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#1489: macOS 10.15.1, watchOS 6.1, tvOS 13.2, and iOS 13.2.1 for HomePod, Apple Q4 results, Apple Arcade game controllers, Setapp for Teams, Adobe fonts for iOS

Apple’s dizzying pace of updates continued last week, with the releases of macOS 10.15.1 Catalina, watchOS 6.1, tvOS 13.2, and iOS 13.2.1 for the HomePod. The company also announced its fourth-quarter financial results, and despite slipping iPhone sales, its booming wearables and services categories kept the profits rolling in. In other news, Adobe has released a set of free fonts for iOS 13, and MacPaw has announced Setapp for Teams. Finally, now that Apple Arcade is out, we have a FAQ on using PlayStation 4 and Xbox One game controllers with the latest Apple operating systems. Notable Mac app releases this week include BBEdit 13.0.2, Hazel 4.4, Security Update 2019-001 (Mojave) and 2019-006 (High Sierra), Safari 13.0.3, Mellel 4.2.5, Fission 2.5, and Agenda 9.0.

Josh Centers 2 comments

Adobe Releases Free Fonts for iOS

One of the lesser-known features of iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 is that they allow users to install fonts from App Store apps. After installation, those fonts are available to other apps, like Pages. Although relatively few fonts have appeared on the App Store so far, Adobe has just made something of a one-stop-shop for iOS fonts with its Creative Cloud app, which offers 1300 free fonts to anyone with a Creative Cloud account—no subscription necessary.

Once you’ve installed the Creative Cloud app and logged in, tap the Fonts tab to see all the available fonts. There are both paid and free fonts, but by default, Creative Cloud is set to show only the fonts in your plan, and if you don’t have a paid Adobe plan, it shows just the free fonts. To install one of the fonts, tap Install Fonts and then Install.

Installing fonts from Creative Cloud

Since third-party font support is so new, you can’t use these custom fonts in every app. For instance, Notes doesn’t let you choose a custom font, but Pages does.

Using custom fonts in Pages for iOS

To see which fonts you have installed, go to Settings > General > Fonts. To delete a font, swipe left and tap Delete, or tap a font to see more information about it.

Managing fonts in iOS

It makes sense for Adobe to provide all these fonts as the company continues to bring more of its publishing apps to iOS, but it remains to be seen if the desire for custom fonts in Apple’s mobile operating systems is widespread. If you have been champing at the bit to use custom fonts in your iOS productivity workflow, let us know more about it in the comments.

Adam Engst No comments

MacPaw Opens Setapp for Teams

We’ve written several times about Setapp, the subscription service from MacPaw that gives you access to numerous Mac apps for $9.99 per month—see “Setapp Offers Numerous Mac Apps for One Monthly Subscription Fee” (25 January 2017) and “Setapp At 5 Months: 10,000 Users and Better App Discovery” (29 June 2017).

Setapp launched with 60 apps, and by the time we wrote that second article, the total had increased to 77. Now the service hosts a whopping 162 apps, with more appearing all the time.

I can’t say whether or not Setapp’s collection of apps is worth $9.99 per month to you specifically, but I can say that I use a number of the Setapp apps regularly (BusyCal, CleanShot, Forecast Bar, iStat Menus, PDFpen, Simon), and I appreciate being able to use others (CleanMyMac X, Downie, Gemini, Permute, TablePlus, Timing, TripMode, WiFi Explorer) occasionally without having to pay more for them. There are also a lot of impressive apps that I don’t happen to use, such as BetterTouchTool, Bartender, Espresso, Merlin Project Express, Path Finder, RapidWeaver, and Ulysses.

MacPaw has just thrown back the curtains on the public beta of Setapp for Teams, which provides all the same apps with slightly reduced per-user pricing and single-point billing for a company or organization. For a team of four users, the price is $8.99 per user per month. Additional team members cost $7.99 per month. Each person can use Setapp on one device; each additional device is also $7.99 per month.

