Apple TV+, Arcade, and News+ subscription price increases from today ↗

    By Benjamin Mayo on 9to5Mac:

    Apple has today increased the price of Apple TV+ to $9.99 per month, up from the previous $6.99 price. Apple Arcade has gone up from $4.99 to $6.99, and the News+ monthly price has been upped to $12.99.

    The Apple One bundle price has also been increased to reflect the increases in the constituent services. The Apple One Individual bundle is now priced at $19.95/mo, Apple One Family costs $25.95/mo, and Premier costs $37.95/mo.

    Apple One Individual used to cost $16.95, so the increase on the bundle is less than the cumulative increase of Arcade and TV+, but it still represents a hefty increase for consumers.

    Thanks to this surprise rate hike, my Apple One bundle shot up an additional $5. After the increase last October, I’d hoped for a longer reprieve than we just got.

    Apple pricing the bundle at $38 a month was enough to force a closer look at my finances. Things had to fall by the wayside.

    What’s the breaking point for all of these subscriptions? At some point in the future will Apple One cost $100 a month?

    That’s another iPhone pre-order day in the bag! This one felt a little shaky on Apple’s end—my app didn’t load for several long minutes—but I was able to nab launch day delivery for a 256GB White Titanium iPhone 15 Pro Max.

    Time to go back to sleep. 5:00 a.m. is no fun.

    A screenshot of my iPhone 15 Pro Max pre-order confirmation.

    I can’t wait for the day when AirTags become so small and slim that they can be attached or built into my glasses. Trying to find those suckers when you’re as blind as I am makes me feel like a bumbling Mr. Magoo.

    Carbon neutral is the new 5G!

    But at least this venture actually means something.

    It’s unlikely to ever happen—they don’t control enough of the ebook market—but I would love to see a lean e-ink book reader from Apple, à la the Kindle. Something with minimal access to the internet and startlingly long battery life.

    I could get a Kindle, but why give Amazon more of my money?

    If Apple were to continue adding Music features like their new and fantastic Discovery Station and the upcoming collaborative playlists, then they could… have the same feature set that others have.

    But hey, I’ll happily take what I can get. Seriously, I’ve been loving the Discovery Station.

    While they’re completely lacking in the premium look and feel of the AirPods Max, my new Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones are filling the gap nicely.

    The noise cancellation is top-notch and I’m enjoying the Multipoint Connection more than I thought I would. I can’t wait to try them on a plane.

    It’s finally happened. My dear AirPods Max, the headphones I’ve loved the most the last couple of years, have given up the ghost. They were constant companions and one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

    I hope the new (and far more affordable) AirPods Pro will be good replacements.

    Like with a lot of great technology, the more I hear people talk about the Vision Pro, the more I know I’ll find myself wanting one.

    My new mantra: You don’t have a use for one now. You certainly don’t have the money for one now.

    Repeat ad infinitum.

    Now that enough time has passed for everyone to make podcast and YouTube episodes about the Vision Pro, I’ve realized that I should make re-posting these earlier entries of mine an annual thing:

    I’ll add that it’s a good idea, if for no one else but me, to completely ignore anyone spouting a hot take about a product that’s not been released yet and only a small handful of people has tried.1

    It’s echoes of the original iPhone release all over again, and look how those knuckleheaded responses fared over time.

    1. But then, what podcasts will I be able to listen to, you may wonder. Good question. ↩︎

    WWDC23 Retrospective


    What an event that was, am I right? It’s not every day that we witness the grand unveiling of a brand new platform and hardware device. This year’s Worldwide Developers Conference will become known as a changing tide moment. Whatever advancements we’ll see in the future, near and far, June 5, 2023, was the day that a lot changed.

    Back in April, I wrote a post called An iOS 17 Wish List. In it, I wrote about several iOS (and by extension, iPadOS and even macOS) features that I hoped to see unveiled at this year’s WWDC. I think it was a fair list, not too excessive. These were hopeful solutions to some longstanding pain points in the platforms that I’ve had, some for several years now.

    I’m not an Apple developer, so they’re more closely related to consumer gripes rather than complex software and development issues. I sure as heck don’t know much about SwiftUI or Xcode, so I’ve got nothing of value to contribute there.

    But I do have a list to go through. Some of the wishes I made might pop up as the beta cycle continues throughout the summer, but I’m not going to hold my breath there. Check the links for further information and images of iOS 17, iPadOS 17, macOS Sonoma, and watchOS 10.

