Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

Exercise Your Rights

Americans, here's everything you need to vote.

By Jason Snell

Find photos taken by specific iPhone lenses

Six Colors member Mark writes, presumably while pondering a new iPhone 12 rather than a 12 Pro:

Any way to tabulate/sort which lens your photos used? After listening to #400 of ATP it’s got me thinking “Show me all my wide angle photos” so I can see if I’ve really used it or not.

I can’t figure out any way to do this in Photos on the iPad or iPhone, but on the Mac you can do it via a Smart Album.

The top of the Info window in Photos for Mac.

Every photo shot with an iPhone includes metadata about which device and camera was used. You can see them all in the Info pane, which you can activate by typing Command-I or choosing Window > Info from the menu bar.

In the gray box found toward the top of the Info window, you’ll see some basic data about the photo. The first line indicates the device that took the photo—in my example, an iPhone 11 Pro. The second line displays which lens took the photo, and this is how you can sort out your photos from one another by lens used. On my iPhone 11 Pro, the lenses are:

Camera Label Lens name
Ultrawide 0.5x iPhone 11 Pro back triple camera 1.54mm f/2.4
Wide 1x iPhone 11 Pro back triple camera 4.25mm f/1.8
Telephoto 2x iPhone 11 Pro back triple camera 6mm f/2

(Update: When the iPhone camera uses data from two different lenses to generate an “in between” zoom level, or when it’s in Portrait mode, it lists an entirely different lens—one with “back dual camera” as the name rather than “back triple camera.” Since they are technically not taken by one lens, I’ve decided they don’t count.)

These will vary by iPhone model, obviously, but you can always look through your library with the Info window open and fairly quickly find the names for all the lenses on your iPhone. You can even click in the Lens area of the Info window to copy the text and paste it somewhere where the entire content of the field is readable.

Once you’ve got the names, it’s pretty easy to make a Smart Album for just those photos. Here’s what a Smart Album looks like for Telephoto iPhone 11 Pro photos:

That’s it. If you upgrade your iPhone to a model with a different camera system, you could even modify this Smart Album so that it’s catching all the photos of the type you want to capture. (And for the record, my total iPhone 11 output appears to be 603 wide shots, 87 ultrawides, and 163 telephotos.)

If you want to learn a lot more about how the Photos app works on Mac and iOS, check out my book Take Control of Photos, which was just updated for iOS and iPadOS 14 and macOS Big Sur.

By Dan Moren

Service Station: Let’s Encrypt and Certbot make HTTPS easy and free

Way back in the late ’90s and early 2000s when I was first creating websites on a relatively frequent basis, the view of security on the web was a little bit different than it is today.

Sure, you hardened access to your server and tried to write your code as tightly as possible, but unless you were a huge organization or were handling credit card details, you didn’t really bother implementing secure HTTP connections, in large part because getting a certificate was often a pain and cost you money. (If you were just a hobbyist creating a website, for example, you probably weren’t going to pony up the hundred or more dollars per year that it cost.)

Let's Encrypt

Fast forward twenty years, and this is one place that progress has definitely been made, thanks in large part to the Let’s Encrypt project. Created by the non-profit Internet Security Research Group, Let’s Encrypt makes acquiring a digital certificate to secure your website not only easy, but more importantly free.…

This is a post limited to Six Colors members.

By Dan Moren

Free Apple TV+ subscriptions officially extended to Feb. 2021

As rumored, Apple has extended the free subscriptions it handed out to its TV+ streaming service until February. I, and other subscribers, received the following email this morning:

AppleTV+ Extension

We’re giving you extra time to discover the latest Apple Originals and catch up on shows returning for a second season. You don’t have to do anything — just keep watching for free until February 2021.

While Apple didn’t explain the rationale behind the extension, it’s widely believed that it’s because the second seasons of many of its debut launch shows—which were expected to premiere around now—have been pushed back until later in the year or early next year.

Apple’s still offering free year-long subscriptions to TV+ for those who buy a new Apple device (though it continues to enforce a limit of one per family group). One remaining question is exactly how this will come into play with the soon-to-launch Apple One bundle that includes TV+ service.

The company also announced at its event this week that purchasers of new Apple devices will receive three months free of the company’s game service, Apple Arcade.

[Dan Moren is the official Dan 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.]

October 16, 2020

Dan orders a new iPhone. Magnets, how do they work? And we solve Apple’s digital home strategy.

