Backstage – Episode #5
The Pro Stand costs more than my first car
and other hot takes from WWDC 2019
Jerod, Adam, and Nick get together mere minutes after Apple’s 2019 WWDC keynote to talk about all the news and announcements. Will we be buying the new Mac Pro? What about that drool-worthy 6k retina display? Will iOS’s dark mode deliver where Mojave’s hasn’t? Expect all that and at least 2 bad puns in this episode of Backstage.
Notes & Links
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I missed the section on the Mac Pro due to prior commitments, but you guys didn’t miss it, and now I’m looking at apple.com/mac-pro and I’m seeing a pretty cool-looking cheese gratery thing…
So fill me in, guys - what did I miss? To me, it seems like the biggest – maybe the only hardware, but the biggest exciting thing that I’d been waiting for, is the Mac Pro details.
I’m actually navigating to the Mac Pro page now, as I haven’t seen it yet.
Me too, and it’s a really cool page.
Yeah, I’m hard-refreshing it… It kept loading up the old trash can, you know?
“When’s it gonna happen…?” And then it was just a couple minutes of hard refreshes, and there it is.
Maybe we start with the surprises, I would say. The surprise for me was the form factor. I expected something slightly more modular, I guess, in design; but I guess it’s not like it’s less, it’s just my visual of it was different based on people thinking that they would do a Mac Mini, where you could sort of stack them to create this modular system… But I like the idea that they brought back the PCI process, which is a huge thing. That’s where you get a lot of speed, and where people really miss the ability to swap in cards, and pull in different external third-party manufacturer stuff that you sort of lost with the iMac Pro, for example, or even the latest Mac Pro, which was the trash can version. You totally lost all that. You had to go with Thunderbolt-friendly only components, and not everybody believed in Thunderbolt quite the way that Apple has… And Thunderbolt 3 is amazingly faster than Thunderbolt 2, but still, you were really stricken on what you can componentize with the older trash can Mac Pro; and even the previous cheese grater. This form factor to me seemed as a – I didn’t expect it to look like this.
However, one thing I’ll note is that whenever they – it was late in the presentation of it, too. They were like “Oh, for you people who love to rack-mount…”, which is me (I love to rack-mount things), they’re like “Here you go, you can just turn it this way”, and I was like “Whoa!” Right then and there my mind was like “Okay, this is an amazing form factor.” I love it, because you can just turn it sideways, put some ears on it and rack-mount this thing.
Was it that, or was it like a special case, or a special configuration?
I think it might be a special case, but either way, that means the form factor is there. You could probably maybe pull this case off and put a new rack-mountable case onto it, but either way, it’s like attaching ears to it, rack-mountable ears.
So it is modular, though maybe you were expecting it to be externally modular, but this is internally–
You can expand it, but it’s all internal expansion, not external expansion.
Right. So the internal to me I think locks up maybe size. You have to fit it into the box… That is the unexpected, which I’m not totally against; it’s just visually – I’m watching YouTube, I’m watching all these different people who are predicting these things coming out, and this is not what was in my mind’s eye. I was imagining what Apple might somehow come up with. Plus, it’s silver. What happened here…? I mean, I love it, it looks amazing, but…
It’s bright silver, not the…
Yeah, exactly. And the apple seems to be proportionately bigger on the side than normal, so maybe they’ve expanded their design guides, or something like that… But I was expecting space gray, or this Pro gray that they’ve established with the iMac Pro, and other components… And I’m just like “Why is it silver?” But hey… You can’t have everything. Matte black all the things, right?
That was a big surprise.
Hey, it’s matte black on the inside…
Well, the inside matters, right?
The other thing that matters is the price, right? I missed the pricing. I know there’s also a display involved, which looks amazing, but was also very, very, VERY expensive. I know these are particular tools for particular people who have those dollares, but… What are we talking about here?
I think the starting price was – was it $499? I’m sorry, $4,999.
[04:13] That’s a dream. $499 is a dream. [laughter] This is not a Mac Mini. Yeah, 5k basically, for the – is that what the display sells at?
And then with the nanotexture, which was so cool… From a nanometer perspective, I guess, they etch texture directly onto the glass, to reduce its reflective properties, and that’s an extra grand on top of that, so $5,999. But the actual Mac Pro starts out the same, $5,999.
And then this Pro Display XDR, which is just gorgeous to stare at… The first 32-inch Retina 6k display ever; that’s what they’re saying on their marketing page for that. This is just stupid expensive, right?
Well, I would say it’s stupid expensive if you haven’t been buying this kind of pro-level gear before. And I would say that people who care about the colors of their monitors, so people who are doing movies and a lot of color grading, they’re spending several thousand dollars on monitors. For normal people like us who don’t typically buy this kind of pro-level gear, especially a monitor, we’re not looking at price tags in the $5,000 range. However, people who do, they’re probably in the 3k-4k range, I’m sure; maybe even more than that, with the calibration kits you can get with it. There’s definitely price tags out there similar.
But this is 5k.
So… Several. Versus five.
I mean, an extra grand for the Apple logo of course, right?
Well, I agree; like I said, these are particular power tools for power users, videographers, etc. But here’s my problem with it. I want one of these… [laughter] Don’t we all want one?!
Can you imagine how good Vim is gonna look on that?
I know, right?
Yeah, I don’t disagree… I want one too, and I wish they would maybe give me a 27-inch version of it I guess, maybe, that’s for people like me.
Yeah. Like, just bring it down to 3k. Let’s have a $3,000 one. Maybe here’s the question - is this a one-off to match the Mac Pro fit and finish…
I think so.
…or is this the start of maybe a new line of Apple displays where there will be more consumer-priced options? They’ll still be expensive in relation to the overall market, but maybe they’re in the $2,000 or $1,500 range. Do we think that there will be a series of these, or do we feel like this is THE one that they’re gonna offer?
I feel like this is a series…
…coming back into it.
This is hopefully the edition model, and I’m waiting for the stainless steel model… [laughter]
Well, it’s not coated in gold, so I don’t know if it’s the edition, but it’s definitely priced that way.
Some really cool things I did like about it though was the stand, which I think is $1,000 on its own, which is kind of the price point I was hoping that the monitor would be in…
[laughs] Maybe you just buy the stand.
…but that stand is really nice, and it does allow you to flip into portrait mode, which would be really cool.
Can you imagine two of these together, one in portrait and one in landscape?
Oh, yeah… But they did say that the current MacBook Pros can run two of them together, and the Mac Pro can run six of them.
So six of those, plus the Mac Pro… That’s 36k. Easy.
Plus the stands for each one.
Oh, plus the stands. So it’s 5k for the monitor, and–
Don’t forget AppleCare.
[07:57] So it’s six thousand… Yeah, if you’re gonna AppleCare that thing up, you’ve got a $40,000 workstation.
I think you definitely wanna AppleCare that one. You wanna AppleCare it, you wanna get an IRA, you wanna ensure it…
You know, life insurance on it, and everything. This display though - it’s definitely expensive, but some of the tech behind it is super-interesting. The fact of how bright they’ve been able to make it. 1,600 nits max, but it can sustain 1,000 nits - which is super-bright - forever, indefinitely. Then she kind of paused and dramatically said “Forever.” I thought that was pretty cool.
Right. So they’ll have an SLA that says that this will be that bright forever, and they’ll back it up, or what?
She might. I mean, sure, let’s put “Forever” in the SLA. I want it there. But apparently, you can leave it in this state - on, obviously - and it’ll display forever, I guess.
So what’s the technology? Is it just OLED, or what?
There’s blue LEDs, and I don’t know exactly, I’m going from memory, because I didn’t write this part down… But these blue LEDs in the very back of it, and several layers of this brand new breakthrough tech they’ve created to enable this brightness and this HDRness of it. That’s as far as I can really regurgitate from what I heard… But the back of it is a super-bright blue LEDs, and then through each phase of it is algorithms and different things that reshape and reform the light to make it super-accurate, and then obviously bring that contrast ratio. A million to one contrast ratio here is what we’re talking about. That’s pretty huge.
It’s probably worth mentioning to folks out there that we are recording this less than an hour after the keynote has closed…
So these are very much initial impressions and hot takes, and not researched information, so… Your mileage may vary with the amount of accuracy in these claims that we’re making here.
The one thing that I didn’t really see was a camera built-in, which I thought was kind of surprising, given how expensive it is.
There’s no camera?
I don’t think so. It definitely doesn’t mention it on the marketing page.
They didn’t mention it, you’re right. That’s a really good point. I did not even pay attention to that. Maybe they’re gonna bring back the old bullet cam head back in the day.
