News from Six Colors

The latest in the world of Apple

Six Colors Writing about Apple and other stuff by Jason Snell, Dan Moren, and others.

  • (Podcast) Upgrade #242: Myke and the Modems
    by Jason Snell on April 23, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    What’s next for macOS and iOS? This week we discuss all of last week’s reporting by Guilherme Rambo about the future of Apple’s platforms, from Find My Friends to support for external displays and pointing devices, to the complicated future of automation on macOS. Jason also extolls the virtues of the Kindle, Apple and Qualcomm come to terms, and YouTube goes back to basics.

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  • Where does automation fit on macOS? ↦
    by Jason Snell on April 21, 2019 at 11:17 am

    Here’s Dr. Drang with a deeper dive into the issues about bringing Shortcuts to macOS:

    Regardless of what comes to the Mac in 10.15, it seems inevitable that Marzipanification will eventually lead to a Mac Shortcuts app. Which raises the question of how Shortcuts will fit within the Mac automation environment.

    Lots of good questions here and a lot of uncertainty. My guess is that what we get in 2019 will not be entirely satisfying and that we’ll have to wait a while before things settle down. But as Drang points out, if apps that you rely on for automation get turned into Marzipan versions that are inaccessible to scripting, things will be unpleasant.

    [Read on Six Colors.]

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  • Shortcuts coming to the Mac? ↦
    by Jason Snell on April 19, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    Guilherme Rambo of 9to5 Mac brings news of another possible addition to macOS 10.15—Siri Shortcuts and, more interestingly, the Shortcuts app:

    It’s also likely that the Shortcuts app - a result from the acquisition of Workflow - will be available on macOS, the inclusion of system-wide support for Siri Shortcuts on macOS 10.15 strongly suggests it. On iOS, the Shortcuts app is not bundled with the system, users have to download it from the App Store. It’s possible that the same will be true for macOS: users will download a Marzipan version of Shortcuts from the Mac App Store.

    Supporting the feature on macOS is important so developers of iPad apps can more easily port their Shortcuts-enabled apps to the Mac, with the new SDK becoming available at WWDC. According to sources, only Marzipan apps will be able to take advantage of the Shortcuts support on macOS. Engineers are also working on bringing the assistant on macOS closer to its iOS counterpart by porting over features such as the ability to set timers and alarms and ask about air quality, currently unavailable on the Mac.

    Unfortunately, the wording of this report is a bit unclear, since it says that Shortcuts coming to the Mac is “likely” or “strongly suggest[ed]”, and then says more certainly that “only Marzipan apps will be able to take advantage” of it. How likely is likely? The existence of inside “sources” suggests that the project is actively being worked on, which goes beyond just inferring its existence from the plan to bring Siri Shortcuts to the Mac. What I’m saying is, it’s hard to gauge just how likely this scenario is.

    Automation on the Mac is in danger of becoming a real mess. Automator and AppleScript haven’t changed much over time, and probably won’t ever be able to control Marzipan apps. Bringing over Shortcuts as the macOS automation tool of the future sounds good to me, but if it’s limited to Marzipan apps only, things get weird. The Mac would end up with two entirely different classes of apps, each with their own automation system, both walled off from the other.

    I have to hope that Apple will provide some way for the developers of “classic” macOS apps to add support for Shortcuts into their apps. To not do so would be pretty ridiculous. And what’s Apple going to do for its own apps, assuming they won’t all make the move to Marzipan?

    In the long run, Shortcuts for macOS needs to be able to access all sorts of low-level Mac features that its iOS counterpart can’t do, via support for shell scripts and AppleScripts. (The ability to run scripts is really

  • Google and Amazon bury the hatchet ↦
    by Jason Snell on April 19, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    The Verge’s Chris Welch reported on Thursday about Amazon and Google making up when it comes to connecting video services and hardware platforms:

    YouTube is returning to Amazon’s lineup of Fire TV products, and the Amazon Prime Video app will be adding Chromecast support and become more widely available on Android TV. Those two developments, jointly announced by both companies this morning, mark the end of a long-running standoff between Google and Amazon, a feud that has kept a native YouTube app off of the Fire TV platform for well over a year. Customers were really the ones who were disadvantaged as soon as these two tech giants entered into this spat, so to see that it’s over is very good news.

    Google will bring YouTube back to Amazon’s Fire TV devices “later this year.” The flagship YouTube app will come first sometime within the next few months — there’s no firm launch date as of yet — and it will be followed by YouTube TV, the company’s subscription TV service, and the child-oriented YouTube Kids before the end of 2019. Fire TV will become fully certified for YouTube, signaling that it offers first-rate video quality and minimal buffering. YouTube for Fire TV will also support Alexa voice commands for searching and playing content.

    It’s funny—I was bitten by the old state of affairs earlier today. I’m staying in a hotel room with two large flat-screen TVs equipped with Chromecasts. (Cool!) I wanted to watch the “Star Trek: Discovery” season finale, but I get CBS All Access through Amazon Prime Channels, and the Prime Video app doesn’t support Chromecast (yet). To solve the problem I had to sign up for a seven-day trial to CBS All Access within the CBS app, which does support Chromecast.

    This is silly. I am glad to see these barriers coming down, bit by bit.

    [Read on Six Colors.]

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  • Three ways Apple’s own Marzipan apps can benefit macOS (Macworld)
    by Dan Moren on April 19, 2019 at 5:15 am

    As the Nobel Prize laureate once sang, “The times, they are a-changin’.”

    2019 is a big year for Apple, and at the forefront of the questions circling around the company is the future of macOS. Last year’s demonstration of “Marzipan” technology—letting iOS apps run on the Mac with little alteration—shook the foundations of what many people considered a Mac app.

    Long time Mac users are, understandably, nervous about what this could imply for the future of their chosen platform. Will apps get “dumbed down” and features lost? Will developers eschew Mac-specific programs for the ease of deploying one app everywhere? As Mac users, we’re used to feeling dour and grim about what’s to come, especially those of us who lived through the dark times of the mid-1990s.

    But amidst all of that doom and gloom, there are plenty of glimmers of hope about what this could mean for the Mac. I’d go so far as to say I have optimism that deploying iOS apps could be a boon for not just Apple, but the whole Mac platform, which is not only alive and kicking, but even flourishing.

    Continue reading on Macworld...

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