Setapp for Teams splash screen

Why is Setapp for Teams in beta? At the moment, it’s quite simple, but MacPaw plans to add features like single sign-on, the option for the administrator to manage access to apps, and user groups.

If you’re in a workgroup that would benefit from access to an extensive collection of apps, it’s worth a few minutes to scan through the app list and see if subscribing would make sense for your team.

Josh Centers Adam Engst 6 comments

Apple Releases macOS 10.15.1 Catalina, watchOS 6.1, and tvOS 13.2

Apple is continuing its hectic release schedule to deliver promised features and fix bugs in its interrelated operating systems. First came iOS 13.2 and iPadOS 13.2 (see “iOS 13.2 and iPadOS 13.2 Serve Up Deep Fusion, HomeKit Enhancements, and HomePod Features,” 28 October 2019), and now the company has pushed out macOS 10.15.1 Catalina, watchOS 6.1, and tvOS 13.2.

The main commonality between the three is support for the new AirPods Pro (see “Apple Releases AirPods Pro with Noise Cancellation,” 28 October 2019).

macOS 10.15.1 Catalina

Much like iOS 13.2, macOS 10.15.1 Catalina adds AirPods Pro support, new emojis, and new Siri privacy settings. New HomeKit features include support for HomeKit Secure Video, HomeKit routers, and including AirPlay 2 speakers in scenes and automations.

Apple should be ashamed of the Improve Siri & Dictation splash screen. The choices are “Share Audio Recordings” and “Not Now,” which implies that you will eventually want to share your Siri recordings—resistance is futile. Would it have killed some marketer to say “Keep Audio Recordings Private” or something similar? Plus, you can change this setting later, but Apple hides it in System Preferences > Privacy > Analytics & Improvements. And no, searching for “Siri” in System Preferences won’t find that preference pane.

Siri privacy preferences

macOS 10.15.1 also restores several Photos features, including viewing file names in the All Photos view and filtering by favorites, photos, videos, edited, and keywords in the Days view. The update also adds a two-finger swipe gesture for navigating back in the News app.

macOS 10.15.1 release notes

The macOS 10.15.1 update also includes bug fixes that:

  • Caused Contacts to launch to the last-opened contact instead of the contact list
  • Could cause problems in the Music app when displaying playlists inside folders and newly added songs in the Song list
  • Prevented downloaded titles from being visible in the Downloads folder in the TV app

Apple claims that 10.5.1 also fixes a bug that caused Messages to send only a single notification even when repeat alerts were enabled. This mirrors a bug fix in iOS 13.2, but we can’t figure out where in macOS it’s possible to set repeat alerts. Perhaps there’s something we’re missing, perhaps the setting is somehow system-wide to iMessage, or perhaps Apple just made a mistake in the release notes.

The update also reportedly improves the reliability of migrating iTunes library databases from previous versions of macOS into the new Music, Podcasts, and TV apps.

For enterprise users, 10.15.1 fixes a bug that caused passwords with certain characters to be rejected at the Mac login window when using a built-in keyboard with a non-US keyboard layout. It also dims the Sign In button in System Preferences when a configuration profile disallows signing in with an Apple ID.

The 10.15.1 update includes 29 security fixes.

You can install the 4.49 GB update from System Preferences > Software Update. Beware that it requires more than 18 GB of free space, which may require taking out the trash first, as several of us here at TidBITS discovered.

If you’re still running 10.14 Mojave or an earlier version, we stand by our recommendation that you hold off upgrading to Catalina for now. If nothing else, we’d like to see some indication that Apple has addressed issues with Mail (see “Beware Mail Data Loss in Catalina,” 11 October 2019).

watchOS 6.1

watchOS 6.1 release notes

Apple has released watchOS 6.1 with support for the new AirPods Pro. More interesting, however, is the fact that watchOS 6.1 is available for the Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2. These older models hadn’t been able to update to watchOS 6 before this. watchOS 6.1’s release notes are otherwise minimal, promising the usual “improvements and bug fixes.”

