2021-05-15 21:06:00 UTC: We're in read-only mode for probably ~30 minutes for a database migration. Join #lobsters on freenode or follow the todo list.

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    I don’t ever like to be the Apple fanboy showing up in the comments but I don’t get this rant. I’m using an Intel-based MacBook running Big Sur right now and I don’t empathize with the complaints about the UI. Yeah, spaces are a bit bigger. But, as far as I can tell, no other specific grievances are brought up in the post. Sure, macOS is becoming more iOS-like, but that’s not necessarily terrible.

    I’ve never turned to Apple products for the UI; it used to give me great grief that iOS had no home screen widgets, and you couldn’t put apps at the bottom of the screen, features which have been standard on Android for a decade now. What has always attracted me is the UX, and I find that Apple continues to lead in that regard year after year. Some things are contentious, like the Touch Bar, but others are unequivocally nice. The “update at your own convenience” experience far surpasses the alternative Windows experience. For another example, I find myself using the continuity features nearly daily. To write this comment, I walked over to my laptop, clicked the little “Safari from phone” icon in my dock, and pulled up the same page I was looking at on my phone. As smartphones become more capable I often prefer to read/message/reference things on my phone, and I’m okay with the convergence of the two platforms.

    To me, the interface is alright but it’s the user experience that is the selling point of their products, and that experience has kept improving in a post-Jobs era of Apple products.

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      I’ve found that the improvement of the UX has been very non-uniform, and every OS upgrade, while it gives me plenty of benefits, takes away as well, seemingly arbitrarily.

      For example, I used to be able to do a four finger spread gesture to see the desktop, then click and drag an icon from the desktop, and four finger spread back inwards, while holding the icon with another finger, to drag something from the desktop. Now, the gesture handler seems to have trouble with that and it’s really fiddly to do (I don’t do it anymore).

      The way proxy icons have changed in some ways is annoying, too. You can’t drag it to the Bin anymore. I think there was a time when you couldn’t move a file for a while (from the proxy), you could only copy or create alias. You can move again now (just not to the Bin (formerly Trash; I think this is a localisation thing but I don’t know)), but I’m not sure when that changed.

      The disappearance of creator codes from Leopard without a replacement is another kind of uniquely Mac-like UX feature that has been removed to make the platform more familiar to Windows and other users.

      The new grey icons on the Finder sidebar were pointless. I hate the iOSification of icons in Big Sur. It was annoying enough when Chrome went from their old 3D icon to a crappy flat icon (that could even be better and retain the flatness), but their new Big Sur icon is, frankly, disgusting. The removal of the text from TextEdit’s icon is a loss.

      On the other hand, the removal of 32-bit, whilst it was very inconvenient for me as a player of older games that will never be updated, I can see the purpose for it.

      There are also changes that are just for the better, like the Continuity features as you mention, support for filesystem tags, etc.

      Even small touches are still being added, such as protections against accidental rapid movements. If you drag an icon out from the Dock, you have to wait a couple seconds for the cloud to appear, which signifies that you can let go and it would remove the icon in a puff of cloud/smoke (IIRC; nowadays, the icon just turns transparent and a tooltip appears saying “Remove”, and the puff sound happens, but there’s no cloud; I’m pretty sure they got rid of the cloud sometime after adding the protection but I don’t know for sure).

      Even changes made for profit motive, I can understand, like the removal of the AppleScript handler for receiving messages (run AppleScript on message received), since it’s now a Business feature of Messages.app. What I object to is the removal of good UX (or addition of poor UX) that make the Mac stand out as a platform where care has been put in, especially in a world where webification has people wondering about whether different OSes are even worth the cost.

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      It’s funny how easily (relatively) they could make the experience superb for power users: just implement an optional, polished, native i3 clone. They already have parts of it done (fullscreen modes and 2 window split screens). They just need to streamline and polish that, and provide customizable keybindings to manipulating the windows.

      Or implement the few remaining services / apis that would make the existing attempts at i3 clones on mac os be perfect.

      That said, I didn’t notice any deficiencies UI-wise when I moved to Big Sur. It was just as ok/average as before, perhaps a bit prettier in some places. I have a 13” Air, a 16” Macbook and for a while I run it on an iMac also.

