It’s Black Friday again, either the day we release this episode if you’re in Europe, or next week, if you’re in the US. It’s the day when you can get some good deals on things you need, discounts on things you don’t need, and, if you’re not careful, you could get scammed. We discuss some best practices for buying new and used on Black Friday, and warn you about buying a used iPhone.
“Apple Inc. is overhauling how it tests software after a swarm of bugs marred the latest iPhone and iPad operating systems, according to people familiar with the shift.
When the company’s iOS 13 was released alongside the iPhone 11 in September, iPhone owners and app developers were confronted with a litany of software glitches. Apps crashed or launched slowly. Cellular signal was inconsistent. There were user interface errors in apps like Messages, system-wide search issues and problems loading emails. Some new features, such as sharing file folders over iCloud and streaming music to multiple sets of AirPods, were either delayed or are still missing. This amounted to one of the most troubled and unpolished operating system updates in Apple’s history.”
Yep. I still have problems with Mail, on my iOS devices and my Macs, along with many other issues. And, with Apple’s support being so unreliable, I still can’t use CarPlay with my iPhone.
Remember when every Apple device had an “i” in front of its name? Many still exist: the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, for example.
Now, Pro is the new i.
I would argue that in a couple of those areas, there really is a difference: the iMac Pro and the Mac Pro. But the MacBook Pro isn’t really that “pro,” and the AirPods, well, that’s just weird marketing.
So why don’t we have an Apple TV Pro? Or a Mac mini Pro? How about an Apple Watch Pro? (I know, they have the Apple Watch Edition, which, instead of meaning “better” means “expensive.” I don’t know much about the vocabulary of the fashion world, but I find the use of the word “edition” to be a bit odd.)
The problem is that Apple has diluted the meaning of the word “pro” to simply mean a device with higher specs. And they’ve proed themselves into a corner: after the pro modifier gets tired, where can they go next?
If you’ve been using a Mac for a while, and upgraded to macOS Catalina, you’ve probably seen some mention of 32-bit software. Catalina is a 64-bit operating system, and cannot run 32-bit apps. If you want to know more, here is an article I wrote about this.
In the article I link to above, I explained how to find 32-bit apps on macOS Mojave, using the System Information app. Since there is no 32-bit app support in Catalina, System Information no longer shows the bitness of apps. However, it does have a “legacy software” section.
But I have deleted or upgraded all the software listed here. I’m guessing that this list was made when I upgraded to Catalina, and hasn’t been updated. But what’s the point of having such a list? Even if I hadn’t acted on all this software, the list doesn’t make it that easy to find where it is located. One item has a path of:
This suggests that the software is, perhaps, in a disk image that was mounted on my Mac at some point, which is likely, as I did install some Steinberg software a while back. But how can that path be listed? When was this snapshot of software made?
We discuss Apple’s new 16″ MacBook Pro with a redesigned keyboard; two new entrants in the video streaming market, Apple TV+ and Disney+; a bug in Facebook’s app; Google’s Pixel 4’s face unlock; and more.
Apple Music Replay is a summary of the music you’ve listened to on Apple Music during the year. But, as in previous years, it’s so wrong that I wonder what the point is.
It starts by telling me how much I’ve listened to Apple Music.
This figure of 281 hours might be correct. Less than one hour per day. Given that I listen to music I own a lot, I’m not surprised.
Okay, so, next, it tells me how many different artists I’ve listened to.
Only 32 artists? I call BS on that. I’ve easily listened to a hundred different artists or more. I think they may not be counting Apple Music Radio stations, but still, I’ve listened to a lot more than that.
So how many albums have I listened to?
Only 26 albums? If I’ve got 92 plays – that’s individual tracks – on Another Green World, with 14 tracks on the album, that means that I’ve listened to it 6.5 times. Yes, they’re aggregating all the tracks, but still. If that’s my top album, and it’s 41 minutes long, that’s, well, 266 minutes, or a bit over four hours.
If I look at my Recently Played section of Apple Music For You, I see about 36 albums (some of the recently played items are playlists that I’ve cerated, or radio stations). That’s just in, I think, the past month.
If I look at the Recently Played smart playlist on my Mac that uses Cloud Music Library, which shows everything I’ve listened to on Apple Music, there are 166 albums, from 98 artists, which makes a lot more sense. However, the time shows as 4:06:13:09, or 4 months, 6 days, 13 hours, and 9 minutes. That’s about 3,037 minutes, or 126 hours. This doesn’t include Apple Music radio stations, but only music that’s in my library. I do listen to a lot of music that I don’t add to my Apple Music library.
So I’ve listened to music from 166 albums that are in my Apple Music library; and at least another 115 hours of music not in my library. But Apple Music says I’ve only listened to 32 artists and 24 albums.
