Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Apple extends Emergency SOS coverage for iPhone 14 users

Apple Newsroom:

One year ago today, Apple’s groundbreaking safety service Emergency SOS via satellite became available on all iPhone 14 models in the U.S. and Canada. Now also available on the iPhone 15 lineup in 16 countries and regions, this innovative technology — which enables users to text with emergency services while outside of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage — has already made a significant impact, contributing to many lives being saved. Apple today announced it is extending free access to Emergency SOS via satellite for an additional year for existing iPhone 14 users.

Apple’s in an interesting position with this service. Even though its currently limited to emergency usage—which is hopefully a pretty small percentage of overall eligible iPhone users—satellite connectivity isn’t cheap.

I was pretty confident Apple would kick this can down the road, and now they have. My guess is that it might (next year or the year after) introduce a paid tier that lets you do more with satellite connectivity—non-emergency messaging, for example—and use a charge for that to essentially subsidize free emergency functionality for all users.

Yes, Apple wants to continue to make money on this, but it definitely doesn’t want to be in a position of having a customer unable to use the service because they didn’t pony up for the monthly cost—that would not be a great look in those “look at all the people who are still here to celebrate their birthday because of Apple technology” videos.

—Linked by Dan Moren

By Dan Moren for Macworld

How AI could take iOS 18 and macOS 15 to the next level

Artificial intelligence is the buzziest of buzzwords right now. But as rivals like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google have gone full throttle on incorporating this latest hot technology into their products, Apple has taken a decidedly slower—if not uncharacteristic—approach that has more than a few critics lambasting the company for trailing behind its competitors.

Apple is, of course, no stranger to the use of machine learning in its products, though it’s tended to deploy that technology in more subtle ways that don’t scream “artificial intelligence.”

Still, if rumors are to be believed, Apple is going hard at building generative AI features in its software updates over the next year. Naturally, most people’s attention will probably go to Siri as one place the company could benefit from integrating the sort of technology demoed by others, but there are definitely other places throughout Apple’s software platforms where AI could make as big an impact—if not bigger—on users’ lives.

By Dan Moren

Audio Hijack adds automatic transcription

Audiohijack transcribe block

Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack has long been an indispensable tool for Mac podcasters1: this Swiss Army knife of audio utilities lets you not just grab audio from your Mac’s mics, but also from any app running on the system. You can then apply effects, record in a variety of formats, and even broadcast audio live. Now, with the newly released version 4.3, Audio Hijack has added a new tool to its arsenal: audio transcription.

By taking advantage of OpenAI’s Whisper framework, Audio Hijack can now take any audio it’s recording and generate a text transcript. While this process was possible before—see Jason’s lengthy post about his workflow—it required a lot of fiddling and several different tools to accomplish; it’s certainly a lot easier to simply drop Audio Hijack’s block into your existing session. If you record multiple sources, it can even appropriately label each one—though if you record multiple people via one input, say the other end of a Zoom call, it can’t distinguish between the various participants.

If each person had Audio Hijack running on their own machine and transcribing, you could potentially assemble a transcript, though at present Audio Hijack only lets you tag transcript lines with Source and Timestamp, the latter of which is based on the amount of time elapsed in the session, which would make that process a little tricky. Hopefully, a future version will allow you to use the system clock as well.

Audio hijack transcription solo
The transcription of my new very unique solo podcast.

AI-based transcription has been growing by leaps and bounds in the past couple years, and it’s been a particular boon to podcasters, who often want to create accessible and searchable archives of their show, without spending the lengthy amount of time to generate it by hand (or use a post-processing tool that requires tweaking and editing).

I ran the Transcribe block through a very quick test using just my MacBook Air’s built-in microphone. The results were, if not 100 percent accurate, extremely good, and I’m quite excited to try this out for several of my podcasts in the future.

Audio Hijack 4.3 is a free update for all owners of Audio Hijack 4; for new customers, it costs $64 or $29 if you’re updating from Audio Hijack 3. While the transcription feature will work on Intel-based Macs, Rogue Amoeba recommends Apple silicon Macs for the best experience.

