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Apple's closed ecosystem may delivery to get extra uniform as well, as there were ongoing pointers that iOS and macOS will birth to share further and further elements and purposes. The newest rumor is that a couple of select iOS 12 features will seem in macOS 10.15, in line with sources speaking with 9to5Mac.
The iOS points expected to come back to macOS 10.15 include Siri Shortcuts (and doubtlessly the Shortcuts app), display Time, stronger Apple identity administration and particular iMessage outcomes.
while the iMessage effects may well be enjoyable, and the Apple id management equipment may assist prevent considerations akin to fresh iOS 12 issues, the Siri Shortcuts and display Time integration are the largest highlights.
The inclusion of Siri Shortcuts in macOS 10.15 will enable users to promptly operate definite projects immediately with the aid of giving Siri a verbal instruction. users can create their personal specific automation the use of the Workflows app, which is likely one of the most excellent iPad apps for productivity. users should still get different fundamental Siri elements as well, with ways to get short assistance or set timers and alarms.
The addition of screen Time will also enable clients to keep song of the period of time they are spending their Mac. it will possibly video display and record how a whole lot time is being spent on which applications and which kinds of applications. It additionally permits clients to set cut-off dates, which will also be handy for limiting toddlers's display time.
All of this pushes iOS and macOS closer collectively, with Apple expected to debut the device in the back of iPad-to-Mac app conversion at WWDC 2019. whereas the move makes feel, providing coders a straightforward technique to create one software for distinct systems and providing Mac users some extra aspects, it goes a little bit against Apple's past stance.
On the merging of iOS and macOS, Apple CEO Tim cook expressed the business's causes for preserving them separate:
"We don't trust in form of watering down one for the other. each [The Mac and iPad] are striking,” prepare dinner observed. “one of the most factors that each of them are outstanding is as a result of we pushed them to do what they do well. And in case you begin to merge both ... you start to make exchange-offs and compromises.”
while the two structures aren't more likely to turn into one any time soon, they definitely appear to be they're going to birth overlapping.
Over the closing a few months, we’ve realized fairly a bit of about Apple’s re-entry into the seasoned reveal market. The monitor is said to measure 31.6-inches and have a 6K resolution. study on as we roundup everything we comprehend up to now about the monitor, and when it should be would becould very well be purchasable.
Apple officially left the standalone monitor market in 2016, discontinuing its Thunderbolt screen and pointing clients towards third-birthday celebration alternate options. The move, although, was met with disappointment from seasoned users who depend on seamless integration between Apple’s a lot of hardware products.
consequently, in 2017, Apple introduced that it was doubling down on the seasoned market with a new modular Mac professional and a new Apple screen. That announcement turned into almost exactly two years in the past, and now it seems we’re at last nearing the launch of Apple’s incredibly anticipated seasoned display. right here’s what we understand up to now.Apple screen dimension and backbone
in response to respectable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the Apple monitor will feature a 31.6-inch reveal. That’s significantly higher than the 27-inch iMac – and should certainly please seasoned users in many industries. Kuo says that the Apple screen will characteristic a 6K3K resolution.
At this aspect, it's unconfirmed whether the Apple screen can be 16:9 in nature or join in on the style of ultra-wide displays. Our personal Jeff Benjamin, although, has presented a very solid case for the latter.
Jeff argues that Apple’s monitor will characteristic a 6240×2880 native decision. here's a “genuine” 5K footprint that has been extended horizontally to turn the screen into an extremely-large panel. With the added pixels, the screen’s resolution is stretched into 6K, which suits exactly with Kuo’s claim that the screen could be 6K3K.
Theoretically, Apple would also want its standalone seasoned display screen to healthy the existing iMac and iMac seasoned kind component and DPI. Some basic math explains how this would be feasible. almost, the 27-inch 5K iMac uses a pixel-per-inch normal of 218. With a resolution of 6240×2880, an Apple monitor may hit that by way of being 31.fifty nine-inches – which rounds up to 31.6-inches, matching Kuo’s claims.
The culmination is a 6K3K ultra-broad monitor with 6240×2880 decision, measuring 31.6-inches diagonally, and with a reveal panel peak (13.2-inches) and PPI (218) the same as the existing 5K panel within the iMac and iMac pro. The width of this type of display would measure 28.7-inches, which is 3.1-inches wider than the iMac professional, even when including its bezels.
for that reason, while Kuo has now not made mention of no matter if the Apple screen may be extremely-vast or sixteen:9, the mathematics definitely seems to choose the previous. With so many third-birthday party shows going the extremely-vast route, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Apple also observe that fashion. additionally, if it may well accomplish that in a way that makes the Apple monitor superbly complement the current iMac and iMac seasoned, artistic users in every single place are certain to be glad.Mini-LED
Ming-Chi Kuo additionally says that Apple’s 6K monitor will characteristic mini-LED backlight technology. What this capability is that the external display will simplest use mini-LED for the backlight, not for authentic end-to-conclusion mini-LED displays. In late 2020 or early 2021, although, Apple is expected to launch new MacBook and iPad models with true mini-LED panels.
