What it's like to have Apple rip off your successful Mac app

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/10/16/robber-barons-2-0.html


We should make every cs grad watch pirates of silicon valley


Sidecar only works on new shit.

I have old shit.

I use Astropad, and it rocks. I’m sure in 4 years when I am ready to upgrade, Sidecar will get used.

Right now, Apple has no interest in supporting anything older than their new hardware, and even though mine works great through Astropad, Sidecar ignores it.

I wish Apple announced what is going to break and what features will not work on install. I’d also like a magic pony that flies though the air with LaVar Burton


My mac is … of a certain vintage. H.265? What’s that?


Hyperbole. Apple’s latest version of macOS, Catalina (shit-show that it is) runs on 7 year old Macs: https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT210222. That’s hardly “their new hardware” and obviously shows somewhat of a commitment to keeping their old gear running. Same goes for iOS releases, which routinely work on phones that are several generations out-of-date, albeit with a reduced featureset depending on the age of the phone.

To be accurate, the “Sidecar” feature in question does require a newer Mac (some 2015 iMacs and 2016 and later MacBooks - https://9to5mac.com/2019/10/14/check-ipad-mac-sidecar-requirements/). That’s because Sidecar relies on specific hardware functionality that wasn’t present in older Macs. The reason why Astropad works as well as it does on older Macs is because it is a hardware solution - they ship a physical dongle.

I’m not a fan of Apple “sherlocking” yet another indie developer, but I also don’t like false narratives. Apple has their issues. Supporting older devices generally isn’t one of their big problems, when compared to a number of other manufacturers (looking at you, Samsung…)


Astropad never really worked great and it certainly wasn’t perfect (latency issues) simply because it was 3rd party and required Apple to do more work to make it perfect. Those steps included adding/ changing hardware. I’m not sure I agree with the tenor of this article simply because if Apple had to do extra work to make the feature work properly/ optimally they have no incentive to do so if they have to hand over the final product to a third party. That’s just part of the business and silicone valley has always been that way. It’s the risk a dev takes. Their product may have a short shelf life. Sidecar is much more reliable and much easier to use. I prefer the feature as built in and not third party. I think the Astropad devs missed the boat and should have sold out and moved on to the next best thing.

If you have a seven year old mac (mine is just four), you likely have a library of 32 bit software that has not been updated to 64 bit-- okay okay, the bulk of that may be games.) Along comes Catalina-- sweeping aside the old 32 bit cruft for something new, something that relies on things that were introduced two–maybe three years ago, tops. So you lose a lot, but what do you gain?

(what’s particularly nasty is that my machine has a m290x graphics card. It is taxed to the limit when running a modern game at 1080p (much less 1440p).

Those old 32 bit games? Ultra 2880p coming right up. Which is a pleasant aesthetic. Crisp as all get out. I’d lose that if I switched to Catalina. Not sure what I’d get in return.

My humble advice:

1 - Clone your HD to an external (or spare internal) drive, preferably solid state.

2 - Upgrade to Catalina.

3 - Boot from the other drive when you want to use one of those old apps.

4 - Have a tasty cocktail.

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Its a serious issue, but in my experience when Apple integrates a feature they usually do it a level or two above what’s available on the market currently. For sure that’s in part due to the special access they have to the hardware and software but I don’t think that’s all of it.

However, vis-a-vis astrolab/luna. Fuck ‘em. I have some secondary experience with that company and they can go take a long walk off a short dock.

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Wasn’t Astropad created by ex Apple employees? Or was it Duet? It sucks for both companies but this couldn’t have been unexpected. Users have been asking for a macOS baked-in solution like this since the first iPad hit the streets. I’d be more sympathetic if An Astropad license could be bought, outright. Subscription based software licenses leave a bad taste in my mouth. F-You, Adobe!


This indeed!

Which is why I’m still running an extremely back level OS X - too many things thereafter were change for change’s sake and removal of things I’d come to use regularly in my workflow. I’ve had to relearn too many things over the years just because someone decided ‘different’ was ‘better’ because they needed to justify the existence of their job. If only they’d stop breaking things that did not need fixing.

I switched to Apple because of the threat of in effect having to learn a new OS’s ways when MS brought out whatever release of Windows it was that I was about to be forced to jump to (8?). I figured that if I had to learn a new OS it might as well be OS X with its reputation for just working, without the constant tinkering Windows needed. Well it just does work now, and it aint getting updated until the hardware dies (good luck with that, Apple - I’ve got 2012 quality MBPro and 2015 quality MBAir, threatening to go on forever) or until I finally decide I must have some critical software that won’t run otherwise.

