Microsoft Will Reportedly Release a Surface Studio Monitor In 2020 →

November 30, 2018 · 10:13

Tom Warren, for The Verge:

Microsoft is reportedly planning to release a monitor-only version of its Surface Studio in 2020. “Microsoft will finally deliver a Surface monitor in the 2020 timeframe,” claims Brad Sams in Beneath A Surface, a new book detailing the history of Microsoft’s Surface efforts. While you might expect a regular PC monitor, in true Surface style it will have its own unique twist. Microsoft will reportedly swap to a modular design, which is something that Surface chief Panos Panay hinted at in an interview with The Verge recently.

Hurry up, and take my money.

Looking at Apple’s hardware decisions over the past few years, I’m already expecting that I won’t be buying the screen they’re planning to introduce with the Mac Pro next year. Seriously, this was my first thought on Apple’s upcoming product, which just goes to show how disappointed I am in their choices. Perhaps they’ll prove me wrong but I’m not holding my breath.


David Barnard Explains How to Game the App Store →

November 29, 2018 · 09:09

David Barnard:

I’ve been pestering Apple for years publicly and privately about the manipulation and outright scams going on in the App Store. Apple has made some progress here and there, but overall Apple’s strictness in some areas and hands off approach in others has disproportionately rewarded bad actors while stifling conscientious developers.

First of all, read the whole thing — some parts might shock you. These issues won’t be problematic to users aware of which developers are the good guys — there are quite a few out there — but the average consumer will have no clue which ones to trust. Apple really needs to crack down hard on the bad actors, cleaning out their own store of the garbage that has accumulated over the years.


Castro Is Now Part of Tiny →

November 27, 2018 · 22:14

On Supertop’s blog:

Castro has reached a size where the demands of running the business have been pulling us in too many different directions. We haven’t been able to focus as much on the core work of designing and building a product. Selling to Tiny gets Castro access to more resources, contacts and expertise. By growing the team we can specialize our roles to be more focused individually and get more done collectively. We can get back to what we’re good at and what we love doing.

This sounds promising.


Mac Mini Review — A Testament to Apple’s Stubbornness →

November 27, 2018 · 10:19

Peter Bright, for Ars Technica:

[…] the new Mac mini is a compromised box that’s engineered to be quite small. If you’re wedded to macOS, then it does the job well enough. It’s not bad as such, and it’s certainly a solid upgrade over the 2014 system. But there’s nothing this device particularly excels at, and there’s no real scenario where it leaps out at me as being the ideal, obvious choice. It’s the Mac you buy when you know you need to buy a Mac… and you’ve already ruled out all the other systems Apple has on offer.

After Apple’s appalling history in keeping the Mac Mini relevant and updated, people are applauding the new model. It does get a lot of things right, but imagine if the Mac Mini managed to fit just the following hardware inside its case:

  • the newer Core i9-9900K 8-core 16-thread (95 W) or the Core i7-9700K 8-core 8-thread (95 W) CPU
  • a single PCIe slot

Even if Apple decided not to offer user-accessible M.2 NVMe flash storage instead of its proprietary standard (and easily user-accessible RAM), people would go crazy for this machine. I can easily see this Mac instantly becoming one of the bestselling models ever. I know I’d get one.


Apple Resumes iPhone X Production in Face of Weak XS Sales →

November 22, 2018 · 23:06

Jon Porter, for The Verge:

Apple has resumed production of the iPhone X due to weaker than expected demand for its latest XS and XS Max models, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. The move is allegedly due to an agreement made with Samsung to purchase a certain quantity of OLED screens. With this year’s OLED-equipped models failing to sell in the quantities needed to fulfill the terms of the deal, the report suggests that Apple is turning to last year’s model for a solution. Apple ceased selling the iPhone X in stores when the XS was first released.

If this turns out to be true, I’d be very surprised. Perhaps less so, if these phones only ended up in carriers’ hands, but this would be without precedent.


’The iPad and iOS Nowhere Near As Far Along As the Mac Was a Generation Ago’ →

November 20, 2018 · 08:35

John Gruber, on Daring Fireball:

But, I will object to one thing: the iPad feels like a young platform, yes, but it’s not young. It’s over 8 years old. Steve Jobs was still around to introduce it. When the Mac was 8 years old in 1992, System 7 had been launched and it was a very advanced platform, suitable for work of any kind. The new iPad Pro hardware might be the best consumer computer hardware ever made — the only rivals are the iPhone XS and XR. But software-wise, the iPad platform is nowhere near as far along after 8 years as the Mac was a generation ago. The iPhone is. But the iPad is not, and I don’t see how anyone can deny that.