Kuo primarily says that the Apple video display will use a “mini-LED like backlight unit” with larger LEDs. by using mini-LED backlighting, the Apple screen may have extra energy efficient backlighting that allows for for greater correct blacks and improved contrast. in addition, mini-LED backlighting should permit for the panels to be thinner, resulting in a slimmer design general.
The performance gained’t suit that of OLED, such as what is found in the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, however Apple is asserted to want mini-LED backlighting because it isn't prone to burn in. In every day use, here's probably a wise alternative. a computer display screen is much more doubtless than a mobilephone to exhibit the identical issue – akin to a static email inbox – all day. this could significantly boost the probability of burn-in.Apple monitor liberate and cost
The Apple display is asserted to be released someday in Q2 or Q3. This aligns well with Apple’s upcoming developer-focused WWDC, which kicks off on June 3rd. It does not seem to be presumptuous at all to suppose that Apple might announce each the 31.6-inch computer screen and modular Mac professional throughout its WWDC keynote.
Assuming the panel is introduced at WWDC, that might be simply over two years from when Apple introduced its renewed focal point on the pro market.
As for cost, it’s complicated to grasp at this point what Apple could charge for this 31.6-inch 6K video display. The Thunderbolt screen turned into offered for $999, however you should definitely expect this new monitor to can charge more than that, exceptionally for those who trust Apple has little competitors in this area of the market.Wrap up
Apple doubled down on the pro market almost exactly 2 years ago, and it seems we’re eventually about to peer the first outcomes of those efforts. seasoned users certainly have excessive hopes for the new Apple screen and modular Mac seasoned, and it'll be wonderful to peer the reactions.
What do you think of the Apple screen rumors? Does it sound like whatever thing that meets your wants? How plenty are you inclined to pay? let us know what you consider down in the comments under!
Subscribe to 9to5Mac on YouTube for extra Apple information:
characteristicThe next edition of Mac OS X will carry an up to date edition of iChat able to logging into Yahoo IM debts, proposing an superior journey when the use of assorted bills, and including net web page sharing in iChat Theater.The fragmented world of IM
iChat, Apple's bundled rapid messenger app that advanced from origins as an purpose chat client to being a video-enabled IM customer aiding the open XMPP/Jabber protocol, now provides aid for a 3rd IM protocol: Yahoo IM.
unlike email, which all suppliers guide by the use of standard requisites, IM has lengthy been partitioned into proprietary solos, with AOL, ICQ, Skype, Yahoo and Microsoft MSN/are living Messenger all using their own closed techniques for text and video chat (Apple's .Mac/MobileMe provider makes use of AOL's IM server, and AOL offers an SMS gateway that permits iChat users to ship SMS messages to mobile numbers).
Yahoo and Microsoft introduced a chat-only gateway between their capabilities, as did AOL and ICQ (AOL except currently owned ICQ). In different situations youngsters, anyone who wants to trade messages with clients on diverse methods should use a multiprotocol chat client and create separate bills for every provider. alternatively, that you would be able to configure your personal gateway server or use an external gateway that logs into your account on an additional provider to schlepp IM messages between the incompatible account varieties.
Mac OS X Lion's iChat 6 now adds aid Yahoo IM, however the service looks to best guide text chats, now not Yahoo audio or video chats. on account of the chat gateway between Yahoo and MSN, this should allow iChat users to reach each populations of chat money owed, moreover latest guide for Jabber/Gmail IM and video chat and AOL/ICQ/MobileMe IM and video chat. besides the fact that children, while the Lion iChat customer does work with Yahoo bills, the gateway between the Yahoo and MSN doesn't in reality appear to work.
Evolution of iChat
beginning with iChat AV in 2003, Apple added aid for SIP, necessities based video chat. The next year, AOL delivered suitable video chat in its AOL IM customer for home windows, enabling Mac and home windows clients to video chat the use of the goal network.
Alongside the unlock of Mac OS X 10.four Tiger, Apple shipped a brand new version of iChat with aid for the open XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol, at the start named Jabber), enabling iChat to work with both purpose and open consumers together with Apple's own iChat Server in Mac OS X Server and later, Google's GTalk carrier. iChat's Bonjour chat among local users on the same community additionally makes use of XMPP.
In Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, Apple integrated aid for VNC screen sharing, allowing users to share their computing device remotely as a video chat over either the XMPP or goal protocols. Apple additionally launched iChat Theater, which may share a photograph, video, or any document supported by way of short appear over a video chat (below).
Third birthday party assist for tapping into these facets turned into also brought to a new quick Message framework.
On page 2 of 2: New in iChat 6, iChat vs FaceTime.
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The ninth major release of Apple’s server operating system is as big a change as the change from Mac OS X Server 1.0 to Mac OS X Server 10.0. (Readers with longish memories may remember that OS X Server had a pre-10.0 version, which was called version 1.0.) In many ways, Mac OS X Lion Server (version 10.7; Mac App Store link) succeeds, but it’s hampered by UI annoyances and inconsistencies that will probably be fixed in future updates. But right now, using Lion Server is a tad more maddening than it should be.Welcome Server.app; good-bye Server Admin—sort of
There’s a new kid in town for managing Lion Server, and it’s called Server.app. I’m sure that this new server-management program will one day completely take over all the functions of the familiar Server Admin application, but right now it doesn’t, which results in a somewhat tedious bit of hopping back and forth between applications to get things done. For example, Server.app handles Address Book, File Sharing, iCal, iChat, Mail, and other service settings. Server Admin handles DHCP, DNS, NetBoot, Software Update, and others.
