Categories
Apple iOS iPadOS macOS tvOS watchOS

Hopes for Improvements for Apple’s Platforms

There are some things that I would like to see changed with Apple’s platforms. These are mostly “paper cuts”, in that none of them show-stoppers in themselves but combined they make it a lot tougher to deal with the platforms. These are not my predictions for WWDC, those will be in a separate post.

Apple TV

  • A way to save specific screensavers while still downloading new ones.
  • Have the ability to have Siri limit to the media I already own.
  • Have Siri have the ability to add more categories. For example “Show me movies that are action comedies.”

macOS

  • Specifically for Catalyst, more refined controls for macOS Catalyst apps that match macOS even better.
  • Fix Bluetooth, for keyboard, mice, and trackpads. I have issues with bluetooth disconnecting randomly and in the middle of using it.
  • Within the Mail app, keep order of accounts. The order will randomly reset when showing the app window even if the mail app was not closed, but the window was.

iCloud

  • More default iCloud storage. 5GB really is paltry and just embarrassing at this point. I do not expect 100GB, but even 10GB or 25GB free would be better than the 5GB we get now.

iOS

  • Improvements to Mail, like actually indicating messages have been read.
  • Quick method to enable or disable “Block Unknown callers” from Control Center.
  • Set default for Noise Cancelling headphones other than “Active Noise Cancelling”.
  • I love that iOS 13.4 added keyboard and trackpad support for iOS, but system-wide support for navigating alerts with the keyboard would be very helpful.
  • Fix Bluetooth. Bluetooth is a mess on iOS, particularly for audio. For instance, my Beats Solo Pros will have distortion when using any other app, but not all the time. It is consistent enough to notice that it is a problem. For instance, if I am typing in messages while listening to something, the audio will stutter and its not the key taps making noise. The same goes for many other apps.
  • Within the Files app, provide option to always show file extensions. I say an option because some will not want it, but power users, like myself, can really need it.

iPadOS

  • True multiple user support, not limited to schools or businesses.
  • Have a calculator, specifically license PCalc, for use on the iPad.

Screen Time

  • Have actually accurate synchronization and reports. Here is a great example. April 12th, I got the following reports: iPhone: 15 hours, 59 minutes, iPadOS stated, up 51% for an average of 16 hours and 15 minutes per day, and macOS stated “You averaged 13 hours, 33 minutes of screen time per day last week.” So obviously something is amiss between the synchronization of the devices and the reported screen time. Synchronization should be forced before sending the notification.

watchOS

  • Qi Charging on the Apple Watch. Right now the Apple Watch uses proprietary charging, but having standard charging would be nice.

Wallet

  • We need a website with the ability to see all transactions, make payments, etc.
  • Additional user on the same card including adding children, and even possibly giving them a budget.

Notes

  • Add the ability to not have urls automatically be created for links, preferably on a note-by-note basis.

Numbers

  • Copy a table as HTML, even without any formatting, with the header rows as thead rows.

Pages

  • Have it remember your place when you switch between Pages and another app, when using it on iOS.
  • Provide ability to edit styles when a file is in a shared folder on iCloud. Currently, you cannot edit any styles if the file is in a folder that is shared on iCloud. You can select them, but not edit

iTunes Connect

  • Create an API, similar to the App Store Connect API, for users to be able to manage their iTunes Connect items in a similar manner as App Store Connect. This would be a tremendous improvement.

These are just some of the things that I have managed to come across that would be helpful for improving the functioning of Apple’s platforms. Some of these are easier to accomplish than others, and some are just bugs that should have already been fixed, but for some reason are still present within Apple’s software.

Categories
Apple Developer macOS Swift

Swift Playgrounds for Mac Now Available

In 2014 Apple introduced a new programming language called Swift. Swift took the best of existing programming languages and wrapped it into one. In 2016 Apple introduced a new way to work with Swift, called Swift Playgrounds.

Swift Playgrounds are, as the name implies, areas where you can play with the different aspects of Swift within a single area. Swift Playgrounds was introduced for iOS as an iPad-only app. Swift Playgrounds is no longer an iPad exclusive with the release of Swift Playgrounds on for macOS Catalina.

Swift Playgrounds on macOS is a Catalyst app. This means that it is the same code that is used with the iOS version of Swift Playgrounds. With this, it means that the app is the same as the iOS version, just available on macOS. Now that Swift Playgrounds is available on macOS you are able to use the existing playgrounds that you used on iOS on your Mac and vice versa. Additionally, any changes that you make on either platform will synchronize to the other.

