Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Archive for January, 2018

The Mac, the Myth, the Legend

Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac:

Following the news that Apple had refocused their plans for iOS 12 around stability and performance over new features, many were quick to liken the move to a “Snow Leopard release” of iOS. In recent years, the phrase has reached mythological status in the Apple community, a catch-all referring to stable software and “the good ol’ days” of the Mac.

But how did this perception develop? Was Mac OS X Snow Leopard really the gold standard of software releases, an undefeated champion in the halls of computing history? Believe it or not, the meme is almost as old as the software itself.

Snow Leopard practically set the template for the tick-tock MacOS release cycle: Leopard followed by Snow Leopard; Lion followed by Mountain Lion; Yosemite followed by El Capitan; Sierra followed by High Sierra.1 All of these names — and, indeed, many of these releases’ marketing pitches — imply that nearly every major new release since Leopard has been followed by a refined version of that release. However, the ostensibly refinement-type releases haven’t always been markedly faster or more stable — at least, in the x.0 release of each.

I wonder if this is partially or even largely a perception problem. If MacOS had been on a two year cycle — e.g. every refinement-type release and its associated updates were instead delivered as standard software updates — I wonder whether the bad reputation of some releases would be less pronounced. Or, perhaps, if it would simply feel like each version of MacOS is simply unreliable over a greater period of time.


  1. Mavericks being the exception to this pattern. ↩︎

Counterpoint to Rumours of the Nature of a Snow Leopard-Esque iOS Release

Stephen Hackett, on Ina Fried’s report earlier today that some iOS 12 features would be delayed until next year so the development team can focus more on reliability and quality:

That would be a bold choice in the mobile space, but in taking their foot of the gas, I hope Apple can address some core issues in iOS. That said, High Sierra was a release framed this way, and it has had a litany of problems since its launch in the fall.

And Michael Tsai:

I imagine that it’s normal for some features to get cut, so it’s not clear how much of a change this is.

[…]

All of this is to say that this sounds good on the surface, but I would have preferred to hear about schedule changes rather than feature cuts. I would be more excited about a 10.13.11 than a less ambitious 10.14.0.

While High Sierra experienced a couple of fairly serious security vulnerabilities and has its share of irritating bugs, Snow Leopard — the go-to example of a refinement-oriented release — wasn’t exactly immune. It shipped with a bug that sometimes wiped user data after logging into a guest account, a bug which took months to fix; and, like High Sierra, Snow Leopard experienced a text rendering bug as well. We should hope software gets better over time, of course, but you can look back at every single new version of MacOS and find bugs that categorically should not have shipped. I don’t expect the next version of iOS — or MacOS, for that matter — to be an exception, but I hope it is.

Telephone X

Remember that Ming-Chi Kuo investor note that was republished by AppleInsider last week, which claimed that Apple might not reduce the price of the current-generation iPhone X come September, but instead discontinue it? Well, that fairly mundane rumour was spun by all sorts of writers into an apocalyptic nightmare scenario where Apple’s flagship iPhone is barely selling and would be cancelled.

An Elite Daily writer interpreted this investor note as though no future iPhones would look or feel like the iPhone X, but Kuo’s note says that Apple will have three iPhones shipping this year with Face ID and iPhone X-like screens. A Complex writer even went so far as to claim that the iPhone X is “dead”.

The Macalope:

The Macalope isn’t surprised by what Kuo actually said at all. To him the idea behind the iPhone X has been to serve as an advanced technology release. Of course, pundits have long been after Apple to update the iPhone form factor more frequently. So it makes perfect sense they’d use a rumor of Apple updating the form factor more frequently against the company at the first chance.

I don’t think there’s a vendetta against Apple here, or anything like that. I just think some hack writers love the idea, however imaginary, of Apple’s flagship release being a complete bust. If you were to play a game of Telephone with a bunch of bad-faith writers and Kuo’s note, you’d get a similar result.

Axios: Apple Is Delaying iOS Features Previously Planned for This Year and Prioritizing Quality

Ina Fried, Axios:

Apple has shaken up its iOS software plans for 2018, delaying some features to next year in an effort to put more focus on addressing performance and quality issues, Axios has learned.

