The Steam Link app is finally available on iOS (and tvOS) after being available on Android, and then the Raspberry Pi sbc, for a year. The Steam Link app acts like the now-discontinued Steam Link box and streams your Steam library (and more) to your phone, tablet, or TV. The iOS & Apple TV tvOS app allows for Bluetooth controllers like the Steam Controller as well as Apple-approved controllers that are already available for iOS and tvOS.
Apple initially approved and then blocked the Steam Link app for iOS last year. Presumably that was because Valve’s Steam store was available to users, which was a not-great on Apple’s part but makes about as much sense (none) as Apple demanding a cut of Amazon’s ebooks. The new version of the Steam Llink iOS app doesn’t let people access Valve’s store while streaming, it only allows people to play their game library.
The newest versions of the Android app also allows people to stream games when they’re away from home, the iOS app doesn’t have that feature yet and so you’ll be stuck playing on your home network.
As I’ve said before, I don’t think it is any good that the streaming of games you own locally is controlled by any store, platform, or driver company (like Nvidia’s Shield game streaming service.) There could be a third-party, entirely open-source effort to stream your desktop with performance in-mind, but there isn’t. The closest thing is the Moonlight project, but it is only available for people with Nvidia’s graphics cards.
All that said, I played a game of Into the Breach streamed to my iPhone from a Windows host using the new app and while that was a confusing setup process (disabling the virtual mouse, enabling the virtual gamepad) it was ultimately rewarding.
I did have one crash when I switched apps and the network connection had been dropped, but I just resumed the game once I re-launched the Link app.
Streaming from a macOS host is a giant pain in the ass, involving the installation of multiple kernel extensions, reboots, and then installing more kernel extensions and more reboots. I can’t imagine this will get any easier with macOS 10.15, if it’s possible at all. Apple delivers a warning to let you know that something Valve is doing won’t work with “…a future version” of macOS:
That is an ominous warning for a person to read who just wants to play a fucking game. I’m sure they’ll rush out to install the next big macOS upgrade.
Deprecations and Removed APIs
Periodically, Apple adds deprecation macros to APIs to indicate that those APIs should no longer be used in active development. When a deprecation occurs, it’s not an immediate end of life for the specified API. Instead, it is the beginning of a grace period for transitioning from that API and to newer and more modern replacements. Deprecated APIs typically remain present and usable in the system for a reasonable time past the release in which they were deprecated. However, active development on them ceases, and the APIs receive only minor changes to accommodate security patches or to fix other critical bugs. Deprecated APIs may be removed entirely from a future version of the operating system.
As a developer, avoid using deprecated APIs in your code as soon as possible. At a minimum, new code you write should never use deprecated APIs. And if your existing code uses deprecated APIs, update that code as soon as possible.
Deprecation of OpenGL and OpenCL
Apps built using OpenGL and OpenCL will continue to run in macOS 10.14, but these legacy technologies are deprecated in macOS 10.14. Games and graphics-intensive apps that use OpenGL should now adopt Metal. Similarly, apps that use OpenCL for computational tasks should now adopt Metal and Metal Performance Shaders.
Metal is designed from the ground up to provide the best access to the modern GPUs on iOS, macOS, and tvOS devices. Metal avoids the overhead inherent in legacy technologies and exposes the latest graphics processing functionality. Unified support for graphics and compute in Metal lets your apps efficiently utilize the latest rendering techniques. For information about developing apps and games using Metal, see the developer documentation for Metal, Metal Performance Shaders, and MetalKit. For information about migrating OpenGL code to Metal, see Mixing Metal and OpenGL Rendering in a View.
I was brought in to talk about the needs of games in general, but I made it my mission to get Apple to adopt OpenGL as their 3D graphics API. I had a lot of arguments with Steve.
Part of his method, at least with me, was to deride contemporary options and dare me to tell him differently. They might be pragmatic, but couldn’t actually be good. “I have Pixar. We will make something [an API] that is actually good.”
It was often frustrating, because he could talk, with complete confidence, about things he was just plain wrong about, like the price of memory for video cards and the amount of system bandwidth exploitable by the AltiVec extensions.
But when I knew what I was talking about, I would stand my ground against anyone.
When Steve did make up his mind, he was decisive about it. Dictates were made, companies were acquired, keynotes were scheduled, and the reality distortion field kicked in, making everything else that was previously considered into obviously terrible ideas.