    A standalone Passwords app

    My first wish was a swing and a miss. Passwords in Safari have been relegated to the Settings app for too long. It’s past time for them to have their own app. Unfortunately, that time is not this year.

    However, password and Passkey sharing will be a thing this year, so there was an unexpected bonus. I hope that this is Apple laying the groundwork for a safe and reliable password app in the future.

    Natural language parsing for Lists in Reminders

    Another miss! I’ve been enjoying using Reminders since switching over from Things, but the inability to type a chosen list for a reminder as I’m making it is the only issue I currently have with an otherwise great app. It demands too many taps from me. I’ve solved this issue with a shortcut, but that shouldn’t be necessary.

    Maybe next year.

    Cross-linking in Notes

    Success! This new feature wasn’t mentioned during the keynote address, but it did show up on the iOS 17 Preview site. I was beginning to wonder if Apple would ever include this feature that’s been around in other apps for years now.

    Much like the improved Reminders app from a few years ago, this feature gets me one step closer to using Notes exclusively. Now if it could only support Markdown.

    Active Home Screen widgets

    Another win! I’ve been wanting interactive widgets on my devices since they were first introduced, and now they’re here. Finally. I’m looking forward to checking off tasks, toggling my home lights, and controlling podcasts from my Home Screen. Opening apps will soon be a sucker’s game.

    A second row of Lock Screen widgets

    On the one hand, this isn’t happening on the iPhone this year. On the other hand, since the iPad is getting Lock Screen widgets, the expansive screen space of those devices allows for many widgets on that screen.

    This is a bittersweet and moderate win. I still long for the glorious day when I can add that second row to my phone.

    Smart Albums in Photos

    At a time when we’ve got Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro on the iPad, the lack of smart albums in Photos (and Music, for that matter) hurts. It hurts real bad. I can’t imagine that this would be a complicated feature to include. Hell, it’s already available on the Mac.

    Please Apple, I beg of you. This would make my life much better.

    2023 will be a banner year for Apple.

    Not only are their operating systems getting some understated yet superb updates, plus a revolutionary one for the Watch, but they’ve also completed their silicon transition and have introduced the astonishing (and absurdly but understandably priced) Vision Pro headset.

    They’re right to be excited about the advent of spatial computing. If the Vision Pro feels like science fiction now, just imagine what it’ll feel like five or even ten years from now. I, for one, cannot wait for the inevitable Apple Glasses.

    As for my wish list, I may not have gotten everything I hoped for, but what Apple did unveil will have a positive effect on my phone and computing life. I’m looking forward to when the new operating system updates will be released, likely in September. And the introduction of a new iPhone is sure to take the sting off of the wishes that didn’t happen.1

    1. Perhaps a slightly larger screen on the iPhone 15 Pro Max could mean the addition of a second widget row? I’m crossing my fingers again! 🤞 ↩︎

    $3,500 for the Vision Pro? I guess I’ll be waiting at least until the tenth generation to even consider getting one for myself.

    Unless… Has bank robbery become a more feasible/acceptable activity in the last few years? I’m, uh, asking for a friend.

    “Hey Siri, set a three minute ramen timer.”

    ”Three minute grandma timer starting now.”

    “Hey Siri, set a three minute ramen timer.”

    ”Three minute Roman timer starting now.”

    [Throws Siri straight into the freaking sun.]

    An iOS 17 Wish List

    With WWDC23 starting on June 5—just a few short weeks away—thoughts of what will be revealed to millions are popping into my head. Every summer feels like Christmas has come early. We’ve got gifts under the tree waiting to be unwrapped with gleeful abandon!

    And then September rolls around, and there are invariably new iPhones. They’re beside the point here, but the excitement they bring me helps dull the discomfort I feel living in a desert during the hot summer months.

    While all rumor reporting points to this being a relatively light year for Apple’s most important operating system, that doesn’t mean it has to be an underwhelming update. We’ll all surely need to silence the hordes of people who’ll scream, “BORING! HARD PASS!” across the internet for months after the keynote. That’s another annual tradition I try my hardest to stick with. Do that, though, and I think there’ll be much to discover and love about iOS 17.

    Of course, it’ll be tough to stay excited about what is comparatively old news when, in all likelihood, Apple will be debuting their long-rumored AR/VR headset. That’s an announcement that’ll be the talk of the entire world for the foreseeable future. Sorry, iPhone, but you’re not the hot thing this year.

