Monday, May 07, 2018

Android Development: Day 0 - You're Probably Wondering How I Ended Up in This Situation

*Record Scratch*

*Freeze Frame*

Yup, that’s me holding a Google Pixel 2. If you know me at all, you’re probably wondering how I ended up in this situation.

I’ve been developing iOS apps and the occasional macOS app now for 10 years. I’ve immersed myself in the ecosystem, love it, and I’m not stopping. However, when an opportunity arose recently at the day job to work on an Android app, I was intrigued.

I’d looked at Android development from time to time, but it’s only recently that I thought it would be something I wanted to spend the time to learn.


For May 2018, I’m diving deep into Android. The reasons I said yes now are:

  • Android Studio
    • It’s Not Eclipse™
    • Still not a good native macOS app by any stretch of the imagination
  • Kotlin
    • It’s very Swift-like
    • Kotlin Native - iOS, macOS, and WebAssembly are all target platforms
  • Needed something developer wise to learn this year
    • Learned Ruby on Rails last year
  • Theory that Google and Apple had cross pollinated enough ideas that learning Android development would be incremental over iOS
    • It’s early days, but this theory is looking decent.
    • e.g. ViewController on iOS is an Activity on Android
    • Also, leveled up Git, Bash shell scripting, and Unix in 2017, all those skills would help with Android

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Android Development: Day 1 - I Don't Complain About Xcode Much, but Now I'll Never Complain About Xcode Again

I’ve been doing a bit of Android development here and there for the last couple years but today is the day I started digging in to really lay down some code.
Since I’d experimented, I opened an Android Studio 2.2 era project to use on Android Studio 3.0.1, the latest and greatest as of this writing.
Here are my notes on the experience:

The Good

  • I got everything updated and using the minSdkVersion
  • Realized I was using sdkVersion 26 (Android 8) RC1 libraries in the project, which is not what you want

The Bad

  • You have to update so many, to many, things
    • Android Studio
    • SDK Platforms
    • SDK Tools
    • Gradle
    • Kotlin
  • Any update can fail on my corporate network because they come from a variety of Internet repositories:
    • Google
    • Maven
    • JCenter
  • Android Studio and/or the behind the scenes command line tools have a hard time remembering or using corporate proxy server settings
  • Gradle does not gracefully recover from stalled or blocked downloads, it will happily spin seemingly forever
  • Changing the minSdkVersion (resetting from Android 4.4 to 23, aka Android 6) restarts most of the above
  • Android Plugin for Gradle 3.0.0 deprecated a whole bunch of stuff that I was getting warnied on with every build:
  • Gradle warnings
    •  I had a “+” in a library import (build.gradle) path to mean version 26 or higher.
      • Again an easy fix, but why not a migrator? This was in the old template.
    • Was importing an 1.0.0 of the constraint-layout library when 1.1.0 was available
      • Again an easy fix, but because of the network issues, this blocked forever
  • Android Studio keyboard shortcuts are garbage
    • Building & Running Should be ⌘B and ⌘R respectively, not ⌘F9 and ⌃R
    • No Keymap for Xcode when there are one for Emacs, Visual Studio, Eclipse, NetBeans and JBuilder just feels passive aggressive

The Ugly

  • Gradle just stopped building and I had to go delete some directories manually
  • Because of the aforementioned network issues, all this took around 1/2 day 😭

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Apple Glass Will Replace Dumb Glasses

I’d never heard of iDropNews before today, but they have some beautiful renders of a potential Apple Augmented Reality (AR) product called Apple Glass:

They got me thinking. Let’s just say Apple is working on AR glasses for a launch in Fall 2020.

The biggest feature isn’t Augmented Reality…

It’s the Dumb Glasses market, stupid!

Any facial augmented reality solution is going to fail if they aren’t fashionable and are user hostile to spectacles, contacts, and sunglasses. Apple has more than likely come to the same conclusion after seeing the Google Glass debacle. A high level of fashion has to be baked into the product.

To maximize their market opportunity, Apple must be working on vision correction as a core feature. The market looks enormous. An estimate from Grand View Research says the worldwide eyewear market was $102.66B USD in 2015.

