WWDC 2021 Predictions

Nothing like a last minute prediction post. With the initial keynote kicking off in just three hours, I wanted to get five predictions out in the open before Tim Cook walks on stage/outside/etc. to either crush my dreams or send them soaring.

  1. Apple’s Home Strategy is clarified. homeOS announced.
  2. iOS and iPadOS gain clearer, more accessible user customization (a la the great widget boom of 2020).
  3. New Apple Hardware and Silicon are not announced.
  4. iPadOS lacks redesigned external display support.
  5. iMessage gets wild.

Some slight elaboration and thoughts on my predictions.

Apple’s home strategy is scrambled. The HomePod is dead; long live the HomePod Mini. The new Apple TV 4k and HomePod Mini have thread radios, which seem to be the future of home device connectivity. The Home app is messy, if not convoluted. Apple’s home plans need to be refocused and executed and I think that can start with software, before announcing any new or substantial hardware.

The widget customization boom last year took everyone by surprise, I think. I have non-tech friends that have stellarly designed Home Screens. I think Apple ought to and will lean into giving developers and customers better, clearer tools for leveraging that customization.

The M1 is truly exciting. Whatever is next, that can drum up its own fervor at a different event. If Apple announces new hardware, specifically a new chip, that will be the dominate topic coming out of WWDC, not the software. This is a developer’s conference. I say Apple lets the software shine and let the hardware talk later.

I simply think new and proper external display support will be a mid-iPadOS 15 upgrade, like cursor support was for iPadOS 14.

By wild I just mean better features and more customization. iMessage (in)famously helps lock people into the platform. Give people more incentive to keep their conversations there instead of WhatsApp, GroupMe, Facebook Messenger, etc. Tout security and privacy alongside colorful backgrounds, better group messaging, and personality.

No matter what happens in a few hours, WWDC is always a great kickoff to summer. With E3 next week, it is definitely the most wonderful time of the year.

Dolphin Emulator Ported Natively to Apple’s M1 Processor

Dolphin Emulator – Temptation of the Apple: Dolphin on macOS M1: by JMC47 and Maylmilae for the Dolphin Blog via John Gruber at Daring Fireball

The blog post is technical, but there is a short section with two charts that is insanely clear cut: Apple’s M1 processor is wicked fast, powerful, and efficient.

How does the M1 hardware perform when put up against some of the beasts of the GameCube and Wii library? We also included data from two computers featured in Progress Reports previously for comparison.

There’s no denying it; macOS M1 hardware kicks some serious ass. It absolutely obliterates a two and a half year old Intel MacBook Pro that was over three times its price all while keeping within ARM’s reach of a powerful desktop computer. We were so impressed, we decided to make a second graph to express it.

The efficiency is almost literally off the chart. Compared to an absolute monstrosity of a Desktop PC, it uses less than 1/10th of the energy while providing ~65% of the performance. And the poor Intel MacBook Pro just can’t compare.

Gruber quoted that final line as well. 

To put this is in perspective (and to wrap my head around it), the M1 they are testing is the M1 MacBook Air with the 7-core GPU. The lowest end of the M1 line, costing $999. And the M1 is the consumer-level processor as Apple makes this transition from Intel/x86 to Apple Silicon/ARM. This is only the beginning of macOS with the power of ARM.

The PC the MacBook Air was tested against had an Intel Core i9 9900K processor with the brand new, top of the line Bitcoin mining (and gaming) GPU from Nvidia, the RTX 3090. Those two alone cost $1875~. You’d still require a motherboard, power supply, case, RAM, cooling, monitor, and a hard drive. Casually clicking around PC Part Picker, trying to match certain specs where I could (to help the PC out!), the equivalent build would cost nearly $3000!

Again, the Dolphin team was able to get the performance above on a 13’’ laptop with no fan and 7-integrated GPU cores.

Holy smokes! I cannot wait to get my own Apple Silicon-based Mac and see Apple’s professionally aimed chipset in the coming year. Wow.

Kara Swisher Interviews Apple CEO Cook for Sway – MacStories

Kara Swisher Interviews Apple CEO Cook for Sway by Kara Swisher for The New York Times’ Sway via John Voorhees at MacStories

I always look forward to interviews with top Apple brass. It is rare to get one-on-one time with them to ask questions and learn more about them, their role within the company, and how decisions are made at Apple. Kara Swisher asks about privacy, the new App Tracking Transparency, Epic’s lawsuit against Apple, and so on. Tim leans into an emphasis on curation in the App Store, which is hard to imagine with the scale of apps available and are likely submitted daily. Swisher does a great job and I’m glad I found this interview. 

Tweetbot 6 Arrives for iOS

Tweetbot for iOS

Tweetbot 6 is here. There is no other app or subsequent company that I give my money to instantly. Tapbots makes my favorite Twitter client, which I’ve been using since I signed up for Twitter in 2012. I’ve bought/upgraded to every version since Tweetbot 2 (4 turned into 5 for free).

For Tweetbot 6, Tapbots has switched to a subscription model, with pricing at $0.99 a month or $5.99 a year. Easiest $6 I have ever spent.

MacStories details the latest features in their write up.

Aside from the new pricing model, Tweetbot 6 has only implemented a handful of new features, including a few changes to the timeline view and some design changes. In the main timeline, you’ll notice more image thumbnails than before. Polls and cards are also visible thanks to the implementation of Twitter’s latest third-party APIs, and there are new dedicated ‘@’ and ‘#’ buttons in the app’s tweet composition sheet.

While light on newer features, Tapbots is calling this release “early access.” Users may scroll their timeline for free, but not tweet themselves without subscribing.

This early access version for iOS uses the new Twitter API. We are calling it early access because there are many new features on our roadmap to be built as well as new API’s to adopt as Twitter makes them available.

This seems promising if Twitter’s new third-party API can continue to return to a more open set of tools. I would love for the return of a stats page like there was in Tweetbot 4. Right off the bat, I can immediately tell the app is snappier. There has clearly been a huge focus on speed on the backend. Finally being able to see polls in Tweetbot is extremely welcome. Subscribing allows me to regularly support some of my favorite app develops for my most used app. I am happy to do it and am looking forward to the future of Tweetbot.

Why is it so Difficult to Emulate Apple IIGS Games?

I am practically at my wits’ end. I just want to play three Apple IIGS games, two of which seem to be exclusive to that particular iteration of Apple’s famous computer. Search after search has led my to various apps and emulators that either run Apple IIe tier games, are not 64-bit compatible, or require odd web browsers and extensions.

Maybe I don’t know enough about older computing commands, coding, etc. I can’t even really figure out if something like the Raspberry Pi can emulate the Apple IIGS and its games. Maybe this kinda of emulation is easier on Windows PC (which would be ironic to say the least).

This strikes me as so odd for this sort of game emulation to be so convoluted. It is easier to jailbreak an iPhone, install emulators, and play Nintendo DS games on the phone. Why does this era of early home PC gaming have such a technological hurdle to even attempt? I’ve even looked into Amiga ports for the games I am looking at and the emulation doesn’t seem any more clear on that front. Maybe it is due to having to emulate an operating system underneath the game’s code?

These past two or so weeks have been incredible frustrating for this little side project. I just want to play a few obscure Apple IIGS games? Is that too much to ask for?