  1. Full disclosure: Rogue Amoeba has sponsored Six Colors in the past, and CEO Paul Kafasis is a personal friend. 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]

Apple’s event was shot on the iPhone 15, and that’s still impressive

Frequent contributor Joe Rosensteel writing at his own blog about the fact that Apple’s “Scary Fast” event was shot on the iPhone 15 Pro Max and that some people have taken issue with the fact that Apple still used professional lighting, rigs, and crews to accomplish that:

This whole kerfuffle is similar to something from only a couple months ago, where people got all worked up about The Creator being shot on the Sony FX-3. The camera, in and of itself, didn’t shoot that movie. The workflows enabled by having a smaller camera, were complimented by the nimble, resourceful team shooting the project. If someone ran out and bought a FX-3 they wouldn’t have The Creator any more than running out and buying an iPhone 15 Pro means you’re going to make an Apple video presentation by yourself.

Unsurprisingly, Joe’s take on this is smart and on the money. The iPhone 15 has an amazing camera, and being able to swap it in to a professional setup is pretty incredible. It doesn’t mean you’ll immediately be able to duplicate the results at home, but think about all the things you could do.

—Linked by Dan Moren

By Dan Moren for Macworld

Three ‘Scary’ details Apple didn’t want to tell you during its Mac event

Apple’s goal with its product events is manifold: it wants to introduce new devices to its customers on its own terms, while simultaneously putting a stake in the ground to both fire shots at its competitors and signal to investors that it’s continuing to come out with products that are in line with the Apple brand.

The Scary Fast event that Apple held on Monday night to introduce its new M3-based Macs was an unusually short and to the point for the company, whose iPhone and WWDC videos usually run an hour or more. There were just a few announcements of new Macs: 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros in a variety of flavors, as well as a slightly revamped iMac using the new processor.

While the event itself might have seemed largely pro forma, it wasn’t without significant some significant details—even if you did have to root around a bit to find them.

By Dan Moren

The Back Page: The horror, the horror

Dan writes the Back Page. Art by Shafer Brown.

Halloween! The night when ghouls and goblins roam the streets, demanding treats of innocent residents. When fear haunts our every waking moment, and the line between the worlds of the living and the dead is blurred.

Also, when Apple (roughly) hosts an event to announce…*lightning, crash of thunder*, new Macs, mwahahahahahaha…

What seemed like it might be a one-off event from the year 2023 is destined to become an eerie tradition, as every year, Apple will announce a terrifying line-up of new Mac technology on the evening before Halloween.

With each year, however, the announcements grow more and more terrifying, until customers can hardly tune in to watch, lest their deepest, darkest fears be realized by the grinning reaper that is Tim Cook.

To alleviate these most frightful designs, we have cast the bones and consulted the omens of the two-headed oracle known as “Johnjohny” and can now exclusively reveal to you the spine-chilling announcements coming over the next several years.…

This is a post limited to Six Colors members.

By Dan Moren

A Mac event is the perfect time for Apple to show off its peripheral vision

Next week’s Apple event may not feature Tim Cook dressed as a mummy—more’s the pity—but Apple’s teaser video has all but confirmed what many had expected: this October event is all about the Mac.

The rumor mill continues to debate what exactly might be in store: will new iMacs been M2-based or usher in the era of the M3? Will there be new MacBook Pros with new high-end Apple silicon chips? Will that lonely 13-inch MacBook Pro be refreshed or banished into the night?

Amongst all those possible updates, I’m presonally looking for a dark horse announcement here, something that’s a bit…ancillary to the main event.

Mac peripherals

In 2023, Apple’s been on a mission to seek out and eliminate Lightning ports with extreme prejudice. We’ve already seen the introduction of USB-C iPhones, USB-C AirPods Pro, and even a USB-C Apple Pencil. But there remain a few stragglers in the line-up, and the ones that seem most ripe for replacement at this upcoming event are the Mac peripherals: the Magic Keyboard, the Magic Mouse, and the Magic Trackpad.

Now, Apple could just swap out the Lightning ports for USB-C and call it a day, and the smart money is on that being the case. After all, why mess with what seems to be basically a winning formula? But it’s also an opportunity to give each of these devices a more thorough refresh—and maybe it’s about time.

