Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Jason and Myke preview what will happen at next week’s Apple event. What new features will the new iPhones have? How will the Apple Watch transform? And which one of us will harness the heart of a champion, Lionel Messi style, and score the winning goal?

By John Moltz

This Week in Apple: A soupçon of color

John Moltz and his conspiracy board. Art by Shafer Brown.

The iPhone 15 Pro colors challenge the definition of a spectrum. Just as well, as you probably won’t be able to get one. And Apple pulls the plug on a storied app.

New iPhone cases and their recommended wine pairings

Apple has announced its iPhone event for this year. Titled “Wonderlust” and featuring an Apple logo dissolving into probably very expensive particles of some kind, the event will take place September 12, as was foretold in prophecy. What will be unveiled? Rumor has it we will see new Watches, both Ultra and non, new phones and new, higher price points! Very exciting. And the colors! Oh, the colors. If you haven’t seen the purported pictures of them, well, you’re in for a… “treat” is not the right word. York Peppermint Patties are a “treat”. This is more like “something that is technically edible”. You’re in for that. Like a bare celery stick.…

This is a post limited to Six Colors members.

Newest right to repair objectors: Scientologists?

Fascinating piece from Scharon Harding at Ars Technica about the latest organization objecting to right to repair legislation—a movement that Apple just last month changed its stance on, and has now come out in support of:

Today, 404 Media reported on a letter sent on August 10 to the US Copyright Office by Ryland Hawkins of Author Services Inc. The company, its website and letterhead say, represents the “literary, theatrical, and musical works of L. Ron Hubbard, the late founder of Scientology. Author Services, according to records archived via the WayBackMachine, is owned by the Church of Spiritual Technology, which describes itself as a church within Scientology.


The Scientology-tied group seeks an amendment to the exemption so that it doesn’t apply to software-powered devices that can only be purchased by someone with particular qualifications or training or that use software “governed by a license agreement negotiated and executed” before purchase.

Why would Scientologists object to right to repair? Those familiar with the organization might also be aware of the “E-meter”, a device that Scientologists claim can read people’s emotional state, which is used in “audits” of its members.1

The right to repair law could open up a door for people to disassemble E-meters and publish their findings showing what most critics already believe: that they don’t do anything at all. More to the point, law would potentially protect the people doing that disassembly by not letting Scientology hide behind the idea of proprietary technology.

  1. And also as a ploy to try and draw in new members. I remember seeing Scientologists offering free readings in BART stations in San Francisco. 
—Linked by Dan Moren

By Dan Moren

The Back Page: Chaaaarge!

Dan writes the Back Page. Art by Shafer Brown.

Who’s ready for some collective outrage? I’ve asked Ernesto, my incomparable penguin valet1, to fire up the Semi-Perpetual Rage Machine that we keep in the basement for just such an eventuality.

With what shall we fuel this diabolical machine? Nothing less than the most powerful emotional trigger in the entire technology industry. Okay, besides, AI stealing human jobs and appropriating creative work. Well, yes, there’s also crypto currency. And…you know…everything Elon Musk does. Okay, let’s say top ten: new charging cables.

The horror, etc. etc.

Apple is poised to once again, as it has every year decade, change the port on the iPhone. This—this—is why I have The Hague on speed dial.2

The self-same capriciousness and callous disregard that led to Apple abandoning SCSI in <checks notes> 1999 has struck again.

I think we can all agree that Apple hit the pinnacle of connector design with 2012’s Lightning port: it was fast, it was small, and it was symmetrical!…

This is a post limited to Six Colors members.

By Dan Moren

Automate this: Moving Audio Hijack recordings to a folder in the cloud

The key to automation is figuring out what problems it can solve to make your life easier. For example: the problem where one of your podcast co-hosts1 has to regularly text you because you’ve forgotten to put your audio file in the shared Dropbox folder. Regularly enough that he has literally created a meme to remind you. To wit:

Bernie Sanders:

We’ve all been there.

In my defense: I spent many years editing this particular podcast, during which I didn’t ever need to upload my file because I was the one who collected them. To add to that, I also have a few other podcast-related tasks that I need to take care of post-recording which often end up distracted me from this particular need.

Still, seems like something automation could easily fix, right?

Thanks to Audio Hijack‘s automation features, yes! Here’s how I did it.

First, I added a new automation that runs on Session Stop called Copy File to Dropbox. This is a one-line script—app.runShortcut('Recording Copy')—that in turn calls a Shortcut I’ve created.

An automation running on session stop, Copy File to Dropbox
One line script in Audio Hijack's Script Library

In Shortcuts, this particular workflow is just four actions.