The fact that Swift Playgrounds is on both platforms will allow those who may only have access to Mac and not an iPad the ability to learn how to code using Swift Playgrounds on the Mac. There is a version of Swift Playgrounds available within Xcode, but that does not have all of the same features, like code completion, the tutorials, and connectivity to the bluetooth accessories like Sphero.

If you have ever wanted to learn how to program, Swift Playgrounds is a great tool for doing so and now you can use it on your Mac. You can download Swift Playgrounds for free on the Mac App Store today. It does require macOS 10.15.3 or later.

Swift Playgrounds on macOS
Categories
Apple macOS

macOS Catalina Profile Manager and Other Websites

Each release of macOS has the possibility of changing things and macOS Catalina is no different. There are numerous change with macOS Catalina. I have written an entire book about all of the changes. I use my iMac for developing websites and testing out ideas.

Another thing I use my iMac for is testing out Apple’s Profile Manager service, which is available through the macOS Server app. With macOS Mojave I was able to create a website on a different port. This took a bit of tweaking and configuring of Apache. This was outlined in a post that I wrote last year.

It looks like the initial release of macOS Catalina has actually broken the ability for this to work. Here is the scenario.

Scenario

After I upgraded macOS to Catalina and then upgraded the Server.app, the ability for me to run a website on a different port, at the same time no longer works. If Server is configured, it will start before the Apache service does, and it will utilize ports 443 and 80.

If I stop both Apache and Profile Manager and then start Apache, the configuration works. However, if I start Profile Manager and then Apache, the website would never load. It is not merely a configuration issue, as the site works when only Apache is loaded.

Additionally, if I go to Terminal and type in “netstat -an | grep 8080”, it would return nothing. In case you are wondering, this command will filter the contents of the “netstat -an” command for any lines that have 8080. This would come up blank, which means that the service is not up and running.

The Fix

I spent approximately 4 hours trying to figure out a workaround, but to no avail. When I began writing this post, I did not have a solution for this, but during the writing an idea came to me. Since Server is able to successfully work, why not edit the server’s website configuration and just use it to host the additional sites I need.

This is exactly what I ended up doing. The files for the Server app are located in /Library/Server/Web/Config. Here there are two folders “apache2” and “proxy”. Your first thought might be that you need to modify those under “apache2”. However, the actual file that you want to modify is under the “proxy” folder. Specifically, the “apache_serviceproxy.conf” file.

Here is the configuration that I used.

# Custom Configuration - 8080 / PHP

Listen 8080
LoadModule php7_module libexec/apache2/libphp7.so

<IfModule php7_module>
	AddType application/x-httpd-php .php
	AddType application/x-httpd-php-source .phps

	<IfModule dir_module>
		DirectoryIndex index.html index.php
	</IfModule>
</IfModule>

<VirtualHost *:8080>
    ProxyPreserveHost On
    SetEnv proxy-chain-auth on
    RequestHeader set X-Forwarded-Proto "https"
    RequestHeader set X-Forwarded-Port "443"
    RequestHeader unset Proxy early

<IfModule mod_ssl.c>
    SSLEngine On
    SSLCertificateFile "/etc/certificates/${CERT_ID}.cert.pem"
    SSLCertificateKeyFile "/etc/certificates/${CERT_ID}.key.pem"
    SSLCertificateChainFile "/etc/certificates/${CERT_ID}.chain.pem"
    SSLHonorCipherOrder On
    SSLCipherSuite "HIGH:MEDIUM:!MD5:!RC4:!3DES"
    SSLProtocol -all +TLSv1.2
    SSLProxyEngine On
    SSLProxyProtocol -all +TLSv1.2
    SSLProxyCheckPeerCN off
    SSLProxyCheckPeerName off
</IfModule>

    ServerAdmin webmaster@dummy-host.example.com
    DocumentRoot "/usr/local/website"
    ServerName dummy-host.example.com
    ServerAlias www.dummy-host.example.com
    ErrorLog "/private/var/log/apache2/website-error_log"
    CustomLog "/private/var/log/apache2/website-access_log" common

</VirtualHost>

Let me break down what this code does, in order.

  • Indicates to listen on port 8080
  • Load the PHP 7 module
  • Set PHP to be usable by adding extensions to apache
  • Configure the VirtualHost
  • Within the VirtualHost, configure SSL support

There is one section I want to call out specifically within the VirtualHost 8080 configuration. The three lines are:

SSLCertificateFile “/etc/certificates/${CERT_ID}.cert.pem”
SSLCertificateKeyFile “/etc/certificates/${CERT_ID}.key.pem”
SSLCertificateChainFile “/etc/certificates/${CERT_ID}.chain.pem”

I copied and pasted these three lines from the VirtualHost configuration earlier in the file. These actually have a benefit as they will use any SSL certificate that you have configured within the Server app. This means that you will not need to update certificate information in multiple places and instead can update it through the Server app and have it work for all of your sites. This should be an improvement for me since I had to manually configure SSL with apache under macOS Mojave.

