Under The Microscope

On The Much Improved State of Macintosh Hardware

Back in mid-2018, there wasn’t a single Macintosh computer that was free of major drawbacks or otherwise ridiculously out of date. After yet another disappointing WWDC, I took to my keyboard to air some grievances, with a lengthy complaint entitled “On The Sad State of Macintosh Hardware“. That post was written out of a deeper frustration with Apple’s failure to keep the Mac product line current.

A little over three years later, it’s time to do the opposite. With Apple’s announcement of new M1 Pro- and M1 Max-based MacBook Pros, they are more than halfway through their transition from Intel to their own Apple Silicon chips. The state of Macintosh hardware is now much closer to “Jubilant” than “Sad”.

Beyond the spectacularly powerful new CPUs, I want to make note of the more pragmatic improvements that have happened. Apple in 2018 was at the height of their quest to remove every port, selling a MacBook that offered a pitiful single USB-C port (which was also needed for charging). Other laptops were besmirched by TouchBars and faulty butterfly keyboards. Apple is not a company to change its mind lightly, but nevertheless they’ve corrected every single one of these missteps.

I’m not sure who exactly deserves the credit at Apple for all these improvements, but my hat is off to you, whoever you are.1 In 2018, we couldn’t recommend buying a single current Macintosh model. Now? You almost can’t go wrong. That turnaround deserves a round of applause.


Footnotes:

  1. Whoever it is, I’m guessing their name doesn’t rhyme with “Ronnie Five”.
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Grab Our Latest Versions for MacOS 12 (Monterey) Support

Apple’s official release of MacOS 12 (Monterey) won’t be arriving until next week, but our software is already compatible with the new OS. As you can see on our helpful Status page, all seven of our major Mac apps now have compatibility with Monterey. Just make sure you’ve got the latest versions of Airfoil, Audio Hijack, Farrago, Fission, Loopback, Piezo, and SoundSource, and you’ll be good to go on Monterey.

Be Cautious When Updating Your Mac’s Operating System

We always urge caution when updating your Mac’s operating system (and not just when it comes to beta releases). Apple has made the process of obtaining the latest version of MacOS very easy in recent years, but OS upgrades still come with a lot of changes under the hood that can cause conflicts. If you have any sort of mission-critical setup, taking your time in updating is a wise course of action.

While all of our software is now compatible with Monterey, more testing with the official release is still needed to check for changes from Apple’s earlier betas. It’s likely we’ll have additional updates in the coming weeks to fix issues that crop up. Taking some time before you update will allow kinks to be worked out and save you a lot of headaches.

A Note for Airfoil Users

Our home audio streamer Airfoil does have a few minor known issues on Monterey. The new OS includes a feature which makes your Mac appear as an AirPlay receiver, capable of having audio streamed to it. When this feature is enabled in the Sharing System Preference, Airfoil can see and send to your Mac just fine, but there are some rough edges.

We’re currently working on updates to improve things there. Of course, you can also run Airfoil’s free companion app Airfoil Satellite for Mac. This is our recommended way of turning your Mac into an AirPlay receiver. It even works on MacOS 11 and lower to boot.

Closing

That’s it for today. If you’re already on Monterey, or planning to update shortly, just make sure you have the latest versions of our apps. Beyond that, as always, stay tuned for further updates.

Our New Test Release System

Users frequently ask if they can sign up to beta test for us. While we don’t have a public beta program, we’re now introducing a new way you can try out changes to our products before the general public: test releases.

Test releases are the precursor to full, official releases of our software, and provide early access to new features and functionality. Though not recommended for those with production systems, these releases are vetted internally, and should be suitable for general use. Whenever we post a test release, you can be sure we’ll be watching feedback extra closely, so be sure to let us know how they work.

How to Access Test Releases

With last week’s update to Fission, every application in our product line now features the ability to access test releases. It couldn’t be simpler, as test releases show up right in the application’s built-in software update system. Once you enable the “Check for test releases” hidden preference, the software will look for test releases in addition to normal updates.

To do that, follow the directions here, or check out our snazzy instructional video on Instagram:

Once you activate the “Check for test releases” hidden pref, you’ll be alerted when a new test release is available for that particular application.1

Big Test Releases, Coming Soon

At the time of this publication, we don’t have any test releases available just yet. However, we’re hard at work on updates to support MacOS 12 (Monterey), and we plan to distribute those via the test release system first. We hope to have test releases with support for Monterey in the very near future.

Whether you’re already on Monterey, or if you’re just interested in getting the latest and greatest from Rogue Amoeba as early as possible, turn on test releases and stay tuned.


Footnotes:

  1. To access test releases for multiple Rogue Amoeba products, be sure to turn on the hidden pref for each application individually. ↩︎

Fission 2.7.1 Is Now Available; Fission Exits the Mac App Store

We’ve just posted Fission 2.7.1, the latest version of our audio editor. This update provides a handful of small improvements, as well as initial support for MacOS 12 (Monterey). 1

For most of Fission’s users, getting this update will be a snap. If you purchased Fission directly from our site, just select “Check for Update” from the Fission menu, and you’ll be all set.

