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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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by Jason Snell

New York Times Crossword to third-party apps: Drop dead

Everdeen Mason of the New York Times, with an abrupt announcement:

Starting Aug. 10, we will no longer support crossword play on Across Lite. This means we won’t provide downloadable .puz files for use on that platform. You can play the NYT crossword on our Crossword App and on desktop and mobile web.

This decision will limit crossword players to the Times’s own app and website. Previously, you could play it in various third-party apps, including Red Sweater’s Black Ink on Mac and iOS. This decision reduces the choices of paying subscribers and has some accessibility implications, too.

—Linked by Jason Snell

by Jason Snell

Google debuts its own chip on the Pixel 6

Google SVP Rick Osterloh unveils the new Tensor System-on-a-Chip designed by Google to power the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro phones:

Tensor was built for how people use their phones today and how people will use them in the future. As more and more features are powered by AI and ML it’s not simply about adding more computing resources, it’s about using that ML to unlock specific experiences for our Pixel users.

The team that designed our silicon wanted to make Pixel even more capable. For example, with Tensor we thought about every piece of the chip and customized it to run Google’s computational photography models. For users, this means entirely new features, plus improvements to existing ones.

Tensor enables us to make the Google phones we’ve always envisioned — phones that keep getting better, while tapping the most powerful parts of Google, all in a highly personalized experience. And with Tensor’s new security core and Titan M2, Pixel 6 will have the most layers of hardware security in any phone.

This actually works as a concise summary of Apple’s chip design strategy for the last decade.

Whether Google will actually succeed at making a phone that sells well remains to be seen, but even if the latest Pixels don’t become runaway hits, I suspect the Tensor chip design will not be going away.

—Linked by Jason Snell

Myke’s headed off on vacation, but before he goes, he’s made time to discuss last week’s Apple financial results. Then Jason welcomes special guest Julia Alexander for a mega-Upstream about ScarJo v. Disney, the future of the movies, and the current state of affairs for streaming services.

By Dan Moren

Quick Tip: Delete that pesky un-deletable folder

You put something in the trash in macOS, you empty the trash, it’s gone. That’s how it’s supposed to work.

Sometimes, though, you run into an odd hiccup. Upon my recent updates to macOS Big Sur 11.5 and 11.5.1, I ended up with a folder called “Previously Relocated Items” on my Desktop. In it was another folder…inside that, another folder…and so on until it ended in what appeared to be an alias pointing towards a system folder elsewhere1. Fine, no problem. I tossed it in the trash and hit empty.

And that’s where I hit a snag.

The Finder graciously informed me that I could not empty the trash because the operation was not permitted. I tried restarting: no dice. Venturing into Terminal to delete the folder with the trusty rm -rf command fared no better. I tried the unlink option, which removes symbolic links (or symlinks, the command-line version of aliases), but that was similarly disallowed. Even superuser privileges conferred by sudo made no difference.

So, what’s a user to do? I didn’t want to be stuck with that item in my Trash bin for the rest of my days (or until a subsequent update came along to iron things out), so I poked about a bit until I found some other folks who’d encountered the same issue, and located a solution.

That answer ended up being restarting my Mac in Recovery mode—by holding down command-R at boot—and launching the Terminal utility there to remove the offending file, which works because in Recovery the Terminal session is logged in as root.

A few caveats before you attempt this yourself: First, some suggested solutions said that in order to do this, you need to disable Apple’s System Integrity Protection (SIP), a security feature that prevents you from making certain low-level changes that could damage the operating system. This is not required, and I wouldn’t recommend turning off SIP—those protections are there for a reason.

Second, whenever you’re interacting with your machine as root, be extra careful. That’s a lot of power to wield, and a simple typo can really mess your day up. Be sure you’re deleting only the files you mean to delete, and be as specific as possible. (For example, I first used unlink to remove the problematic symlink, then removed folders one at a time, starting with the deepest and moving up.)

Finally, one issue I encountered was that—thanks to the recent changes of Apple’s file system—the new APFS protocol separates the system and your data into separate volumes. Before you can access your files via the Terminal in Recovery, you’ll need to first launch Disk Utility and mount the Data volume of your drive, which will in turn require you authenticate with your user password. Then you can use Terminal to navigate to the correct volume and remove the files.

