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Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Software quality continues to be a problem at Apple:
Peter Kirn said:
Apple’s latest Macs have a serious audio glitching bug
... all T2-based Macs, that is all Mac models from the 2018 generation, are evidently unusable with USB 2.0 audio interfaces, irrespective of vendor. Audio interfaces using FireWire or Thunderbolt are reportedly unaffected by this particular bug, but USB 2.0 is for the moment the most popular bus for audio devices, so nearly all owners of the new machines are encountering the issue. (There are also some reports that USB3 devices are unaffected, but I can’t confirm that.)

This of course has led some users to simply buy a new Thunderbolt 3 audio interface. But this situation is unacceptable – plenty of standard, inexpensive PCs have no such issues with Thunderbolt and USB audio hardware. Apple has shipped their entire computer line with buggy firmware that renders those machines unusable for the majority of people working with sound (so music, video, and audio production), and have lagged in finding a solution for months after shipping these expensive machines.
 


Software quality continues to be a problem at Apple:
Peter Kirn said:
Apple’s latest Macs have a serious audio glitching bug
... all T2-based Macs, that is all Mac models from the 2018 generation, are evidently unusable with USB 2.0 audio interfaces, irrespective of vendor. Audio interfaces using FireWire or Thunderbolt are reportedly unaffected by this particular bug, but USB 2.0 is ...
This is a bit of an odd cause assignment, since the T2 isn't connected to the USB 2 bus of the PCH chipset at all (at least in the block diagrams for iMac Pro I've seen). It does have audio input interfaces, but those appear to funnel up through the T2's x4 PCI-e v3 connection (or eSPI for the System Management bus features... which setting the clock could perhaps go through).

The end of the article points to the glitch being in the new iPad Pro. To me, that makes it at least as likely that this is some iOS/macOS USB driver issue, as much as it has to do with the T2. They may be linked by the audio part that the Apple ARM SoC are tasked with handling, but the "pause" being mentioned here with the "time sync" is at least being handled on the macOS side (some 'alarm' interrupt that triggers every hour). Most likely, there is a clock that both the T2 and main system are using to keep the date/time. The T2's bridgeOS and macOS need to be on the same page as far as time goes, but if using the same clock, it really shouldn't be that hard.

It's also telling that if you have a second USB 2.0 bus (via a USB controller connected via Thunderbolt, not in the main PCH chipset) the bug probably doesn't exist either. The driver handling that other controller doesn't get the "stop, everyone out of the pool" pause, but the PCH one does.

Perhaps there is some giant kludge where Apple is trying to make T2 look like the Intel audio in the PCH and somehow coupled the two (USB and audio) in the PCH driver(s), but that the "other driver works" somewhat also likely points to a software issue. (Perhaps any 'new' audio interface would stumble, because it isn't so much software quality but a skill set gap that Apple has to deal with something new.)
 



I've run a 2018 Mac Mini with Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 through the USB Type A ports for around 18 hours for audio playback - no glitches yet that I've heard.

Before that I did similar tests with my 2018 MacBook Pro 15" for several hours - no glitches with it either (the 2018 MacBook Pro was connected through a StarTech USB-C to USB Type A adapter).

According to the documentation the Scarlett 2i4 is USB 2.0.

Notes:
1) I haven't been in the room with the audio every second, so there could be rare issues that are occurring that I just haven't been witness to, but after this many hours I'm sceptical.

2) I'm only testing playback of multi-channel audio, not recording, so there may be glitches with recording that I won't see.

I'll be testing with a USB Behringer with 4 channel output, early next week
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
The design flaw behind MacBook Pro’s “stage light” effect
The Touch Bar generation of MacBook Pro always had its quirks, but the thin-at-all-cost design may finally be proving more trouble than it was ever worth. The latest issue to crop up—dubbed “flexgate” by one of our users, Alex—reveals that the compact design for the display’s flex cables is prone to fatigue and failure, leading to a host of display problems that can’t be easily (or cheaply) fixed.
...
But the bigger problem is that, in an apparent effort to make the display as thin as possible, Apple designed the cables as part of the display, so they cannot be replaced. This means that when (not if) those cables start to fail, the entire display unit needs to be replaced, as opposed to one or two little cables—effectively turning a $6 problem into a $600 disaster.
Here's an update:
iFixit said:
Apple’s 2018 MacBook Pros Attempt to Solve Flexgate, Without Admitting It Exists
... You can see there is dramatically more room with the longer cable. We’ll have to wait another year or two to see how this actually affects the prevalence of flexgate issues on 2018 MacBook Pros. While we didn’t predict precisely this failure mode, expensive repairs like this are exactly why this device earned a rather pathetic repairability score of 1 out of 10.