Maybe we’re turning back to old school Apple, since they’ve gone with the tower effect again. That’d be fine with me.
Well, bring back the Magic Mouse then.
I’m fine with that…
Or the hockey puck mouse…
Yeah. 1,600 nits of brightness max, a million to one contrast ratio, over a billion colors presented with exceptional accuracy… Of course, I’m reading their marketing lingo here. They’ve got XDR - not even HDR - XDR, Extreme Dynamic Range, which is… Of course, leave it to Apple to go from something that was amazing to something even more amazing, right? There’s always the cherry on top right there.
I’m looking for the tech that was talked about on this page though, for their color, and stuff… Yeah, LED [11:05] true to life imagery requires an extremely high bright area…” So that’s where they’re talking about it - it requires extreme brightness, and this advanced LED technology, light shaping and intelligent image processing… Some keywords from that.
Well, I have to say that the lack of a webcam is really the blocker for me. I was ready to pull the trigger on this guy, but… I’m out now. I’m out with no webcam.
Yeah. I think it’s interesting too how it’s counter-balanced. I don’t know about anybody else here, but when I was seeing it, I was like “Oh, that’s really cool”, but I didn’t imagine its weight, and I didn’t imagine how you may want to change its configuration. And then when they sort of showed that silhouette or portrait perspective of that mount area, and they sort of showed the insides of this counterbalance system - that to me is super-cool. Have you seen something like that anywhere else, that counter-balance system?
So let’s dive for a second into some off-topic, but yet on-topic, because I’m on the actual page of the Pro Display XDR, and I’m looking at this picture of it in landscape mode, and it’s got so much code on it, and I’m thinking “Oh, yes. This is why I need one. Look how much code I can fit on it.” And then I right-click because I wanna share this image with you guys… So I right-click on it to copy the image address and paste it into the chat, so I can say “Look at this image…”, and it’s a video element. It’s not moving, it’s not animated; it’s a video element where they’re setting the data source to – it’s an mpeg4… Oh, here it says “Replay.” So maybe it was animated, but it didn’t animate until I scroll down. Oh, yeah. It shows it moving. Okay, so it’s like an animated GIF, but they’re doing it as a video.
If you open the page in Safari on your iOS device or your phone, they do have an augmented reality thing that you can use to put the Mac Pro right in your room, and you can see how big it is. I posted that in the chat.
With no other technology, just opening it on my phone? BRB, guys…
I posted what it looks like in the chat.
I’m gonna go try that… Oh, is that what you put in the chat?
I didn’t have a banana for scale, but my foot’s in there.
[laughs] Come on, Nick. Be prepared. Bring a banana. So that is super-cool. Here I thought they were just displaying video elements as images for some reason, but I take it all back, because that actually does animate in, so it’s a good use of mpeg4 there.
We had somebody on Changelog News recently, Adam, who was advocating for the use of videos in place of animated GIFs, and saying “Now is the time.” One of the things that does stink about that is just the shareability of a video versus a GIF file, in terms of it being treated as an image by operating systems… It’s much harder to share those in traditional ways, but anyways; like I said, super off-topic.
I’ve just put that thing on my desk, and it takes up the whole desk.
It’s pretty big. It’s definitely big. Well, I would say it’s probably 19 inches at least in depth, because that would be a rack mount. 19 inches is the width of a rack, and it goes 20-36 inches deep sometimes. It depends, but 19 inches is at least wide. So that would be its depth, because if you turn it sideways and put it into a rack mount, that would be 19 inches.
Do we know how they’re achieving this augmented reality via the website? Remember they announced those AR files last year?
So you click a button, “See Mac Pro in AR”, and it launches a specialized view, I guess, in Safari…
Up at the top it should say “Objects in AR”.
Yeah. AR. There it is. Oh, my goodness, this thing is massive in my desk.
I had to move back…
Like, stand away…
Yeah, I had to go back like three feet.
I’m looking at the tech specs, and I don’t know if they mentioned this in the talk or not, but it does start at 32 gigs of RAM, and it goes all the way up to 1.5 terabytes of RAM, and 28 cores.
Nick, let me ask you, how would you spend your 1.5 terabytes of memory?
[16:08] Well, I’d have Chrome, and Chrome Canary, and Slack… Like, lots of Slacks, and… What else? What other Chromium things can I run? Yeah, I don’t know. I can’t imagine.
Just go to GitHub and search for the Electron tag, and then just download all of the resulting apps and run them all at once.
I wonder if I’d be able to run Docker without it lighting the computer on fire…
One thing on the performance note was that they were talking about in Logic I think it was around 1,000, if I can recall correctly, at some point, like 1,000 instruments playing at once, in this composition inside of Logic… Which to those who don’t use Logic or anything like that, several tracks start to block the system down, plus you’ve got some real-time effects on those things, a reverb, or different effects happening on each different channel and whatnot… So as you start to layer all those things, you’ve got roughly 1,000 instruments playing at once, with no beats skipped. Pun intended, of course.
That was pretty amazing. And they had the…
Do you like that, Jerod?
They had Final Cut running two 8K XDR videos, and one – it was either one 4K or 8K standard video, all at once.
Yeah. Obviously, anybody who’s in extreme video; anybody doing video is gonna love this machine, love the monitor. And those are also the people who tend to spend at least several thousand dollars on any one piece of gear. So for them, people like that, it may not be a welcomed price tag, however it’s definitely in their spectrum. They’re spending 15k, 20k, sometimes 50k just for a camera, sans lenses; not even with the lenses. Sometimes you’ll spend 2k, 3k, 4k just on the lens… I mean, you can spend probably 20k, 40k, 50k on a nice prime lens kit. You’ve got your 35, 50, 85, 105, something like that… All these nice, prime lenses; you’ve gotta spend some serious coin on that kind of video gear. So maybe starting at 6k for them isn’t terrible. For me, it’s kind of terrible. [laughter]
I don’t think anybody likes to do it.
No, nobody likes to do it.
Some people just do it, pull the trigger.
I wanna know how many people out there are gonna buy the monitor just because they wanna see it.
I’ll just go to the Apple Store and see it, and save my money.
Well, obviously I mean see it every day. [laughter]
See it in their house.
See it in their house, sans AR kit. In the real. Because if somebody’s got that kind of doe to put down to a monitor, that’s intense… Especially somebody who just doesn’t really need all of its features.
I’ve just upgraded from a 27-inch Thunderbolt display, and when I bought that, it was $1,000, years ago. That was really expensive for a monitor, I thought.
Yeah, I think so.
I finally upgraded, but I had heard rumors that Apple was coming out with one, and I was like “Maybe I should just wait…” Then I was listening to some Apple podcast, I’m sure, and they were like “Oh, it’s probably gonna be at least $2,000”, and I was like “Well, I’ll just go with something else, because monitors are cheaper.” They won’t be as great as one Apple can make, but they won’t be $2,000 either, so… I ended up getting one that was under $1,000, and I like it for the most part, but I’m definitely happy with that decision now.
[20:00] What have you got?
I have an LG 38-inch ultra-wide. I like it, for the most part.
So is that Retina?
No. I think it’s like 3840x1600 resolution, and it works well. I have a 4k monitor here as well, but I didn’t like it near as much as this. I have this vesa mounted onto my desk, and it’s really nice being able to swivel it everywhere, and move it anywhere. It’s nice. Not the greatest picture though, as I’ve learned. I’m getting bugs about not really being able to see subtle grays very well.
And that’s the exact problem, I feel, with this monitor world. Just even at people like us, or just general consumers using computers, there’s often a disconnect between the computer part of it… And this may even be evolving with the whole iPad era, and slates, or whatever you wanna call it… Most people I know who don’t really use a computer generally just use their mobile phone as sort of their main compute platform. Folks like us, creators, need to have the components, and I think there’s a huge disconnect between the screen and the machine itself, which is why I like the iMac Pro, or even just the iMac in general; not really much of a fan of having the two separate or an actual laptop and some sort of external display… Jerod, you’ve had some issues with yours over the years.
I have issues with it today, and I’m angry at the world because of it.
It shouldn’t be that hard though, right?
No. I keep thinking it’s gonna be a software update the next time macOS to a dot release; somebody finally patched it for this circumstance, which is an LG 27-inch Retina…
Is that the one that Apple was even promoting as sort of like “This works best with our gear” sort of thing? Or was it a different one?
