00:00:08 ◼ ► From Relay FM, this is Upgrade, Episode 267. Upgrade is brought to you this week by ExpressVPN, Linode, and Timepage.
00:00:19 ◼ ► I am Jason Snell. Myke Hurley is on assignment, and by that I mean we've assigned him to take a nice, lovely vacation somewhere in Europe where he's having a good time without us.
00:00:29 ◼ ► But I have replaced him with a fellow European, a fellow Brit in fact. It is developer of Peacalk and DragThing. We'll get to that.
00:00:42 ◼ ► And Diced by Peacalk, and a frequent guest host on the Rebound podcast, and a soon-to-be player on Total Party Kill, along with Myke Hurley and others.
00:00:55 ◼ ► So much hype for James Thompson. Hello. Hello. We all sound vaguely alike to you lot, so just a sort of drop-in replacement.
00:01:04 ◼ ► Can we get another UK person? Yeah, sure. Well, thank you for being here. You're from a further north part of the UK, though.
00:01:13 ◼ ► Yeah, who knows how those borders are all going to work out in the end, but I don't know. We may not be alive to see it. Who could tell? Anything could happen. It's the 21st century.
00:01:24 ◼ ► Yeah, oh boy. It's going to be great. Well, okay, we actually, nobody wants to hear about that borders and things, because we're going to go to the Snell Talk question, which you can also join in in answering.
00:01:33 ◼ ► This question came from Andrew, who said, I chose a question, by the way, because Myke revealed a few weeks ago that he does not choose these at random. He picks them out specifically for each episode.
00:01:44 ◼ ► I chose one because you and I have been doing this for a long time. I chose one that is for about the past. What long lost feature from the Mac or even the Apple two would you bring to today?
00:01:56 ◼ ► If you could, that's what Andrew asks. And, um, my initial thought was, I honestly, my initial thought was most of the stuff is better now, right?
00:02:10 ◼ ► That's the first thing is it's, I was like, what about like, like multi finder? It's like, no, it's all better now. But I came up with one, which is the appearance manager and, and also kind of related kaleidoscope.
00:02:22 ◼ ► These were, uh, tools that let you do, you had different themes in Mac OS before there was the dark mode and the light mode many, many years before there were themes.
00:02:32 ◼ ► Uh, and there was a whole theme system that basically got boiled down to platinum, the one theme, a theme system with one theme.
00:02:41 ◼ ► Uh, but in the kaleidoscope utility, uh, let a lot of people make their Macs look terrible basically, but it was fun. It was a fun time and people could build their own themes for the entire Mac OS.
00:02:51 ◼ ► And, uh, this was in the sort of Mac OS 8.5 era and right up until the last minute, there were a bunch of other themes. It was like high tech and gizmo and there was a nice sort of like hand drawn one from Japan as well.
00:03:07 ◼ ► And they all went away and high tech lives on only in the, uh, cinematic classic Batman and Robin on Alfred's 20th anniversary Macintosh.
00:03:17 ◼ ► Yeah, we actually published in Mac user, we publish screenshots of all those themes, right? Like we were, we were like, Oh, look at all these themes. And then eight, five shipped and it was like platinum.
00:03:26 ◼ ► You get platinum, which is, I mean, more or less is what we think of as the Mac interface. Like it was, uh, it, it influenced the early days of OS 10. It was sort of the brushed metal of its time.
00:03:38 ◼ ► Um, and I want to point out also in Batman and Robin, one of the greatest things in Batman and Robin, and there are many great, terrible things in that terrible, terrible movie is Batman's keyboard.
00:03:50 ◼ ► Um, I, I did a, uh, every, every few months, somebody discovers a tweet I made. I must be have great search engine optimization for this one tweet, which is if you do Google the right search terms involving Batman's keyboard, you get my tweet with a screenshot of the keyboard Batman uses.
00:04:06 ◼ ► It is the layout. Unlike any, I'll put a link in the show notes, a layout unlike any you've ever seen before. It is the, it is not a, a QWERTY. It is not a Dvorak. It is the Ucarni keyboard.
00:04:17 ◼ ► Um, the top letters are U, W, C, A, R and Y. Uh, I don't know. What are you doing Batman? What's that keyboard like? But those were, those were the days. Those were the days, uh, the high tech appearance and the Ucarni keyboard.
00:04:32 ◼ ► Uh, James, what's your, what's your favorite long lost feature that you'd, you'd like to have? I had similar thoughts to you. I was sort of running through things in my head that I remember.
00:04:40 ◼ ► And most of that stuff is, is better or there's no need for it anymore. And this is kind of true of this as well. But I do kind of still miss the hierarchical Apple menu.
00:04:51 ◼ ► Um, there used to be an Apple menu items folder in the system folder and you could put aliases and files and folders and stuff in it and it would appear as a hierarchical list, uh, in the Apple menu.
00:05:04 ◼ ► And I'm not sure it'd be particularly useful today, but my, uh, Mac OS 10 doc spoilers for a future segment, uh, had a doc items folder, the same level as the desktop folder.
00:05:15 ◼ ► And it was based on the same concept that you could put things in. And if you dried something into the doc, you'd end up with an alias sitting in this folder. Yeah.
00:05:23 ◼ ► And I mean, you can, you can make a folder in the doc and put things in it so you can sort of do this now, but it is for people who don't remember this or weren't around then.
00:05:31 ◼ ► Uh, it was pretty cool that you could, you could, your, you had one customizable menu on the system and was the Apple menu and anything you put in there showed up in that menu everywhere.
00:05:41 ◼ ► Um, no matter what app you were in or anything, it was great. Some people put an alias of their hard drive in it. That was terrible.
00:05:49 ◼ ► Yeah. Once you go down like five levels deep, those hierarchical menus get quite tricky.
00:05:53 ◼ ► Yeah. And if you move your mouse a little bit too far off, then they all go away and then you've got to start again. It's like a really bad video game.
00:06:01 ◼ ► All right. I've got a little bit of follow up. Uh, one, uh, that Myke and I talk about a lot is the bridge keyboard. Do you have the bridge keyboard?
00:06:09 ◼ ► I do. Um, I have, uh, my, uh, iPad is the 10.5 iPad pro and I've got the bridge keyboard for that and I really like it as a kind of turns it into a little laptop, which is great for traveling and stuff where I don't want to be carrying around a huge, huge 13 inch laptop.
00:06:28 ◼ ► So, uh, Myke and I both have them and, and, uh, and they're nice and it's my favorite really, uh, external iPad keyboard. They're in the news this week because there's a story willing to from the verge.
00:06:41 ◼ ► Um, they, they filed a lawsuit against this company called Libra that announced a keyboard that looks just like their keyboard, except it has a track pad. And, um, what's sort of fascinating about this.
00:06:53 ◼ ► So apparently they have some sort of patent about the sort of like the clips, uh, that connect it to the iPad. And they're really just trying to say that this is a duplicate.
00:07:03 ◼ ► Somebody duplicated their product and is now selling it. Um, and there's some fascinating angles, like they can't really tell who the company is behind it. And they sued a company that says they aren't behind it and that they are involved anymore and that they've removed it from their website.
00:07:17 ◼ ► So it's kind of unclear what's going on there. Um, you know, patent lawsuits and knockoff products are not that interesting to me. Honestly, I think what I found more interesting is that as a part of this, because the, the Libra keyboard has a, has a, a track pad, uh, bridge, uh, said that they actually have been working on a bridge keyboard for iOS with a track pad and they plan to sell it as a, I think they said as a beta product.
00:07:43 ◼ ► Um, and we'll ship it early next year. Um, and that's interesting because that'd been, there'd been a lot of speculation about whether they do that. They have a surface, uh, version of the bridge keyboard that has a track pad because surface will support native pointing devices.
00:07:58 ◼ ► I was 13 of course, adds mouse support using assistive touch. So it's an accessibility feature and I I'm, you know, without getting into a lot of detail, I will say I have spent a lot of time using a lot of different input devices on iPad, iOS 13. And, uh, when you talk about it in a trackpad context on a, on a right below a keyboard, I think it's very hard if you're using it in that context to get away from the judging it like a Mac book.
00:08:27 ◼ ► And let me tell you, if you haven't used the keyboard or the cursor mode on iOS 13 iPad, iOS 13, it's not, it's something it's usable. It's not great. Like there are lots of things about it that are not great. And that's not the fault of any mouse maker or trackpad maker or keyboard and trackpad maker.
00:08:47 ◼ ► It's that Apple, this is what Apple has decided at least for now to implement and it's got lots of issues. So I'm not sure that even regardless of whether it's a bridge product or it's this other knockoff product or anything that anybody would do.
00:09:02 ◼ ► I'm not sure that anyone who's excited about using an iPad with a trackpad in iPad, OS 13 is going to be satisfied by the experience. It might be okay. It might be usable, but it's not going to be good.
