Rene Ritchie and Yours Truly Talking About MacOS 12 Monterey 

Lost — at least slightly — amidst the hubbub surrounding the M1 Pro/Max MacBook Pros is that MacOS 12 Monterey shipped this week, too. Rene Ritchie was kind enough to have me as a guest on his YouTube show to talk about it. (I recorded my side using the new 1080p FaceTime camera on the new MacBook Pro.)

TopNotch 1.0 

Free utility from the makers of CleanShot — an excellent screen capture tool — that disguises the notch on new MacBook Pros by making the desktop area behind the menu bar black, no matter which desktop picture you use.

The notch is going to bother some people, so utilities like this were inevitable. This one seems good and simple. But if you get a new MacBook with the notch, I encourage you to just live with it for a few days.

Putting M1 Max GPU Performance in Context 

Andy Somerfield, lead for (the great) Affinity Photo app:

In Photo, an ideal GPU would do three different things well: 1.) High compute performance 2.) Fast on-chip bandwidth 3.) Fast transfer on and off the GPU.

Way back in 2009, no GPU did all three things well - but we thought that eventually the industry would get there, so we took a risk and designed the entire architecture based on that assumption. Things didn’t go entirely to plan.

We shipped Photo in 2015 - six years after the design phase - without GPU compute support :(

A GPU which did all the things we needed simply didn’t exist. We wondered if we had backed the wrong horse. Happily, a short while later it did exist - but it was in an iPad 😬!

Fast-forward a few tweets in the thread to today:

The #M1Max is the fastest GPU we have ever measured in the @affinitybyserif Photo benchmark. It outperforms the W6900X — a $6000, 300W desktop part — because it has immense compute performance, immense on-chip bandwidth and immediate transfer of data on and off the GPU (UMA).

A laptop GPU outperforming a $6,000 300-watt (300 watts!) desktop GPU. Bananas. But here I am, typing this sentence on that laptop.

The entire Apple silicon story — along with the Affinity Photo team’s prescient bet — feels like a perfect illustration of the Bill Gates axiom: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”

The Information: ‘Apple Very Likely to Face DOJ Antitrust Suit’ 

More antitrust news, from Josh Sisco, reporting for The Information (alas, paywall-protected):

And Apple’s opponents have raised other issues including the company’s “Sign in with Apple” offering, a button placed on apps and websites that allows people to sign in using their Apple username and password. The Information first reported the DOJ’s interest in the sign-in button earlier this year.

I strongly suspect that it’s not “Sign In With Apple” itself, but the corresponding App Store rule that requires any app that offers the ability to sign in with a third-party service (which, in practice, primarily targets Google and Facebook, and to a lesser degree Twitter) to also support “Sign In With Apple”.

The probe also is examining complaints about how Apple places restrictions on location tracking that its own apps don’t have to follow, said several people with knowledge of the matter.

They say that, but I get prompted to re-confirm allowing Apple’s iOS Weather to always access my location frequently. I wish I could make it ask me less frequently. The complaints aren’t really about Apple’s apps having access to your location but the system itself having access.

Of particular concern to app developers is Apple’s App Tracking Transparency, which requires iPhone and iPad users to affirmatively opt in to let developers share personal information, such as a device’s location, with other apps and advertisers. Apple isn’t requesting such permission to track users of its own apps, giving it an unfair advantage in serving ads in the App Store and elsewhere, developers argue. Apple has said that unlike Facebook, it doesn’t share user data with others for advertising purposes, and that the changes are designed to protect customers’ privacy.

Apple should just abandon selling ads in the App Store. I’m convinced the antitrust problems those ads are causing (not to mention loss of developer goodwill) are not worth the money they generate.

Details From the Newly Unredacted Antitrust Complaint Against Google 

This Twitter thread from @fasterthanlime has a bunch of scathing highlights from the full 173-page PDF of the filing.

A few nuggets. Re: false claims about AMP performance (p. 90):

After crippling AMP’s compatibility with header bidding, Google went to market falsely telling publishers that adopting AMP would enhance page load times. But Google employees knew that AMP only improves the “median of performance” and AMP pages can actually load slower than other publisher speed optimization techniques. In other words, the ostensible benefits of faster load times for a Google-cached AMP version of a webpage were not 90 true for publishers that designed their web pages for speed. Some publishers did not adopt AMP because they knew their pages actually loaded faster than AMP pages.

The speed benefits Google marketed were also at least partly a result of Google’s throttling. Google throttles the load time of non-AMP ads by giving them artificial one-second delays in order to give Google AMP a “nice comparative boost.” Throttling non-AMP ads slows down header bidding, which Google then uses to denigrate header bidding for being too slow. “Header Bidding can often increase latency of web pages and create security flaws when executed incorrectly,” Google falsely claimed. Internally, Google employees grappled with “how to [publicly] justify [Google] making something slower.”

You can’t justify it.

On using Chrome, the browser, as a workaround for tracking users across the entire web, by conflating logging into Chrome with logging into Google’s own web properties (p. 95):

To get publishers to give Google exclusive access over their ad inventory, Google set publishers up for a lose/lose scenario. First, Google started to leverage its ownership of the largest web browser, Chrome, to track and target publishers’ audiences in order to sell Google’s advertising inventory. To make this happen, Google first introduced the ability for users to log into the Chrome browser. Then, Google began to steer users into doing this by using deceptive and coercive tactics. For example, Google started to automatically log users into Chrome if they logged into any Google service (e.g., Gmail or YouTube). In this way, Google took the users that choose not to log into Chrome and logged them in anyways. If a user tried to log out of Chrome in response, Google punished them by kicking them out of a Google product they were in the process of using (e.g., Gmail or YouTube). On top this, through another deceptive pattern, Google got these users to give the Chrome browser permission to track them across the open web and on independent publisher sites like The Dallas Morning News. These users also had to give Google permission to use this new Chrome tracking data to sell Google’s own ad space, permitting Google to use Chrome to circumvent reliance on cookie-tracking technology. The effect of this practice is to rob publishers of the exclusive use of their audience data (e.g., data on what users read on The Dallas Morning News), thereby depreciating the value of publishers’ ad space and benefitting ad sales on Google’s properties (e.g., YouTube).

My post earlier today about Photoshop for the web going into public beta exemplifies the aspects of Google’s expansive vision for Chrome’s technical capabilities that make many web developers love Chrome and dislike Safari.

The details in this antitrust filing exemplify everything that is wrong — deeply contrary to the intended open nature of the web — about Google controlling the most popular web browser in the world.

See also: This lengthy thread from Financial Times reporter Patrick McGee. E.g., one of Google’s own employees compared Google owning the dominant ad bidding exchange as akin to “if Goldman or Citibank owned the NYSE”.