Worst of all, this implies that Apple knew about the flexgate issues before public backlash hit its fever pitch, and still refuses to even acknowledge the issue, let alone take responsibility and offer free repairs. In fact, multiple people claim Apple has deleted support threads regarding the issue on Apple.com, attempting to sweep this under the rug rather than offer an extended warranty program to those affected. You can sign this petition to try and get their attention, or fill out their feedback form here. Unfortunately, this feels like par for the course.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
It's not so much that Apple makes mistakes in engineering and manufacturing, it's denying those mistakes and abusing its customers that's the big issue.
The Verge said:
Flexgate is real, and Apple should acknowledge it
Apple prides itself on great customer service, but it’s currently dodging that responsibility

I have a late-2016 MacBook Pro, and, like many people with that generation of laptop, I recently fell victim to the Flexgate display problem. Flexgate refers to a design flaw in the ribbon cable connecting the body of the laptop to the display: that cable is supposed to flex with the opening and closing of the computer, but it’s wearing down too quickly with conventional use. Uncovered by an iFixit report and named by one of the site’s users, this problem is dramatically compounded by the fact that the cable in question is affixed to the display — so the only means of repairing a fault with the cable is the total replacement of the display. Which isn’t cheap.
...
I reached out to Apple repeatedly to try and get a comment from the company on the Flexgate situation, but have received no response. In my conversations with Apple support staff, which included phone calls with support centers in the UK and the US, as well as repeat visits to the Apple Covent Garden store in London, no one within the company seemed aware of Flexgate as a problem. Worse, threads started by aggrieved MacBook Pro owners who’ve suffered the Flexgate calamity have reportedly been deleted from Apple’s support forums.

Apple, I’d like to believe, is better than this. And yet, the company has previously shown itself slow to acknowledge issues with its butterfly keyboards and iPhone batteries. Both problems were eventually addressed in a satisfactory manner, though they did undermine the sense of trust that Apple works hard to engender in its users. The infamous Bendgate episode surrounding the iPhone 6, which Apple would later be shown to have known was more likely to bend under pressure, was left unresolved. The subsequent iPhone 6S just magically happened to be made of stronger stuff.
Apple's bad behavior has forced customers into creating petitions and even suing the company for redress... over and over again, e.g.:
 



The new macOS 10.14.4 update released yesterday (25th March) includes:
  • Fixes a graphics compatibility issue that may occur on some external displays connected to a Mac mini (2018)
  • Improves the reliability of USB audio devices when used with the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac mini models introduced in 2018
 


The new "News" app (v. 4.2) crashes on every launch, on both the recently released iOS 12.2 and macOS 10.14.4. Apple has release issues... again.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
The new "News" app (v. 4.2) crashes on every launch, on both the recently released iOS 12.2 and macOS 10.14.4. Apple has release issues... again.
Confirmed:
The Verge said:
Apple News crashing for some users a day after launch of subscription service
Apple News is crashing for some users a couple of seconds after being opened on both iOS and Mac. Several of us at The Verge have been able to replicate the issue, and reports of the problem are also hitting Twitter. In my case, the app seems fine initially, but it crashes once you scroll down a bit on the iPhone.
 


The new macOS 10.14.4 update released yesterday (25th March) includes:
  • Fixes a graphics compatibility issue that may occur on some external displays connected to a Mac mini (2018)
  • Improves the reliability of USB audio devices when used with the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac mini models introduced in 2018
I will admit I feel a little foolish for the strength of my complaints... apparently Apple did hear us! The USB audio thing was quite annoying, but I'd been assuming it was a problem with my USB hub!
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Apple's Downloads "support" page remains confoundingly out of date, showing macOS 10.14.3 and Security Update 2019-001 as the latest releases a day after Apple released macOS 10.14.4 and Security Update 2019-002. What in the world is Apple's problem with simple, essential documentation?
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Wow, this is a fun web column (I'm trying to understand how the code works...):
Joanna Stern/WSJ said:
Appl Still Hasn’t Fixd Its MacBook Kyboad Problm
Nope, I haven’t fogotten how to wite. No did my edito go on vacation.

You see, to shae the pain of using an Apple laptop keyboad that’s failed afte fou months, I could only think of one idea: take all the boken lettes out of my column. Then I ealized that would make the whole thing uneadable. So to...

Read with E’s On
Read with R’s Off
Why is the beaking of my MacBook Ai keyboad so insanely maddening? Let’s take a tip down Memoy Lane...
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
More on Apple's problem:
The Verge said:
Apple apologizes for continued reliability problems with its MacBook keyboards

... iFixit found Apple’s solution to be an improvement in defending against debris, but it was far from perfect, with particles like sand still able to get through and jam up the butterfly mechanism. But reports of key problems have persisted even with the third-generation keyboard. Stern wrote her column without the letters E and R to illustrate how annoying the problem is. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber similarly held back no punches when linking to the Journal’s story. He said “I consider these keyboards the worst products in Apple history. MacBooks should have the best keyboards in the industry; instead they’re the worst. They’re doing lasting harm to the reputation of the MacBook brand.”