The watchOS 6.1 update also includes 12 security fixes.

You can install the update—358 MB on an Apple Watch Series 5—using the iPhone’s Watch app—go to Watch > General > Software Update.

Unlike iOS 13, iPadOS 13, and Catalina, we haven’t heard of problems related to watchOS 6, and it adds some niceties like an independent App Store, new watch faces, and noise alerts to protect your hearing (see “A Look at the Health App in iOS 13,” 5 August 2019). So you may as well install the update the next time you charge your watch—it will take quite some time.

tvOS 13.2

Last, and well, least, Apple has quietly released tvOS 13.2 for the Apple TV HD and 4K, bringing “general performance and stability improvements.” It’s also required for AirPods Pro compatibility.

tvOS 13.2 includes 10 security fixes.

If automatic updates aren’t on, you can update your Apple TV HD or Apple TV 4K by going to Settings > System > Software Updates. We can’t see any reason not to let this update install on its own or do it yourself the next time you think of it.

Adam Engst 1 comment

iOS for HomePod 13.2.1 Resolves Bricking

In last week’s release of iOS 13.2, Apple finally made public iOS 13.2 for HomePod as well (see “iOS 13.2 and iPadOS 13.2 Serve Up Deep Fusion, HomeKit Enhancements, and HomePod Features,” 28 October 2019). It delivered features like the capability to distinguish between the voices of different family members, the option to use Handoff to transfer audio (music, podcasts, and calls) from an iPhone to a HomePod, Ambient Sounds, and sleep timers.

However, the release was, like so many of Apple’s operating system releases this season, plagued by a pernicious bug. The details varied somewhat by report, but installing iOS 13.2 for HomePod caused some users’ HomePods to stop working immediately. Some saw a white light on top of the HomePod; others saw a red light. Regardless, resetting the HomePod was a bad idea. Apple acknowledged the problem, pulled the update, and told users not to reset the HomePod. I can’t remember what that support note said originally, but now it recommends updating to iOS 13.2.1, which the company made possible with the quick release of the update.

Apple warns not to reset HomePods using iOS 13.2

iOS 13.2.1 for HomePod release notesBecause the bricking reports came out so quickly, I refrained from installing iOS 13.2, but after Apple released iOS 13.2.1, both of my HomePods updated themselves automatically. I suspect the same has happened for many, if not most other users. I haven’t experienced any problems with basic usage of the HomePods since they updated themselves, though I also haven’t had a chance to test the new features. The release notes for version 13.2.1 were the same as for 13.2, so Apple’s support page is the main confirmation that the update fixes the bricking problem.

(What I’m really waiting to see is if iOS 13.2.1 for HomePod resolves an occasional problem where Siri becomes incapable of identifying music (audio link) that it was playing as part of an Apple Music custom radio station. Weirdly, when I made that recording on the dining room HomePod, the same music was playing on the bedroom HomePod, and Siri had no trouble identifying it there.)

Regardless, if you’ve been worrying about allowing a HomePod to update, I think iOS 13.2.1 is safe. Should you run into any update problems, contact Apple support and let us know what they say.

Michael E. Cohen Josh Centers 3 comments

Apple Q4 2019 Breaks Records Despite Slipping iPhone Sales

Reporting on its Q4 2019 financial results, Apple announced net profits of $13.69 billion ($3.03 per diluted share) on revenues of $64 billion. The company’s revenues were up 4% compared to the year-ago quarter (see Apple’s Q4 2018 Results Show Strong End to 2018, Despite Flat or Declining Unit Sales).

Although revenues did rise somewhat compared to last year’s Q4 results, higher costs of sales and increased expenditures on research and development reduced the company’s profits from the $14.1 billion netted over the same quarter last year. As you can see in the charts below, the iPhone still brings in over half of Apple’s revenue, but its drops were offset by gains in other areas. Apple CEO Tim Cook summarized the results, saying, “We concluded a groundbreaking fiscal 2019 with our highest Q4 revenue ever, fueled by accelerating growth from Services, Wearables, and iPad.”