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By Jason Snell for Macworld

Size matters: Choosing between the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro

When it comes to the size of the iPhone, a lot of us who tend to buy the most mainstream iPhone are a bit like the proverbial frog in the gradually boiling pot of water. In upgrading from the iPhone 4 to 5, from 5s to 6, and from 7 to X, our phones just keep getting a little bit bigger.

Sure, there were larger options—in the last couple of years, two larger phones bracket the main iPhone on price. But with the exception of the iPhone SE, there were no smaller options.

With the iPhone 12 line, though, Apple has made things interesting. Not only has Apple subtly cranked up the heat on that boiling pot, but it’s provided a place to leap to if the heat is too much for us. Now there are some decisions to make.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

What Apple didn’t announce this week, whether the smartphone is ready to be our only computer, the portless iPhone of the future, and how we decide which iPhone to buy.

5G: ‘It’s not good yet.’

Dieter Bohn of The Verge cautions against getting caught up in 5G hype:

If you’re looking to buy a new iPhone this year, even before I see these phones I can provide this simple piece of advice: don’t buy one just because it has 5G.

That’s been my advice for every single 5G-enabled Android phone that’s been released thus far, and unless Apple has some reality-defying modem that enables 5G speeds in more places, it’s my advice for the upcoming iPhone as well.

The problem with 5G is that it’s not good yet. In a comprehensive, US-wide test of 5G speeds, PC Mag found them seriously lacking. In many cases 5G speeds were actually slower than 4G speeds. And the study also found that the other hyped-up reason for 5G, low latency, also isn’t here yet.

The wireless industry has been pushing 5G forever, and as of this fall, Apple is now on the 5G hype train. This is a next-generation wireless standard and it will eventually make a difference for a lot of people. But Dieter is absolutely right—buy a new iPhone because of the cameras or the screen or the A14 processor or the new size options or because your old iPhone’s seen better days… but not because it’s got 5G.

BBEdit updated with random assortment of features

There’s a new update for BBEdit out today, version 13.5, with the usual bevy of new features. When I’m on my Mac, I do almost all of my writing in BBEdit, and I use its text-processing features all the time.

Yes, support for Apple silicon is there. But more immediately applicable are an extended Markdown cheat sheet that will help users use proper Markdown1, the ability to open contextual menus with just a keystroke, and a New Text File command.

In terms of features I will use immediately, the Sort Lines command now allows you to randomize lines, meaning I won’t need to use to randomize Incomparable draft-pick orders ever again. The SFTP features have been updated to be much faster, thanks to local caching of files that are being edited remotely. And there’s a new Rescued Items folder where all your unsaved, untitled documents go, so if you accidentally close an unsaved document and choose to discard it, you can still retrieve whatever what was in that document.

This update is free for all BBEdit 13 owners.

  1. And yes, everything I write is in Markdown. 

By Jason Snell

Apple fibs about iPhone 12 pricing to promote wireless carriers

(Update: As of pre-order time on Friday, Oct. 16, Sprint and T-Mobile have been added to the $30 discount deal on Apple’s site. If you want to use an alternative carrier or buy a phone SIM-free, you’ll still pay a $30 penalty.)

Here’s one of the weirdest aspects of Tuesday’s iPhone launch event: Apple has been less than forthright about the real prices of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini.

At the event, Apple referred to these products as starting at $699 (iPhone 12 mini) and $799 (iPhone 12), but those prices are not actually accurate unless you slap a big asterisk on there. (As Apple does on its marketing pages, because it must.)

Here’s what’s actually happening, at least in the U.S.: Apple has cut deals with AT&T and Verizon that give existing customers of those carriers $30 off their purchases. The actual prices of the two models are $729 and $829, and that’s what you’ll pay if you’re a U.S. subscriber to Sprint, T-Mobile, any smaller pay-as-you-go carriers, or if you want to buy a SIM-free model with no carrier connection at all. (The 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max are the same price on all carriers.)

It’s embarrassing that Apple is hiding the real price of the iPhone 12. More troubling is the suggestion that Apple is now happy to join forces with its carrier partners to play marketing games—not just with the price of the iPhone 12 and 12 mini, but with the embarrassing amount of screen time Apple gave to Verizon’s CEO on Tuesday so he could flog his company’s 5G network.

