Alex Guyot

77 posts on MacStories since January 2014

Alex has been writing for MacStories since 2013. As a MacStories editor he covers Apple and related technology on the site and for Club MacStories. Alex also keeps the site running smoothly and works on new technology as MacStories’ senior software engineer.

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Hazel 5 Makes the Leap from System Preferences

Hazel is a classic Mac automation tool which we last covered several years ago for version 4. This week Hazel is back with version 5, a major update which brings the tool out of System Preferences for the first time.

Previous iterations of Hazel existed as a preference pane within the macOS System Preferences app. While the interface remains pretty familiar in Hazel 5, it has finally been pulled out into its own full application.

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Sofa Adds New Design, Widgets, More Themes, and “The Pile”

Sofa is an organization app for media which we last covered earlier this year. It provides a nice interface in which you can store TV shows, movies, books, podcasts, music, and videogames. I’ve been using it mostly to organize media that I’ve already seen, for record-keeping purposes. Another option is certainly to store media that you’re planning on consuming at some point in the future.

This week marked the release of Sofa 2.12, a huge update for iOS 14 which includes a refreshed design, widgets, new themes, an “Activity” list, and a brand new element which has been dubbed “The Pile.”

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Sebastiaan de With Reviews the iPhone 12 Pro Max Camera

Sebastiaan de With, Co-founder and designer at Lux (the studio behind the Halide Mark II camera app), has written a great review of the iPhone 12 Pro Max camera:

The Pro Max was the wildcard this year. Apple devoted a whole section of their keynote to it, and we got a ton of questions about it on our Twitter. Some reviewers on the internet panned it as an indistinguishable improvement from the iPhone 12 camera, while others called it quite good.

We’ll get into the iPhone 12 camera — we have a lot of thoughts on that. But the iPhone 12 Pro Max tests were quite surprising. So surprising we’ve decided to create this whole separate post about it.

De With clearly explains the impact of the Pro Max’s larger camera sensor, including detailing some scenarios in which the post-processing of Apple’s built-in Camera app can obscure the hardware’s superior results. Some excellent photographs are provided for comparison, and de With makes the point that the highest quality can be pulled from shots taken in RAW.

The whole article has an interesting viewpoint due to it coming from a team of experts on RAW photography. Make sure to give it a read and check out the photos.

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GitHub Reinstates youtube-dl, Commits to New Policies for Protecting Developers

Last month, GitHub removed the code repository of the popular media tool youtube-dl following a DMCA takedown request by the Recording Industry Association of America. This move was met with widespread criticism, including the EFF stepping into the fray.

Today GitHub has responded decisively by reinstating youtube-dl, revising its DMCA takedown policies, and establishing a $1M developer defense fund. The new policies seem designed to extend more of the benefit of the doubt to developers, and will hopefully put an end to repositories being taken down by frivolous claims before any investigation has occurred. Make sure to check out GitHub’s post (which explains all of this quite well) to see exactly what policies they’re adjusting. As for the developer defense fund, GitHub has this to say:

Developers who are personally affected by a takedown notice or other legal claim rely on non-profits like the Software Freedom Law center and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to provide them with legal advice and support in the event that they face an IP claim, under the DMCA or otherwise. These organizations provide critical legal support to developers who would otherwise be on their own, facing off against giant corporations or consortia.

Nonetheless, developers who want to push back against unwarranted takedowns may face the risk of taking on personal liability and legal defense costs. To help them, GitHub will establish and donate $1M to a developer defense fund to help protect open source developers on GitHub from unwarranted DMCA Section 1201 takedown claims. We will immediately begin working with other members of the community to set up this fund and take other measures to collectively protect developers and safeguard developer collaboration.

If you want to support developers facing legal challenges, you can consider supporting SFLC and EFF yourself as well.

I’m pleased to see GitHub take these sweeping actions in response to this issue. Hopefully developers can now feel more at-ease when hosting their code on the industry’s largest version-control platform.

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The Independent Interviews Federighi, Joz, and Ternus on M1 Macs

Following Apple’s special event this Tuesday, The Independent scored an interview with Craig Federighi, Greg Joswiak, and John Ternus. The Apple execs provided some fascinating insight into their new M1 chips, including that the speed and battery life of the M1 Macs were far greater than even Apple had imagined they would be before the project began.

