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#1638: Eliminate Apple Pay and Google Hangouts annoyances, give Affinity V2 a try, join TidBITS!

We’re looking forward to new publishing initiatives in 2023—will you join over 3600 other TidBITS members in helping us develop new approaches to sharing practical Apple content? Are you irritated by the badge left on your Settings app if you didn’t set up Apple Pay? Or have you started getting a Google Hangouts dialog that announces the required migration to Google Chat? We unintentionally ended up with a pair of articles about how to solve those usability annoyances. Adam Engst also shares his long and increasingly dysfunctional history with Adobe Creative Cloud en route to recommending that anyone in a similar situation check out Serif’s suite of Affinity Publisher, Affinity Designer, and Affinity Photo, which currently costs less than two months of Creative Cloud. Notable Mac app releases this week include Agenda 16.1; Mimestream 0.40.1; Airfoil 5.11.3, Piezo 1.7.11, and Audio Hijack 4.0.6; Default Folder X 5.7.2; BusyCal 2022.4.6; and Carbon Copy Cloner 6.1.4.

Adam Engst 3 comments

Help TidBITS Evolve in 2023 by Becoming a Member

Now that we’ve entered the home stretch of the year, many readers will be receiving TidBITS membership renewal notices in email. If you’re among them, thanks in advance for renewing—we rely on your continued support! If you have trouble, contact Lauri Reinhardt at [email protected] for help. Since TidBITS memberships run on a rolling annual basis, if you don’t get a renewal reminder, it’s likely because you joined at some other time of year. You can check your membership expiration date on your account page; if it’s blank, your membership automatically renews.

Normally, this is where I’d explain the importance of the TidBITS membership program in paying for Josh Centers and regular contributors like Agen Schmitz, Glenn Fleishman, Julio Ojeda-Zapata, and Michael Cohen, along with Web hosting, email distribution, and ongoing maintenance. Most of that is still true, but things are a bit different this year, as you read in “Josh Centers: So Long and Thanks for All the Fish” (14 November 2022).

Josh’s leaving was very much a mutual decision because we both found ourselves looking for a way to get off the news treadmill. For him, that was a new job; for me, it’s the opportunity to experiment with new approaches to content and infrastructure.

To step back briefly, my goal with TidBITS is to help you, the person behind the personal computer, use technology more effectively. When I collaborate with non-technical people, I’m often distressed at how inefficiently they work, their weak tech skills, and their lack of an understanding of how technology intersects with the world. TidBITS will never reach those people, and I can guide only a few personally, but if the tens of thousands of TidBITS readers can help those around them with their technology, the world will become a better place.

So I’m looking for new ways beyond our traditional articles to help you learn and retain more, both to aid you directly in your work and in the hope that you’ll be able to leverage that information and knowledge to raise the overall level of tech fluency of those near you. I honestly don’t know what these initiatives will look like yet, but I’m pondering possibilities that increase information stickiness by being more interactive and engaging. And frankly, I want what we create to be more fun, both for me to make and for you to consume.

All this is by way of explaining why the TidBITS membership program remains essential for funding our operations. The necessary software and development effort won’t be cheap, and additional resources may be required for production and hosting. More prosaically, without Josh, I’ll be doing more writing and will need to farm out more editing to other TidBITS regulars.

So if you aren’t yet part of the TidBITS membership program, would you consider joining the more than 3600 readers who help keep TidBITS running and growing?

A TidBITS membership comes with a few special perks:

  • Discounts of 15% to 50% on 90+ Mac products worth over $1100
  • A 30% discount on all Take Control books
  • The option to receive new articles in email as they’re published
  • A full-text RSS feed (non-members get a summary-only feed)
  • A version of the TidBITS Web site free of paid banner ads
  • Optional acknowledgment on our public TidBITS Members page

Be sure to scroll through our Membership Benefits page, which lists all the Mac apps on which members receive discounts. You’ll find essential apps we use and recommend, like 1Password, Audio Hijack, ChronoSync, Default Folder X, DEVONthink, Keyboard Maestro, KeyCue, LaunchBar, Nisus Writer Pro, PopChar X, Scrivener, SpamSieve, TextExpander, and more. (Contact me if you’d like to add your company’s product to the list.)