The Magic Keyboard has been revamped the most recently of the three, alongside the 2021 Apple silicon iMac’s introduction. At the time it gained a Touch ID sensor, rearranged function keys, and multiple colors to match the respective iMacs. But this update also made it an outlier in a couple ways: for one, rounded corners that give a bizarre shape to the keys there (the Escape, Function, Right Arrow, and Touch ID sensor) and, far more egregiously, the lack of an inverted-T layout for the arrow keys.1 The Magic Keyboard inexplicably stuck with the full-height left- and right-arrow keys and half-height up- and down-arrow keys in an era where Apple had abandoned that layout across the rest of its devices, including MacBook keyboards and the Magic Keyboard for iPad. This would be an ideal time for the company to return the layout, which many touch typists find much easier to navigate.

The Magic Mouse has remained unchanged since its introduction in 2015. Over the years, it’s achieved a certain degree of notoriety for the location of its Lightning port on the underside, which makes it impossible to use while it’s charging. While the charging is relatively fast, it’s still an awkward design that Apple could take the opportunity to update.

Finally, the Magic Trackpad, long my pointing device of choice, which also dates back to 2015. It’s hard for me to criticize it too much, since it does what it needs to do with aplomb, but it would be interesting to see Apple explore other options and capabilities, whether that means building in Touch ID or adding support for the Apple Pencil to turn it into a sort of mini graphics tablet.

I also want to call out two places where Apple could improve all of these devices: one aesthetic, one functional.

The first is color. While you can get very slick color-matched versions of any of these with an M1 iMac, those buying them on their own are relegated to just two options: white/silver and black/gray. And the compact Magic Keyboard only comes in the first of those. That’s a real shame, given that the iMac versions—complete with color-matched cables!—exist. I can understand Apple not wanting to manage all the various SKUs, but frankly, let people choose the color peripherals they want! It’s not too much to ask, especially when the rest of your products are woefully skimpy on colors.

On the functional side, Apple either needs to improve or replace its Bluetooth support. My Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad frequently disconnect from my Mac mini, which is all of about eighteen inches away, and the keyboard in particular is egregious in terms of the amount of time it takes for typed characters to show up on screen. This certainly seems like a place that Apple could use its vaunted engineering prowess to offer something that’s a little extra in much the same way that it does with AirPods. Not only would a custom wireless chip potentially allow for more robust and reliable connections, but it could also simplify switching peripherals between devices, a process that Bluetooth makes fairly painful.2

With eight years since the Magic Trackpad and Magic Mouse have been revamped, it’s about time for Apple to take a closer look at its Mac accessories. To be honest, I’ll probably replace my Magic Keyboard and Trackpad even if Apple just switches them to USB-C, but if the company’s looking to liven up what might otherwise be a ho-hum event, this could bring just a little bit of treat to a spooky occasion.

  1. The exception being for the extended Magic Keyboard, which features full height arrow keys in an inverted-T layout. 
  2. Many third-party devices have improved on this by building in the ability to pair with multiple devices at once, though even there it often requires a disconnecting/reconnecting dance.) 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]

By Dan Moren

Apple hikes prices for Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+ and Apple One bundles

It takes money to make money: specifically, it takes your money to make money for large corporations. As online services around the world raise their prices, Apple is no exception; today, the company announced higher costs for several of its online services, including Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+ and its Apple One bundles. (Prices for Apple Music and Apple Fitness+ remain unchanged.)

New prices for Apple One bundle
New prices for Apple One bundle effective immediately.

MacRumors reports on the details of the price changes, which see each service hiked between $2-3 per month, as well as $3-5 for the Apple One bundles. Those prices are effective today for new subscribers, and for existing customers in 30 days or their next renewal date.

This increase really shouldn’t come as a surprise: Disney+, Hulu, Netflix—almost every major streaming service has raised their prices over the last year. In some cases, this is to compensate for lost revenue from customers canceling cable packages where older more conventional networks and studios used to bring in money for selling their shows. But it’s also a matter of demand: people are hungry for content, and content isn’t cheap.