Jason and Myke break down Apple’s iPhone 12 and HomePod mini launch event. Having four new iPhones with different pricing structures and camera options is a bit overwhelming, but they do their best to process it all and provide initial reactions.

By Dan Moren

Quick thoughts on Apple’s October event

It was our second Apple event in a month, and as with the previous endeavor, Apple kept it tight and focused, discussing only two product lines: the HomePod and the iPhone.

The HomePod gets mini

The HomePod hasn’t exactly been a wild success for Apple, so making a smaller, cheaper model seems like a good move if Apple wants to stay in the smart speaker/home audio business, which it apparently does. Unsurprisingly, the mini doesn’t change much in the way of the speaker’s look and feel: it still has the same mesh fabric cover, as well as the same not-quite-a-touchscreen-but-still-annoyingly-sensitive controls. (The lack of tactile controls on the top of the HomePod is a constant frustration for me; even bumping it with my arm has accidentally triggered startlingly loud music playback.)

Most of the mini’s features also come to the larger HomePod—including the new Intercom ability, which Amazon’s Echos have offered for a while—though there are some exceptions. For example, the smaller speaker has a U1 chip, which is in last year’s iPhone 11 models, this year’s iPhone 12 models, and the Apple Watch Series 6. This will hopefully allow more seamless handoff features than the currently wonky NFC implementation in the full HomePod.

However, the HomePod mini doesn’t get the “home theater” features of the full HomePod when paired with an Apple TV 4K; I presume that means the surround sound-like features rather than being unable to pair with an Apple TV at all.

Unclear to me is whether the HomePod mini and full HomePod can be combined in a stereo pair, especially since it seems the minis are using the U1 chip for automatic pairing. And, perhaps most surprising, the unchanged HomePod stays in the lineup today, still at the same $299 price point, even though it is one of the few Apple products to regularly see deeply discounted prices.1

I shall call it “mini iPhone”

Kudos to Apple for making a small phone at last. Even with a larger display, the iPhone 12 mini is smaller than even the recent iPhone SE 2, though they’re the same thickness. Size and color are two important factors, and it’s smart of Apple to have a variety of options in that department.

Not your parents’ MagSafe

Rumors of a reuse of the MagSafe brand turned out to be spot on, as the new iPhone 12 models have a magnetic feature that not only aids charging (by making sure the wireless charger lines up), but also adds the ability to snap on cases and other accessories, like a leather wallet.

It’ll be interesting to see how third-party hardware makers will embrace it, but it has potentially significant advantages in places like car chargers, where you’ll be able to magnetically snap your iPhone onto a mount and have it charge wireless. And it works through cases and maintains compatibility with Qi chargers. If Apple wants to move its iPhones to a port-less design, this is how it begins.

Speaking of charging, I think the new MagSafe Duo charger looks great, especially for traveling2, but there’s no price or ship date listed, which makes me wonder if Apple didn’t learn its lesson pre-announcing a wireless charger last time around. There’s no way they’d make the same mistake twice, right? Right?

Goodbye chargers and headphones

Jumping to an environmental segment in the midst of an iPhone announcement might seem weirdly anticlimactic, but it ended up making sense, since it was a way to couch the news that Apple will indeed be removing chargers and headphones from iPhone boxes. Apple’s Lisa Jackson pointed to the tons of chargers that are already out there and the ability to shrink box sizes, both of which are solid points.

But Apple is still including a Lightning-to-USB-C charging cable in the box. On the face of it, this is an interesting choice, since most people probably don’t have a USB-C power brick, but I think that’s precisely one reason they did it: because customers can still use all the USB-A Lightning cables they have lying around for most cases, but get the ability to use fast-charging when connecting to the USB-C port on their Mac. It also points to why the company didn’t change to a USB-C port on the iPhone: everybody still has Lightning cables, while many fewer people have USB-C cables. Again, I’m more convinced than ever that we’re going to an all port-less iPhone, probably sooner than later.

iPhones? Oh yeah, iPhones!

Weird to put the iPhones themselves at the bottom of this list, impressive as they are. In general, iPhone updates have started to seem a little more rote, despite the amazing amount of power that gets squeezed into them every year. The new designs are eye-catching and slick, though I have to admit I think the iPhone 12 colors/finish looks better to me than the shiny Pro models—your mileage, of course, may vary.