First up, get the contents of the folder for this podcast (which is organized using another Shortcut that I’ve previously written about), then filter those contents for the most recently modified file (which should be the folder created for the latest episode). Then get the contents of that folder, and filter it for a file whose name contains ‘Dan’ (as all my local mic recordings do). There should be only one.2 Then simply use the Save Files action to copy that file to my shared Dropbox folder. Done!

Recording Copy Shortcut

Now, whenever we finish recording the show and I naturally hit Stop, my file is automatically uploaded to the appropriate folder, and I don’t have to do a thing. And best of all, my co-host doesn’t have to bug me anymore.

Though I do kind of miss the memes.

(Editor’s note: You can alternately use the moveFile action within Audio Hijack’s own scripting interface:

let file = event.file;
if (file == null)

if (file.fileName.includes("Dan")) { 

Then you don’t need to rely on Shortcuts at all. —J.S.)

  1. I’m not going to name names, but let’s say it rhymes with Shaun Shmoltz. 
  2. Obligatory Highlander reference. 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is now available for pre-order.]

Longplay 2.0

Longplay 2

Adrian Schönig has released Longplay 2.0, a new version of his excellent iOS app for exploring and playing entire albums:

Longplay 1.0 was released in August 2020. I had used the app for years before that myself, but I didn’t know how it would be received by a wider audience. I loved the kind of feedback that I got which helped me distill the heart of the app: Music means a lot to people, and Longplay helps them reconnect with their music library in a way that reminds them of their old vinyl or CD collections. It’s a wall of their favourite albums that has been with them for many years or decades. It’s something personal. The UI very much focussed on that part of the experience, and I wanted to keep that spirit alive, keep the app fun, while adding features that people and myself found amiss.

The main idea behind 2.0 was to focus on the playing of music beyond a single album. 1.0 just stopped playback when you finished an album, but I wanted to stay in the flow – to either play an appropriate random next album or the next from a manually specified queue.

New features include collections, album shuffle, and a playback queue. There’s also a CarPlay interface now! I spend a lot of time listening to playlists, but sometimes I just want to put on an entire album. (I’m listening to one as I write this, in fact.1) Longplay is a stylish, fun way to explore and play your albums. Check it out.

  1. It’s “Notes on a Conditional Form” by The 1975, coincidentally one of the albums I cited when I first wrote about Longplay 1.0 back in early 2021. 
—Linked by Jason Snell

By Jason Snell

Ultra or not? The evolving world of iPhone marketing

iPhone XR
The iPhone XR led the way for the iPhone 11.

For the first few years of the iPhone’s existence, Apple introduced a single new model every year. In that time, total iPhone sales shot up from nothing to $100 billion a year. Not bad!

But in the decade since then, the iPhone has had a huge growth spurt. Between fiscal 2014 and 2022, total iPhone revenue doubled, from $101 billion to $205 billion. (Thus far in fiscal 2023, the iPhone has generated $156 billion, and the fourth fiscal quarter will almost certainly vault it well over the $200 billion level again.)

iPhone revenue chart

What changed? Certainly, today’s iPhones are vastly more advanced than the iPhone 5S of ten years ago. But the single biggest change is the shift to treating the iPhone like a product line rather than just a product.

From 2007 to 2012, the iPhone was a single product. Sure, sometimes you could buy the previous year’s model at a discount (a practice Apple continues to perfect to this day), but there was only ever one new iPhone. Apple took its first steps to differentiate the line in 2013 when it introduced the iPhone 5C to go with the iPhone 5S.

The iPhone 5C was a flop, though its failure still vexes me. On paper, it was a great idea: rather than selling price-conscious buyers last year’s model, Apple spruced up the iPhone 5 with bright colors and a lower price. Maybe it was the plastic back, or maybe people really didn’t want bright colors. Regardless, the lesson Apple seems to have taken away from the iPhone 5C debacle is that differentiating on price isn’t the same as differentiating on functionality, and dressing last year’s phone in a new case won’t fool anyone.

Apple’s first big move came in 2014 (the week this site launched!), when the iPhone 6 was joined in the product line by the iPhone 6 Plus. The iPhone 6 was bigger than the iPhone 5, but the iPhone 6 Plus was way bigger and at a price premium. iPhone sales leaped, and I’m sure the number one reason was that a lot of people wanted a bigger iPhone, and it had taken a bit too long for Apple to adapt.

But I’d argue that another reason the iPhone began its upward trajectory in 2014 was simply that iPhone buyers had more choices. You could choose the big phone or the smaller phone, join the Plus Club, or keep it standard.