Apple slowed down evolving iPadOS features in the beginning and then tried to speed them up as the hardware started to get better at a rapid pace, but the software team just can’t keep up. It’s still missing utterly basic functionality and I’m really hoping iOS 13 is a big one for the iPad. June is so far away though…


Google Photos for iOS Adds Portrait Mode Depth Editing to iPhones X, 8, and 7; Apple Photos Still Not Offering This Feature →

November 20, 2018 · 08:28

Michael Potuck, for 9to5Mac:

While Portrait mode depth editing arrived with the iPhone XS, XR and the 2018 iPad Pro, the feature isn’t available on iPhone X, 8 Plus, and 7 Plus. Today, Google is rolling out support for the feature with Google Photos for iOS.

It’s been argued that the iPhone X isn’t fast enough to support the editing of bokeh. I called it out after the keynote. Now Google is joining in, assisting users of “old” iPhones and bringing them functionality that Apple should have provided on day one.


The Space Bar on My MacBook Pro Doesn’t Register Presses Properly

November 19, 2018 · 09:54

I recently had a problem with my Control key which I finally fixed by taking out the vacuum cleaner and sucking substantial debris1 out from under it. Today, the Space bar will not register keystrokes on its right half.

(A few minutes later.)

Seems to be working fine again, after thoroughly vacuuming it at max power.

I am not happy with this keyboard and I refuse to buy another MacBook until they fix this issue with a completely new design — silicon condoms membranes are not enough.

  1. A speck of dust.

I ❤️ iPad

November 17, 2018 · 11:38

I’ve always really enjoyed using the iPad as a secondary device but the new iPads Pro take things to a whole new level.

I just can’t get enough of that gorgeous new screen.


Screenshots on iOS — PNG vs. JPG →

November 15, 2018 · 08:40

Dr Drang, on And now it’s all this:

One oddity about screenshots on iOS that has no analogy with the Mac is that their file format depends on whether they’ve been edited. If you take a screenshot on your iPhone or iPad and save it directly to Photos with no changes, it’s saved as a PNG. But if you crop it or draw on it before saving to Photos, it’s saved as a JPEG.


Fedrico Viticci’s First 48 Hours With the New 12.9-inch iPad Pro →

November 13, 2018 · 07:05

Federico Viticci, on MacStories:

In practice, I find the iPad Pro’s new design appealing for a couple of reasons. Visually, it’s striking. Whether I’m holding the iPad Pro and using the multitouch keyboard or typing at a desk with the Smart Keyboard Folio, all I can see is a screen that elegantly reaches the corners of its enclosure and embraces them. It’s beautiful, and a testament to Apple’s terrific work on Liquid Retina displays. Again, compared to older iPads it instantly feels like the future, available today. The new iPad Pro elicits the same feeling of last year’s switch from the iPhone 7 to the iPhone X, albeit at a much bigger scale.

Like the iPhone 4 (Retina) and later the iPhone X (“all-screen”) were the two major stepping-stones to the future, the 2018 iPad Pros’ design make it feel like a completely new visual experience — a first since the original iPad from 2010. Realistically, nothing much has changed, but it feels like we have the future in our hands.

From an ergonomic standpoint, I also believe the new design makes it easier to hold the 12.9″ iPad Pro in both landscape and portrait; particularly for portrait orientation, I find typing with my thumbs on the software keyboard sort of possible again, whereas the old design with the thicker bezels on each side often resulted in giving up thumb-typing on the large iPad after a few minutes.

Federico states that thumb-typing is “sort of possible”, which makes me glad I went for the 11-inch model. I probably wouldn’t have thumb-typed this post on its larger brother, either going for an external keyboard or my MacBook Pro instead.


iSH — an iOS Linux Shell for Your iPhone or iPad →

November 13, 2018 · 06:53

Lawrence Abrams, for Bleeping Computer:

Have you ever wanted to run a Linux shell on your iOS device to transfer files, write shell scripts, or simply to use Vi to develop code or edit files?  Now you can, with a project called iSH that is currently available as a TestFlight beta for iOS devices.

iSH is a project that aims to bring a Linux shell to iOS devices using a usermode x86 emulator. iSH is built on the Alpine Linux distro, which is designed to have a small footprint, be secure, and easy to use with little or no distracting bells and whistles.