Hopefully this helps folks who find themselves besieged by these undeleteable files. Maybe in a future update, Apple will work this issue out for itself.

  1. The X11 subsystem, if you’re curious. 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at His latest novel, The Aleph Extraction, is out now and available in fine book stores everywhere, so be sure to pick up a copy.]

By Dan Moren for Macworld

How Apple’s careful control will bring even bigger things

During Apple’s recent Q3 financial results call last week, one analyst posed an interesting question to Tim Cook: how does Apple decide which technologies it wants to build itself, as opposed to simply buying off the shelf?

Apple’s fixation on control is legendary. From the earliest days, the company prided itself on building the whole widget, hardware, and software, in an age where those two were becoming increasingly decoupled. Even today, it remains arguably the defining characteristic of the company. Just compare it to its main rivals in the smartphone or PC market.

As Apple has become larger and more successful, that focus on control over the whole widget has gotten even broader. The company’s been building its own processors for mobile devices for more than a decade, and those advancements have finally jumped to the Mac. On the other end, Apple has introduced more and more services that help provide the glue between those traditional hardware and software components. This trend isn’t about to stop any time soon; there are plenty of places where the company has decided to move its core technologies in-house.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

By Jason Snell

A Back Page: The Absurd Analyst Call

Photo by Apple

Once every three months, I have the self-inflicted privilege of producing a complete text transcript of Apple’s post-results conference call with a gaggle of financial analysts. I used to type it all out by hand, but these days I use an automated transcription service and just edit that so that it makes sense.

But this week, something strange happened. A whole portion of the call, which I never heard with my own ears, somehow ended up in the transcript. Did it happen after the rest of the world dropped off the line? Was a microphone left on? Did the automated transcription pick up words that were inaudible to human ears? I don’t know how it happened, but the results are downright unbelievable:

Operator: All righty, here’s Carol Manalist from Research Group.

Carol Manalist: Tim, Luca, congratulations on the big quarter. I was wondering, could you give any more detail on which iPhone models are the most popular?…

This is a post limited to Six Colors members.

July 30, 2021

Stephen Hackett’s Mac hardware calendar, old hardware, the Mac’s golden era (it’s now!), and picking at the thread of the tapestry that is Safari 15.

Become a member (members, sign in) to listen to this podcast and get more benefits.

By Jason Snell

Cutting the cord: Apps, savings, and a networking headache

Fubo TV on an iPad.

I cut the cord this week.

After several years of very slowly inching my way toward the precipice, it all happened in a hurry this summer: A discovery that I preferred to watch shows via Apple TV apps, even if they were also available on my TiVo. The realization that other than “Jeopardy!” and live sports, everything I watched was streaming. Wanting to simplify my TV (and remote control) setup when a TiVo was stuck in the middle of it all.

Finally, I broke down and did the math: I could replace my Xfinity cable TV and internet with AT&T gigabit fiber internet and an over-the-top TV service. And, after swapping a few streaming service freebies (Comcast gave me Peacock, AT&T gives me HBO Max), I’d get faster internet and everything running on the Apple TV—for $65 less every month.

For TV—because, yes, I’m not giving up live sports—I went with Fubo TV. I’ve already got a long, long, long list of ways the Fubo TV app could be improved—and I am going to test drive YouTube TV, which lacks a single channel that would’ve made it my choice over Fubo—but it will serve my baseball and football and “Jeopardy!” needs just fine.

In truth, even after consulting the excellent site Suppose, which lets you compare over-the-top TV services, I was disappointed to find that essentially no service offered all the channels I wanted.1 However, Fubo offered everything but TBS, which broadcasts baseball playoff games in October. So for one month, I’ll also subscribe to Sling Blue, just to get TBS, and then I’ll turn it off when the playoffs are over. Annoying, but also sort of freeing.