00:09:17 ◼ ► And that's because the implementation and iPad OS, I feel like is not good and certainly not up to the standards of what we expect for something like a, like a Mac book where I think we take for granted just how great the Mac book trackpad is in terms of precision in terms of doing gestures, all sorts of stuff that Apple has really fine tuned that iPad OS 13 can't do.
00:09:39 ◼ ► Yeah, I thought it was interesting that they were referring to this as a beta product. Like, you know, it's a physical hardware thing that they are selling.
00:09:49 ◼ ► And I think to call it a beta is somewhat, it's like a, you know, it's not like you're going to get upgraded to the full version.
00:09:57 ◼ ► So my feeling is that what bridge really wants to do is warn people that this is not the like regular product that everybody should buy. It's a weird thing that uses accessibility features that are not sort of not intended for this and that your experience is not going to be great.
00:10:18 ◼ ► Calling it a beta. And by the way, cheers to you for saying beta because we've beaten that out of Myke. He doesn't do it anymore, but you're sticking with it and that's great.
00:10:28 ◼ ► But, but I think they're just ultimately, I think what they're doing is sort of like trying to scare people away and say, look, this experience isn't going to be great.
00:10:36 ◼ ► So if you buy this, just know what you're getting yourself into, because I think that I think that that's the challenge here is that even if it's the best engineered iPad keyboard and trackpad in the world that is possible to be made.
00:10:51 ◼ ► Yeah. I mean, I, I also, you know, I have somewhat complicated feelings about patents, particularly software patents, but with this, it's not really about the trackpad at all.
00:11:02 ◼ ► They're really just, you know, this is, this product has a trackpad and so this has caused the reveal of their own trackpad based product, but they really seem to be going after them just for the sort of hinge mount points.
00:11:15 ◼ ► Yeah. Yeah. We'll see. I think that, I think that they feel that, uh, it's a knockoff and that bugs them. And since they do have this one patent, they have something that they can try to take action about.
00:11:26 ◼ ► But I agree with you. I don't, I don't love that at the same time. I also don't love the idea that they went to the trouble of designing the system and then somebody said, oh, that's a great idea.
00:11:34 ◼ ► And then just copy that. That is sort of what the, what the side is supposed to do. But anyway, I think it's a fascinating thing and, and, uh, we'll, if this product comes out, we'll take a look at it.
00:11:44 ◼ ► But, um, I think everybody who's spent time with the mouse mode in an iPad, OS 13 would probably say that it's a work in progress for sure.
00:11:53 ◼ ► And hopefully there's progress at some point down the road because it's great that it's there. It's, it is an accessibility feature.
00:12:00 ◼ ► It's not meant to be a full fledged consumer feature for like general purpose mousing. Uh, and it's great that you can do something with it and that's useful.
00:12:11 ◼ ► But, um, the question is where does Apple think it's going to go and is Apple going to embrace using a mouse on iOS or do they feel that this is exactly what they wanted to do and no more?
00:12:21 ◼ ► And we just don't know. So we'll see. Um, I want to move on and do something that's technically upstream. Uh, and, and although it is way more than upstream at the same time, and this is, uh, touching the third rail a little bit, but I feel like you gotta, you gotta talk about it.
00:12:38 ◼ ► So, well, hi James, come on the show, you know, no difficult topics, nothing difficult at all. So a bunch of stuff happened this week.
00:12:47 ◼ ► There's a story about how, um, uh, I'm going to back into this with the upstream story, which is about how Apple told the producers of its Apple TV plus shows, uh, among other things to be careful to not offend China in creating the content that they were creating for Apple TV.
00:13:07 ◼ ► Plus, um, and, and this, this in context of a bunch of other stuff, including Apple taking an app down in Hong Kong that was being used by people in Hong Kong to avoid where, you know, the unrest is where there's a, where there's tear gas, where there's other things like that.
00:13:26 ◼ ► Um, and they took it down and then they put it back and then they took it down again. And Tim Cook released a statement saying, well, we took it down because this was being used by bad people to commit crimes and things, which seems to most observers to not be true.
00:13:40 ◼ ► And then that was just sort of a flimsy excuse by the government to get this thing that was being used out of the, uh, out of the store. And, um, and this is the same week as a general manager in the NBA, uh, posted a note positively, uh, discussing the protests in Hong Kong, which led to Chinese TV dropping all the NBA games and all sorts of other things there.
00:14:06 ◼ ► Um, the, uh, in, in video gaming, there was the guy who, who, uh, or was he, he was a player?
00:14:12 ◼ ► He was a player and he made a pro Hong Kong democracy statement at the end of the match.
00:14:19 ◼ ► And he got, uh, basically suspended for a year, his prize money taken away and the two commentators who ducked under the desk when he said it, who had nothing to do with it, were also suspended and Blizzard faced extremely strong, um, protests against that.
00:14:38 ◼ ► And, uh, they have a statement, I think it's like a fountain or something just outside their, their campus about, you know, everybody's voices being important and people had covered that up. And yes, it was a, it was a whole thing.
00:14:52 ◼ ► And so they, and there was a lot of walking back of things as well. So the NBA, um, the NBA commissioner, uh, said that their, their employees have the right to free speech and they can say what they want.
00:15:04 ◼ ► Um, in the case of Blizzard, they posted a statement where they basically said, okay, you know, he, he did this after the fact and we're going to suspend him, but not for as long. And we're not going to take his prize money away because this doesn't have anything to do with him as a player.
00:15:20 ◼ ► And we, you know, they, they, so they walked that back a little bit too, but that reflexive action, um, was certainly striking in a week where all of these other things were happening.
00:15:30 ◼ ► And, um, so a couple of things here, cause this is really about Apple and China. And I want to start with the TV plus stuff just because it's related to upstream, which is how I'm classifying this. Myke can get back to me later about it.
00:15:43 ◼ ► And that is, there was a really nice Twitter thread by Matthew Panzareno from tech crunch, um, where he said, uh, what I was thinking, which is this is literally the Hollywood playbook. Every studio does the same.
00:15:54 ◼ ► This is Panzare. Uh, movies are edited to appeal and not offend China. The culture clash is one of optics and interests. It's always been a bad practice, but the public perception is that tech is above it all in neutral driven by marketing positioning and a culture of secular
00:16:07 ◼ ► techno paganism. And that's cracking. We know that industry is craven. We know that entertainment is fickle. Tech was supposed to be different. And the realization that it is not brings us to the current theological crisis.
00:16:18 ◼ ► I think that's well said. Uh, if you know anything about the entertainment industry, you know that this is not Apple being this unique company that's trying to position its entertainment to be sellable in China. Everybody does this.
00:16:31 ◼ ► Uh, Marvel movies are a good example where they took a character who is from Tibet and made that character from somewhere else that was not a disputed, uh, unrestful place within China.
00:16:42 ◼ ► Uh, and it goes, the list goes on pretty much endlessly because the Chinese market is so big and entertainment companies are reluctant to basically close the door on that.
00:16:53 ◼ ► Um, the larger issue for Apple is not just that they're an entertainment company who's worried about the Chinese market, but that I would argue a core part of Tim Cook's strategy, even before he became the CEO of Apple when he was just the supply chain guy,
00:17:07 ◼ ► is using Chinese labor and Chinese industry to create an incredibly efficient and effective supply chain. And it has allowed Apple to sell the huge volumes of products that it sell.
00:17:20 ◼ ► People don't remember. It used to be Apple couldn't. There was a period where Apple made too many things and their inventory was way too large.
00:17:30 ◼ ► And then there was a period where Apple struggled to make enough things and Tim Cook, one of the things that Tim Cook is great at and why he's the CEO of Apple now is because he was able to get that supply chain working super efficiently.
00:17:42 ◼ ► Because the most efficient supply chain is one that makes products as cheaply as possible that are of as high quality as possible.
00:17:49 ◼ ► And everyone that pops off the line is at a pace for every sale that goes on. Like there's literally no boxes in a storeroom somewhere.
00:17:57 ◼ ► It's essentially we're making them and selling them and it's 100% efficient. Apple's supply chain isn't 100% efficient, but it's very efficient.
00:18:05 ◼ ► In addition, Tim Cook has spent a lot of time as CEO talking about how bullish he is on the Chinese market as a market for Apple's products.
00:18:12 ◼ ► And the fact that it is a tantalizing market, I think the last estimate I saw said that the middle class in China is rapidly, like in the next few years, headed to be the size of the entire US population.
00:18:23 ◼ ► And those are Apple's potential customers. So this has been a huge part of Tim Cook's strategy for Apple.
00:18:31 ◼ ► And the truth is that five years ago, I would say it looked like a pretty good strategy because there wasn't as much unrest in China or related to China.