For most of the era in which there have been smaller and larger versions of the same model, Apple has kept the specs between the two phones more or less equivalent. A bigger phone might have room for a bit more battery, but it also needs to light up more pixels. A few times, though, Apple has taken advantage of the size of the larger iPhone to try out new camera features. In 2016, the iPhone 7 Plus had a second lens that the regular iPhone 7 didn’t offer.

2016 also marked the introduction of the first iPhone SE, an attempt to broaden the iPhone product line by upgrading older phones with somewhat newer specs. Unlike the iPhone 5C, which was just an iPhone 5 in a colored shell, the iPhone SE was an iPhone 5S body with the brains of an iPhone 6S—and at a lower price. The fact that Apple has now gone through three generations of iPhone SE suggests that the product resonates with buyers in a way the iPhone 5C didn’t.

In 2017, Apple tweaked the formula again. In addition to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, it added a new, high-end phone with a high-end price: the iPhone X. Not only did the iPhone X introduce a bunch of features that would become standard on most iPhones, like an OLED screen and Face ID, it also established that some iPhone buyers would pay a lot more for a high-end model.

The iPhone X marked the beginning of an era of experimentation. In 2018, the iPhone X was replaced by the XS and XS Max, bringing the big/little dichotomy to the higher end of the product line. Rather than revise the iPhone 8 again, instead Apple introduced a larger, more affordable model, the iPhone XR. In hindsight, the XR was the predecessor of 2019’s iPhone 11.

Apple’s big marketing innovation in 2019 was rebranding the entire product line, establishing that the high-end “iPhone X” line would be called iPhone Pro, while the more affordable XR-style device would be the regular iPhone. This is more or less where the lineup stands today, with Apple experimenting with base-model phones large (iPhone 14 Plus) and small (iPhone 12 and 13 mini).

The end result is that Apple has scaled its iPhone line from a single new model to four, each of them with different attributes. The question for 2023 is if we’re in for another year of status quo or if Apple plans further experiments up at the high end. I’m intrigued by the conjecture that the high-end iPhone Pro might not be called Pro Max, but might instead take a cue from the Apple Watch and be dubbed iPhone Ultra.

I love the idea of an iPhone Ultra, but if Apple is going to commit to that product name, it needs to also commit to making that part of the product line live up to the name. This year’s rumors suggest the high-end iPhone will have a major camera upgrade, presumably a much larger zoom enabled by a periscope lens. Sounds great, but one look at the history of the iPhone would show that all past camera advancements on the big phone have rapidly integrated into the rest of the product line.

If Apple really does change the name of the Pro Max to Ultra, it suggests to me that the company is not done spreading out the iPhone product line and exploring just how much money its high-end users are willing to spend on the very best features.

Great, inexpensive gadgets; worthy subscriptions and those we’ve canceled; Apple’s September event; and our future USB-C charging prospects.

‘The Mystery of the Bloomfield Bridge’

Tyler Vigen was curious:

This pedestrian bridge crosses I-494 just west of the Minneapolis Airport. It connects Bloomington to Richfield. I drive under it often and I wondered: why is it there? It’s not in an area that is particularly walkable, and it doesn’t connect any establishments that obviously need to be connected. So why was it built?

Thus begins a journey that goes to a whole lot of places, including this, my favorite passage in the entire article:

While I am dedicated to this search, I am not about to fly down to Kansas City to dig through federal archives, especially when those documents may or may not be there…

…just kidding. Of course I flew down to Kansas City to dig through the federal archives!

This is a great story that also shows the power of dogged research.

—Linked by Jason Snell

Apple’s iPhone event is on the calendar. We continue to discuss our beta impressions and also tackle which comedians we’d be.

Anticipating the coming USB-C iPhone backlash

John Gruber, writing about how the anticipated switch to USB-C on the iPhone 15 will be received:

I think there’s going to be a backlash that most USB-C proponents don’t see coming, premised on accusations that this switch is a money grab from Apple to get people to replace all their Lightning cables with new $30 USB-C cables from the Apple Store….

I don’t know how many people are going to be irritated, if not downright angry, about this switch, but it’s going to be a lot more people than most “the iPhone should have already switched to USB-C” proponents expect.

I’ve been thinking about this one a while now, too. In the end, I actually think the switch from Lightning to USB-C will be less dramatic than the switch from the 30-pin Dock Connector to Lightning. This is primarily because USB-C has had several years to slowly creep into people’s lives in a way the Apple-invented Lightning connector did not. It will be a jarring change, but USB-C is at least familiar and you might have a cable or two around somewhere that will work.

But John is absolutely right in that the broad public reception to this change is going to be loud and unhappy. That’s the nature of change. Sure, we can see now that the iMac replacing all old ports with USB-A was a good idea for the long run. But in the moment the pain was exquisite. The dongles came to town and stayed for a long, long time.