There’s a link to apply for the TestFlight beta there.

via @stroughtonsmith


Should Apple Make a 15-inch iPad Pro →

November 12, 2018 · 10:02

Chance Miller, on 9to5Mac:

With the recent push towards smaller bezels, some are calling for Apple to make an even bigger iPad Pro. While the largest iPad currently sold by Apple is 12.9-inches, some iPad fans say Apple could push that to around 15-inches.

For instance, a couple of weeks back, developer Steven Troughton-Smithshowed off how iOS would need little work to be capable of running on a 14.9-inch iPad Pro. Safari, for example, could show two side-by-side tabs, as well as a third app with a 14.9-inch display.

I had the opportunity to use a 15-inch Surface Book 2 for a few weeks and I found myself using the screen detached quite a lot. Sure, it’s unwieldy at that size, but when I sat down in a comfy chair, I used it in portrait, resting the bottom on my lap. At 15 inches, it was a huge reading slab, perfect for browsing my RSS feeds or the web, for example. The funny thing is that the 12.9-inch iPad is actually worse in this scenario — it’s too small to use rested in my lap and too heavy to use one-handed.


Will Hains And Marco Arment on the Wobbly Smart Keyboard Folio →

November 11, 2018 · 09:35

Will Hains, on his blog:

I heard my friend Casey describe a car he was reviewing as “tossable”. I’m pretty sure that’s not a word in any version of the English language, but the meaning is clear.

That word floated up in my mind as I struggled to fold and unfold the 12.9-inch behemoth, to pry it from my office desk, and to get it in and out of my bag. It felt too awkward and unwieldy to quickly whip out while on the train and crunch through a few email replies.

I got very good at handling my old 10.5-inch iPad Pro, even propping up the too-clever-by-half keyboard cover. It was just more… tossable.

I too was extremely tempted to go down the 12.9-inch route at first but then I remembered my experience with the first generation model of this size. I like to use my iPad to read and thumb-type (e.g. when using Twitter) and the on-screen keyboard of the larger model is just not built for this. It should be smaller (or there should be a choice of an alternate keyboard). Weight is another issue — personally I don’t find it comfortable to hold with one hand for extended periods of time. The larger screen and the ability to run two full-sized portrait apps next to each other do not make up for this.

In practice, it means the top edge of the iPad Pro 12.9”, when propped up in its keyboard cover is very high off the desk. It’s harder to reach the top of the screen when there’s no keyboard shortcut to go back a screen, and the left-edge swipe gesture is unavailable. And when I did tap the top of the screen, the whole thing wobbled.

I first read about the wobbly screen in the Smart Keyboard Folio in Will’s post and layer saw that Marco Arment mentioned it in his video review. Do watch the whole thing — it comes at the iPad from a different and interesting perspective.

I don’t believe I saw anyone else mention this in anywhere else and it could be a deal-breaker for some. Personally, I’m not getting Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio — it’s just too expensive for what it offers.

Having said all that, I just thumb-typed this post on my 11-inch iPad, which I wouldn’t have bothered to do on the 12.9-inch model — I’d have put it off for later, when I had an external keyboard connected.


Apple Walks Ars Through the iPad Pro’s A12X System on a Chip →

November 8, 2018 · 10:07

Samuel Axon:

The iPad Pro outperforms every MacBook Pro we tested except for the most recent, most powerful 15-inch MacBook Pro with an 8th generation Intel Core i9 CPU. Generally, these laptops cost three times as much as the iPad Pro.

“You typically only see this kind of performance in bigger machines—bigger machines with fans,” Shimpi claimed. “You can deliver it in this 5.9 millimeter thin iPad Pro because we’ve built such a good, such a very efficient architecture.”

The hardware is plenty fast. Now we just need software to make real use of all this horsepower.


No More Speed Bumps for Macs, Only Meaningful Updates →

November 6, 2018 · 15:39

John Gruber:

Behind the scenes last week in New York, I asked a few folks from Apple for any sort of hint why these two Macs — the MacBook Air and Mac Mini — went so long between updates. One thing I was told is that Apple wants to focus on “meaningful updates”. The days of “speed bump” updates are largely over. The value just isn’t there.