Apple’s apology is at least a recognition that this is still a problem, though the company is simultaneously trying to give the impression that it’s not a big deal. That’s not good enough. Apple will have to make some legitimate design changes over the coming months to finally distance itself from this narrative and, as Gruber said, the sinking reputation of its laptop keyboards. These are premium machines with keyboards that just aren’t up to par.
 




Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I don't recall this level of Apple vaporware and abandonment happening previously (at least not publicly):
BBC News said:
Apple abandons AirPower wireless charging product
In a highly unusual step for the firm, Apple has given up on a product because it could not make it work adequately.

AirPower, announced in 2017, was a mat meant to charge multiple devices without needing to plug them in. But it is understood the firm’s engineers were perhaps unable to stop the mat from getting too hot.

"After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project," the firm said. The company did not elaborate further....
 





I don't recall this level of Apple vaporware and abandonment happening previously (at least not publicly):
The distinctive feature of Apple's wireless charger was to have been managed charging of up to 3 different devices with different power requirements — simultaneously. Apparently they were never able to get that to work, at least on a shippable product. So they took the responsible decision to abandon the product.
 



My obsolescence problem with Apple is with how long it provides accessories for older products. My perfectly functional iPad Pro 9.7" (2016) now has a worn out Apple keyboard cover that apparently Apple no longer sells.
...
I have heard conflicting reports that the 10.5" iPad Pro keyboard may fit the 9.7", although Apple reps have told me that it's not true. I see the new 10.5" iPad Air has an available keyboard. It would be great if it would work with my Pro, but I'm not betting on it.
It occurs to me that I should update the above, since I was able to resolve my keyboard issue:

I spoke with a Genius at my local store about buying a replacement keyboard, and he assured me they are no longer available for sale at the store. He did suggest that I contact Apple Support online and seeing if a replacement could be bought as a repair, since they are required to carry repair parts for a certain amount of time.

I chatted online with a Support person who was less than helpful; I described the problem and told him I was referred to him by an Apple Genius to get a replacement for my keyboard. He wanted me to reset my iPad to factory default to see if the problem persisted. When I told him I could not do that it was unnecessary, he told me there was nothing else he could do for me and referred me back to the Apple Store. (He was very helpful in making an appointment for me.)

Back to the Genius Bar: I spoke with a Genius who looked up the keyboard's serial number, told me that it had a known problem and was covered under an Apple replacement program and I was entitled to a replacement. Five minutes later I walked out with a new keyboard on my iPad Pro.

So, there's the good and the bad of it. The problem was resolved to my satisfaction but I told Apple in my feedback survey that it probably would have been better all-around if the first Genius had taken the time to do what the last Genius did, namely, follow procedure: Look up the serial number, see if there are any replacement programs against it and supply me with the replacement part from the back, wether free or for the out of warranty price.

Hope this is helpful to someone else.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
It's not clear what the problem is with iPad Pro screens, but there's clearly a problem:
Apple Communities said:
iPad Pro 12.9” not responding to touch intermittently
I bought an 12.9” iPad Pro 2017 around 6 months ago and since day one I’ve had trouble with the screen not responding to touch intermittently. It will randomly stop responding to my touch for anywhere between 1 and 30 seconds before coming back, it’s most noticeable when typing as letters or whole words will be missed which is infuriating. The home button still responds and usually gets things working again. I’ve also found that having bluetooth off stops it happening quite so often but it still happens (it’s happened a few times just typing this message out). The Apple Pencil always seems to work, it’s just finger touches that stop doing anything.

I kept hoping an update would fix the issue but nothing has changed yet. I love the iPad but this issue is unacceptable for such an expensive piece of equipment and is driving me nuts now. I’ve tried doing an erase and restore twice with no effect. I also keep the screen as clean as I can.
MacRumors said:
Growing Number of iPad Pro Owners Complain of Screen Stuttering Issues
Some iPad Pro owners who have 2017 and 2018 models have increasingly been running into issues with screen stuttering, based on a slew of threads on the Apple Support communities and the MacRumors forums.

Affected users have iPad Pro models that sometimes refuse to register touch gestures, stutter when scrolling, miss keystrokes, and have other similar issues. We here at MacRumors have not been able to replicate this issue, but the sheer number of complaints suggests something may be going on with the iPad Pro's display.
 


Long-time iPad-specific app developer, here - this sounds like software rather than hardware. I can't think of a hardware defect that would suddenly "come right" like this. I suspect if the iPad were running macOS, it'd be "beach balling" like crazy during the freeze.
 