    Who would have ever thought we’d see that day come to pass?

    I don’t expect Apple to ship whole number releases to iOS without including any new features. That’s more of a point release thing. We’ve all been conditioned to expect something worth showing off, not just in the keynote, but also in the inevitable commercials they’ll release. They need something appealing to encourage users to upgrade their devices, and whole number releases don’t include the desirable new emojis. They need a shiny new thing.

    I’m all for some new hotness, but at this point, an update focusing more on sprucing things up is fine by me. I don’t need something that’ll shake the world. What I would like are features that will make my device feel like it’s keeping up with the rest of the world. If that means aping features from Android or other app developers, then so be it. I don’t care if others have had certain features for years; I would like to have them on my chosen platform.

    Here’s what I’m thinking, in order of preference…

    A standalone Passwords app

    I’ve used 1Password for as long as I can remember. It’s been so useful that I got my family to use it as well.

    But it’s still a third-party app, and that comes with some drawbacks, namely:

    • It will have inherent limitations when compared to services provided by a platform vendor. Apple, in this case.
    • The company that creates it will always be looking for ways to earn more money for itself, which is fair but may not align with your values or hopes for the company.

    That second point is what I’m running up against these days, and I’m not alone here:

    Since securing $620 million in VC funding in early 2022, the company has grown increasingly focused on the enterprise side of its business. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it changes a company. That becomes a problem when it’s at the expense of their individual customers.

    There’s a great opportunity for Apple to break their password manager out of the Settings app on their devices and make strong passwords a visible part of their system. This feels like a no-brainer for a company that has made privacy and security part of its brand.

    Add in family password sharing, and I’ll switch over immediately.

    Natural language parsing for Lists in Reminders

    When making a new task, Reminders will occasionally suggest a List in the QuickType bar above the keyboard, but if that actually shows up, it’s not very good at guessing which List to offer. I appreciate the way Fantastical and Todoist do this feature, and we would benefit greatly if Apple adopted this ability.

    For instance, I would like to be able to type out something like: Clean the bathroom on Monday at 9:30 #chores /Home

    Reminders should take that line of text and do the following:

    • Make a new task titled “Clean the bathroom”.
    • Set the due date for Monday at 9:30.
    • Add my “chores” tag to the task.
    • Place the task into my “Home” list.

    As it is, there’s way too much tapping necessary to include all of that information in a task. The same could be said of Apple’s Calendar app. It’s the biggest reason why I’m using the increasingly too expensive Fantastical. I could probably create a Shortcut to do all this, but that route shouldn’t be necessary.

    While we’re talking about Reminders, open up the API a little bit and give third-party developers access to the tagging system. The phenomenal app, GoodTask, meets all my needs except for this one issue.1

    Cross-linking in Notes

    This feels like a table-stakes feature in any note-taking app now, and it’s a glaring shame that Apple continues to not offer this useful ability.

    A year or two ago, this felt like a lock. The notable Apple journalists, especially Federico Viticci, were talking about it with growing frequency before Apple dashed all our hopes by ignoring this common feature. It was a real disappointment.

    Notes has become a capable app over the years. Cross-linking between notes in the app will further make it something eminently useful and powerful. It’s beyond time that they caught up with other apps like Obsidian, Craft, and Notion.

    (I’ve also always longed for Markdown support in Notes, but I’m not going to hold my breath on that one.)

    Active Home Screen widgets

    The widgets we all got with iOS 14 were a phenomenal addition to our devices. They not only extended the utility of the staid Home Screen, but offered users the ability to customize one of the most seen parts of their devices. Thanks to apps like David Smith’s wonderful Widgetsmith, iPhone users could make their devices an extension of their personalities and interests. It was an important update in the history of iOS.

    That said, there’s little that can be done with those widgets once they’re placed on the Home Screen. They’re just passive squares of information.

    Interactivity would bring a whole new level of usefulness to our widgets. Imagine being able to play or pause your music, jot down a quick note, or complete a task without having to open those respective apps. How novel!

    It would also give the Home Screen widgets another run under the spotlight. Apple would surely be happy about that.

    A second row of Lock Screen widgets

    Similar to Home Screen widgets, Lock Screen widgets have given us the ability to further extend our phone’s ability to provide information. Released with iOS 16, these widgets are even less capable than those on the Home Screen, but they’re still a welcome addition. I want more of them.