As of today’s release, Fission is no longer being sold via the Mac App Store. If you’re a new user looking to purchase Fission, you can do so directly through our site. That’s now the exclusive place to purchase a license for Fission.

Mac App Store Customers: Get the Direct Version

We want to be sure to our customers who previously purchased Fission via the Mac App Store are taken care of as well. To that end, we will be transitioning you over to our directly distributed version.

This transition process is fast, free, and follows the same system we used successfully with Piezo in 2016. Verified purchasers of the Mac App Store version of Fission can obtain a complimentary license key for the directly distributed version, enabling you to continue using the latest versions of Fission without interruption.

We encourage you to make that transition immediately. To get started, click below:

 Transition to the Direct Version →

 

Future Mac App Store Distribution

For almost twenty years, we’ve sold our software directly to our customers via our online store. Our fast and secure purchase process has served our customers very well. Since the Mac App Store opened in 2011, we’ve also experimented there. However, despite a decade of feedback from countless developers and users, Apple has made scant few changes and the store remains beset with issues. When you couple the many shortcomings and issues with Apple’s restrictive policies that preclude most of our software from appearing there, the Mac App Store is clearly a poor fit for us. With the removal of Fission, we no longer have any products in the Mac App Store.

We know that some users prefer to purchase software through the Mac App Store, and we’ll continue evaluating it for use as a sales channel in the future. Unfortunately, at present, it is simply not a viable distribution channel for us. If that changes, we will of course consider providing our software there again.

In the meantime, we’ll be focusing our efforts on providing a fast and easy experience testing and purchasing our software right from our website. We have always provided a seamless purchase process via our store, and we always will.


Footnotes:

  1. With this update, Fission joins Farrago in offering initial support for Monterey. We’re hard at work on updates for the rest of our product line, so keep an eye on our Status page for more details on updates to Airfoil, Audio Hijack, Loopback, Piezo, and SoundSource, all coming soon. ↩︎

Looking Forward to MacOS 12 (Monterey)

Last week, during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, we were all introduced to the next major update coming to the Mac operating system: MacOS 12 (Monterey). Like you, we’re always excited to learn about Apple’s plans for the Mac each year. Although no new Mac hardware was announced, the improved technologies coming to Monterey should provide great opportunities for future development.

We’re particularly interested in the renewed attention being brought to automation, most notable in the announcement of Shortcuts for Mac. In the last few years, Apple had seemed disinterested in enhancing scripting support in MacOS, which made it difficult for us to consider investing in these capabilities. Nevertheless, we’re well aware of the desire for automated control of our apps, and we’re now hopeful that devoting resources to this area will be worthwhile. We’ll be exploring these new possibilities to determine where automation can come to our apps in the future.

Current Status

We’re already running the developer beta of Monterey on multiple Macs internally, and we’ve also updated our Status page to make mention of the new operating system. That page is always the best place to find up-to-date information related to our support for Apple’s latest operating systems.

As that page notes, our products do not yet support Monterey. We also do not expect to post Monterey-compatible updates in the near future. If you’re an end user, you’d do well to steer clear of developer previews: they’re intended specifically for developers, providing a testing environment to ensure compatibility between app updates and the new OS. We work with these betas to create future updates that everyone can enjoy, but the OS is often quite buggy and not yet ready for widespread use.

An Additional Note About Public Betas

Apple also announced that a public beta of Monterey will be available some time in July. In our experience, these pre-release betas are a poor bet for most users, particularly those using their Macs as production machines. We always recommend sticking with Apple’s publicly released OSes.

That said, we certainly understand the interest folks have in trying out the new features coming to Monterey! Rather than running any risks in updating your Mac’s main environment, you should consider installing to a second volume or an external drive. Apple’s APFS file system makes it very easy to create a separate volume to install another copy of MacOS, but if you’re concerned about disk space then installing Monterey to an external SSD drive is also very straightforward. With either of these options, you can test new features without negatively impacting your carefully configured day-to-day setup.

Our Plan: Be Ready for The Public Release

We always aim to support each new version of MacOS as soon as Apple officially releases it. We’re proud that we’ve been able to hit this goal for several years in a row, and we’re hard at work so we can keep that streak going in 2021. Expect more news from us later this year on that front.

In the months ahead, our Status page will be updated with Monterey-specific details for each of our apps. We’ll also be adding other tidbits to our social media accounts as we discover them.

For now, if you want to use our apps you’ll need to be sure to stick with a compatible version of MacOS. We continue to fully support MacOS 10.13 (High Sierra) and later, including the current MacOS 11 (Big Sur), on both Intel and Apple’s M1 Macs.

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