The impression is that Server Admin handles what Server.app doesn’t—but there are instances when you need to use both applications, such as for the Mail server and the Podcast server. Server Admin has access to more settings than Server.app does, so they complement each other. But when both applications manage the same settings, such as host name or SSH enabling, it’s really annoying.Server.app is the main application used to manage Lion Server, replacing the Server Admin program in previous OS X Servers.
Apple did a similar thing to the Workgroup Manager application, which was used for user/machine/group/ directory management. In Lion Server, Directory Utility now handles the directory-management tasks. If you want to edit the LDAP info for Open Directory in a more direct fashion than the regular UI lets you, you now do that in Directory Utility. Of course, you can also edit and create users in Server.app. That’s convenient.
Why have four applications doing the work of two? It’s a little like being nibbled to death by baby ducks. It’s certainly not some return-to-Unix idea where each application has a specific focus. Server.app is anything but that. The answer I think lies in Profile Manager, Apple’s new tool for managing Macs and iOS devices (more on that later). While you use Server.app to set up Profile Manager, most of the actual managing work is done via a Web interface. That’s not a bad idea; managing a server is something that, on the GUI level, can be handled quite well via a Web UI. (The UI mostly involves picking from a list, entering text, and selecting radio buttons, and checkboxes. Does it really matter if those controls are presented via Cocoa or HTML?)
However, the tools are very much a work in progress. Apple hasn’t even come close to a Web UI yet—if that is, in fact, the end goal for this. As a result, there are more tools than ever to manage Lion Server, and given the radical changes Apple has made to those tools (especially in Server.app), it actually makes managing Lion Server more work than Mac OS X 10.6 Server ( ).Where did the controls go?
The other issue with Server.app is that, for the most part, there isn’t a lot there. For example, unlike OS X 10.6 Server’s Server Admin utility, which lets you do a lot of the configuration tasks for the Web server, Lion Server’s Server.app really doesn’t let you do much more than add sites, specify the ports and the web root directory, and set up some basic access controls. Anything more than that, and you’re going to have to use and stay with the command line.
In and of itself, this is nothing new. Even though Apple provided a GUI for DNS, if you wanted to do anything other than the absolute basics, you had to learn the guts of DNS in the command line. For things like SNMP, all the GUI ever did was let you turn it on. All post-enablement SNMP configuration happens in text files and the command line. In some cases, especially with the Web server, this is a bit of a shock, because the differences in the GUI between versions 10.6 and 10.7 are rather huge. In the case of iChat server, the differences are rather minor.
The lack of a GUI is upsetting, but in light of what Apple thinks of as its main customer base, this makes some sense. For example, if you take the time to look at how Lion Server works and what it does with Apache and Web services, it’s obvious that Apple looks at Apache as a way to get things done. Apache provides the back end for the Web UI in things like Profile Manager; you need it for the Wiki service, file sharing for iOS devices, and other services. For Web publishing, it’s clear that Apple wants you to use the Wiki/Blog service built into Lion Server, rather than build sites the traditional way. Apple’s point here seems to be, when it comes to things like pure Web hosting, there’s not a lot of advantage to using OS X Server. It doesn’t provide you with any more capability than you’re going to get off of other platforms like Linux, BSD, or Windows. In fact, if you start talking about a lot of Web platforms, it’s obvious that the only reason OS X is mentioned is because it’s based on Unix, and so you can use Unix tools without a lot of work. But is there some advantage to OS X Server for generic services like Web hosting? Not really. It’s great that Lion Server provides this, but if you expect Apple to go after Linux’s market share as an enterprise Web hosting platform, you might be confusing Apple with some other company.
Another problem with Lion Server is that so little of this is documented. Apple’s server documentation for Lion Server is, to be charitable, thin. Apple moved some of the documentation to the Web, but you can’t get to all of it from the main documentation site. You have to be in Server.app to get to parts of the documentation, such as the Profile Manager—more specifically, you open Server.app and then click on the link to the Profile Manager Web UI (or go to https://serverdnsname/profilemanager), log in, and then, from the drop-down menu in the upper right, click on Help. That will take you to http://help.apple.com/profilemanager/mac/10.7/, which is an Apple webpage. If you go to http://help.apple.com, you’ll find that nothing about Lion Server exists as a direct link from that page.
This is the issue I have with Lion Server as a whole: even though Apple has made a lot of changes to OS X Server, the whole package is so obviously a work in progress. Take a simple task like file sharing: You go to the File Sharing section to enable sharing, and you can set some basic permissions, but if you want to set anything beyond read only, write only, or read-write, then you have to go to the hardware settings, then storage, and then you can set more-detailed ACLs. It’s a remarkably kludgy system; why not have all the file-sharing settings in one place, you know, under, maybe, the File Sharing section?