It sounds a lot like the behavior of some of the older iPads that were updated one version too far. Given that these are new purchases and pretty capable machines, I’m guessing something else. I did see some terrible performance recently when my phone was downloading the iOS beta. That kind of thing doesn’t usually do it. Lack of free space can also cause that kind of behavior. I’d bet it’s not the hardware itself though.
 


Long-time iPad-specific app developer, here - this sounds like software rather than hardware.
I suspect this is right. Last night my now-old iPad Pro 9.7-inch model exhibited the touch-insensitive screen issue, which suggests that the problem is not a new hardware problem affecting only the latest iPads. A quick reboot fixed it. Feels like a software issue to me.
 


It's not clear what the problem is with iPad Pro screens, but there's clearly a problem...
The 2017-model iPad Pro 12.9" I bought a year ago developed the problem of touch insensitivity after a couple of months. Extensive, frustrating experimentation showed that the problem occurs primarily when the charging cable is attached to the lightning port.

The worst symptom was when solitaire game cards being dragged froze in the middle of the trip. Attempted relief included hard taps and shake-to-undo. The touch sensitivity usually recovered within 30 seconds.

Now that I keep the iPad unplugged, unless it is charging while not in use, I still notice that the force/touch needed for selection and drag sometimes varies unexpectedly.

I have also noticed that active applications seem to need to “restart” after a charging session, far beyond what happens during use between charging sessions.

I am currently still running the last update of iOS 11.
 



iOS 12 is a genuine step up, by the way, if only for the vast improvements in the speed of view layout code (which affects almost all UI in every app). It's a real Snow Leopard of a release.
The obnoxious modal dialogs demanding that I allow the iPad to install iOS 12.1 with only buttons for “install now” or “later” put me off iOS 12. They were popping up every time I exited my weather app for several weeks. Apple gets the bad apple for that fiasco.

At least the more recent pop ups for iOS 12.2 have included a “close” button, and the were only two or three of them.

I will get there before iOS 13 comes out.
 


iOS 12 is a genuine step up, by the way, if only for the vast improvements in the speed of view layout code (which affects almost all UI in every app). It's a real Snow Leopard of a release.
It's more of a Mountain Lion of a release. It is the release that followed the one that stopped supporting older apps.
 




The 2017-model iPad Pro 12.9" I bought a year ago developed the problem of touch insensitivity after a couple of months. Extensive, frustrating experimentation showed that the problem occurs primarily when the charging cable is attached to the lightning port.
[Re] the iPad Pro 12.9” “touch blackout” comments: Mine was doing it, too. I’m 15 months into ownership and literally just sent the last payment last week (0% financing...).

My hunch is that it is related to the iPad keyboard, which I usually have attached and flipped behind when I’m not using it. I was able to get it to freeze up rather repeatedly on a given Safari web page, then the freeze always went away once I disconnected the keyboard.

I’m not sure if there was pressure on the folded keyboard keys or just the presence of the smart connection.

Anyhow, I recommend disconnecting it if you have one on your iPad Pro. So far, I’ve not seen the freeze happen with the keyboard detached, but I will experiment more.
 


[Re] the iPad Pro 12.9” “touch blackout” comments: Mine was doing it, too. I’m 15 months into ownership and literally just sent the last payment last week (0% financing...).

My hunch is that it is related to the iPad keyboard, which I usually have attached and flipped behind when I’m not using it. I was able to get it to freeze up rather repeatedly on a given Safari web page, then the freeze always went away once I disconnected the keyboard.

I’m not sure if there was pressure on the folded keyboard keys or just the presence of the smart connection.

Anyhow, I recommend disconnecting it if you have one on your iPad Pro. So far, I’ve not seen the freeze happen with the keyboard detached, but I will experiment more.
I do not use a keyboard with my iPad Pro. I do have it in a Dodocase. Before I figured out the connection to the charging cable, I wondered if the alignment of the “sleep” magnets in the cover of the case when the cover is folded in back of the iPad could be part of the problem.

So far, having the charging cable disconnected reduces the instance of touch insensitivity by about 99%.
 



I have noticed an odd problem with Services in Sierra. This may have started after applying the recent security update, and so far it has showed up as a problem on my Mac Pro and MacBook Pro. I can't be certain that the security update had anything to do with it, of course.

I have used Automator to create a handful of Application Launch shortcuts on my systems for several years. I noticed recently that when I add another App Launch service, and then go into the Keyboard/Shortcuts preferences to enter a command key combo for the new shortcut, making that change from "none" to my choice of key command causes all the other launch services to lose their assigned key commands. In fact, changing anything in any service section seems to wipe out these Launch key commands. If I re-enter them all, they stick unless I try to add another item and assign it a key command.

Any thoughts?
 



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