The Taste-of-the-Platform Edition Tuesday, June 25, 2019

iOS 13, iPad OS, Mac OS Catalina Available For Public Beta Testing, by Shara Tibken, CNET

If you're feeling adventurous, you can now download the beta version of Apple's upcoming MacOS Catalina, iOS 13 and iPadOS software. The company made the test versions of the operating system publicly available on Monday, giving anyone a taste of the platform.


Download the betas at your own risk -- and be sure to back up your devices before you do. As Apple has warned, "since the public beta software has not yet been commercially released by Apple, it may contain errors or inaccuracies and may not function as well as commercially released software." Apple advises people to only download beta software on a secondary device or one that's not "business critical."

iPadOS Makes Apple's Tablets Feel Like A Priority Again, by Chris Velazco, Engadget

When I reviewed the iPad Pro last year, I was torn. Here was one of the most impressive (not to mention expensive) tablets any company had ever made, and its software seemed caught between two goals: provide the classic, friendly iOS experience people were used to, and grow in a way that made it more meaningful to pro users shelling out for premium hardware.

With iPadOS, Apple is striking a better balance between those two priorities. And now that the company is releasing the software as a public beta, anyone will be able to install iPadOS and check in on the company's progress. After using a beta build for a few days, I'm already impressed with the changes Apple has made. Some are more subtle than others but all told, this new software refines the iPad experience in some important ways. Let's take a closer look.

iOS 13 Brings Many Much Needed Quality-of-life Improvements, by Romain Dillet, TechCrunch

In developer lingo, quality-of-life updates are all about refining things that already work. Thanks to these incremental improvements, it should make the end user experience much more enjoyable. And with iOS 13, it feels like Apple’s main focus is on this concept.

Dark Mode is basically the only new flashy feature of iOS this year. But that’s not a bad thing. From my experience, all the tiny refinements across the board are really convincing. iOS 13 is a much more interesting release than iOS 12 for instance.

Everything That's New In Siri Shortcuts (In The Public Beta), by Matthew Cassinelli, iMore

With the public beta of iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 released today, iPhone and iPad users will find themselves with a new app installed by default: Shortcuts. The new app is the home for all Siri Shortcuts, now baked into the operating system of each platform and located in one place.

There's a wide variety of changes made to Siri Shortcuts and how the Shortcuts app can work, so let's dive in to what's possible so far.

First Look: macOS Catalina Public Beta, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Catalina takes the Mac in a new direction. I’m encouraged by the fact that Apple is cranking up its focus on security and privacy without locking Mac users out from running the software they want, when they want to. I’m of the belief that the introduction of Catalyst will result in the influx of some really good software from thousands of iOS developers who have been using the Mac all this time without the wherewithal to develop software for it.

But it’s also a time of transition, and with every transition comes some frustration. I’m concerned that Apple’s apps—both Catalyst and non-Catalyst—show inconsistent approaches to how Mac apps should behave, when they should instead be exemplars of the platform. Fortunately, Apple has all summer to tighten the bolts and re-think some of the assumptions of the spring. Here’s hoping that by the fall macOS will all be a bit more ship shape, ready to sail off to the island of Catalina.

Mouse Pad

Here’s How Mouse Support Could Change The Way You Use Your iPad, by Sam Byford, The Verge

And if, like me, you’re one of the probably 37 people in the world who ever uses their iPad Pro with an external USB-C monitor, the mouse feature is a total game changer. iPad monitor support doesn’t do much more than mirror the display, which meant that previously there was no way to interact with anything while you were actually looking at the monitor — you’d have to look down to the iPad itself to use touch. Now, though, I can use my iPad Pro at a comfortable eye level on my desk. It’s what I’m doing now. It’s great!

Mouse Support Is Hidden In iPadOS For A Reason, by Scott Stein, CNET

That's fine, again, because it wasn't made for me. And yes, I'd love full mouse or trackpad support in the iPad. I've wanted it for, literally, years. But this accessibility feature isn't it, and just because Apple included this in iPadOS in 2019 doesn't mean full mouse and trackpad support is coming in the future.

Security Matters

macOS Gatekeeper Vulnerability Has Now Been Exploited, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

A macOS Gatekeeper vulnerability discovered by a security researcher last month has now been exploited in what appears to be a test by an adware company.


Apple Updates Indoor Survey Business App With New Design, Map Notes, And More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Today’s update adds an all-new design that Apple says makes it easier and faster to survey spaces. The new survey workflow builds on that, allowing you to track your progress and test positioning.