For Apple, the state of the server-management GUIs is bad, almost approaching appalling. Because of this, the pretty awesome new features in Lion Server aren’t as cool as they could be.Whither Samba
Prior to Lion Server, OS X used Samba, an excellent open-source project that allows non-Windows platforms to both access and serve files as a Windows server. Prior to Lion Server, Samba was how OS X Server handled Windows file- and print-serving tasks.
In July of 2007, the Samba group announced that it would be moving to version 3 of the Free Software Foundation’s General Public License. Some aspects of the GPL 3 created problems for Apple, so rather than continue with a dead version of Samba in OS X Server, Apple removed Samba and wrote its own SMB client and server for Lion Server. All the SMB support in OS X Server from that point on out has come from Apple.
Lion Server provides only basic file sharing. Windows NT Domain support is gone, but Vista works with NT domains only with some tweaking, and Windows 7 won’t work with NT domains at all, so this is not a huge problem. Microsoft has been running away from NT 4 domains since 2000.What about print sharing?
Print sharing is still in Lion Server, but Apple no longer has any kind of custom GUI for it. Instead, you use the CUPS interface, which is a Web UI at http://localhost:631. You no longer need a special program to set up print sharing, which is an advantage. The downside is that while CUPS has thorough documentation, it’s not exactly geared toward novices, and without Samba, print sharing to Windows clients is a lot trickier.
If you have to do a lot of extensive print sharing, consider keeping your print server at version 10.6, and let Apple know you really need better print serving capabilities to upgrade fully to Lion Server.MySQL
MySQL is gone, replaced by PostgreSQL. Why? Apple isn’t telling. If I had to guess, I’d say it comes down to licensing. Oracle’s licensing for MySQL is a bit of a mess; the license you’re issued depends on the way you use MySQL. PostgreSQL is under a BSD license, which is something Apple favors far more.
If you already have MySQL data or binaries, Lion Server doesn’t delete them, but Lion Server doesn’t provide even the rudimentary controls for MySQL that OS X 10.6 Server provided, and if you want to use PostgreSQL, any customization you want to do must be done via the command line or third-party tools.Profile Manager
Profile Manager is the one shining star in Lion Server. Profile Manager allows you to finally manage iOS devices from an Apple server OS (what a concept!), and it does so in a way that is really useful, well thought out, and rather friendly to both IT pros and users.
Going forward, Profile Manager is how Apple wants you to manage users, user groups, Macs, groups of Macs, iOS devices, and groups of iOS devices. It’s primarily a Web-based implementation with a focus on self-service. Users can go to a Web portal (https://serverdnsname/mydevices), log in with their directory credentials, and then add their Mac or iOS device into management. I haven’t had a chance to do a lot of work with the Mac side of things in Profile Manager, but the iOS side works really well.Used to manage users, user groups, Macs, groups of Macs, iOS devices, and groups of iOS devices, Profile Manager is the shining star in Lion Server.
The setup for managing Macs, iOS devices, or both is similar to the iPhone Configuration Utility that Apple used to use as its primary configuration tool for iOS devices. Configuration profiles are distributed as digitally signed XML .mobileconfig files via a number of methods, and it works really well.
With Profile Manager, Apple is taking the Mobile Device Management (MDM) concept it first applied for iOS devices and widening the scope to include things you used to do via Workgroup Manager and MCX. This is a boon to administrators, especially if you’re trying to manage iOS devices and you don’t want to write your own setup from scratch, or pay a lot of money to a third party just to manage Apple devices. Need to remote-wipe an iPad? You can do that from Profile Manager. Need to force complex passphrases on your iPhones? You can do that from Profile Manager. Even the documentation for Profile Manager, once you get to it, is solid.
Profile Manager is an example of just how well Apple can do things, which is maybe why the condition of the rest of Lion Server’s tools and documentation is so frustrating. When you see something done right, it lowers your tolerance for inferior quality, especially when it’s within the same package.Be prepared
In Lion Server, Apple has reached farther than it has since version 10.0. With all the changes, every administrator using a previous version of OS X Server needs to think carefully before moving to Lion Server. I’ve migrated a couple of test servers, and while it wasn’t as smooth as, say, version 10.5 to 10.6, or even from 10.4 to 10.5, it’s not impossible. But you have to plan more carefully than you’ve had to plan for an Apple server version upgrade in the past. I’ve heard the cries for help from people who decided to upgrade on a whim, and they aren’t pretty.
Lion Server has some major bugs, like a problem with authentication against OpenLDAP directories, and a series of issues with Active Directory integration. Moving to Lion Server in these environments is not a great idea right now.
There is a lot to like about Lion Server, including its price, Profile Manager, and far better push support for things like Mail, iCal, and iOS devices. But the good is continuously overshadowed by the fact that you must bounce between multiple tools and that the documentation is skimpy, if not simply poor. And there’s always bugs that happen with every major release of the OS and the server versions.