I consider this one of the biggest indirect impacts on the industry that I have had. OpenGL never seriously threatened D3D on PC, but it was critical at Apple, and that meant that it remained enough of a going concern to be the clear choice when mobile devices started getting GPUs. While long in the tooth now, it was so much better than what we would have gotten if half a dozen SoC vendors rolled their own API back at the dawn of the mobile age.
While OpenGL isn’t going away immediately in macOS Mojave, when it is finally gone there will be many fewer games on macOS, it has been the only portable graphics API available for developers to bring their games to Linux and macOS, as well as other platforms, for decades.
Without OpenGL on macOS the Mac and Linux will both suffer, as will new platforms. They’ll have a harder time getting games and other software when bigger platforms are locked to vendor-specific APIs like Metal instead of cross-platform ones like Vulkan and OpenGL.
If I had to guess, I would hope that Valve will ship an intermediary layer to translate OpenGL calls for games on Steam, and hopefully they will make this software available for everyone else. There are already some other projects to translate OpenGL to platform-specific calls but it’s not going to be easy for games to support them. It’d be better if these projects had something to handle the translation on-the-fly. It’s also entirely possible that Valve will just give up on older games supporting modern versions of macOS after Apple fully deprecates OpenGL.
I don’t envy anyone trying to support old software and write good OpenGL drivers like Apple has (even when they don’t update their OpenGL support for years), but the deprecation of OpenGL is a real “Fuck You” to game developers and players unlike any other. Games getting updated from 32-bit to 64-bit, as well as going through the process of having any kind of graphics portability layer added on top, seems unlikely. Thousands of games are going to be lost to time when OpenGL dies off. Competition with popular hardware and software platforms will be even more difficult. I understand the desire to get rid of technical debt, but this is bad.
iOS 12 Craig Federighi boasted about iOS 11 being available on iOS devices from 2013, and that the majority of their users are on 11 versus the 6% they claim are on the latest Android update. According to Google, the percentage of Android users running their latest operating system (Android 8.1) is 0.8%, ouch. I would guess that Apple based their estimate on the percentage of devices that are capable of running 8.0 or 8.1, which is 4.9% and 0.8% respectively. The majority of Android users (25.5%) appear to still be in the stone age on Android 6.0.
According to Federighi the primary focus of iOS 12 will be performance, specifically he said that older devices would perform better. Using an iPhone 6 Plus as an example, Federighi claimed that apps would launch 40% faster, the keyboard would display 50% faster, the camera would open 70% faster.
Adobe’s CTO Abhay Parasnis announced that their products would support the new format and that Apple’s developer State of the Union would have some kind of demo of this integration.
Measure Federighi announced a new app for augmented reality, Measure, which will presumably replace everyone’s first ARKit app by giving you measurements for real-world objects. The app can detect some shapes and automatically provide measurements for those, but you’ll need to tap at the ends or corners of most real-world objects to get the app to measure them.
Apple’s USDZ Demos Federighi showed off a USDZ 3D scene of a fish embedded in their Apple News app, and then customized a guitar on Fender’s web store only to display it on the stage through an iPad’s AR viewfinder.
ARKit 2 Federighi said that iOS 12 would include a new version of their ARKit API for developers to create augmented reality experiences. The flagship feature for ARKit 2, shared experiences, allows multiple devices to view and interact with the same scene. A slide depicted a pre-recorded video of people playing a multiplayer AR game where both participants and an observer could see and interact.
Martin Sanders, the Director of Innovation at Lego, demonstrated the new object detection features of ARKit along with shared experiences by scanning a physical Lego set and then awkwardly holding two iPads around it with someone else from the Lego company. The iPads showed a city being built around the town square Lego set with some limited interactivity to place vehicles and minifigures. It looked like it could be fun, but this kind of AR scanning will probably be limited to sets that Lego produces, not the modifications people make to them. Sanders said that the Lego AR experience app would ship later this year.
Photos Search & For You Federighi said that Photos would improve in iOS 12. He highlighted the search functionality that would offer suggestions and other improvements to help you find photos you’re looking for. The app will also get a new tab, For You, that offers suggestions of photos you might like to see or ways you could change them to make them more appealing. It seemed like the editing suggestions were limited to ones that involve Apple’s features like looping a live photo or making some specific change to a portrait photo.
The For You tab will also suggest sharing photos with people who appear in them. He said that they would be shared at full resolution, which is an improvement because photos shared today aren’t at the original resolution. Federighi also said that the recipient of shared photos would be prompted to share photos from the same event so that everyone ends up with the entire set.