Photoshop for the Web Public Beta 

Thomas Nattestad (Google) and Nabeel Al-Shamma (Adobe), writing for the Chrome Web.dev site:

Over the last three years, Chrome has been working to empower web applications that want to push the boundaries of what’s possible in the browser. One such web application has been Photoshop. The idea of running software as complex as Photoshop directly in the browser would have been hard to imagine just a few years ago. However, by using various new standardized web technologies, Adobe has now brought a public beta of Photoshop to the web.

Unsurprisingly, supported only in Chrome and Microsoft Edge, but an impressive demonstration of just how rich a platform Chrome is for something like this.

A Prototype Original iPod 

Cabel Sasser, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first iPod:

Now, there are a lot of mysteries in the Panic Archives (it’s a closet) but by far one of the most mysterious is what you’re seeing for the first time today: an original early iPod prototype.

We don’t know much about where it came from. But we’ve been waiting 20 years to share it with you.

It doesn’t look anything like an actual iPod, but that’s how prototypes work. But the date on this unit was remarkably late in development:

Clearly, this revision of the prototype was very close to the internals of the finished iPod. In fact, the date there — September 3rd, 2001 — tells us this one was made barely two months before it was introduced.

I’ve long wondered whether Apple might have intended to introduce the iPod a few weeks earlier than they actually did, but, well, September 11 happened. I remember that original iPod introduction as much for the iPod itself as for it feeling like a welcome early step in the world returning to normalcy.

Tony Fadell:

This is a P68/Dulcimer iPod prototype we (very quickly) made before the true form factor design was ready. Didn’t want it look like an iPod for confidentiality - the buttons placement, the size - it was mostly air inside - and the wheel worked (poorly).

John Whitley:

@panic @cabel HA! GOT YOU! I have seen exactly that before. I was one of the PortalPlayer firmware devs who went onsite @ the Apple skunkworks site during iPod main development, and again to make sure the GM release shipped on time.

The Register: ‘Google “Colluded” With Facebook to Bypass Apple Privacy’ 

Thomas Claburn, reporting for The Register:

Several years ago, to deal with the competitive threat of header bidding — a way for multiple ad exchanges to get a fair shot at winning an automated auction for ad space — Google allegedly hatched a plan called “Jedi” to ensure that its ad exchange always won.

And in 2017, after Facebook announced plans to support header bidding, Google, it’s claimed, struck a deal with Facebook — dubbed “Jedi Blue” — in which the two internet behemoths would “work together to identify users using Apple products,” and set up “quotas for how often Facebook would win publishers’ auctions.” […]

“And as one Google employee explained internally, Google deliberately designed Jedi to avoid competition, and Jedi consequently harmed publishers. In Google’s words, the Jedi program ‘generates suboptimal yields for publishers and serious risks of negative media coverage if exposed externally.’”

You don’t say.


The 2021 14-Inch MacBook Pro

The first thing I noticed is that it’s thicker than the MacBook Pros of the preceding few years. It feels thicker. It looks thicker. But look at the specs. Last year’s 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro: 0.61 inches thick. The new 14-inch MacBook Pro: 0.61 inches thick.

A few factors contribute to this sense of thickness. The first is that the new MacBook Pros are more rectilinear. We tend to think of the MacBook Air as the tapered MacBook, but MacBook Pros have been tapered for years. Looking at the new model next to last year’s M1, it’s striking just how far from flat the previous design is. The 13-inch MacBook Pro is 0.61 inches thick only in the middle. The new 14-inch MacBook Pro is 0.61 inches thick from edge to edge, front to back.

The second factor that conveys a sense of thickness is that it’s quite a bit heavier: last year’s M1 MacBook Pro weighs 3.0 pounds; the new 14-inch model weighs 3.5 pounds. (The four-port Intel-based 13-inch MacBook Pro weighed 3.1 pounds — arguably that’s a better comparison, because that’s the machine the 14-inch MacBook Pro replaces.)

Comparisons to the Titanium PowerBook G4, which Apple sold from 2001 to 2003, are unavoidable. It’s uncanny how this new MacBook Pro feels like the direct descendant of that classic design. It’s also uncanny how strong people’s affection remains for that 20-year-old PowerBook, especially since it was only produced for about two years: a brief window between the plastic era that preceded it, and the unibody aluminum era that we’re still in. By anodizing the new MacBook Pro’s keyboard “well” to a deep, pure black, Apple seems to be begging for this comparison to the Titanium PowerBook.

It’s a very handsome machine.

And yes: MagSafe is back, the HDMI port is back, the SD card slot is back. The Touch Bar is gone. The headphone jack remains.

But isn’t this a strange evolution? Apple’s M1 chips are faster, smaller, and run cooler. Restoring ports we haven’t seen in five years? Making the devices heavier? There really is a Benjamin Button aspect to these decisions.

Rather than debate the merits of these “let’s bring back some ports from five years ago” decisions piecemeal, I think they’re best explained by Apple revisiting what the pro in “MacBook Pro” means. What it stands for. Apple uses the word pro in so many products. Sometimes they really do mean it as professional. Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro, for example, truly are tools for professionals. With something like AirPods Pro, though, the word pro really just means something more like nicer or deluxe. A couth euphemism for premium. The Touch Bar MacBook Pros were undeniably nice laptops.

There are aspects of any MacBook Pro that work for both senses of pro. The new MacBook Pro’s ProMotion display (yet another “pro” name), for example. It’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s fun to scroll web pages and drag entire windows around, just to see how smooth the 120 Hz refresh rate looks. It’s also nice — and professional — that with increased pixels-per-inch density, the displays now default to a native, not scaled, effective resolution.

Apple’s best products have always been both tools for work and objects of art. Almost every single change with these new MacBook Pros is in the name of making them better tools for work. Conversely, the controversial decisions that went into the Touch-Bar-era MacBooks were in the name of artistic purity. Minimalism trumping practicality. They were out of balance.

Apple, famously, doesn’t make a lot of products. They’re the world’s most profitable laptop maker, but they really only make three models: the MacBook Air, a mid-size (13/14-inch) MacBook Pro, and a larger (16-inch) MacBook Pro. In the last five years, these MacBooks have largely converged. The smallest MacBook has gotten bigger — no more 11-inch MacBook Air or 12-inch no-adjective MacBook. There’s really not much difference, technically speaking, between last year’s M1 MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro. I’ve lost count of the number of people I know who bought the M1 MacBook Air not because it was cheaper or sleeker, but only because it had function keys instead of a Touch Bar. There’s not even much of a weight difference — 2.8 versus 3.0 pounds. The MacBook Air isn’t air enough — it’s no longer a striking size or weight for a laptop. And the MacBook Pro hasn’t been pro enough. If you’re going to make a laptop thin and lightweight, make it really thin and lightweight. And if you’re going to make a laptop powerful and practical, make it really powerful and practical. Focus on the outer limits of what’s possible, not the boring middle.