In time, Lion Server will be solid. However, as reviewed (version 10.7.1), Lion Server needs a lot of work, and I would think very, very carefully before upgrading.Macworld’s buying advice
Unlike previous versions of Mac OS X Server, Lion Server is not a simple upgrade. Regardless of the price of this server package, the massive changes at every level of Lion Server—including the removal of some features customers rely on—make this upgrade one you’ll want to think hard about, regardless of price. The documentation and fit-and-finish issues will also help sway your decision on whether to upgrade or not.To comment on this article and other Macworld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
In October of 2010, Apple held a media briefing at its Cupertino campus. It called the event Back to the Mac, and one of the key pieces of news was the first public showing of OS X 10.7 Lion, an upgrade to its Mac operating system. Lion was the first version of OS X to reflect the influence of iOS, the software on the iPhone and iPad: It brought a bunch of iOS features “back to the Mac,” including an App Store, a full-screen mode, and FaceTime video chat.
It was a big idea. Too big, it turns out, to fit into one upgrade.
Today, Apple is unveiling OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, its first major update to the Mac’s software since Lion. As its name suggests, it feels like a continuation of Lion–one that borrows even more features from iOS. It also ties Apple’s two operating systems more tightly together through iCloud, Apple’s service for storing documents and other data on the Net. The overall emphasis on iOS influence and iCloud integration is so overwhelming that Apple could have called this upgrade “Lion Part II” or “Lion iCloud Edition.”
As usual with new operating systems, Mountain Lion is getting its first wave of publicity long before it’s ready for consumers to buy. Apple is spilling the beans now because it’s releasing a preview version for developers today. It says it plans to finish the software by the summer, which would let it release the update–via its Mac App Store–roughly a year after Lion shipped in July 2011. That’s a rapid turn-around time by operating-system standards: Lion appeared 23 months after its predecessor, Snow Leopard.
Apple recently briefed me on the new features and loaned me a MacBook Air loaded with a beta version of Mountain Lion. I’ve been test-driving for the past week. It’s a tad glitchy and is missing some features, so it’s too early to render a decisive verdict. But it works well enough that I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the fully-baked version later this year.
The first big thing you’ll notice about Mountain Lion is–well, it’s the fact that you probably won’t instantly notice anything big. Despite the profusion of new features borrowed from iOS, Apple has left the venerable basics of OS X’s user interface pretty much alone, including the desktop, the Dock and windows. (It’s a strikingly different approach from Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8, which demotes the classic Windows look and feel in favor of a radical new one based on Windows Phone 7’s Metro interface.)
Dig into Apple’s upgrade, however, and you’ll discover new signs of iOS’s influence lurking everywhere.
None of them are more obvious than Notification Center, a consistent, centralized mechanism for calling your attention to things going on in applications other than the one you’re using. A notification can pop up momentarily in the upper right-hand corner of the screen to remind you about a meeting scheduled in your calendar, for instance, or to alert you to an incoming e-mail or instant message. Swipe with two fingers along the touchpad’s right edge, and you can summon a scrolling list of all the notifications that have been displayed recently. Except for the fact that everything sits on the right hand of the display rather than the top, it’s all very much like the notification system that Apple introduced in iOS5. And it should be particularly useful when you’re working in a program’s full-screen mode and don’t want to leave it in order to keep tabs on other apps.
Now, centralized notifications in OS X aren’t a wholly new idea: Many third-party OS X apps already use an excellent open-source system called Growl. Apple’s take on the concept is slicker than Growl, though, and if it ends up being supported by more programs, it’ll be an even bigger boon.
From the moment that Apple announced the first iPhone in 2007, I assumed that it would eventually bring iChat, the Mac’s instant-messaging software, to the iPhone. It still hasn’t. But with Mountain Lion it achieves a similar effect by replacing iChat with Messages, the iPhone/iPad messaging app that debuted in iOS 5. And you don’t need to wait for Mountain Lion’s general availability to try it out: Apple has already released a public beta for Lion.
Like iChat, OS X’s Messages works on the AIM, Yahoo, and Google Talk networks, so you can send messages to pals the same way you always did. But if your friends have a Mac, an iPhone or an iPad, you can send them iMessages–Apple’s free, industrial-strength text messages which support group messaging, photos and videos.
iMessages don’t involve traditional buddy lists: You just begin typing the recipient’s name, and Messages finds it among your OS X contacts. If the person you’re messaging has a Mac, an iPhone and an iPad, the iMessage will show up on all of them. You or your friend can even begin a conversation via Messages on one device, then switch to a different one in mid-discussion.
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A version of this post originally appeared on Tedium, a twice-weekly newsletter that hunts for the end of the long tail.
Recently I was looking around at the state of modern image editors and discovered something really disappointing.
The issue? Well, even with the rise of modern Photoshop alternatives such as Affinity Photo and Pixelmator, these image editors are not designed to handle animated GIFs. Which means that, despite the fact that I’d certainly love to see what life is like outside of the world of Adobe, it looks like I’m stuck in that ecosystem for a little while longer.
Don’t get me wrong: Adobe’s software is great, if a bit expensive. But I do think that its business model highlights just how consolidated its power actually is—and it’s not talked about nearly enough in the creative space.