[…]

Software head Craig Federighi announced the revised plan to employees at a meeting earlier this month, shortly before he and some top lieutenants headed to a company offsite.

Pushed into 2019 are a number of features including a refresh of the home screen and in-car user interfaces, improvements to core apps like mail and updates to the picture-taking, photo editing and sharing experiences.

Reliability and quality may not be as easily saleable in the short-term compared to new features, but it can pay off in the long run as a big deposit in Apple’s so-called “brand bank”. And, for what it’s worth, there are lots of people outside Silicon Valley who struggle to keep up with the rapid pace of software changes as it is.

For me, the big question is whether MacOS will also get a quality and reliability-focused release this year, too.

Update: Mark Gurman at Bloomberg is confirming Ina Fried’s report with some additional information about what features have been delayed.

Virtual Assistants and Voice Feedback Verbosity

Paris Martineau, the Outline:

Why do voice assistants need to talk so much? If you’ve ever used one of Amazon’s ridiculous, yet rather addictive (I have two) Echo products, you know what I’m talking about: Whether you’re setting a timer, or asking her to play a podcast, Alexa just won’t shut the fuck up. Even when you give it a relatively simple command (like, “Alexa, set an alarm for 6 a.m.,” or “Alexa, set timer for five minutes” it always responds with either a partial or total repetition of your phrase (“Okay, alarm set for 6 a.m. tomorrow,” or “Timer set for five minutes”), which can be more than a little annoying when it’s two in the morning and you don’t exactly want a booming robot voice waking your roommates up a wall over.

Siri does this too, but it’s smart when used on an iPhone: voice feedback is much less verbose if you activate Siri by using a hardware button instead of saying “Hey, Siri”. Of course, it’s only able to be smarter because it has a screen.

Audio-based feedback is helpful for confirming requests on a screen-less voice-driven interaction, but I often wish these replies could be faster and less wordy. As Martineau says, it is a bit annoying when the virtual assistants get the request right, but I think it’s even more irritating when something is interpreted incorrectly. I’m sure there are some users who love the attempt at personality, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love a sliding scale where I could reduce its veneer of humanity. More generally, I’m not convinced that attempts at anthropomorphizing technology actually makes it any more useful or trustworthy.

Toggling iCloud Requires a Full Sync of iCloud Photo Library

Adam C. Engst, TidBits:

However, there’s a nasty side effect of turning iCloud off and back on: iCloud Photo Library needs to re-upload all your photos. It does this in order to compare the library’s contents to the synchronization “truth” at iCloud. Fair enough, except that this process can take days, depending on the size of your Photos library and the speed of your Internet connection. Bad Apple! We don’t see that sort of poor performance with Dropbox or Google Drive, and this behavior is both unnecessary and driving people away from iCloud Photo Library.

It turns out that there are quite a few actions that can cause your entire Photos library to be re-uploaded to iCloud […]

I keep over 350 GB of photos stored in iCloud, which would take me nearly a full week to re-upload — assuming I did not want to do anything else on my home internet connection at the time.

This is an especially bad behaviour because toggling iCloud is one of the first troubleshooting steps you’ll encounter when you try to fix anything related to iCloud or syncing. Oddly enough, both behaviours should be fixed: iCloud Photo Library should be able to more efficiently compare local and remote libraries, and toggling iCloud should not be seen as a troubleshooting step due to how interruptive it is.

Update: Whether your iCloud Photo Library is entirely re-uploaded is unclear at the moment. Engst says that his re-sync was faster than the initial iCloud Photo Library upload, so he’s not sure that it’s re-uploading everything. But Apple’s documentation indicates that it is a “re-upload”, and Kirk McElhearn (via Michael Tsai) also says that his library was re-uploaded as well.

App Annie’s Comparison of App Downloads and Revenue on Google Play and the App Store

Sarah Perez, TechCrunch:

Smartphone adoption in emerging markets just delivered the highest number of app downloads Google Play has ever seen in a quarter. According to today’s report from App Annie, Google Play app downloads topped 19 billion in Q4 2017, a new record. That also makes Google Play’s download lead over iOS its largest ever, at 145 percent.

