apple Tag

Most (but not all) of my devices are Apple products. I like stuff that works well together, so I like their ecosystem.

But like with any big company, there’s a lot to criticize.

Note: I worked for a year (2018) as a contractor on the Apple Maps team.

The Apple TV still isn't good

Jon Porter from The Verge:

When we tried the HBO Max app for ourselves, we found it doesn’t seem to support the new remote’s D-pad. Instead, we could only use the remote’s touchpad circle, which is technically an element of the remote you’re supposed to be able to disable. Scrubbing using the touchpad works, just very badly. The cause of these problems appears to be a recent app update, which replaced the standard tvOS playback UI with HBO’s own (and apparently far less capable) version.

I have been complaining about the Apple TV (the remote of course, but also tvOS itself) for a long time now. If there’s anything to like about Apple, it’s that they usually try to enforce some type of good design sense throughout their hardware and software. Yes, there are a lot of shitty apps on macOS and iOS, but when it comes to the stuff that goes through their App Store, they at least pretend that they would like all of it to look, work, and generally be designed well.

With that said, why are most1 of the major tvOS apps on the platform able to be approved on the App Store without having even the basics in place? What’s the point of Apple releasing a platform like this if they aren’t going to enforce the very thing that makes people buy Apple products? If some of the most important apps on the platform reduce the video watching experience to just being able to play and pause videos, why bother buying the Apple TV (the most expensive product in this category right now) at all?

I think the answer to the first question is that Apple really doesn’t have any leverage to push companies like HBO to actually make good apps. They can’t really just kick HBO Max off the Apple TV App Store without it being a major issue for them, so why would HBO actually do the hard work of making a good tvOS app2 if they can just make one however they want instead? Can you really call tvOS a good platform if nobody making the major apps has any reason to make them good?

We just ordered one of these new remotes a few days ago. Partially because the old one really is trash, but also because we were suspecting we’re having hardware issues with the original (although the problems we’re seeing might just be because of shitty software 🤷🏾‍♂️) so we figured it made sense. But based on what I’m reading, watching HBO will still be a terrible experience even with the new remote anyway, so I’m already frustrated with it before I even have it.


  1. I’ve had a problem with YouTube on the Apple TV for so long now. They’ve insisted on custom interactions that feel out of place on tvOS in their app the entire time I’ve used it. ↩︎

  2. I think most macOS/iOS developers would agree that it takes a lot of very hard work to make well designed apps for these platforms. Apple provides a lot to developers to make apps that work well for users, but that doesn’t make it easy to actually make happen. It sounds like the HBO Max developers are writing a lot of custom code to control the video playback experience, and I’m guessing it’s because 1) it usually feels easier to do that than to fight with the built-in tools/APIs to get things to work the way all the stakeholders want it to, or 2) they use a lot of cross platform code to simplify development for Roku, Chromecast, smart TVs, etc. These kinds of things are understandable from a code/budget perspective, but they always screw up the quality of the app. Every single time. ↩︎

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Re: Breaking Point: How Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook Became Foes

From The New York Times today:

But Mr. Zuckerberg has also been blunt about Facebook’s feelings on Apple. “We increasingly see Apple as one of our biggest competitors,” he said in an earnings call this year.

Even on that point, Mr. Cook has disagreed.

“I’m not focused on Facebook,” he told The Times this month. “I think that we compete in some things. But no, if I’m asked who our biggest competitors are, they would not be listed.”

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iOS 14.5 is out

iOS 14.5 just dropped.

I need that ability to unlock the phone with my watch when I’m out with a mask. This is the most excited I’ve been about an iOS feature in a very long time.

Some other notes about this release:

  • This is the one that adds App Tracking Transparency, the thing that Facebook is really upset about. 🙂
  • Siri doesn’t default to a female voice anymore (you have to pick a voice when you setup the phone). Defaulting to female voices for virtual assistants was a mistake, so I’m glad they’re trying to address it.
  • More emoji of course! There’s always more emoji.
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Re: “Please someone help me.” FaceTime users bombarded with group call spam

Dan Goodin from Ars Technica on FaceTime users receiving group call spam:

FaceTime users are getting bombarded with group calls from numbers they’ve never seen before, often as many as 20 times in short succession during late hours of the night.