Possible Drawback

There is one possible drawback from using this configuration. The drawback is that your configuration could get wiped out by a future update to macOS Server. Because of this, it is a good idea to have a backup of your configuration saved once you get it working. Additionally, you should save a backup outside of the Server Web configuration path, just to be on the safe side.

Closing Thoughts

While it may be a pain to have to use modify the Server’s configuration to have multiple websites, but it is better than not having ti work at all. Before you make any changes, it is always a good idea to have a backup of any configuration files before making any configuration changes.

Categories
Apple macOS

New Notarization requirements for macOS 10.14.5

At the 2018 Apple World Wide Developer Conference, a new feature of macOS was unveiled, called Notarization. To quote my macOS Mojave for Users, Administrators, and Developers book:

The concept of Notarized apps mimics the real-world concept of a notary. A notary witnesses the fact that a document has been signed by someone, or multiple parties. zed apps use a notary service that is hosted by Apple that verifies that the application is indeed signed by the developer.

The Notary service will also perform some additional checks on the application. These include security checks that verify the application is doing what it indicates as well as the check for private API usage, similar to Mac App Store apps. However, it should be noted that using the Notary Service is not the same as app review. These checks are merely security related and are only performed to notarize your application.

At the announcement of Notarization, Apple announced that Notarization would be available for developers in the summer of 2018, but would be required for all apps in a “future release”. With the release of macOS Mojave 10.14.5 there has been a step towards notarization being required, but this is just for some apps, not all apps. You will need to notarize your apps if the following applies:

  1. If you are a developer who is creating a Developer ID for the first time.
  2. If you are creating a new kernel extension.
  3. You are updating a kernel extension

Notarization is a security mechanism, not an App Store review. Instead, it is a way of being able to assure that malicious code cannot be injected into your app. Notarizing a macOS app provides more than just peace of mind for end users, but also for you as the developer. One of the additional benefits of Notarization is that the Notarization service will keep an audit trail of each release version of your app. Should the worst occur and your private signing key get compromised, and malicious software be released, you can work with Apple to revoke those apps that you did not authorize and then release a new version of your app.

These are just some first steps in requiring notarization. It would not surprise me if notarization will be required for all apps starting with the next release of macOS, macOS 10.15. This is even hinted at by Apple’s own page:

Beginning in macOS 10.14.5, all new or updated kernel extensions and all software from developers new to distributing with Developer ID must be notarized in order to run. In a future version of macOS, notarization will be required by default for all software.

The phrase “In a future release” most likely means with the next major release, macOS 10.15. Notarization, while it may seem inconvenient, the process can easily integrate into your workflow and will protect everyone involved. I am sure many developers will not like the fact that they will have to notarize apps, but ultimately it will make things better in the long run.

Source: Apple developer site.

Categories
Apple iOS macOS

Apple to Require Two Factor Authentication for Developers

Two Factor authentication on a Mac and verification on an iPhone

Today Apple sent out an email to developers about the security of their accounts. The emails states:

In an effort to keep your account more secure, two-factor authentication will be required to sign in to your Apple Developer account and Certificates, Identifiers & Profiles starting February 27, 2019. This extra layer of security for your Apple ID helps ensure that you’re the only person who can access your account. If you haven’t already enabled two-factor authentication for your Apple ID, please learn more and update your security settings. If you have any questions, contact us. Best regards, Apple Developer Relations

There are a few possible reasons for this. The first is, as the email states, to help secure developer accounts. By enabling the two-factor authentication, particularly for Certificates, Identifiers, and Profiles cannot be added by unauthorized users.

This will have some downsides though. By requiring two-factor authentication, only ten devices will be able to receive the two factor authentication codes. For most individual users, this will not be a problem. Five of these trusted devices can be Macs and five of these can be iOS devices.

I contacted Apple Support to verify the number, and it is indeed ten trusted devices that can be associated with an Apple ID.

For larger development groups who may need to allow more than one user to login to the Certificates, you will likely need add a user who has access to the Developer Resources.

If you have not already enabled two-factor authentication on your Apple Developer account, you will want to review the two-factor authentication support page to be sure that you have a way to recover your account, if needed.