Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

A HomeKit dimmer for my outdoor patio lights

A patio, with lights

Like seemingly everyone else, during the early days of the pandemic I tried to spruce up our outdoor space by buying some LED string lights. They were affordable, and with a simple kit I was able to suspend some nice lighting above my patio.

But plugging and unplugging the lights was no good, so I began my chase of an acceptable way to control the lights remotely—turning them on and off, yes, but also dimming them. I started with a radio-based remote dimmer, which worked—but the remote wasn’t very good, and frequently required multiple button presses to do the job.

I dreamt of an outdoor dimmer compatible with HomeKit. Lutron makes an outdoor smart plug that’s HomeKit compatible, and I tried it—but unfortunately, it doesn’t offer dimmer functionality, just on and off. I finally found the Treatlife outdoor smart dimmer plug, which did work—with Alexa and Google Home, but not HomeKit.

So it was Homebridge to the rescue! Turns out that Treatlife is just one brand name for the Tuya line of products, and there was a Homebridge app for that. After registering as a Tuya developer and getting an API key, I was able to get the dimmer to run somewhat reliably.

I set up a HomeKit automation that automatically turns on the lights, at about 20% brightness, after sunset and then turns them off after we’ve gone to bed for the evening. Even when we aren’t outside, it’s really nice to be able to look out the doors from our living room and see the patio rather than inky darkness.

But I never stopped looking for a proper HomeKit-enabled outdoor dimmer. And just the other week I found one, the $30 Meross Outdoor Dimmer Plug. I wish I could give you a lot of details about it, but that’s the thing… it just works. I pulled out the Treatlife/Tuya dimmer and popped in the Meross model in its place, added it to HomeKit via the Home app, and everything just works.

So if you, too, bought a bunch of cheap LED string lights and want to control them with HomeKit, I have good news! There’s finally something that will do the job.

This week Jason and Myke take a closer look at Apple’s weird quarterly results, which reassured Wall Street while not being altogether reassuring. Then automotive expert Sam Abuelsamid joins Jason to talk about what Apple’s WWDC 2022 announcement of a new integrated CarPlay might actually mean if and when it arrives late next year.

New betas, Mac Studio life, and calendars

Stephen Hackett joins Jason to discuss the beta lifestyle, adapting to the Mac Studio, Apple’s financial results, and Stephen’s Kickstarter project.

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

By Jason Snell

Six Colors community moving to Discord

Being a member of Six Colors means you get access to members-only posts, the Six Colors Podcast, and a whole lot more. For a few years we’ve also offered a community for members in Slack. Unfortunately, while we love Slack, it’s not really a product made for communities like ours. It doesn’t offer the tools we need to continue running our membership plans and building a solid, growing community.

So this week we turned on the lights at the new Six Colors Discord. If you’d like to join, you can click this link or visit the Six Colors member center and find the link there. You’ll need to log in to Discord (or create an Discord account if you don’t have one).

I hope to see you there!…

This is a post limited to Six Colors members.

By Jason Snell for Macworld

Apple results: A cocktail of trouble

Inflation runs rampant. Threats of recession loom. And on Thursday Apple strolled right in, whistling a happy tune, turning in yet another record set of financial results. The company set a fiscal third-quarter revenue record, with $83 billion in receipts, up 2 percent from last year.

But look deeper, and you’ll see that this was an unusual quarter for Apple. The company was battered by a “cocktail of headwinds,” to quote Apple CFO Luca Maestri using a metaphor that wasn’t just mixed, but shaken and stirred. Mac sales were down, wearables took a beating, and even the seemingly invincible Services line showed some softness.

And yet, it was a pretty good quarter, considering. I realize that the word “considering” is doing a lot of work in that sentence, but it’s true. Wall Street seemed relieved that Apple turned in a good, if not great, quarter. Here’s what jumped out at me in the numbers (and in the post-game phone call Apple’s executives traditionally do with financial analysts).

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

By Jason Snell

This is Tim: Complete Q3 2022 analyst call transcript

Tim Cook

As always, Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Luca Maestri are talking to analysts after revealing Apple’s quarterly financial results. Here’s an ongoing transcript.

