The Locked-Down-and-iOS-y Edition Tuesday, October 8, 2019

macOS 10.15 Catalina: The Ars Technica Review, by Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica

Catalina moves macOS further and more decisively in the direction of iOS than ever; for the first time, third-party code written for iOS and iPadOS can run on the Mac with relatively few changes. At the same time, Apple remains adamant that the Mac and iOS/iPadOS are separate platforms that differ in ways that go beyond the underlying processor architecture or the primary input mechanism.

Catalina also draws clearer lines between the two platforms than we've gotten before. Apple has both said and done things that only make sense if the Mac will still be able to run whatever code you want for the foreseeable future, even as the default settings and security mechanisms become more locked-down and iOS-y. The overwhelming success of the iPhone indicates that most people are fine with Apple's restrictions most of the time. But the slew of new desktop hardware we've gotten in the last couple of years suggests that Apple understands that a valuable, vocal chunk of the Mac user base (and the developers who drive the iPhone's and iPad's success) still wants powerful hardware that runs more flexible software.

Despite continued angst about what it means for apps to be "Mac-like," the Mac will continue to be the Mac, distinct from the iPhone and the iPad. Keep that in mind as we dig into Catalina, which changes a whole lot of stuff about how Macs work while still aiming to preserve what people like about them.

macOS Catalina: The MacStories Review, by John Voorhees, MacStories

The Mac isn’t in crisis, but it isn’t healthy either. Waiting until the Mac is on life support isn’t viable. Instead, Apple has opted to reimagine the Mac in the context of today’s computing landscape before its survival is threatened. The solution is to tie macOS more closely to iOS and iPadOS, making it an integrated point on the continuum of Apple’s devices that respects the hardware differences of the platform but isn’t different simply for the sake of difference.

Transitions are inherently messy, and so is Catalina in places. It’s a work in process that represents the first steps down a new path, not the destination itself. The destination isn’t clear yet, but Catalina’s purpose is: it’s a bridge, not an island.

macOS Catalina Review: Transition Period, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

More than anything, the potential changes to the app model are the main reason I’m recommending that you hold off on updating for a little bit. Do some Googling on your most important apps, and make sure they’re updated to support Catalina before installing it. I suspect that, for the vast majority of people and the vast majority of apps, it will be a nonissue, but it doesn’t hurt to check.

I don’t think we’re going to really know what this update will mean for the Mac until we know what happens with Catalyst apps. For Apple’s own software, Catalina’s biggest accomplishment is deconstructing iTunes into three separate apps. There’s still work to be done on Music, Podcasts, and Apple TV, but they’re a big step forward.

You Don’t Need To Update Your Operating System Right Away, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

What I’m arguing is that one of the prices of using a powerful, relatively open platform is that sometimes things break and that’s okay. The alternatives are worse: you end up with something completely managed, something complete stagnant, or something completely boring.

So don’t yell at Apple or Microsoft or Google when apps break on new versions of their OS. Doing so just reifies the idea that they are our benevolent overlords and takes away some of our own power. Yell at them when their own software breaks — trust me, it happens often enough that you’ll never lack for moments of catharsis.

Apple Confirms macOS Catalina Update Is A Big Problem For DJs Who Relied On iTunes, by Dani Deahl, The Verge

Tons of popular DJ apps, like Serato and Traktor, read XML files, and over the years, iTunes became the de facto way for lots of DJs to sort through their massive file libraries and quickly find tracks while performing.

But Apple’s confirmation means updating to Catalina will replace iTunes with Music, and that, in turn, will break communication between the app and pretty much all existing DJ software. The company says that if a customer is reliant on XML files for DJing, they should avoid updating and continue using their preferred software on macOS Mojave until developers push out fixes.

Apple Says iCloud Folder Sharing In macOS Catalina Coming 'This Spring', by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Apple has delayed the introduction of iCloud Folder Sharing in macOS Catalina until the spring, according to its website.

