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Looking to write a novel during November’s National Novel Writing Month event? Try Scrivener’s free NaNoWriMo trial, and get more help from our heavily discounted “Take Control of Scrivener 2.” Also this week, Matt Neuburg reminds Lion users that TinkerTool can reverse some of Apple’s annoying changes, Rich Mogull shares the story of how he accidentally deleted all his iCloud data and was forced to figure out a non-trivial restoration method, and we have a DealBITS drawing for Tom Bihn’s latest Apple-focused laptop bag. Finally, Adam pores through release dates to determine just how long Apple supports Macs and iOS devices with new system software — you might be surprised at the results. Notable software releases this week include Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 Editor, Premiere Elements 10 Editor, Sandvox 2.2, and Aperture 3.2.1.

Jeff Carlson 1 comment

Scrivener NaNoWriMo ’11 Trial Now Available

November 1st marked the first day of this year’s National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. If you’re one of the thousands of people worldwide attempting to write 50,000 words that may (or may not; quality is optional) somewhat resemble a novel by the end of the month, Literature & Latte is offering a special NaNoWriMo ’11 trial version of Scrivener for free. (For more on NaNoWriMo, check out “Write a Novel in 30 Days with NaNoWriMo” by Jason Snell, Macworld Editorial Director and board member of the Office of Letters
and Light, the non-profit organization that operates the writingfest.)

Unlike many word processors, Scrivener is designed for long-form writing such as novels, screenplays, and essays. It features extensive tools for gathering and organizing research, templates for composing a work, and export options that include EPUB, Word, PDF, HTML, and Mobipocket. (It’s so useful, in fact, that we published Kirk McElhearn’s $10 “Take Control of Scrivener 2” and we’re running a 50-percent-off sale on that book and Michael Cohen’s “Take Control of TextExpander” through the end of November.)

Although Literature & Latte normally offers a 30-day trial of its writing software, this version has been modified to expire on 7 December 2011 so participants don’t find themselves with nonfunctional software near the end of November. NaNoWriMo writers who break the 50,000 word mark by the end of the month can buy the software for 50 percent off its $45 price (for the Mac version; the Windows edition costs $40). Everyone else is eligible for a 20 percent discount using a code at checkout.

Adam Engst 1 comment

DealBITS Drawing: Win a Tom Bihn Cadet Laptop Bag

If you’re looking for a new laptop bag, Seattle-based Tom Bihn has a new one that’s expressly designed for holding Apple’s laptops and iPads, along with a few files or magazines, power supplies, pens, notebooks, and small accessories. Called the Cadet, the bag comes in two sizes, a 15/13 and an 11/iPad. Both include the Cadet Cache, an appropriately sized removable laptop sleeve for the 15-inch MacBook Pro; the 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and MacBook; and the 11-inch MacBook Air or an iPad. It has three exterior access compartments, six interior organizer pockets, and one exterior open-top pocket, along with a shoulder strap.


With details that sound as though they were pulled from a James Bond novel, the Cadet is built from 1050d U.S. ballistic nylon and lined with ultralight Japanese Dyneema nylon, and it boasts an Ultrasuede-lined iPhone pocket and YKK splash-proof Uretek zippers. Depending on the size, it weighs between 1.6 pounds (725 g) and 2.1 pounds (945 g) before you start adding your gear (for more thoughts about laptop bag weight, see “Why Laptop Bags Are So Heavy,” 21 May 2011).
It has a lifetime guarantee and is made in Seattle. Colors include Black/Steel, Black/Iberian, Steel/Solar, Forest/Steel, Navy/Solar, and Cardinal/Steel — check the Cadet’s Web page to translate the Crayola names to something you’ll recognize.

One especially nice feature is the way the Cadet is checkpoint friendly for going through airport security. The bottom edge of the Cadet Cache sleeve attaches to the Cadet, so you can slide your laptop out of the bag — leaving it in the sleeve — for X-ray inspection without exposing it or detaching it from the Cadet.