This is the second price hike for Apple TV+, which debuted at a $4.99 monthly price (free for several months in many cases)—with a rather paltry library of content—before subsequently rising to $6.99 a year ago. Apple’s built up its TV+ content substantially since launch, and the company seems to be making the argument that all of that new material is worth more money. Whether that’s true will, ultimately, be up to the consumer.

I do have to raise an eyebrow at the increased costs for both Apple Arcade and Apple News+. Neither of these services seem to have been blockbuster hits for the company, and perhaps Apple’s decided it’s not just going to make it up in volume. News+ did see some additions this year, including Puzzles and integration with subscriber-only podcasts. But I think both have mainly benefited from being included in the Apple One bundle: I know that if I had my way, I’d gladly trade them both for Apple Fitness+ and a lower overall price, but there’s a reason Apple’s not offering a “build your own bundle” plan.

Let’s also not forget that, of course, Services remains a sector that Apple has bet heavily on as iPhone sales mature and it looks to diversify its business. And given that the company’s deal with Google is under increased scrutiny, Apple would probably like to find a way to offset the possibility of losing that $18-20b, which represents around a quarter of the company’s Services revenue in 2022.

This might also just be the new world order for online services: expect the price raises to increase until morale improves. Or until the churning Thunderdome of competition starts eliminating streamers.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]

By Dan Moren

Spooktacular Apple Event on Halloween Eve

Apple scary event

Chalk this one up as something I’ve never seen before: an Apple event in the evening. The company on Tuesday announced a “Scary Fast” event coming Monday, October 30 at 5pm Pacific time.

It’s largely expected that this event will feature new Macs, as reported by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman this weekend: the money seems to be on a refreshed 24-inch iMac, though other announcements are possible.

Given the late hour, it’s likely this event will be entirely pre-recorded. We’re expecting treats over tricks, but the real question is whether we’ll get a glimpse at Tim Cook’s Halloween costume.1

  1. He’s going as the scariest thing he can think of: a Performa 6300CD. 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]

Amazon joins the passkey revolution

Passkey adoption seems to be accelerating. The Verge reports Amazon has now joined the ranks of online services that allow you to generate the secure credentials to log in to its site, joining Apple, Google, and a slew of others. You can set up a passkey on the website under Your Account > Login & Security > Passkey, or via the updated version of the iOS app.

I set up a passkey at Amazon and it was a perfectly smooth experience: clicking the Set Up link prompted me to authenticate with Touch ID on my MacBook Air, and that was that. When I tested logging in, I was given the option to enter my password or choose to sign in with a passkey.1

Amazon’s adoption is particularly significant given its prominence in the online sphere. As more big companies of its size move towards passkey authentication, there will be more incentive across the industry to adopt the new security standard. And it certainly seems as though these moves are accelerating. Apple and Google both added support to their web services earlier this year, and of course Apple launched full passkey support in its platforms in 2022.

  1. Slightly oddly, I was still asked to provide my two-factor authentication code after signing in with the passkey, a step that shouldn’t technically be necessary. 
—Linked by Dan Moren

By Dan Moren

Quick Tip: macOS Sonoma/iOS 17’s AutoFill everywhere is a lifesaver

One of the interesting things about Apple’s big yearly platform updates is that the features that are big and flashy often aren’t the ones that make the biggest difference.

After several weeks of using the updates, you start to get into a bit of a rhythm, which means figuring out what actually changes the way you use your devices.

For me, one of the best new features of iOS/iPadOS 17 and macOS Sonoma is a small one, squirreled away in a contextual menu: AutoFill.

Of course, AutoFill has been around forever. In Safari, it’s what lets you fill out forms with saved information so you don’t end up typing your address or credit card information a billion times. It also works with your stored passwords, letting you pop those in as well.

But the web is imperfect, and sometimes AutoFill just doesn’t work quite right: fields aren’t correctly defined and the information doesn’t get put in. What to do?

Macos sonoma autofill
Now you can autofill your passwords anywhere.

In a very clever move, Apple has introduced essentially a manual mode for AutoFill. You’re no longer dependent on Safari recognizing that, yes, these are fields where you can put your address in. Instead, anywhere that you can enter text—and not just in Safari, but anywhere, in any app—bring up the contextual menu by right/two-finger/control clicking on the Mac or tapping and holding on iOS/iPadOS, and then go to the new AutoFill submenu. From there choose Contact or Passwords, depending on what info you want to bring up, and you can have it drop that info right into the form.