That, to me, explains the entirety of this new MacBook Pro. The differences between a MacBook Pro and MacBook Air should not be subtle. Let the truck be a truck, true to its purpose. Let the MacBook Pro be unabashedly pro.

I think Apple got stuck with misplaced MacBook Pro priorities at an inopportune time: near the cusp of the transition to Apple silicon. Apple does not relish explaining their mistakes. But they do acknowledge them, and make changes to address them. They are confident and proud, but seldom obstinate. The Macintosh platform is 37 years old. Four decades! But this new MacBook Pro is the nicest and best Mac I’ve ever used. If Apple could have built and shipped this sooner, I’m quite certain they would have. But they couldn’t. Only now can they design custom silicon to power the professional-class machines they envisioned, as opposed to designing the hardware around the best silicon available from Intel.

Miscellaneous Observations

My review unit from Apple is nearly maxed out (no pun intended): it’s equipped with the M1 Max and 64 GB of RAM. (It “only” has a 2 TB SSD.) Apple sent it with several demo projects pre-installed. An Xcode project for an iPhone game, a Final Cut Pro project with 8K video footage, a massive orchestral score in Logic Pro, a huge scene in Cinema 4D. I know these demos are performance-intensive, but they don’t feel like it on this machine. The machine does not break a sweat. It feels impossibly fast. I simply lack the expertise in any of these areas to adequately evaluate its performance.

Perhaps my favorite thing about these new MacBook Pros is that the 14-inch model is spec-for-spec the peer of the 16-inch model. Heretofore, only the larger 15- and 16-inch MacBook Pros got the very fastest chips — particularly hot-running battery-hungry GPUs — among other advantages. So while one way to think about this generation is that they got heavier than the last generation of Intel models (comparing 14-inch to 13-inch, and 16-inch to 16-inch), another way to think about it is that the fastest laptop in the world is now available in a 14-inch footprint and weighs just 3.5 pounds. There’s no compromise on performance — you just pick which size you prefer.

At a glance it appears that the 16-inch MacBook Pro costs $500 more than the 14-inch model. But there are some compromises due to chip binning with the entry level 14-inch models. The $2,000 configuration only has an 8-core CPU and 14-core GPU. If you configure a 14-inch MacBook Pro with the same specs as the base $2,500 16-inch model — 10 CPU cores, 16 GPU cores — it costs $2,300. That pegs the price differential at just $200 for the larger 16-inch display.

The keyboard feels as good as it looks. It’s kind of funny that Apple is promoting a full-height row of function keys as a feature, but why not? If they’re going to bite the bullet and throw in the towel on the Touch Bar, go all-in. Don’t be embarrassed about returning to function keys — make them big. The Escape key and Touch ID/sleep button both benefit from this change. Vim users will be delighted.

I can’t remember the last time I used an HDMI port on a Mac, and I seldom need an SD card reader, so my favorite of the back-to-the-future returning ports and slots is MagSafe. The new MagSafe 3 connector feels a lot like the old MagSafe 2 connector. It’s like meeting an old friend you haven’t seen in five years and picking up right where you left off. It’s also a very nice touch that you can charge these new MacBook Pros via USB-C, too. MagSafe is better, but USB-C cables are everywhere. Supporting both is a win for convenience. Also nice: the MagSafe cable is braided, with just the right amount of suppleness. Not so nice: my review unit MacBook Pro is Space Gray, but the aluminum MagSafe connector is silver. It would have been a nice touch to color coordinate them, like the braided Lightning and power cables that ship with the 24-inch M1 iMacs.

There is some small irony in the return of MagSafe with these computers that run so long on battery. Also, as promised, there’s no performance throttling when running on battery. A few simple benchmarks (Geekbench 5 and Speedometer 2) resulted in no practical differences whether plugged into or unplugged from the wall.

The notch in the menu bar for the camera is very weird at first. The mouse pointer passes under it, so it justs disappears when in the center of the menu bar. That’s really weird! If I had written this review a week ago, after my first day with the machine, I’d have written a lot more about the notch. One week in, I’m just not noticing it. One notch-related change I’m still getting used to is the taller menu bar. It makes the menu titles look even more disconnected from the actual menus. It’s interesting that last year’s redesigned menu bar in MacOS 11 Big Sur was seen by some as laying UI groundwork for future touch screen support in MacOS, but it now seems clear it was redesigned to more elegantly fit with the notch. You’ll notice that most of Apple’s product photography for these new MacBooks shows them with dark desktop pictures. With default translucency settings, a dark desktop gives you a dark menu bar, and a dark menu bar disguises the notch.

Speaking of the notch, I’m genuinely curious about the lack of Face ID. Is the display lid too thin for the sensor array? We don’t think of iPhones and iPads as thick, but they’re a lot thicker than a MacBook lid. Does Apple just think Face ID is not a good fit for the Mac? Do they think it would be confusing or inelegant to offer both Face ID and Touch ID, and they simply think Touch ID is the better fit for devices that always have hardware keyboards?

Lastly, two branding notes. The Apple logo on the lid is noticeably bigger than it has been in years. “Apple logo dimensions” is not among Apple’s official tech specs, but I’m pretty sure it got smaller when they stopped making it glow. It’s now back to the same size as on my 2014 13-inch MacBook Pro. I like it. Also different: there’s no “MacBook Pro” label on the black bezel underneath the display. I always found that label ever-so-slightly distracting, and a bit curious coming from the same company that has never printed the names “iPhone” or “iPad” on the front of those devices. Instead, “MacBook Pro” is elegantly engraved on the bottom, in big bold letters. I love this — it looks great and even feels nice to the touch. It just seems, well, pro


Mux Video 

My thanks to Mux for sponsoring last week at DF. Mux Video is an API to powerful video streaming — think of it as akin to Stripe for video — built by the founders of Zencoder and creators of Video.js, and a team of ex-YouTube and Twitch engineers. Take any video file or live stream and make it play beautifully at scale on any device, powered by magical-feeling features like automatic thumbnails, animated GIFs, and data-driven encoding decisions.

Spend your time building what people want, not drudging through ffmpeg documentation.

Walt Mossberg With Kara Swisher on Sway 

Kara Swisher’s excellent podcast Sway needs no introduction from me, but her latest episode, with longtime collaborator Walt Mossberg as her guest, is simply sublime. Just so good.

The Verge: ‘Facebook Plans to Change Company Name to Focus on the Metaverse’ 

Possible huge scoop from Alex Heath for The Verge:

Facebook is planning to change its company name next week to reflect its focus on building the metaverse, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

The coming name change, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to talk about at the company’s annual Connect conference on October 28th, but could unveil sooner, is meant to signal the tech giant’s ambition to be known for more than social media and all the ills that entail. The rebrand would likely position the blue Facebook app as one of many products under a parent company overseeing groups like Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, and more. A spokesperson for Facebook declined to comment for this story.

It took Philip Morris an entire century to get to its Altria rebranding moment. If this pans out, it took Facebook 17 years.

