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Aquarelo: A Beautifully-Designed Mac Color Utility

There are a seemingly endless number of ways to represent colors. Whether you’re a professional designer or developer, or someone who just wants to update a website template, you’ve undoubtedly come across several. The trouble with so many different formats is that it guarantees that at some point, the color value you have won’t be the one you require. Aquarelo is a beautifully-designed new Mac app that cuts through the thicket of formats to help you find the colors you want and convert them to the format you need.

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Matt Wilkinson Joins Beats 1’s Primetime Lineup

Serenity Caldwell, reporting for iMore on a major change to Beats 1's primetime lineup:

Apple's Beats 1 radio service (part of Apple Music) is shaking up its weekday primetime programming starting January 8, bringing a new DJ to its daily lineup and moving around its primetime shows.

Matt Wilkinson, who formerly hosted Beats 1's weekly Saturday alternative music show, will now join Zane Lowe, Julie Adenuga, and Ebro Darden as a weekdaily presence on the network — he'll be broadcasting live from London from 6AM-8AM ET Monday through Friday, and will have Mike D of the Beastie Boys on to celebrate his new show on January 15.

Wilkinson's deep music knowledge (he's the former NME New Music Editor) is a solid addition to Beats 1's regular programming.

Here's Caldwell again on the significance the announcement:

This is the first time since Beats 1's launch in 2015 that the primetime lineup has changed significantly: Adding another London voice at the 6-8AM ET slot will nix many of the replays and countdown shows formerly occupying that space; in addition, Julie Adenuga is moving from 3PM ET to 9AM ET, with Ebro Darden bumping up to the 3PM ET slot from the 6-8PM ET evening beat. Beats Creative Director Zane Lowe will continue to hold his flagship 12PM ET slot.

I haven't listened to Beats 1 much over the past year, but I'm going to check out Wilkinson's new show (to get an idea of Wilkinson's style, you can listen to his last show of 2017 – Episode 128 – here.)

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Reverse-Engineering the iPhone X Home Indicator Color

Nathan Gitter:

I noticed an unusual behavior of the iPhone X home indicator while working on my most recent app. The app’s background near the home indicator is purple. When the app launches, the home indicator is very light gray.

But something odd happened when I pressed the app’s “share” button, which opened a default iOS activity view (aka “share sheet”). When I hit the “cancel” button to close the activity view, the home indicator animated to a dark gray color.

Home indicator starts light, then a share sheet passing makes it dark.

Even though the background color was exactly the same, the light-colored activity view passing underneath caused the home indicator to change color. The only way to get the home indicator back to its original color was to leave the app and come back.

I had never seen this before, and it prompted my curiosity.

Fascinating study of the iPhone X's Home indicator behavior. I had no idea that the indicator adapted to background color changes within the bar itself. Don't miss the second (and more technical) half of the story with Gitter's detailed color tests.

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Jamf Now: Easily Set Up, Manage and Protect Your Apple Devices [Sponsor]

For some people, IT is a task and not a career. Jamf Now helps you manage and secure your iPad, iPhone and Mac devices at work.

For example, when a business is first starting out, it’s pretty easy to keep track of a couple of Apple devices. But as a company grows and it start to buy more tech for employees, it gets harder to keep track of everyone’s Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Figuring out how to secure an iPad that an employee lost can be tough — especially if they work remotely.

Jamf Now makes that, and much more, easier. You can check real-time inventory, configure Wi-Fi and email settings, deploy applications, protect sensitive company data, and even lock or wipe a device from anywhere. Jamf Now helps manage your devices so you can focus on your business. There’s no IT experience needed.

MacStories readers can start securing their business today — by setting up the first 3 devices for free. Add more, for just $2 a month, per device. Create your free Jamf Now account today.

Thanks to Jamf Now for supporting MacStories this week.


Panic to Discontinue Development of Transmit iOS

Panic has announced that it will remove Transmit iOS from the App Store soon. In a blog post today, Cabel Sasser explains that the revenue generated by the paid-up-front app was insufficient to justify its continued development. Sasser doesn’t rule out a return of Transmit to iOS some day, and the move does not affect the company’s other iOS apps or Transmit 5 for the Mac, but adding features to the iOS app to match those debuted in the Mac version last year would make Transmit iOS ‘a guaranteed money-loser.’

This is not Panic’s first pull-back from the App Store. In 2016, Panic pulled the plug on Status Board, its widget-style app for tracking data through web APIs. Why Transmit wasn’t sustainable on iOS is unclear:

Was the use case for this app too edge-casey or advanced? Did we overestimate the amount of file management people want to do on a portable device? Should we have focused more on document viewing capabilities? Maybe all of the above?

Although Transmit will be removed from the App Store soon, Panic updated it with iPhone X support, and existing users will still be able to download it from the App Store and use it until some future change in iOS breaks the app.

I’m sad to see Transmit go. It’s a loss for the platform, but I don’t think it’s a bad omen for ’pro’ iOS productivity apps in general. Transmit failed to get the traction necessary to sustain its further development, but there are still many examples of productivity apps that have found success on the App Store. Hopefully, Panic will find a way to bring Transmit back to iOS one day.

