Arm yourselves. There might be a few ARM puns in this episode.
By Dan Moren
June 10, 2020 11:07 AM PT
iBooks Author, Apple’s application for creating and publishing ebooks, wrote its last chapter on Wednesday. The company announced that the app will be discontinued for new users as of July 1, 2020.
iBooks Author came out back in a January 2012 Apple special event in New York City, which I actually attended. The app was announced in conjunction with a big push from Apple on publishing digital textbooks to the then iBookstore (now Apple Books); iBooks Author was specifically designed to help create those textbooks, with a focus on design for multitouch and interactivity.
However, iBooks Author was, at first, pretty limited: among other things, it could only export to either Apple’s own .ibooks format or to a PDF; it wasn’t until 2015 that the company added the ability to publish books in the standard ePub format, though the iBooks Author format itself was based on ePub. That update also saw the ability to, for the first time, create multi-touch books designed not just for the iPad, but also the iPhone, another long-awaited feature.
Unfortunately, Apple’s textbook initiative never quite took off the way the company had clearly hoped, and development on iBooks Author was always kind of slow. The last substantial update to the app came in September 2018, adding only minor stability and performance updates. (It also probably didn’t help that Apple found itself in hot water with the U.S. government over ebook price-fixing in the early 2010s.)
Over time, iBooks Author has had more competition from other sources, most notably from Apple itself. The company has in recent years added more and more publishing features to its free Pages word processor, allowing those looking to create ebooks the ability to both write and publish a book using the same app, rather than having to use separate tools. Third party apps like Scrivener and Vellum both provide deep ebook publishing features as well, as I detailed in my own ebook experiments earlier this year.
Thus, unsurprisingly, Apple’s announcement of iBooks Author’s end of life points users towards Pages as a substitute. While the app may not duplicate all of the features of iBooks Author, it seems as though Apple is committed to continuing to improve the publishing experience. For one thing, Apple says it will be offering an import feature in an upcoming update that will allow users to open and edit iBooks Author files.
iBooks Author will continue to function if you’ve already installed it; if you’ve downloaded it in the past, you can still get it from your purchase history in the Mac App Store. However, it seems as though it won’t necessarily be supported on versions of macOS past Catalina.
Jason Snell for Macworld
June 10, 2020 8:06 AM PT
As Mac users approach Apple’s annual developer conference and the promise of the whole operating system cycle starting over again, it would be natural to feel a lot of trepidation. It’s been a rough ride for macOS Catalina, with overly strict and chatty security barriers, incompatibility with 32-bit apps, a host of little annoying instabilities, and a less-than-impressive debut for Mac Catalyst.
it’s just time to get back on the hamster wheel and go through another macOS beta cycle—whether we like it or not. But I’ve got some hope that this year will be different. Here’s what I’m wishing for when Apple rolls out the new Mac operating system, macOS 10.16, at WWDC in less than two weeks.
By Dan Moren
June 9, 2020 10:53 AM PT
The HomePod has kind of faded into the background since its release more than two years ago, with little in the way of new features, and some notable omissions still remaining. Among all those, the one that frustrates me the most is the inability to use a stereo pair of HomePods at the system level on macOS.
Yes, the Music app on the Mac can send audio to a pair of HomePods grouped together in a stereo pair. Yes, macOS can send all system audio to a single HomePod. But somehow, the twain shall never meet. That’s pretty poor performance when compared with both iOS devices and the Apple TV, all of which have no problem outputting audio to a stereo pair of Apple’s own devices.
This might seem like a small thing, but for me it has a couple of big impacts. The first and more immediate is that I end up with a slightly ridiculous four speakers on my desk: two HomePods and two traditional computer speakers. I’d be happy to replace the clunky (though perfectly good-sounding) latter with the former, in the interests of simplifying.
But the latter, and larger issue, is the place of the HomePod within Apple’s ecosystem. In the over two years since Apple released the smart speaker, it’s seen only meager improvements. It seems very much as though, like the late-lamented iPod Hi-Fi before it 1, the HomePod may be destined to go down in history as a weird, expensive indulgence product that never really took off.
However, there is some hope. A recent update transitioned the onboard software from something based on iOS to a tvOS-based system, which suggests that perhaps development on the product is more active than previously thought. Moreover, there have for some time been whispers of a lower-priced HomePod that might help broaden its appeal in the market—though don’t expect anything as cheap as similar offerings from Amazon and Google.
But when WWDC rolls around in a couple weeks, I’m hoping that the HomePod’s second coming will kick off just this little, but important update: letting you use a stereo pair as your Mac’s default speakers. Don’t let me down.
Yes, Jason, I know you love yours! ↩
By Jason Snell
June 8, 2020 3:23 PM PT
Since the launch of the Apple Watch, Apple has become increasingly focused on health technology. As someone who makes an effort to fill the rings on my Apple Watch, I appreciate the focus.
In the past few years I’ve also bought a few sensors that collect health data and then sync it back to Apple’s HealthKit database. And this is where I’ve run into trouble, because for sensors that I use when I’m sleeping or getting up in the morning, I tend to have my iPad nearby—and my iPhone is charging in another room.
It’s frustrating, because Apple offers the Health and Activity apps on the iPhone, but not on the iPad or the Mac. I’d love to check my blood pressure data on my Mac or view the location of a previous day’s hike on my iPad, but those features are unavailable. It also means that if I want to sync to those connected health devices, I need to bring my iPhone around, since it’s the device that’s capable of consuming all this data.
For a company with such a deep focus on health, restricting this data to one device (okay, two if you count Apple Watch) seems like a big mistake. We all use our Apple devices in different ways. I realize that as someone who uses a Mac and iPad more often than an iPhone, I’m a bit of an outlier. And I am apparently unusual in not sleeping with my iPhone on my nightstand. But why should the iPad be walled off from viewing, editing, sharing, and syncing health data?
So I’m adding this item onto my WWDC Wish List: Apple should provide health data, securely synced across devices via iCloud, across iPhone, Watch, iPad, and Mac. (Mac Catalyst should be a help here—but that will require getting the Health and Activity apps to run on the iPad first.) It’s been six years since the introduction of HealthKit. Time to get the job done.
With WWDC two weeks away, Myke and Jason share their wishes for iPadOS updates. They also analyze why they love certain kinds of games but are repelled by others and discuss Apple’s inevitable move into streaming live sports.
This week, on the 30-minute tech show that is all out of four letter words, Dan and Mikah are joined by special guests Anže Tomić and Florence Ion to discuss our use of voice assistants on our phones, mass deleting content from social media, the tech we use to wake up, and companies responding to current events.
We’ll be honest: things are not great. But we’ll talk about things and technology and then get to our picks.
It’s episode 300! This week we look to the future by drafting stories we’ll be talking about over the next hundred episodes of Upgrade, and then we answer all of your questions about how the podcast got started, how we put it together, and where we’re going from here.