Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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What bothers Jason more, bad candy or App Store ads? Tough call. We also discuss some possible iPhone price hikes, Jason’s HomeKit (sort of) cameras, a return to macOS Ventura, and the pronunciation of Apple silicon.

By Jason Snell

Apple removes Network Locations from macOS Ventura

Network Locations in macOS 10.0.
Network Locations in Mac OS X 10.0. (via 512 Pixels)

Network Locations is a feature of macOS that, ever since version 10.0, has allowed users to switch between different sets of network configuration preferences in different environments and situations. It’s not visible in the redesigned System Preferences app of macOS Ventura—and Tyler Loch discovered that the disappearance is not an accident. Loch’s Feedback submission to Apple has been marked as “works as currently designed.”

Length of service in macOS is not reason enough to keep any feature around, but I’ve heard from several people who say they still use this feature and are upset that it’s seemingly been terminated. It’s useful in business situations where different networks have different properties. One colleague of mine says he uses the feature to debug network problems without messing up existing settings and to connect to specific devices when visiting a relative’s house.

If Apple’s truly done with this feature, it seems ripe for a third-party developer to jump in with a replacement.1

MarcoPolo had it going on.

This story jogged my memory of Mac utilities past. Way back when, two apps filled a similar role: MarcoPolo and ControlPlane (itself a fork of MarcoPolo). Both apps did Network Locations one better by automatically switching all sorts of settings, and doing it based on triggers such as changes in the network, mounted disks, discovered Bluetooth devices, and more.

Unfortunately, MarcoPolo was abandoned more than a decade ago, and ControlPlane hasn’t seen much action in a few years, with maintainer Dustin Rue announcing in May 2021 that he was looking for someone to take over the project. So clearly this hasn’t been an area with much recent interest.

Perhaps the arrival of macOS Ventura and the removal of Network Locations will spur the revival of an old project or the creation of something new. Under the hood, the control seems to still be there—Apple’s networksetup command-line tool for controlling all of this is still there in the latest Ventura beta. For the sake of those who still rely on Network Locations, I hope someone will fill the gap.

  1. A Twitter user suggested that this reverse-Sherlocking could be called “a Moriarty.” 

We discuss the future of folding phones, the utility of wild Apple rumors, how parents monitor social media, and our travel charging strategies of the moment.

IT battles, bad management, and Apple TV+ stats

John Moltz joins Jason to discuss being the person who fixes stuff, battles with IT departments, and the mystery of “TV ratings” in a streaming world.

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by Jason Snell

Apple rumored to be bidding for Big Ten college football

As a part of a longer piece (subscription required) about the Big Ten conference’s secondary and streaming college football rights negotiations, The Athletic’s Scott Dochterman writes:

Amazon Prime long was considered the favorite to pick up the Big Ten’s streaming rights, but Apple TV rejoined the negotiation following the USC/UCLA expansion announcement on June 30. NBC’s Peacock also could become a standalone streaming option if the linear network wins a Big Ten package.

Fox is the primary partner of the Big Ten, and reports are that CBS and NBC are likely buying in to split up secondary rights. With ESPN and its ESPN+ streaming service apparently out of the picture, another streaming partner is probably required. CBS’s Paramount+ or NBC’s Peacock would seem to be be the most likely destination for streamed games, but Amazon and Apple are apparently in the mix as well.

With a deal with MLB, MLS, and rumors of an NFL deal, Apple’s been on a shopping spree for live-sports right. Adding college football would definitely drive another cohort of U.S. viewers to figure out how to view Apple TV+ content.

—Linked by Jason Snell

The big story in streaming is Warner Bros. Discovery and David Zaslav’s cuts, cancellations, and the merger of HBO Max with Discovery+. Julia and Jason break it all down.

by Jason Snell

Who watched ‘Severance’? Don’t ask Ben Stiller

Kayla Cobb of Decider interviewed Ben Stiller, executive producer of the excellent “Severance” on Apple TV+. Cobb asked Stiller how Apple shares data about the show’s viewership with the people who make it, and Stiller’s response was strange, but not really surprising:

…They don’t tell, it’s really weird. They sort of give you kind of an idea. But it’s not like ratings or box office numbers or anything like that. It’s like graphs and charts that are relative… The fun thing was going to [San Diego] Comic-Con and having a full house for a panel and seeing all those people there. That was the first time I was like, “Oh, wow, this is really like… There are people who are really watching this, like human beings to connect with on it.”