So if you want to win a Tom Bihn Cadet, worth $170, enter at the DealBITS page. Although we do have a deal for everyone who doesn’t win, as usual, it won’t be available to TidBITS readers generally, so be sure to enter! All information gathered is covered by our comprehensive privacy policy.

Matt Neuburg 16 comments

Lion Frustrations? Don’t Forget TinkerTool

When it comes to undocumented system tweaks, we at TidBITS tend to take a fairly conservative stance. After all, your system is a system. It’s responsible for running your whole computer. You wouldn’t want to break it accidentally, and we wouldn’t want to give you any advice that might cause you to do so. Also, undocumented tweaks are undocumented; this means that Apple could withdraw their effectiveness at any time (and has indeed sometimes done so; see, for example, “Leopard Screen Sharing Loses Hidden Features,” 29 September 2008).

Sometimes, however, Apple backs us into a corner, producing a system that does something so blatantly annoying or even downright moronic that we can’t resist advising you to fix it by giving some mystical and unsupported incantation at the command line. For example, when Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard introduced the transparent menu bar, I couldn’t get any work done, and rejoiced the moment a trick was discovered for making it opaque again (“Transparent Menu Bar, Die Die Die!,” 16 November 2007). Apple later saw the error of its own ways (for once!) and provided an official interface for doing the same thing, which remains to this day. And when 10.7 Lion deviously hid your user Library from
you, Adam immediately told you how to show it again (“Dealing with Lion’s Hidden Library,” 20 July 2011).

When it comes to undocumented system tweaks, what most users want, I think, is two things:

  • Give me a graphical interface. Don’t make me type directly into Terminal; I’m afraid I might mess something up accidentally. And if I don’t like a change I’ve made, I want a simple way to undo it immediately.

  • Give me a conservative list. I don’t want to go wild and hack my system; I just want to know what’s well-tested and safe that I can tweak, even though Apple doesn’t provide an interface in System Preferences to let me do so.

If that’s how you feel, you can’t do better than to download Marcel Bresink’s freeware TinkerTool. TinkerTool is a brilliant one-window application that presents itself as a series of panes, rather like System Preferences, each pane providing checkboxes or other interface for toggling undocumented under-the-hood switches in your system and in some Apple-provided software, such as the Finder and Safari. It customizes itself automatically to the particular system and version you’re using, so the options you’ll see are always the right options. And, like TidBITS, it takes a conservative stance; its only options are those that have been determined to be safe and useful.

You can get a sense of what TinkerTool might be able to do for you by looking at the online list of TinkerTool’s options in 10.6 Snow Leopard and 10.7 Lion. For example, I always check the option listed here as “Disable the three-dimensional glass effect of the Dock”; this allows me to keep the Dock at the bottom of the screen while using the more compact, pleasing appearance that it automatically takes on when it’s at one side of the screen. In Snow Leopard and before, I always checked “Place both scroll arrow buttons of any scroll bar at both ends of the bar,” giving me both an up arrow and a down arrow at each end of the scroll bar. (In Lion, there are no scroll
arrow buttons in a scroll bar, so that option no longer applies.) And the option listed as “Control the style and degree of font smoothing (optimized for CRT or LCD)” has saved my eyes through many system generations; because of a bug in the system, my LCD monitor is not seen as an LCD, so that Apple’s own system preference panes (Appearance or General) don’t allow me to increase the font smoothing far enough to make text legible — whereas TinkerTool does.

For Lion in particular, I’d call your attention to several settings you might consider:

  • Lion has a feature, copied from iOS, where holding down a letter on your keyboard can summon a popover listing alternate versions of that letter, from which you can then choose. For example, the popover that appears when you hold down “e” includes “e” with an acute accent, “e” with a grave accent, and so forth. The price of this feature, however, is that you can no longer hold “e” to achieve multiple repeated “eeeeee”, as you could with previous systems. Users writing horror stories might object to that. TinkerTool lets you access the setting that restores the old behavior (“Re-enable the key repeat feature”); you will then lose the popover, but of course you can still type alternate letter forms just as
    before, using the Character Viewer, the Keyboard Viewer, or a modifier-key combination or sequence.