In North America, the majority of the eyewear market is spectacles:
 
If Apple is going to sell a lot of Glass (or whatever they’re called), they need to replace dumb spectacles. Is Apple going to make lenses custom lenses for this product? I don’t think so.

What I’d be betting on is that Apple will ship a product that has dynamically configured vision correction. This doesn’t mean optometrists go out of business, but instead of walking out of the office waiting for new glasses, they just send your new prescription to Apple Glass (and you get a copy in the Health app on iOS) and boom, you see at 20/20 or better again. Apple could also take a huge chunk out of Luxottica. This Snopes article has the best breakdown on truth and rumor about their market share I can find.

If you wear contacts, no problem, Apple Glass just turns off all corrections.

Wait, you also switch between indoor spectacles and sunglasses? No problem, Apple Glass darken like transitions (or better?).

That’s right, Apple Glass would also darken like transitions (but better?).

Apple Glass would also be compatible with contact wearers by turning off vision correction.
Need bifocals? No problem, Apple Glass can handle it.

The keynote practically writes itself…

WWDC 2020 - June 8

Tim: Today were announcing three products.

Tim: An Augmented Reality headset

Tim: Vision correcting glasses

Tim: Polarized sunglasses

Tim: …

Tim: Are you getting it yet? This isn’t three products, it’s one.

Tim: I’d like to show you Apple Glass
This would be the culmination of Tim Cook’s Apple. He’d be 60 years old, just shipped Apple’s most revolutionary product since the iPhone, and with plenty of time to pursue any other projects he wished.

Does Apple Glass cannibalize any other Apple products? Apple Watch shrinks a bit as some users that want Glass decide they don’t need Watch too. But if Apple Watch enhances the AR experience through arm motion tracking, Apple Glass could be purely additive.

Apple Glass complements iPhone for the foreseeable future due to processing power/battery life issues.

Update

I didn’t realize when I opened Seeking Alpha this morning it was about Apple’s AR opportunity.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Plan on using Face ID on iPhone X in your iOS app? You must include NSFaceIDUsageDescription in your Info.plist

I’ve already shipped an app that is accessing Face ID on iPhone X, but while testing an unrelated feature the other day, I saw the alert on the left. I thought I had read everything that I needed to about Face ID implementation, but this had slipped past me.









I parked it for a while, but I happened to open the docs on LAContext on an unrelated issue when I saw the Important information on the right.



When you click on NSFaceIDUsageDescription you see the description on the left. I didn't experience any forced app quitting behavior on device or simulator, but your experience may vary.





With NSFaceIDUsageDescription added to Info.plist, and a key of “Secure Account Access” like in the right screenshot, users will see a prompt like the one on the right when the app tries to access Face ID the first time.









Glad I caught this in the “one to fix all the iPhone X issues” release of the app I’m working on.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

How I was Accidentally Credited by Apple on a macOS Security Update

curl

We would like to acknowledge Dave Murdock of Tangerine Element for their assistance.

That’s from the end of About the security content of macOS Sierra 10.12.6, Security Update 2017-003 El Capitan, and Security Update 2017-003 Yosemite.

I wasn’t aiming to obtain such credit, all I did was File a Radar on curl.

Why?

I have no end of trouble downloading Cocoapods, Ruby Gems, Node modules, using Terminal at my day job.

They have a proxy server connected to my Active Directory credentials. For GUI based apps, macOS combined with a little Apple utility called Enterprise Connect configures everything as soon as I make a connection to the network.

However, anything that is strictly command-line is not guaranteed to work.

A bunch of co-workers and I have taken matters into our own hands and written a script that runs in our .bash_profiles. It sets these environment variables when started a shell automagically based on the current username and password:

http_proxy
https_proxy
no_proxy

Both http_proxy and https_proxy have traditionally been set to the same thing, a proxy server like http://proxy.company.com which is only available inside your company. Even the https_proxy variable is configured to hit an unsecured HTTP server.