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        just implement an optional, polished, native i3 clone

        Ah, I know, we’ll satisify people who bother installing custom X11 WMs over people who know ~35 years of Mac UI.

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          I’m not sure what your argument is. Is it just ridicule?

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            “Power users” are a meaningless term. Most people don’t use keyboard driven tiling WMs, and the Mac was never about keyboard driven tiling WMs - the opposite, in fact.

            It seems like “Apple would make me happy by making my i3 setup into a product” - perhaps it would if it happened, but it likely would only make you happy.

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        Replying to rants with “me too” is just the worst … yet here I am.

        I’ve been the guy who updates first for my entire computing life; and, I never regretted it until Big Sur.

        The author talks about the poor use of space. I want to talk about the broken UI itself. Just today:

        • Click the date/time in the upper-right to see the notification center … it literally does nothing
        • Notifications themselves have lost functionality; some can’t be snoozed, many lost their rich actions
        • Network / wifi in the menu bar now has the same bugs I fixed in network-manager… in the mid-2000s
        • A heap of new and rewritten background system processes that are insane CPU hogs, none of which throttle

        I don’t upgrade; I do a fresh re-install for every major Mac OS rev. 😔

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          The notifications are the main reason I downgraded - they took a UI element that is used very frequently and made each interaction more difficult. Like the author of this article I just can’t comprehend the thought process that went into this decision. It really does feel like “let’s just give this a try”.

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            I’ve started regretting it a few OS upgrades ago, and for Big Sur, I finally decided to just not upgrade until I have to.

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            We should also recognize that Apple is hostile to developers. They don’t care about us anymore.

            If they cared about us, they would get over the GPL3+ and start upgrading Bash. Instead, we have to maintain back-compat for a 15-year old version.

            If they cared about us, they would provide us with a proper package manager. Instead, they break the OS slightly on each release and leave it to Homebrew and others to scramble. And there is nobody to help from Apple. Is it that hard to assign even a single developer that can communicate?

            They don’t care that running macOS is prohibitively expensive for CI. Isn’t it more important to have software be well tested in a VM than rake in the last little dollar from rack-mounted mac minis?

            Every release they break some kernel API and lock-down the system even further and take a bit of freedom away.

            It’s sad really. Apple used to have a vibrant community of passionate developers doing cool things with their OS. And this has been stripped bit by bit.

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              We should also recognize that Apple is hostile to developers. They don’t care about us anymore.

              I hear the same thing from creatives, except it’s how much Apple prefers developers instead. “Grass is greener on the other side” happens everywhere, and it’s pretty amusing when you know it’s not the case.

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                Can’t both be true? The Mac made large strides the last two years (first going back to scissor switches and then the M1), but one can hardly be blamed for believing that their focus has primarily been on iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch from 2012-2018.

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                They don’t care about us anymore.

                The correct reply here is “they never did, in the sense you’re intending it to be read”. Being an acceptable-to-many Unix-y programming environment was a contingent side effect of the history that led to OS X, not a necessary or deliberately designed-in (as far as I’m aware) feature. Similarly, the fact that their laptops happened to be decent for a typical software developer’s daily driver was also not something that (again, as far as I’m aware) they ever specifically set out to achieve, just a side effect of decisions that they made for other reasons and in pursuit of other ways to differentiate themselves in the market.

                I saw an analogy once to developers being a kind of creepy guy who convinces himself a girl is in love with him because she was nice to him once and can never let that fantasy go, and as harsh as it is I think it’s fairly accurate.

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                  I agree. I’m not a native MacOS developer (and frankly, I don’t really get the hype around “Mac design language”) but I read around the edges, and I get the impression that Apple takes decent care of the developers who develop paid and shareware software using their tools. Maybe not as well as Microsoft, but then who does? There’s rumblings about how the documentation is lacking nowadays and generally feeling left out compared to iOS, but frankly, any decent Mac developer should have seen the writing on the wall years ago and pivoted to iOS apps.

                  My point is, I don’t think Apple has been especially friendly to FOSS developers (again, like Microsoft), and I don’t get why FOSS developers have the expectation that they have been in the past.