00:18:40 ◼ ► And there wasn't a trade war between the US and China. And it looked like this whole kind of dependency, international dependency was something that would benefit Apple.
00:18:52 ◼ ► Because it could work across all of these different borders in order to build its products.
00:18:57 ◼ ► Apple as a result is perhaps the most dependent tech company on China. And that leads us to today where Apple is...
00:19:10 ◼ ► Peter Kafka wrote a piece where he said, this is on Vox, he said, "Unlike tech companies that haven't broken into the country or only do minor business in it,
00:19:21 ◼ ► Apple is so deep in China that leaving it could be catastrophic. Even if the company was willing to forgo the $44 billion a year in sales it makes in China,
00:19:28 ◼ ► it can't leave the deep network of suppliers and assemblers that build hundreds of millions of iPhones every year."
00:19:34 ◼ ► And there was a story that we referenced here a while ago in the New York Times about Tim Cook being kind of tech's top diplomat,
00:19:47 ◼ ► But he has to do it really because his business is predicated on the idea that China and the US get along and that he can do business in China while also doing business everywhere else.
00:19:58 ◼ ► And I just think it's fascinating because five years ago, I think everybody would have said this is a really canny strategy on Apple's part and Tim Cook's part.
00:20:06 ◼ ► And now I think Peter Kafka's right, which is if Apple can't make things in China, regardless of selling things in China, it's a catastrophe for them because that's where they make most of their stuff.
00:20:21 ◼ ► And it strikes me that if Apple isn't aggressively trying to find alternate means of building products that are not in China,
00:20:34 ◼ ► they're making a colossal mistake because the amount of leverage this gives China over Apple is enormous.
00:20:40 ◼ ► And, you know, Apple can't just put its foot down and say, "No, China, we're not going to do what you say because Apple is in deep in China right now."
00:20:48 ◼ ► And I think one of the things with this is, you know, even if Apple moved its manufacturing to India or some other large superpower,
00:20:58 ◼ ► they're also, you know, they're going to face similar problems when they come up against, you know, local laws and things that they may not actually agree with.
00:21:10 ◼ ► And, you know, there's been a general sort of sentiment this week of like, "Well, Apple's just as bad as everybody else."
00:21:17 ◼ ► And I don't think that's true, but, you know, because Apple has put such an emphasis on, you know, privacy and things and being the sort of the, in quotes, "woke tech company,"
00:21:31 ◼ ► this reflects especially badly on them, even though, you know, I think they're trying to walk this middle ground very carefully.
00:21:42 ◼ ► Yeah, walking this, I mean, this is what, this is that Tim Cook as the diplomat is all about is they have been trying to walk this line carefully.
00:21:49 ◼ ► I think what the last week has shown me is walking that line is great until the point where you can't walk it anymore because then what do you do?
00:22:01 ◼ ► And Apple, it looks like the way their business is structured, they can't get off that line and say, "See you later, China," because they can't.
00:22:15 ◼ ► And leaving aside the fact that they've already structured the way that they do things so that Apple's products in China use completely different services
00:22:24 ◼ ► and their servers are in places where the government can look at them, like there's all of these things that they've already done.
00:22:36 ◼ ► I am disappointed in the memo that Tim Cook set out to Apple employees because he was taking the ideas of why that app needed to be banned at face value
00:22:49 ◼ ► when I think most observers on the scene who are objective about this would say that that was really a pretense in order to get that app out of the app store
00:23:03 ◼ ► But this is something that any company that has to do business in China has to reckon with, which is it is an authoritarian state
00:23:12 ◼ ► and their standards in terms of speech, especially about China and about politics relating to China,
00:23:26 ◼ ► and they think you shouldn't say anything about what China does if you aren't in China.
00:23:32 ◼ ► And if you're in China, you should also not say anything about it. That's essentially their take on it.
00:23:36 ◼ ► So it's a difficult situation for any Western company to be in. And boy, you could not have picked a better week.
00:23:44 ◼ ► I mean, everything went out on the table now. And, you know, I don't know how Apple navigates this.
00:23:51 ◼ ► I think that Apple will continue to be very careful about it because, like you said, they have a lot to lose
00:24:01 ◼ ► and make every effort to stay on that line and walk that line. In the background, though, they've got to, right?
00:24:17 ◼ ► It's one of those, you know, we went back when I was working at a big company, we had the, you know, the SWOT analysis,
00:24:23 ◼ ► the strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. And it's like, this is a threat.
00:24:27 ◼ ► This is the what happens if we can't do business in China? What happens if our supply chain in China is interrupting?
00:24:39 ◼ ► Because we've seen now that this world that we live in today, more complicated maybe than you thought it was five years ago,
00:24:46 ◼ ► things that you thought maybe would never happen five years ago are kind of happening now.
00:24:50 ◼ ► So what do you do? And it's just, you know, I think this is this is going to be a big challenge for Apple in the next,
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00:26:45 ◼ ► So one of the reasons that when we were finishing the show last week, I thought about having you sit in for Myke,
00:27:09 ◼ ► So you had an app called Dice by Peacock in which has been an iOS app for a little while, not too long.
00:27:17 ◼ ► In the Mac App Store on day one, it was in the little featured check out these apps that came from iOS,
00:27:35 ◼ ► And before I ask you about it, I wanted to at least mention we have a whole background here.
00:27:40 ◼ ► Like you and I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons this spring and summer with an interesting group of people,
00:27:58 ◼ ► And that's a new season of Total Party Kill on the incomparable that starts November 5th.
00:28:02 ◼ ► I'm going to plug it now if you want to listen to Myke and a bunch of other people on Tiff and Adina,
00:28:21 ◼ ► And James, you hadn't played D&D since you were a kid, and we pretty much made you a dice addict, right?
00:28:31 ◼ ► And it was actually the Conservative Party and Margaret Thatcher that stopped me playing D&D
00:28:49 ◼ ► But yeah, I realized that the last time that I had played D&D before this campaign was before Myke and Adina were actually born.
00:28:59 ◼ ► And this made me crumble to the same dust that I found in my parents' attic as I went to look for my old dice.
00:29:13 ◼ ► I will buy these. And to the point where I had a sort of dragon sized hoard of dice that I sleep on at night.
00:29:21 ◼ ► Now, those dice are pokey. That's got to be uncomfortable for you to sleep on those dice.
00:29:27 ◼ ► Yeah, that's right. Dragons aren't comfortable. They don't sleep comfortably on their hoard of gold.
00:30:05 ◼ ► So I got some polyhedral dice models and put them in and try rolling them. This kind of works. Okay.
00:30:19 ◼ ► And this is like, not a very realistic schedule, but I thought, well, I know all the technology of doing the 3D stuff.
00:30:29 ◼ ► And it in fact took me two weeks, but two weeks from creating a new project in Xcode to actually shipping it on the store is a kind of a record for me in getting a product out.
00:30:44 ◼ ► It's kind of been my evenings and weekends relaxation mental health project that the about screen was a few years ago.
00:30:55 ◼ ► But yeah, it was also a small enough project that I thought, well, let's try this and see where it would go as a catalyst app.
00:31:08 ◼ ► It's got lots of different dice. You can choose different dice themes so you can have all those different pretty dice without having to buy more and more sets of dice.
00:31:20 ◼ ► So then you did this and I've got questions about Peacock properly, but let's start with dice by Peacock because this is your one that is shipping.
00:31:36 ◼ ► And so I have a lot of questions for you about the process of taking an iOS app and putting it on the Mac from the source from somebody who actually did it because I think this is I think this is good in helping us gauge sort of where catalyst is.
00:31:53 ◼ ► So my first big question, though, is Apple says you can compile and run an app from iOS in catalyst with the check of a box.
00:32:08 ◼ ► When I first built it and ran it, the window was black aside from the buttons because scene kit was not working in that particular build of Catalina.
00:32:42 ◼ ► But in a sense, that's not really surprising because catalyst started out as the iOS simulator, which is part of Xcode that when you're developing your app, you know, you can run it in a in a window on the Mac as a way of, well, I don't have to copy it down onto the phone.
00:33:04 ◼ ► So they had that technology for basically building your iOS app as an Intel binary and running it on a Mac. And this is sort of productized this into a way of doing that and making a Mac app.
00:33:18 ◼ ► And then they've moved on from that because that was kind of like the stage one where we had the Mojave, the former Mojave apps were using this technology.
00:33:48 ◼ ► And Peacock took me a lot longer because there was, you know, older APIs that I was referencing for backward compatibility, say, you know, I had adopted the new API, but I had the old API reference.
00:34:03 ◼ ► But, you know, the basics work and it is kind of, you know, I've been quoted in a number of outlets for being very critical and catalyst.
00:34:44 ◼ ► And a lot of that stuff, bugs especially, kept going right up to the wire and beyond the wire because there's still this stuff.