Guess I’m not getting a quad-core 13-inch MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar anytime soon…


The New MacBook Air — ‘Sometimes, That’s Enough’ →

November 6, 2018 · 12:15

Dieter Bohn, writing for The Verge:

That fan is a weird place to start when talking about the new $1,199 MacBook Air. I’d rather jump into all the many good things there are to talk about: the pixel density on the new display, smaller bezels, Touch ID, the T2 security chip, a larger trackpad, and a smaller design. I’ll get into all that. But I want to hang with this fan noise for another minute because its whirring encapsulates the most important thing to know about this MacBook Air.

Namely: it’s a computer that will let you do whatever you want, even though some of those things are probably beyond its capabilities. It won’t say “no” when you want to open 20 tabs and eight apps and then edit a photo. (Though, sometimes, with a fan and spinning beachball, it will say “uncle.”) Most of all, it’s a computer that is familiar. It does everything you expect in a way that you’re used to.

Sometimes, that’s enough.

I’m still waiting for a 15 W TDP quad-core MacBook, be it a MacBook Air or refreshed MacBook Pro Escape. There’s currently a hole in the line-up and it feels that it’s there so as not to cannibalize MacBook Pro sales — the Air has a 7 W CPU, the Pros have 28 W parts, and the 2017 Escape has dual-core 15 W processors. Where are the quad-core 15 W TDP Intel Core i5s and Core i7s?

And no, no Touch Bar for me, thanks.


iPad Pro 10.5-inch vs. 11-inch On-Screen Keyboard

November 6, 2018 · 11:54

Since the iPad Pro reviews have started to trickle out yesterday, I was looking for a comparison between the on-screen keyboards. I own a 10.5-inch iPad and will be switching to the 11-inch model tomorrow (hopefully, if there are no delays!), but I couldn’t wait. Luckily Steve Troughton-Smith had the simulator handy and helped me out1.

Above is the 10.5-inch keyboard in portait orientation, while the new 11-inch edition is below. You can click the images to load them full-screen and use the arrow keys (or swipe on them) to navigate between the two.


Make of this what you will but I can’t say that those additional keys are useful for the way I use my iPad. I’ll find out soon enough, but I am curious if it will be more comfortable to thumb-type on than the older one.

  1. Thanks Steve!

Apple iPad Pro Review 2018 — Future of Computing, Not a Laptop Replacement →

November 5, 2018 · 15:43

Nilay Patel, for The Verge:

I use Lightroom CC all the time and I would love to manage and edit all my photos on an iPad Pro, especially since editing with the Apple Pencil is so much fun on this display. But I have no desire to import hundreds of RAW files into my camera roll and iCloud photos account. When I brought this up, Apple very proudly pointed to a new Siri Shortcut from Adobe that imports photos from the camera roll into Lightroom and then automatically deletes them from the camera roll.

I couldn’t test that Lightroom Siri Shortcut, since it’s not yet available. But I can tell you that macro-based hacks around the limitations of an operating system are not usually included in bold visions of the future of computing, and that Siri Shortcut is a pure hack around the limitations Apple has imposed on the iPad Pro.

Oh, but it gets worse. I shoot photos in JPG+RAW, and the iOS PhotoKit API only allows apps to grab one or the other from the camera roll. So I could only import my RAW images into Lightroom, leaving the JPGs behind to clutter up my camera roll and iCloud storage. That’s untenable, so I just gave up and imported everything directly into Lightroom using my Mac, because my Mac doesn’t insist on abstracting the filesystem away into nonsense.

This is my single biggest gripe with Apple and Adobe — they still haven’t figured out how to make this as simple as on a Mac (or Windows machine, for that matter). This basically makes it impossible for me to use an iPad for processing my RAW files. I’m still hoping both companies get their act together, but after 8 years, I’m closer to just accepting this won’t happen.

Apple seems to want it both ways with the iPad Pro: it loves to tout the iPad’s laptop-dwarfing sales figures and industry-leading performance, but when pushed on the iPad’s limitations, the company insists that the iPad is still an ongoing attempt to build the future of computing, not a laptop replacement.

But after eight years, this double-sided argument is no longer tenable. Unlike virtually every other computer, the iPad is a product of Apple’s singular vision: the company designs the display, the processor, the operating system, and the limits of the applications and accessories that plug into it. And after all this time, it’s clear that whatever roadblocks and frustrations exist in using the iPad Pro are there because Apple wants them there. There just aren’t that many excuses left.

I still love the iPad but it’s far from being a laptop replacement for so many people. Apple did finally cave and introduce the Files.app so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for substantial changes in iOS 13, but I’m not holding my breath.