This is a common complaint from the creative people involved in streaming TV. Unlike the days of Nielsen ratings, today the relative success of streaming television is data that’s treated like a trade secret. Knowing that people are liking your show, that it’s a hit or even a word-of-mouth cult sensation, can be a big boost to the energy and motivation of the people who make the shows.

The fact that Ben Stiller still doesn’t have any idea how many people watched “Severance” is par for the course in streaming TV today—this isn’t about Apple, it’s about the entire streaming business—but it’s also kind of ridiculous.

—Linked by Jason Snell

Thanks to the M2 MacBook Air, Myke has decided to live a two-laptop lifestyle. We ponder the rumored delay of iPadOS 16, whether it’s a good or bad thing, and what form a new iPad Pro might take.

By Jason Snell

iMessage and the Secret Service

I was struck by this section of a report by Politico’s Eric Geller involving the deletion of Secret Service messages related to the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol:

The phone resets occurred as the Secret Service was implementing a new mobile device management (MDM) platform, a technology that employers use to centrally manage and preserve emails, photos and other data stored on employees’ phones. Apple’s iMessages cannot be backed up by this system, because they are encrypted and stored on users’ devices, unlike regular text messages.

This explanation seemed off to me, because while iMessage data is end-to-end encrypted in transmission and not stored by Apple as a part of the transmission process, it’s not actually encrypted on the device itself. Which is why iCloud backups, which are unencrypted, can contain the entire contents of iMessage conversations. (This is a workaround that has been used by law enforcement to obtain iMessage records in numerous occasions.)

Geller goes on:

Because of this issue, the Secret Service couldn’t store iMessages in a central location the way it managed its email system and other technologies. Thus, when individual agents failed to manually back up their data before their phones were erased and reconfigured for the new management system, the only copies of those iMessages were lost.

This portion seems to suggest that this is more an issue about a failure of backing up phones before wiping them, rather than the encrypted nature of iMessage itself. I ran it by Tom Bridge, Principal Product Manager at JumpCloud and co-host of the MacAdmins podcast, in the Six Colors Discord, and here’s what he had to say:

iMessage histories may be device specific and limited, and if they were not utilizing iCloud Backup (for Federal Government Cloud Reasons) it is possible that when the devices were wiped and setup anew with the MDM — so that the devices are supervised by the new MDM — the previous history was lost.

In short, I suspect they were prohibited from using any iCloud service because iCloud isn’t FedRAMP certified for security, and when they wiped the device to set them up with the new MDM service, they could not restore even a local on-disk backup, because those backups would’ve stored the supervision identity and the MDM enrollment from the previous MDM service.

There would be a way to do this, but it would’ve been a pain in the butt to organize because it requires that you swap handsets with your nearest other handset. (Local backups CAN be restored if the device UDID is different, because the supervision identity and MDM enrollment are entangled with the hardware.)

We ran into this with a healthcare startup I used to support. When they swapped MDMs, their text history was not preserved because they did not believe iCloud’s security was adequate for their HIPAA requirements. (They later changed their mind.)

Is it possible that this was, in fact, malicious? 100% yes. Is it possible that this was, actually, unintentionally caused? Also 100% yes.

My thanks to Tom for picking through the technical details of what might have gone on here.

Apple results, Jason’s charts, Apple car exec maneuvers, and Touch ID.

How we store and share files in the cloud, the streaming video services we go to when we’re looking for something new to watch, the one computer or tablet we’d use if we could only use one, and our webcam setups.