If you choose Passwords, you’ll get a window asking you to authenticate with biometrics or your password/passcode; once you do, you’ll have access to all your passwords in a searchable list. (And the system will offer up the one it thinks you want at the top.) Select any credential and it’ll be automatically filled into the text field for you. This works not just with your password, but with your username or two-factor code.1

iOS 17 autofill

This has been a lifesaver for me on sites (and in apps) where the password field isn’t correctly recognized. Instead of having to regularly go to the Passwords section of Settings/System Settings, find the password, copy it, switch back to the app and paste it, I can access that all from within the app.

Even better, because it works anywhere on the system, it means that in my secondary browser on the Mac (Chrome), where I don’t save my credentials, I can now easily access all my passwords.

The fact that this works on iOS and iPadOS is even better; at least on the Mac it’s only a minor pain to switch back and forth between apps; on iOS, it’s a far more laborious process.

What I appreciate most of all about this feature is the self-awareness behind it. It’s essentially Apple admitting that sometimes its technology doesn’t know best, and puts the power back in the hands of users—and in doing so, it makes a great feature even better. Frankly, that’s an approach I’d like to see the company take in more places.

  1. I don’t believe it works with passkeys, as they are not text that you can just fill in. 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]

By Dan Moren for Macworld

Apple has an iCloud problem

If the bricks of Apple’s business are its hardware and software products—iPhones, iPads, Macs, and the software that runs them—then the mortar that holds them together is composed of the company’s services, the chief ingredient of which is iCloud.

That mortar, however, has been eroding for some time—which is one reason you don’t typically hold bricks together with clouds; there are serious structural concerns. While the company has tried to up the value proposition of the service in recent years by introducing new paid features under the moniker of “iCloud+”, it’s the basic, free to all features that are desperately in need of some tender ministrations.

By Dan Moren

Apple announces new Apple Pencil with magnetic storage and USB-C port

Apple Pencil with USB-C

There may not be new iPads, but if you’re in the market for an Apple Pencil, well, it’s your lucky day. Apple took the wraps off its new stylus, the most affordable model yet, which replaces the Lightning port with a USB-C option.

This pencil is clearly designed for use with the tenth-generation iPad: while it attaches magnetically to the long edge of the iPad for storage, it still charges via a physical port. Unlike the old Lightning model, which had a removable (and easily lost) cap hiding its charging and pairing connector, the new Apple Pencil features an innovative sliding design that reveals a USB-C port into which you can plug a cable (which, naturally, is not included). Its design is otherwise very similar to the second-generation Pencil.

At $79, this Pencil is cheaper than both the first-generation model at $99 and the second-generation model at $129. But that’s because it doesn’t have all the features of either of them: it lacks the pressure sensitivity of either of the previous models, as well as the double-tap controls, wireless pairing and charging, and free engraving of the second-generation. However, the new Pencil does support the “hover” feature on M2 iPad Pro models.

Apple’s very clear about not calling this the “third-generation” Apple Pencil, rather pitching it as part of a more complete Apple Pencil lineup. The new model works with any iPad equipped with a USB-C port. It also appears that though rumors suggested a new Apple Pencil might use a magnetic system for attaching replacement tips, that this version uses the same tips as previous models.

Education customers can get the new Pencil at a mild discount of $69. Apple’s also offering a $9 USB-C to Apple Pencil Adapter for owners of the first-generation model who want to keep using it.

The new Apple Pencil will be available starting in early November.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]

Glenn Fleishman on troubleshooting iCloud Drive

iCloud problems are all the rage now! Friend, colleague, and occasional Six Colors contributor Glenn Fleishman has an extensive article about trying to figure out problems with iCloud Drive syncing:

Thus was the beginning of my pain. While I had suffered from iCloud Drive synchronization problems in the past, I’d never had such a sustained and resistant issue as over the last five months. That’s right—five months. Worst of all? The problem is now solved, but I don’t know what caused it nor how to avoid it in the future. Apple’s engineering elves fixed it without sending information back through the super senior Apple technical support person I dealt with across many emails, calls, and hours of troubleshooting.

