Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

Support this Site

Become a Six Colors member to read exclusive posts, get our weekly podcast, join our community, and more!

By Jason Snell

1Password 8 for Mac: An upgrade, after all

Last summer 1Password maker AgileBits made the wrong kind of news, when it announced that it was killing its traditional Mac app and replacing it with a new one built with Electron, a development system based on web technologies, on top of a cross-platform code base.

As I wrote back in August:

I think it’s fair to say that most users don’t care about the tools that a developer uses to write the apps we use. But using a system like Electron does have consequences: Electron apps have a reputation for being slow, eating up a lot of system memory, and—perhaps most offensively—failing to behave like proper, “native” apps on whatever platform they operate. Just as there are good and bad Catalyst apps, there are good and bad Electron apps.

It’s been nine months, and 1Password 8 for Mac arrived this week. Since local vaults are no longer supported, it won’t please users who don’t want to use 1Password’s cloud-based password vault system. However, as someone who has been happily subscribed to 1Password and using its cloud vaults with a family plan for a few years now, that wasn’t an issue for me.

The real question is, has AgileBits wrecked its Mac version, or does the new one measure up? Now that it’s out of beta, it’s time to judge.

My judgment is: It’s a good app. In redesigning 1Password, AgileBits has made it feel lighter and more modern. It feels more like a modern Mac app than the old version did. I switched to 1Password 8 when I switched to using a Mac Studio as my primary Mac, so maybe it’s the Apple silicon (specifically the M1 Max) talking, but the app just feels fast. They even went to the trouble of adding a proper Preferences window rather than a fake preferences window that floats inside the existing app window.

1Password’s Quick Access window provides instant access to login information.

But my favorite changes to 1Password come on the integration side. The 1Password Safari extension eliminates a lot of friction when it comes to auto-filling passwords on websites. When it fails, I’ve trained myself to use 1Password’s new Quick Access window, which I can summon with a keystroke and use to quickly choose the right password and fill it or copy it to the clipboard to be pasted into the right field.

Most impressively, 1Password’s Autofill feature now uses macOS Accessibility functionality to autofill logins in apps and in macOS system password prompts. Never again will I need to do a dance back and forth between apps in order to log in to Adobe Creative Suite or Microsoft Office or any other app on my Mac that requires a periodic login. All my passwords are in 1Password; it shouldn’t matter if I’m in a web browser or in an app.

There are still a few places I wish 1Password would extend Autofill. I’m frequently on a remote server and am asked to re-enter my password in order to run a command under sudo privileges. I’d like to be able to use Autofill to type that password directly, but when I try, it mistakenly asks me if I want to update my system password. I can work around this problem by copying the password to the clipboard and then pasting it in, but why take extra steps?

As a recent user of Apple silicon on the desktop, I’m also happy to finally be able to use Touch ID to unlock 1Password, albeit via a Touch ID keyboard velcroed to the underside of my desk. Authenticating 1Password via my Apple Watch was too finicky—I’d frequently do it too soon or too late and mess everything up. Touch ID is much more reliable.

Finally, I’m impressed by 1Password’s new support for SSH keys, which I use to connect to remote servers for command-line sessions or file transfers without the need of a password. That said, I found that 1Password was a bit too intrusive—I was being asked to validate every time I connected to a server in Panic’s Transmit FTP app, for example. I’d like some more granular controls and the ability to have one Touch ID authentication be enough for a lot longer.

Is 1Password for everyone? No. Apple’s built-in password vault is good and getting better. I prefer 1Password for its additional features, most importantly the ability to have shared vaults with members of my family. But as far as being afraid that AgileBits was going to degrade the Mac experience so much that I’d have no choice but to give up on 1Password and find something else to use on the Mac… that’s a non-issue. 1Password 8 doesn’t feel like a downgrade—it feels like an upgrade. As it should.

by Jason Snell

Password-less logins come one step closer

Last year at WWDC Apple detailed its long-term plans to get rid of passwords. It included a preview of a technology called Passkeys in iCloud Keychain in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey. The idea is that you can log in anywhere by authenticating on your device—you don’t have to set passwords at individual sites, and the authentication is cryptographically protected.

That system uses a method approved by the FIDO alliance and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). On Thursday, it took a step forward as Apple, Google, and Microsoft jointly announced plans to use this capability:

The expanded standards-based capabilities will give websites and apps the ability to offer an end-to-end passwordless option. Users will sign in through the same action that they take multiple times each day to unlock their devices, such as a simple verification of their fingerprint or face, or a device PIN. This new approach protects against phishing and sign-in will be radically more secure when compared to passwords and legacy multi-factor technologies such as one-time passcodes sent over SMS.

It will take some time, but it looks like the era of generating unique passwords for every site and using a password manager (or writing them down) may be coming to an end. Good riddance.

—Linked by Jason Snell

We’re sifting through the fallout of Netflix’s trying times, pondering the future of ads on streaming services and trying to identify which shows benefit from binge-watching—and which don’t.

The tech we always travel with, things we hope seem slow in 30 years, Twitter’s new Close Friends feature, and devices we own that we secretly wish would die.