The key cloud storage feature has spent months in development and would have allowed users to share folders in their iCloud Drive with other Apple users via a private link.


iPadOS Review: 50 Percent More Computer, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

I think iPadOS has a different learning curve than what we’re used to. It’s not a straight line, but it seesaws between shallow and steep. It is easier than nearly any other computer in history to start using. But when you start trying to get the same sorts of capabilities out of the iPad that you’d expect from a high-end laptop, that curve hockeysticks.

I’m weirdly proud of Apple for having the courage to present power users with that difficulty curve spike. Apple used to be so worried that people would get lost that it kept the iPad working like a big iPhone for a really long time. Now, it’s not afraid to just make things complicated and assume people who need it will figure it out.

That sure sounds like a computer to me.

Final Cut Pro X Receives New Metal Engine For Increased Performance Along With Internal/external GPU Selection, by Jeff Benjamin, 9to5Mac

The Metal improvements are substantial, improving playback, rendering, real-time effects, and exporting on Metal-compatible Macs. The 15-inch MacBook Pro, in particular, benefits from performance gains up to 20-percent faster, while iMac Pro users will see a whopping 35-percent faster gains.

Carrot Weather Brings Its Foul-mouthed Forecasts To Mac, by Brandon Russell, iMore

Thanks to the launch of macOS Catalina, Carrot Weather has introduced an improved Mac app using macOS Catalina's Catalyst feature. The app brings with it everything you love on Carrot Weather's iOS app, including the familiar UI and snarky forecasts. Plus more secret locations and achievements.

Apply Intentionality To Your Downtime With Duolingo, by Mike Schmitz, The Sweet Setup

Surprisingly, I found that the gamification of learning a language in Duolingo really clicked for me. It’s a simple mechanicism where you complete lessons to earn XP and move on to further levels.


Killing "Dead-End" Jobs Blocks Career Opportunity, by Matt Beane, Wired

We can do better than the automation status quo. First off, I’ve shown that somewhere, we probably already are: A scant few are bending and breaking rules to keep the benefits of on-ramp jobs while adapting to work involving intelligent technologies. We need to find these people and learn from them. Beyond this, we need to take a stand. Any of us—worker, manager, technologist, policymaker—can look for ways to handle the technologies that both preserve the benefits of on-ramp jobs and deliver the productivity gains we’re all hoping for. We could create new, even-more-valuable on-ramp jobs that are possible only because of intelligent technologies, for example. Some kitchens that buy the Dishcraft system will probably realize they could get more customers by showing it off through a plexiglass wall in the hallway on the way to the conveyor where you drop your tray. They’ll need someone to keep the wall and the robot clean and answer bystander questions. That’s the beginnings of an on-ramp job, and I bet many a high-schooler would jump at the chance.


Music Labels Wary As Apple Tries To Bundle Subscriptions, by Anna Nicolaou, Financial Times

The iPhone maker has recently approached the big music companies about bundling together Apple Music and Apple’s upcoming television service, but the two sides have not yet discussed a pricing formula, said people familiar with the negotiations. Talks are at an early stage, they added.

While some labels are open to the idea, people at one big record company said they had concerns, and that the industry was growing more wary about its relationship with Apple, which strong-armed labels a decade ago into selling individual songs for $0.99 on iTunes.

More Radio, More Live: Where Apple Music's Headed In 2020, by Sophie Charara, Wired

Apple doesn’t break out Beats 1 monthly listening figures; various commentators have speculated they are relatively low, the official line is “tens of millions”. What we do know is that one of Lowe’s priorities is to merge the two elements of Apple's £9.99 a month Music offering: its Spotify-style streaming service and the Beats 1 radio shows.

“I want more people to listen and discover this stuff,” says Lowe. “And I want to integrate what we do at Beats 1 into Apple Music more thoroughly. I would guess there are still subscribers who don’t realise Elton John has done over 200 shows. Those shows are works of art in their own right.”

Bottom of the Page

Here's my plan: I'm going to devote my entire upcoming weekend to upgrade my Mac, my iPhone, and my iPad. My Apple TV has already been updated to the latest tvOS without problems, and I don't own any Apple Watches.

So, if the updates to this little website is sparse or non-existent this weekend, you know something has gone wrong.


Thanks for reading.