Griefers behind the pranks call as many as 31 numbers at a time. When a person receiving one of the calls hangs up, a different number will immediately call back. FaceTime doesn’t have the ability to accept only FaceTime calls coming from people in the user’s address book. It also requires that all numbers in a group call must be manually blocked for the call to be stopped.

I get these “spam” calls every once in a while. I still have a bunch of numbers in my Blocked Contacts list in FaceTime from when they all called over and over for like half an hour one night. They all share my New Jersey area code.

I couldn’t tell at the time if it was legit spam or just a prank/wrong number situation.

A user can also turn off FaceTime in iOS settings or in the macOS app, but that prevents users from receiving wanted calls as well. Last, people can uncheck their phone number under the FaceTime setting “where you can be reached.” Once again, however, this will prevent wanted calls that are initiated using the user’s number.

I almost considered turning off FaceTime for a while, but I eventually blocked enough of the numbers for it to stop. It’s a shame Apple doesn’t provide any options to help with this yet.

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Driverless Apple (Kia) Cars

There’s been some Apple Car news this week. According to this Cult of Mac article, a source for CNBC said that the first Apple Cars will be completely driverless (like Waymo). My guess is something like an Apple version of Uber, with self-driving cars.

It sounds more Appley to me than self-driving cars that people own. Some features I would expect to see that would be convenient for the user and pushes them further into the Apple ecosystem:

  • Integrates with Maps and Apple Pay. Open Maps, search for a location, hit a new “Request an Apple Car” button, then double click the “side button” to Pay. You can watch the car drive up on the map and get an alert when it’s close.
  • “Hey Siri, send me a car to go to Mom’s house.”
  • Uses the phone (or watch) to enter the car of course.
  • Personalization with your Apple account. All your Apple shit (News, Apple Music, Messages, accessibility settings, etc) is available on the touch screen where the steering wheel would be by the time you sit down. When it comes to Privacy, Apple will emphasize always-on encryption for any data that is ever transferred to or from the car, and complete destruction of encryption keys when exiting.
  • Optional spoken alerts.
  • “Homepod quality” speaker system with virtual surround sound and all the other audio tech Apple’s been into.
  • Safety built in with always-on GPS and monitoring of routes. If anything unsafe happens, you’ll be contacted through your phone, watch, and/or the car touch screen.
  • Everything as wireless as possible so you don’t have to deal with dirty or broken USB cables and like… food stuffed in the ports.

On that last point, I’m not sure how they’re gonna keep that Apple image of clean perfection when you’re sharing the car with other people. How often will they have to clean/inspect?


Earlier in the week, Bloomberg reported that Apple is about to sign a $3.6 billion deal with Kia Motors (owned by Hyundai). The plan is to introduce the Apple/Kia cars in 2024.

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Apple announces new projects related to its $100 million pledge for racial equity and justice

I was very happy to hear about Lisa Jackson leading Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative.

From the Apple’s press release yesterday:

Apple today announced a set of major new projects as part of its $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI) to help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by communities of color. These forward-looking and comprehensive efforts include the Propel Center, a first-of-its-kind global innovation and learning hub for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); an Apple Developer Academy to support coding and tech education for students in Detroit; and venture capital funding for Black and Brown entrepreneurs. Together, Apple’s REJI commitments aim to expand opportunities for communities of color across the country and to help build the next generation of diverse leaders.

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Re: Twitter permanently bans Trump

Twitter has banned Donald Trump’s account. It sounds like he joined Parler1 earlier today.

Both Apple and Google are both either considering or have already removed Parler from their stores.