[…]

iOS, as is typical, led Google Play by a wide margin – nearly a 2x lead – with $11.5 billion in worldwide consumer spend in the quarter, the report found. This was driven in large part by the U.S, which was number one in consumer spend market share in Q4 2017 across iOS and Google Play.

If you keep in mind that App Store downloads were less than half of Google Play downloads, that means that the earnings per app download are close to five times greater on the App Store.

Apple themselves announced several weeks ago that they saw record App Store revenues in the holiday quarter and across 2017 as a whole. That, and this report from App Annie, should mean that the App Store is a good place for developers to make money. But the money doesn’t seem to flow to independent developers; based on App Annie’s report, it seems to be going primarily to game developers in the form of in-app purchases, and subscriptions to media services like Netflix and Spotify.

Google to Let Users Hide Individual Remarketing Ads

Jon Krafcik of Google:

You visit Snow Boot Co.’s website, add a pair of boots to your shopping cart, but you don’t buy them because you want to keep looking around. The next time that you’re shopping online, Snow Boot Co. might show you ads that encourage you to come back to their site and buy those boots.

Reminder ads like these can be useful, but if you aren’t shopping for Snow Boot Co.’s boots anymore, then you don’t need a reminder about them. A new control within Ads Settings will enable you to mute Snow Boot Co.’s reminder ads. Today, we’re rolling out the ability to mute the reminder ads in apps and on websites that partner with us to show ads. We plan to expand this tool to control ads on YouTube, Search, and Gmail in the coming months. […]

“Reminder ads” is a hell of a euphemism for having a picture hawking a pair of boots follow you across every website you visit.

I find this entire announcement disingenuous. I doubt users are telling Google that they don’t want to see specific remarketing ads; I bet most users simply don’t want to be tracked across the web. This feature does nothing to address the latter. It’s a veneer of respect for users’ wishes overtop a business model built on questionable privacy practices and still-creepy behaviour.

By the way, I bet users’ “mutes” will be used to inform their ad targeting profiles. What they don’t want to see can be just as valuable to advertisers as what they would ostensibly like to see.

Grading Apple’s 2017

Jason Snell:

It’s time for our annual look back on Apple’s performance during the past year, as seen through the eyes of writers, editors, developers, podcasters, and other people who spend an awful lot of time thinking about Apple.

[…]

Judging by my panel’s responses, 2017 was something of a bounce-back year for most of Apple’s core platforms. But there was still plenty of concern to go around, especially when it came to the quality of Apple’s software.

This whole thing is worth reading, but there are some responses I’d like to highlight.

On the iPhone (responders graded products, services, and initiatives on a scale of 1–5):

“iPhone X is a 5. Apple’s messaging on the battery issues was a 1,” wrote iMore’s Serenity Caldwell. “A year that should have been a slam dunk for the company was marred by security issues and battery concerns.”

If it weren’t for Apple’s inadequate initial responses to their degraded battery mitigation software, the biggest iPhone PR problem they would have faced in 2017 would likely have been the pricing of the iPhone X — and I think that would have been almost a non-issue.

On iCloud:

“While I am happy I can finally share my storage with my family, I think Apple has still a lot of work to do when it comes to cloud,” wrote Carolina Milanesi. “Collaboration on iWork is very rudimental compared to Google Docs.”

[…]

“2017 is the year I stopped worrying about data syncing — iCloud works consistently for me,” wrote Gabe Weatherhead. “Unlike previous years, I’m actually looking forward to more things moving to iCloud. I’d like to see Apple add more Dropbox-like options but I’m pretty happy where they are going with the service.”

It is remarkable just how far iCloud has come in the past few years. If you had asked me five years ago whether I’d want Apple hosting my photo library, I’d unequivocally say “no”. These days, though, I have little concern about storing my photos in iCloud, syncing all sorts of stuff, and even switching on the Messages in the Cloud feature in the latest iOS beta release. It really is very good.

iWork is still a weak point, though. The desktop apps remain buggy, and the collaborative features aren’t as nice as those in Google Docs.1 It’s frustrating because Google Docs’ web apps are horrible compared to any iWork app, bugs and all. Right now, I don’t think there is a suite of Office-like productivity apps that’s both really nice to use and has great collaborative features.