    Perhaps this would only be useful for those who have irresponsibly huge phones, but I’m one of those people. I want more widgets on my Lock Screen, darn it! A second row would be enough; I promise I won’t ask for a third row next year.

    Smart albums in Photos

    Smart albums are on the Mac, and they’re wonderful. Why can’t I see, create, and edit them on my iOS device? Our iPhones and iPads are powerful computers, more than capable of handling automated organization. Why are they deprived of such a useful feature? The same could be said of smart playlists in the Music app.

    It seems Apple doesn’t want to divorce any “smart” abilities from its Siri behemoth, except Siri isn’t all that smart, and it’s rarely available where I want it to be.

    There are other issues that I could include, but I’m not writing a novel here.

    Apple has never been an infallible company; its products have always had their drawbacks. However, what they offer is generally done so well that their flaws tend to stand out more. When those flaws can become the basis of a 1,600+ word blog post, it starts to feel like a paper-cut problem—one is annoying, many are a serious issue.

    I would be the happiest person in the world on June 5 if they were to fix these issues I’ve written about. I’ll even take just a few corrections. I don’t expect them to be perfect; that goal isn’t attainable by anybody, even a company as rich and powerful as Apple. I do wish that more attention and care was given to what’s currently out there and a little less to what looks good on a marquee. Otherwise, how are they different from any of the other feature-chasing companies of the world?

    1. I do know that GoodTask has its own hacky tagging workaround. It puts a tag in the notes field of a task and uses that for organization. I don’t want to clutter up my task notes with tags. I’d like to use the same tags that Reminders uses. ↩︎

    The new Apple Music Classical app is a refined and focused experience. I’ve immediately gotten much enjoyment out of what it provides. It gets a hearty recommendation for any fan of the genre.

    It’s still a shame that it’s not yet available for iPad or Mac. What an easily avoidable fumble.

    Apple Music Classical to Launch on March 28th ↗

    From John Voorhees at MacStories:

    On March 28th, Apple will launch Apple Music Classical, a free app that’s already available for pre-order that will offer a catalog of over 5 million classical recordings to Apple Music subscribers at no additional cost.

    I was beginning to think that this app would never see the light of day. That it would be another Apple acquisition that’s just quietly absorbed and never heard from again. Maybe some of the features of Primephonic would find their way into Apple Music, but nothing more.

    As a classical music lover, I’m happy they proved me wrong.

    It’s too early to say if this new app will answer classical music lovers’ prayers, but it looks like the foundation is sturdy. The app should only get better once it’s released (especially since it’s being released through the App Store and may not be encumbered with receiving only annual updates, like most of their other apps).

    The audio quality should also be top-notch. Classical songs were quick to take advantage of Hi-Res Lossless and Dolby Atmos playback. Coupled with proper metadata and a more thoughtful and appropriate presentation, Apple Music Classical could be, pardon the pun, music to my ears.

    Apple released a new full-size HomePod today, and it’s sadly not the HomePod I was hoping it would be. I bet it’ll sound great, but at a still prohibitive $299, I’m hoping it won’t suffer the same sad fate as its predecessor.

    Apple advances user security with powerful new data protections ↗

    From Apple Newsroom:

    Apple today introduced three advanced security features focused on protecting against threats to user data in the cloud, representing the next step in its ongoing effort to provide users with even stronger ways to protect their data. With iMessage Contact Key Verification, users can verify they are communicating only with whom they intend. With Security Keys for Apple ID, users have the choice to require a physical security key to sign in to their Apple ID account. And with Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, which uses end-to-end encryption to provide Apple’s highest level of cloud data security, users have the choice to further protect important iCloud data, including iCloud Backup, Photos, Notes, and more.

    For a company that touts a claim of superior privacy protection over all of its competitors, not providing end-to-end encryption of all iCloud data capable of being encrypted1 was a glaring and shameful hole in its messaging. Their marketing said one thing and their actions another. As we should all know, words don’t mean anything when they’re not backed up with action.

    While all three features are fantastic, the most notable is the Advanced Data Protection for iCloud. I’m going to turn this on2 as soon as I reasonably can. I feel confident in my safeguards against data loss, i.e., I’ve made sure to memorize my Apple account information and have that safely backed up elsewhere. If I sound anything like you, then I’d recommend doing the same.