Let’s discuss how Adobe’s became the center of the creative ecosystem, and why that should be of concern.Why Adobe is too powerful and needs some competition, stat
Days before I started writing this, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who is running for president, made the case for breaking up the tech giants. She meant Google, Amazon, and Facebook in particular.
But honestly, if we’re going to be talking about tech monopolies, I wish that Adobe was on her list.
Adobe isn’t a social network, search engine, or e-commerce giant—it’s largely a provider of services to the creative field, particularly in marketing and editorial realms. And Adobe has become an important part of that ecosystem, having originated many of the best ideas for creative software over the past 35-plus years. PostScript, a fundamental programming language used in desktop publishing, is an Adobe product through and through. The PDF, an open standard spearheaded by Adobe and based on PostScript, is literally the most important file format ever created. And tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, and InDesign are best in breed and are involved in the creation of much of our printed and digital media. They help get the world ready for its closeup.
But there’s a problem, and it’s long been lingering in the background: Adobe is too powerful and can ignore things it doesn’t want to do—whether in the form of cutting prices or ignoring usability concerns—in part because it carries itself like it’s the only game in town.
Here’s a case in point that matters a lot to me, actually: Apple has supported a native fullscreen mode in Mac OS since 10.7, better known as Lion. It’s a fundamental feature, and helps keep windows well-sorted on laptops in particular. It works pretty well in every major Mac application—except Adobe’s.
Adobe, out of interest in consistency in its own apps over the broader user experience, has largely refused to support this basic feature released way back in 2011, choosing instead to rely on a nonstandard full-screen mode that doesn’t work with Apple’s windowing system and lays itself on top of all your other apps. This makes it a pain to use on laptops in particular—a problem considering much of Apple’s user base is on a laptop.
(The only exception to this is the photo editing app Lightroom, which added support a few years ago; however, despite a lengthy thread making the case for it on its forums, the company has effectively decided to keep its own MacOS interfaces consistent with other platforms, rather than supporting Apple’s own native features. An official explanation dating to 2012 has cited weaknesses in Apple’s own fullscreen mode implementation that have long since been addressed.)
Worse, if you drag a picture from a web browser into Photoshop, the window moves and doesn’t stay in the middle of the screen, creating a constant frustration that could be remedied if, again, Adobe bothered to support the native fullscreen mode that has come in Mac OS for the past seven and a half years. I would literally chew off my own arm to get Adobe to support this feature, even though it would make it impossible for me to properly use its software in the way I’ve been accustomed.
(In its defense, the open-source Photoshop alternative GIMP doesn’t support it, either, but at least it's talking about fixing it—and it has the excuse of being a ported-over X11 app!)
This isn’t the only example of this foot-dragging. In 2005, Apple announced it was moving to Intel processors the next year, and Adobe was quoted in a news release saying it would support the new Intel processors on MacOS. However, when the first machines came out in 2006, Adobe didn’t adjust its release schedule to add “universal binary” support to existing versions of its Creative Suite software, instead making Mac users wait almost an entire year for the most popular application suite to natively support the latest Apple hardware.
The irony was that one of its flagship applications, Adobe InDesign, eventually leapfrogged over the desktop publishing competition, the still-made page layout tool QuarkXPress, in part because it quickly released a Mac OS X version when its maker, Quark, was taking its sweet time to upgrade its software to the modern platform.
When the Intel shift happened on Mac OS, Quark learned its lesson and released an update way quicker than Adobe did—but the market inertia that allowed Adobe to get a leg up had already shifted away from Quark by this point.
Cracks in Adobe’s model have only emerged in the past few years, with tools like the UI-focused Sketch (as well as the aforementioned Affinity Photo and Pixelmator) gaining popularity. But it remains powerful because of reasons similar to Microsoft’s ownership of the office suite market. If you convince enough offices, enough schools, and enough individual users that a certain tool is the best one—and, importantly, you make it hard to stop using that tool—the maker of that tool has the ability to essentially do what it wants.
I don’t think Adobe is untouchable, but I do think that its taken advantage of its market position in a way that harms the long-term health of the creative community. It has traditionally charged hundreds of dollars for its software suites (creating a barrier for people just getting into the field and encouraging piracy of its tools), then changed to a cloud-based model that was also quite expensive, and then started raising prices.
What really worries me about Adobe is its ability to kill a tool that people like simply because it wants to. Which brings me to the story of FreeHand—an Illustrator-like vector drawing tool, popular in the early years of MacOS, whose existence proved controversial during not one, but two Adobe mergers, and helps explain how Adobe became dominant.How FreeHand exemplifies the cutthroat nature of the desktop publishing industry
The Apple Macintosh computer was a groundbreaking tool for the publishing industry, one that lowered the barriers to entry for graphic designers and printers while raising the general quality of work. A big part of that had much to do with the quality of the software tools that came to maturity in 1980s and helped to bring the creative field to life.
Adobe was directly responsible for some of these tools—it first released the vector graphics program Illustrator, based on Adobe’s existing PostScript file format, in 1987, and bought the rights to the raster-graphics program Photoshop from brothers Thomas and John Knoll in 1988—but not all of them. There were lots of competitors in the space and it was not immediately clear which ones would win out in the long run.