No, it’s not that one. I can’t remember the decision-making process. I’ve had it for a couple of years now. I knew I needed to go high-res though, because I was getting serious eye strain by the end of the day… And I had my laptop, so I go in dual display mode, but I go top-bottom. So my 27-inch is up top, and my laptop is down underneath. I used to go left-right, but now I go up and down. So when I kept looking down at the laptop and had the nice display, I looked up at the low-res one - I’d do that all day long and I was getting eye pain, serious headaches…
So I thought it had to do with that. I was like, “Well, the easy fix I guess is go get a Retina display.” So I did that, and I haven’t had those problems. So it definitely was eye strain. But the problem I have now is every time I unplug or plug back in, I’m afraid that it’s just not gonna detect the display. It’s using a very typical – there’s no convertor, or anything. It uses the USB-C port on the new MacBook Pro from two years ago, or last year.
So what’s the fix or the remedy whenever it doesn’t detect it? You’ve gotta power something down, or restart your machine?
I’ve found out that I can log out and log back in. So it’s all in software. I used to restart. Logging out is just as bad, because it’s gonna kill all my terminal sessions etc.
But that fixes it. And it actually works maybe 70% of the time without having to do that.
I wonder if there’s a keylist you can refresh, or something like that.
I spent some time back in the day trying to do all the things, and there’s just nothing… So mostly I’m just like “I feel like I need to just change it.” I don’t know who to blame at this point. I feel like it’s macOS, or some sort of LG driver thing. Nobody else that I can find on the internet has this problem, so it’s one of those un-googleable things.
Ain’t that the worst?
[24:01] Yeah. So I’ve been living there thinking I need to change something in my life, but I just don’t know exactly what I want to do, so I haven’t done anything. But it seems like it’s getting worse lately.
Do you happen to have $5,000 just lying around? [laughter]
Maybe we should take out a small business loan… [laughter]
“You’re gonna get a monitor! You’re gonna get a monitor! We’ll just give them out. Sure, why not.”
That’s what I’m saying though - you asked the question earlier, “Will this be a series, or will this be a future product line?” My hope is yes, because wow, we have some terrible scenarios… So either fix the software, Apple, to not deal with Jerod’s problems…
[laughs] Come on, guys…
…or just create lesser expensive versions of this super-awesome Pro Display XDR. I mean, thank you for taking care of all the pros, but you kind of went a little too far on the pro.
Give us a semi-pro.
Yeah, dial back for the semi-pros, the farm club…
The farm league, exactly.
Yeah. We can hang there.
Display for us minor-leaguers.
We need a monitor that works better, that looks good, that has the same kind of Apple-esque or Apple tried and true attributes of amazingness, but without this amazingly high price tag, $4,999. And of course you want the nanotexture, right? Who wouldn’t. I want the nanotexture.
Well, if you’re gonna spend the money, you might as well go for the…
The question is can you even see it? Maybe… You can see the effects of it, but not see it. Anyways.
Well, let’s move on to things that we’re –
Wait, one more thing. Nick, did you hear the boos, or what I thought was boos when they mentioned the prices for the display and the stand? Did you hear that, too?
No, I don’t think I did.
I swear - and maybe someone in Slack can say this, but when they announced the prices for it… Because they went through all of it, and at the very end they’re like “This is gonna cost this much, and that is gonna cost that much”, and when they were like “The Pro Display is gonna be this much, and for Nano it’s gonna be this much, and then also the stand is a separate thing you have to buy”, I swear I heard either surprise, or boos, or just unhappiness, it sounded like. Maybe it was just grumbling, or something. I don’t know.
I might have been keying in on something else there… I was very surprised when they started going through the prices for literally everything, because I think they even mentioned if you wanted to put the vesa mount on it, it’s $199. They mentioned that on stage, and I was very surprised by that… But I guess that was the “Here’s our $1,000 awesome thing, and then don’t worry, if you can’t afford that, here’s a $200 thing that you can plug into any other crappy vesa mount.” [laughter]
Keep your vesa mount. I want counterbalance only. Counterbalance, rotate to portrait, give it to me now. Alright, we can move on, Jerod.
Okay. So I don’t think we wanna cover every single aspect… This is a two hour and fifteen minute keynote, and they were moving pretty fast, and Craig Federighi was just ripping off things; so there’s lots to talk about… So maybe what we could do is hit on things that we think are most impactful from the software developer perspective, and then also maybe things that we’ve found to be the most interesting, or features that we’re the most excited about. There was “Hey, there’s the new Memoji mumbo-jumbo!” I don’t think we need to go into all that.
That’s actually what I wanna talk about…
Oh, okay. Well, if that’s what you’re most excited about, then please…
[laughs] I was just gonna reference your note, actually… “More Memoji mumbo-jumbo.” When I saw that, I was like “Oh yeah, Jerod is not exactly excited about that.”
[27:58] I’m not excited about that… [laughs]
Right beneath that note though, however, is in all caps “Video rotation”, which I think has got to be mentioned.
That’s a huge feature.
I don’t know how often you take videos… And I often keep my device – I don’t know, what’s the feature called where you can rotate it, or you can lock the rotation of it; what is that called?
So I always leave mine mostly in locked, and then sometimes I’ll move it to unlocked if I’m gonna watch some videos, so I can just turn it. I don’t always keep it there, because it’s sort of painful… But when you have it in that mode, that means that you’re – I never know if my video is gonna be portrait, or landscape, and always somehow… The other day I took a video and I had to literally flip my phone the opposite way, upside down, because somehow when I started recording it, it locked to that perspective, and that rotation… And I was like “Wow…!” So I noticed it, and I’m like “Well, I’m not gonna stop this video. I’m just gonna rotate my phone” and kept going. But back in the day, prior to today, you could not rotate your video otherwise. You were stuck.
That’s gonna be really nice.
That one got a huge applause, because I think we’ve all been feeling that pain.
I mean, how many videos have you taken, or shared, or wanted to share, that you couldn’t because it was locked in the wrong rotation? Then you can maybe go buy a third-party app and then you’ve gotta save two videos, and all this… Why can’t you just, like a photo, change its rotation? I don’t know why. Is it that hard, do you think? I guess it’s frame-by-frame; 30 frames/second, 24 frames/second…
Well, they haven’t ever had editing tools on videos, aside from the clipping. You can crop…
Change its length, yeah.
But that’s not affecting the actual video frames; that’s affecting which frames are used. And the photo editing has always been more robust in iOS than the video. So this comes alongside more advanced video editing tools, which is nice to have too, but video rotation being the pain that everybody has been feeling - I think that’s why you all-capsed it appropriately.
So that’s a consumer thing that we’re all excited about because it makes our lives a little bit better, but from a developer perspective, I’m curious what you guys think is the biggest news with a developer focus. I have one thing I’m eyeing that I think is probably the most impactful for us developers at large. Of course, there’s other things that are specific to people developing for Apple platforms, but I’m curious what your thoughts are on big announcements that will affect more that just Apple platform developers.
I think the biggest thing – because I’m not an Apple platform developer, the biggest thing that I’m excited for, and I’m trying to weigh if I’m excited because of the consumer side of it, being able to actually use it, or being able to implement it, but it is something that from a website you’ll definitely have to implement, and that is the Sign In With Apple. I’m really excited about that, and the focus on privacy with that. Specifically, they give you garbage email addresses that are completely random for every single app, and you can enable or disable those at will, so that you have much more control over what you’re actually receiving in terms of spam… And I think that you can trust Apple a little more about what kind of data they’re going to provide to whatever you’re trying to sign into, over Facebook or Google.
Yeah, that’s what I was thinking of, for sure. When I saw that, I thought “Okay, this might actually change the web to a certain degree”, because it is a universal sign-in across all platforms that Apple uses… And it uses face ID, which is incredibly compelling from an end user perspective, because it’s just so easy and fast. And they’re actually making face ID 30% faster, which was another thing that got a huge applause… But it’s something that’s gonna be implemented maybe in Apple Pay, where it’s gonna take actual developer adoption to get it out there on the web… Because it’s gonna be instead of, or in addition to all the typical social sign-in options now.
What are the reasons why you use a third-party sign in like that? The reason why you ever sign in with Facebook, or Twitter, or others - what were the reasons, typically? Was it simply for the authentication process, or was it for the network, or was it for the “connected to the network and friends”, and being able to connect to different identities? And how does this differ?
I think the only time I ever use it is when I need to sign up fast, and I’m on my phone, and I don’t wanna fill out their sign up form. I can just push this button, then click Approve, and I’m in.
Right. Magic. Yeah.