Continue reading “This is Tim: Complete Q3 2022 analyst call transcript”…

By Jason Snell

Apple announces $83B fiscal third quarter

Apple’s fiscal results are out. The company generated $83B in revenue. Compared to the year-ago quarter, Mac sales were down 10%, iPad sales down 2%, iPhone up 3%, Services up 13%, and Wearables down 8%.

Apple quarterly revenue by category pie chart

Here are all the charts!

Continue reading “Apple announces $83B fiscal third quarter”…

By Jason Snell

My own personal Apple Store Time Machine

The Apple Store Time Machine is a project by Michael Steeber, who has been a go-to writer on Apple’s retail stores for many years. It’s a free Mac app called Shop Different, built with Unity, that lets you walk through four different Apple Stores as if you were in a video game. Steeber writes:

The Apple Store Time Machine is a celebration of the places and products that have shaped our lives for more than twenty years. This interactive experience recreates memorable moments in Apple history with painstaking detail and historical accuracy.

The stores are meticulous re-creations of the stores as they actually looked: The first Apple Store in Tysons Corner, Virginia in May 2001; the first “mini” store in Palo Alto in October 2004; the Apple Fifth Avenue store in New York in May 2006; and the Infinite Loop campus store in September 2015.

Steeber’s project brought up memories of my own. I covered the Palo Alto mini store opening for Macworld!

Steve Jobs (right) and Ron Johnson discuss the mini store concept before unveiling it.
Steve Jobs (right) and Ron Johnson discuss the mini store concept before unveiling it.

How accurate is it? I’ll let you decide for yourself – below is an image of the Time Machine and an actual photo from October 14, 2004—the day the store opened.

For those who don’t know, the “mini” store was a concept that let Apple get into very small spaces in shopping centers. Before the “mini” store was created, there were real estate markets Apple couldn’t crack. As momentum around Apple and Apple’s retail operations grew, that ceased to be a problem and the “mini” store faded away.

Steeber’s simulacrum (left) and Jobs and Johnson.

If you’ve got happy classic Apple Store memories, it’s worth downloading Steeber’s app and immersing yourself. Just remember that you can’t actually pick up that iSight box and check yourself out.

By Jason Snell

Scrubbing through iOS 16’s Music app

We fear change. When I first saw that the Music app in iOS 16 had done away with its old controls for adjusting volume and scrubbing, I was confused and upset. It’s human nature. But now that I’ve used them a little more… I think I approve.

Here’s what it’s been like forever: both the volume and runtime of a track in Music are represented by a horizontal line, with a little dot on the line representing the current status. As your track plays, the little dot in the runtime area slowly progresses from the far left side to the far right. Likewise, the dot at the left side of the volume slider means your volume is all the way down, and on the right side it means it’s all the way up.

new scrubbing behavior in iOS 16

In iOS 16, the dots are banished. Instead, there’s just a line with a part of it that’s a different level of opacity. The big problem here is that the dots were very visible, letting you read the current status of the app pretty easily. I’ve got some concerns about the legibility of the two lines in iOS 16, though at least as of the latest beta, the contrast seems to be enough to make status clear.

The real advance, though, is in how you control volume or scrub through a track. Previously, you needed to put your finger down on the dot itself, and then slide the dot back and forth. If you missed the dot, you failed. In iOS 16, the entire area of the bar is swipeable. You just put your finger down, anywhere, and slide it back and forth.

Want to scrub forward? Pop down your finger and swipe right. It doesn’t matter where your finger falls, as long as it’s on the scrub line. The same thing goes for volume: put your finger anywhere on the line and swipe to the right to make it louder, or to the left to make it quieter. As you scrub, the line gets larger, making it easier to see what you’re doing as you swipe.

Yes, this is the eradication of a little bit of skeuomorphism from the iOS interface. Someone out there is up in arms about it and is filing a strongly worded Feedback item to Apple even now. But I’m inclined to view this as an enhancement to the user experience. You shouldn’t have to aim your finger to land precisely on a little circle in order to change the volume. A touch in the general vicinity and a swipe should be enough. And once we stop looking for that circle and just swipe with abandon, I think we’ll all be better off.