Federighi discusses the differences between the new MacBook Air and Pro as well. The Independent’s Andrew Griffin writes:

The M1 arrives at first in three different products: the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini. The latter occupies its own place in the line-up, but given that the Air and Pro now have the exact same chip, how can they stay distinct?

“Thermal capacity,” says Federighi decisively. The Pro has a fan – Apple calls it an “active cooling system” – while the Air doesn’t, and the rest of the performance flows from there.

Federighi starts sketching out a graph that will be familiar to anyone who watched the event. The thing that is really holding these chips back is heat: as you give them more cooling to play with, they become even faster. The MacBook has some other things, too – such as even more battery – but it’s that extra headroom that really allows them to roar.

The interview also discusses Apple’s chip naming strategies and their decision to not ship new laptop hardware designs alongside the new chips. Federighi even gets a chance to pour cold water on the popular theory that Big Sur is paving the way for touchscreen Macs:

“I gotta tell you when we released Big Sur, and these articles started coming out saying, ‘Oh my God, look, Apple is preparing for touch’. I was thinking like, ‘Whoa, why?’

“We had designed and evolved the look for macOS in a way that felt most comfortable and natural to us, not remotely considering something about touch.

Make sure to check out the whole article over at The Independent.

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Apple Add Automatic Updates in TestFlight 3.0

Chance Miller at 9to5Mac:

The addition of automatic updates in TestFlight is a notable improvement. This means that when you’re beta testing an application, the app will automatically update whenever a new version is released by the developer. Previously, you’d have to go to the TestFlight app and manually install updates.

For developers, this also means that it will be easier to ensure that all beta users are using the most up to date version of the app.

If you’ve ever been on a TestFlight beta, you know how great this feature addition is. Personally I fell out of the habit of checking for app updates once I enabled automatic updates in the App Store, so I’m quite excited that this change will help me stay up to date on the TestFlight betas that I’m running.

TestFlight is an App Store app, so make sure your version has been updated to 3.0 from there. Once it has been, launch the app and accept or decline the automatic updates dialog that should pop up on launch.

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The M1 Mac mini: The MacStories Overview

At today’s special event Apple announced the much-anticipated first round of Apple silicon Macs. Running the impressively fast and efficient M1 chip, Apple’s initial offering includes new MacBook Air and 13” MacBook Pro models, and an all new Mac mini.

The M1-powered Mac mini features significantly faster compute and graphics performance, two Thunderbolt/USB-4 ports, Wi-Fi 6 support, SSD storage, and significantly improved machine learning capabilities. To top it all off, the starting price has been dropped by $100.

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Apple Unveils New M1 Apple Silicon Chip for Macs

During this morning’s Apple special event stream, SVP of Hardware Technologies Johny Srouji unveiled the first Apple silicon chip for Mac. The company teased this chip at WWDC in June, but we’ve had to wait until today for the full details. Chip transitions are never undertaken lightly, so expectations were high for how significant the advantages of Apple silicon would be. Thankfully, the M1 chip does not disappoint.

The M1 ushers in one of the largest single-generation leaps in performance and power efficiency for Apple hardware in recent history. It is a system on a chip (SoC), meaning it has pulled multiple different chip types from prior Macs together into one package. Assembled using a 5-nanometer process, the M1 is packed with 16 billion transistors. The result is a highly power-efficient chip which can deliver impressive performance while maintaining the longest battery life ever for Mac laptops.

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PetaPixel Interviews Apple Executives on iPhone Camera Design Philosophy

PetaPixel had the opportunity to interview iPhone Product Line Manager Francesca Sweet and VP of Camera Software Engineering Jon McCormack regarding the new cameras in the iPhone 12 line. They cover the design philosophy behind iPhone camera systems, the new Apple ProRAW file type, and the enlarged sensors in this year’s iPhone cameras. PetaPixel’s Jaron Scheider writes:

Apple says that it’s [sic] main goal for smartphone photography is based around the idea of letting folks live their lives, and capture photos of that life without being distracted by the technology.

“As photographers, we tend to have to think a lot about things like ISO, subject motion, et cetera,” McCormack said “And Apple wants to take that away to allow people to stay in the moment, take a great photo, and get back to what they’re doing.”

He explained that while more serious photographers want to take a photo and then go through a process in editing to make it their own, Apple is doing what it can to compress that process down into the single action of capturing a frame, all with the goal of removing the distractions that could possibly take a person out of the moment.

The full article is well worth a read, and includes a variety of interesting quotes from the interview.

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