I will never use it unless I’m given no other options. I will always look for the “Or use email” option, because I just like to have those things siloed and not all talking to each other and following each other. That being said, once I’m signed in and I’m liking a service, if they’re like “Hey, you can give value by adding this account”, maybe like you said, for the network side, like find people you already know, then I will (on a case-by-case basis) allow that. But I’ll never choose those. I’ll never sign in with Google, or Facebook, or Twitter, or GitHub, unless I have to.
Has it become generally frowned upon to offer these third-party authentication processes? I still see people doing it with GitHub and others, especially in developer tools…
Yeah. I mean, we do offer it as an option for our website, so I don’t think it’s – I’m not against it, like “This is immoral to do.” I think it’s not frowned upon either. Even new websites, you see them rolled out and they have these options.
I think if it’s the only way, sometimes, it’s kind of like “Really…? Because I feel like you’re trying to get something from me.”
Do they name this service, Apple? I missed this part of it, actually.
I think it’s called Sign In With Apple. That’s the button they put…
It’s pretty novel.
I like that.
But the cool part of it is what Nick was talking about, where in addition to the actual sign in – so what’s cool is when you do the sign in with Apple and then you Face ID, it brings up this dialog box on your phone (or, I’m assuming, in your Safari web browser) that the website can then request access to certain aspects of your profile. So kind of like an OAuth kind of thing, where it’s like, you know, they want access to this, that and the other thing, and you can click on a button that provides whatever level of access you want to grant to the website…
And one of those things is obviously your email address, but like Nick said, they have right underneath email address another option, which I think is called Random Address, or I can’t remember what they actually called it in the button… But they generate for you a unique, random address for that website, that then forwards to your actual email address. So it’s like an iCloud address hosted by Apple, which forwards to your email address that Apple knows… And it’s on a website-by-website basis, so it’s not like you get one of these obfuscated addresses; you get one for each site, so it allows you to toggle them off and on, and cut off their access down the road if you really want to.
[35:46] The one thing that I’m really concerned about with this, potentially – obviously, we don’t know how it’s going to actually be rolled out, but… The way I’m picturing it in my head right now, with that dialog that pops up, that looks like a very OS-specific dialog, and I’m thinking “On my Mac, is this going to be like Apple Pay, where I only see Apple Pay if I’m using Safari? And will I not be able to use the Sign In With Apple if I’m using Chrome, or Firefox, or something else? Will that affect adoption?” Not very many people use Safari on the desktop, so that could be a limiting factor.
Right. That’s a good point. I didn’t think about that. My guess/intuition would be it works, just like Apple Pay, and it’s probably gonna be inside Safari… Versus an OS-level thing that Chrome and Firefox etc. can use.
I’m wondering if we can speculate of their motivation for doing this. Would it just be a shot across the bow in terms of this whole focus on privacy in comparison to, say, other competitors or other large companies in the world? They’re constantly saying “Hey, you’re frowned upon for the way you’re treating people’s information and privacy.” Let’s speculate on the motivation for this.
For Apple’s motivation versus the user?
I think most of Apple’s motivations with these things, unless they have a subscription service to attach to it, I think then you fall back to the motivation being vendor lock-in, Apple ecosystem lock-in. This is yet another place where your Apple ID is now important to you.
And it’s also, I think, a good marketing thing for them, because I think they do try and focus on marketing themselves as the privacy-focused giant tech company, as opposed to Google or Facebook or Microsoft.
And this Apple Sign In would work with any platform; it’s not Apple-specific, right? We were just speculating which browsers would support it…
Any Apple platform, but then you also have on the sign inside any website, or – I’m sure there’s probably third-party apps that could use it in a similar fashion to create iCloud-based lists of users, or whatever; it would work anywhere there, but I wouldn’t expect it to have Sign In With Apple working on Android OS. Because you have to do the actual Apple authentication dance on the client side, which they wouldn’t have there unless they had kind of like a 1Password-style Apple app for Android, which seems like a stretch for what they’re willing to do.
On the Tech Crunch article I’m reading here it says “What’s the difference between other sign-ins and Sign In With Apple?” Apple says it can authenticate a user using face ID, as we’ve talked about, on their iPhone, without turning over any personal data to the third-party company.
I think if Apple’s vested interest is in secured users, or secure users in general, that would be a good motivation, not just simply lock-in. I guess it’s a version of lock-in. It’s like “Hey, if you trust us, you’re loyal”, which is a variation on lock-in I suppose, right? Loyalty.
For sure. And not to mention, every time they secure an Apple Sign In, they’re removing a Google Sign In or a Facebook Sign In, which each of one of those is valuable to their competitors.
That’s true. That’s a good point.
But for end users, it’s that random email address that I think is the real carrot for that, and just the fast face ID.
That random email address is kind of interesting though. I don’t know how it’s getting routed back, but there’s times when the application you sign in, the email address you give them becomes very important to them; sometimes in display, and sometimes in communications, and other Reply To kind of scenarios, with support… So if it’s this random email address, it’s not a known standard for how to utilize an email address in a system; these random email addresses might actually be harmful at some point.
[40:02] It definitely obfuscates it for the end website owner. If you look at it from our perspective, with Changelog.com, we have people signing in and we know their email addresses well. That’s also nice, because at times we can cross-reference that with an email address on their GitHub account, and be like “Oh yeah, we know who this person is.” And with this, it’s gonna be like User475349@apple-whatever-whatever-obfuscated-leave-me-alone.com.
Even Gravatar, for instance. That’s a feature, right? I have to give my email address, and now you can use my Gravatar. That would no longer work, because it’s gonna be some ridiculous email.
So definitely it’s better for the end user in most cases, it’s better for Apple, and then for this website implementing it there’s a slight removal of information there.
Do you think that that will affect adoption from developers?
It’s hard to say. Would it stop us? I don’t think it would stop us, necessarily. It’d make us think twice. It probably depends on each circumstance. Probably bigger websites, especially on companies that actually are selling and reselling your data, they’re not going to want to do this, because they don’t get your data.
Well, then again, if they connected some sort of Gravatar kind of scenario to it too, where these obfuscated email addresses still point back to the Apple service, and it’s gonna be Apple serving these images, instead of Gravatar… That would be one scenario solution for that. And/or just knowing at the account level what the Gravatar might be, and actually use Gravatar, and just use this obfuscated email address to point back to the account, and the account knows the Gravatar, the actual email address to associate with, you know?
Well, there was a feature that they announced with regard to messages that kind of plays into that, which is when you message new people, and you’re both on the iOS platform, you can now basically broadcast our contact info with the message. So when I message somebody new, they’re like “Hey, here’s a random phone number who’s messaging you.” They can actually send “Jerod Santo’s messaging you”, along with my avatar, and I’m not sure what else information. So in that regard, they’re kind of pushing that data to the other iOS device before it’s being requested, so they’re representing that person there, so maybe they could do a similar thing with whatever this SDK is for signing with Apple, and provide an avatar URL, or…
Yeah. I suppose it’s possible that that could be related, what information you decide to publicly share when texting someone new, for example. Maybe that’s similar information that a website would get when you’re signing in with Apple. So maybe an avatar would be built in.
I like that… I often text people when I meet people, rather than exchange business cards. I’m like “Just give me your phone number. I’ll text you right now.” I say “Hey, this is Adam Stacoviak”, and I might even follow up with all this information manually. It would be nice to be able to send an introductory text with a known iMessage user, and share some particulars with them in the process.
Can you share a contact? Can you share your own contact without prompting?
Prompting? How do you mean prompting?
So I say “Hey, nice to meet you. I’d love to meet up later”, and then… [laughs] I don’t know, this fake conversation we’re having. “We just met” and then you say “Oh, give me your phone number, I’ll text you.” So I give you my phone number, blah-blah-blah, and you type it in. Couldn’t you just send me your contact right then, without any sort of prompting? Like, I’m not requesting… As a rich object.
Yeah, you could.
I know I would consider that.
I think you might need to send a text first, and then go to your contact and then say “Share it”, and then share it with the phone number. Or go through the process of learning their name and associating their contact that they just gave you…
[44:00] No, but it’s your name. It’s your info.
Yeah, you can do that with the “share it”.
Well, I know, but you have to say who to share it to, and it’s just a number they display.
Just the phone number. They give you your phone number, and you just share your contact to them.
But then you find out they’ve got a green bubble, and you’re like “Oh…”
It’s gotta go blue. It’s not gonna work.
It’s gotta go blue.
What happens if you try to share something like a contact with a non-iPhone user?
I think it still works…
Well, vCards is just standard I believe, right?