People are going to scream bloody murder when Apple changes the cable on the iPhone. It is an inevitability. There will be stories about how it’s an Apple cash grab. There will be many anecdotes about people thinking they’d grabbed a USB-C cable when it was really Lightning and as a result their Phone died. Families with a mix of iPhone 15 and previous models will complain about which cable goes to which phone. That’s because this will be a real, legitimate inconvenience for many people.

But I do think that it won’t be as bad as the transition Apple made eleven years ago. Many (though not all!) hotels learned their lesson when it came to buying millions of Dock Connector-based clock radios only to have Apple turn to Lightning. These days most people are comfortable charging devices via USB adapters and cables. USB power ports are everywhere. There will be a storm, to be sure, but I expect it to blow through quickly.

I do wonder about the final fate of Lightning. While older iPhone models and that first-generation Apple Pencil will probably still be sold with the connector for years to come, I suspect we’ve already seen the final new product to include a Lightning port. Rumors suggest that M3 iMacs will be arriving this fall, and while Apple very rarely updates the Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Keyboard, this would seem to be a good time to revise them to support USB-C.

In any event, dear reader, you should definitely get prepared to answer the questions of your friends and family as they discover that their new iPhone may not work with their existing cables and assorted accessories. It’s going to happen. I just don’t think it’ll be as bad as the last time.

—Linked by Jason Snell

By Jason Snell for Macworld

How will Apple redesign the iPad Magic Keyboard?

“I would never want to be in the iPhone case business,” a friend of mine said the other day, and I couldn’t help but agree. Designing accessories for Apple products means you’re in fierce competition for largely low margins, you have to gamble on early design leaks to get started with your own creations, and you are utterly at the whim of Apple’s own design decisions.

There’s one seller of Apple accessories who doesn’t have to worry so much, though: Apple itself. Apple has the home-field advantage of knowing all the details of its forthcoming products. It’s got convenient upsell capabilities in Apple stores and the ability to sell Apple-branded products at much larger profit margins. But then there’s perhaps the biggest advantage of all: Apple can control the very product design itself as a way to enable the accessories it wants to build.

No product embodies Apple’s own synergy between hardware and accessories like the iPad. Stripped down to its basics, it’s just a tablet. But it can be outfitted with Smart Folios, Magic Keyboards, and Apple Pencils, often with connectivity provided by ports never seen on any other Apple product. And it looks like we’re about to see another round of iPad accessory innovation.

This week, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that a new iPad Pro is due next year. And, he says, it’ll come with a “revamped” Magic Keyboard that “makes the iPad Pro look even more like a laptop than the current setup and adds a larger trackpad.”

Today’s iPad Pro uses a design specifically built to enable interesting accessories: a strong array of magnets and a Smart Connector (three metal dots that transfer power and data), all on the back of the device. The Smart Connector was previously on the side, but clearly, Apple decided that placement along the back would be a better fit with the future accessories it had in mind.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

Jason Snell, come on down. You’re the next contestant on The Talk Show. Special topics: John Warnock and Adobe, Disney and Apple, the iMac’s 25th anniversary, and more.

With a busy fall looming, Mac analyst Stephen Hackett joins the show to give Jason’s computing setup a check-up. And some iPhone rumors suggest the Color Czar may be leaving a lump of Space Black coal in Myke’s stocking this year.

By John Moltz

This Week in Apple: Press release excitement

John Moltz and his conspiracy board. Art by Shafer Brown.

Rumors this week indicate that not only will the cables that come with the iPhone 15s have different connectors, they’ll be different in between, too! We’re also hearing from totally reliable sources that the Vision Pro is way cool, and Apple is supporting a bill that could let you crack your iPhone open like a Penn Cove oyster.

So-called “cordless” phones

So about those new iPhone cables… Just like the iMacs of old, they come in colors. This probably just sounds like a gimmick, but think of how useful it will be in picking out the right cable from the drawer of white cables you already have. The new cables are:

  1. Color-matched to your iPhone
  2. Thicker and more durable
  3. Longer than the cables that previously shipped with iPhones
  4. Limited to USB 2.0 speeds
  5. Flavored

I may have made one of those up. You think it’s the last one, but with the variety of USB-C cables available, can you be sure?…

This is a post limited to Six Colors members.

By Jason Snell

Giving up the iPad-only travel dream

MacBook and iPad

Every time any of us packs a bag, we are making some very specific tech-focused decisions. It starts with what devices we need (or can live without) and cascades into charging bricks and cords and anything else that will keep us powered up and not feeling regret about having left an essential device behind.