Edit: It will be interesting to see what happens with all the older articles that have linked directly to his tweets. From The Verge: Trump’s ban from Twitter creates the ultimate case of link rot in posts across the internet


  1. From Wikipedia: Parler is an American microblogging and social networking service launched in August 2018. Parler has a significant user base of Donald Trump supporters, conservatives, conspiracy theorists, and right-wing extremists. Posts on the service often contain far-right content, antisemitism, and conspiracy theories like QAnon. ↩︎

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Apple's AirPods Max

Apple just announced their AirPods Max today.

It feels like this announcement is filled with even more marketing speak than normal. The headphones seem very well designed (of course) and have integration with other Apple tech (Siri, the H1 chip, etc) you won’t get on other headphones, but there’s nothing that’s actually revolutionary about these.

I would probably really like them, but I would never spend $549.00 for them.

I am very curious about Apple’s implementation of spatial audio though.


Update: It sounds like Apple rushed this out before the holiday. It’s missing the U1 chip and a few other things that were planned. From Mark Gurman on Twitter:

Looks like they made some changes on these to get them out the door as was deemed likely after several development set backs over the past many months — not seeing swappable bands, and Apple Watch Digital Crown instead of touch panels, and left and right sides aren’t reversible.

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Microsoft snubs Apple’s olive branch to cloud gaming: ‘a bad experience for customers’

I mentioned Microsoft not being happy with Apple in Epic vs Apple vs Everyone a couple weeks ago. The Verge reported today that Microsoft told them as much in a response to Apple’s updated App Store rules for streaming game services.

From the Streaming games section of Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines:

4.9 Streaming games

Streaming games are permitted so long as they adhere to all guidelines — for example, each game update must be submitted for review, developers must provide appropriate metadata for search, games must use in-app purchase to unlock features or functionality, etc. Of course, there is always the open Internet and web browser apps to reach all users outside of the App Store.

4.9.1 Each streaming game must be submitted to the App Store as an individual app so that it has an App Store product page, appears in charts and search, has user ratings and review, can be managed with ScreenTime and other parental control apps, appears on the user’s device, etc.

4.9.2 Streaming game services may offer a catalog app on the App Store to help users sign up for the service and find the games on the App Store, provided that the app adheres to all guidelines, including offering users the option to pay for a subscription with in-app purchase and use Sign in with Apple. All the games included in the catalog app must link to an individual App Store product page.

Microsoft doesn’t like that of course:

“This remains a bad experience for customers,” says a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. “Gamers want to jump directly into a game from their curated catalog within one app just like they do with movies or songs, and not be forced to download over 100 apps to play individual games from the cloud. We’re committed to putting gamers at the center of everything we do, and providing a great experience is core to that mission.”

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Re: The Mac’s iconic startup chime is back in macOS Big Sur

The Verge wrote about the Mac startup chime coming back in the new version (11! not 10.x) of macOS:

Apple is bringing back the Mac’s iconic startup chime in macOS Big Sur. The company hinted it might return by playing the chime very prominently during yesterday’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, and people who have installed the first Big Sur developer beta have reported that it’s back.

The startup chime was first removed from Macs in 2016 with the redesigned MacBook Pros released that year, and Macs released since then (with the exception of the 2017 13-inch MacBook Air) didn’t play the chime when you turned them on.

I would guess removing the chime was a Jony Ive decision (along with the keyboard and the obsession with thin devices with small batteries). It looks like a lot of things Apple has been doing lately are about undoing those choices. And the whole product line seems better for it.

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Re: Apple acquires popular weather app Dark Sky and will shut down the Android version

“Our goal has always been to provide the world with the best weather information possible, to help as many people as we can stay dry and safe, and to do so in a way that respects your privacy,” Dark Sky co-founder Adam Grossman writes in the post. “There is no better place to accomplish these goals than at Apple. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to reach far more people, with far more impact, than we ever could alone.”

And you do that by restricting the app to one platform and cutting off the API? 🤔

https://www.theverge.com/2020/3/31/21201666/apple-acquires-weather-app-dark-sky-shut-down-android-wear-os-ios

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