    Good on Apple for doing this.

    1. iCloud Mail, Contacts, and Calendar are unable to be encrypted. These can’t be to ensure that they’ll work with other systems. ↩︎

    2. It does appear to be an opt-in service. ↩︎

    My brain is pushing back hard against Stage Manager at the moment, but I’ll give it the ol' college try, as they say.

    For myself, what would help are keyboard shortcuts to move between stages and a way to keep the stages in the same order at all times.

    Having to delete and redownload my apps to get their Lock Screen widgets to become available is not a great first experience with iOS 16.

    It’s all working well now, but that was a confusing and a little frustrating.

    Writing this at around 4:42 in the morning makes me miss the days of midnight iPhone preordering with a great and drowsy passion. I’m glad that the rest of the world gets to enjoy a more reasonable order time, but 5:00 am in the pacific time zone isn’t that.

    One of the greatest aspects about being enrolled in the iPhone Upgrade Program is being able to get pre-approved for a new phone and have the checkout experience greatly expedited every year.

    It makes the whole fraught process much easier and more enjoyable. Also, I’m super psyched about the new phone!

    ‘For All Mankind’ Renewed for Season 4 at Apple ↗

    “For All Mankind” has been renewed for Season 4 at Apple.

    The announcement was made Friday as part of the show’s panel at San Diego Comic-Con. Production on the new season is scheduled to begin in August.

    Apple has spent a lot of time and money pushing shows like The Morning Show, Severance, and Ted Lasso on their streaming service. For good reason, no doubt—they’re spectacular (especially the last two). However, For All Mankind, for my money, is their sleeper hit.1

    It may not ever develop the same sort of fervent fanbase or be an “of the moment” experience that Ted Lasso has enjoyed. For All Mankind is not a feel-good, inspirational comedy. It’s dramatic sci-fi, which may turn people away. But what it lacks in laughs, it equals in quality and storytelling.

    I’m looking forward to traveling the cosmos with this show for another season.

    1. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention See in the same breath. Stuff like Game of Thrones and The Witcher wish they could be as consistently unique and good. ↩︎

    Delete TikTok from app stores, says FCC commissioner to Apple and Google ↗

    From Ben Lovejoy at 9to5Mac:

    An FCC commissioner has called on both Apple and Google to delete TikTok from their respective app stores, giving the companies until July 8 to respond. […]

    The lengthy four-page letter says that TikTok is not a video-sharing app, but a “sophisticated surveillance tool” for the Chinese government …

    That’s a pretty damning but unsurprising development in the continuing U.S. vs. TikTok skirmish. Where it concerns this issue, the next week and a half is going to be interesting. I imagine it’s relatively rare that the U.S. government passes such a weighty edict to companies like Apple and Google (although that’s undoubtedly going to become more frequent).

    These days, it also feels rare for the federal government to do much of anything beneficial. I’ll admit that recent events have left me feeling bitter about the whole organization. One need also only look back at the previous administration, and its FCC chairman,1 to form a clear understanding of my disillusionment and that of many others.

    However, considering what was detailed in the the BuzzFeed News report that the FCC letter references, this feels like a positive step.

    By Emily Baker-White:

    For years, TikTok has responded to data privacy concerns by promising that information gathered about users in the United States is stored in the United States, rather than China, where ByteDance, the video platform’s parent company, is located. But according to leaked audio from more than 80 internal TikTok meetings, China-based employees of ByteDance have repeatedly accessed nonpublic data about US TikTok users. […]

    Despite a TikTok executive’s sworn testimony in an October 2021 Senate hearing that a “world-renowned, US-based security team” decides who gets access to this data, nine statements by eight different employees describe situations where US employees had to turn to their colleagues in China to determine how US user data was flowing. US staff did not have permission or knowledge of how to access the data on their own, according to the tapes.

    I’ve never been so proud and relieved to have not downloaded and given my personal information to an app. Call me a Luddite or out of touch, but at least the dire issue presented in the BuzzFeed report and this subsequent FCC letter has never been a concern for me.

    Count me among the people who believe the world would be better off if social media services of the size and scope of TikTok weren’t so easily accessible.

    1. As always, fuck Ajit Pai. ↩︎

    Because the issue regarding Stage Manager continues to be contentious for many people, myself included, I’ve wondered what could be a way out of this whole mess.

    At this point, allowing external display support without pillarboxing would be enough to make me very happy.

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