During an earlier version of the script, I had accidentally set https_proxy to https://proxy.company.com and things were breaking.

Turns out, curl couldn’t support HTTPS proxies until late 2016, and macOS 10.12.5 hadn’t been updated to curl 7.52.0 or later to add support.

So I filed a radar…

But Wait There’s More!

Turns out, curl 7.54.0 or later closed a number of CVEs and I mentioned that in my radar.

Fast forward 2 months after I filed the radar, and Apple Product Security emails me to ask if I’d like credit.

I hesitated at first, not knowing what, if any, ramifications being publicly listed on an Apple Security listed might have.

Ultimately, being credited was just to cool not to do, so I did.

Still More to Do

While curl has been updated, unfortunately my problems persist. Appears the Generic Security Services Application Program Interface (GSSAPI) somehow occasionally selects the wrong way to present my credentials to the proxy server and I get connection errors.

I’m updating to macOS High Sierra right now hoping that something has changed to resolve this issue, but if not, I’ll be filling another radar.

Though the public Bug Reporter interface recently got a much needed overhaul, the system is still far from perfect. 

I’m truly baffled why Apple doesn’t build macOS and iOS apps that developers can use to collect the required information and file with far less work. I bet they’d get a lot more high quality bug reports. I’ve filed a radar on a radar app.

However, I’ve seen enough bugs fixed that I was the original reporter to feel my time is worth spending on filing radars.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

All Hope was Not Lost...Apple Released AirPort Base Station Firmware 7.6.7 for 3+ Year Old Devices!

While at a Memorial Day gathering yesterday, the host mentioned that an update just became available for his Airport devices, the Express, Extreme, and Time Capsule. I thought he had to have been mistaken and maybe I’d missed updating his hardware on a previous visit. No update had been mentioned in the Apple press, but I knew my AirPort Utility automatic update checking was off, I’d lost hope Apple would ever send out any updates for my aging Time Capsule. Maybe Apple did send out an update…

Sure enough Apple released AirPort Base Station Firmware 7.6.7! The prior version was 7.6.4  released in August 2013. That immediately got my mind racing. Were internal 7.6.5 and 7.6.6 releases created that didn’t make it public? Could more bug fixes be bundled up into this update than just those mentioned in the support article? We’re fixes made during a development cycle for new AirPort Base Stations or to comply with the FCC and back ported to 2 generation old hardware?

I guess we’ll never know, but WWDC is right around the corner, I’m not immune to rampant speculation 😬

Friday, May 27, 2016

TL;DR Wil Shipley: Keep Calm and Swift On

Keep Calm and Swift On 300x337I couldn’t agree more with Wil Shipley’s post on Swift and Dynamism. All the likes, stars, favs, or hearts wouldn’t be enough. 

You should read it for the entertainment value alone.

In Chris Lattner I Trust!

Is ABI compatibility missing Swift 3.0 annoying? Absolutely.

Is Swift 3.0 source compatibility going to be a time sink with chicken and egg library problems? Yep.

I’m sure dynamism is coming to Swift 3.x or 4 and I’m confident the teams and the community will improve on what Cocoa's had since 1988. Swift is the next 30+ years of Apple developer tooling and platforms. It’s almost insulting to the teams to suggest they aren’t being thoughtful.

Hapuna Matata, because in the coming on 2 years I’ve been using Swift it's saved me so much time with fewer bugs and easier to read code.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Let's Talk About What Chewie Does in Star Wars The Force Awaken

SPOILERS Ahead for Star Wars The Force Awakens
I’ve read a lot of theories about what every character does in Star Wars The Force Awakens…except Chewbacca.
The first thing you have to admit about Chewy in The Force Awakens is that he’s awesome. The Force Awakens is the best Chewbacca movie yet. He’s physical, played in large part not by original actor Peter Mayhew, but by newcomer Joonas Suotamo and the result is a more action oriented Wookie. He’s also funny and expressive. With just a head move or grunt, Mayhew and Suotamo communicate as much information as any actor playing humans do in the movie.
That’s not what I want to talk about though. I want to know what Chewie knows. Given what we see in The Force Awakens, Chewie knows:
If you believe that Kylo Ren has completed his fall to the Dark Side by killing Han Solo...
  • Why doesn’t Chewy go for the kill shot?
  • Why doesn’t Chewy’s bowcaster knock Kylo off the platform?
  • Why does Chewy go with Rey without comment?
However, there is another possibility. Watch this video by Movies with Mikey:

