The Native-Mac Edition Saturday, December 8, 2018

Electron And The Decline Of Native Apps, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

Another one I just ran into on Mojave is the new Mac App Store app. It certainly looks nice, but I noticed a few days ago that it doesn’t support the Page Down and Page Up keys for scrolling (nor the Home and End keys for jumping to the top and bottom) in any of its views. Open an article and hit Page Down, and instead of scrolling down, it just beeps. Beeps, I say. The only way to scroll is with a mouse or trackpad. In an app from Apple, used by nearly everyone. Even the Marzipan apps support these keys for scrolling, which shouldn’t be surprising, because support for these keys and other standard behavior comes for free with the underlying developer frameworks. The Mojave App Store app must be doing something very strange for these keys not to work.

The Mojave App Store app certainly isn’t written using Electron. But the problem with Electron apps isn’t really Electron — it’s the decline in demand for well-made native Mac apps. And that is ominous. The biggest threat to the Mac isn’t iPads, Chromebooks, or Windows 2-in-1’s — it’s apathy towards what makes great Mac apps great.

Looking Back At 2018: Why I Changed My Mind About The Apple Watch's Data Plan, by Jason Cipriani, ZDNet

It still fascinates me that a set of Apple's AirPods and a watch on my wrist is all I need to leave my phone behind and remain reachable.

I mean, think about that: A watch and a pair of Bluetooth headphones -- it doesn't even have to be Apple's AirPods, but they're my choice -- and you have what amounts to a smartphone with you at all times.

Apple’s Sleep Tracking Company Beddit Releases New ‘3.5’ Sleep Monitor, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

The first revision to the Beddit Sleep Monitor since Apple bought the sleep tracking company includes a slight design change to the actual hardware, and the iOS app for managing the sleep monitor has a new version as well. All mentions of Android support are also removed from the Beddit website as far as we can tell.


Anker’s Vertical Mouse Provides Cheap RSI Relief, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

Was the Anker vertical mouse worth $15? Absolutely. Within a day of connecting it to my Mac, years of forearm pain vanished. And the pain hasn’t returned in subsequent weeks. But how does it work as a mouse, given its odd shape?

Pretty well, actually. It takes a bit of getting used to, but not as much as you might think. It took me a day to accustom myself to it. I’m not much of a PC gamer these days, but I fired up Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to put the Anker mouse through its paces. I made it through the tutorial just fine and can safely say that my mediocre results were not limited by the mouse. Crippling RSI was one of the reasons I shifted away from computer gaming, and this mouse might make it enjoyable again.

Luna Display Turns An iPad Into A Responsive Mac Screen, by Julio Ojeda-Zapata, TidBITS

The Luna Display is an impressive feat of engineering that—minor performance issues aside—keeps its promise to transform an iPad into a dependable and useful Mac display. It may cost more than comparable software-only solutions, but it’s well worth considering if you crave maximum flexibility and performance in your Mac-iPad setup.

Hands-On: Belkin’s USB-C To HDMI Adapter For The 2018 iPad Pro, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

If you're not concerned about the lack of power delivery and need an adapter to play 4K content with Dolby Vision/HDR right now (particularly if you don't already own an Apple TV 4K), and if you live in Europe, Belkin's USB-C adapter gets the job done.

The Epic Games Store Is Now Live, by Jon Russell, TechCrunch

First announced earlier this week, the Epic Games Store is targeted squarely at Steam — the giant in the digital game commerce space — and it quietly went live today.

Right now there’s a small cluster of games available, including Hades, a new title from Supergiant Games that is in “early access” for $19.99, and Epic’s own Fortnite and Unreal Tournament, both of which are free. But Epic is saying that’s there’s a lot more to come. In particular, the store will offer a free game every two weeks, starting with Subnautica from December 14-17 and Super Meat Boy from December 28 until January 10.


How iOS Developers Can Build Better Apps, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

While it’s still possible since the 2008 App Store launch for relatively inexperienced developers to create hit products, it’s a lot less likely. And while you still get stories of young developers making it, for the most part it’s all about the big dev firms.

I’ve been thinking about this for a bit, and thought I’d try to put together a few ideas that may help people thinking about making an iPhone or iPad app.


Health Canada: We Have Not Received An Application For Apple Watch EKG Feature, by Gary Ng, iPhone In Canada

According to Health Canada’s latest update, the federal government body replied to our inquiry to say, “To date, Health Canada has not received an application for the Apple Watch Series 4 with the EKG feature. The decision to submit a medical device licence application rests with the manufacturer.”

‘I Was On Instagram. The Baby Fell Down The Stairs’: Is Your Phone Use Harming Your Child?, by Jemima Kiss, The Guardian

More worryingly, evidence is building that screen use, particularly of smartphones, has a negative impact on the conversational development of very young children. Chris Calland, a child behaviour expert and adviser to parents, schools and nurseries across the UK on what has been dubbed “technoference”, says a clear relationship has emerged over the last five years between adults who are glued to their phones and children who arrive at school without the language and interpersonal skills expected of a four- to five-year-old. “I was recently asked into a school reception class to help teachers find new ways to get through to parents who were persistently talking or scrolling on their phones, even as they collected their children, took their hands and walked them away from the school gates.”

They concluded that one solution would be to write scripts that could be handed out to parents to re-educate them in talking to their children. For example: “Look at that dog”, or “Tell me one nice thing you’ve done today.” At one nursery Calland worked with, staff put up pictures of phones with red lines through them, because they were struggling so hard to gain parents’ attention. Perhaps this is not surprising, when parents can now buy a phone holder that clips on to a pram or even a “swipe and feed” accessory that can be attached to a baby bottle. “This is not about judgment,” Calland says. “Being drawn into our phones is insidious. But the first three years are the most formative for children, and when parents have their attention locked on their phones, they are missing countless cues to interact with their kids.”

The Wired Guide To Data Breaches, by Lily Hay Newman, Wired

Yes, it’s a difficult, never-ending process for a large organization to secure its inevitably sprawling networks, but for decades many institutions just haven’t really tried. They’ve gone through some of the motions without actually making digital security a spending priority. Over the past 10 years, however, as corporate and government data breaches have ramped up—impacting the data of billions of people—institutional leaders and the general public alike have finally begun to understand the urgency and necessity of putting security first. This increased focus is beginning to translate into some concrete data protections and security improvements. But collective inaction for decades has created a security deficit that will take significant time and money to make up. And the reality that robust digital security requires never-ending investment is difficult for institutions to accept.

Bottom of the Page

I like buttons. Ten years after stopping to use my precious iPod Nano regularly, I still miss having a physical play/pause button on my podcast+audiobook listening device (aka iPhone).

And I think the pull-to-refresh convention on iOS apps is clever in avoiding a refresh button, but I hate pull-to-refresh. So many problems with this gesture.

So, as you can guess by now, I don't think I can get along with the new proposal out there to use two-fingers-tap as the undo gesture. Sounds to me a disaster in the making.


How about putting an universal undo button in the control center?


Thanks for reading.