00:35:00 ◼ ► You it throws an error about wrong compiler architecture to the console and you get this black window problem.
00:35:15 ◼ ► So, you know, it felt like this project was coming in pretty hot, much like most of Catalina and all of Apple's products.
00:35:46 ◼ ► I think I feel like this is a very important thing that that Apple did emphasize the WWDC, which is this this concept that you check the box and then you add.
00:35:57 ◼ ► And the idea is it it's OK, you've got an iOS app in a box that, you know, in a window that runs on the Mac.
00:36:13 ◼ ► You designed Dice by Peacock, presumably not really thinking about Mac design decisions.
00:36:19 ◼ ► And then you've got, even though it's a relatively new app, and then you sit down with it on your Mac.
00:36:30 ◼ ► I mean, so the real big one that was sort of bothering me was I mentioned before that you can pick all these different dice themes and the number of dice themes grew bigger and bigger.
00:36:43 ◼ ► So I ended up using the little spinning picker UI elements that they use for the date pickers and things like that.
00:36:51 ◼ ► And I use that so you could just sort of, you know, flip it and scroll around and you could pick a pick a theme.
00:37:10 ◼ ► And there's a lot of things like the more iOS native UI you use, I think the more out of place things feel.
00:37:39 ◼ ► You know, and that immediately the fact that you could just click on it and, you know, it works like a menu.
00:37:47 ◼ ► It's not quite right, but I mean, all of these catalyst apps from viewed from a perspective of a traditional Mac app are not quite right, but it's pretty close.
00:38:03 ◼ ► It reminds me of what when you did the custom key pop ups and pcalc in the early days of the iPhone where I believe you said this is one of the classic blunders, which is rebuilding an entire UI element yourself.
00:38:20 ◼ ► And there are when you start building these things, you find, oh, these things are just entirely built of edge cases and Apple has to deal with all this stuff.
00:38:31 ◼ ► It's like, you know, what if you open this thing and it's right at the bottom of the screen?
00:38:38 ◼ ► And so I wrote what I could, but this is I mean, this comes on to talk about later and what I would like to see improved.
00:39:03 ◼ ► So it has, you know, like the little segmented views and it has pop ups and it has all these things.
00:39:17 ◼ ► So if we want to make an interface, particularly outside the preferences window, which you can get some of that for free for just the preferences window.
00:39:27 ◼ ► But if you want like a pop up in your main UI that looks like a Mac and works like a Mac and has all the feel of a Mac, you know, you have to either write it yourself or not do that.
00:39:38 ◼ ► And there's other things like iPad apps get scaled down to 77 percent of their size pixel wise, which is not ideal.
00:39:51 ◼ ► And some of the Apple apps, like again, the podcast app, opts out of this using a private entitlement so that it's not scaling it.
00:40:02 ◼ ► And so, yeah, other things I had to do, I scaled down the fonts because when it was on a Mac screen, it was like, oh, no, these fonts all look far too big.
00:40:17 ◼ ► That was the first comment you made on the first build of the Dice app when I sent you the, you know, the just the checkbox version.
00:40:28 ◼ ► Yeah, that's the first thing I do when I open one of these catalyst apps is I look at the menu bar because it's a great reveal because you remember there were what was it?
00:40:35 ◼ ► There back in the Java days, especially, there'd be these apps that were actually in Java and they would run and they'd have their own menu bar in the window, which is even more horrifying.
00:40:45 ◼ ► And then they but they would have a Mac menu bar and it would have essentially nothing in it, but like quit.
00:40:50 ◼ ► And so I found with catalyst, it's been very interesting to move that way because there are very basic things that go in the menu bar.
00:40:59 ◼ ► But because iOS and iPad OS don't have menus per se, it really is up to the developers to say, what would I like in a menu bar?
00:41:18 ◼ ► And it's like for a Mac app, you expect to be able to drive the app without touching a mouse or a drive pad.
00:41:36 ◼ ► So it definitely benefited me as adding those keyboard shortcuts helped me on the iPad too.
00:41:41 ◼ ► I mean, and I think that is one of the things that depending how this goes in the future, I think is going to benefit iPad apps is that we will end up with these apps which have got hopefully the strengths of both platforms rather than the weaknesses of both platforms, which can be the case with this cross platform stuff.
00:42:02 ◼ ► It was like rethinking gestures because, you know, the two finger gestures like panning around don't really work through catalyst.
00:42:10 ◼ ► And, you know, there's even tiny stuff which I doubt anybody will notice, which was like replacing the word tap with click anywhere in the UI and the help.
00:42:19 ◼ ► And, you know, that was just a kind of like I didn't want the sort of stuff to start leaking out at the edges where you read the release notes and it talks about, you know, tap and tap here.
00:42:32 ◼ ► I actually did this weekend was finishing up my work on my new version of my book about photos.
00:42:36 ◼ ► And I one of the things I did this time was really completely merged together the Mac and iPad and iPhone versions of photos.
00:42:44 ◼ ► It's it started out as a MacBook and then it was a MacBook with some iPad and iPhone stuff added on.
00:42:51 ◼ ► And one of the things I've had to do throughout is when I'm referring to both, I have to say tap or click or click on the Mac or tap on iPhone or iPad because it's different.
00:43:04 ◼ ► It's not the right word. If you use the right that the taps everywhere, you're you're using the wrong word in a Mac context.
00:43:09 ◼ ► So it's it's a little thing. But but I think it's important to say, you know, hi, Mac user, I see you and you may not be tapping.
00:43:20 ◼ ► Yeah, that's what I was going to ask is is how are you feeling today about this thing that you've got in the Mac App Store?
00:43:26 ◼ ► I mean, it was it was a it was a kind of the point of it was an experiment to see where I could get.
00:43:31 ◼ ► And, you know, the Dice app, I like the Dice app. It's not like my main revenue stream.
00:43:47 ◼ ► And I think I got it as best as I could, given a the time constraints, because this was done in the background of trying to get Peacock ready for iOS and running into lots of problems there.
00:44:00 ◼ ► And, you know, so this was like, again, it was the the weekends and evening project of, you know, let's see where Catalyst is today.
00:44:10 ◼ ► What can I do? And I had a big list of, you know, well, I'd like to do this, but I can't do this because of X, Y, Z.
00:44:21 ◼ ► You know, you can't resize it down to the iPhone window sizes, even though my iOS app can cope with that, you know, because you can put it in split screen and whatever.
00:44:31 ◼ ► And it would be nice if you could make it just a tiny, you know, sliver down the side of your screen.
00:44:42 ◼ ► It's I I've had sort of reasonable feedback to it. Nobody has, you know, said this is the worst Mac app I've ever seen.
00:45:03 ◼ ► But if we step back from that and having gone through this catalyst experience, I would like your wish list.
00:45:12 ◼ ► Like what having gone through this is Apple not providing to you that you think should be there for people who are trying to bring their apps over from iPad to Mac?
00:45:21 ◼ ► So, I mean, it's technically it's not impossible that a framework like UIKit could build a Mac app that feels as native as any other Mac app.
00:45:31 ◼ ► Because that's exactly what happened with app kit. You know, people forget that carbon was like the Mac.
00:45:44 ◼ ► But, you know, that app kit came from the next world and it was adapted and it was made more Mac like.
00:45:51 ◼ ► So, you know, in the end, it's it's all just pixels on the screen. So it's all possible.
00:45:57 ◼ ► So what I would really like is the Apple to provide sort of Mac like controls, you know, like these pop up menus or checkboxes or anything.
00:46:07 ◼ ► I want to build a UI that looks exactly like a Mac without having to write it myself because I feel that this is Apple's job, not mine.
00:46:16 ◼ ► And, you know, if Apple even recognizes this by the podcast app using, you know, private APIs to do these kind of things, they clearly know that it's something that a good Mac app should have.
00:46:30 ◼ ► And again, with the scaling, you know, I'd like to be able to opt out of that and and do everything myself.
00:46:37 ◼ ► And there is a way that when you have an iOS app, there is a thing called the user interface idiom.
00:46:47 ◼ ► And that's basically says you're running on an on a phone or you're running on an iPad or maybe you're running on a TV or whatever.
00:46:54 ◼ ► And it is just a way that your code can say, you know, I'm going to behave differently on this device.
00:47:00 ◼ ► And so, like, you know, Peacock will lay things out slightly differently if you're on an iPad and so on.
00:47:07 ◼ ► And they could have and they didn't add UI interface idiom Mac, which would let you say, OK, I have this code.
00:47:16 ◼ ► I'm now running on a Mac. Let's do things differently. And that might be where they're planning to go because the catalyst, they announced this sort of two, three year roadmap.
00:47:32 ◼ ► And at that point, I assume we're going to have the unified binaries that run, you know, the same app, literally same app will run on both platforms.