One of those competitors was FreeHand, first developed in 1988 by the company Altsys. For much of its early history, the software was marketed by the company Aldus for the Apple Macintosh market, though Altsys created a separate version for NeXT computers called Virtuoso. Beyond selling FreeHand, Aldus famously created PageMaker, a layout tool that helped to create the desktop publishing industry.
While Adobe Illustrator immediately showed itself as a formidable player on the market, it was by no means the only one. Both FreeHand and CorelDraw—the latter of which came out in 1989—kept Adobe on its toes.
A 1990 product comparison in InfoWorld highlighted how cutthroat the competition between FreeHand and Illustrator had become—the two applications received equal reviews, but FreeHand was clearly given the upper hand from a pure usability standpoint.
“Although Illustrator had a head start in the marketplace, FreeHand is making a serious run at Illustrator by offering more features and flexibility,” the magazine stated.
Both tools, of course, had their partisans who preferred one program’s take on bezier curves over the other. But with desktop publishing becoming an increasingly competitive space—QuarkXPress emerged as a strong competitor to PageMaker during the early 1990s—it was only a matter of time before things got messy.
That mess surfaced in April of 1994, when Adobe agreed to merge with Aldus in a deal initially pinned at $525 million when it was first announced, according to The Seattle Times. The Times described the merger as one that was simply the best move for both companies—one of which built most of the standards for printing documents using a computer, and the other which had developed a key piece of software that made those standards functional.
“We believe our two companies, each with a rich history of inventing different aspects of the electronic publishing revolution, are simply much stronger together—both technologically and financially—than they would be by remaining separate,” Adobe Chairman John Warnock said at the time.
There were just two problems with this situation, both of which related to FreeHand: One, Aldus didn’t develop FreeHand, so there was a whole other company to consider, and that company wasn’t happy; and two, putting FreeHand and Illustrator into the arms of the same company screamed anticompetitive behavior. That’s how the Federal Trade Commission saw it, anyway.
Altsys sued Aldus, which led the FTC to take notice of the merger and nearly ended the whole thing. Fortunately for the sake of the merger, cooler heads prevailed: Aldus agreed in a settlement to give Altsys the rights to FreeHand, which allowed the deal to go through.
Soon after, Macromedia, the firm behind Director, an interactive authoring tool then popular with CD-ROM based multimedia software, quickly snapped up Altsys and made Freehand (with a lowercase H) a key part of its software offering. It was a perfect merger of company and tool—as proven by Macromedia’s eventual creation of some of the internet’s earliest pieces of professional software, Dreamweaver and Flash.
Adobe owned the print side of things, especially after PageMaker was retired and InDesign started to eat Quark’s lunch. Macromedia was an internet-friendly force. Of course they were going to merge.
And merge they did when, in 2005, Adobe bought the company out for $3.4 billion in stock.
Which meant that FreeHand, once again, was caught in the middle of a big corporate merger with Adobe. A lot had changed in the prior decade, however: While FreeHand was still an excellent tool, vector drawing tools weren’t quite as important in the scope of the merger as the technologies that had gained momentum in the decade prior. The two most important non-HTML distribution tools on the internet at the time were Macromedia’s Flash and the Adobe-borne PDF.
The merger led to the killing off of a number of popular tools made by each company—Adobe’s GoLive, which was less prominent than Macromedia’s Dreamweaver, was shown the door; so too, was Adobe’s ImageReady, a Photoshop companion program that couldn’t compete with Macromedia’s Fireworks.
But FreeHand was different—it had a history and a fanbase that hadn’t been worn down by Creative Suite. Still though, business decisions needed to be made, and FreeHand—a program once considered so important to the industry that the FTC got involved—was voted off the island.
The fanbase, to put it lightly, was not happy. And they did something pretty brash in response.“Our wish is a simple one: For those who still use FreeHand today (and don’t want to use Illustrator, possible reasons for which are myriad) the application must be brought up to date and maintained, i.e. known bugs fixed and made to work natively on current operating systems. We don’t believe this is asking too much.”
— A press release for a group called Free FreeHand , which aimed to make the case to keep FreeHand, still a popular tool among some circles of designers, alive. The initiative was led by Thü Hürlimann, a former art director for the Swiss versions of MacWorld and ComputerWorld, as well as designer Jabez Palmer. These were two people who had been using Mac-based design tools for nearly a quarter century by the time Free FreeHand came about—and they found thousands of supporters for their cause in a short period of time. Which is something you need if you want to file a class-action lawsuit.The FreeHand fans that literally sued Adobe for killing FreeHand … and gave Adobe a scare
In an era before Change.org became the popular way to protest, Free FreeHand stood out because of its sheer passion.
The desktop publishing industry that Adobe and Macromedia and Aldus had fostered was rising up and defending their right to use the tool they wanted. Their ask was simple: Keep FreeHand alive, and ensure it remained updated for the latest versions of Mac OS X and Windows. And if Adobe didn’t want to do it, free the code to the masses. Nothing against Illustrator, but FreeHand was their tool of choice—and they weren’t giving up without a fight.