On HomeKit:

“I’m still satisfied with walking over to the switch to turn my lights on and off,” wrote Dr. Drang. “Quite reliable.”

Me too.

On software quality:

“Dear Apple: release less frequently and release better,” wrote Jessica Dennis. “Consumers don’t really mind more time between major revisions; we vastly prefer reliability and stability.”

[…]

“Many apps and areas of the operating systems are in disrepair,” wrote Michael Tsai. “With the tradeoff triangle of schedule/features/quality, Apple has clearly been prioritizing the schedule and (to a lesser extent) features. Major OS releases ship with large numbers of bugs, and there isn’t time to fix them all before the next major release, which introduces more.”

When I posted last year’s report card, I noted that 2016 was a bad year for software quality. 2017 makes 2016 look alright by comparison.

I don’t know what’s going on at Apple. Tsai’s hypothesis makes the most sense to me, but I have no idea if it’s reflective of what’s going on inside Apple. Maybe they’re preparing major platform changes that have impacted their ability to deliver reliable software; but, even if that’s the case, currently-shipping products should take priority, right? Maybe it has become too easy to release smaller patches, so bugs are shipped because they’re comfortable fixing them post-launch to meet a schedule.

There’s one thing I’m sure has had an impact for users who actually report bugs: all bug reports must now include a sysdiagnose file and, as of a couple of iOS and MacOS versions ago, those files are hundreds of megabytes large. When I filed a report a few days ago against a relatively minor Spotlight bug in MacOS,2 I had to upload a near-400 MB sysdiagnose file and a 120 MB Spotlight diagnostics file. Both of these failed to send on the first attempt so, in the end, I had to upload over a gigabyte of data. That’s discouraging. I understand the value of diagnostic files and weeding out people who aren’t committed to filing bug reports, but you’ve got to be really committed these days if you want to file a bug report. It means that if you don’t have half an hour to commit to filing a report, you’re probably just going to ignore it; that means Apple might not be aware of it, and it might not get fixed.3

I don’t disagree with the panel’s overall scoring. Their average grades for the Mac, Apple Watch, cloud services, and internet-of-things devices ticked up marginally; but software quality really took a beating. I hope that’s a priority this year, if not the priority.


  1. We use Google Docs where I work. ↩︎

  2. When I do a unit conversion from inches to meters, I get a result; if I try from inches to metres, I don’t. rdar://36716925↩︎

  3. I filed a tech note requesting a “slim” version of sysdiagnose that would give Apple enough information for bug reporting purposes without requiring so much user commitment. If you’d like to dupe it, it’s rdar://36717471. Update: This request was closed. Apple maintains that it’s more efficient to require huge sysdiagnose files. ↩︎

AT&T’s Push for a Fake Net Neutrality Law Begins in Earnest

Karl Bode, Vice:

After successfully lobbying to kill net neutrality and broadband privacy protections, the company this week took out a full page ad (embedded below) in papers ranging from the New York Times to the Washington Post. In it, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson insists AT&T is so concerned about consumer welfare, it’s backing a new effort for an “internet bill of rights.”

[…]

In just the last few years, the company has been fined $18.6 million for helping rip off programs for the hearing impaired; fined $10.4 million for ripping off a program for low-income families; and fined $105 million for helping “crammers” by intentionally making fraudulent charges more difficult to see on customer bills.

This is the same company that also charged broadband subscribers more money simply to protect their own privacy, was caught ignoring drug dealers running a directory assistance scam, and has repeatedly been busted violating net neutrality.

Consumers certainly do need a “bill of rights” to protect them from the business-as-usual actions of AT&T and its competitors. For that reason, they shouldn’t get to write the law. Their lobbyists are hard at work getting representatives like Marsha Blackburn to introduce favourable legislation, and that’s why Americans need to speak up, and speak loudly. A collective voice that will not tolerate the loss of net neutrality is something a congressperson isn’t eager to fight.

