Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

Support this Site

Become a Six Colors member and get access to an exclusive weekly podcast, community, newsletter and more.

By Jason Snell


John Gruber and Ben Thompson launched a new paid podcast this spring. You’ve probably heard about it.

I’ve been listening to every episode since the public launch, and I am happy to report that I think it’s absolutely worth the $5 per month or $50 per year subscription. For that price, you get three 15-minute episodes a week about the hot topics of the day from two of the brightest minds in tech. By my calculations that’s about two cents per minute. Two and a half cents if you pay by the month. “Cheap,” as the saying goes.

I know subscription fatigue is real—and you’ve already been asked to pay for this site and many others, and to support pretty much every podcast under the sun. You have to pick your spots. But if you’ve been dithering about Dithering, I suggest you give it a try.

This week Myke and Jason discuss John Gruber’s essay about Apple’s App Store priorities and then assemble a list of apps that are missing key operating-system features. There’s also more news about ARM Macs, Apple continues to make TV deals, and we discuss our favorite features of the iOS and iPadOS Public Betas.

By Jason Snell

The Comeback of Fun in Visual Design

Designer Michael Farup suggests that macOS Big Sur will start the pendulum swinging back away from minimalism and toward richness, across the entire technology industry:

Given the chance of a redesign on the mac, Apple did not choose minimalism as the single guiding design pillar. In fact, they doubled down on expressiveness, added depth, gaussian blur shadows, angled lighting and real lifelike objects. Sure, it’s not consistent and we lost some expressiveness elsewhere (🥃 pour one out for detailed toolbar icons), but generally this is like a green light turning on for more expressiveness and ultimately more fun in visual design. They didn’t just keep this for nostalgia’s sake, they developed it further. They advanced it and are pushing it out to millions of Mac users later this year.

(Via Charles Arthur, who points out that Apple’s new richer design approach is also pretty inconsistent, as one look at the Chess, Disk Utility, and Preview icons will reveal.)

By Jason Snell

Benjamin Mayo on WWDC’s format

I think this is a pretty fair take from Benjamin Mayo about finding a balance between “traditional” WWDC and what we saw in June:

Doing something live, truly live, has this effervescent ambience that will never be matched by something that has been filmed ahead of time. The lingering danger of something going wrong with the demo is palpable, and that’s what makes live events great…. I want to see a show, not watch a marketing video. The risk of live is what makes it.

The technical sessions were also all pre-recorded this year … and they should keep them that way. It was brilliant. The seminar format conveyed the information with more detail and more clarity. For learning materials, that’s exactly what you want….

In the hypothetical future, WWDC would still be an in-person event with consumer Keynote and developer State of the Union presentations on the Monday. Session videos would then be released that evening, leaving the rest of the week for extended labs, mixers and hands-on workshops for the developers in attendance.

I don’t know if WWDC will ever return in its prior form, but if it does come back in some way, I agree with this view—the technical sessions being pre-recorded was a smash hit. Maybe the keynote and State of the Union events could be live in front of an audience, and there’s a question about how to fill out the rest of the week. But the bottom line is, I want WWDC to return in person and I want the technical sessions to be like WWDC 2020 forever.

July 10, 2020

It’s public beta season, and we’re stalking the purple elephant.

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

By Jason Snell

Federico Viticci on the iPadOS 14 Public Beta

As you might expect, this is a great high-level overview of the themes of iPadOS 14 from Federico Viticci:

Even more than last year, I believe that “inspired by the Mac” is the lens through which iPadOS 14 is best examined.

Agreed completely. It’s fascinating to watch the iPad and the Mac take features from one another, with the iPad picking up some classic Mac features and rethinking them in the context of modern device and input types.

By Jason Snell

First Look: iOS 14 Public Beta

On Thursday Apple’s releasing the first Public Beta of iOS 14, which it introduced at WWDC in June.

As always, you should think twice before installing any beta operating system on a device you rely on. Not only will there be annoying bugs, but many of your favorite App Store apps will not have been tested on the new software, let alone updated to take advantage of any new features. Running iOS betas can be fun, but it can also be frustrating, so only give it a try if you are willing to trade some stability and serenity for the sweet taste of running this fall’s iPhone OS this summer.