Yes, the old iCloud black box strikes again. Since posting my story, I’ve gotten a ton of emails and social media messages about people with iCloud problems, and while I’d expect any service with as many users as Apple’s offering to have a fair number of edge cases, it does at times feel like the whole thing is made out of edge.

Technology issues aside, Apple does need to do a much better job about communicating with its users, especially in regards to services. These are customers contributing to one of the company’s most important (and profitable) segments, and it’s a fundamentally different proposition than Apple’s usual transactional business of having somebody buy a product and walk away. If the company wants to retain these customers for the long run—not to mention bring in additional customers—then support needs to be job one.

—Linked by Dan Moren

By Dan Moren

ScreenSharingMenulet gives you quick access to Screen Sharing

Ever since I discovered screen sharing many many years ago, I’ve been an avid user of the technology. I’ve remotely accessed my machines while away from home, sometimes across the country or even from a different part of the world. And while the widespread availability of cloud services makes it somewhat less critical than it once was, I still rely on the feature.

For years, I’ve used Edovia’s excellent Screens on both macOS and iOS, but with Sonoma’s recent update to the built-in Screen Sharing app—including its new high-performance mode—I’ve decided to give Apple’s own solution a whirl.

However, one thing that I’ve gotten used to with Screens is the ability to quickly access my remote Macs via a handy little menu bar icon. Surely, I figured, there had to be an equivalent for macOS’s Screen Sharing feature.


After casting about for recommendations, a few people mentioned just what I was looking for: Stefan Klieme’s ScreenSharingMenulet. It’s a little no-frills menu bar app that just provides you with quick screen sharing access to other machines via macOS’s built-in Screen Sharing app. By default it detects Bonjour connections on your local network, but it also supports adding manual remote connections if you have other machines you want to log into.

(I will, of course, continue to use Screens on my iPhone and iPad, since Apple doesn’t by default offer screen sharing to or from iOS / iPadOS, an oversight I hope it corrects in the future. )

ScreenSharingMenulet is incredibly simple, which is fine by me because it just does what I want. I appreciate that you can even streamline the interface down to its bare essentials by hiding the About / Preferences menu. If I’ve got one nit to pick it’s that I don’t love the icon: it includes a little version of the cursor and every once in a while when I’m looking for the cursor1 I seize upon that one instead.

But other than that, for $1.99, ScreenSharingMenulet perfectly fulfills its purpose, and that’s a rare thing for software these days.

  1. I’ve recently encountered a bug that makes the cursor disappear, which makes this extra annoying. 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]

By Dan Moren for Macworld

The USB-C transition has some bumps in the road

One of the biggest points of anticipation around this year’s iPhone models was the transition from Apple’s proprietary Lightning port to the USB-C standard. Some were worried about the transition requiring them to replace all their accessories, while others—yours truly included—looked forward to a future of being able to use a single cable for their iPad, MacBook, and iPhone.

Now that the new models are out in the wild, however, the USB-C transition has proved to be a rose bearing some thorns. It’s not as simple as having one port to rule them all; and, in some cases, the move away from Apple’s controlled ecosystem has introduced some challenges that its users haven’t had to deal with in the past. These bumps in the road may get ironed out in time, but it’s worth being aware before you just blithely start connecting all your USB-C gadgets.

By Dan Moren

Bitten by the black box of iCloud

iCloud is, when you think about it, kind of a thankless service. At its best you don’t notice it—everything, in the unofficial mantra of Apple dating back decades, just works. Your data is in sync across all your devices, changes update immediately, and you never get a single error message.

The thing is, like a lot of Apple tech, it’s a black box. Data goes in, data goes out. What happens in the middle…well, shrug. You just put your faith in the fact that what’s working will keep working.

But as anybody who’s ever tried to troubleshoot iCloud problems can tell you, when it goes wrong, trying to fix it is an exercise in frustration—as I learned recently, in a particularly spectacular fashion.

Intermittently cloudy

Connection Error on
This is a bad news error message.

