The Taking-The-Backseat Edition Wednesday, September 21, 2016

macOS 10.12 Sierra: The Ars Technica Review, by Andrew Cunningham and Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica

Sierra is fine software, but after a couple years of parity, it again feels as though it’s taking a backseat to iOS, primarily because of its half-hearted implementations of major new iOS features like Messages and Siri. The Mac is still a fundamentally stable, solid, usable platform, but its hardware is no longer running circles around the rest of the PC industry. Apple could be doing more—let's hope some of these long-rumored refreshes arrive sooner rather than later.

macOS Sierra Review: Hey Siri, Where Did My Files Go?, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

At this point I downloaded all my files from iCloud, copied them to a file server just in case, and turned off both the Manage Storage feature and iCloud syncing of my Documents and Desktop folder. It’s a nice idea, but I’m not willing to have the place on my Mac where I keep key projects and documents to be a place I can’t count on. Think twice before enabling this feature.

macOS Sierra Review, by Stephen Hackett, 512Pixels

macOS is a platform getting annual updates 15 years into its life. I don’t expect big, sweeping changes, and honestly, I don’t want the disruption in my workflow. Slow and steady is fine with me, and that’s the line Apple is toeing these days with macOS. In a release filled with features I really don’t want or need, I’m left feeling a little … forgotten.

Highlights And Tips For macOS 10.12 Sierra, by Michael E. Cohen, TidBITS

My advice is to hold off, at least for a couple of days or weeks. Not that I have found any show-stoppers in Sierra, but, honestly, Sierra isn’t going to go away and it’s much better if someone else finds the inevitable bugs than if you do. And, of course, only you know what your mission-critical apps are.

How To Make Your Own Bootable macOS 10.12 Sierra USB Install Drive, by Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica

Things have proceeded remarkably smoothly since version 10.7 switched to download-only installers, but there are still good reasons to want a reliable old USB stick. For instance, if you find yourself doing multiple installs, a USB drive may be faster than multiple downloads (especially if you use a USB 3.0 drive). Or, maybe you need a recovery disk for older Macs that don't support the Internet Recovery feature. Whatever the reason, you're in luck, because it's not hard to make one.

Zooming In

Camera Tests: Zoom On The iPhone 7 Vs iPhone 7 Plus, by Serenity Cladwell, iMore

If zoom is something you care about, the iPhone 7 can't compete with its bigger sibling: The vague pinch-to-zoom interface already feels hopelessly out of date after you spend a little time with the Plus's zoom capabilities, and blown up photos suffer somewhat on detail without the secondary lens providing supporting image data.

Apple's "optical zoom" feature also gives users the ability to either shoot directly with the 56mm lens equivalent or capture a crisp 2x digital zoom, and the crop provides a nice, new way to experiment with framing shots. It's a feature I was skeptical about in my first day or two with both phones, but as I've used both devices over the last week, I've grown more attached to shooting photos with the 7 Plus. If nothing else: More tools in the toolbox, right?

What Makes An iPhone iPhone?

Design As Branding, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

Here’s the genius of the black and (especially) jet black iPhones 7. In a very seductive way, they look like something new and desirable. And at the same time, they are instantly recognizable as iPhones. That is what Manjoo and similar-minded I’m-bored-with-Apple’s-designs don’t get. With a highly successful product and brand, new versions need to strike a balance between familiarity, the foundations of the brand, and hot newness. The bored-with-Apple crowd just wants the hot newness.


The Best Habit Tracking App For iOS, by Alex Tran, The Sweet Setup

Trying to build good habits after years of bad habits is an uphill battle. Thankfully, you have a tool in your pocket that can give you an edge in building better habits. Our recommended habit-tracking app,Productive, makes tracking habits an absolutely joyful experience. It’s a gem of an app with a unique personality, a solid set of features, and a delightful design.

Google Backs Off On Previously Announced Allo Privacy Feature, by Russell Brandom, The Verge

The version of Allo rolling out today will store all non-incognito messages by default — a clear change from Google’s earlier statementsthat the app would only store messages transiently and in non-identifiable form. The records will now persist until the user actively deletes them, giving Google default access to a full history of conversations in the app.


Why Computer Scientists In Pittsburgh Spent Last Night Differentiating Nipples From Navels, by Cara Giaimo, Atlas Obscura

Computers can do a lot. They can beat people at Go. They can draw strange squirrels. They are running a good chunk of the planet pretty much all on their own.

But, perhaps due to their own general lack of bodies, they cannot yet distinguish nipples from navels. Last night, a group of volunteers set out to change that, armed with a collection of about 10,000 shirtless selfies.

Bottom of the Page

In the past week, I've installed three new and different operating systems on three different devices. (I don't have a watch.) Remember the time when Apple had trouble finding the resources just to update two operating systems?


Thanks for reading.