I don’t know… I mean, I know vCard is a standard, but will they just send the vCard object or data?
I think so. I would assume so.
Would that be an MMS then? Because SMS is just text-only. Unicode.
You’re speaking a whole new language for me, man… I’m tracking you, but I don’t follow this–
If you don’t have the iMessage transport facility, you have to use a transport format, so SMS is simple messaging service, it’s Unicode text. Well, if I’m trying to send something that’s Unicode text, it’s rich data. They used to have MMS, which was multimedia messaging something-something, and I think that still exists… Do you guys remember when text messages used to cost different based on if there was a picture on there or not?
Those were dark days…
Yeah, the dark days before iMessage… Well, I’m just wondering, if you did that to a green bubble, if it would switch to an MMS, and then it would charge you 50 cents, or something.
Let’s speak about something new.
Who is excited about the support for Xbox and Playstation controllers on Apple Arcade?
It makes me more interested in gaming on–
We can’t see your hand raised, Jerod.
It’s partially up… Go ahead, Nick.
It makes me more interested in gaming on Apple TVs, but I’m not a huge gamer to begin with. The only game I have ever tried is Alto’s Adventure, and that’s easy enough to play with the simple Apple remote…
But I’ll try it. If there’s a game that comes out, I have a Playstation controller and I would try it. But I could take it or leave it, I guess.
I don’t think it’s gonna sell any subscriptions.
Or sell any Apple TVs either. I think it’s a nice-to-have… This goes back to the last time we talked, Adam. We talked about Apple Arcade.
That’s why I’m bringing it back up.
Yeah, you’re bringing it back. Well, what I was asking for then I’d still ask for.
First-party controller support…
I think it’s fair to say that Apple’s not taking gaming seriously with the Apple TV until they actually ship a controller with the Apple TV. And this is not that. This is saying “Well, you can use your Xbox or your Playstation for controller.” And to that – first of all, I’m Nintendo guy, so I don’t have those, but let’s set that aside… To that, I would say “Well, I’m just gonna play my Xbox or my PS4 then”, because there are better systems for this, and also these Apple Arcade games are designed for phones. So are they gonna have rich controls, like you would have on a console game when you play them on your Apple TV? Or is it just the up, down, left, right, that you can now use… It’s nice that you can use a nice controller for that, and it did get some cheers from the audience, because it’s definitely a better circumstance than they’re currently in with the Apple TV… I just don’t think it’s gonna really move the needle much.
I was wondering if – because why recreate the wheel, if there’s already good wheels out there that have mass adoption already, right? That was my thought, was why they chose that direction. It was like “Hey, you’ve probably already got one of these systems, and it’s a gateway. You already know the controller, you’re already familiar with it”, and maybe there’s some games that are coming out on Apple Arcade, or the future of Apple Arcade, how you can subscribe etc. that you can easily move to this system - in addition to maybe, not even replacement of - and be familiar with the controlling system already. Because hardcore gamers are really attached to their controllers.
[48:09] Right. Which is why I don’t think they’re playing games on Apple TV necessarily anyways, but… My answer to that, why I think it’s a bigger deal to ship a first-party controller as part of the package - not even as an optional part - is because as a game designer, I can’t design my game around a controller, unless I know it’s gonna be there.
And the best games take full advantage of the input devices.
That’s so true.
So you water it down, because you’re like “Well, they might have an awesome controller, or they might be using their sideways little Apple remote, so all I can do is these four buttons, because it’s the lowest common denominator.”
That’s true, and I didn’t even consider that, honestly. Inputs are a really big deal.
That’s true. As a game designer, you’re gonna have a real tough time, because you’re essentially designing a responsive game, with layers of complex user play on top of whatever input device or control system you have. And without that knowledge, you’re kind of limited in your dream.
Yup. And so you’re never gonna make the great game for Apple TV. There’s not gonna be the game that you have to get an Apple TV to play this game, because it’s the lowest common denominator games, so…
That’s why I wanted to bring this back up, because I know that for you, the last time you were saying that, this first-party support, I was thinking “I wonder if Jerod is gonna be excited about the fact that they’re partnering with two of the best controllers out there.”
It’s definitely better. Like I said, it’s a step up from the current scenario, but I don’t think it’s ultimately gonna make the Apple TV a gaming platform, all of a sudden.
Do you think that this could be kind of a stopgap solution until they come out with maybe their own gaming platform? Because it seems like that might be the way that they’re going with the game subscription…
But then also, it seems like it’s a similar thing to what they’re doing with AR. AR is not that interesting when you’re playing Minecraft and having to hold an iPad up in front of your face for the hours that you might play it, but it’s really compelling as a way to get people familiar with the technology, so that you can build glasses later.
Yeah, if that’s a progress that they’re moving, then I think that is a good strategy. It also allows them to not invest as much as they would need to. Because when you build a controller for a console or for a gaming device, you are stuck with that controller. That controller will define that unit even. Especially if you look at the Wii, and the Wii U… The Wii U was defined by its input device.
So maybe this is the way they can maybe let the market play out a little bit while they’re designing it, and not maybe dive in too fast and make a mistake… Because we know Apple is perfectly capable of building bad remotes. The Apple TV remote is not a good remote. Sorry… I like Apple hardware, but man…
What’s the number one thing you hate about it?
I never know if it’s the right side up or upside down. I’ve gotta look at it every time.
And if you grab the wrong side in complete darkness, and you tap the wrong side, you’re pausing your video, or you’re swiping and going, you’re scrubbing too far…
Unexpected gestures take place.
Unexpected gestures… Or it slips down into the couch cushion. I understand the desire for small and thin, but on my phone or my watch, when I’m mobile. I’m sitting on a couch, watching TV. Do I need to have the smallest, thinnest piece of gum to control it? I just think it’s a wrong goal.
But you know what was smaller and thinner? The previous Apple remote. And I loved that one.
Did you love that one?
I didn’t have accidental gestures, so yes.
It worked much better, but I never had love for it, because I could never find [unintelligible 00:51:58.10] [laughs]
[51:59] What drives me crazy is latency. I don’t know about you guys, but I have one – so I have a couple Apple TVs in my house, and one of them, the latency drives me crazy, from the gesture to on-screen. It’s unusable. I have to literally open up my phone and use the app instead, because that’s more reliable.
I end up having to pull the plug out of it and the restarting the whole Apple TV, and then it kind of gets back to normal.
Yeah. The latency just gets so terrible with that… It’s Bluetooth, right? Yeah. You’re obviously gonna get kind of far away; I might be 20-30 feet away, but it’s still within its limit, so I don’t see why… It’s not like it’s a complex gesture either. It’s not like three or four fingers, and there’s lots of compute, and then the gesture on the screen. It’s just one finger trying to move to the right; it seems basic. Very basic.
Speaking of latency, the Siri dictation on the Apple TV I think is one of the most latent of all interactions. You hit the button and then you sit there and you’re like “Hm…” Then you’re like “Maybe it’s working, but the UI doesn’t refresh, so I’ll start to talk”, and then you start to talk and it comes in right in the middle of you talking, so it gets the second half of your sentence… It’s terrible. It’s really bad.
I don’t really talk to that remote very much. I will say however I loved Xfinity whenever they had their talk. I don’t know if either of you guys have ever experienced Xfinity’s X1 platform, or whatever…
It is amazing. It was the first time I had ever actually used a voice-to-something on a remote… And it was amazing. I don’t have Xfinity anymore, because it’s so expensive - we now have DirecTV - but I really miss that talk feature. It was the best of all talk features, and it never failed. It was always right.
Well, speaking of top features, we’ve failed to mention the top feature for iOS, which got its own video and everything, which is Dark Mode. That’s the headliner, right?
Who’s excited about Dark Mode?
I want everything dark, all the time.
I hope my Dark Mode excitement here doesn’t get drowned out by the execution of it like it did on Mojave… Because I was not extremely happy with Dark Mode on Mojave.
I don’t rock Dark Mode on Mojave at all.
No… What I don’t like about it – so I don’t like the Dark Mode because it doesn’t look that good, on macOS at least, and then they took away this option too, which is why actually on my main desktop I’m still not on Mojave; I’m gonna wait. So under the general settings you can make your appearance graphite, and then also select the option to use Dark Menu in Dock. So because that feature is removed in Mojave, because they assume if you went dark, you’re in the Dark Mode… Well, what happens if you went dark and not in the Dark Mode? I don’t want all my apps to be dark mode, I just want my bar and my buttons to be grey tone; not all bright red/green/yellow, for example. So I didn’t move to Mojave on this machine, long story short.