‘Exile From Dongletown’ 

Loved this take on yesterday’s announcement from Jason Snell:

If Mac laptops come in eras, one just ended.

It started in 2016 with the release of MacBook Pro models featuring butterfly keyboards, the Touch Bar, and a minimal selection of USB-C ports. It ended on Monday with the announcement of new MacBook Pro models that roll back most of the major changes introduced in 2016, putting the MacBook Pro in a new state of grace that recalls the middle of the last decade.

Also, this tidbit on maximum charging speeds:

(Here’s a quirk of the new MacBook Pros. On the 14-inch models, the larger 96W USB-C power adapter is required for fast charging. You can fast charge either via MagSafe or via a standard USB-C cable attached to that adapter. However, on the 16-inch models — all of which come with a 140W adapter — you can only do ultra-fast charging via MagSafe. While there’s a new specification that allows for much higher power delivery levels over USB ports, the Thunderbolt 4/USB 3 ports on the MacBook Pro don’t support it. You can still charge via those ports, of course — just not at the ultra-fastest speed.)

Jeff Bezos Left Andy Jassy a Mess to Clean Up 

“Lawmakers Give Amazon ‘Final Chance’ to Clear Up Testimony”, from the AP:

The letter says the antitrust subcommittee is considering referring the case to the Justice Department for criminal investigation. It accuses the world’s biggest online retailer of at least misleading Congress and possibly outright lying.

It cites recent media reports detailing Amazon’s alleged practice of undercutting the businesses that sell on its platform by making “knock-offs,” or very similar products, and boosting their presence on the site.

The reports directly contradict the sworn testimony of Amazon executives and other statements to Congress, the letter says. It was signed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the antitrust panel.

One report that prompted this is this one last week from Reuters reporters Aditya Kalra and Steve Stecklow, regarding Amazon’s knock-off product strategy in India:

But thousands of pages of internal Amazon documents examined by Reuters — including emails, strategy papers and business plans — show the company ran a systematic campaign of creating knockoffs and manipulating search results to boost its own product lines in India, one of the company’s largest growth markets.

The documents reveal how Amazon’s private-brands team in India secretly exploited internal data from Amazon.in to copy products sold by other companies, and then offered them on its platform. The employees also stoked sales of Amazon private-brand products by rigging Amazon’s search results so that the company’s products would appear, as one 2016 strategy report for India put it, “in the first 2 or three … search results” when customers were shopping on Amazon.in.

There’s a good argument for Amazon on this front that store brands are as old as retail. That Sears did the same thing a century ago, and that Walmart does it now. And that of course retailers with house brands — including Amazon — look at sales data to choose what to make. But that’s not what Amazon — and Jeff Bezos in particular — have said under oath. Bezos left Jassy with a serious mess to clean up here.

Apple Music’s New $5/Month ‘Voice’ Plan 

This plan struck me as weird when it was announced during the keynote, but it makes sense for the way many people use Apple Music: by just asking Siri to play whatever, where “whatever” is a particular song, a particular artist, or a particular mood. If this is your plan, when you go to the Music app on your devices, the interface will just be Siri suggestions and your listening history.

What more do you get for the regular price of $10/month? Spatial audio (potentially cool, depending upon how carefully the songs were mastered), lossless audio (borderline pointless), offline mode (downloading songs to your device), custom playlists, lyrics, and music videos. For me, it’d be really weird not to be able to browse an available index of all music (artist → album → song), but a lot of people just ask Siri for whatever.

Spotify doesn’t offer a plan like this (screenshot for posterity) — but Spotify doesn’t have its own voice-driven hardware. Amazon Music has a $4/month Echo plan that is very similar, but Amazon’s Echo plan is limited to one single Echo device or Fire TV.

Facebook ‘Ready to Engage on Substance’ 

John Pinette, VP of communications for Facebook, in a series of tweets:

Right now 30+ journalists are finishing up a coordinated series of articles based on thousands of pages of leaked documents. We hear that to get the docs, outlets had to agree to the conditions and a schedule laid down by the PR team that worked on earlier leaked docs.

A curated selection out of millions of documents at Facebook can in no way be used to draw fair conclusions about us. Internally, we share work in progress and debate options. Not every suggestion stands up to the scrutiny we must apply to decisions affecting so many people.

To those news organizations who would like to move beyond an orchestrated “gotcha” campaign, we are ready to engage on the substance.

Casey Johnston:

this tweet appears to contain words but all i hear are little baby crying sounds? can you explain

There was a time when “VP of communications for Facebook” sounded like a great job, I bet. That time is not now.

Updated MacOS 12 Monterey Page Reveals Safari 15 With Tabs That Look Like Tabs 

Didn’t make today’s event, for some reason, but the updated page for MacOS 12 Monterey (shipping next Monday) shows that Safari 15 has reverted to actual tabs instead of “tabs”. Compact mode is still an option, which is great — the way this design should have been approached all along. Safari 15 on iPadOS 15.1 comes along for the ride too.

We’re left with one single design mistake in Safari 15 across all platforms: the close buttons for tabs being on the right instead of the left on iPhone. Pretty good outcome given what was shown back at WWDC.


Last-Minutes Guesses for Today’s ‘Unleashed’ Event

All of these are purely guesses, based on rumors and my sense of which way the wind is blowing in Cupertino. I could well be wrong about most of these. I started a thread on Twitter with most of the following guesses — feel free to chime in with your guesses and wishes there. We need to do something for the next 90 minutes, might as well speculate.

New MacBook Pros:

  • Slightly thicker bodies.
  • Slightly raised feet for cooling.
  • No notch.
  • SD card slot + HDMI port. (I think an SD card slot is more likely than HDMI though — HDMI is so damn thick.)
  • USB-A port: nope.
  • New MagSafe connector.
  • Touch Bar? I hope they replace it with something new, Touch Bar 2, not just a return to dumb F-keys. F-keys would be easier though, and would satisfy the Touch Bar haters. I just can’t shake the feeling that the Touch Bar was a wonderful idea but the first crack at it wasn’t good enough. People need to feel keys — your eyes are on the display, not the keyboard.

CPU performance we can kind of extrapolate from the state-of-the-art A15 chips and from the existing M1’s. We know they’re going to be fast, and we know that adding more high-performance cores will be game-changing for many pro workflows. But I think a big part of the story will be sustained performance, not just peak performance. Let these chips actually get warm — hence my guess that these MacBook Pros might be slightly thicker than the Intel-based models they’re replacing. We know from the late great iMac Pro that Apple can engineer incredible cooling systems that run nearly silently. Do it for pro MacBooks now.

What I think might prove shocking is the GPU performance of these chips. Particularly performance per watt. The hitch: apps will need to embrace Metal APIs to take advantage of them. Very interested to see which, if any, third-party developers got advanced access and get demo time during the show.

