fast Company: What makes a good year for Apple? Is it the new hit
products? The stock price?
Tim Cook: Stock price is a result, not an achievement by itself.
For me, it’s about products and people. Did we make the best
product, and did we enrich people’s lives? If you’re doing both of
those things — and obviously those things are incredibly connected
because one leads to the other — then you have a good year.
FC: Do you look back at some years and say, Oh, that was a good
year, that year wasn’t as good?
TC: I’ve only had good years. No, seriously. Even when we were
idling from a revenue point of view — it was like $6 billion every
year — those were some incredibly good years because you could begin
to feel the pipeline getting better, and you could see it
internally. Externally, people couldn’t see that.
Apple Maps vs. Google Maps vs. Waze (in the Bay Area) ★
Artur Grabowski (no relation, presumably, to Steve):
In early 2017, a conversation with yet another Waze fanboy finally
nudged me to start a navigation app experiment. I was skeptical
that the Alphabet owned company could meaningfully best its
parent’s home grown Google Maps. I was also curious whether Apple
Maps had discovered competence since its iOS 6 release.
I thus set out to answer three questions:
- Which navigation app estimates the shortest travel time?
- How does each app over/underestimate travel times?
- Which navigation app actually gets you to your destination most
This whole comparison was interesting, but particularly interesting to me was that Apple Maps was the only one of the three to under-promise and over-deliver on estimated time.
Tuesday, 20 February 2018
iOS 11 finally added a long-awaited feature for those of us who care about typographic details: smart punctuation. You can turn this on in Settings → General → Keyboards. When enabled, quotes and apostrophes (like "this" and 'this') are automatically turned into their proper counterparts (like “this” and ‘this’), two hyphens in a row (--) are turned into a proper em-dash (—), etc.
I say “finally” because MacOS has had the feature in the standard text editing system for many years, and I can’t think of a good reason why it wasn’t in iOS years ago. I can say it’s not a difficult programming job to solve because I’ve solved it in the more difficult context of smartening punctuation in prose without messing up the necessary dumb quotes inside HTML tags.
In some recent update to iOS (I think 11.2.5, but it might have been an earlier 11.2.x update), smart punctuation stopped working in Messages — and as far as I can tell, only Messages. Why? My best guess: unintended consequences when sending SMS messages.
Here’s a thread on Apple’s help forum addressing the issue. SMS is such an old standard that it was designed with the ASCII character set in mind. An SMS message containing only ASCII characters can contain up to 160 characters. Include even just a single non-ASCII character, though — such as a curly quote or apostrophe, or an emoji — and the entire message must be encoded using a 16-bit alphabet, limiting the message to just 70 characters because the length of the message in bytes remains fixed by the protocol.1
In short: if you stick to dumb quotes, you can put 160 characters in an SMS message. Include just one smart/curly quote, and you only get 70 characters.
I don’t know for sure that this is why iOS 11’s smart punctuation feature no longer works in Messages, but it’s the only explanation that I can think of. (I’ve seen some speculation that this might be a machine learning bug, but machine learning bugs, like the infamous “I → weird-looking A” fiasco from a few months ago, aren’t limited to one app like Messages. And “Smart Punctuation” is a separate setting from “Predictive Text” in the Settings app — you can use either without the other.)
But if I’m right about why, then why does it apply to iMessage messages — a.k.a. blue-bubble messages — too? iMessage messages aren’t limited by the antiquated constraints of SMS in any other way, so why limit them typographically?
This is a story with a happy ending, because it looks like iOS 11.3 will fix this. After installing today’s new 11.3 developer beta on both an iPad and iPhone, smart punctuation is back when writing a (blue) iMessage, and is disabled only when writing a (green) SMS.2
Twitter Abolishes Native Mac Client ★
We’re focusing our efforts on a great Twitter experience that’s
consistent across platforms. So, starting today the Twitter for
Mac app will no longer be available for download, and in 30 days
will no longer be supported.
For the full Twitter experience on Mac, visit Twitter on web.
It’s hard to overstate just how great a native Mac experience Twitter owned when they acqui-hired Tweetie and Loren Brichter. It was pure Twitter and pure forward-thinking Mac UI. Now, Mac users get the same first-party experience that everyone gets on any other platform.