Nick, you were very excited about Dark Mode on Mojave… Are you still using it?
Yup. Haven’t changed. I really like it. [laughter]
Turned it on and just kept it, huh?
Nick’s out there saying “No, Adam, you’re wrong. I love it.” [laughter]
I don’t know, I just – I mean, most of the time I have a full-screen iTerm window that’s dark. So that’s what I see. And then when I switch over to Chrome, or whatever, it’s usually blinding… But I’m actually using extensions now to make a majority of the sites that I go to, like GitHub, for example - I make that dark now. I like the look and feel of Messages, and… The only thing that sticks out like a sore thumb right now is Slack.
[55:52] Yeah… So that’s exactly it… Which doesn’t exactly make me not wanna use Dark Mode on an iOS device - like my iPhone, or whatever - but you do have to pick and choose which apps you may or may not use, because like you said, Chrome has extensions that do it… And they don’t even do it that well. They’re okay at the Dark Mode portion of it, and then Slack is behind… I mean, slack - more puns for me; thank you.
That’s two now.
They’re slacking in this Dark Mode era… And I think that everybody has their own unique ideas, but what gets dark mode well is not only the fact that it’s dark, it’s the right tones of dark, and the right usage of color to represent the things that need to be color. I think that’s where you go from – I was gonna try a couple of analogies, but I can’t. Basically, the nuance between good and great. Somebody’s good at it, and somebody’s great at it; and I only wanna use great Dark Mode apps. YouTube, for example, is pretty good with the Dark Mode app. I like their Dark Mode, it’s not bad.
But I think that’s where I kind of wanna choose Dark Mode and get the best, if I can, and if I can’t, then I’m just gonna go back to what I was using.
I think it will be a different thing on iOS, too. There’s a lot of apps that already have Dark Modes because they’re taking advantage of the true black OLED display. And I think it was the latest Accidental Tech Podcast - it was talking about the design challenges of a truly black display. You can’t really show shadows with that, because those pixels are off. So it’ll be interesting to see that… But I’m an Apple Music user, and I like it; I don’t like the white in it, so I’m excited for that to be black. Everything that I use day-to-day… Messages is one. That’ll be better black.
Yes. I’m in a similar circumstance there… Dark Mode on Mojave - I turned it on so I could talk about it in Apple Nerds Chat, and turn it right back off again. [laughter] I didn’t like it at all, and mostly it’s because it’s like the uncanny valley of darkness, because a lot of stuff is still light; like you said, the Safari browser, Slack etc. It’s like “Why go halfway if halfway not really doing anything for me?”
On mobile I do prefer dark mode at night time, so I like it dark at night and I like it light during the day, and I get that with a lot of the apps whose developers take the app very seriously… Which all happen to be a lot of the apps that I use at night time, or the early morning app, where it’s still kind of dark out, but I wanna check a few things. Tweetbot goes dark mode, Overcast, if I’m listening to a podcast at night, goes dark mode, Apollo, which is a Reddit client, goes dark mode… And these are really good on the eyes at night time, when you don’t want something super-bright… But then I’ll be like “Well, I’m gonna check my email”, and I switch to the mail app, and it just blows me away with how bright it is. So I’m excited for it, especially if I can set it up to work on a timer; so if I can have it be dark mode when the sun’s down in my locale, and light mode when it’s up, I’ll be a happy camper
I would assume that that’s the case.
Would you want it to swap on you mid-use?
For example if you’re in an app, and you’re just like “Oh! Dark mode…”
That happens sometimes, and it’s kind of cool.
You’re like, “Oh, I must have went outside… How did I end up out here?”
[laughs] “Gosh! Where are my steps taking me?”
[laughs] “I should really look up while I’m walking. I guess I’m outside now…”
Yeah… What were you gonna say, Nick?
Nothing. So Dark Mode is cool, and to recap my expectations, I sure hope they do it well.
I think on the phone it’s probably easier than on a desktop, but I could be wrong… A lot more real estate, a lot more – I don’t know. I feel like the iOS design style has – they’re similar on macOS and iOS, but not the exact same… It’s also a much more rich experience too, when you’re on desktop. So on a less rich experience, or at least from an interface perspective, it might be a little easier to execute.
[01:00:05.11] Obviously, there’s lots of little things in the iOS side which are somewhat interesting… The HomeKit secure video, they’re doing more with HomeKit… There’s HomeKit-enabled routers, which I didn’t understand even what that does, but they name Linksys and Eero as being HomeKit-enabled in the future… And I’m not sure if they expanded on what that even implies…
I think I could be wrong, but I thought it was something about more securely exposing HomeKit devices outside of your network through those routers.
So that they aren’t compromised if they do a port forward, or something…
Say that again, Nick? What is it trying to do?
I think it said that you can access HomeKit stuff outside of your home network. The router will be in charge of intelligently opening ports when it needs to, for those HomeKit devices.
They definitely mentioned security, but I didn’t actually pick up on what it was doing… But I guess that makes sense.
Well, they added the secure video stuff, which it was unfortunate that – like, I have some Arlo cameras and I don’t think they’re part of it… But they’ll be able to do processing and detection of things in those videos by sending that off to an iPad in your house, or a HomePod in your house (some other computer that can do it) and then send the data back, so it’s all being done in network, which is pretty cool. Again, marketing for “We’re the secure platform.”
I also see that my favorite - you mentioned Eero, and what else, Jerod, as the options for it? Cisco, or…?
Linksys, yeah. My preferred platform is Ubiquiti, and I use the UniFi platform, and they’re also HomeKit-ready. I don’t know if they have the router available to them, but that’d be pretty cool…
So on the iOS front, the other big news (I think) is they’re now splitting it out to iPad OS. So there’s no iOS and iPad OS, which seems reasonable; I always liked the idea of one OS to rule them all, but it definitely showed the iPad was the one that was lacking in features, and all that… So this was the part where I saw the announcement of Switch, and I saw they were doing some new UI widgets and stuff for iPad OS, but I had to hop out at that point, so… I’m not sure if you guys have details on what iPad OS is that’s different than iOS, or if it’s just a rebranding of a fork, or something…
I’ve got two notes for this - shared folders, external drives. That’s all I’ve got. I look at iPad OS – I’m not a developer on that front, so I don’t know what the nuanced difference might be, but what I can see from their UI changes is that you definitely have things that are very iOS-like, that need to be special iPad ways on the iPad. So I think in that regard it makes sense, and I’m wondering if maybe there’s just some sort of known iOS core that adds an iPad thing on top of the iOS core, for example. Maybe that’s how they actually came up with iPad OS. I can’t imagine why it would be a completely separate OS.
There’s some shared libraries, obviously…
Oh, I’m sure it isn’t completely separate. I just wonder codebase-wise, if it’s a fork, or it’s a dependency… Like, is it layered on top?
What it has that I saw as big features over iOS was the – a little bit of a change to the home screen. Not as drastic as I think some rumors were leaning towards, but you can put widgets on the home screen now, which makes widgets usable to me, because I never swipe over to that widgets view, on the phone or on the iPad. But it has that, and then it has some more advanced controls for multi-windows support, which looks pretty cool, and will make that much more usable.
[01:04:13.07] Then the other big change that I saw was you have more control over the on-screen keyboard, and you can move that around and shrink it down, so that you can just use it with one hand or one finger, and they support swipe now, so you can literally just use one finger to type, which is really nice.
That was actually a good feature, shrinking the keyboard down and moving it to either left or right, so that you can just one hand to thumb, or single-finger, holding the iPad… Because it’s a two-handed device. I would even argue that the iPhone can be a two-handed device, but it’s a different show… You know, that’s really cool that they’ve actually come up with that. I guess why would it take them so long to do something like that? You would expect that to be like “Hey, you plan to use this with two hands, and you’re not gonna be able to type with two hands if you’re holding–”
Older versions of iOS had it where it would split the keyboard in half and you’d have half the keys on the left and half the keys on the right, so you could use both thumbs. I think this will be much better.
Yeah. I used that one time and I’m like “What is this perversion? This is crazy”, and I just never used it again. I’ve actually gotten rid of the iPad and no longer have one… And ever since the phone got bigger, I haven’t missed it. Every once in a while I’ll be like “Oh, that’d be nice…”, when I see somebody reading something really big and beautiful, on a really nice screen… I’m like “Oh, I should get one of those again.”
I think this is the exact reason why they’re making the switch to iPad OS, is because they don’t want it to just be a big phone anymore; they want it to have these more distinguished features that they can sell to you.