Siri Shortcuts Federighi mentioned a new feature called shortcuts that would let Siri easily start functions of other apps. The first example was “I lost my keys” which would have Siri open part of the Tile app’s functionality within Siri and look for them. Apps in iOS 12 would make suggestions of shortcuts to add to Siri. The iOS 12 lock screen and search will make suggestions of things to do like re-ordering coffee or turning on Do Not Disturb when you’re at a movie theater.
Federighi said that you’d be able to make your own shortcuts in a new “Shortcuts Editor” app.
Apple’s Kim Beverett demonstrated the shortcuts functionality with a few examples. One of which was adjusting a shortcut she made in the Shortcut Editor. Beverett’s Heading Home shortcut would compress a bunch of steps into one action. It lets her roommate know how long it’ll take her to get home, set her thermostat to 70 degrees and turns on a fan, and opens maps with the course home preconfigured. Beverett quickly used the editor to play a radio program she wanted to listen to every time she goes home whenever she uses the shortcut. This Shortcut Editor is clearly the Workflow app that Apple acquired last year.
Other App Updates Apple’s Susan Prescott demonstrated a few other iOS 12 app updates. Apple News is going from a 5 tab interface to 3 tabs with a new tab called Browse to handle the functionality from the current Search and Following tabs.
The Stocks app is completely rebuilt, and has business news built-in and new charts. The app will also be on the iPad.
Voice Memos is “even easier to use” and is also on the iPad, it’ll also use iCloud for file synchronization.
iBooks is getting refurbished with a new name and interface, it’s just Apple Books on iOS 12.
CarPlay is going to support 3rd party navigation apps.
Do Not Disturb Federighi returned to show us how iOS’ Do Not Disturb will be updated with a new feature called Do Not Disturb During Bedtime. It will hide notifications so you won’t be “barraged” with them if you wake up in the middle of the night and just want to see what time it is. You can also granularly enable Do Not Disturb until you leave a location or for a certain amount of time.
Notification Updates & The Screen Time App You’ll be able to change the way notifications are delivered, or turn them off entirely, directly from the lock screen. You’ll also get suggestions to disable them for specific apps when you rarely interact with them.
Notifications will also be grouped together by what app sent them.
The Screen Time app will give you a weekly report of how you’re wasting your life on your devices. It’ll also let you set time limits for each app. You’ll get reminders about that limit when you’re about to reach it, or you can set limits for the apps your kids use by category or by picking each specific app.
Animoji & MeMoji Animoji are getting updated to let you stick out your tongue with your 3D avatar, they’re also getting four new characters. The ghost, koala, tiger, and t-rex. You can also make a character based on your own face, Apple calls that a “MeMoji.”
Kelsey Peterson demonstrated these effects on stage, and the selfie camera can now display the characters over your real face.
Facetime Facetime can now have up to 32 people on a group video chat. It can be launched directly from a group text message chat in Messages. The different camera effects, like Animoji, are also available on Facetime.
WatchOS 5 Apple’s Kevin Lynch talked about new improvements for fitness and communications.
WatchOS 5 is getting improvements to compete with your friends in exercise. The Workouts app is getting a Yoga workout type, hiking, running gets a rolling pace measurement, pace alerts, and cadence measurements. WatchOS 5 will also automatically detect when you’ve started some types of workouts, it’ll retroactively credit you with the workout if you tell the Apple Watch to start the workout late.
There’s a Walkie-Talkie app for WatchOS 5 that goes over cellular or wifi connections.
The Siri watch face is getting information about sports, map information, and your heart rate. Siri Shortcuts will be on that Watch Face, as well as third-party apps.
Raising your wrist will let you talk to Siri right away, you won’t need to use the “Hey Siri” hotword.
Notifications can also be more interactive, like on the phone. One example was getting a notification from Yelp about a dinner reservation
Apple’s WebKit embedded browser will be available for some web links on the Apple Watch.
The Podcasts app is going to work on the watch, it’ll sync full episodes from your phone.
Apple’s Julz demonstrated these new features while riding an exercise bike, which was pretty impressive.
Kevin Lynch returned to tell us about Student ID Cards coming to the watch, it’ll work with just 6 universities to start, but it includes Temple University in Philadelphia.
Lynch also introduced a new rainbow watch band and watch face for Pride month. The watch face is supposed to be available today.
Apple TV 4K Apple’s Jen Folse talked about how the Apple TV 4K from last year is getting Dolby Atmos in the next version of tvOS, she also talked about how movies will get free upgrades to support the new audio format.
Folse reiterated Apple’s support for live TV and sports.