  • When you close a window containing unsaved changes and the dialog appears asking whether you want to save, you might have a muscle memory telling you that you can dismiss the dialog without saving by pressing Command-D, for “Don’t Save.” In Lion, that keyboard shortcut no longer works; you can restore it with the TinkerTool option listed as “Re-enable the keyboard shortcut for Don’t Save in save sheets”. (Of course, that little dialog about unsaved changes itself appears less than it used to, because of Lion’s Auto Save feature. But that’s a horror story of a different kind.)

  • Most Lion users are aware by now that when an application is launched, whatever windows were open when that application was previously quit will automatically re-open, thanks to Resume. If you don’t like this, you can turn off Resume at a global level; it is also possible, even if Resume is globally turned on, to turn off Resume for a particular application on a one-time basis, by holding Option as you quit it (or vice versa). But what if you’d like, say, to turn off Resume globally but turn it on by default for certain particular applications? It turns out that there is a way to do this, but Apple doesn’t provide access to it; TinkerTool does (“Control the Resume setting individually per application”).

TinkerTool is not the only system-tweaking game in town. There are other applications that do the same sort of thing TinkerTool does. For certain settings, they might provide a better interface; for example, in the case of the per-application Resume setting, I rather prefer Erica Sadun’s Resuminator. For other settings, they might provide graphical access to something that TinkerTool doesn’t; for example, Lion Tweaks lets you enable AirDrop on unsupported hardware (providing a graphical interface to the trick discussed by Glenn Fleishman in Macworld) and get rid of the iCal and Address Book leather appearance (though I’m not sure I can recommend that one, as it involves meddling with the internals of these applications).

Nevertheless, I always find myself returning to TinkerTool as my under-the-hood control panel of choice. It’s a utility that I’ve used since the early days of Mac OS X, and I recommend that you try it out if you haven’t already. You might be surprised at some of the simple ways in which it can make your Mac more usable, more comfortable, or more powerful.

TinkerTool is a 1.5 MB download; the current version requires Snow Leopard or Lion, but earlier versions have been spun off into separate applications (TinkerTool Classic and TinkerTool Classic Generation 2), still available to those using older systems.

Rich Mogull 12 comments

How to Lose and Recover iCloud Data

Although I migrated most of my systems to iCloud on the same day, one laptop I use only occasionally for certain work projects lagged behind. When I finally had the time to update the system, I made a critical mistake and nearly lost all my calendars, including my essential work calendar, forever. But thanks to a little trial and error, I managed to pull back from the brink of disaster, and in the process discovered a useful technique for every iCloud user’s recovery kit.

Trial and Error… and Error — My first mistake was completely avoidable. After updating the laptop to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, I opened System Preferences and started the iCloud migration. Since that computer had previously been linked to MobileMe, I chose the option to merge my data. In the old MobileMe days you could choose to replace your local data with the data stored up in MobileMe, but that’s no longer available for iCloud. Since I had followed the same process on all my other computers, I figured it would be smart enough to avoid duplicates, and I proceeded.

I left the Mac running in the background as I went back to work, and a little later checked in on it only to discover duplicates of every single calendar entry. Looking at the calendar list in iCal I saw calendars for both MobileMe and iCloud. It seemed as if both were running side by side.

I falsely assumed that, unlike my other systems, this Mac kept the old MobileMe data while also connecting to iCloud. That’s when I made my critical mistake… I deleted all the calendars listed under MobileMe.

Immediately iCal looked happier, with all the duplicates removed and matching my other device’s calendars. But within minutes I realized the enormity of my error as all my calendars, on all devices, simultaneously disappeared. Lacking a corporate calendar server, this meant years of old appointments, and months of upcoming appointments, were all gone. As a coworker posted on Twitter, “@rmogull doesn’t exist. iCloud has spoken.”