The case for the addition of LiDAR was made here a little better than with the iPad Pro earlier this year, but it still seems like a feature that most people aren’t going to care about—until Apple makes a serious AR play, anyway. For now, it’s little more than a bullet point.

As someone on the iPhone Upgrade Program, I’ll still likely take get an iPhone 12 Pro to replace my current 11 Pro. The Pro Max is still a bit too large for me, and as attractive as the iPhone 12 and 12 mini are, I have to admit I’ve come to love my telephoto lens and the optical zoom. (Boo on Apple for heavily marketing the “4x zoom range” between the Ultra Wide and telephoto—it’s accurate, but it’s misleading to my mind.)

And oh yeah, the new iPhones also have 5G. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 3

  1. Possibly just a matter of clearing out channel inventory? I wouldn’t be shocked to see it disappear suddenly in the future. 
  2. Some day! 
  3. Never have I seen so much time spent on a feature that probably doesn’t matter to most people these days, but boy did Apple give it a go. From a long lecture by Verizon’s CEO to the explanation of how useful it is in downloading large medical imaging files, they really tried to make us care and yet…not so much. At least for now. 

[Dan Moren is the official Dan 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 Jason Snell

Apple Oct. 13 event – live updates

Apple held its latest media event, and introduced new iPhones and a new HomePod.

We provided a little live commentary as the event unfolded on Twitter, attached below.

You can hear me discuss the event live with Myke Hurley on Upgrade at noon Pacific, streaming on Relay FM. Dan and the boys of The Rebound will be live at 12:30 Pacific.

Continue reading “Apple Oct. 13 event – live updates”…

By Dan Moren for Macworld

What to expect at Apple’s October 13 “Hi, speed” iPhone event

What’s better than one fall Apple event? If you answered “two fall Apple events” then you’re in luck, because the Cupertino-based company is revving up the product announcement engine once again. On Tuesday, the company is scheduled to take the wraps off more items in the run-up to the holiday shopping season.

At the previous event, we got the Apple Watch Series 6 and the new iPad Air, so the big question is what’s in store this time. As always, there are plenty of rumors about what might get announced, and while there are some things that seem a near certitude, there are a handful of other possibilities that may or may not make appearance. Let’s run down the list of what’s actually likely to appear on Tuesday.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

Spotify spikes SongShift

Spotify fancies itself a champion of fairness and breaking down barriers, but it has just screwed over SongShift, an excellent app for migrating playlists and other metadata between different music services:

Unfortunately, as of SongShift v5.1.2, you will no longer be able to create transfers from Spotify to another music service. We understand this will be a disappointment for a lot of you. We wish we didn’t have to.

The Spotify Developer Platform Team reached out and let us know we’d need to remove transferring from their service to a competing music service or have our API access revoked due to TOS violation. While this is not the news we wanted to hear, we respect their decision.

Spotify hates how Apple tends its own ecosystem, but it has zero interest in allowing its customers to migrate metadata in any way that might make it more convenient to leave Spotify behind. That’s their decision to make, of course, but for a company that claims to support consumer freedom, it has just made a hypocritical decision designed to reduce the freedom of its own customers.

Bonus episode! Jason and Myke interview Apple’s Tim Millet and Tom Boger about the new iPad Air and Apple silicon. Afterward, it’s time to fearlessly predict what will happen at Tuesday’s Apple media event in the only way Upgrade knows how—via a competitive draft.

October 9, 2020

Doubling down on rumors ruining everything.

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Thank goodness there are second chances, because Apple’s first attempt to make a portable Macintosh was as inauspicious at it gets.

Microsoft’s xCloud will come to iOS via the browser

According to Ashley Stewart at Business Insider, Microsoft’s xCloud game streaming service would arrive on iOS in 2021, via an entirely predictable twist:

Microsoft’s gaming boss Phil Spencer told employees at an all-hands meeting on Wednesday the company is planning to bring Game Pass to Apple’s iPhone and iPad, targeting 2021 for the potential release of a “direct browser-based solution,” Business Insider has learned.

A browser-based solution is the same angle that Amazon is taking with bringing its game streaming service to iOS, and it handily circumvents the App Store restrictions on listing games as individual titles, as well as in-app purchase.

I have trouble believing that the browser-based solution will perform as well as a native solution might, but I guess we’ll see. The real question is whether Apple’s insistence on setting its rules the way it has end up harming it or Microsoft more?

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