Amazon supports ePub… sort of


Beginning in late 2022, you’ll no longer be able to send MOBI (.AZW, .MOBI) files to your library using Send to Kindle. This change won’t affect any MOBI files already in your Kindle library. MOBI is an older file format and won’t support the newest Kindle features for documents.

For years, Amazon has used the Mobipocket format (.mobi) rather than the ePub format for Kindle books. Recently it developed its own format, KF8 (and now KFX), and has been using that instead. Everyone else uses ePub. Publishers sell books direct as ePubs, but are forced to include .mobi versions for compatibility reasons.

But this is changing. Amazon announced that later this year, its email and drag-and-drop send tools will accept ePub format files. Amazon will then convert those files to KF8 and deliver them to Kindles, but at least the user won’t have to do the job themselves. Progress.

—Linked by Jason Snell

By Jason Snell for Macworld

Webcam settings? What a concept!

You have to admire Apple’s approach to complex technology. The goal, always, is to make it easy, to make it magic, to make it seem effortless. Regular users shouldn’t be burdened by an avalanche of settings and options. Things should just work.

The problem, of course, is that sometimes things don’t just work. “Lean back and enjoy,” Apple tells you. “We got this.” But they don’t have it all the time. And in lots of instances, there isn’t a fix.

The Apple Studio Display, with its perplexing and controversial webcam, dredges up a lot of those feelings of frustration. We can debate the wisdom of putting Center Stage on a display most likely destined for the desks of nerds, but let’s leave that aside. How about the audacity of Apple shipping it without any interface to speak of? And how much better might the camera on the Studio Display have been received if it could be tweaked by its users to produce more pleasing images?

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

by Jason Snell

Tony Fadell: The storytelling of Steve Jobs

Tony Fadell, Nest founder and a key to creating the iPod, has a new book out and Fast Company has a very interesting excerpt in which he details what he learned from Steve Jobs about communicating tech products to consumers:

He used a technique I later came to call the virus of doubt. It’s a way to get into people’s heads, remind them about a daily frustration, get them annoyed about it all over again. If you can infect them with the virus of doubt—”Maybe my experience isn’t as good as I thought, maybe it could be better”—then you prime them for your solution. You get them angry about how it works now so they can get excited about a new way of doing things.

Steve was a master of this. Before he told you what a product did, he always took the time to explain why you needed it. And he made it all look so natural, so easy.

There are a lot of things Steve Jobs probably gets a little too much credit for. Being a master communicator is not one of them, but he really was one.

—Linked by Jason Snell

This week we check in on Studio Display firmware, ponder what form the iPhone 14 might take and whether it’s different enough from the iPhone 13, and break down the results of Apple’s record fiscal quarter—including some trepidation about the future. Also, Myke finally got his Playdate!

By Dan Moren for Macworld

Apple’s latest moves show how much–and how little–it is willing to change

Apple seems, in general, to have weaponized the idea of institutional stubbornness. This is the company that refused to license its operating system to PC makers back in the 1980s and 1990s, insisted on making a smartphone, and launched yet another streaming service. There’s something in the company’s DNA—probably handed down in part from late co-founder Steve Jobs—that promulgates the idea that there are two ways to do things: an Apple way and a wrong way. It’s one of the traits that often makes it most infuriating to its biggest detractors.

But that doesn’t mean that Apple won’t change course when needs suit. Despite its insistence on doing things its own way, the company has over the past several years made more than a few changes that even its closest observers might have judged unlikely at best. There are always reasons behind these decisions, of course, and they’re hardly devoid of self-interest, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t, somewhere deep down, an acknowledgment that maybe, just maybe, the Apple way can evolve.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

By Dan Moren

The Back Page: Tim Cook, now with absolute candor

Tim Cook
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Luca: …and with that, let’s open the call to questions.

Operator: Our first question comes from Jan Key from Key Blur Financial. Go ahead.

Jan: Thanks for taking my question. Tim, you said that you’re facing a lot of headwinds in the next quarter. Can you talk about what impact that might have on gross margin?

Tim: Jan, this is Tim. You know we don’t provide specific guidance for gross margin. But what I can tell you is: yes, we expect to lose exactly 200 basis points in the next quarter, dropping our gross margins to about 33 percent.

Jan: … Uh. What?

Tim: 33 percent. That’s 5 percent less than this quarter. Not great, if you ask me.

Jan: That is very specific.

Tim: You’re welcome.

Jan: And you’re not concerned about that?

Tim: Of course I’m concerned.…

This is a post limited to Six Colors members.

Guidance, webcams, and wordplay

Apple’s financial results show complications ahead, Jason installed some beta display firmware, and you probably shouldn’t do word games when your brain’s half asleep.

Become a member (members, sign in) to listen to this podcast and get more benefits.

By Jason Snell for Macworld

Apple’s future is suddenly freight–er fraught with peril

Things are going great. Everything is awesome. Apple posted another record quarter, this time the company’s biggest second fiscal quarter, with $97.3 billion in revenue. Almost every product category showed growth.

And yet, despite all the great numbers, I sense a disturbance in the force. The analysts of Apple’s quarterly conference call to discuss its results felt it, too. Thus far, through unprecedented global instability, Apple has managed to keep on keeping on. But can it continue floating above it all, or is it about to face hard times?