After years of dreaming about fiber being available in my neighborhood, the installation itself was easy. The hard part was adapting my home network to the new fiber gateway. While AT&T’s included Arris router is nifty—the optical terminal is built in, so it’s a single box—it is like every other cable box in wanting to provide firewall, routing, and wi-fi. There was no way the AT&T router’s wi-fi was going to cover my whole house the way that my two Eero boxes do, so I didn’t need its wi-fi. But I was willing to give it a try as my router.

So I switched my Eero into bridge mode, and used the AT&T box’s web interface to set up port forwarding to my server. It all worked pretty well, with one fatal exception: lack of support for an esoteric feature called “hairpin NAT.” I run a server at my house, and want it to be accessible both inside and outside my network. Hairpin NAT is a feature that realizes when you are trying to connect to an internet server (let’s call it that’s inside your network, and routes your outbound request back to the right place. With it, my scripts and widgets that reference work everywhere. Without it, they only work outside my home network.

So I decided to go back to the network setup I was using with Comcast’s router—no wi-fi, no routing, just a dumb pass-through to the Eero, which would do all the routing. I set it up using the AT&T router’s clever Passthrough mode, and… everything failed. Couldn’t load a single thing inside the house.

After an hour of pulling my hair out and trying any number of different network configurations, I finally realized what the problem was: While my Eero router was running my entire network and piping it through the AT&T router, it was relying on the AT&T router for a bunch of its network information, including DNS server addresses. While Comcast’s router was happy to tell Eero the addresses of Comcast’s servers, AT&T’s router prefers to list itself as the DNS server of record. The result: all the devices on my network tried to connect to a server that they couldn’t actually see, because the Eero stood in the way. Once I realized this, I entered AT&T’s actual DNS server addresses in Eero’s settings and rebooted, and everything fell into place.

What I’m saying is, networking is dumb.

In any event, now everything is working, our entertainment flows only out of apps on our Apple TV, and things are good. While I’m going to keep my eye on the over-the-top competition, Fubo TV gets the job done—at least well enough to make me confident in calling Comcast today and canceling my account. It’s the end—I’ll miss you most of all, TiVo!—but the moment has been prepared for. I’m ready for the future.

  1. Locals, NBC Sports Bay Area, NFL Red Zone, and Pac-12 Networks were the big ones. 

Welcome to Billionaires in Space, the show where we talk about billionaires…in space.

What services we’ve added (or subtracted) during the pandemic, our Twitter bits that deserve to be shows, what companies we would de-IPO, and the travel tech we find indispensable.

By Jason Snell for Macworld

Even iPhone chip shortages can’t slow down Apple’s money train

Among the things Wall Street likes are growth—always growth—and certainty. This past year has provided a lot of uncertainty, both in life and in business. And while Apple has done well over the last year—its latest financial results included $81 billion in revenue, the best third quarter in the company’s history—it’s also been uncertain about its future.

Once again, Apple’s executives have declined to forecast the company’s results for the next quarter. However, they were willing to predict that it would see “very strong double-digit year-over-year revenue growth” that will be lower than this quarter’s year-over-year growth rate of 36 percent. (That’s actually some guidance, albeit of the broad variety; it means next quarter’s revenue will be between $71B and $88B.) But overall uncertainty remains, about the progression of the COVID pandemic, about foreign exchange headwinds, about increased shipping costs, and most notably about whether Apple will be able to get enough component parts to make iPhones as iPhone season approaches.

Here are some of the more interesting things that I noted in Tuesday’s results and the post-results conference call that Apple CEO Tim Cook and Apple CFO Luca Maestri hold with a bunch of Wall Street analyst types.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

By Jason Snell

By Jason Snell

Apple posts $81B quarterly results: Charts

Apple posted record third-quarter results on Tuesday, featuring $81 billion in revenue. Here are the charts….

pie chart

Continue reading “Apple posts $81B quarterly results: Charts”…

By Jason Snell

Live Text comes to Intel Macs in macOS Monterey beta 4

Selecting and dragging some live text from an image on macOS Monterey.

In a surprise twist, a macOS Monterey feature previously advertised as being available only on M1 Macs will now be available on Intel Macs as well.

The feature, Live Text, uses the Neural Engine on Apple-designed processors to convert text in images into text you can select and copy. But in the just-released fourth beta of macOS Monterey, Live Text has also been enabled on Intel Macs.