00:47:45 ◼ ► I think really what I want from Apple is I want some kind of like timeline or like roadmap of where they think this is going to go because we'll come to this later.
00:47:58 ◼ ► But, you know, is is catalyst the future? Is catalyst like something for the next few years?
00:48:12 ◼ ► I know it's hard to believe and talk about what your thought process is about your the app that you do have on the Mac as a native Mac app and the app that you also have on iOS.
00:48:24 ◼ ► Peacock. But before we do that, I want to take another break and tell you about another sponsor.
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00:50:10 ◼ ► You've got the Mac version. Presumably, if you decided to use catalyst for your Mac version,
00:50:19 ◼ ► that would save you a lot of time because you're currently maintaining a Mac app and an iOS app.
00:50:24 ◼ ► Yeah, I mean, the current Mac app is an interesting one in that it is actually a port of the iOS code.
00:50:32 ◼ ► So five years ago, you know, the 64 bit writing was on the wall and I wanted to have an app kit version.
00:50:44 ◼ ► And it was a case of I wanted the core code to be the same and I took the iOS app and I ported it over.
00:50:55 ◼ ► And, you know, there's a lot of custom UI in pcalc around where the buttons are and things like that.
00:51:01 ◼ ► So it wasn't as hard as it sounded. But then the code started to diverge because like the core code is shared.
00:51:15 ◼ ► But the user interface code doesn't. So some features like there's the layout editing, which I added to iOS years ago,
00:51:22 ◼ ► and that's not made it to the Mac because I'd basically need to write that whole code again.
00:51:27 ◼ ► And if I could use the same code on both platforms, this would mean the Mac would get features quicker.
00:51:36 ◼ ► I would have more time to just spend writing actual features, which is something I have not done,
00:51:42 ◼ ► not been able to do a great deal of this year because I've been chasing Apple's various operating system strategies.
00:51:50 ◼ ► And so, yeah, I would have more time to actually devote to the application. And this would be great.
00:51:59 ◼ ► The iOS UI as it currently is on the iPad, you know, there's a lot of popovers and tables and navigating down into tables and things like that.
00:52:14 ◼ ► Have you run it? Have you run your check the box and run Peacock on your Mac and gone, oh, no, no, no, no.
00:52:19 ◼ ► Yeah, no, I that was the first thing I did. I actually had a catalyst version of Peacock running in Mojave.
00:52:26 ◼ ► Thanks again to Steve Tran Smith, who showed me the dark arts involved in building a catalyst app before it was allowed or before it was even called catalyst.
00:52:52 ◼ ► But it it just doesn't feel right. You know, everything is within a window and supporting multiple windows is something that's also on my roadmap for this.
00:53:02 ◼ ► But even then, it's a sort of hard to put a finger on, but it's this sort of intangible.
00:53:10 ◼ ► Is there is part of it the idea that if you're a Mac user using Peacock and going on about your business and then an update comes out that turns it into this, that it would be disappointing that as a Mac user, like, oh, what happened to Peacock?
00:53:21 ◼ ► Well, yeah, and that's not something I would do until such time as it exceeded, you know, the quality.
00:53:37 ◼ ► There's lots of things I would love to do, but I don't know that my customers would particularly love it.
00:53:42 ◼ ► Right. And, uh, yeah, and I think the key is to find the sort of middle ground between the Mac and the iPad user interface, you know, that enhances the current iPad app and makes it better, but also is an app that when it's translated to catalyst and arrives at the other end, that Mac users are not going to look at and go, what is this?
00:54:07 ◼ ► So how do you balance, you know, obviously this is your balancing act and you have to find the right balance between giving users something that's good and also saving yourself a lot of effort and a lot of time by going to a single app instead of two separate code bases.
00:54:25 ◼ ► Yeah, I think, you know, user experience wins out in this case and, uh, it's, you know, I, the thing is I have a nice functioning Mac app, you know, it's missing a couple of features, but mostly it has feature parity with the Mac and all the core stuff goes over.
00:54:43 ◼ ► And, um, but it's using catalyst like this when you have an existing Mac app, it's a sort of, I think it's a decision to be taken very carefully.
00:54:55 ◼ ► And as soon as you know, if catalyst starts to get the reputation of a bit like when there was the, uh, the iWork stuff was redone when they, when they, it got dumbed down.
00:55:10 ◼ ► As people would say on the Mac. And there was because they were trying to go for more of a shared code base and shared stuff between iOS and Mac.
00:55:20 ◼ ► And, you know, Apple made that decision and then like improved the apps gain gradually over time.
00:55:27 ◼ ► But yeah, I mean, I don't know if you've noticed this, but people on the internet tend to be quite vocal about things.
00:55:45 ◼ ► Is this, is this like Steve Schraut and Smith would like to say that what we might say, it feels weird and doesn't feel quite Mac like, you know, he, he often will say, actually, well, you know, you'll come to think of it as Mac like, like this is going to be different.
00:56:02 ◼ ► And it's going to be more like, uh, what we see with catalyst and that the Mac is kind of going to be redefined in a way that makes it more similar to catalyst.
00:56:11 ◼ ► Do you feel like, is this the future of Mac apps or is this some strange digression, uh, you know, a temporary weird thing that happened to the Mac along the way to wherever it's going?
00:56:25 ◼ ► Um, I don't know, and I don't know that Apple knows, um, you know, Swift UI is what they've positioned as the future.
00:56:41 ◼ ► People have used it for watch apps and I believe that's where Swift UI originated was with the watch project.
00:56:48 ◼ ► And, but I've heard that it's not really ready for sort of a big Mac app. So it might be that the, the thing that makes the weird, uh, look and feel that eventually becomes the Mac might be Swift UI, might not be catalyst, but you know, is catalyst the new carbon?
00:57:08 ◼ ► You know, is Swift UI five years away, 10 years away? Does catalyst last 19 years like carbon did?
00:57:16 ◼ ► I think that's unlikely, but you know, every app that comes over using catalyst is to a certain extent, technical debt that Apple needs to deal with in the future.
00:57:26 ◼ ► I mean, even their own apps that they're, they're writing using it, but you know, not everybody is ready to jump on board Swift UI yet.
00:57:33 ◼ ► It's not finished by any means. And, uh, it's, so we're in this weird position of, you know, if I was starting to write a new Mac app today, you know, what technology do I use?
00:57:48 ◼ ► You know, I've, if you've got an existing iOS source base, catalyst is really appealing because it's a way to get started.
00:57:56 ◼ ► If you're starting from scratch, do you start with Swift UI and put up with the pain for a couple of years? Assuming that this is going to be the future.
00:58:05 ◼ ► I mean, if nobody adopts Swift UI and Apple internally hasn't really used it for many things yet, you know, at what point, you know, does Apple say, well, Swift UI isn't really using, isn't really taking off, but catalyst is everywhere.
00:58:22 ◼ ► Shall we standardize on catalyst? So I feel that, you know, that the direction that the, the, the big arrow that they've put down is pointing towards Swift UI.
00:58:38 ◼ ► But I'm typically quite conservative in adopting, like I'll adopt new APIs and features and stuff, but new sort of things like this, I'm a bit hesitant to jump into. Partially because, you know, people forget that Apple had a track record of turning up to WWDC and saying, this is the future.
00:59:00 ◼ ► And then next year saying, well, that future that we outlined for a few years is not going to happen. You know, there was a whole operating system that they talked about for a number of years, which didn't happen.
00:59:19 ◼ ► And I think I don't, I'm not putting this in, in the same state as the original Mac OS 8, because I don't think that that's what's going to happen to it.
00:59:37 ◼ ► Because if Catalyst has like a five-year lifespan, what happens, you know, if people bring all their apps over and then Apple turns around and says, well, you need to rewrite everything in Swift UI now.
00:59:55 ◼ ► I mean, because it is essentially using the iPad stuff and I don't think that that's going to go away. You never know. I am interested to see how the narrative about Catalyst changes over time because already I feel like we had a lot of scenarios about how people could use Catalyst this summer.
01:00:15 ◼ ► And among them was, oh, you're an iOS developer who's never been on the Mac before and you don't know how to make Mac apps. Well, great. Now you don't need to.
01:00:24 ◼ ► That seems to be gone. Like really what it is is you're an iOS developer or you've got a big iOS code base and you want to bring that to the Mac relatively easily.
01:00:32 ◼ ► Well, you can, but you're going to need to learn some things about the Mac because you're going to need to probably write some custom things and, you know, use AppKit for some things in order to make it a really good Mac app.
01:00:45 ◼ ► And that's different. And I've heard from some developers who had no iOS experience who basically said, it's fine. We're pros. We can learn stuff, but it's great that we don't have to write a completely new app.
01:00:55 ◼ ► We can take our existing stuff and then learn some stuff about AppKit and make a good app. That's a little bit of a different story.