Q4 2019 revenue split

Apple Q4 revenue over time

Apple saw double-digit revenue growth in all five of its geographic segments. Sales in the Americas exceeded $29 billion, roughly twice the sales numbers in Europe, the next-highest segment. Although sales in Greater China declined year-over-year, the drop-off was minor, at $11.1 billion this quarter versus $11.4 billion a year ago. Given the strained trade relations between China and the United States, Apple management viewed these results as encouraging.

Q4 2019 geographic region revenue

iPhone

iPhone sales slid once again in Q4 2019, with Apple posting revenues of $33.4 billion, a 9.2% decrease compared to last year’s $36.8 billion. It’s less of a drop than the company experienced in previous quarters, but it’s still distressing in a quarter that saw the launch of the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. Cook said that he was bullish on iPhone 11 sales, but such statements are to be expected.

iPhone Q4 revenue over time

iPad

In contrast to the iPhone, the iPad saw a 16.9% revenue increase year-over-year with $4.7 billion coming in this quarter, compared to last Q4 2018’s $4.0 billion. Apple credited the iPad Pro and the strength of the overall lineup for the iPad’s strong performance—we’d also give credit to the aggressively priced seventh-generation iPad. Breaking iPad-specific features of iOS out into the new iPadOS may have helped as well by showing Apple’s commitment to the iPad platform.

Q4 iPad revenue

Mac

Mac revenues were down slightly—4.8% year-over-year—at $7 billion compared to last year’s $7.3 billion. Cook blamed the drop on the company releasing two MacBook Pro models last year but failing to release even one this year. Nonetheless, the overall 2019 revenue achieved by Apple’s Mac business is the highest ever, and Cook expects an additional boost to future Mac revenues with the release of the new Mac Pro (and possibly the rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro?) before the end of 2019.

Q4 Mac revenue

Services

Unsurprisingly, given the attention Apple has been paying to this segment, Services revenue skyrocketed by 18% over the past year, bringing in $12.5 billion, up from last year’s $10.6 billion, with all five of Apple’s geographic segments experiencing double-digit Services growth. Cook drew particular attention to Apple’s payment services, the revenues from which he said now exceed PayPal’s. He also used the opportunity to note that Apple Card users will soon be able to finance new iPhone purchases interest-free over 24 months. Whether Apple’s new Apple Arcade and Apple TV+ services will contribute significantly to this success story next quarter remains to be seen.

Apple's Q4 2019 Services revenue

Wearables

The Wearables category is where Apple’s growth has exploded in the past year, up a jaw-dropping 54.4%, bringing in $6.5 billion compared to last year’s $4.2 billion. That’s a lot of Apple Watches and AirPods, and the release of the AirPods Pro may boost the Wearables numbers even higher for the upcoming holiday quarter. This category alone brings in more annual revenue than two-thirds of companies in the Fortune 500.

Apple Q4 Wearables revenue

Overall

A few years ago, the constant question surrounding Apple’s finances was: “What happens when the iPhone runs out of steam?” Now we know: Tim Cook and the Apple management team steered the company toward wearables and services, capitalizing on that enormous iPhone customer base. Apple’s Services segment alone has now reached the size of a Fortune 70 company. Investors can now be confident that the iPhone-fueled juggernaut that has been Apple in the 2010s isn’t a one-hit wonder.

Josh Centers 4 comments

Xbox and PlayStation Game Controllers with Apple Arcade: The FAQ

With iOS 13, iPadOS 13, macOS 10.15 Catalina, and tvOS 13, Apple’s gaming efforts have taken two big steps forward. The first is with Apple Arcade, which provides quality titles without in-app purchases for $5 per month (see “Apple Unveils Apple Arcade and Apple TV+ Prices and Dates,” 10 September 2019). The other is that all of these operating systems support Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) game controllers. (Sadly, Catalina also takes a step back by dropping support for 32-bit games, but there are ways around that—see “Moving to Catalina: Keep Your 32-Bit Mac Apps Running with Parallels,” 18 September 2019.)

