Jason Snell, writing at Six Colors:
The Mac is also getting a boost with older iOS features finally
being brought to the other side, most notably Shortcuts, the iOS
automation tool that is the first sign of a renaissance of user
automation on macOS.
The good news is, for all the recent fears among Mac users that
Apple might be attempting to collapse Mac, iPhone, and iPad into a
single amorphous product, macOS Monterey still feels unreservedly
like a Mac. Apple wants its platforms to share features, but it
also recognizes that each serves a different (albeit overlapping)
Worth pointing out again that Shortcuts for Mac is not a Catalyst app. In fact, there are no new Catalyst apps from Apple in MacOS 12. [Correction 11 August 2021: I was wrong, there is one new Catalyst app in MacOS 12: Apple Books.] It’s seemed clear to me all along that Catalyst was a transitional framework and that SwiftUI is the future. MacOS 12 Monterey seems to be bearing that out. (Snell has a screenshot of the new Shortcuts for Mac with an interesting-looking shortcut based on a Perl script….)
The elephant in the room with MacOS 12 (and iOS, but to a lesser extent): the new Safari tabs interface:
To make matters even worse, the background color of the entire
top of the Safari window is now matched to the color of the
website you’re viewing. It’s a cute trick, but while I understand
the desire to make Safari feel more like it’s a part of the
content it’s displaying, it’s a readability disaster. Contrast
with the text on tabs is frequently poor, and since the color
shifts depending on which tab is active, it feels like my brain
is constantly recalibrating how to read that particular text
contrast. On top of that, there’s also the cognitive dissonance
of seeing tabs for sites with a strong color identity displayed
in a different color because they’re not the currently active
tab. And you can’t see the title of the page you’re currently
viewing, because the URL displays instead unless you hover the
pointer over it.
Because the address bar is embedded in individual tabs now, it
also means that when I type Command-L or Command-T, I have to hunt
down the place where that URL is being entered — the URL box
jumps around based on the location of the particular tab I’m
A lot of user interface elements have also been hidden away to
provide more space for tabs. Tasks that were once a click away
sometimes need to be searched for in a sub-menu.
I think the new Safari interface is a noble experiment — intriguing ideas that were worth trying out. But I don’t know anyone who thinks, in practice, that they’re not a huge regression in usability. I’d love it if Apple just went back to the previous Safari interface for tabs and browser chrome. It’s crazy to me that even the Share button is now an extra click or tap away. If Apple ships this design for the Mac it’s going to push a lot of current Safari users to Chrome or other Chromium-based browsers.
If you think I’m a jerk for my response to that leaked letter from a subset of Apple employees unhappy about the company’s new “three days per week on site, two days remote” policy, you might enjoy this piece from Charlie Warzel, on his new Galaxy Brain site, responding to it:
The voice says: You are free to choose your job. But once you’ve
done that, it’s time to fall in line. It argues that you should
be extra grateful for what your company provides you — a salary,
purpose, any auxiliary benefits — and not to think as much about
what you provide to your company. After all, you agreed to take
this job. You signed the contract. And, most importantly, you
have options. If you don’t like it, leave.
These are the words of a bully. This line of argument is designed
to make those speaking up feel as if they’re being ungrateful,
unreasonable and hysterical. The point is to intimidate employees
into silence. Listen to Gruber’s tone, here, which quite literally
asks: Who do these people think they are?
“And who are these people who took jobs at Apple not knowing the
company’s on-site culture? Do they think Apple built a new $4
billion campus on a lark? Three days a week on site and two days
remote is a huge change for Apple.
I don’t regret a word or emoji of my piece, and I’ve heard — privately — from a lot of Apple folks thanking me for it. So I think my take still speaks for itself, and I shan’t respond to much of Warzel’s take. But quite a few people who objected to my piece took away the same thing Warzel did regarding my mention of the new Apple Park campus. I’m not in any way arguing that Apple ought to keep people on site because they built the new campus; I’m saying the reasons they built the new campus haven’t changed.
Tellingly, he disguises this disdain for employee autonomy with a
classic tactic: the ‘culture fit’ argument:
Given that these letters keep leaking to Zoe Schiffer
at The Verge, I can’t help but think that the problem for Apple
is that they’ve grown so large that they’ve wound up hiring a lot
of people who aren’t a good fit for Apple, and that it was a
mistake for Apple to ever hook up a company-wide Slack.
The culture fit argument might sound intuitive at first. It’s
meant to suggest that “if you don’t believe in our mission, you
probably shouldn’t work here.” But that’s not what it’s actually
saying. Culture fit is really a way that power reproduces and
sustains itself in an organization and silences any dissent.
That might be one way some people argue about “culture fit”, but it’s not what I meant. Apple has, since its inception, had a company culture that encourages dissent and individuality. What they don’t have is a culture that encourages passive-aggressive, meandering 1,400-word letters that claim to demand nothing but make demands nonetheless, or try to rhetorically paint anyone who disagrees as being against inclusivity, or, more ridiculously, the environment. Not getting everything you want is not being “unheard”. And more so, the company has the opposite of a culture that leaks internal discussions with the media. Or that leaks anything for that matter.
Compare and contrast that 1,400-word letter about remote work with Bertrand Serlet’s recently-released 2007 email laying out the entire plan for third-party apps on iOS in a mere 130 words. It’s pretty clear from the first word of Serlet’s email — “Fine, […]” — that Serlet was opposed to allowing third-party native apps. (I’m pretty sure Serlet had argued, and lost, in favor of sticking with — and improving —the web-apps-for-third-party-“apps” strategy that was announced at WWDC just before the iPhone’s release.) But, he lost the argument, so, fine, he acknowledges a decision had been made and he laid out what he deemed to be the best course forward from that decision.
That is very Apple. You argue, you tussle, you make your case, and then when a decision has been made you go for it, even if you don’t like it.
But if you still think I’m being an ass about this, enjoy and savor Warzel’s response. It is worth a read regardless.