01:01:00 ◼ ► But in the long run, I do think it benefits Apple to have iPad and Mac code bases shared because there's more going on. First off, there's more going on on the iPad than the Mac in terms of apps.
01:01:11 ◼ ► And that's been true for a while now. But second, the iPad also kind of needs a little bit of a kick. And so being able to put both of those platforms together and say, see, you can write an app and appeal to these two platforms together.
01:01:22 ◼ ► I think that's good for both of them and makes the iPad apps better and brings more apps to the Mac. But, you know, is that you're right. Is that a five year story? Is that a 15 year story?
01:01:33 ◼ ► And it's probably not the long like that. This isn't the next generation app building system, right? Swift UI is supposed to be that this is sort of just extending iOS to Mac.
01:01:45 ◼ ► Yeah. And I mean, Apple are using it for their own stuff as well. So, you know, maybe part of that is to build apps so that they know that this stuff works, because that was one of the justifications for the finder being carbon was, you know, this this was an app to show that carbon had this great long future, which he kind of did sort of.
01:02:08 ◼ ► Yeah. So I think it's like next year will be very interesting to see what happens after another year of development. And if things are pretty much the same as they are, then it's clear where Apple's investing.
01:02:20 ◼ ► Fair enough. Fair enough. Okay. I want to talk about drag thing. We're going to have a little wake for drag thing and take apart what happened there. But first, I want to read our last sponsor.
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01:03:58 ◼ ► Thank you to ExpressVPN for hiding my location from everyone and for supporting upgrade. Okay, James, you had a funeral last week. It was after a long illness. Drag thing died. It was 25.
01:04:18 ◼ ► It was your utility that was kind of like the doc, but before there was a doc and then after there was a doc also where you could click on things and it had like contextual docs and different apps and all sorts of things. Great utility.
01:04:30 ◼ ► I gave it five mice on the Mac user Mac download library back in the day. And that's my first clear memory of knowing you was that I gave your app five out of five because it was so great.
01:04:44 ◼ ► And I used it up until a couple of years ago. I still had it on my Mac running all the time. So yeah, I mean, I can't remember how we first knew each other. I did some digging and I found an email from April 95 where you were clearly beta testing drag thing.
01:05:00 ◼ ► Yeah. And I have no idea how you found me or I found you though that it's. Yeah. I don't know if I just like what you posted on a news group or something. I don't know. I probably did a comp says Mac apps. Shout out.
01:05:15 ◼ ► But back when you are assistant editor at Mac user, I clearly my first job. I mean, I was working my first job as well. I was like just out of university except I was still working at the university.
01:05:30 ◼ ► Apparently I found a bug, which is very exciting because as I say in this email from April 4th, 1995 and this is completely accurate to this day, I beta test lots of software and too often I don't ever find a bug.
01:05:41 ◼ ► This is true. It's really it's like thanks for putting me on your beta list. I didn't ever see anything, but apparently I found something. So thank you for having a bug in your software in 1995, but I have no idea what that bug was.
01:05:53 ◼ ► No, I couldn't find any of the previous and I don't have these. I have emails from 1995 believe it or not, but I don't have them from my work address which is where this is from. So I don't I don't have that. So this app came out in 1995.
01:06:06 ◼ ► You actually ended up working on the dock in OS X for a little while and there's a long story that there is a long story that you can find it on YouTube. I think you've told that story, but that definitely changed the trajectory of drag thing, right?
01:06:23 ◼ ► Because now there was a the concept of a system wide dock came to Mac OS X. So drag things primary feature, which was to be a dock on your Mac was no longer, you know, you were I guess you were Sherlock, but the good news is you show like yourself because you worked on the dock.
01:06:40 ◼ ► Yeah, I also worked on Sherlock, which is this irony is everywhere. But the so it was interesting because like in Mac OS 8.5 there was the tear off app switcher thing, which you could pull down from the process app switching menu.
01:07:00 ◼ ► And I actually wrote at the time there was drag. I was working for Apple at the time and I had had a an item in my contract that I could continue working on drag thing in my free time. You never get that kind of deal these days if you're an Apple employee, but I you know, I was sort of fiddling away with drag thing.
01:07:17 ◼ ► And I was asked if I would do a version of drag thing a cut down version for Mac OS 8.5 to be bundled with 8.5 and so there was a drag thing light that shipped around about the same time, which was a cut down version of drag thing.
01:07:32 ◼ ► And that was entirely written for Mac OS 8.5 and it was going to be the tear off app switcher for that. And that never happened. That deal kind of went awry. I think there was a management chain change and whoever came in said, well, we're not doing that.
01:07:51 ◼ ► So the app switcher got written, but that was my sort of first taste of it. And then I was asked later on, it was like I knew I'd been working on a variety of things and I really wanted to work on Mac OS 10.
01:08:03 ◼ ► And I had ended up working on networking software, which is extremely not my forte as I'm a user interface person. And I was like, I really want to work on something else.
01:08:15 ◼ ► And somebody contacted me and said, you know, we have this thing that we think you might be good for. And it was the OS 10 doc. And, you know, I knew then that, you know, that this would kill drag thing.
01:08:33 ◼ ► Yeah. Yeah. So what, so I always knew you as the drag thing developer. That is, that is always how I knew you. It's taken a long time to think of you as the peak developer, I guess in the future. I'll just think of you as the guy who makes dice apps, but for now, peak developer.
01:08:47 ◼ ► When, when did that changeover happen for you? When did you go from being the drag thing developer to being the peak developer as your primary thing that you did?
01:08:55 ◼ ► So when the iPhone came out and I first used it, I thought this is something special. It was kind of like the first time I ever used a Mac. You know, there's a sort of intangible user interface magic about it.
01:09:09 ◼ ► And I thought, well, I need to do something for this. So when the SDK came out, I thought, well, you know, peak out sort of, I haven't really done much with it. It's kind of, you know, it's a product, it sells, but it's not really our main business.
01:09:23 ◼ ► So I will make this one test app. This is kind of like the catalyst thing. You know, I'll take a small project, I'll make a test app and I'll see how it goes. First day of the app store or second day, in fact, because I get the sales results and I see the sales number and I think, oh, there's a problem here.
01:09:47 ◼ ► Yeah. And it was, you know, there were only 400 apps on the store on that first day. So, you know, it had quite a lot of visibility in that day. So, you know, the first day of sales, this is a lesson for anybody is don't take the first day of sales as something that you can then multiply by 365 and that is going to be your income.
01:10:08 ◼ ► Because that's not how it works. It's sort of, there's tails off and then we'll hit a sort of steady state. And sometimes you can raise that steady state as you become more well known and things. But usually you get these spikes and you shouldn't, it's the area under the graph that matters. It's not the height of that spike.
01:10:26 ◼ ► So that shift happens at this point and it's like, okay, I guess Peacock and iOS is your primary business.
01:10:38 ◼ ► The last big release of DragThing, like the last paid release was 12 years ago and it was the same year that the iPhone launched. And I don't know, you know, which is the chicken and which is the egg in that situation, you know, was I just enticed into the iOS world and then stopped putting my focus into DragThing or had my focus already sort of was it waning?
01:11:05 ◼ ► Because I mean, DragThing reached feature completeness sometime in the late nineties. And then it was just a case of polishing it and, you know, adding silly things to it and whatever. But it, the basics were there.
01:11:20 ◼ ► And once you reach that sort of basics that it's not as interesting on a day to day thing, but you know, I was still keeping it going and I was doing things and I wanted to keep it running as long as I could and as long as I could just ended.
01:11:37 ◼ ► Right. And what we will, so I mean, obviously it was a 32 bit app and we'll get to some of the circumstances around it, but 32 bit apps go away entirely in Catalina. And so DragThing won't run on Catalina now. But before we get there, I want to, I want you to talk about the story that you told me a while ago about how you had to, you had to do a rush update for DragThing and realize that you could not actually update DragThing anymore. And this was what, a couple of years ago?
01:12:06 ◼ ► Yes. So DragThing, because it was a 32 bit carbon app, Apple stopped support for that in the Xcode that shipped after 10.6. So the 10.6 SDK was the last one that let you, you know, like link to things like QuickDraw and QuickTime and all these old carbon technologies.
01:12:28 ◼ ► And, but it was possible you could take a modern version of Xcode and you could kind of hack in the 10.6 SDK and still build with it. And that worked for a while. Then at some point, 32 bit support went away entirely for building with Xcode.
01:12:45 ◼ ► And what happened is sometime later, Kagi, who was a payment processor that I used for all my years of selling DragThing, they went under remarkably quickly with no warning.
01:12:59 ◼ ► And so there were all these apps that, you know, when you click to the buy now button would take you to a dead web server. And so I was still selling it at this point. It wasn't making vast amounts of money, but I needed to patch it.
