News from Six Colors

The latest in the world of Apple

Six Colors Apple, technology, and other stuff by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

  • macOS Monterey Review: Seeking harmony, but a work in progress
    by Jason Snell on October 26, 2021 at 6:07 pm

    If there’s a theme of Apple’s operating-system releases in 2021, it’s platform unification. This development is most significant for macOS, which tended to lag behind iOS in the 2010s, missing out on some or all of the year’s exciting innovations.

    Apple has spent the last few years getting the base technology of iOS and macOS back in sync, removing 32-bit software, adding Mac Catalyst and support for iOS apps on Apple silicon, and introducing new cross-platform development technology via Swift UI. And with macOS Monterey, you can see the fruits of all that labor: The big new features of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 are also the big new features of macOS Monterey.

    Unfortunately, some of the biggest features are still missing. The most important new feature in Photos is missing from the Mac, though Apple says it will arrive soon. And one of the biggest features being imported to the Mac from iOS, Shortcuts, is in a half-finished state.

    But here’s the good news: Despite all the worry among Mac users the past few years that Apple might be attempting to collapse Mac, iPhone, and iPad into a single amorphous product, macOS Monterey still feels unreservedly like a Mac. While Apple wants its platforms to share features, it also recognizes that each serves a different (albeit overlapping) audience.

    Keeping tabs on Safari 15

    Safari’s look hasn’t changed much by default (top), but the new Compact tab view (bottom) combines tabs and the toolbar in a single row, and (optionally) color matches the webpage in the active tab.

    Back in June, Apple made a bold announcement: It was going to revamp the interface of its Safari web browser across Mac, iPad, and iPhone. The revamp was met with a lot of criticism, and Apple spent the first months of the summer simplifying, revamping, and making aspects of the change optional.

    In the end, what we’re left with is an option that’s off by default to present Safari windows in a Compact tab layout. (You’ll find the setting in the Tabs subsection of Safari’s Preferences window.) When this feature is turned on, the traditional two rows at the top of the Safari window—one with toolbar items and the Smart Bar, another with tabs—are collapsed into one. The Smart Bar disappears. The Tabs become floating lozenges that are indeed compact—it doesn’t take more than a few of them being open at once […]

  • Putting Netatmo weather on the menu
    by Dan Moren on October 26, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    If there’s two things that we here at Six Colors love, it’s putting data in our Macs’ menu bars and the weather—also, of course, combining those two things.

    Netatmo Weather menu

    Following Jason’s previous excursions into adding weather info to his menu bar, I decided to embark upon a similar task with my recently acquired Netatmo weather station and our perennial favorite menu bar utility, SwiftBar.

    Netatmo provides an API to let you retrieve data from its weather stations, and its documentation page even allows you to test it out with your own device (you’ll need to log in to your Netatmo account first).

    The standard Netatmo system is composed of two modules: one that sits inside your house and one that goes outside. I was more interested in the outside temperature, though I may adapt it in the future to provide information from both. However, the outside module collects relatively little information: just temperature and humidity.1 (The inside module, by comparison, also measures noise and CO2 levels.)

    Writing the script itself proved to be fairly straightforward; it was largely built on a similar script that I’d made to display the current UV level. Like many APIs, Netatmo’s can be accessed using a variety of programming or scripting languages. Data is returned in JSON format, allowing you to pick out the specific information you want.

    But the real challenge came in dealing with authentication. The example code shown on the API page includes an authorization token…but that token is only temporary. Netatmo uses a framework called OAuth, which not only requires a more complex process to obtain an authorization token, but also provides tokens that expire after a certain amount of time. So I couldn’t simply hardcode in the tokens used in the example page—instead, I had to add code to request a token.2

    Once I had the script working, I added a few additional refinements. In addition to the current temperature, the Netatmo API provides information about the temperature trend, in terms of whether it’s going up, down, or is stable; this is reflected in my script by an up arrow or […]

  • (Podcast) Upgrade 378: The Maximum Macintosh
    by Jason Snell on October 25, 2021 at 7:19 pm

    Jason’s spent the last week with the new 14-inch MacBook Pro with M1 Max processor, and we’ve got his in-depth review. And at last, Jason and Myke both review the new Apple Watch Series 7.

    Go to the podcast page.

  • 14-inch MacBook Pro review: A Mac Pro in your backpack
    by Jason Snell on October 25, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    MacBook Pro 2021

    The new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models usher in a new era in Apple laptops. These are the first high-end Macs to be powered by Apple-designed processors, and that’s a big deal—but they also reject the minimalist design mid-2010s Apple, which achieved design simplicity by forcing complexity and frustration on users.

    These new MacBook Pros are a success story not just because of Apple’s custom-built processors, but because Apple has admitted (in deeds, if not words) that the previous generation of laptops were a misstep. When you’re designing a tool for professionals to use—and make no mistake, these MacBook Pros are serious tools for serious jobs and priced accordingly—function should always win out over form. There’s a different sort of elegance to be found in versatility.

    I’ve spent the last week with a 14-inch MacBook Pro with an M1 Max processor with 32 GPU cores and 64 GB of RAM. And I’m happy to report, it’s true—all of it. Apple has undone its mistakes of the past few years and created a laptop that’s essentially a Mac Pro you can slide into a backpack.

    A flatter look

    They’re separated by 20 years, but the MacBook Pro’s similarity to the Titanium PowerBook G4 is remarkable.

    With this revision, Apple has admitted that it’s okay to stick a few extra ports on a laptop to please professional users. But just because function has won a round over form doesn’t mean Apple has abandoned its sense of design. At a glance, you can tell that this isn’t the same MacBook Pro1 design that we’ve seen over the last decade or more. The corners are noticeably curved, but the edges are much […]

  • An original iPod prototype ↦
    by Dan Moren on October 23, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    Panic’s Cabel Sasser shares a look at a prototype for the original iPod:

    To celebrate, I want to show you something you’ve never seen before.

    Now, there are a lot of mysteries in the Panic Archives (it’s a closet) but by far one of the most mysterious is what you’re seeing for the first time today: an original early iPod prototype.

    We don’t know much about where it came from. But we’ve been waiting 20 years to share it with you.

    It’s both surprisingly huge and surprisingly yellow.

    Go to the linked site.

    Read on Six Colors.