New large-display iMacs with pro-level performance? I’d love to see it. Feels due. But the rumor mill is very dry on this front. Would be fun if they’re ready to go and Apple has kept them under wraps.

New standalone sanely-priced Apple display? Again, nothing from the rumor mill, but I’d love to see it. People want standalone displays for their MacBooks and Mac Minis. People don’t want to spend $5,000 on a Pro Display XDR. Third-party display makers clearly are not capable of or willing to serve the Mac market. So why not get back in the prosumer display game with a $1,500 iMac-quality standalone display? 


Meh.com 

My thanks to Meh for sponsoring last week at DF. Meh.com does the daily deal thing, sells cool shit for cheap, and they keep it simple. One thing a day — just go there and see what’s up now. They’ll have something different tomorrow.

They also have a sharp logo that looks great on the DF background color, and they write really funny sponsored entries for the RSS feed. I sincerely recommend you check them out.

A Brief Chat With Fired ‘#AppleToo’ Organizer, That Is So Brief That It Doesn’t Ask the One Question Begging to Be Asked 

Zoe Schiffer, writing for The Verge:

On October 14th, Apple fired a leader of the #AppleToo movement for allegedly failing to comply with an internal investigation. The employee, Janneke Parrish, has been working behind the scenes for months to organize fellow employees who’ve faced harassment and discrimination. […]

Q: What’s your view on why you were fired?

I believe I was fired in retaliation for speaking out, for my work with #AppleToo, and out of concern that I was organizing to help other employees tell their stories. In my view, this is entirely retaliation for trying to bring Apple’s actions to light and publicly asking the company to do better.

Unasked in the interview: whether Parrish actually leaked confidential company information. That seems pertinent when the stated reason for her firing was suspicion of leaking confidential company information.

The Talk Show: ‘The Negative Version of Icing on the Cake’ 

For your weekend listening enjoyment: a new episode of America’s favorite three-star podcast. Special guest: Nilay Patel. Special topics: the iPhones 13, Apple Watch Series 7, kids today and the file system, the Lightning / USB-C debate, and, of course, our speculation about next week’s “Unleashed” Apple event.

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HTC Photoshopped Their New Headset Onto Models From Stock Photos 

Janko Roettgers, in a hilarious you-can’t-make-this-shit-up Twitter thread:

Remember those leaked PR photos for HTC’s new Vive Flow? Turns out they are photoshopped iStockPhoto images.

Apple Appears to Be in a Standoff With South Korea Over New App Store Regulations 

Reuters:

Apple Inc was on a collision course with South Korea on Friday over new requirements that it stop forcing app developers to use its payment systems, with a government official warning of a possible investigation into the iPhone maker’s compliance. […]

The law went into effect last month but Apple had told the South Korean government that it was already complying and did not need to change its app store policy, a Korea Communications Commission (KCC) official in charge of the matter told Reuters.

“This goes against the purpose of the amended law,” the official said, requesting anonymity as the KCC was still in talks with Apple on compliance. […]

Google had informed the KCC that it planned to comply with the law, including allowing third-party payment systems, and would discuss the matter with the regulator starting next week, the KCC official said.

Apple telling South Korea that they’re already in compliance reminds of the “I told them we’ve already got one” bit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Safari 15 Watch: Favorites Bar Edition 

Jason Snell, Six Colors:

And then macOS Monterey beta 10 dropped this week, and would you look at this:

Yep, that’s the Safari Favorites Bar, now located above the tabs.

Apple similarly moved the Favorites Bar above the tabs in Safari on iPadOS 15.1 beta 4, too.

The full Bookmarks menu on iPad, alas, still remains hidden in the sidebar. That’s a weird one. In the initial WWDC previews, the Bookmarks toolbar button was removed in Safari on both iOS and iPadOS. In the late summer redesign of Safari 15 for iOS, the Bookmarks toolbar button (which you tap to access a hierarchical menu showing all your bookmarks, and which, crucially, remembers which folder you were in the next time you use it) was back where it belongs: in Safari’s bottom-of-the-screen toolbar.

Yet on iPad — which has much more room for toolbar buttons than iPhone — Bookmarks are still squirreled away in the sidebar that is primarily intended for creating, managing, and switching between Tab Groups. Tab Groups are a clever and I think useful new feature. Bookmarks do not belong over there though. Worse, every time you use the Bookmarks menu over in the sidebar on iPadOS 15, you have to navigate from the root level of your bookmarks each time. It doesn’t remember which folder you were in.

Here’s hoping that more changes to Safari 15 are coming, on both Mac and iPad.

Microsoft’s ‘Fluent’ Emoji Set 

Keith Broni, writing for Emojipedia:

Microsoft users subscribed to the Windows Insiders program can now install beta build introducing the much-anticipated new Fluent emoji set.

It is under-remarked upon just how much better Apple’s emoji are than everyone else’s. Related factoid: Apple’s emoji went through the great post-iOS 7 flattening and de-texturizing of user interfaces without being flattened or de-texturized.

IBM Will Follow Biden Vaccine Order, Defying Texas Ban 

Clara Molot, reporting for Bloomberg:*

International Business Machines Corp. said it will follow President Joe Biden’s mandate requiring that employees be vaccinated against Covid-19, overriding an order from the Texas governor Monday blocking such actions.

“IBM is a federal contractor and must comply with federal requirements, which direct employees of federal contractors to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by December 8th or obtain a medical or religious accommodation,” a spokesperson for the New York-based company said. “We will continue to protect the health and safety of IBM employees and clients, and we will continue to follow federal requirements.”

More like this, please.

* You know.

Must Be in the Front Row 

Wonderful profile of Milwaukee Brewers legend Bob Uecker — 87 and going strong in the broadcast booth — by Adam McCalvy for MLB.com:

It’s been like this in Milwaukee forever. When Uecker joined the Brewers’ radio team in 1971, he was only four years removed from playing the final season of a Major League career that spanned the Milwaukee Braves, the Phillies and then the Atlanta Braves. Then-Brewers owner Bud Selig originally hired Uecker as a scout, but it was a failed enterprise. Selig swears that he once received a scouting report in the mail from Uecker that was smeared with mashed potatoes and gravy.

Leaked Promotional Shots of HTC’s New AR/VR Headset 

Speaking of forthcoming AR/VR headsets, Evan “Evleaks” Blass has leaked a slew of marketing images for the apparently imminent HTC Vive Flow. Looks cool, in a Nite Owl sort of way. The future’s going to be weird if these things go mainstream, though.

Update: Does seem kind of suboptimal, to say the least, that it has a fan.

Magic Leap Somehow Raises Another $500 Million in Funding 

Kim Lyons, reporting for The Verge:

Magic Leap has raised $500 million in funding and is preparing to release a new AR headset, the Magic Leap 2, next year, the company announced Monday. The headset will be generally available next year, the company said, and “select customers” are using it as part of an early access program.