Government Accountability Office to Investigate Sketchy Net Neutrality Comments Left on the FCC’s Website

Tom McKay, Gizmodo:

Under the tenure of its new Donald Trump-appointed chair Ajit Pai, the Federal Communications Commission recently revoked Barack Obama-era regulations mandating service providers abide by net neutrality rules. But on the way there, the agency had to overlook millions of allegedly fraudulent comments submitted to its Electronic Comment Filing System — likely corrupting one of the only methods for the public to make its voice heard during the rule-making process.

Now, the Government Accountability Office has said it will investigate the “possibility of fraud and identify theft” in the public comments on the FCC’s decision to eliminate the net neutrality rules, TechCrunch reported on Tuesday. But there’s one major caveat: It won’t do so for five months.

A reminder that an unnamed senior FCC official specifically cited spam during a press briefing as a reason why the commission ignored effectively all of the comments they received.

Coding as a Universal Language

Another great piece by Riccardo Mori:

Somehow I had missed this Tim Cook interview on The Guardian, but fortunately I have Kirk McElhearn in my RSS feeds, and his recent article The Tech Industry’s Tunnel Vision about Coding and Language has brought that interview to my attention.

Irritatingly, the article doesn’t present the full text of Cook’s contribution, just a series of quotes. And, like Kirk, I was a bit let down by this one in particular:

I think if you had to make a choice, it’s more important to learn coding than a foreign language. I know people who disagree with me on that. But coding is a global language; it’s the way you can converse with 7 billion people.

It’s easy to forget that most programming languages — and certainly all of the major ones — are written in entirely English words: if, then, while, and even shortened versions of English words like var for a variable. It’s not enough to know what words to put where; good programmers understand the specific use of these words, and that requires an understanding of the grammatical syntax of English.

What would it take for a programming language — like, say, Swift — to be translated into multiple human languages? That would be a remarkable feat, and if it truly is more important to be able to write software than to learn a second language — and I’m not convinced it is — it would open doors to lots of non-English speakers who are aching to code.

More Secure Email Isn’t Ready for Consumers Yet

Jon Christian of the Outline tried jettisoning Google for the secure confines of ProtonMail, only to find a poorly-functioning search feature ostensibly because of encrypted messages. And:

It’s worth noting that the lack of a robust search feature isn’t the only criticism of ProtonMail. Whether it provides better security depends largely on what sort of threats you’re worried about. While ProtonMail might provide some advantages to people who are concerned about government snooping, Google’s vast expertise and computing infrastructure arguably mean that it’s better equipped to defend against garden-variety hackers.

Even if you were concerned about state actors gaining access to your email, you may also be better served by a company as large as Google or Microsoft. Although they do grant many government information requests, both companies also have teams of lawyers who fight back.

In any case, email simply isn’t secure. If you’re worried about an advertising company holding onto your email, fine: use ProtonMail or, if you need full message search, try something like iCloud Mail, FastMail, or even hosting your own. If you’re worried about hackers, a bigger company is probably going to serve you better than a smaller one, assuming you have a secure, unique password for your email account. If you’re concerned about an IT manager at your organization noticing that you’re leaking confidential information to journalists, PGP-encrypted emails might help. If you have reason to believe the government really is snooping your email account, it doesn’t really matter which email provider you use.

HomePod Preorders Begin January 26 for February 9 Availability in U.S., U.K., and Australia

What a confusing and confused product launch this is. There’s very little additional information beyond what was announced at WWDC, with the exception of a feature and a technology being postponed:

Coming this year in a free software update, users will be able to play music throughout the house with multi-room audio. If HomePod is in the kitchen, users can ask Siri to play jazz in the dining room, or play the same song in each room — perfectly in sync. If there’s more than one HomePod set up in the same room, the speakers can be set up as a stereo pair for an even more immersive sound experience.

Connectivity between multiple HomePods requires AirPlay 2, which has also been postponed from its intended iOS 11.0 ship date.