At about 9am Eastern this past Monday, my connection to iCloud went kaput. I first noticed the issue on my MacBook Air: my iCloud mail wasn’t being fetched, messages that I read or deleted were popping up again, and I couldn’t access files in my iCloud Drive.

At first blush, my other devices seemed to be fine, leading me to conclude that there was some specific issue with iCloud on the MacBook. I chalked it up to some weirdness with having reinstalled the final version of Sonoma atop the beta, and started off on the usual troubleshooting steps: quitting apps, restarting, and then the big guns—logging out of iCloud.

That’s the point where things went truly amiss. While I was nominally able to log back into iCloud, most of my data wasn’t actually syncing back. A dialog box told me that I needed to verify my account in order to re-establish end-to-end encryption for sensitive information like my keychain and health data, but clicking the prompted button did…absolutely nothing.

Continue reading “Bitten by the black box of iCloud”…

By Dan Moren

The Back Page: Everything is fine until it isn’t

Dan writes the Back Page. Art by Shafer Brown.

And thus was Tim Cook finally brought low—not by Apple’s anti-union practices, nor by his continued willingness to do business with a charming individual like Elon Musk, nor even by Apple’s questionable relationships with the Chinese government.

But by an iPhone case.

The tapestry of Cook’s descent is woven finely, with threads coalescing from across his tenure. As the history books tell us, the beginning of the end for Tim Cook’s regime at Apple, those many years ago, was precipitated by what seemed the most reasonable of initiatives: replacing leather goods with a more environmentally sustainable material. After all, who ever got in trouble for not slaughtering a sacred cow?

The problem, however, lay in the new material. An attempt to ape the feel of premium suede, it proved vulnerable to scratches, easily stained, and less durable than the animal-based material it had supplanted.

All of that would have been bad enough, but the subsequent revelation that the so-called fabric was nothing more than cut-up patches of Eddy Cue’s suits shook the Apple community to its very core.…

This is a post limited to Six Colors members.

By Dan Moren for Macworld

3 new Apple features I’d literally be lost without

Ah, September: the time of years when hot summer days turn to crisp autumn ones, leaves are burnished in shades of red and gold, and pumpkin spice begins its inexorable creep back into all our lives. But if you breathe deep you can just smell something else on the air: fresh Apple software updates.

Yes, Apple this week dropped a slew of revisions to almost all of its major platforms (sorry, macOS, you have to wait until next week). You’ve no doubt already read of contact posters, new widget interfaces, and FaceTime on the Apple TV, but I wanted to take a few moments to wax rhapsodic about a few of my favorite overlooked features—and, specifically, features that help you not overlook things.

Because this year’s updates all provide better ways to navigate the world around us, and even without a second-generation ultra wideband chip, you can still find exactly what you’re looking for.

Designing the Snoopy watchOS 10 face

GQ’s Robert Leedham talks to the teams at Apple and Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates about bringing Snoopy to life on watchOS 10. Most interesting to me was how the watch decides what animations to show:

That first meeting at the Charles M Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California, was the Watch team’s first in-person meet-up after the pandemic, and what started as a two-hour drive north from Mountain View ultimately ended with plans for 148 unique animations that would be contextual depending on the time of day, local weather and activities. When you go for a swim, Snoopy dons his scuba gear and floats through your watch screen. When night arrives he’ll howl at the moon, and when you’re not up to much at all you can find him draped over his iconic red doghouse in a series of panels that are a direct lift from the comics. It all amounts to over 12 minutes of animation work that stemmed from an unexpectedly chaotic tête-à-tête.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the attention to detail that wins out here. I love the decisions about what activities are particularly Snoopy-like and what kind of nose to use for the beagle, which has evolved over the years.

Personally, I’ve been using the Snoopy watchface pretty much full time since installing watchOS 10 back in June and I continue to see new animations. They are, to a one, delightful, and greatly improve my day—I also appreciate that even though the watch face doesn’t have any complications, watchOS 10’s new widget stack makes me feel okay about foregoing them. As I mentioned in my first look at watchOS 10, my mom had a Snoopy watch when I was growing up, and continues to give me a solid nostalgia hit.

—Linked by Dan Moren

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