Why is support for these controllers a big deal? Many people already have one, so there’s no need to buy a special controller to use with their Apple devices. Also, these controllers are superior to what has previously been available for the Apple ecosystem, even the lauded Steelseries Nimbus.

There are two reasons for this superiority. First, Microsoft and Sony have been at this for over two decades—Microsoft was making PC gamepads years before Xbox materialized. Second, the three major game console companies—Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony—have patent locks on the best controller technologies, and they defend those patents vigorously.

Some Apple Arcade subscribers are annoyed that Apple isn’t making its own game controller, even if that would require licensing technology from one of the aforementioned companies. Frankly, after seeing Apple’s efforts with TV remotes, I think supporting existing controllers is a better approach.

Here are answers to questions you might have about using game controllers with Apple’s new operating systems. If you have others, feel free to ask me in the comments.

Do I even need a game controller?

No one needs a game controller, but using one can make certain games more fun. Many people find onscreen controls frustrating in action-packed games and, even if you get used to onscreen controls, using a controller will provide a much smoother experience. Of course, that’s true only if the games you like support these game controllers. If you mostly play puzzle games, a controller probably won’t make much difference.

How do I tell if a game supports controllers?

If you’re playing a game from Apple Arcade, you can tell by looking at the description blocks in its App Store listing. Here’s an example from an iPad.

Controller support in an Apple Arcade app on iPad

The App Store in Catalina offers a similar interface.

Controller support in a Catalina Apple Arcade game

Note that these interfaces say, “Controller Supported.” Some games, especially when played on the Apple TV, require a controller. That’s true of Oceanhorn 2 even though its iOS and iPadOS versions don’t require a controller.

Oceanhorn 2 requires a controller on tvOS

Can I use a game controller outside of Apple Arcade?

Yes, but it’s not as easy to tell if games outside of Apple Arcade support controllers. You can either look closely at the game’s App Store info or connect a controller, fire up a game, and see if it works. The App Stores also have stories that highlight non-Apple Arcade games for iOS and macOS that are great with controllers.

If you own a PlayStation 4, also check out the free PS4 Remote Play app, which lets you remotely play games from your PlayStation 4 on an iPhone or iPad, and yes, it supports the use of a PS4 controller. The experience of playing a game remotely in this way is a bit laggy, so it’s not great for fast-moving titles. I like it for playing role-playing games in bed.

Persona 5 on an iPad
Playing the turn-based role-playing game Persona 5 on an iPad with PS4 Remote Play.

I want a controller. Which one should I buy?

First, if you have a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One controller around the house already, start with that and save yourself some money. I already own a PlayStation 4, so I use its controller.

If you’re in the market for a controller, consider the fact that Apple sells the Xbox Wireless Controller but not the PS4 controller. That’s as close to an endorsement as we can expect from Apple. But don’t buy from Apple, since it’s $20 cheaper from Amazon. The Xbox controller has a couple of other advantages as well: it works natively with Windows 10 and has better battery life than the PS4 controller.

Who should consider the PS4 controller? If you have friends who own PlayStation 4 consoles, it might be nice to have your own controller for multiplayer games. Also, the PlayStation 4 has a better directional pad.

If you’re struggling to decide, consider visiting a gaming store and holding both controllers to see which you like better.

I found a cheap third-party Xbox/PlayStation controller. Is it OK to buy that instead?

There are a lot of inexpensive third-party controllers on the market, and most are markedly inferior to the official ones. The Microsoft and Sony controllers are reasonably priced around $40, and I think they’re the best overall value.

I don’t like either controller. Can I use something else?

Any Bluetooth controller compatible with the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 should work, as will any MFi controller. Those with mobility challenges might be interested in the Xbox Adaptive Controller.

OK, I bought a controller. How do I hold it?

As someone who has been gaming for about as long as I’ve been walking, it’s always amusing to see what new gamers do with a game controller. Sometimes they try to use it as an arcade stick or hold it upside down. (Cue the Star Trek IV reference of Scotty trying to use a Mac.)