Nobody likes an armchair quarterback, but hopefully you’ll forgive me for briefly indulging.

The announcement of this product at WWDC has confused me from the start. Some reports have compared the HomePod’s delay to that of the AirPods but, while the shipping delay on the latter product was regrettable, its announcement alongside the iPhone 7 — the first iPhone without a headphone jack — made complete sense. It finished the story.

This, though, is just bizarre. All things considered, a delay of about a month and a half isn’t terrible. But what difference would there have been if Apple had announced the HomePod when it was ready and simply pending regulatory approval? I don’t see any reason why the HomePod had to be announced at WWDC last June.

It might be unfair of me to suggest this. Perhaps the reason I’m so skeptical of this launch is that the HomePod was not demonstrated onstage when it was announced. Its features were described publicly; after the keynote, journalists were given small, limited demos. That’s the extent of public information on this product. I’m especially curious to know if it will be demoed at all in Apple’s retail stores — and how.

The HomePod could be a good — even great — product. But it’s not confidence-inspiring for Apple to set a public deadline, miss it, then launch the product with key features missing and almost no demonstrated capabilities of it performing as expected.

A bit of good news, though: Apple says that the HomePod will be available in France and Germany “this spring”.

FCC Report Keeps Faster Definition of Broadband

Devin Coldewey, TechCrunch:

Broadband will continue to be defined as a connection with speeds of 25 megabits down and 3 megabits up. Another proposed definition of 10 down and 1 up was decried by critics as unrealistic for several reasons; not only is it insufficient for many ordinary internet applications, but it would let providers off the hook, because they would be counted as having deployed broadband if it met this lowered standard.

Fortunately, that isn’t the case, and the 25/3 standard remains in place.

To my eyes, this proposal was clearly an effort by the current Republican-led FCC to bend the numbers and give the impression of greater broadband competition than truly exists.

The iPad’s Graduation

Ryan Christoffel wrote a great article for MacStories covering the features he’d like to see in future iOS versions for the iPad. I love a lot of his ideas — persistent background “daemons” and multiple instances of the same app, in particular — but its his conclusion that I want to draw attention to:

The iPad is already proving a formidable Mac-alternative for some users – what happens if it continues closing the gap by adopting the Mac strengths I’ve listed? If the iPad offered support for multiple instances of an app, was available in a more diverse array of hardware, allowed apps to get things done persistently in the background, was home to Xcode, Final Cut Pro, and Logic Pro equivalents, and became a proper shared device with multiple user accounts – why would people continue using the Mac?

The Mac will always have a base of users who are most comfortable with it and don’t want to transition to a new thing. But that base, in this hypothetical advanced-iPad future, likely wouldn’t be big enough to merit continued investment from Apple into the platform.

Sales of iPads are already many times greater than sales of Macs, at least in units, but the Mac has generated more revenue over the past couple of years at least. But that’s okay — I think Apple would be completely happy to cannibalize lower-end Macs by selling more iPads.

But I don’t think that necessarily means investment in the Mac will be destroyed. If anything, it could allow Apple to focus on the development of higher-end Macs. Even if everything on Christoffel’s wishlist were to appear across an iPad lineup that spans the gamut between the entry-level $329 model and some crazy $2,000 high-end iPad Pro Pro, I’m not yet convinced that investment in the Mac line would be impacted for the users who most need a more traditional computer. I think Apple would be thrilled to have two platforms that people immediately think of when they think about getting things done.

For what it’s worth, I’m also not yet convinced that it will be easy or smooth to transition to an iPad for Mac users in the awkward not-quite-Pro middle ground — for example, me. But I will be concerned about that if and when it happens for me.

iOS 11 Adoption Reaches 65%

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

iOS 11 is now installed on 65 percent of iOS devices, according to new statistics Apple shared yesterday on its App Store support page for developers.

[…]

28 percent of devices continue to use iOS 10, while earlier versions of iOS are installed on seven percent of iOS devices.

Since iOS 11 was released, its adoption rate has been quite a bit slower than iOS 10 adoption rates in 2017. In January of 2017, for example, iOS 10 was installed on 76 percent of iOS devices.