Since I’m good about backups, I figured I could restore from Time Machine. In a few minutes my calendars were back to normal… and a few seconds later they were all gone again. “This,” I thought to myself, “is bad.”

iCloud Is Not MobileMe — Back in the days of MobileMe, this problem wouldn’t have been that big of a deal. With MobileMe (and .Mac before that) every device was its own authoritative source. Data was synchronized across all devices, but as anyone who experienced a sync conflict could tell you (which was pretty much everyone) each device maintained its own data and made its own decisions.

Thus, if you accidentally deleted a calendar, you could just re-sync from any device that still had the data and propagate it out to all your other devices. Even if you deleted everything from all devices, simply restoring the data on one device could then send it to the others.

But iCloud uses an entirely different architecture. iCloud is the authoritative source for all data on all devices. Local copies always reflect what’s in the cloud. This approach dramatically reduces sync errors and increases consistency and reliability. But it comes at a cost — should you lose data in iCloud, it’s gone forever. And somewhat to my surprise, there’s no backup within iCloud, and thus no way to restore prior states. This is unlike cloud services such as Dropbox that back up everything stored on the cloud servers and allow you to restore selectively using a Web interface.

(I assume Apple backs up or replicates iCloud data somehow in case of server hardware failure; there just isn’t a way for users to access that backed-up data.)

If you attempt to restore data as I did, iCloud sees it as out-of-sync with the authoritative version in the cloud and removes it every time you load it back in. That’s because when you restore data with a tool like Time Machine, you also restore all the file metadata we don’t normally deal with, and that metadata likely tells iCloud that it’s older than the cloud version, which results in the local data being continuously deleted.

How I Saved My Day — After even more trial and error, I next attempted a more-complex process that, to be honest, made me a little nervous. Restoring data directly wasn’t working, but I most definitely still had my old calendars. Even disconnecting from iCloud, restoring my data, and reconnecting didn’t hold, since iCloud still saw the restored data as stale and removed it.

The trick was to disconnect from iCloud, restore the calendars, stay disconnected from iCloud, export the calendars, reconnect to iCloud, and then import the just-exported calendars. Here’s the process in more detail:

  1. Go into System Preferences > iCloud and sign out of iCloud, which deletes all iCloud data from the device (including documents, contacts, and email). But don’t worry, it’s all still safe at Apple’s data center.

  2. Using Time Machine (or your backup program of choice) restore the missing data. In my case this was the ~/Library/Calendars directory. (In Lion the Library folder is hidden by default; in the Finder, hold Option and choose Go > Library before activating Time Machine. Or, you can reveal it using a third-party tool or the command line; see “Dealing with Lion’s Hidden Library,” 20 July 2011).

  3. Open the application that uses the data (iCal, in my case). Then export the data. For calendars, you can export an entire calendar as an .ics file by using iCal File > Export > Export; I saved my calendars to the Desktop. (iCal also supports exporting an iCal Archive, but I didn’t test that.) Other applications — such as exporting contacts from Address Book — will have different processes.

  4. Go back into System Preferences and sign into iCloud again.

  5. Watch as your data disappears again. It’s mesmerizing. In a bad way.

  6. Create new iCloud calendars with the same names as your old ones (I had one name that iCloud kept changing on me, so I picked a new one that was almost the same. I suspect this was due to how quickly I was making these changes). For the rest of these steps, I’m going to focus on iCal, but a similar process should work for other applications.

  7. Import the calendar files on your Desktop into the new, empty iCloud calendars. If you try to import the calendars without creating iCloud homes for them, you will be able to import them only locally, and not to iCloud.

  8. Re-share any shared calendars and send out invitations. I share my work calendar with my coworkers and my home calendar with my wife, and when I initially deleted my calendars I disappeared from their systems (prompting my coworker’s tweet).

  9. Ask everyone to send you sharing invitations again so you can see their calendars. Yes, I deleted my shared calendars, which fortunately (even though I had write access) deleted only my access and not my coworkers’ futures.