You want to cradle the controller in the palms of your hands, resting your left thumb on either the left analog stick or the directional pad and your right thumb on either the right analog stick or over the four face buttons on the front of the controller, with your index fingers over the shoulder buttons on the top of the controller. Experiment to see what grip feels most natural for you.

How to hold a PS4 controller.

What the heck do all those buttons do?

Button functions depend on the game. Some games offer onscreen instructions, either in a tutorial or when a certain context is triggered. For example, when you get near a barrel in Oceanhorn 2, the game tells you to press the X button to pick up the barrel (confusingly, it doesn’t use the PlayStation button style of a blue X on a black background).

On-screen controller instructions in Oceanhorn 2

Unfortunately, I don’t think games adapt their onscreen instructions to the controller you’re using. For example, while playing Hot Lava on my MacBook Pro, it told me to press the A button, which my PS4 controller doesn’t have. In those cases, you have to do a little translation using my tips below (or just mash buttons until you figure out what does what).

Despite the Xbox and PS4 controllers looking rather different, they’re actually quite similar. They both have two analog sticks, a directional pad, four face buttons, two shoulder buttons, and two triggers. Most major game studios develop for both consoles and thus have little patience for “innovative” approaches. Likewise, most gamers don’t want to read instructions (if there even are any) before playing a game, so some common controller conventions have developed over the years:

Common controller conventions

  • Left analog stick: The left analog stick is usually for directional movement in three-dimensional games because it allows for varying degrees of force, like pushing lightly to walk or all the way forward to run. First-person shooters use it to move forward and backward or to strafe left and right.
  • Directional pad: The direction pad or “d-pad” is often used for movement in two-dimensional games. The left analog stick can usually be used in its place in such games, but most people find the d-pad to be more precise. In many 3D games, especially first-person shooters, the d-pad is used for other actions, like switching between weapons.
  • Right analog stick: The right analog stick is most often used for aiming in 3D games, especially in first-person shooters.
  • Face buttons: In most games, the four buttons on the right side of the controller are your main action buttons. In American games, the bottom face button (X on the PS4 controller, A on the Xbox controller) is often the primary button, used for jumping, selecting menu items, and advancing through dialogs. Japanese games tend to use the right action button (O on the PS4 controller or B on the Xbox controller) as the main button instead. The left face button (â–˘ on the PS4 controller or X on the Xbox controller) is often used for some sort of attack, or reload in first-person shooters.
  • Shoulder buttons and triggers: These buttons are used for all sorts of different things, but the most common convention is using the right trigger to fire in first-person shooters.

Note that these are merely common conventions and are not universal—there are plenty of exceptions, and it’s up to the game to explain them.

How do I connect a controller to my Apple device?

Controllers work like standard Bluetooth devices. First, put the controller in pairing mode and then go into Settings > Bluetooth or System Preferences > Bluetooth to pair it. That said, figuring out how to put these controllers into pairing mode isn’t always obvious.

How do I put an Xbox One controller in pairing mode?

Given that it was designed for multiple platforms (Xbox and Windows), the Xbox One controller has a special button for Bluetooth pairing:

  1. If the controller is paired to an Xbox, make sure the Xbox is turned off.
  2. Press the Xbox button on the front of the controller to turn the controller on. It’s the big, obnoxious X button in the red circle in the figure below.
  3. Press and hold the round connect button on the top of the controller for several seconds. In the figure below, the finger is on the connect button.

Pairing an Xbox controller

How do I put a PlayStation 4 controller in pairing mode?

Press and hold the PlayStation button—the round button between the two analog sticks—and the Share button until the light bar starts flashing. Both are highlighted in red in the image below.

Pairing a PS4 controller

How do I pair my controller with an iPhone or iPad?

Bluetooth pairing is the same in iOS and iPadOS:

  1. Put the controller in pairing mode.
  2. Go to Settings > Bluetooth.
  3. Tap the controller when it appears in the list of Other Devices.