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                  Instead, they break the OS slightly on each release and leave it to Homebrew and others to scramble. And there is nobody to help from Apple. Is it that hard to assign even a single developer that can communicate?

                  To put it differently, it is surprising how many FLOSS developers are willing to work for Apple for free. When they originally announced that the next macOS will run on Apple Silicon at WWDC, they talked about how all the major open source projects would support macOS on Apple Silicon. I initially thought that this could imply that they would make significant and proactive contributions to the FLOSS ecosystem. After 6 months it’s clear that they just new that the FLOSS community would scramble to get their projects running on M1.

                  It is kind of sad that people invest so much of their time in a platform of a company that rarely if ever gives back (when will Facetime be the open industry standard that they promised?).

                  Apple used to have a vibrant community of passionate developers doing cool things with their OS.

                  I loved macOS when I started using it in 2007. It had a great ecosystem of independent developers. It was a great, reliable OS that was literally years ahead of the competition. Now the hardware is awesome, but Apple has destroyed much of the indie ecosystem with the app store. Everyone is moving to subscriptions, because the App Store makes it hard to sell upgrades. In the meanwhile macOS itself became increasingly buggy and had questionable changes. Also, it’s barely an open platform.

                  But people will buy Macs anyway, because Apple made everyone believe that M1 is years ahead of the competition, while in practice Ryzen APUs are not far behind.

                  I got rid of my last Mac 2 months ago and there’s little chance I will buy a Mac again.

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                    But people will buy Macs anyway, because Apple made everyone believe that M1 is years ahead of the competition, while in practice Ryzen APUs are not far behind.

                    Yeah, no. My MBA is faster than my Ryzen based gaming desktop (at CPU; before I upgraded the GPU, it was even comparable graphics-wise), even in emulation. Anandtech doesn’t bullshit and they would tell you as much

                    Mac OS is a bit of a mess (eagerly awaiting to see how the porting of alternative OSes happens), I agree. People porting themselves is just what naturally happens - if someone has a system, requires an application, and can do the porting, it’s likely that someone meeting that criteria will.

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                      That sounds like you’re not doing an apples-to-apples comparison of the latest gen vs the latest gen. Anandtech benchmarks show that the latest-gen Ryzen desktop CPUs are close to (or at the most expensive tier, comfortably exceed) the M1. And the only gaming GPUs that are even in the same ballpark as the M1 are multiple generations old; the M1 is equivalent to the lower end of the Nvidia 10-series. A 2070 Super comfortably leaves an M1 in the dust, and that’s not even considering the new 30-series.

                      It’s still impressive that a laptop CPU is keeping up with desktop CPUs, given the different thermal profiles. But it’s not a blowout by any means compared to AMD, and it loses to the highest-end AMD chips. And the M1 GPU is just fine; it’s not even particularly great.

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                        Yeah, no. My MBA is faster than my Ryzen based gaming desktop

                        The Ryzen 3700X desktop that I built last year had about the same price as the Mac Mini M1 with 16GB RAM and a 256 GB SSD. However, it has twice the amount of RAM, a 4 times larger SSD. The 3700X has slightly worse single core performance and slightly better multi-core performance and was released in 2019. The GPU in that machine is also a fair bit faster than the M1 GPU.

                        My laptop with a Ryzen 7 Pro is a bit slower than the M1, but not by a large margin. But that is a last generation Renoir APU. The new Cezanne APUs are actually faster than the M1 (slightly lower single core performance, better multi-core performance). But at the same price as the M1, the laptop has 16GB RAM, which I extended to 32 GB, which makes it faster than the M1 MacBook in practice for my work.

                        I had an M1 MacBook Air for a week, but I returned it because I was not impressed. Sure, the M1 is really impressive compared to the Intel CPUs in old MacBooks (which also had a terrible, loud cooling), but as I said, modern AMD Ryzen 2/3 CPUs and the M1 pretty much go toe to toe. Besides that, the M1 MacBook Air felt yet like another step in the direction of becoming an appliance, slowly more and more features of ‘general purpose computing’ are taken away. It’s not a future that I am interested in. So, that was the end of my 13-year Mac run.

                        Maybe they will be able to beat AMD by a wide margin with a successor with more performance cores. But AMD also isn’t resting on their laurels. We’ll see.