The entire process didn’t take long, but it was nerve-wracking considering how much important information I keep in those calendars. After I posted about my travails, fellow TidBITS staffer Michael Cohen wrote:

What I always do when making major changes to my calendar setup is to first export my iCal data. That makes it much easier to repopulate iCal (and, thus, iCloud) with my data if I have a brain freeze or other calamity.

What a good idea! I was hoping I could use AppleScript to automate this process and make non-iCloud backups of my calendars, but unfortunately the iCal export feature isn’t AppleScript-accessible. I’ll just learn my lesson and make sure I manually export backup copies of important data before mucking around with anything major in iCloud in the future.

iCloud data isn’t necessarily at greater risk than it was in MobileMe, but when you delete it from iCloud, it’s gone from the source, and recovery is definitely more difficult than it used to be. And than it should be.

Adam Engst 52 comments

Apple’s Planned Obsolescence Schedule

It has long been a staple among the Mac faithful that Macs may cost more than equivalent Windows-based PCs, but (along with many other advantages) they retain their utility longer. I’m certainly guilty of such statements, and I’ve backed them up over the years by keeping my SE/30 (upgraded from an SE in 1991) in useful service until 2001, at which point I replaced it with a Performa 6400 that was at least five years old.

That said, hardware longevity — how long the actual hardware continues to function using the software of its era — is being undermined by the need to maintain software compatibility, particularly with networked software. For many years, an elderly Mac could remain useful even in the face of new and incompatible system updates because computers were relatively isolated from one another; as long as file formats remained compatible, older machines maintained their utility. The first hint that networked software was going to become important came from Web browsers, older versions of which weren’t always able to load Web sites using the latest Web design techniques.

But Web browser compatibility is nothing compared to the compatibility issues Apple has raised with iCloud, which works only with Mac OS X 10.7.2 Lion and iOS 5. Suddenly, older Macs and iOS devices that aren’t compatible with Lion and iOS 5 have been excluded from life in the cloud, regardless of how well they run other software and even modern Web browsers. In short, the effective life of hardware is now determined by Apple’s corporate fiat, rather than organically as the Macintosh industry gradually shifts away from supporting older machines.

This got me thinking. When some new version of Mac OS X or iOS comes out, we always report on the hardware with which it’s compatible, but we’ve never brought all the different operating systems together. To do that, I pulled out MacTracker, which provides introduction and discontinuation dates, and used EveryMac’s Ultimate Mac Sort Tool to determine which Macs were made obsolete by each subsequent version of Mac OS X.

The aim here is to figure out just how long you will likely be able to continue installing operating system upgrades (and thus software that requires those OS versions) after you purchase a Mac or iOS device. In particular, I’m interested in the minimum lifespan — how long a particular device would be supported by Apple if you bought near the end of that model’s lifespan.

First, though, to address an early comment, it is true that Apple continues to support the previous version of Mac OS X (though not iOS) with security updates. So, during the reign of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, Apple will release security updates for 10.6 Snow Leopard, though not for 10.5 Leopard or anything earlier. While this is a welcome policy, I don’t see it changing the functional lifespan of a Mac, since you don’t get your work done with security updates, you get it done with a functioning operating system and supported applications.

Mac OS X — Here’s what I found, starting with 10.4 Tiger, which was released in April 2005. Tiger supported all PowerPC G3-, G4-, and G5-based Macs, and was the first version of Mac OS X to run on Intel-based Macs. There’s little utility in going back any earlier, since previous versions of Mac OS X (with 10.0 released in March 2001) also supported all PowerPC G3-based Macs with the lone exception of the original PowerBook G3.

Tiger was superseded by 10.5 Leopard in October 2007, when Apple started to drop support for installing new operating system updates on some older Macs. In particular, Leopard swept off the shelf all PowerPC G3-based Macs and slower PowerPC G4-based Macs whose clock speed was less than 867 MHz. Most of those Macs had been discontinued by October 2003, except for a lone 800 MHz iBook G4, which held on until April 2004. So Leopard supported all Mac models introduced as far back as 7 years earlier, but the last Mac sold that couldn’t run Leopard was taken off the market just 3.5 years before Leopard shipped.