My understanding is that on Intel Macs, Apple is using GPU-based processing power to do the analysis of the images. Unlike iPhones and iPads, which are commonly used to take pictures which might immediately need to be analyzed for Live Text, on the Mac there’s a little more leeway for slightly less-than-instantaneous processing of text.

That said, my understanding is that Live Text—on M1 or Intel—is never intended to present any sign that you need to wait while text is being processed. The feature should be identical on both architectures.

It seems likely that this feature was original targeted for both architectures, and then disabled on Intel Macs in early betas because it just wasn’t good enough to release. Its appearance in this beta is perhaps a positive sign that Apple isn’t rushing Intel Macs into obsolescense.

(Live Text also gets my vote for this OS update cycle’s best stealth feature. It doesn’t seem like much when it’s described, but when you use a device with Live Text enabled, it changes how you see and interact with images. It’s instantly useful in numerous contexts.)

This week Myke and Jason join Netflix in pretending to be gamers while cable TV channels pretend to be streaming services. We also ponder a smarter Apple display, and Apple has designs on fancy Hollywood real estate. And Myke goes to the Streaming Services as we discuss “Loki” and the first episode of “Ted Lasso.”

By Dan Moren for Macworld

Here’s how Apple can make iMessage better for iPhone users now

Messages is likely the most used app on Apple’s platforms—especially iOS—and with our inability over the past year and a half to meet up with people in person, it’s probably become more popular.

iMessage, the Apple-created system that powers the modern day Messages app, is coming up on its tenth birthday this fall and it’s had quite the decade. In 2016, Apple said users sent roughly 200,000 iMessages per second; it’s not hard to imagine that, five years later, in a world more technologically connected than ever, that number has grown immensely.

But for all of the popularity of iMessage, and the company’s repeated addition of new features and capabilities, there are some places where Apple’s messaging system remains somewhat frustrating or even lackluster. For obvious reasons, Apple has a lot of vested interest in keeping the program stable and simple, and it can’t implement every possible feature, but a few pop out as things that can be improved, or even just more useful.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

July 23, 2021

Listening to users, rejecting innocent apps, and self-inflicted Safari wounds.

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iDOS emulator may be removed from the App Store

Chaoji Li, developer of iDOS reports that the app has fallen afoul of Apple’s prohibition on executed code, and will probably be removed from the App Store (though it’s still available as of this writing):

The bottom line is that I can not bring myself to cut the critical functionalities of iDOS2 in order to be compliant with Apple’s policy. That would be a betrayal to all the users that have purchased this app specifically for those features. Existing users should still be able to download this app in your purchased history, however, if someday you can’t and the appstore [sic] says “removed by developer”, it’s definitely not my doing.

This is a damn shame and points, once again, to the flaws in Apple’s one-size-fits-all rulemaking. As the developer points out, iDOS runs code inside an emulation environment within the app sandbox, meaning that it’s not really a security risk. While you might be able to argue that it provides the opportunity to load objectionable content outside of the purview of the App Store…we’re talking DOS here, people. I don’t expect you’re going to find a lot of kids trawling the Internet to find an old version of Leisure Suit Larry to install. After they learn how to use DOS.1

Apple also points out that this could allow for the loading of unlicensed material that circumvents App Review, which, fair, I suppose, but again, we’re talking software that is decades old, most of which is probably classified as abandonware.

iDOS is an impressive app: heck, you can use it to install Windows 3.1 on an iPad. Wild! Apple should be in the position of celebrating the resourcefulness of its developers, not punishing them for pushing the limits of the platform.

Over the last few years, Apple has been advancing the narrative that the iPad is just as good as a traditional computer2, but if Apple is going to continue to dictate the boundaries of its capabilities by arbitrarily deciding what software can and can’t do on the platform, the truth is simple: this platform, good as it is, will never be as good as a computer. And Apple will have no one to blame but itself.

  1. DOS is by far the more objectionable content, amirite? 
  2. What’s a computer? 
—Linked by Dan Moren

How we manage email spam, the tools we use that have changed how we complete tasks, tech decluttering, and how we fix privacy problems like Pegasus.

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