Mikey’s theory is that while Kylo and Rey fight, Kylo is not using the Dark Side, but Rey does. The theory is that Ren and Rey will flip Force sides by the end of the trilogy and Kylo Ren is in deep cover.
If you think this theory has any credence, then I’d propose that Chewy shoots Kylo Ren with a lower power, non-fatal bowcaster shot on purpose. Through The Force Awakens, we see Han and Chewy blow foes away with impunity using the bowcaster, catapulting them several feet upon impact. Yet Kylo Ren doesn’t move.
Of course Kylo’s force abilities could explain him being able to absorb the energy of the blaster bolt without moving. However, we see Kylo able to stop blaster fire in mid-air after being fired. If he was using his powers, he wouldn’t simply diminish the energy, he’d stop it.
On the other hand, if Chewie doesn’t miss a Kylo Ren kill shot on purpose, he’s responsible for allowing one of the galaxies greatest evils to escape justice just after his best friend of all time was killed.
Or Chewbacca is relieved his life debt is over, but feels he must take some kind of shot to keep up appearances that he actually liked Han Solo 😉

Friday, October 02, 2015

Changing UITextView's textContainer.layoutManager.delegate to your UIViewController Swaps Line Break from Word to Character Wrap

TL;DR Don’t assign UITextView.textContainer.layoutManager.delegate to your UIViewController, bad things happen. 
Versions: OS X 10.10, 10.11 Xcode 7.0.x iOS SDK 8, 9 

Some of the highlight WWDC 2013 sessions for me where those about Text Kit. That was largely because I was working at Dow Jones on The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s iOS apps which had native text layout code. It worked extremely well, but it was largely Core Text, and it wasn’t the easiest to maintain. I thought we might be able to replace a lot with Text Kit. Unfortunately I never got the chance, but I was always curious to try Text Kit’s capabilities.

Fast forward a few years and I got my change this past week. Designers handed me a screen that looks like this:

Text Kit Design

What I always remembered about Text Kit was the easy way to exclude paths from the layout for things like images and the text could flow around it.

To refresh my memory on how to do that, I did some searching and came across Ray Wenderlich’s Text Kit Tutorial, Updated with Swift. Great, read the article, downloaded the sample, and started using the UIBezierPath calculation stuff in my real project.

That’s where things went off the rails but I didn’t realize it until today. You see the tutorial had this:

let exclusionPath = timeView.curvePathWithOrigin(timeView.center)
textView.textContainer.exclusionPaths = [exclusionPath]

The method curvePathWithOrigin was calculating a round UIBezierPath because the tutorial was inserting a round graphic into the UITextView. I needed to create a rectangular UIBezierPath (see orange box in above image), but didn’t know you could do. Maybe it was the pain from a hand injury, maybe just ignorance or I forgot, but I didn’t get it.

Of course the round bezier path from the tutorial was not flowing text around the rectangle image correctly. It all seems to obvious in hindsight.

I tried many things to fix this issue. One of those was crawling down UITextView’s internal object tree and setting textContainer.layoutManager.delegate to my UIViewController instance. I usually never do things like this but again I probably wasn’t thinking very clearly.

Setting the delegate appeared to make the text flow better because character wrapping became the default, so I left the delegate assignment in. What a mistake!

When I realized how stupid I was being with UIBezierPath and used a rectangular exclusionPath, UITextView was defaulting to character wrapping instead of word wrapping.

Of course I was going through the Six Stages of Debugging:

I finally got to Stage 5 when I built up a sample line by line until I figured out setting the textContainer.layoutManager.delegate to my UIViewController instance was a really dumb idea.

Sometimes when writing code, you make bad choices and it takes a while to figure that out...