01:13:12 ◼ ► So I ended up setting up development tools running in an emulator. And I had some stuff running like on Mac OS 9 to edit the user interface because I was using, there was CodeWarrior had its framework, PowerPlant.
01:13:28 ◼ ► And there was an app called Constructor, which was what you use to create your user interface like Interface Builder today. And that was, I was like, I need to edit the interface. I haven't really edited the interface in about five years or something.
01:13:42 ◼ ► And okay, I'm going to need to, I'm going to need to do that. And then I'm going to need to run an older version of the OS that I can run an old version of Xcode with the even older SDK hacked into it to build this app.
01:13:58 ◼ ► And, you know, it's not like I was unaware that, you know, the writing was on the wall. It had been clear for a very long time because of the number of hoops that I needed to jump through to just keep this thing alive.
01:14:13 ◼ ► I just, I love the idea of software updates being made in an emulator, but what can you do? I mean, right? That was it. So you made, so you made at some point in there, was that the last, the final drag thing update?
01:14:28 ◼ ► I think there might have been one more after that. I'm not sure that I kept trying to convince myself that, you know, drag thing was still going and every now and again, there would be a slightly bigger update.
01:14:44 ◼ ► But yeah, I think I knew in my heart that, you know, the patient had died quite a long time ago and, you know, just because it twitches every now and again when you give it an electric shock, it's not really alive.
01:15:02 ◼ ► Would you, so obviously it was written in classic Mac OS brought over to OS 10 with carbon, carbon's going away, which means that, you know, it would need to be rewritten completely, basically.
01:15:15 ◼ ► Would you know, did you consider that at any point of saying, well, maybe I should just make a new drag thing.
01:15:21 ◼ ► And I mean, I know you and I have talked about this before. What would it be? That's because I think you're right. One of the fundamental premises of drag thing was made obsolete by the existence of OS 10, which was a long time ago now.
01:15:35 ◼ ► So, you know, did you think about like, how could I keep this going or keep something called drag thing going into the future?
01:15:41 ◼ ► Yeah. And I mean, you know, I'm not ever ruling out doing something again at some point and calling it drag thing. But it was like, yeah, the question is, and we talked about this a number of times, what would it be?
01:15:55 ◼ ► And, you know, things like launch bar and Alfred kind of took the power users who were the people who would use drag thing, because a lot of people move to these kind of keyboard based launches and the dock and launch pad to a certain extent and spotlight took away the sort of beginner entry level people who just use a stock Mac.
01:16:18 ◼ ► It's like, what is that middle ground? You know, do you try and go even more power user? And part of the other problem with it is every year Apple locks the OS down slightly more, you know, for legitimate reasons, because there's more code out there that's trying to do bad things.
01:16:37 ◼ ► But if you're trying to write a sort of system level utility as drag thing was, it was kind of like a peer to the finder. You have to jump more and more hoops, especially if you want to be in the app store, which, you know, there's the requirements of the sandbox and things like that.
01:16:55 ◼ ► And it's, you know, could I write something like drag thing today? And I know there are people who are working on, you know, replacements.
01:17:07 ◼ ► But again, with the, you know, the writing was on the wall for 32 bit apps. Apple has been kind of saying, don't make these kind of things for years now.
01:17:18 ◼ ► And, you know, I see people who are working on things, you know, like Peter Lewis has got a keyboard maestro and, you know, it's going and it's a great product.
01:17:28 ◼ ► He does keep running into these things where, you know, all now, whenever you try and send like an Apple event to this process, you're going to get some dialogues that pop up saying, are you sure you want to do this?
01:17:39 ◼ ► And all that stuff, it just creates more and more sort of friction for doing a product like this. And so, you know, my heart really wasn't in it.
01:17:52 ◼ ► Yeah, I think that I think that makes sense. And it would be a complete rewrite. That's the other thing is it's not you deciding not to continue maintaining it.
01:18:00 ◼ ► It's literally it's been maintained in maintenance mode for a long time, and now there's no way to continue maintaining it because the entire framework on which it's built has been tossed, which is funny in a way.
01:18:13 ◼ ► This is the quiet death of classic Mac OS, right? Because carbon was the bridge from classic Mac OS to OS 10 and carbon is now put to sleep.
01:18:24 ◼ ► Like that's the end of carbon. Catalina doesn't have carbon in it anymore. It's it's finally over. It's funny that Apple maintained like we're talking about classic Mac OS 19 years later, having that bridge stuff finally go away.
01:18:37 ◼ ► It took a long time. This is also the quiet death of the Newton because some of the Newton code was still lurking in the system and that's gone away in Catalina as well.
01:18:47 ◼ ► So this is really a kind of clearing the decks and a necessary one, I would say. Yeah. It's when you've got like, you know, you've got an app that you've worked on on and off for 24, 25 years.
01:19:00 ◼ ► The prospect of like, well, clean slate start again. That's quite a hurdle to get over.
01:19:08 ◼ ► And, you know, I figured it would probably take me a year to get to the state where I would have something that was happy with. But even then, it probably wouldn't have all the functionality if that was even possible.
01:19:25 ◼ ► And, you know, especially with iOS, you have to keep up with this stuff. If you let your apps get behind, you know, things stop working. iOS breaks things a lot more than the Mac does in terms of compatibility.
01:19:39 ◼ ► So, you know, every year you've got a big laundry list of things you need to do. So, you know, Peacock is my revenue stream.
01:19:48 ◼ ► So could I take a year off from doing that to do something else? Which maybe, I mean, I know how many people use DragThing because I can see the software update.
01:19:58 ◼ ► You know, how many times a week does the software update mechanism get pinged by the copy forlornly looking for that new version of DragThing never to come?
01:20:11 ◼ ► People are using it. But the thing is, the people who are still using it are the people who have their entire lives in it.
01:20:17 ◼ ► You know, the people who are using it as a sort of, you know, database of everything, you know, it's not...
01:20:24 ◼ ► They've got all these, like, clippings in it. They've got all their URLs, you know, they're organizing their work through it, you know.
01:20:32 ◼ ► And I've had people, I had somebody the other day who emailed me, who's one of these people who basically said, "Yeah, I've just upgraded Catalina. How do I upgrade DragThing to make it run?"
01:20:53 ◼ ► And, you know, I've had, like, I stopped selling DragThing a year ago, because, you know, the writing was really on the wall there, because Apple had said at WWDC, you know, "This is it. This is going to be the last OS that is going to run 32-bit apps."
01:21:09 ◼ ► And so I stopped selling it, because I didn't want people to be buying it last week to find out...
01:21:15 ◼ ► If that person was running Mojave or actually running High Sierra, they would have gotten alerts saying, I guess the alerts probably said, "PCalc," or, "A DragThing is old and you should contact the developer."
01:21:26 ◼ ► And I'm sure that they thought, "Well, I'm sure the developer's on it," and then continued to use it.
01:21:30 ◼ ► Yeah, and, you know, they would get those alerts every, I think it's every 30 days or something like that.
01:21:36 ◼ ► And I had, like, the DragThing website for the last year has had the sort of the black background and the 1995 to 2019...
01:21:47 ◼ ► You know, I was going to do the whole Steve Jobs lowering, you know, raising the coffin, putting carbon in it picture, but I don't know that many people would get the reference, and Steve Jobs in coffins, it didn't feel quite right at this point.
01:22:01 ◼ ► But anyway, it was like, to quote Hitchhiker's Guide, you know, "The plans were on display."
01:22:09 ◼ ► People shouldn't have been surprised, but, you know, people were surprised, because, you know, stuff works.
01:22:18 ◼ ► And we haven't had these kind of extinction-level event operating system releases for a while now.
01:22:25 ◼ ► How many people did you get who upgraded to Catalina and asked why their DragThing or their Peacock weren't working anymore?
01:22:41 ◼ ► I mean, there was more than that who've emailed me in the previous months, but, you know, post-Catalina who are like, "Now what do I do?"
01:22:59 ◼ ► But there's been a 64-bit version of that for five, six years, and clearly I'm not very good at advertising the fact that I've got new versions.
01:23:07 ◼ ► So I know we should at least address this, because people on Twitter already asked this question, which is, a bunch of people said,
01:23:14 ◼ ► "Well, why don't you just make it open source so that somebody else could pick it up, or it could be put in a museum, or something like that?"
01:23:22 ◼ ► And the truth is, people can't pick it up. If you could just pick it up and update it, what you're not doing is saying,
01:23:30 ◼ ► "I've decided not to update Peacock anymore because I have other things to do." What you're saying is, "I can't, the codebase can't go on."
01:23:38 ◼ ► And so, open sourcing it would do nothing, except expose your code to the world that you probably don't want people to see, your private source code,
01:23:47 ◼ ► because it can't run, it literally can't run, and only a rewrite would make it work, and so there's no point.