CEO Peggy Johnson said in a statement that with the new funding “Magic Leap will have greater financial flexibility and the resources needed to continue our growth trajectory as we expand on our industry-leading AR technology.” She revealed the new device in an Monday appearance on CNBC.

I can’t believe this company still exists, let alone is convincing investors to give them more money.

LoveFrom Unveils a Teaser Website 

Beautiful, simple (purely typographic), elegantly animated, and well written. But, well, it’s really just a statement.

Reload for many — seriously, many — comma animations, each delightful.

More at Wallpaper from Sarah Douglas, including details on LoveFrom Serif, the firm’s bespoke typeface.


Apple Watch Series 7

Caring — really caring — about watches is a mixed blessing. It’s a fun hobby. It’s also a curse. You notice little things. Really little things. And if those minute details please you, they bring you joy. But when they annoy you, even just one little thing can ruin an entire watch for you. Most people buying a new watch don’t really care about the minute details. But that doesn’t mean those minute details don’t matter. The affection a particular watch engenders is the result of all those details, regardless of whether the beholder notices any of them in particular.

At a glance, all Apple Watches — from the original “Series 0” in 2015 to the new Series 7 models shipping this week — have more or less looked the same. Unlike any other product Apple has ever made, they really nailed the basic shape and look, the gestalt, on the first try. It was birthed as an iconic design.

Give them more than a glance though, and you can spot a significant evolutionary schism between Series 0–3 and Series 4–6. With Series 4, the displays went round-cornered (à la the iPhone X, and subsequent iPad Pros), which, side-by-side, makes the square-cornered displays on the Series 3 and prior look crude in comparison. (This is one reason it’s such a shame that the Series 3 remains the entry-level $200 model.) Apple did its best to hide this crudeness in the early years of WatchOS, by using black backgrounds exclusively on nearly all of the then-available watch faces.1 Because Apple Watch has always used OLED displays, and OLED blacks are utterly black, a watch face with a black background effectively disguises the border between the display and its surrounding black bezel.

The Series 4–6 display wasn’t just more graceful, with its round corners, but also just plain bigger. That’s the first thing any observer would notice about the Series 4 through 6 models compared to the Series 0 through 3. But look carefully and you can see a clear difference in the case shapes, too. The Series 0–3 cases were like rectangular boxes with round sides and corners; the Series 4 introduced a new case shape that defies easy description. It was more capsule-like, more elliptical. More organic, like a water-worn pebble. The three-dimensional equivalent of the way that iOS (and, sadly, now Mac) app icons are not simple roundrects, but in fact super elliptical squircles. Another example: the fascinating shape of the iPhone X notch.

You don’t have to care deeply about the details of these shapes. Most people don’t. But designers at Apple do, because that’s the job of a designer: not just to sweat the little details but to really sweat them. But I think even a casual observer would notice the change in case shape between Series 3 and 4, if you pointed it out to them. Apple Watch was born rounded, but got more rounded (and more complexly rounded) with Series 4.

Which brings us to Series 7.

The knock on Series 7 is that there’s nothing new but a bigger display. But it’s a much bigger display. It’s the one new thing that everyone will notice, and it’s very noticeable. Nothing new but a bigger display is enough to establish Series 7 as a landmark new design. This graphic from Apple’s “Compare” page for Apple Watch is, to my eyes, very fair. (The Apple Watch SE is, effectively, a Series 6 without the always-on display and ECG and blood oxygen sensors. It’s the lack of an always-on display that, in my opinion, retards the SE.)

Screenshot from Apple’s Apple Watch Compare page, showing the Series 7, SE, and Series 3 watches side-by-side, all of them displaying the Maps app.

The thing most people will not notice, at least not by merely looking at the Series 7 next to a Series 4–6 (or SE), is that the case shape is all new too. It’s ever so slightly bigger; hence the change in description from 44 / 40 mm to 45 / 41 mm, respectively, for the larger / smaller models. These sizes represent the heights of the watch cases, not the display sizes. The Series 7 watch cases are slightly wider, too, by about 1 mm.

1 mm is a minor difference by the scale of most devices. A new MacBook or iPad that grew by one single millimeter in height and width would be hard to notice. It might be barely noticeable for a phone. But 1 mm is a meaningful difference at watch scale. The Series 7 watch sits slightly bigger on the wrist. It’s a subtle difference, to be sure, but it is noticeable. This is neither a complaint nor a compliment. You might like the bigger presence on your wrist, or you might not. It is different though. And because every other Apple product’s “size” is determined by the display, not the case, many people might assume — wrongly — that the changes from 44 to 45 mm and 40 to 41 mm are only about fitting larger displays into the same size cases. With Series 7, the displays are a lot bigger; but the cases are a little bigger too.

So too with the watch faces on Series 7. They’re all slightly bigger, not merely scaled to fill the bigger displays but redrawn to properly accommodate the bigger displays. To be in accordance; to be proportionally precise. This changes the character of the existing watch faces in subtle ways. My go-to watch face has been unchanged since 2015: Utility, with no numeric indexes. My first few days wearing the Series 7, my gut reaction was less that the watch itself had grown too large, but rather that the Utility watch dial had grown too large. Now, one week in, I’ve grown used to it. I needed time to adjust. Everything is bigger on the Series 7 watch faces, including the complications.

A couple of subtle details regarding the new display. The way that the outer edges of the display extend under the curves of the crystal is attractive. It’s a neat refractive effect. There’s no utility to it; it just looks cool. But it also means WatchOS app developers need to consider a new set of “safe area” layout guidelines. As per Apple’s developer documentation, buttons and images should extend to the very edges of the display, but text should not. The Series 7 always-on display mode is noticeably brighter than on my personal Series 5 watch — the first Apple Watch that offered an always-on mode.

A new feature exclusive to Series 7 is a QWERTY on-screen keyboard. I found this keyboard very frustrating to use. If you’re a swipe-typer on iPhone — I’m not — you might find it more useful, but if I need to enter text on my watch, I still find it way faster and way more accurate to dictate by voice. If I could disable this QWERTY keyboard, I would. The text entry user interface is better on the Series 4–6 watches because they don’t waste so much space with this too-small keyboard. And I’m using a 45 mm Series 7; I can only imagine how finicky the keyboard is on the 41 mm models.

With the slightly bigger cases and significantly bigger displays, for those people who find themselves on the fence between the larger and smaller sizes, more people than ever will prefer the smaller 41 mm size. With the original Series 0–3 form factor, it felt like the 42 mm size was “regular” and the 38 mm was “small”. That evened out with the Series 4–6 form factor. With Series 7, I suspect the 41 mm size will seem “regular” and the 45 mm will seem “large”. (I use the verb suspect here because I haven’t seen a 41 mm Series 7 in person yet.)2

Apple sent me the aluminum green Series 7, along with the green Solo Loop and Leather Link bands. I particularly like it on the Leather Link band, which is among my favorite straps Apple has made to date. The green leather has a sort of matte finish that pairs nicely with the non-glossy aluminum finish. The anodized green aluminum is really dark — much darker in person than Apple’s product photography would suggest. It plays as black or near-black in most lighting conditions. I like this green watch much more in person than from how it looks on Apple’s website — because it is so dark. If you’re hoping for a more verdant green, though, you might be disappointed. I highly suggest looking at — and trying on — the new watches in person, even if you’re already an Apple Watch owner.