And there are so many tastes to be had in iOS 14, which is a surprisingly expansive update. There’s a huge overhaul to the home screen and a few other areas that change how the iPhone looks in some fundamental ways. And of course, there are a host of app and feature updates, too. Here’s a guide to some of the biggest features to look for when you’re considering an update.

Continue reading “First Look: iOS 14 Public Beta”…

By Dan Moren

First Look: iPadOS 14 Public Beta

Siri UI
Siri’s UI no longer takes over the whole screen in iPadOS 14.

The latest update to Apple’s tablet operating system is a bit of a contradiction. Yes, it’s full of new features and enhancements, but at the same time, a few of the most prominent features of its sibling iOS are nowhere to be found here.

Apple is always balancing its priorities, and some years one device or another might get more attention. This year seems to be an off-one for the iPad, but even if it doesn’t get all the bells and whistles as the iPhone, but it’s still got more than a few significant changes. Let’s take a look at a few of the biggest updates.

Continue reading “First Look: iPadOS 14 Public Beta”…

By Stephen Hackett

The Hackett File: A Tour of System Preferences in Big Sur

Any time there is a big set of UI changes in macOS, I like to see what Apple has done to the System Preferences app. As you can see, Catalina and Big Sur’s versions of the app are pretty different:

Big Sur is still pretty early in its beta lifecycle, so some of these decisions could change over time (and I’m sure the Notifications icon will be swapped for a high-resolution one) but I think we can get a good feel for where Apple is going here.…

This is a post limited to Six Colors members.

This is a great time for sitting at home and watching things so let’s talk about what’s on the telly. (Brought to you by our new Rebound Prime membership!)

This week, on the 30-minute tech show that knows how to Tik Tok, Dan and guest host Jason Snell are joined by special guests Ant Pruitt and Kathy Campbell to discuss how staying home has impacted our use of social media, the tech we’ve ordered since the start of the pandemic, the subscription service we’d recommend to others, and low-tech solutions to high tech problems.

By Jason Snell for Macworld

Touch Bar: Mend it or end it?

The arrival of Macs running Apple silicon isn’t just about faster, more power efficient processors. It’s also an opportunity for Apple to reinvent Mac hardware using lessons learned from the iPhone and iPad.

Apple can take this time to also reconsider some Mac hardware decisions of the past decade, most notably the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro. While some users swear by it, the Touch Bar generally seems to have been received with indifference or scorn. Updates over the years have done almost nothing to improve it, making me wonder if even Apple has truly embraced the thing.

By the end of this year, Apple will begin rolling out those new Macs. Sooner or later, the Intel MacBook Pro will be replaced with a model running on Apple silicon. Here’s the big question: Does that laptop have a Touch Bar at all? And if so, will it be the same… or different?

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

By Jason Snell

Going digital draws Gary Larson back to ‘The Far Side’

Legendary cartoonist Gary Larson is back, and it’s all due to digital drawing tools and a clogged pen:

Despite my retirement, I still had intermittent connections to cartooning, including my wife’s and my personal Christmas card. Once a year, I’d sit myself down to take on Santa, and every year it began with the same ritual: me cursing at, and then cleaning out, my clogged pen…

So a few years ago—finally fed up with my once-loyal but now reliably traitorous pen—I decided to try a digital tablet. I knew nothing about these devices but hoped it would just get me through my annual Christmas card ordeal. I got one, fired it up, and lo and behold, something totally unexpected happened: within moments, I was having fun drawing again. I was stunned at all the tools the thing offered, all the creative potential it contained. I simply had no idea how far these things had evolved. Perhaps fittingly, the first thing I drew was a caveman.

Larson’s first three new cartoons that he’s drawing just for fun are recognizably The Far Side—but it’s impossible not to notice the details and textures that are a product of his new set of digital drawing tools. Also, this one keeps making me laugh out loud, and I can’t figure out quite why.

That’s The Far Side at its best, if you ask me.

Apple’s services are in the spotlight, as Apple TV+ adds material, Apple News gets kicked to the curb by the New York Times, and Apple Arcade grapples with finding the right kind of games to publish. In other streaming news, we touch on Quibi and CBS before diving into Disney+—most specifically, Myke at the Matinee featuring “Hamilton.”