Twitter dumped Tweetie’s codebase years ago, of course, and their Mac app has been garbage ever since they did. It’s all fine, really, so long as they continue to allow third-party clients like Tweetbot and Twitterrific to exist. But this “Mac users should just use the website” attitude is exactly what I was talking about here as an existential threat to the future of the Mac.
People choose the Mac because they want the best experience — not the same experience they can get on a $200 Chromebook.
DFW: ‘Roger Federer as Religious Experience’ ★
Worth a re-link. David Foster Wallace in 2006 on then-25-year-old Roger Federer:
The Moments are more intense if you’ve played enough tennis to
understand the impossibility of what you just saw him do. We’ve
all got our examples. Here is one. It’s the finals of the 2005
U.S. Open, Federer serving to Andre Agassi early in the fourth
set. There’s a medium-long exchange of groundstrokes, one with the
distinctive butterfly shape of today’s power-baseline game,
Federer and Agassi yanking each other from side to side, each
trying to set up the baseline winner…until suddenly Agassi hits
a hard heavy cross-court backhand that pulls Federer way out wide
to his ad (=left) side, and Federer gets to it but slices the
stretch backhand short, a couple feet past the service line, which
of course is the sort of thing Agassi dines out on, and as
Federer’s scrambling to reverse and get back to center, Agassi’s
moving in to take the short ball on the rise, and he smacks it
hard right back into the same ad corner, trying to wrong-foot
Federer, which in fact he does — Federer’s still near the corner
but running toward the centerline, and the ball’s heading to a
point behind him now, where he just was, and there’s no time to
turn his body around, and Agassi’s following the shot in to the
net at an angle from the backhand side…and what Federer now does
is somehow instantly reverse thrust and sort of skip backward
three or four steps, impossibly fast, to hit a forehand out of his
backhand corner, all his weight moving backward, and the forehand
is a topspin screamer down the line past Agassi at net, who lunges
for it but the ball’s past him, and it flies straight down the
sideline and lands exactly in the deuce corner of Agassi’s side, a
winner — Federer’s still dancing backward as it lands. And
there’s that familiar little second of shocked silence from the
New York crowd before it erupts, and John McEnroe with his color
man’s headset on TV says (mostly to himself, it sounds like), “How
do you hit a winner from that position?” And he’s right: given
Agassi’s position and world-class quickness, Federer had to send
that ball down a two-inch pipe of space in order to pass him,
which he did, moving backwards, with no setup time and none of his
weight behind the shot. It was impossible. It was like something
out of “The Matrix.” I don’t know what-all sounds were involved,
but my spouse says she hurried in and there was popcorn all over
the couch and I was down on one knee and my eyeballs looked like
Anyway, that’s one example of a Federer Moment, and that was
merely on TV — and the truth is that TV tennis is to live tennis
pretty much as video porn is to the felt reality of human love.
Oh how I wish Wallace were still alive to see Federer reclaim the world’s number one ranking at the heretofore unheard of age of 36.
Lauren Goode vs. Lauren Goode: iPhone X vs. Pixel 2 ★
Such a gimmicky gimmick, yes, but Lauren Goode does this so fucking well. I just love it. Technically it’s pretty darn good, but substantially it’s downright amazing: she makes wonderfully accurate cases for both phones.
How the NRA Rewrote the Second Amendment ★
Michael Waldman, writing for Politico in 2014:
From 1888, when law review articles first were indexed, through
1959, every single one on the Second Amendment concluded it did
not guarantee an individual right to a gun. The first to argue
otherwise, written by a William and Mary law student named Stuart
R. Hays, appeared in 1960. He began by citing an article in the
NRA’s American Rifleman magazine and argued that the amendment
enforced a “right of revolution,” of which the Southern states
availed themselves during what the author called “The War Between
At first, only a few articles echoed that view. Then, starting in
the late 1970s, a squad of attorneys and professors began to churn
out law review submissions, dozens of them, at a prodigious rate.
Funds — much of them from the NRA — flowed freely. An essay
contest, grants to write book reviews, the creation of “Academics
for the Second Amendment,” all followed. In 2003, the NRA
Foundation provided $1 million to endow the Patrick Henry
professorship in constitutional law and the Second Amendment at
George Mason University Law School.
This fusillade of scholarship and pseudo-scholarship insisted that
the traditional view — shared by courts and historians — was
wrong. There had been a colossal constitutional mistake. Two
centuries of legal consensus, they argued, must be overturned.