For those who didn’t hear the news, Jason is a regular panelist on TWiT’s MacBreak Weekly now. This week we discussed the Newton cameo in “For All Mankind,” Rene Ritchie going to YouTube (which is why Jason is now on MacBreak Weekly!), patents, and the M2 MacBook Air.

Dan had a baby so we discuss tech advice for new parents and our favorite toys. But we also dig into invasive network video cameras, the ruination of Instagram, and if VR is ever going to be a thing.

By Jason Snell

Get universal times into Discord and elsewhere with Elsewhen

Jason posts something to Discord and it's showing the local time zone

Time zones. I hate them. But without them, I’d be waking up with the sunrise at 10 a.m. or 3 p.m. or some other outlandish times. I do, however, enjoy collaborating with people in different times zones and putting my stuff out there to be read by anyone, anywhere, regardless of time zone.

Fortunately, our devices can be faithful helpers when it comes to dealing with time zones. I use my calendar app of choice, Fantastical to convert many of my events to the right time zones. However, I’ve struggled to communicate times to others in places like this website and in Slack and Discord.

One app that can help is Elsewhen from The Lovely Developers, a fun group that sprung out of the Relay FM Discord. Elsewhen lets you quickly set a date and time and then translate it — either into a bunch of human-readable time zones, or into Discord’s time-code format.


I love the Discord feature, which lets me say that Apple’s quarterly results will be available <t:1659040203:f> and have the result — July 28, 2022 at 1:30 PM Pacific — be displayed to everyone in their local time. For communicating out of Discord, the Time List view in Elsewhen lets you pop things on the clipboard:

  • 🇺🇸 – 1:30 PM Pacific
  • 🇺🇸 – 3:30 PM Central
  • 🇺🇸 – 4:30 PM Eastern
  • 🇬🇧 – 9:30 PM BST
  • 🇪🇺 – 10:30 PM CET

It’s a small utility (and I’d love for the Lovely Developers to make it more customizable), but it’s great to be able to quickly communicates times in Discord and elsewhere and make sure that everyone’s on the same page. Elsewhen is available for free on the App Store.

by Jason Snell

Safari extension Noir adds extensible dark-mode themes

Noir makes Goodreads green.
Goodreads, overriden by Noir.

One of my favorite Safari extensions is Noir, which applies a dark stylesheet to websites that don’t get satisfactorily dark when in Dark Mode. The $3 app, which is available for macOS and iOS, just got a big update.

Noir now offers a library of dark themes you can import, and if that’s not enough, you can create your own (and share them with your friends). Yes, you can configure different themes for different sites. iPhone and iPad users can now fully customize keyboard shortcuts, including a bunch of optional shortcuts.

I use Safari a lot on my iPad in the evening with Dark Mode enabled, and while I wish every website would properly implement a dark mode, Noir is the next best thing. (And yes, it will also let you override sites that offer “dark modes” that are either bad or stubbornly not dark.)

—Linked by Jason Snell

By Joe Rosensteel

Apple TV needs a unified home screen

Apple TV homescreen mock-up
Just imagine. (Mock-up by Joe Rosensteel.)

In my previous column I wrote about the disappointment over the current state of tvOS and the lack of any significant forward movement with the platform. Now I want to focus on one area where I think Apple could substantially revamp and improve the Apple TV interface: a new home screen that unifies the existing home screen and the Apple TV app.

Revising and unifying navigation on tvOS has gone from being sorely needed to being absolutely critical to the platform. Even Amazon, which has had a pretty bad home screen experience for Fire TV users, just heavily refreshed its home screen.

(I wrote most of this this piece just before Amazon announced its revamp… and here it is basically doing what I what I had outlined. You’d think it would be frustrating, but it’s strangely validating. I wish Apple would follow Amazon down this path.)…

This is a post limited to Six Colors members.

Jason and Julia answer your letters. So many questions! We discuss live TV on Apple channels, merger mania, niche streaming, valuable hot-dog streaming rights, “it’s just an eight-hour movie”, and tactical release times.

In this special Summer of Fun episode, Jason and Myke welcome three special guests to discuss how development, accessibility, and widgets have been affected by Apple’s latest operating-system cycle.

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