I’m not sure I get the point of this. It shouldn’t be that hard to get some of these numbers right.
Designer Khoi Vinh weighs in on a recent article called The Ultimate Guide to Strong Passwords in 2019, by Jon Xavier. This article points out how to have the strongest password: how long it should be, that it doesn’t need special characters or numbers, that there’s no need to regularly change it unless it has been compromized, etc.
Vinh points out my biggest annoyances with password managers (like him, I use 1Password).
It’s also difficult for a password manager to understand when a password is applicable to more than one site or app. Once a password is created, it’s often matched exclusively to the domain of that site. So if your login is also valid on a closely related site, as is the case with many sites from large companies, the password manager won’t automatically recognize the relationship and present the relevant login.
I have lots of sites where I have passwords stored for login.domain.com, user.domain.com, domain.com, etc. If I just look at Apple, which has a number of sub-domains, and check one of my passwords, 1Password shows me this:
They’re not “reused,” they are just used with different subdomains:
Arguably, some of these are no longer used, but 1Password cannot understand that it is not wrong to use the same password for all these sites. I understand that there are cases where different sub-domains should have different passwords, but a password manager should be able to allow you to map a password to a domain regardless of its subdomain.
Another example is Amazon. You may not know this, but if you have an account with one Amazon store, you can use it in any Amazon store (US, UK, Canada, etc.). I do use multiple Amazon stores, and have a separate login in 1Password for each one. So there is a long list of Amazon logins, with various subdomains – 54 in all – and these can’t all be grouped. The ones with different sub-domains can, but each store (each country) has a different top-level domain.
Now that you sync your iOS devices (if you ever sync them) in the Finder in macOS Catalina, you may have noticed that you no longer see your device’s phone number and serial number at the top of the sync window. In the Finder, you see very little information about your device:
However, there is plenty of information available if you know where to look for it. If you click the line where it says the model of your device, and its storage, you see more information:
Click again, then again, to see all three information sections:
If you right-click on any of these lines, you can choose Copy to copy all of the information each line displays to the clipboard, in case you need to provide any of this data to your carrier, or to Apple support.
With the release of iPadOS, the iPad has become a serious competitor to a laptop. While you can’t do everything on an iPad that you can on a laptop, the gulf between the two is getting slimmer. We talk with Ian Schray, a dedicated iPad user, about replacing a laptop with an iPad.
Apple has long been one of the leaders in accessibility on its computers and mobile devices. Accessibility, in computing, according to Wikipedia:
refers to the accessibility of a computer system to all people, regardless of disability type or severity of impairment. The term accessibility is most often used in reference to specialized hardware or software, or a combination of both, designed to enable use of a computer by a person with a disability or impairment. Specific technologies may be referred to as assistive technology.
Both on the Mac and on iOS, there are a number of accessibility settings, to help users see, hear, and work with their devices.
But Apple is also using this term, and the same “human” icon in another location on macOS Catalina. It is found in the Security & Privacy pane of System Preferences.
This section is where you allow apps to control your Mac; you give explicit authorization, through a number of alerts and dialogs, to apps to allow them to interact with other apps.
This latter use of the term accessibility is simply wrong. Yes, it is about accessing your Mac, but this is a term with a very clear meaning in computing. And using the same icon for accessibility in these settings makes it look as though these settings somehow affect how a user interacts with the Mac.
In a chat today, my colleague Craig Grannell, who has written a lot about accessibility, said this:
Accessibility is too often where things go that Apple doesn’t really want you to trigger. On macOS, there is no good reason why the transparency settings aren’t in General.
There are a lot of settings on the Mac that are wedged into the Accessibility preferences that should be more obvious, and Reduce transparency is certainly one of them. (And I’d argue that the term should be “translucency,” not transparency…) Voice control is another. While it is designed for people with physical limitations, the dictation feature can be used by anyone to convert speech to text, especially now that Nuance has discontinued its Dragon software on macOS.
Pointer control should be in the Trackpad and Mouse preferences. This is where you set a double-click speed, and where you adjust the spring-loaded folder delay.
On iOS, there are even more essential settings filed under accessibility, but some of these settings are also found elsewhere. For example, to change the system font size, you can go to Display & Brightness, or to Accessibility. In Accessibility, you can activate auto-brightness, which you cannot access where you would expect (I’d expect that setting to be in Display & Brightness).
Settings for the Magnifier are in Accessibility, whereas this is a feature that is not just for visually impaired people. Reachability, a feature designed for one-handed access to the larger displays of iPhones, is also hidden in Accessibility, as are Tap to Wake and Shake to Undo.
Accessibility is essential, and it’s not just for people with handicaps or disabilities. Apple really needs to make all this more coherent, providing more logic in how settings are organized, and especially changing the way they describe the security setting that allows apps to control your Mac, which has nothing at all to do with accessibility.