For existing Apple Watch owners, there are very few reasons to consider buying a Series 7 other than the reasons why anyone ever buys a new watch: because you like the way it looks. Apple Watch is a watch that happens to be a computer, not a computer that you happen to wear on your wrist. Evaluate the upgrade decision like you would a computer or even a phone and you’re missing the point.3

Seven generations in, it seems clear that Apple has pursued a consistent Platonic ideal for Apple Watch from the start, in terms of its shape, size, and display. Series 4 was a major refinement, with significant changes that brought Apple Watch quite close to that ideal. Series 7 is a minor refinement, not major, but that’s because the Series 4 redesign got Apple Watch so close to what it was meant to be from the outset. Perhaps someday Apple will release an altogether re-imagined Apple Watch — a new ideal. But perhaps not. Apple Watch has always known what it wanted to be, and Series 7 is closer to that than ever. 


  1. The Photos watch face was the notable exception, and my understanding is that there was much debate within Apple as to whether to ship that watch face with the original Apple Watch. On the one side were those who wanted all of the watch faces to have black backgrounds, to maintain the illusion that disguised the display’s actual edges. Also, to maintain complete control of every pixel on every watch face. On the other side were those who argued that many people always use photos of their family and loved ones as their “background” on every device they use, and they’d demand them for their watches, too. Not offering a Photos watch face would be like not allowing custom wallpapers on iOS or desktops on MacOS. (This would not have been unprecedented: the original iPhone shipped without any choices for wallpaper — you got a black home screen background and you liked it.) Apple obviously did ship the Photos watch face with the original watch, and has since improved upon it with the new Portraits face, but the overall mindset that watch faces ought to be designed by Apple, that they should all be in accordance with and representative of the Apple Watch brand, is the main reason why WatchOS still doesn’t and likely never will support third-party watch faces. ↩︎

  2. Watch straps and bands from the original 2015 models continue to fit the new Series 7 perfectly, and look right at home. That’s really something. ↩︎︎

  3. The new faster charging is a nice purely-technical improvement, though. If you charge your watch overnight, it’s no big deal. But if you wear your watch to sleep — whether for sleep tracking purposes or just to be able to check the time if you wake up mid-sleep — faster charging is meaningful. ↩︎︎


Apple Event Next Monday: ‘Unleashed’ 

Jason Snell, Six Colors:

It’s official: there will be another Apple media event this fall, and it’s Monday, Oct. 18 at 10 Pacific.

New MacBook Pro models are likely to be the star of the show. We’ll have full coverage on Six Colors, as always. Myke Hurley and I will offer post-event coverage after it’s all said and done, live on Relay FM.

The event name is “Unleashed”, and the motif is a take on going into warp drive or hyperspace. Greg Joswiak, on Twitter:

Unleashed! These next six days are going to speed by.

You don’t need to be Kreskin to predict that new pro Macs powered by high-performance Apple silicon will be the main attraction. It seems like a surefire bet that we’ll see the new 16- and 14-inch MacBook Pros. I hope we see the new full-size iMacs — 30-inch displays, perhaps? — too. My other hope: MacBook Pros in black or near-black.

The slightly weird thing about the event is that it’s on a Monday — Apple generally holds events on Tuesdays. Looking at my notes, I think the last time Apple held an event on a Monday (excepting WWDC keynotes, which of course are always on Monday mornings) was the original iPhone SE event, which was on Monday, 21 March 2016. They might have held that one a day early because the next day was Apple’s courtroom showdown with the FBI regarding the San Bernardino gun massacre.

Why hold next week’s event on Monday instead of Tuesday? My only spitball: because Google already announced its fall Pixel event for Tuesday.

‘Twenty Bits I Learned About Making Fonts’ 

Lovely little book by my old friend and budding typographer Dan Cederholm. A fine sequel and companion to his Twenty Bits I Learned About Design, Business & Community. Get the hardcover editions, they’re worth it.

The Continuing Bizarre Decline in Science Reporting at The New York Times 

From an editors’ note appended to a New York Times report over the weekend, about COVID-19 vaccinations for children:

An earlier version of this article incorrectly described actions taken by regulators in Sweden and Denmark. They have halted use of the Moderna vaccine in children; they have not begun offering single doses. The article also misstated the number of Covid hospitalizations in U.S. children. It is more than 63,000 from August 2020 to October 2021, not 900,000 since the beginning of the pandemic.

The report is from Apoorva Mandavilli, the reporter who replaced longtime science reporter Donald McNeil on the Times’s COVID beat — the same reporter who last month approvingly quoted an epidemiologist who was against booster shots for adults on the nonsensical grounds that “the added benefit may be minimal — and obtained just as easily by wearing a mask, or avoiding indoor dining and crowded bars.”

The difference between 63,000 and 900,000 hospitalized children is not a small error — it’s more than an order of magnitude difference. If nearly a million U.S. children had been hospitalized from COVID-19, our entire perception of this pandemic would be fundamentally different. How did this error even make it past editing? It’s not even a remotely plausible figure given our lived experience of this pandemic.

Here’s a good example of how mind-boggling this error is. The median household income in the U.S. is about $68,000. Imagine if The New York Times ran a story about economic policy which stated that the average household income in the U.S. was $900,000. That’s preposterous. Yet that’s exactly how bad the science reporting at the Times has gotten — an error of that magnitude regarding a crucial COVID statistic went into print.

Daring Fireball Weekly Sponsorships for Q4 

Speaking of DF weekly sponsorships, there are just three remaining openings in the October-December quarter. Plus, this coming week’s spot, starting Monday, remains open.

One sponsor per week, with a sponsor-written entry in the RSS feed to start the week, a thank-you post right on the homepage from me at the end, and the one and only graphic ad on every page of the site all week long. No tracking or other privacy-invasive bullshit. Just plain honest ads. That’s not new — that’s the way the ads on DF have always been. My best argument that they work: the number of repeat companies in the sponsor archive list. So if you’ve got a product or service you’d like to promote to DF’s discerning audience, I’d love to have you as a sponsor. And if you’re ready to grab next week’s opening, let’s go.

Copilot 

My thanks to Copilot for sponsoring last week at DF. Copilot is a personal finance tool whose only goal is to give you a bird’s-eye view of your finances, without compromising your privacy. I started using it when they booked this sponsorship, and I love it. It’s really easy to add your accounts — banks, credit cards, investments — and the UI is clear, useful, and attractive. Whether you’re interested in tracking your net worth, monthly spending, or investment returns, Copilot can do it all.