We don’t need to repeal the 2nd Amendment — although I think we should, insofar as it is inexplicably ambiguously written and punctuated — we just need to flip the Supreme Court to interpret it as it had been from 1789 through 2008.
‘Paul Ryan: No “Knee Jerk” Reactions on Guns. Ever.’ ★
These mass shootings in the U.S. are like a perverse version of Groundhog Day. Republicans say the exact same things in response, every time, as though it’s the first time.
Democrats need to stop playing nice and start pounding home over and over that the Republicans are a party that is committed to accepting regular school shootings in the name of gun rights.
Every Member of Congress Who Took Money From the NRA and Tweeted ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ to Parkland ★
103 Republicans, 1 Democrat.
It’s not “Congress” as a whole that refuses to take action.
(Also, it’s not a complete list. My own Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) has taken boatloads of money from pro-gun groups and tweeted this in response to yesterday’s massacre, which I think clearly counts as a “thoughts and prayers” tweet.)
Et Tu, Sonos? ★
Mike Prospero, writing for Tom’s Guide:
When I got home, I saw a large white ring, a telltale indication
that the HomePod’s silicone base had messed up the finish. But, as
I was inspecting the damage, I noticed a series of smaller white
marks near where the HomePod was sitting.
A closer inspection revealed that the Sonos One speaker, which
also has small silicone feet, had made these marks on my cabinet.
Looking around the top of the cabinet, I noticed a bunch of little
white marks, all left from the Sonos Ones as I moved them around.
So, they will damage your wood furniture, too.
Strategy Analytics Claims Apple Took Over Half of Worldwide Phone Revenue Last Quarter ★
Evan Niu, The Motley Fool:
Strategy Analytics executive director Neil Mawston points out that
“Apple now accounts for more revenue than the rest of the entire
global smartphone industry combined.” iPhone ASP is flirting with
$800, while the broader industry’s ASP is approximately $300. This
latter metric was up 18% year over year, as both Apple and Samsung
saw success with their respective premium flagships. Samsung’s
Note 8 and Galaxy S8 remain popular, but Samsung is also a large
player in terms of unit volumes at the lower ends of the market.
However, the South Korean conglomerate has seen its position in
low-cost smartphones slip in large markets like China, leading to
its ASP jumping 21% to $254.
Their numbers put iPhone revenue at 51 percent of the market, Samsung’s at 16, and Huawei’s at 7. You don’t hear much these days from the folks who thought the higher price of the iPhone X was a bad idea.
We’ve Reached the Point Where People Are Giving Up on Schools ★
Actual headline in an op-ed from the Miami Herald today: “In the Wake of the Douglas High Massacre, Is Home Schooling a Better Option?” That’s how ridiculous our situation has become. People are starting to question whether the problem is with sending kids to school, not with pervasive access to military weapons.
‘No Way to Prevent This’, Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens ★
The Onion posts the same headline after every mass shooting in the U.S., and every time they do it, it’s more apt than ever.
That’s the shot. Here’s the chaser: “Gorilla Sales Skyrocket After Latest Gorilla Attack”.
‘The Gun Is Our Moloch’ ★
Garry Wills, writing for The New York Review five years ago, after the Sandy Hook grade school massacre:
The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?
Its power to do good is matched by its incapacity to do anything wrong. It cannot kill. Thwarting the god is what kills. If it seems to kill, that is only because the god’s bottomless appetite for death has not been adequately fed. The answer to problems caused by guns is more guns, millions of guns, guns everywhere, carried openly, carried secretly, in bars, in churches, in offices, in government buildings. Only the lack of guns can be a curse, not their beneficent omnipresence.
Our gun laws are insane. We, collectively, have agreed that regular mass shootings, often at schools — schools! — are a reasonable price to pay as a nation for unfettered access to military-grade killing machines for anyone and everyone who wants one.
It’s sick. Everyone outside the U.S. knows this. A majority of Americans knows this and supports stricter gun control.
There are new gun laws being drafted. But you know what most of them are for? For making guns even easier to purchase legally, without background checks.
Wednesday, 14 February 2018
There’s a part of me that loathes posting self-promotional stuff here on Daring Fireball. There’s another part of me that wants to sell ads and keep this thing afloat, and knows that I sell more ads when I periodically mention that there are ads for sale.