Pairing a PS4 controller to an iPad

To unpair a controller so you can use it with a different device, return to Settings > Bluetooth, tap the i button for the controller, and tap Forget This Device. I can’t speak for the Xbox One, but if you attach a PlayStation 4 controller to the PlayStation console with a USB cable, it will repair itself to the console automatically.

How do I pair my controller with an Apple TV?

Here’s how to pair a controller to your Apple TV:

  1. Put your controller in pairing mode.
  2. On the Apple TV, go to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Bluetooth.
  3. Select your controller from the list.

Pairing a controller to an Apple TV

To unpair the controller, return to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Bluetooth > Your Controller and choose Unpair Device.

How do I pair my controller with a Mac?

For a shortcut to Bluetooth preferences, click the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar. Otherwise:

  1. Put your controller in pairing mode.
  2. Go to System Preferences > Bluetooth.
  3. Click the Connect button next to your controller.

Pairing a PS4 controller to a Mac

To unpair the game controller, return to this screen and click the X next to the controller.

How do I move the controller to another Apple device?

Unfortunately, there’s no magic AirPod-like experience that simplifies moving a controller between devices. Your best bet is to unpair the controller from whatever Apple device it’s paired to and repair it to the new device.

Which Apple Arcade games support controllers?

Here are a few I’ve enjoyed:

  • Sayonara Wild Hearts (iOS, macOS): This was one of Apple’s showcase titles for Arcade. I initially rolled my eyes at it because it looked like yet another endless runner, of which there are about a million in the App Store. However, its trippy, dreamlike style, strong soundtrack, and relaxing, Tempest-esque gameplay makes it a unique experience.

  • Oceanhorn 2 (iOS, macOS): The original Oceanhorn was a competent if somewhat bland ripoff of The Legend of Zelda series. While the initial release borrowed heavily from the older two-dimensional, top-down Zelda games, Oceanhorn 2 is a more ambitious, three-dimensional adventure like Zelda’s subsequent Ocarina of Time and Breath of the Wild. I’ve been too busy updating Take Control titles to get very far into it, but what I’ve played was fun, and I recommend it if you’re a Zelda fan.

  • Hot Lava (iOS, macOS): This game is simultaneously the most frustrating and the most interesting. The concept is a more developed version of the children’s pseudo game “the floor is lava.” Hot Lava consists of level after level where you jump and swing over pools of lava. It’s best thought of as a first-person shooter without the shooting.

Watchlist

BBEdit 13.0.2 No comments

BBEdit 13.0.2

Bare Bones Software has published BBEdit 13.0.2 with bug fixes and feature refinements. The long-standing text editor fixes a bug in which URL attribute values with multiple entities would incorrectly trip the warning about needing to be encoded, uses the effective text color scheme for syntax coloring on the Grep Cheat Sheet (working around a bug caused by turning on Reduce Transparency in macOS’s Accessibility preferences), improves performance when generating disambiguated file names for use in the sidebar, resolves an issue that prevented startup of the Mac App Store edition of BBEdit after using AirPlay in macOS 10.15 Catalina, and works around a bug in Catalina that prevented correct restoration of the HTML markup tools button palettes. ($49.99 new, $29.99/$39.99 upgrades, free update from version 13, upgrade pricing available, 13.4 MB, release notes, macOS 10.14.2+)

Hazel 4.4 No comments

Hazel 4.4

Noodlesoft has released Hazel 4.4, bringing compatibility with macOS 10.15 Catalina by handling certain new privacy protections and adding support for the new Music app. The file automation and cleanup utility now requires a minimum of 10.12 Sierra, introduces “tons” of workarounds for a variety of preference pane-related bugs in Catalina, resolves an issue in Catalina where numbers would get reformatted with a decimal (“1” would become “1.0”), corrects a problem with passing numeric attributes to AppleScripts as arguments, removes Growl support, and fixes issues with the Sort Into Subfolder action. ($32 new or $49 for a five-member family pack, free update, 10.2 MB, release notes, 10.12+)