Folse also said that various cable providers are letting their users replace their cable boxes with the Apple TV, and use a new “Zero Sign-On” instead of the single sign-on system from last year.
The Aerial screensaver on the Apple TV is going to tell you what you’re looking at, finally. It’ll also get a new view from the International Space Station of the Earth.
macOS Mojave Craig Federighi returned to talk about the new features in macOS Mojave.
As Apple leaked, the next version of macOS is getting a dark mode. Previously you could dim the menu bar dock in their settings, but this is a system-wide feature that is more complete.
Desktop Stacks is another new feature that organizes the crap that gets scattered all over your desktop into stacks of documents matched by type, or date, or by tags. It’ll automatically keep those stacks organized as new files are added to the desktop.
Finder gets a new Gallery View that appears to replace the Cover Flow view with thumbnails at the bottom of the screen and a quick look type of view at the top.
The Finder is also getting a detail side bar with shortcuts to different actions you might like to take on the file, Federighi specifically mentioned adding customized automator actions to the side bar for certain types of files like watermarking files with one that was put together earlier.
The quick look utility is enhanced to let you do more from it, Federighi demonstrated trimming a video without opening a separate editor and signing a PDF document.
Screenshots are enhanced to be similar to the iOS functionality but with more powerful functionality that you’d expect on a computer. You can also capture video directly from that utility now.
The Continuity Camera feature was demonstrated by Federighi to take a photo from his phone and pop it directly into a Keynote slide. It can also scan in documents from your phone directly into a Mac app.
A few iOS apps are hitting the Mac. Apple News, Stocks, Voice Memos, and Home for using HomeKit devices.
Privacy Mojave will have better privacy enhancements to prevent other apps from getting access to your personal data unless you want them to do so.
Safari on Mojave and iOS 12 will prevent advertising publishers from tracking you based on sharing functions and comment fields. Mojave and iOS 12 will also hide more of your information from being fingerprinted by websites and advertising publishers.
Mac App Store The Mac App Store is finally getting updated, it hasn’t had many changes since 2011. Apple’s Ann Thai showed off a redesigned UI that takes a lot from their iOSApp Store. It looks much better.
Metal & Core ML on iOS and macOS Federighi returned to talk about Apple’s Metal graphics and computation API and external GPUs. He boasted about the speedups that Macs can get from up to four GPUs. It’s kind of crazy that the only GPUs that Apple supports for external GPUs are from AMD.
Apple’s machine learning API, Core ML, is getting updated with a 2nd version. It’s supposed to be 30% faster with a 75% reduction in the model size.
UIKit on the Mac As has been rumored, Apple is making it easier to bring iOS apps to macOS. No specific name was given for this technology, but Federighi says they’re using it internally with apps like Apple News and promises that it’ll be available for 3rd-party developers next year.
Release Dates for iOS 12 and macOS Mojave “This fall”
Overall I’m very happy that macOS is getting updated with a new Mac App Store, it’s been way too long and developers have been abandoning it for independent distribution systems. I like having apps bundled into one store, but it’s also good that Apple finally wants to compete with independent distribution.
It’s a little disappointing that the iPad Pro didn’t get updated with this event, but perhaps they’re moving the majority of hardware updates to the Fall event.
I’m very happy to see that Workflow is still getting updated, and it looks like it is even more useful after Apple has updated it under the Siri banner. I wish that it were on the Mac as an alternative to Automator.
Perhaps you’re like me, you’ve been using it for years and didn’t realize that it has left gigabytes of detritus on your local drive, I certainly didn’t until someone in the homebrew IRC channel mentioned the brew cleanup command, and now I have 21.3 gigs of disk back.
It can be pretty frustrating to find out that something you want to fix is difficult or impossible to repair. Glued-on screens cover batteries that are all custom fit inside small cases that prevent curious people from learning how things work and fixing problems with their devices. Iconoclasts from Joakim Sandberg takes that a step further, it’s a world where a mechanic, Robin, finds that her profession is outlawed. Your mission is to get Robin and her friends together to fix things in what looks like a bit of a metroidvania side-scrolling action-adventure with a Metal Slug-y vibe to the art.
Iconoclasts is a fine game, offering both satisfyingly sharp platforming and shooting, and some really smart puzzles. It’s enormous too, packed with secret areas and other stuff to discover. And although I found the humour a little glib and childish at times, it tells its heartfelt story well. A lot of Metroidvania games go for a bleak, downbeat atmosphere, but Iconoclasts is infectiously vibrant and sunny, even if the story does occasionally venture into dark territory.