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

By Jason Snell

This is Tim: Q2 2022 financial call transcript

Tim Cook

Every quarter, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Apple CFO Luca Maestri make statements and take questions from financial analysts on a conference call. This is the transcript of the call for April 28, 2022.

Continue reading “This is Tim: Q2 2022 financial call transcript”…

By Jason Snell

Apple Q2 2022 results: A record $97 billion quarter

On Thursday, Apple announced its results for the second quarter of its 2022 fiscal year. It was a March quarter record of $97.3 billion in revenue, with all-time quarterly records for iPhone, Mac, and Wearables sales.

Total Apple revenue

We discussed all the results on our YouTube channel:

And here are the charts:

Continue reading “Apple Q2 2022 results: A record $97 billion quarter”…

By Jason Snell

Knotwords offers crossword puzzles… without clues

One of my very favorite game developers, Zach Gage, is back with a new one. Knotwords, by Gage and Jack Schlesinger, is a crossword-puzzle style game with a twist: instead of filling the puzzle via clues, you have to fill various regions of the board with a limited selection of letters.

It’s a logic puzzle involving getting the right words to fit in all the right places. There’s also a second type of puzzle, Twist, which also limits the number of vowels you can use in each row and column, giving you clues—but also limiting your options. There are new puzzles every day in both normal and Twist formats, as well as monthly puzzlebooks that you can complete.

I’ve been playing Knotwords for more than a week, and it’s fantastic. It’s become a daily habit, and if you like crosswords and Wordle and similar types of puzzles, you’ll love it. Knotwords is free, but the Twist puzzles, access to 30 extra monthly puzzlebook puzzles, statistics, access to archived puzzles, and customization options are all locked behind a single in-app purchase. It’s $4.99 a year or $11.99 to unlock everything forever.

I was able to ask Gage a few questions about what inspired Knotwords and how he approaches building games like this. Here’s that interview:

Continue reading “Knotwords offers crossword puzzles… without clues”…

By Jason Snell

Step one in Apple’s sports strategy

Over the years, all sorts of entities have purchased the television rights to sporting events at prices that don’t make sense, at least if you’re expecting them to turn a profit directly from the sporting events themselves. Fox famously overpaid for NFL rights to establish itself as a network; regional cable networks have overpaid for exclusive local baseball TV rights to keep fans from cutting the cord.

So when Apple signed on with MLB to air Friday Night Baseball, the question should probably not have been, “How does Apple intend to profit enough from selling ads and new subscriptions to make its investment profitable?” It should have been, “What is Apple trying to achieve more broadly by spending money on live sports like baseball?”

There are lots of possibilities. Maybe it’s purely brand recognition for Apple TV+—baseball helps Apple reach a new audience that might never have considered the service before. Maybe it’s about pumping up the value of Apple’s service and bundles for existing subscribers so that they don’t churn. Maybe it’s about building a new sports-focused service as an add-on for TV+. Maybe Tim Cook has Friday nights free and wishes there were better baseball games on TV.

One of my favorite theories comes from Charlie Chapman, who suggests that it’s free promotion for Apple TV+ as, market by market, local news outlets has to explain what Apple TV+ is and how fans can get it to watch their team on Friday night.

I like it. And a similar idea occurred to me: What if Apple started buying up sports rights to increase the addressable market for Apple TV+ by prompting fans to upgrade their equipment?

Sure, for many of us on the cutting edge of tech, Apple TV+ seems to be available just about everywhere. Not just Apple TV boxes but Amazon and Roku devices, not to mention just about every relatively recent smart TV out there. But the truth is, many people don’t have a device that’s capable of viewing Apple TV+. And many of the people who do, have no idea that they do!

It’s also a matter of priorities. My friend Greg, who is one of the most technically adept people I have ever met, told me that he would have to watch the Dodgers on Friday Night Baseball on a computer because his TV couldn’t stream Apple TV+. Not everybody rushes out to buy a smart TV or a streamer box. I get it.

Fortunately, the inability to put a baseball game (or, perhaps next year, NFL Sunday Ticket) on a TV set is easily solved. You can pick up a compatible device from Roku or Amazon for about $30. And once you do, you’re now part of the potential universe for Apple TV+. And if your current TV or streamer box has support for Apple TV+, maybe you’ll go to the trouble of figuring that out to watch your favorite team.

It may not sound like a lot, but every little bit helps.

Apple’s not alone in this. Amazon is broadcasting exclusive NFL games this fall, potentially even on Black Friday. Like Apple, Amazon’s motivation in spending money on sports rights for Prime Video is not about a direct payback. Needing to watch a favorite team is a great reason to buy a streaming stick.

Sure, creating great programming is one way to build your service. But even the very best-reviewed movies and TV shows compete with an avalanche of other programs on other services. If you’re a fan of a sport or a particular team, though, you will want to go where your team goes. There’s a lot of leverage there, and the streaming giants know it.

Step one is to give them a reason to start streaming. Step two is for them to give it a try. Step three… profit?

Search Six Colors