Next up was 10.6 Snow Leopard, which Apple released in August 2009. With Snow Leopard, Apple drew a line in the sand at the Intel transition, eliminating all PowerPC-based Macs. Looking back in time, the iMac was the first Intel-based Mac in January 2006 and the Power Mac G5 was the last of Apple’s product line to make the jump to Intel, sold as a new product until August 2006. (The PowerPC-based Xserve remained available until November 2006, but it wasn’t aimed at the consumer market.) That sets Snow Leopard’s backwards compatibility to as little as 3 years, a year less than Leopard’s. This is understandable given the enormity of the architectural change.

With 10.7 Lion, which came out in July 2011, Apple consigned a few early Intel-based Macs to the dump heap of history. To be specific, Lion requires an Intel Core 2 Duo processor or faster, which left a number of models out in the cold because they relied on the Intel Core Solo or Core Duo processor. The last of these to go was the Core Duo-based Mac mini, in August 2007, putting Lion’s backwards compatibility at just under 4 years. The first Core 2 Duo systems were sold in September 2006, which adds almost another year to those Macs’ upgradable lifetime.

iOS — What about iOS? The first version of iOS to drop support for earlier models was iOS 4, which appeared in June 2010, and wouldn’t run on the original iPhone and iPod touch from 2007. Apple stopped making those devices after a single year of production in June 2008 and September 2008, respectively, giving iOS 4 a backwards compatibility of 24 to 27 months.

iOS 5, released in October 2011, also tossed an iPhone and iPod touch over the side: the iPhone 3G and the second-generation iPod touch. (To be fully accurate, these devices actually first bit the dust with the release of iOS 4.3 in March 2011, but that was a relatively minor update and including it would muddy the analysis significantly.) The iPhone 3G survived for 2 years, remaining for sale as a low-cost alternative even after Apple introduced the iPhone 3GS in June 2009. It was eventually discontinued in June 2010 when the iPhone 4 came out.

Similarly, the second-generation iPod touch was introduced in September 2008, and while the 16 and 32 GB versions were pulled from sale a year later in 2009, the 8 GB version held on for 2 years before Apple stopped offering it in September 2010.

Technically speaking, that gives iOS 5 a backwards compatibility of only 15 or 16 months, to the last date the iPhone 3G was on sale as a new product. But it also marks the first time Apple introduced a new product while continuing to sell its direct predecessor. On those grounds, you could argue that the real backwards compatibility of iOS 5 is 27 or 28 months, for the iPhone and iPod touch, respectively.

(Michael DeGusta worked up a fascinating chart comparing iOS and Android OS upgradability by phone model up until June 2010. He chose to look at the span of time from a phone’s introduction to three years after release — less for phones released in the last three years, of course. He depicts across that period how long a phone was for sale, how long updates were available, and how far behind a phone was compared to the current version of the operating system.)

Support Summary — To summarize, then, it seems safe to say that if you buy a new Mac now, it’s a good bet that Apple will support it with new software releases for 4 to 5 years, depending on when you buy in a given model’s lifetime. Snow Leopard cut the time to a low of 3 years for some outlying models, but the desire to focus on Intel-based Macs easily explains that.

Things become more complex with iOS. If you’re buying the current generation of iPhone, you’ll have 2 to 3 years of support from Apple — the longer period if you buy a new model immediately — before you’re left by the wayside. The lower end of the range syncs up with the length of most mobile phone contracts.

However, this will fall down with new purchases of the iPhone 3GS, which Apple is now giving away for free to anyone who will sign a two-year contract with AT&T. It seems entirely likely that the iPhone 3GS won’t survive the next revision of iOS, which means that iOS 6 could be a non-starter for phones that were sold just before the release of iOS 6. (Apple might signal iOS 6 by discontinuing the iPhone 3GS several months ahead to avoid causing some degree of buyer’s remorse.)