01:23:54 ◼ ► Yeah, I mean, there's no value to that code to anyone. It has sentimental value to me, but it's not going to help anyone build a new utility,
01:24:08 ◼ ► And the old versions are out there. You can run it in emulation, or run it on an old computer, and it'll run fine, but you don't need the source code to do that.
01:24:14 ◼ ► Yeah, I mean, I think that there's a lot of value in revisiting these old systems. I've got, ironically, one of the emulators I use is 32-bit, and that's going to go away,
01:24:24 ◼ ► so I'm going to need to run that emulator in an emulator in order to get my Mac OS 9 emulation running.
01:24:31 ◼ ► But, you know, there's a value in going back and looking at this stuff, because, you know, like when we started doing this stuff, you know, in the early '90s,
01:24:41 ◼ ► there's history there, and I think it's important history, and, you know, people who weren't necessarily around at the time, you know, Stephen Hackett being one of them,
01:24:53 ◼ ► who have these kind of interests in the historical side, you know, it's good to preserve this stuff, and the sites that do the whole, you know,
01:25:02 ◼ ► abandonware, you can download these old versions of things and run them in an emulator and see how things were. I think that's great.
01:25:09 ◼ ► But those, as you say, those old versions are always going to be around. I'm going to have them, you know, available to download on my site.
01:25:16 ◼ ► I downloaded a copy of DragThing like two days ago to run it and to take some screenshots in an emulator for part of my obituary piece.
01:25:31 ◼ ► And people got kind of indignant when I was saying, no, I'm not going to open source it, and these are the, you know, the five reasons why.
01:25:40 ◼ ► And they're like, you know, but, you know, think of the value to the community, and I'm thinking what value to the community?
01:25:50 ◼ ► You know, you're going to look at this for 10 minutes or something, and for that I have exposed some pretty dodgy code that I wrote when I was,
01:26:10 ◼ ► And, you know, I think there are things that have been open sourced, you know, like Doom and these sort of old video games and things where there is a sort of,
01:26:23 ◼ ► But there isn't for a drag thing. And kind of the, you know, tending towards entitled feelings I was getting from some people rubbed me absolutely the wrong way.
01:26:35 ◼ ► And I joked about, you know, how Terry Pratchett, when he died, as part of his, in his will or whatever,
01:26:43 ◼ ► he said that he wanted all his unfinished work on a hard drive and then steamrollered and destroyed so that nobody could pick up his half-finished stories and finished them and all this.
01:26:58 ◼ ► And I did think of the, you know, the here is the one copy of the drag thing source code in existence.
01:27:09 ◼ ► Well, I look forward to a low resolution image of the drag thing source code being in the Peacock about box and being able to drive a virtual steamroller over it as part of level three.
01:27:21 ◼ ► All right. Let's move on and talk about, we'll answer some questions. It's time for Ask Upgrade.
01:27:32 ◼ ► James, jump on in here. Costas wrote in and said, what will it take in terms of features and design for Apple to move beyond the Bionic name for their chips?
01:27:45 ◼ ► I think it's purely when Apple's marketing department decides that the name isn't cool anymore.
01:27:59 ◼ ► I don't know how a TV show from the seventies spawned something that sounds cool in twenty nineteen, but this is where we are.
01:28:05 ◼ ► I think, yeah, I think there will be a feature in the chip that they want to highlight because the fusion and Bionic was them sort of marketing their multi core and the performance cores and the energy cores and all of those things.
01:28:20 ◼ ► Like it was a way to kind of express in terms of a cool, fun word what they were doing. And if they have a new thing, they want to express in a different way with a cool word.
01:28:33 ◼ ► David wants to know, does no one using Mac OS Catalina have an old steam library or do all the old games magically work?
01:28:43 ◼ ► I don't think they magically work. I think there are a lot of 32 bit games, but I got to be honest.
01:28:48 ◼ ► I if I'm using steam, I'm mostly booted into windows on my Mac using boot camp and not actually playing them on on the Mac on steam.
01:29:03 ◼ ► Divinity Original Sin 2 was one that I played recently, but I don't like sitting in the office to play games.
01:29:09 ◼ ► So I tend to use like a PlayStation 4, Xbox, Switch, those kind of things to play games because I can sit in the living room and it's slightly more social.
01:29:28 ◼ ► And it's like, A, that's not how these things work. And B, who's going to pay the Mac porting houses who do did that original work?
01:29:37 ◼ ► You know, even if it is just simple, somebody needs to sort of sign a contract, get these people back or do it in house or whatever.
01:29:45 ◼ ► And a lot of this stuff is, yeah, it's part of the 32 bit apocalypse that those games are never going to come back.
01:29:53 ◼ ► But, you know, they will run in boot camp and probably the older games will run quite happily in something like VMware Fusion or whatever.
01:30:06 ◼ ► Yeah. And the good news is there is that weird period in the middle in emulation where the emulation makes everything too slow.
01:30:12 ◼ ► But the good news is if you wait a few years, then your emulator, the device that you're running the emulator on is so powerful that it can emulate the old thing as fast as it ran natively, if not faster.
01:30:26 ◼ ► I ran into this problem when I was doing a talk about Easter eggs earlier in the year and I wanted footage of the flight simulator Easter egg that was in Excel.
01:30:42 ◼ ► And it ran so fast under emulation that, you know, you would just sort of barely touch the control and the thing would fly to the other side of the map because it was running like 10 or 100 times faster than it was supposed to.
01:30:59 ◼ ► It actually has a menu item that is that which is do you want me to constrain this to the speed at which the Apple to ran?
01:31:06 ◼ ► Because if you don't do that, the cursor blinks very fast and you can play a game of computer baseball in seconds.
01:31:13 ◼ ► It's sometimes useful if you've got like Commodore 64 emulator and you're loading something off a virtual tape and it's like I just like to accelerate this so I don't have to wait the 20 minutes.
01:31:34 ◼ ► Well, my answer here is probably extremely obvious in that it is because I mean, this is product placement, but that is literally what I've got.
01:31:45 ◼ ► All right, I've got carrot weather fantastical and shortcuts, but during the baseball season, I also have MLB at bat, but it's not the baseball season for my team anymore.
01:31:55 ◼ ► So I don't Michael would like to know what are your future plans for dice by pcalc since it came out.
01:32:02 ◼ ► Lots of people have reached out to me with role playing systems that aren't just just standard dnd fifth edition saying, oh, it'd be great if you could do X, Y, Z something that I've never heard of and it's like, okay, I write that down in a file and I have this file, which has been growing at an exponential rate of all these different possible things I could do with dice.
01:32:22 ◼ ► I think in the short term, the main thing that I'm going to do is John Gruber complained about my use of aerial for the digits on the dice.
01:32:36 ◼ ► I think was the phrase and I am going I'm planning to replace the font purely for him with probably the San Francisco rounded font.
01:32:56 ◼ ► I actually this was suggested by alien Sims that I should make some daring fireball dice.
01:33:03 ◼ ► So I did actually make some vedana font and with the daring fireball logo on one of them.
01:33:09 ◼ ► And I because I'm me I actually coded it up and made it a real thing and I sent a screenshot to John and he complained about my for not hundred percent quite right font.
01:33:21 ◼ ► Yeah, you use vedana, which should not be used as a in that in that method and that size which very John that was very John.
01:33:36 ◼ ► But I said I have enough blame for dice by people who might pick up already actually but I and the thing was I had to ship a very quick update to that because scene kit changed or as is about to change in the beaters that just shipped such that all the dice became invisible.
01:33:54 ◼ ► So I rushed out a change and then I thought oh, no, did I leave in the John Gruber D6 dice and I had forgotten whether I had commented that code back out again.
01:34:07 ◼ ► And I said because I did not seek permission from you know, the the owner of this and he said it's better to ask forgiveness than permission, which I think is him saying that I should put that thing back in as an easter egg.
01:34:21 ◼ ► I'll keep I'll keep my eyes open Charles wants to know as the ultimate podcast designated hitter does James support the designated hitter rule.
01:34:38 ◼ ► I'm assuming that this is somebody who fills in for people in some roles, given that I am the whenever Lex is away doing whatever Lex does.
01:34:58 ◼ ► Pitchers who are not very good at hitting baseballs are replaced in the lineup by a designated hitter who doesn't play in the field but hits instead of the pitcher.
01:35:07 ◼ ► So everything I know about baseball I have reverse engineered from American metaphors about sexual experience.
01:35:37 ◼ ► I'm sure they'll come to you for the post when they put up the black page that says relay FM, you know, died.
01:35:58 ◼ ► Oh, this is a thing Myke always says, if you want to send in your hashtag, ask upgrade questions, just tweeted us with the hashtag, ask upgrade, and it all gets collected in a spreadsheet.
01:36:15 ◼ ► And of course, we'll be back next week when Myke will return from his lovely assignment, wherever he is sunning himself now.