I’m spending a few days this week visiting my mom, and it’s the fourth or fifth time this summer I’ve needed to pack a bag as a part of a busy travel schedule. For many years, I tried very hard to travel with only an iPad. (Why bring two devices? And I’m not leaving my iPad at home.) Since the arrival of Apple silicon, however, I’ve gone back to traveling with both an iPad and a MacBook Air.

As the Mac picked up speed (and the M2 MacBook Air packed even more power into a delightful new design), the iPad seemed to evolve slowly when it evolved at all. I’ve noticed that a lot of my colleagues who were previously working hard to integrate the iPad into their professional work have backed off, retreating to the more flexible and powerful Mac side of the house.

In the battle between iPad and Mac, I’m a longtime member of Team Both—I use my Mac most of the day at my desk, but when I write elsewhere in the house or backyard, I switch to an iPad Pro in the Magic Keyboard case. And that iPad (in a regular case) is my primary computing device when I’m not in work mode.

I’m not at all ready to declare the “use iPad to get work done” experiment dead. With the forthcoming release of iPadOS 17, Stage Manager has thrown in a bunch of improvements that suggest the iPad’s progression to more functional status continues, albeit at a pace that’s a bit too slow for my liking.

But here I sit at my mother’s dining room table, typing on a MacBook Air. Something has changed in my approach to travel, and I’m trying to understand just what it is and what it tells me about the trajectory of the iPad as a productivity tool.

My productivity needs are clearly unlike those of most people, but the truth is that everyone’s got different productivity needs. The problem with the iPad continues to be that as it builds functionality, it has failed to build in flexibility—or at least the flexibility offered by a platform like macOS. If the iPad doesn’t support it, you’ve hit a brick wall. Your choices are to find a workaround or give up.

As I’ve written about for the better part of a decade, I’ve tried endlessly to find a solid workflow to record podcasts on the iPad. Oh, sure, there are plenty of workarounds, but the bottom line is still this: the iPad’s audio system is so inflexible that it just can’t do the job.

Sure, it would be swell if a utility like Audio Hijack could run on the iPad. But even a simpler solution, like being able to record microphone audio in one app while simultaneously using Zoom to have a conversation, would make this approach viable. Speaking of Zoom, that app’s built-in recording feature will save a recording of your local microphone audio… on every platform except on iOS and iPadOS.

But it’s not just podcasting. Take the Stream Deck, a clever external device that lets you press buttons to kick off all sorts of tasks. I’ve come to rely on it, so much so that in a moment of weakness, I bought a second Stream Deck (for travel and potential use in a backup office I’m setting up) on Prime Day the other month.

While there’s an iPad app for Stream Deck, it’s not what you think. It turns the iPad into a Stream Deck, so you can tap on its screen and execute macros on a Mac or PC. If you connect a Stream Deck to an iPad directly, nothing happens. The Stream Deck software on Mac and Windows runs in the background, looks for button presses, and then runs macros. That kind of software just doesn’t fit how Apple envisions the iPad experience.

Sure, the iPad has the Shortcuts app, and many of my Keyboard Maestro macros really just execute shortcuts… but this very useful accessory just doesn’t work with it. How could it? Even if there were a market for it, I don’t think the platform is robust enough to support it.

This is where the iPad is today. It’s good enough for what it does. If it doesn’t do it, it doesn’t do it. This is the fundamental difference between the Mac (a platform that basically lets developers and users do anything they want) and the iPad (where if Apple doesn’t specifically allow it, it can’t be done).

The beauty of the Mac as a platform is that Apple doesn’t have to think of every use case and doesn’t have to build out every single esoteric detail in order to enable new features. It empowers developers and users to build what they need, and by extending the Mac’s functionality, they incrementally increase the Mac’s value as a computing platform.

On the iPad, advancement doesn’t work like that. Instead, it’s decided in various meetings inside Apple where specific features will get prioritized or deprioritized for the next operating system cycle. Once every year or two, we will hear about some (legitimately exciting!) new features that will extend the usability of the platform. And that will basically be it. The waiting begins again.

I’m tired of waiting. I’m tired of creating more inconvenience for myself in order to push the iPad past the boundaries Apple has set for it. For the cost of an extra 2.75 pounds in my backpack, I can travel with a MacBook Air knowing that more or less anything I need to do while on the road can be accomplished without requiring weird workarounds or risking a catastrophic tech failure.

I want to do it all on my iPad. I hope that one day I’ll be able to. But for now, I’m done pushing the envelope. Apple will determine what I can do with my iPad, and when that changes, I’m sure they’ll let me know. Until then, all any of us can do is wait.

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