Use the code DARING when starting an in-app subscription to double Copilot’s usual one-month free trial, and see for yourself why they have a 4.8 rating in the App Store. Learn more and get started.

Ben Sandofsky on iPhone Macro Photography and Halide 2.5 

Ben Sandofsky, writing for the Halide blog:

The iPhone 13 Pro features a new camera capable of focusing closer than ever before — less than an inch away. This opens a whole new dimension for iPhone photographers, but it’s not without surprises. Let’s take a tour of what this lens unlocks, some clever details you might miss in its implementation, why its “automatic” nature can catch you off guard, and much more. At the end, we have a special surprise for you — especially those not using an iPhone 13 Pro.

I’ll spoil it: Halide 2.5 adds a nifty macro mode for all recent iPhones, not just the iPhone 13 Pro. But of course, it works best on the iPhone 13 Pro, where it offers manual control over focus distance — useful for macro situations like trying to focus on a window pane instead of through it.

Apple Files Appeal in Epic Games Case to Stay Anti-Steering Injunction 

Kif Leswing, reporting last night for CNBC:

Apple filed a notice of appeal in the Epic Games case and is asking for a stay on the injunction that lets developers add in-app links to payment websites, according to company representatives and documents filed on Friday.

If Apple wins the stay, which will be decided by a judge in November, a rule change potentially allowing developers to circumvent App Store fees of 15% to 30% may not take effect until appeals in the case have finished, a process that could take years.

Apple won everything in the case but that one point, but they’d like to win that point too.

Rob Enderle, Still Kicking, Still Jackassing 

From a Yahoo News story that’s as insipid as you suspect it is from the headline (“Decade After Jobs’ Death, Has Apple Traded Magic for Profit?”):

But are these game-changing innovations in the post-Jobs era?

“Apple lost the ability to bring out products that could revolutionize a market,” said Tech industry analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group. “They became a financially-focused company very effective at milking its faithful users,” he added.

Enderle, in May 2015 — mere weeks after Apple Watch shipped — declared it “obsolete” and a month later called it a “failure”.

Keep in mind I linked earlier today to a survey that suggests 30 percent of U.S. teenagers now wear an Apple Watch.

Michael Dell Claims Steve Jobs Tried to License Rhapsody to Dell in 1997 

CNet’s Connie Guglielmo, writing about a bit from Michael Dell’s new autobiography, Play Nice But Win:

In 1997, Jobs rejoined a struggling Apple after it acquired Next for $429 million, and he pitched Dell on another business proposal (as Jobs was evaluating Apple’s Mac clone licensing project, which he ultimately shut down). Jobs and his team had ported the Mac software, based on Next’s Mach operating system, and had it running on the Intel x86 chips that powered Dell PCs. Jobs offered to license the Mac OS to Dell, telling him he could give PC buyers a choice of Apple’s software or Microsoft’s Windows OS installed on their machine.

“He said, look at this — we’ve got this Dell desktop and it’s running Mac OS,” Dell tells me. “Why don’t you license the Mac OS?”

I’m not saying Dell is lying, but the timeline on this doesn’t add up. In 1997, Mac OS X hadn’t even been conceived yet. In the ink-was-still-drying period after the Apple-NeXT reunification in late 1996, the next-gen OS based on NeXTStep was codenamed “Rhapsody”, and, well, it wasn’t in any shape to be licensed to anyone in 1997. Apple itself didn’t ship anything based on NeXT’s software until Mac OS X Server in 1999 and the subsequent “developer previews” — releases that still used the classic Mac OS Platinum appearance. (Which looked pretty good.) If Rhapsody wasn’t ready for Apple customers in 1997 (or 1998!) how in the world was it going to work for Dell customers?

To me it just sounds like Michael Dell spinning up a tale that makes it seem as though Dell has been the least bit relevant in the last 25 years.

Dell thought it was a great idea and told Jobs he’d pay a licensing fee for every PC sold with the Mac OS. But Jobs had a counteroffer: He was worried that licensing scheme might undermine Apple’s own Mac computer sales because Dell computers were less costly. Instead, Dell says, Jobs suggested he just load the Mac OS alongside Windows on every Dell PC and let customers decide which software to use — and then pay Apple for every Dell PC sold. […]

Dell smiles when he tells the story. “The royalty he was talking about would amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, and the math just didn’t work, because most of our customers, especially larger business customers, didn’t really want the Mac operating system,” he writes. “Steve’s proposal would have been interesting if it was just us saying, “OK, we’ll pay you every time we use the Mac OS” — but to pay him for every time we didn’t use it … well, nice try, Steve!”

Now that sounds like Steve Jobs.

Things Support for Markdown 

Cultured Code’s renowned to-do app Things added support for Markdown back in August. It’s really well done. You might think that as the creator of Markdown, that I’m in favor of seeing it in use everywhere. That is wrong. In fact, in recent years I think Markdown is in use in far too many places where something truly WYSIWYG is called for.

Things does Markdown right. It doesn’t hide the Markdown formatting characters, it just styles them. Effectively, the notes field for tasks in Things is still just plain text. It’s just styled nicely if you write that plain text in Markdown. That’s the right way to do Markdown. Don’t hide the formatting characters; just style/color them.

Nano-Chromatic Wallpapers 

New iPhone? Looking for new wallpaper? Basic Apple Guy has a nifty new one.

True story: I put the dark version of this wallpaper on my iPhone 13 Pro review unit. My son came into my office, saw my lock screen, and commented that he had the same wallpaper installed. I had never once steered his attention in the direction of Basic Apple Guy. Just pure serendipity and similar taste.

Piper Sandler Survey Claims 87 Percent of U.S. Teens Carry iPhones, 30 Percent Wear an Apple Watch 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

From a note to clients by analyst Harsh Kumar that landed on my desktop Tuesday:

Apple’s share of smartphone ownership remains near record highs in Piper Sandler’s Taking Stock with Teens Fall 2021 survey (here). Of the ~10,000 respondents, 87% have an iPhone, which is slightly below the 88% record set in the Spring 2021 survey. In addition, the iPhone could return to record highs due to the 88% purchase intention among teens. […]

A record 30% of teens own an Apple Watch in the Fall 2021 survey. Apple also has 86% market share among teen smart watch owners.

Larissa Faw, writing for Forbes in January 2013:

Ultimately, in the eyes of today’s youth, massive popularity has watered down Apple’s coolness. “Teens are telling us Apple is done,” says Tina Wells of the youth marketing agency Buzz Marketing Group. “Apple has done a great job of embracing Gen X and older [Millennials], but I don’t think they are connecting with Millennial kids. [They’re] all about Surface tablets/laptops and Galaxy.”

Here’s a link (PDF) to the actual survey.