Security Update 2019-001 (Mojave) and 2019-006 (High Sierra) 16 comments

Security Update 2019-001 (Mojave) and 2019-006 (High Sierra)

Apple has released Security Update 2018-001 for macOS 10.14 Mojave and Security Update 2017-006 for 10.13 High Sierra, patching a lengthy list of security vulnerabilities for the older operating systems. The updates address several vulnerabilities related to the CUPS printer interface, a logic issue with PluginKit that could allow a local user to check for the existence of arbitrary files, and memory corruption issues related to the kernel, graphics, audio, and file system events. (Free. For 10.14 Mojave, 1.56 GB; for 10.13 High Sierra, 1.92 GB; security content release notes)

Safari 13.0.3 9 comments

Safari 13.0.3

Apple has released Safari 13.0.3 for macOS 10.14 Mojave and 10.13 High Sierra, providing bug fixes and addressing the same vulnerabilities that the company patched in the version of Safari included in 10.15.1 Catalina (see “Apple Releases macOS 10.15.1 Catalina, watchOS 6.1, and tvOS 13.2,” 29 October 2019). The security notes list 15 vulnerabilities related to maliciously crafted Web content. Safari 13.0.3 is available only via Software Update. (Free, 10.13.6 and 10.14.6)

Mellel 4.2.5 No comments

Mellel 4.2.5

Mellel has posted Mellel 4.2.5, fixing a bug that caused crashes with some documents when running macOS 10.15 Catalina. In particular, the way that Catalina modifies the behavior for reporting areas that require mouse cursor shape adjustment (switching from an arrow to an I-beam) caused a crash in some Mellel documents with elaborate tables. Version 4.2.5 addresses this issue and improves overall mouse adjustment and accuracy. ($49 new from Mellel and the Mac App Store, free update, 82.5 MB, release notes, macOS 10.6+)

Fission 2.5 No comments

Fission 2.5

Rogue Amoeba has released Fission 2.5, bringing full compatibility with macOS 10.15 Catalina. Additionally, the audio editor updates and expands its Dark mode support, improves waveform drawing, and introduces a new wizard with a revised Quick Tour overview of the app. Rogue Amoeba’s announcement blog post also notes that version 2.5 brings full support for making custom ringtones on Catalina. ($29 new from Rogue Amoeba with a 20% discount for TidBITS members, also available from the Mac App Store, free update, 11.1 MB, release notes, 10.12+)

Agenda 9.0 No comments

Agenda 9.0

Momenta has released version 9.0 of its Agenda date-focused note-taking app with a lengthy list of improvements and bug fixes (see our original review in “Agenda Offers a New Take on Note-Taking and Task Management,” 8 May 2018). The update enables you to reorder projects and categories in the sidebar manually, automatically inserts a link to previous notes when linking to an event in a recurring series, improves performance when editing and viewing larger notes that could freeze the app, ensures Agenda links keep working when moving notes between projects, corrects a crash when accessing the table view menu, improves iCloud sync performance and stability, and provides more information about projects and notes (from creation and last edited dates to word and character count).

You can purchase Agenda’s premium features inside the app for $24.99, which permanently unlocks all current features and provides access to newly released features in the next 12 months. New premium features include archiving completed projects to keep your sidebar clean, creating subcategories in the sidebar, and pinning notes as footnotes to the bottom of a project. (Free with $24.99 in-app premium feature purchase, free update, 49.8 MB, macOS 10.12+)

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The Life and Times of a Backblaze Hard Drive

Over on the Backblaze blog, Andy Klein has penned the moving story of what it’s like to be a hard drive at Backblaze… from the perspective of a hard drive named Zach. With some whimsical illustrations, the post could be a children’s book—the perfect bedtime story for budding young geeks. Beyond the engaging plot twists, it’s also an interesting look at how Backblaze evaluates and replaces failing drives. Worth a read.

Photo of Backblaze data center