Yeah. So here’s a feature they can sell to me - and they’re trying to, via this thing called Sidecar…
…which is an integration between iPad OS and macOS. You can use your iPad as a separate display or as an extension display of your Mac. There have been third-party apps that do this, and I think some do it pretty well… I remember way back – I had the iPad 2, and I used one back then, and it was just too slow for it really to work, but… I know there’s some software that does this, but now it’s just all integrated. So that could get me to buy an iPad.
What would make this be a selling thing for you? Why would you use it?
Because now I can use it as just an extension of what I’m already doing, so I can just have another screen on my Mac, without any sort of – it’s just another use for the device, you know?
I actually do this right now. I have the Luna Display, which is a third-party – it’s actually a USB-C dongle that you plug into your Mac, and then it does it over Wi-Fi or over the cable to the iPad, and then you can just use it as a second display. I love this when I’m getting away from my 38-inch monitor and go to a coffee shop, I can at least have my 15-inch, and then I have the 11-inch iPad… So I can throw a Slack over there, or throw something, and it is very fast. There’s hardly any lag with that device, and you can use your finger or the Apple Pencil to move around.
I’ve actually used it to stream a website that has a whiteboard that you would use your mouse to draw on. I just used the Apple Pencil on that, and it worked fantastically. But I’m just wondering, if Sidecar will eliminate all of the lag, or maybe have better features, because it might have more built-in OS abilities.
One of the examples they gave was actually somebody doing rich things on the Mac via the iPad, so I can imagine that your wishes will be granted.
And they mentioned something about like any apps that have tablet support and they put up icons for Photoshop and others - they just automatically would work with that, and I was wondering if by tablet they meant like Wacom tablets, like they just automatically will work and you’ll be able to use that, or what…
[01:08:10.17] Probably, but I’m not sure. So the other big news around macOS that also has to do with the other OS’es is the formalization of Marzipan, and the naming of Marzipan; this is the teased framework and UI kit, cross-platform thing from last year, and the junky macOS apps that came to Mojave because of it. I think it was stocks, news… I can’t remember the other ones.
Yeah, home [unintelligible 01:08:43.12] Anyways.
I don’t know. [laughter]
They’re so inconsequential… Was it the calculator?
Voice memos! Has anybody launched Voice Memos on their Mac since that happened?
I do actually use News, but that’s about it.
Do you? I use it on my phone, but I don’t think I’ve launched it… Because I just use websites.
Even the iOS app is clunky.
Yeah, it is.
Yeah, it’s not great.
I mean, they’re expecting you to name it… There’s just no swift user experience.
Anyways, they’re calling it Catalina. Or is that the name of the OS?
That’s the OS.
They’re calling it Catalyst. Sorry. Those are very similar. Catalina is the new macOS. Catalyst - that’s the name of what was Marzipan, right?
And again, I didn’t see this part, which is why I’m asking questions… Did they add to it? Did they make it better at all? Or did they just say “Hey, you can use it now.” What’s the state of the world with non-Apple developers using this framework Catalyst?
I think that’s what it is. They might have internally called it Marzipan, but nothing public-facing was ever called Marzipan.
This was announced last year, with the addition of those four apps to Mojave, but it wasn’t something that you could actually use. I’ve seen developers on Twitter who have gotten apps to work by figuring out the APIs and getting it to work, and really forcing it in, but this is the official introduction of the SDK for developers to port their iOS apps to macOS.
Gotcha. So we’re probably gonna see a whole bunch of half-arsed macOS apps coming down the pipeline, maybe the most desirable of which is gonna be Twitter, right?
Yes! That was the one that they touted.
It seems like the process of getting there too is pretty easy - just open up the project and then check the Mac checkbox, and “you’ll get a huge headstart on transitioning an iPad app to the Mac.” So maybe it’s like scaffolding, you know? Good to get started, mostly replaced.
Yeah. It’ll be really interesting, and I really hope that we don’t have just these terrible apps that are decent on iPad, but look terrible on the Mac, because it is really a whole different paradigm. You have right-click menus, and you have a menu bar, and you have all of this stuff you can do; probably more things in the background. There’s a lot that can separate a good Mac app from a good iOS app. But at the same time, I’m excited for apps that probably would never come to the Mac, to maybe come to the Mac… Specifically Overcast, I’m thinking…
And you’re saying Catalina is available today? Not to download, but is there a beta available, today, or something?
The public beta of Catalina, or of all this stuff, I think is this summer.
Okay. So they’re saying it’s available to developers right now.
Catalyst is probably available, too.
[01:11:54.04] But going back to motivations, why would Apple do this? They’re trying to rejuvenate the Mac? Are they trying to fight off Electron? Both? Those are my thoughts, but it seems like a whole lot of work, and a pretty big bet.
I think you’re right on both fronts, and it’s unfortunate, because I think that they could have a whole other platform in the forms of PWAs, like what Windows has been doing… But it seems like they’re very reluctant to have any kind of support for that whatsoever on macOS. They have it on the iOS, but it is not very great, and they did not mention anything about it in the keynote, so I’m fearful that nothing new has changed.
It’s ironic that the company that first said “We have a really sweet solution for you in terms of running apps on the phone, and they’re web apps!”, the company that said that initially, a decade later (or 11 years later now) is the most web-hostile – I don’t know if “hostile” is the right word, but they’re the least excited about web apps. They’re the more native apps to this day.
Do you think it’s because of the marketplace that the iPad has offered developers that they’re just trying to give those developers useful applications on the Mac? Sort of like almost reviving the indie Mac developer world, which seems to have kind of – I’m not in that space well enough to know this perfectly, but it seems like it’s not quite as lively as it was 6-7 years ago.
I think a lot of indie developers are going to Electron, because the fact is that they already know how to make websites, so the technologies are familiar, even if they do know how to write against the Cocoa frameworks. The Cocoa frameworks are very old; AppKit and all that is very old, and so it has a lot of cruft (this is the Mac UI frameworks). And if I can use technologies that I’m pretty good at, because I already build websites, plus I can get cross-platform support, it’s kind of the Easy button.
And the thing about indie developers is that we’re indie, we don’t have big budgets, we don’t have lots of time; we need to actually optimize for platform, with the least amount of work possible. So there’s less incentive than there’s ever been to build a native, Mac-only application, and especially put it in the Mac App Store, which has been kind of a flop, at least in comparison to the iOS App Store. So yeah, I think they’re grasping at straws, trying to say “Hey, come back…!”
There’s a lot of people who are even making Mac apps that have actually removed their applications from the App Store.
I think 1Password is potentially one of them. I think they’re still in there now, but they kind of had this weird “in there/out of there” scenario. There have been several that have actually bought from the App Store, that have then emailed me and said “Hey, we’re no longer in the App Store” for whatever reasons they had blogged about… Which were always something that was akin to the support of the indie developer lifestyle and the payment process, etc. All this extra red tape, basically… And have said “Here’s how you can migrate back to a just simply installed application.
Yeah, and I think that that was one of the themes of last year’s WWDC. I wanna say that it was Transmit by Panic that famously left the App Store because they just couldn’t do it..
Right, and they’re coming back to it…
Yeah, they announced last year that they were coming back to the Mac App Store because things have changed. They’ve been wanting to point to you and say “Hey, we are listening and we’re putting in improvements, and making things better”, and overall I think that it has. Definitely the Mac App Store that launched with Mojave is much sleeker and better. I open it occasionally to see what’s updated, but things automatically update in the background, whereas I don’t think that they really did before for me…
Right. You had to launch it to get the updater to run back then.
[01:16:04.17] Right. So hopefully they keep listening and doing this, and this is a way to maybe help developers who have been developing successful iPad and iOS apps, and just say “Hey, bring it back to the Mac”, and once they see the potential usage that they could get off of this platform, maybe they build better support for it. Or maybe it’s like a way to easily hook you in, and then also allow you to really build a compelling app that can work across all three platforms.
Yeah, the danger here is that the Mac historically has had a reputation - and one that I think it’s lived up to - of having software that was a cut above. There was less software, so on the Windows side they had the numbers. There were just millions of programs - that’s what we used to call them back then…
That’s true, we used to call them programs.
Now they’re apps… So they had millions of programs, and the Mac didn’t. But the ones that the Mac did were very polished, very personal, usually by people with design skills and sense… And you could just tell there was a lot of care put into those, because the people were very passionate about the platform… Because you had to be, because there wasn’t as much money over on this side of the fence, right? So the people really wanted to be there.