Right now there are three ways to sponsor my work:
Weekly sponsorships. I just updated the public-facing schedule, and there are a few openings in the coming weeks. And, this very week remains open (long story short: last-minute cancellation). Given that it’s already Wednesday, the remainder of this week could be yours for a substantial discount. Get in touch.
These weekly sponsorships have been the number one source of revenue for Daring Fireball ever since I started selling them back in 2007. They’ve succeeded, I think, because they make everyone happy. They generate good money. There’s only one sponsor per week and the sponsors are always relevant to at least some sizable portion of the DF audience, so you, the reader, are never annoyed and hopefully often intrigued by them. And, from the sponsors’ perspective, they work. My favorite thing about them is how many sponsors return for subsequent weeks after seeing the results.
Display ads. These are new — my little homegrown replacement for The Deck (R.I.P.). I’ve been selling these since last summer, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned them enough here. Right now I’m selling spots for March for $3,500. I don’t have a landing page to promote them, but if you’re interested, get in touch. (You can also buy both a weekly sponsorship and a display ad and get a discount.)
Sponsoring The Talk Show. This is something I seldom mention here on Daring Fireball, but I think sponsoring The Talk Show would be a great opportunity for a lot of the same services and products that sponsor the website. I love the regular sponsors of the show — and the fact that so many of them return repeatedly speaks well to the results they see. But I would love to get some more variety into the list of sponsors for the show. I don’t sell these myself, but if you have a product or service you think would be of interest to The Talk Show’s audience, get in touch with Jessie Char at Neat.fm. We still have a few openings for the remainder of Q1, and first-time sponsors are eligible for a rate below the listed price of $4,000 per spot. ★
Monday, 12 February 2018
Peter Ammon, former AppKit engineer at Apple, in a comment in a Hacker News thread regarding a report positing that the ability of Mac apps — even sandboxed ones — to capture screenshots of the entire screen is a security problem:
IMO the app sandbox was a grievous strategic mistake for the Mac.
Cocoa-based Mac apps are rapidly being eaten by web apps and
Electron pseudo-desktop apps. For Mac apps to survive, they must
capitalize on their strengths: superior performance, better system
integration, better dev experience, more features, and higher
But the app sandbox strikes at all of those. In return it offers
security inferior to a web app, as this post illustrates. The
price is far too high and the benefits too little.
IMO Apple should drop the Mac app sandbox altogether (though
continue to sandbox system services, which is totally sensible,
and maybe retain something geared towards browsers.) The code
signing requirements and dev cert revocation, which has been
successfully used to remotely disable malware, will be sufficient
security: the Mac community is good at sussing out bad actors. But
force Mac devs to castrate their apps even more, and there won’t
be anything left to protect.
In a follow-up comment, Ammon enumerates why truly native Cocoa apps are both worth creating and better to use.
I’m with Ammon: I think the Mac’s (relatively) recent move to cryptographically signed applications — with certificates that can be revoked by Apple — has been a win all around for security. But I don’t think the Mac sandbox has. The sandboxed nature of all iOS apps works because that’s how iOS was designed from the ground up. That’s why iOS is a better platform than the Mac for non-expert users in most ways. But the Mac was not designed with sandboxing in mind, and in many ways sandboxing works against what keeps the Mac relevant alongside iOS. As I wrote seven years ago: “It’s the heaviness of the Mac that allows iOS to remain light.”
The whole point of the Mac is to be a great platform for native Mac apps. Sandboxing doesn’t help Mac apps do more. If the Mac devolves into a platform where people just use web browsers and cross-platform Electron apps, it might as well not exist, because the only remaining thing that would distinguish it from other desktop OSes is iCloud integration.
Mac apps have been able to “see” the entire display ever since the Mac debuted. The Mac needs the power to allow the user to shoot themselves in the foot. Or perhaps better said, the Mac needs the power for apps to shoot the user in the foot. On the Mac, you need to trust any software you install, particularly from outside the App Store. A Mac where all apps are guaranteed “safe” is no longer a Mac. Further restricting sandboxed Mac apps would be solving a problem the platform doesn’t have. The real problems facing the Mac are the number of developers creating non-native “Mac” apps and the number of users who don’t have a problem with them. ★