“We want FreeHand to have a future,” the press release stated.
What’s fascinating about this effort is that, rather than simply launching an online petition as they did in 2009, the designers eventually went for legal relief, filing a class-action suit against Adobe in 2011, in response to the publisher’s move to shut down the development of FreeHand.
The FreeHand fans argued passionately that Adobe’s decision to shut down FreeHand development represented anticompetitive and monopolistic behavior under federal law, and that the merger violated a California law that prohibited such activity. It also wanted the source code to be released to the public so that FreeHand could be developed as an open-source program.
Not everyone understood exactly why FreeHand fans were willing to go to all this trouble, especially in 2011, when FreeHand had been off the market for nearly half a decade. (“For the life of me, I don’t understand why folks love FreeHand so much,” my friend Charles Apple, a design consultant in the newspaper industry and an Illustrator fan, wrote of the lawsuit in 2011.) But to their credit, their case got a lot further than one might have assumed.
The suit didn’t entirely go the plaintiffs’ way, admittedly—the California law violation was thrown out, and the pitch to open-source the code was cast aside. Nonetheless, US District Judge Lucy Koh genuinely did raise the specter of Adobe breaking federal antitrust law with the Macromedia merger—as Koh did initially find that there appeared to be evidence that Adobe had violated Section 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, which makes it a felony to conspire to monopolize a market. From a 2012 decision in Free FreeHand Corp. v. Adobe Sys. Inc.:
In summary, Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that Adobe willfully acquired monopoly power and maintained that power through anticompetitive conduct. If, as alleged, Adobe ceased the development of FreeHand while steering existing FreeHand users to a bundled product, thereby further raising already high barriers to entry, it is plausible to infer that this conduct tended “to impair the opportunities of rivals” and “did not further competition on the merits.”
This, wrote Koh, gave the plaintiffs enough to go on to continue discovery.
“Reading the alleged facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs, it is reasonable to infer that Adobe’s discontinuation of FreeHand, in aggregate with Adobe’s other conduct, reduced competition,” Koh stated in the decision. “Accordingly, Plaintiffs can attempt to adduce evidence in discovery to support this allegation.”
Koh, it should be noted, tends to get a lot of tech-related cases, due to her position as a federal judge in Northern California—among the cases she heard around this time involved Apple’s suit against Samsung.
This ruling clearly got in a few tidy cuts against a sitting giant in a decision made by a judge who knows Silicon Valley like the back of her hand. So where did the case go after that? Simply put, Adobe cut a deal with Free FreeHand in 2012, reportedly in the form of discounts for Adobe products and a promise by Adobe to consider adding FreeHand-y features to Illustrator, and the legal effort turned into a forum.
“While no stone was left unturned in the effort to bring FreeHand back into development and return it to market viability, in the end this proved to be an impossible goal,” the current site, FreeHand Forum, states.
FreeHand diehards are still out there. Some of that passion has led to the creation of alternate tools, such as Gravit Designer, which was later acquired by Corel. The users created a specific file loader for the virtualization software Parallels that allows FreeHand fans to have a copy of this program on their modern machine. And Thü Hürlimann even went to the trouble of building a Hackintosh that runs the 12-year-old Mac OS X variant Snow Leopard, just so he could always run the last version of FreeHand on modern hardware.
In the end, though, Free FreeHand’s efforts weren’t successful. But one has to wonder what might have happened if it was. Would Adobe have changed its tune or faced more regulatory scrutiny?
Would we even have the expensive ball of yarn that is Creative Cloud?
I like Adobe and most of its products. I use many of them daily, and love using them, often together. (I admit I’m more an Illustrator guy, though my favorite Adobe tool to this day is InDesign.)
But I also realize that Adobe has power thanks to its consolidation of tools that makes it problematic for the future of creative design. The suite gives it all of its power—and that power gives it too much influence over how we work.
Last year, the creative giant bought two fairly large firms. First, it spent $1.68 billion on Magento, a firm that sells e-commerce software, and then, last fall, it bought Marketo, a firm that sells marketing software, for $4.75 billion. These tools, together, represent two of the four largest acquisitions in Adobe’s history, with Marketo actually worth more than Macromedia, a buyout that fundamentally changed the company.
Adobe is increasingly not only trying to run the software that can create your flyer or logo or commercial, but it’s trying to own the whole marketing process, too, soup to nuts. Some companies might love that sort of integration, and it’s a big reason why Adobe is making all these aggressive acquisitions. But a single company with that much power over a single field is worrying.
I really like Adobe as a company, but I think its suite has become so costly and unavoidable for the average creative consumer that it needs to be a little bit smaller, so as to allow smaller players to compete without feeling like they have to go up against an impossible behemoth to even make a dent. Maybe Adobe fans won’t like to hear this, but I swear my case here is for the creative community’s best interests.
Make Adobe smaller. Make it possible to live without it as a creative. Make it small enough that it can’t crush an app like FreeHand ever again.
And make it small enough so that when users repeatedly ask it to support the native fullscreen feature in Mac OS, it actually listens, because it’s driving me goddamn crazy that it hasn’t added it yet after almost eight years.
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