Via Michael Tsai:

This is curious because iOS has gotten more pushy about getting you to update. iOS 11 still supports the iPhone 5s, so I don’t think the difference is due to old devices that can’t update. It sounds like a large number of users are choosing not to, and living with the annoying notification prompts.

Perhaps the reason for this is that iOS 11 simply isn’t as compelling of a software update for iPhone users as was iOS 10; but hypothetically lax iPhone upgrades should, theoretically, be offset by rapid adoption on the iPad, where iOS 11 was a massive release. Or maybe fewer iOS devices have been sold with iOS 11 preinstalled, but that would conflict with Apple’s earnings forecast — they haven’t issued revised guidance on the Q1 2018 numbers that they are scheduled to announce on February 1.

While it’s still well ahead of Android update rates, I would love to know why iOS 11 has such comparatively lax adoption.1 It must be frustrating for developers who are aching to update their apps with new capabilities and more efficient API use.

Update: Farhad on Twitter:

One big thing you’re leaving out in your analysis is that many people still have 16GB iPhones and can’t be bothered to clear the ~3-5GB they need to to install the update…

This is probably true as well — even though Apple stopped selling new 16 GB iPhones with the iPhone 7, it’s going to take a long time to flush smaller-capacity devices out of the market.

Update: Another factor might be that iOS 11 dropped support for 32-bit devices and apps.


  1. My hunch — and this is just a hunch — is that reports of bugginess and instability made users wary of upgrading. The last time upgrades to a new version of iOS lagged so far behind the past major update was with iOS 8, initial releases of which were plagued by bugs. Every new iOS release has also seen breathless reporting on bugs, but it felt more widespread this year. ↩︎

Once There Was an Internet We Were Happy to Be On

Without equating or taking advantage of several unrelated and heartbreaking events — the end of the Awl and the Hairpin, 2016’s shuttering of the Toast, the destruction of Gawker the consolidation of much of our media diets behind a handful of algorithmically-served feeds, and so on — I’ve been thinking constantly about this excellent piece from two years ago by Alex Balk. Appropriately enough, it was published in the Awl:

Remember how the Internet used to be good? If you’re below a certain age you do not. Sorry. It must be awful to hear old people always going on about how the Internet once brought things other than pain, despair and a self-loathing so refined that its shame is only surpassed by the way the very idea of diving into the Internet’s bottomless well of sewage sickens you even as you leap, which you do each day despite of the vomitty feeling it inspires before, during and after. Just take my word for it, young people, there was a time when the Internet was a thing you were excited to be a part of. […]

I don’t know how accurate this is, but it certainly feels right — perhaps even more so as of late than it did when it was published.

Tim Cook Promises That a Future iOS Update Will Allow Users to Disable Degraded Battery-Triggered Performance Throttling

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

Apple had already said that a future iOS update will give users more insight into the state of their battery. In an interview with ABC News, Tim Cook was asked for his take on Apple slowing down iPhones with degraded batteries. He revealed that the developer beta including these features will be released next month, with a public release to follow after.

Moreover, he says that this forthcoming update will give users the option to disable the throttling to maintain normal CPU performance, but will be at risk of unexpected shutdowns.

This is a bizarre decision. Mayo on his own website:

I struggle to see the motivation for Apple to go further and make the behaviour optional. The existence of this setting, which will be available in a iOS developer beta released next month, is a contradiction of what Apple said in the public apology letter. The letter intelligently argues that the throttling was put in place to improve the user experience. With that context taken as truth, this revelation from Cook is essentially an announcement of a feature that users can enable to make their experience worse.

Users quite rightly felt that Apple did not clearly communicate this behaviour, but allowing users to increase the likelihood their iPhone randomly shuts off seems like a decision that’s only there to ward off complaints — and lawsuits — claiming that Apple is coaxing you to pay them to swap your battery. That justification isn’t stellar; you and I both know that the kind of people who force quit all their apps are going to recommend to their friends that they just toggle turbo mode on.

See Also: Michael Tsai’s roundup.