The iPod touch seemed to follow the same pattern as the iPhone for the first few generations, but when Apple released the iPhone 4S, there was no associated fifth-generation iPod touch, meaning that the fourth-generation iPod touch, introduced in September 2010, is still current (albeit in both black and white versions now). That may mean that today’s iPod touch will have a much longer lifespan, if we assume it tracks with the iPhone 4, perhaps even approaching the 4-year upgradability mark that nearly all Macs have enjoyed.

It’s also hard to know what will happen with the iPad. The original iPad was released in January 2010 and replaced by the current iPad 2 in March 2011, but both can run iOS 5. The original iPad and iPhone 4 use the same processor — see below — while the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S use a later version. That processor difference could be the trigger that starts the clock on the last possible update. The original iPad and iPhone 4, despite introduction dates offset by several months, may both be thrown under the train with iOS 7. That’s certainly no sooner than 2 years from now. If this wild speculation is on target, that would give the iPad a Mac-like longevity of about 4 years.

Dark Clouds Rising — The wild card in all of this is iCloud, which requires iOS 5 and Lion’s 10.7.2 release. It’s not so much that iCloud is itself uninterested in the past, since Lion works on all Macs sold in the last 4 years or so. The problem is iOS 5, and the way Apple is keeping obsolete products for sale at lower price points. The iPhone 3G can’t run iOS 5 and thus can’t participate in iCloud, but you could have bought an iPhone 3G as recently as 15 months ago. Thus, you may be able to connect a 4-year-old Mac to iCloud, but not an iPhone that’s less than 2 years old and still under contract. Since the entire point of iCloud is to route data among your
many devices, this discrepancy is troubling lots of people.

It may seem that iCloud (via iOS 5) is a bit like Snow Leopard, in that it’s making arbitrary decisions about who’s in and who’s out. But with Snow Leopard, those decisions were based on an obvious technical difference — PowerPC versus Intel processors. With iOS 5, though, there’s no such distinction. It runs on the iPhone 3GS and the third-generation iPod touch, which reportedly use the Samsung S5L8920 CPU, whereas the iPhone 4 and original iPad use Apple’s A4 chip, and the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 rely on the A5. Perhaps iOS 5’s system requirements are based purely on overall performance, which isn’t something that users can see or that we can estimate based on known specs. Certainly, iOS 4 on an iPhone 3G was nearly
unusable for a while, until Apple released an update with performance tweaks, and even then it wasn’t snappy.

If we’re lucky, the real boon of iCloud will be Apple moving additional processing into the network, as Siri does, enabling iOS devices to maintain their utility longer than in the past. Apple may be trying to push the iPad and iPod touch longevity into the 4-year range enjoyed by Macs. If you consider the iPhone 3GS and 4S as intermediate versions of the iPhone, it’s possible we could see iPhones lasting somewhat longer as well.

As long as Apple continues to sell vast quantities of iOS devices to new buyers, everyone is happy. But should Apple feel the need for more upgrade revenue at any point, it seems clear that the company can arbitrarily declare the obsolescence of an entire generation of devices and potentially enforce that obsolescence with some sort of networked service that works only on the most recent devices.

TidBITS Staff No comments

TidBITS Watchlist: Notable Software Updates for 7 November 2011

Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 Editor and Premiere Elements 10 Editor — Adobe has released the latest versions of its consumer photo and video editing software via the Mac App Store. Photoshop Elements 10 Editor expands its array of Guided Edits to help you create shallow depth of field effects, dreamy Orton effects, and more. It also adds the capability to align text to a path, paint using new Smart Brush designs, and recompose photos using crop guides. Premiere Elements 10 Editor represents the
first time the video editor is available via the Mac App Store, and features one-click video color correction, new InstantMovie themes, and easy pan and zoom motions. Notably, neither app includes Elements Organizer, the software bundled with the boxed versions for managing one’s media library. ($79.99 new for each program; 1.21 GB for Photoshop Elements, 924 MB for Premiere Elements)

Read/post comments about Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 Editor and Premiere Elements 10 Editor.