Oh, and get off my lawn too, while you’re there, Apple.

/rant :wink:


I can’t fathom why someone would sign an NDA and not get a reciprocal non-compete.


That sucks. I had a license for Astropad, although I haven’t used it in a long time.

Seems like this is an obvious danger of playing in Apple’s walled garden.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, why does she not feel flattered?

It would also be nice if they would let you install any version of OS you like, instead of locking you into the latest.

We found out that an old Mac we have at work (Mid-2010, and I have no sway over purchasing Macs at my company) hasn’t been updated in awhile, and now cannot run the latest version of Adobe Creative Cloud. And it can’t be updated to Catalina, which is the only option available now. So… that sucks.

As I said before, I haven’t used Astropad in awhile, but the version I had didn’t require a dongle. I would remember a dongle. I guess it could have changed.

I did something similar with my iMac at home. I set up a separate volume, installed Mojave, redownloaded my Steam and GOG apps, relinked my games, and then installed Catalina on my primary volume.

After Catalina was installed, I needed to pay to upgrade two programs that I use often, but otherwise I appear okay. Nothing in my Steam library will work on the Catalina side.

That said, when I change my startup volume to the one with Mojve, the restart time is insanely long, and it seems unstable when it finally boots up. So I’m a bit iffy about the whole situation. I may just end up getting a decent laptop with Windows on it for gaming.

Catalina did add Apple Arcade though, and those games work fine so far.

Flattery does not pay the bills

This! So much, this!! The hoops I had to jump though to upgrade a Mountain Lion to El Capitan because the only version available to me at that point was two versions further on, consumed a LOT of my time. Since then I’ve downloaded later versions and archived them on external media, just in case.

You’d think with 32 to 64 bit versions, Apple would acknowledge a need for a supported and available prior version for a decent period. But that would be an offence against the faith.

I may yet have to adopt a similar strategy (probably with a separate external boot disk for any alternative OS version) when I do finally face a critical need to have a later version for some reason.


It was Duet, which also works on Windows.

While it must be upsetting when your cool app’s features get absorbed into the OS, the idea of using another device as a display has been around for at least 15 years when I started using MaxiVista. Apple are hardly targetting this one company.

Don’t like the term “Sherlocked” in this context. “Sherlock” is obviously a reference to Sherlock Holmes. His character was intelligent, clever, highly observant, and iconoclastic. The term’s use in the article is basically stealing another’s idea. Why can’t we just call it what it is instead of obfuscating the real meaning behind a reference that 99% of the general populous won’t get? Same goes for the term “gaslighting”.

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Astropad lets me use my newer iPad with Apple Pencil, and draw in photoshop on my old iMac and MacBook Pro. No hardware. No dongle. No problem.

I give Apple some credit for supporting some older hardware, but thanks to DosDude and his awesome apps, I know that the limits are mostly arbitrary, because I can install unsupported newer OSes on most of my hardware, with no to little performance issues.

I also don’t expect every new feature to work, but I know that many do just fine.

If I upgrade my hardware, I lose ports, I lose my excellent and bulletproof keyboard, I lose money buying new dongles, and most importantly, I lose the ability to upgrade ram and hard drive space at a time of my choosing, and lose money buying it integrated at a excessive markup.

No hyperbole.

I did some support for a guy who had updated his Mac mini to some new OS X, not realizing that his ProTools hardware was no longer supported.

There was no way to revert to an earlier back up unless you had the original install CD/DVDs. USB, Target Mode, burned DVD, Time Machine - nothing would revert and downgrade this thing. Luckily, I had some discs that just happened to be for that model. Way too long later, after a bare metal install, it worked. Nowhere was this documented. One of the most bullshit things I’ve ever had to deal with. It Just Works. Like Shit.

Fix bugs! Introduce new features! Do cool stuff! BUT DON’T fuck up my ability to UPGRADE or DOWNGRADE a Mac.


Wireless display isn’t that creative of an idea; intel quick sync has been built into their cpus since Jan 2011 where wireless display was a common marketing item, including variants like miracast. The execution is just never been excellent due to awful vendor collaboration.

Sherlock sucked compared to what it replaced; I remember copying the find program from earlier OSes, it was faster and easier to use.

The most upsetting situation would be konfabulator, which apple cloned and killed, then stagnated with the replacement and finally dropped altogether.

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Besides, Microsoft had been doing it for quite a while before that. Every release of Windows from 3 onward crushed at least one company’s small but profitable niche: file managers, disk compression, faxes…