By Dan Moren for Macworld

The Mac never left, but it’s about to have a comeback

There’s never been a more exciting time to be a Mac user.

And I say that as someone who’s been one for nearly 30 years now, ever since my dad brought home a Macintosh LC in 1991. I lived through the transition to PowerPC, the dark years of the nineties, and the move to both Mac OS X and Intel processors.

Through all that time, the Mac has remained my workhorse. But in recent years, it often seemed as though the old stalwart had been overshadowed by the flashier iPhone and iPad lines, relegated to an afterthought in Apple’s mind.

After this year’s WWDC, however, the Mac is looking more like the Apple product that’s poised to have a huge impact. As we consider the calendar of the next couple years, there is a tremendous amount for Mac users to get excited about.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

By Jason Snell

What changes might be coming to new Mac hardware?

macOS Big Sur
macOS Big Sur is a big software change. Will the hardware follow?

This week on Upgrade, Myke Hurley and I had some fun envisioning what features Apple might have been waiting to add to Macs until the switch to Apple-designed processors.

When the Intel transition happened, Apple was extremely restrained. The first Intel Macs were more or less the existing PowerPC Macs, but with Intel processors inside. The message was clear: Steady as she goes, no need to be concerned, these Macs are the same ones you loved, but with a different kind of chip inside.

I suppose Apple could play that game again with this transition, but I don’t think it will. Part of it is my guess that Apple’s been champing at the bit to roll all sorts of iOS features into the Mac for years, but has been limited by Intel’s architecture. What the Mac has gotten is the stuff that was enabled by the T2 chip—biometric ID, better camera control, secure storage, and security features. But there are plenty of features that haven’t come over from the iPhone and iPad, and now might be the time.

Then there’s macOS Big Sur. If Apple intended to send a message that this fall is all part of a simple, orderly transition that won’t affect users and will keep the Mac we all know and love chugging away, it would release a boring OS update with some new features and some bug fixes. Big Sur is the opposite. It’s a new interface design, and on Macs with Apple silicon, it will be paired with the ability to run unmodified iPad and iPhone apps.

Take a look at Big Sur’s rounded corners, spaced-out menus, and expanded Control Center and tell me that there isn’t going to be some dramatic new Apple hardware to go with this dramatic new operating-system release. I can’t see it. Big Sur is the start of a new Mac era, and the hardware designed to run on it will be new and exciting and different, at least a little bit.

Myke and I ended up coming up with nine features that Apple could bring over from iPhone and iPad to next-generation Macs. Here they are, in a rough order of most likely to least likely of appearing on a Mac in 2020:

Continue reading “What changes might be coming to new Mac hardware?”…

By Jason Snell

iPhones without chargers

David Sparks comments on the rumors that the new iPhones won’t ship with power adapters in their boxes:

If I were Apple, I’d be looking at ways to ship the phone without a charger or cord, but also have some mechanism where, if customers need those things, they get them with zero delay, friction, or cost. Apple is a pretty smart company. They can figure it out.

Yes. What Apple needs to communicate is that they are doing this because of waste and not because they want to nickel-and-dime the customers who are paying a lot of money for a new iPhone.

The most straightforward way to do this is be to allow iPhone buyers to request an adapter for free (or for a very modest handling fee) when they buy an iPhone. If you need it, take it. If you have plenty of adapters, don’t.

July 3, 2020

The long, slow side into summer betas. Jason’s working on a bunch of projects behind the scenes. The long and short of long and short operating-system reviews. And Dan dares to ask AT&T for an eSIM.

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

By Dan Moren

The Back Page: We Are Absolutely Not Merging macOS and iPadOS Except It Depends on What You Mean by “Merging”

Thanks so much for coming to WWDC, everybody. Even though this year’s conference is being held virtually, we still found it a delight to have our huge and wonderful developer community all here. Now turn off your Wi-Fi. You’re slowing everything down.

We know this year’s keynote was full of big announcements, and that some of those announcements may have caused consternation amongst our most devoted users. So, once again, we want to make something abundantly clear to all of you out fretting there: We are not merging macOS and iPadOS.…

This is a post limited to Six Colors members.