Sandvox 2.2 — Karelia Software has released Sandvox 2.2, a new version of its popular Web site creation software. The update comes with a few new features, starting with support for maps, which can be added to a Web page just by providing a location or address, and several new formatting options, including lists and strikethrough text. The new release also comes with improved connectivity with servers using SFTP and WebDAV, enhanced media handling tools, and better support for HTML 5. ($79.99 new from Karelia or the Mac App Store, free update, 32

Read/post comments about Sandvox 2.2.

Aperture 3.2.1 — Apple’s professional photo editor gained a small bug-fix update that sounds like a relief for many users. Aperture 3.2.1 fixes a problem where the application could crash at launch on Macs with Intel Core Duo processors and tackles two issues related to the Crop tool: switching to an incorrect orientation or resizing improperly, and rendering images when cropping while Onscreen Proofing is enabled. This version also displays location menus correctly in the Places view when “Photos” is selected in the Library Inspector. ($79.99 new
from the Mac App Store
, free update, 635.76 MB)

Read/post comments about Aperture 3.2.1.

TidBITS Staff No comments

ExtraBITS for 7 November 2011

To continue your technology reading for this week, we have a bunch of interesting links, including thoughts about sandboxing in the Mac App Store, Macworld Expo’s name change, MacTech’s benchmarking of Parallels Desktop 7 and VMware Fusion 4, upcoming fixes in iOS 5.0.1, and Amazon’s addition of ebook lending for Kindle device owners in the company’s Prime program.

Sandbox or Catbox? — Apple has postponed the announced date when all Mac App Store applications must be sandboxed, from November 2011 to March 2012. Maybe that’s because sandboxing isn’t working either for Apple or for developers. Developer Wil Shipley ruminates on why requiring application sandboxing is the wrong strategy for Apple.

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Macworld Expo Becomes Macworld|iWorld — Macworld (the publication, not the conference) covers the name change for Macworld (the conference, not the publication), talking with Macworld|iWorld’s vice president and general manager, Paul Kent. Along with the name change come some format changes, with more focus on music, art, and film. Training sessions, now called Tech Talks, now come at the lower price of $75. All in all, the changes appear to be the most significant since Apple pulled out several years ago.

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MacTech Updates Virtualization Benchmarks — Although performance is only one of many criteria involved with choosing a virtualization program, MacTech’s latest virtualization benchmarks clearly give the nod to Parallels Desktop 7 over VMware Fusion 4, a fact that should interest gamers and those doing CPU-intensive tasks in Windows. But do remember what Joe Kissell noted recently, “The fact that a Porsche can go faster than a pickup truck doesn’t mean it’s better; it’s only better if you’re planning on driving faster than the pickup’s top speed, and you value
speed more than cargo capacity.”

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iOS 5.0.1 to Fix Caching and Battery Life Bugs — Earlier, we referred you to a blog post by Marco Arment showing that iOS 5 could delete the contents of an app’s caches folder and temporary folder behind the app’s back, thus leaving the app with no safe place to store data. Now, MacRumors reports that the release notes for the beta of iOS 5.0.1 say that it “introduces a new way for developers to specify files that should remain on device, even in low storage situations.” This should fix the problem Marco described. iOS 5 will also bring multitasking gestures to the
original iPad, and is said to address the battery life issues.

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Amazon Gives Free Ebook Loans to Primed Kindle Owners — Amazon keeps ladling on benefits for its Prime subscription, which launched years ago to provide free two-day shipping in the United States for $79 per year and later added video streaming from a subset of Amazon’s film and television catalog. The latest update brings free ebook loans from a selection of thousands of titles, allowing up to one loan per month with no due date. The offer is available only to owners of Kindle hardware, not Kindle apps.

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