Questions about Apple and its TV+ marketing

My Downstream co-host Julia Alexander, writing for Puck News (subscription required) about the launch of the Apple TV+ series “Black Bird”:

Anecdotally, as someone who talks to a lot of executives in the industry, conversations about “Black Bird” all go a similar way. First, they agree, it’s great. Next comes the shared observation that they hadn’t known anything about the show at all…. Maybe it’s because Apple is used to a keynote presentation creating all the press the company needs—just wait until the next iPhone announcement likely happening this September—but entertainment marketing is different from tech product marketing. 

…I was told there were concerns among producers about Apple’s commitment to marketing its shows—to the point that at least one explored hiring outside marketing gurus on their own personal dime to ensure the show got proper support…

As a former studio executive and I spoke more about their frustrations, they noted the obvious irony. Apple, worth a staggering $2.6 trillion, is the world’s most innovative product and marketing company. It seemed strange that this competency had yet to make it to the content group. 

Marketing during the era of peak TV is hard, but as someone who lives dead center in Apple’s ecosystem, I hadn’t even heard about “Black Bird” until last week, when Tim Cook mentioned it on the analyst call and I saw an extended trailer for it on last week’s “Friday Night Baseball.”

It is interesting that Apple, a master of product marketing, is perceived as struggling when it comes to promoting its entertainment shows.

—Linked by Jason Snell

Gurman: iPadOS 16 launch delayed

Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. expects to delay its next major iPad software update by about a month, taking the unusual step of not releasing it at the same time as the new iPhone software, according to people with knowledge of the matter. 

It’s unusual, but it makes sense. Not only is macOS already on a later timeline that’s not as tightly tied to the big iPhone release, but the addition of Stage Manager to iPadOS is an important moment for the iPad. The feature has been improving a lot in the summer betas, but there’s a lot more refinement to be done.

I’m glad Apple is apparently being patient with this update and not forcing it out the door when it doesn’t need to, just because that’s how it’s done it in the past.

—Linked by Jason Snell

Smart homes and dumb light switches

Mikah Sargent joins Jason to discuss smart home strategies.

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By Jason Snell for Macworld

Apple’s next big move will probably be smaller than you think

Sometimes we go astray by confusing entertainment for value. In sports, it’s a draft or (in the case of this past Tuesday in Major League Baseball) a trade deadline that provides some entertainment-who will go where?!-but in the end, very little nourishment. The sound and fury you just witnessed don’t quite signify nothing, but what they signify won’t be known for months or years.

This happens in business, too. I’m thinking about it because of an exchange in last week’s Apple conference call with analysts. Piper Sandler analyst Harsh Kumar asked Tim Cook if, since stock prices have crashed for a lot of companies, Apple was specifically looking to acquire companies to grow its services business.

“We always look and we ask ourselves how strategic it is,” Cook replied. “And we never buy just to buy or buy just for revenue purposes. But we would buy something that is strategic for us. To date, we have concentrated on smaller IP and people acquisitions. But I wouldn’t rule anything out for the future. And obviously, we are constantly surveilling the market.”

Now, Apple has a lot of money. It could buy just about anything if it wanted to. But its track record largely involves buying unknown companies and quietly swallowing them whole, leaving no trace of their existence. In other words, not entertaining. I’m sure Kumar didn’t mean it this way, but so much speculation about Apple potentially buying companies is about how exciting or spectacular it would be, not whether it makes any business sense.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

By Shelly Brisbin

OmniFocus and Voice Control: Let your voice be your taskmaster

We told you a couple of weeks ago about the latest update to OmniFocus, the task manager from The Omni Group, which adds an interesting new way to control the app – with your voice. Now we’re going to take a closer look at how it works.

To import new voice commands, navigate to the Voice Control area of Accessibility in System Preferences. Here, a collection of OmniFocus commands has been installed.

Speak to the Task Manager

The Omni Group says that OmniFocus, plus Voice Control, plus custom voice command scripts you install on your Mac or iOS device, give you full control of the app with your voice. Create tasks, change their due dates, add information, export them, and use any OmniFocus menu item.

OmniFocus’ new voice commands rely on the Voice Control accessibility feature that’s built into macOS and iOS. Enable Voice Control, then use simple spoken commands to have OmniFocus do your bidding.…

This is a post limited to Six Colors members.

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