TidBITS Membership benefits examples

You can choose from different levels of support—$20, $50, $100, or $1000—or set your own monthly or yearly amount. There’s also a Boost TidBITS button at the bottom of that page if you want to use PayPal or make an extra out-of-cycle donation. The membership perks are the same at each level, with one exception: the $1000 TidBITS Angel level is a lifetime membership that includes dinner with Tonya and me if you’re in Ithaca or we’re in your city. Special thanks to those who joined at the TidBITS Angel level in 2022!

So if you find TidBITS content valuable, want to support our efforts going forward, or have received personal help from one of us simply because you asked, please become a TidBITS member. You’ll have our undying gratitude and can bask in the good feeling that every article you read in 2023 was made possible in part by your generosity. Thank you!

Adam Engst 7 comments

Get Rid of the Apple Pay Setup Badge on Settings

I love Apple Pay, particularly on my Apple Watch. I still get a thrill every time I double-press the Apple Watch’s side button and rotate my wrist to touch a checkout terminal. And when I was recently employing a Square Terminal to sell T-shirts for the Finger Lakes Runners Club at the annual Ithaca Turkey Trot, I tremendously enjoyed having people use Apple Pay on their iPhones.

But I seldom use Apple Pay for online purchases. I rarely make Web purchases using my iPhone, my iPad solves no problems for me beyond testing, and I prefer Brave to Safari on the Mac. No harm, no foul, and I’m sure lots of you have radically different usage patterns.

However, if you’re like me and haven’t set up Apple Pay on your iPad, you might be bothered by the way iPadOS badges the Settings app and constantly reminds you to finish setting up your iPad. I expect that succumbing to iPadOS’s demands and setting up Apple Pay would work, but being nagged triggers my rebellious streak, so I wanted to see if there was a way to eliminate both the badge and reminder without setting up Apple Pay. After all, there may be scenarios where setting up Apple Pay is inappropriate, such as on an iPad that a child frequently uses.

Luckily, there’s a fix that’s simple, if unintuitive. In Settings, tap the Finish Setting Up Your iPad reminder, and then tap Set Up Apple Pay at the right. No, you’re not going to go through with the setup.

Apple Pay nag in Finish Setting Up Your iPad

On the Apple Pay setup screen that appears, tap either Cancel or Set Up Later in Settings. Both seem to work, though I’ve had a chance to tap each only once on the iPads I had available.

Apple Pay setup splash screen

As soon as you cancel out of the Apple Pay setup screen, the Finish Setting Up Your iPad reminder disappears, along with its red badge on the Settings app icon.

I realize this is a minor complaint, but it has been bothering me for ages. Every time I’d check to see what I had to do to make the badge go away, I’d get to the point where it wanted me to set up Apple Pay, which I didn’t want to do, so I would just back out and suffer with the badge for longer.

Ideally, Apple would change the Finish Setting Up Your iPad screen to include both Set Up Apple Pay and, as the company does with its Apple Arcade offer, an option to Decline or Set Up Later in Settings.

Apple Arcade offer's Decline option

I’ve submitted this suggestion as feedback to Apple; we’ll see if it’s ever implemented. In the meantime, now you know how to tell iPadOS that you don’t need that stinking badge.

Adam Engst 4 comments

How to Eliminate the Google Hangouts Migration Dialog

For the last few weeks, whenever I launch Brave, my primary Web browser, I’ve been getting a dialog from Google Hangouts, alerting me that Google has replaced Hangouts with Google Chat. This isn’t news—Google first mentioned this would happen in an October 2020 announcement and provided more details in a June 2022 post. And, of course, the dialog provides a Learn More link for additional details. Moving to Google Chat isn’t the problem—I’ve been using it for some time now with the one person in my extended network who doesn’t use iMessage, SMS, or Slack.

Google Hangouts migration to Google Chat dialog

The problem is that nowhere does Google say how to stop getting this migration dialog. Complicating the issue is that Hangouts is from Google, so it could be something special and may have migrated to Brave when I switched from Chrome years ago.