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Track Hyper-Local Weather Conditions With the Netatmo Weather Station

For some people, weather apps simply answer questions like ‘Do I need a coat today?’ but their appeal is much broader. Weather apps are also about science and statistics. If you enjoy the geeky data side of tracking the weather, there’s no better way satisfy that interest than by collecting measurements yourself with a weather station like the one made by Netatmo.

Weather stations, like many gadgets, run from the simple to the complex. What I like most about the Netatmo Weather Station is that it’s easy to set up and modular. That means you can start with the core system that tracks basic weather data like temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and air quality, and later, add wind speed and precipitation gauges if you want to dive deeper into tracking the weather.

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Apple Addresses the Meltdown and Spectre Exploits With Additional Mitigations to Come

In a support article, Apple has acknowledged that the recently-disclosed Meltdown and Spectre exploits, which affect virtually every CPU in computers, mobile devices, and other platforms, also impact every Mac and iOS device. Although there are no known exploits of the vulnerabilities, Apple advises that users proceed with caution and download apps from trusted sources only.

Mitigations to defend against Meltdown have already been shipped by Apple in iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, and tvOS 11.2. watchOS is unaffected by Meltdown. Development of mitigations for both exploits is ongoing and new defenses will be released to each Apple OS as they become available.

The support article published by Apple provides a high-level explanation of how each exploit works. If there’s any good news to be found in the widespread concern caused by these exploits it’s that Apple says the recently-released mitigations have no measurable impact on performance:

Our testing with public benchmarks has shown that the changes in the December 2017 updates resulted in no measurable reduction in the performance of macOS and iOS as measured by the GeekBench 4 benchmark, or in common Web browsing benchmarks such as Speedometer, JetStream, and ARES-6.

Apple’s support document also reveals that Spectre can be exploited in web browsers, including Safari, using JavaScript. Apple is working to address the problem with an update to Safari that will be released in the coming days. Apple says that:

Our current testing indicates that the upcoming Safari mitigations will have no measurable impact on the Speedometer and ARES-6 tests and an impact of less than 2.5% on the JetStream benchmark.

The gravity of the exploits, which affect virtually all computing platforms, cannot be understated, but it’s reassuring that the initial mitigations released and those coming in the days ahead should have little or no impact on performance. It’s also worth noting that this is probably not the last we’ll hear about Meltdown and Spectre. As Apple notes:

We continue to develop and test further mitigations within the operating system for the Spectre techniques, and will release them in upcoming updates of iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. 

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Apple Announces Record Holiday App Store Sales

During the week beginning on Christmas Eve, the App Store sold $890 million of apps to a record number of customers. In a press release today, Apple revealed that on New Year’s Day alone, customers bought another $300 million of apps.

“We are thrilled with the reaction to the new App Store and to see so many customers discovering and enjoying new apps and games,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “We want to thank all of the creative app developers who have made these great apps and helped to change people’s lives. In 2017 alone, iOS developers earned $26.5 billion — more than a 30 percent increase over 2016.”

That’s a big increase over 2016 and with the tenth anniversary of the App Store on the horizon, the App Store is closing in on a big milestone. Since the App Store launched in July 2008, developers have earned over $86 billion. If App Store sales continue to grow at a pace similar to 2017, developer earnings should top $100 billion just in time for the anniversary.

Apple also stated that over 2,000 ARKit-enabled apps are available in the App Store, contrary to estimates by research firm Apptopia that fewer than 1,000 ARKit apps are available.

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Explaining the Roles of the iMac Pro’s T2 Chip

Jason Snell, writing for Macworld:

Before the iMac Pro was released, there was a lot of speculation that it was part of a trend toward creating a “hybrid Mac” that is driven by both an Intel processor and an Apple-designed ARM chip like those found in other Apple devices. The iMac Pro is definitely a hybrid of a sort, but probably not the one people were expecting. With the T2, Apple is using its chip-design prowess to take more control over parts of the Mac hardware that were previously outsourced to other controllers, and reaping the benefits of integrating them all together.

The iMac Pro isn’t running iOS apps, but it does get to take advantage of most of the work Apple has done to bolster the security of iOS devices and enhance the quality of photos and video taken by iPhone cameras. Apple will almost certainly continue to push this technology into more future Mac models, because it allows Apple to use the work it’s already done on iOS to improve the features and security of the Mac.

For years, the advancement of the Mac has been tied closely with the evolution of iOS. Many of the hallmark macOS features dating back to Lion originated on the iPhone and iPad, and came to the Mac – in part – to provide greater feature parity between the differing platforms.

While the iPhone's influence on the Mac has previously played out primarily in the realm of software, that influence is clearly extending to hardware now. The 2016 MacBook Pro took the first step with its T1 chip powering the Touch Bar, but the T2 is another significant step forward. Though its benefits are largely invisible to the average user, Snell's overview of the T2 and its extensive reach throughout the system makes clear that the Touch Bar was just the beginning of ARM-enhanced Macs.

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