The Challenge Of Helping Blind People Navigate Indoors, by Susan Crawford, Wired

Gaztambide told me that a blind American Printing House employee was immediately happy with Indoor Explorer. “His job has him traveling a fair bit,” Gaztambide said, “so he’s in the airport every couple of weeks.” After Access Explorer mapped the airport, including its restaurants and points of interest, the printing house employee realized that he had been passing by a Smashburger every two weeks. “He loves Smashburger,” Gaztambide said. “He had no sense that he was walking by it all the time.”

Indoor navigation—of schools, hospitals, shopping centers—is a big deal for blind people. One reason why blind people typically stay close to home “is the sense the world is not made for them,” says Gaztambide. “And it’s really wonderful to hear people say, ‘I can walk through malls or walk through venues without this sense of hopelessness or of missing information.’” Gaztambide’s focus is “geographic saturation,” or mapping as many buildings as possible in one city (rather than a few buildings in many cities), and he started with Louisville. The app now covers performing arts centers, public buildings, and high schools, among other sites.

'Harry Potter: Wizards Unite' Isn’t The Next 'Pokémon Go.' Good, by Brian Barrett, Wired

But the biggest takeaway of Wizards Unite may be the reminder that augmented reality games, even when built on the same template, can create entirely different experiences. Niantic hasn’t let Pokémon Go’s success pigeonhole its Potter fantasia. The result is bloated and overly complex, especially for a subway station time-killer. But it’s also fun, and different, and a world apart. It makes you excited to see what’s next, both within the game and beyond it.


Young Achiever: Lilia Is Cracking The Code, by Nadia Arandjelovic, The Royal Gazette

The first computer programme Lilia created was a dress-up game that allowed the user to change which outfit the sprite was wearing.

“That was the only thing I knew how to do at that time because my coding skills were still really basic,” she said.

“It was really exciting to finish that project and I immediately wanted to make more games.”


Apple Doubles Planned Seattle Expansion To 2,000 Employees, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

Apple intends for its Seattle offices to become a “key engineering hub,” in the same city that hosts Amazon’s HQ. Engineering positions will include “hardware, software technologies, and services,” says Kristina Raspe, the VP of global real estate and development for Apple, adding that she would like potential employees in Seattle to “call us.”

Apple Says It Collects Fee On Less Than 1% Of Spotify Users, by Stephen Nellis, Reuters

Apple said that Spotify used its App Store billing system between 2014 and 2016. Because the 680,000 premium Spotify customers who signed up during that period have all been paying for more than a year, Spotify pays Apple the lower 15% fee on them, Apple said in its response.

Apple also said that Spotify has paid it nothing for premium subscribers who signed up during the past three years because Spotify has not used Apple’s in-app purchase system.

The Guardian View On Female Voice Assistants: Not OK, Google, by The Guardian

Within two years there will be more voice assistants on the internet than there are people on the planet. Another, possibly more helpful, way of looking at these statistics is to say that there will still be only half a dozen assistants that matter: Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and Amazon’s Alexa in the west, along with their Chinese equivalents, but these will have billions of microphones at their disposal, listening patiently for sounds they can use. Voice is going to become the chief way that we make our wants known to computers – and when they respond, they will do so with female voices.

This detail may seem trivial, but it goes to the heart of the way in which the spread of digital technologies can amplify and extend social prejudice. The companies that program these assistants want them to be used, of course, and this requires making them appear helpful. That’s especially necessary when their helpfulness is limited in the real world: although they are getting better at answering queries outside narrow and canned parameters, they could not easily ever be mistaken for a human being on the basis of their words alone.

How E-Commerce Sites Manipulate You Into Buying Things You May Not Want, by Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, New York Times

“Alexandra from Anaheim just saved $222 on her order” says one message next to an image of a bright, multicolored dress. It’s a common technique on shopping websites, intended to capitalize on people’s desire to fit in with others and to create a “fear of missing out.”

But “Alexandra from Anaheim” did not buy the dress. She does not exist. Instead, the website’s code pulled combinations from a preprogrammed list of names, locations and items and presented them as actual recent purchases.

Bottom of the Page

I am so tempted by all the new operating systems. They all have something that I think I will really like.

On the other hand, I am not feeling adventurous at all.


The only public beta software that I didn't resist was the very first Mac OS X public beta. That was a good beta. I even tolerated the purely-cosmetic Apple logo right in the middle of the menu bar.


Thanks for reading.