So maybe their thought is “Well, some software is better than no software, and right now no one’s writing new Mac apps, or not enough people, so this will get us some new software that we already have on our other platforms.” But there’s a real possibility - and we see it with Apple’s own app so far - that these catalyst apps, when they come to macOS, are not gonna be high-quality software… So it might actually backfire.
Maybe one last mention on software… Was anyone excited to hear about this separation, which seemed like it was even under-stated, about iTunes being broken up into Music, Podcasts and Apple TV, or Apple TV+? It’s three different apps, and now when you plug in your phone, it won’t open iTunes anymore, it will just open Finder in a tab - which is cool - and you can do whatever you want with it. It seems like iTunes is dying, basically…
Well, as podcasters, we should be excited that Apple Podcasts is gonna be promoted as its own first-class citizen on the platform. I think that’s good for podcasters.
Yeah, I agree.
I couldn’t tell if this is a – I came in when they already were announcing this… I know the Reminders app was a ground-up rewrite for iOS. Is the Apple Music for macOS a rewrite? Did they skin the old hog and put lipstick on everything else, or what?
That’s what I’m curious about. Is this the Catalina version, or the Catalyst version of the Music app from iOS?
That could be really interesting. I don’t think it is, probably, but we’ll see.
We’re gonna have to wait until the developers get their hands on the Catalina Beta, so they can start to look at the header files and pick things apart and find out what is this new Apple Podcast - is it the old iTunes with some stuff hidden, or is it a Catalyst version of the iOS Music, or is it its own thing? To be determined…
To be determined. I was excited though to hear that the Apple Podcast is getting a dedicated experience. They mentioned syncing with other devices etc, so every time somebody asks me – maybe they’re in software and they don’t even listen to many podcasts, and I have to explain the podcast world to them, which seems so hard, by the way…
What do you say, normally? I just say “It’s like radio, but you get to pick exactly what you want to listen to.”
They’re like “Well, can I listen to it on YouTube?” “Well, technically some you can… Not all…” So it’s like “Well, how do I get access to this great information?” “Well, you have to know somebody, and get through a secret door… [laughter] Use a special application, and…”
[01:20:13.28] “The password is “new england clam chowder.”
[laughs] Yeah, exactly. It feels so archaic to explain that. At least maybe if Apple leads better in this front, on the podcast front, they can really put podcasts as they are, like Spotify has been doing, as better first-class citizens in their worlds. And I think that just by nature, you’ll start to discover, because the operating system will market an application to you (for a lack of better terms), and say “You should be interested in things on this platform. Here’s some good things”, and that’s how you get into podcasting. Right now it’s somewhat that way, but the podcast app isn’t that great, and… I don’t know, it’s just not the best experience. So I’m excited to see them put more love and attention into that experience.
Speaking of love and attention, one feature they mentioned – I can’t remember if it was on the iOS side, or maybe it’s Catalyst, so everybody gets it, but they said that they’re going to start to index the audio of podcasts, and allow it to be searchable. Did you guys catch that?
Yes, that was really interesting. I was actually wondering, are they actually behind the scenes transcribing somehow everything that goes through iTunes? How do you think they’re doing that?
I think they’re gonna have to, unless they’re just actually running their models against the audio files… But my guess is that they would go speech-to-text, and then they would make the text indexed. But I don’t know, we’ll see how well it works. But what do we think that would do? I mean, it seems like an awesome feature, but I guess if you searched for the word “Catalina”, instead of finding a podcast that had the title “Catalina”, or the description - we talked about Catalina; you would just find all the episodes that we actually said the word Catalina, and then it would pull that up, I guess…
There would be a lot of results.
It might do like inner text, or… Yeah, I don’t know. It’s interesting.
It’s super-cool if you’re searching for very specific topics, you know?
Yeah. This actually mirrors something I want almost to a t. I was thinking - I listen to a lot of audible books, and I read a lot of actual books, so I’m never really sure where I get my information at, in terms of where do I [unintelligible 01:22:25.27] and especially with audible books, you can’t really earmark it or go back to it… But I would love it if all my physical books and all of my real books had some sort of search. That would be amazing. And then this is basically that for podcasts.
It would be cool, because it would all be in one spot.
Because you’ve read the book - all you wanna do is keyword search across physical books you have. Why isn’t that there? It seems like it should be there. Even audiobooks. They all have manuscripts… How hard is that? Somebody give me some search on the book…
Just keep asking for it. Just keep saying it over and over.
Well, let’s recap a little bit. We’ve got some Apple TV updates, obviously, we’ve got some watchOS updates… We didn’t even talk about Apple TV, but there’s not enough there–
We didn’t talk about watchOS…
WatchOS… I was actually excited about the new faces. I like to see new, unique faces, and maybe I’m missing this, but are faces available too developed by third-parties, or they’re still just first-party? Because if they were third-party - gosh, man… I can only imagine it’d be like ringtones; sell those things. I would like to get somebody to make watchOS faces for me. That would be amazing. If we had a Changelog watchOS, Jerod… Dang! You know what I’m saying?
I think it’s one step closer, because the watch has its own App Store now.
Yeah, it’s one step closer.
Independent apps, own App Store, streaming audio API - these are a few of the…
[01:23:58.11] That’s what I’m most excited about.
It’s gonna get you to be able to listen to podcasts on the go.
That’s right. I wonder if that meant that you’d have to have the GPS+cellular version of the watch…
I’m sure you would… Otherwise how are you gonna get that stream?
Right. So for those who…
Like me, who did not get the cell version…
I have it, and I love it. The only thing I don’t like is it’s very unreliable to sync things to it, like syncing an audiobook. Audible tells me it’ll take 277 hours to do this. But if I can just stream it, that’s much better.
That is much better.
Yeah, that’s true.
Is your cell plan capped, though? Are you gonna have overages on your watch because you’re streaming Audible?
Well, it depends – who do you use?
Well, you might then.
I don’t have the unlimited plan… I have like 20 gigs a month.
Do you have the super old school unlimited plan?
No, I can do tethering, and stuff. The super old school one you couldn’t do that.
Gotcha, yeah. I use Verizon, and all they do is have you add a device. So if you had your iPhone out and you had it in tether mode, and you had a different device tethering to it, using it as a hotspot, well that data is capped. But a device directly using its cellular connection to get the data doesn’t have a limit if you’re on unlimited… For most of the plans that I’m aware of at least. So I could be wrong about yours… But usually it’s when you’re going through another device to get the data, that’s when you’re capped; hot spot data.
As far as I know, I have 20 gigs that I can use, and it just counts towards that. My iPad actually has cellular too, and it’s the same.
Lots of iOS updates… Signing in with Apple - we talked deeply about that; some HomeKit stuff, video rotation (OMG yes, thank you), iPad OS new and improved… That’s cool - shared folders, external drives, SD cards… I mean, finally, right? I think Android has been doing that since ’99, the year before it was born.
I think Dojo even did that back in the day… Didn’t Dojo already do that? [laughs]
Dojo pioneered it. That Mac Pro is sweet. The Pro Display is unattainable. The Pro Stand is a nice add-on that costs more than my first car.
And of course, macOS, doing some cool stuff. Swift - that was pretty cool, though. Some cool stuff happening in Swiftland. I wonder if the Catalyst stuff will be open source.
I doubt it. Swift UI does look really cool, so let’s touch on that before we call it a show… This is a new framework written in Swift, for Swift, for developing user interfaces. Akin to the old interface builder, this is a Swift interface builder. It’s a declarative UI framework where you can, of course, just write the code, and they showed how little code you need to write to do all of the fully fleshed out, feature-rich table views, and all the different widgets that they have in the OS’es… But they also have this Xcode view, where it’s kind of like a split screen; on the left-hand side you have your code, on the right-hand side they have what they call Playgrounds cranked to 11th, where you can basically drag and drop things into a view of a phone, basically.
The cool thing about it is if you ever used the old interface builder, when you drag and dropped things there, it would create a zip file or a nib, which is this clunky XML file behind the scenes that you’d have in your code. This doesn’t work like that. When you drag and drop your widgets into the split-view of the Playgrounds, instead of it having an XML config that your code references, it’s actually splatting code into your code as you’re doing. You’ll have to check the video to know exactly what I’m talking about there, but it seems like a really cool new tool, and this Swift UI seems like a really nice framework, especially for people just getting started… Again, maybe another reason to develop for Apple platforms.
I’m really excited to look into it. I think I’m happy that I haven’t looked into it before now, so I can just start fresh with this.
We’ve got potentially a new coder over there, in the background?
Yeah, my son came home from school, and he’s not very happy.
I think that’s our queue to go right there.
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