Because Google Hangouts puts an icon in my menu bar, my first guess was that it was a Progressive Web Application so it could provide additional local functionality. Since I know little about PWAs, I went spelunking through my drive and found a Brave Browser Apps folder and a Chrome Apps folder in my Home folder’s Applications folder. Unfortunately, although there was a “Hangouts call” app in the Chrome Apps folder, the Brave Browser Apps folder contained only an Authy app. So, even though I didn’t fully understand what the “Hangouts call” app could be in the context of Chrome, I could tell it wasn’t associated with Brave.

After some fruitless searches hampered by the need to use generic keywords, I found a page about installing the Google Chat standalone app. It gave me a link to another Google support page about Progressive Web Applications, which in turn revealed that typing chrome://apps (which redirects to brave://apps in Brave) in the address bar would show the installed PWA apps. Alas, it showed that the only PWA I had installed was Google Drive, making me even more confused about the Authy app in ~/Applications/Brave Browser Apps. (And no, the “Hangouts call” app didn’t show up when I loaded that page in Chrome either. Whatever.)

Additional searches failed to turn up any useful information about how to prevent this migration dialog from appearing, but on a hunch, I chose Window > Extension in Brave to see what Chrome extensions I had installed. I knew a Google Hangouts extension wasn’t showing in my Brave toolbar, but it wasn’t unthinkable that I had the extension installed and active but not pinned to the toolbar. That was indeed the case, and once I removed the Google Hangouts extension, a quick relaunch of Brave confirmed that the dialog was finally retired.

Removing the Google Hangouts Chrome extension

So if you find yourself in this situation, remove the Google Hangouts extension from Chrome, Brave, Microsoft Edge, or whatever Chromium-based browser you use.

I’m a little annoyed with myself for how long it took me to solve this problem, but it’s a classic example of developers failing to put themselves in their users’ shoes. It was entirely reasonable to present the migration dialog to ensure that users are aware of the switch to Google Chat, but either the dialog or Google’s Learn about the switch from Google Hangouts to Google Chat page should have mentioned removing the Google Hangouts extension. I’ve left feedback about the omission on that page; we’ll see if Google improves it by adding those details.

Adam Engst 65 comments

Consider Switching from Creative Cloud to Affinity V2

Earlier this year, I stopped subscribing to Adobe Creative Cloud, saving myself $54 per month. I had no particular complaints about the software, nor did I have any troubles with Adobe. The decision was purely financial—$54 per month works out to nearly $650 per year, which was far too much for the value I derived from InDesign, Illustrator, Acrobat Pro, and Photoshop, without even considering the other 15 or so Creative Cloud apps that I never installed.

Things had changed. I first purchased Adobe InDesign in 2003 to write iPhoto 2: Visual QuickStart Guide for Peachpit Press, switching from QuarkXPress because of the move to Mac OS X. I then used InDesign to write and edit at least 14 books over the next few years. I got pretty good with InDesign and enjoyed using it.

After the Take Control-related books we published with Peachpit around 2007, my reliance on InDesign fell off. Acrobat Pro remained essential for Take Control’s workflow through 2017, and in 2016, I started using InDesign and Illustrator to create posters, sign-up sheets, and similar print collateral for the Finger Lakes Runners Club. My fingers remembered InDesign’s keyboard modifiers and shortcuts from nearly a decade earlier, and I enjoyed setting up proper documents with carefully designed master pages, character and paragraph styles, and more. And while my abilities with Illustrator are minimal at best (Photoshop completely confounds me), I appreciated being able to use it to collaborate more fluidly with designers and production systems. The price was high, but I felt it was worthwhile for the print work I was doing and to maintain my familiarity with that part of the industry.

By 2020, however, the running club was producing fewer print pieces—everything had moved online—and that $54 per month was starting to grate. Entire months would go by without me even launching one of the Adobe Creative Cloud apps. I was unenthused about the time and effort involved in learning another app and redoing my moderately complex documents, so I kept subscribing despite my increasingly dysfunctional relationship with Adobe’s suite.

The event that started to dissolve Adobe’s grip was a sale that Serif, makers of the so-called “Affinity trinity” of Affinity Publisher, Affinity Designer, and Affinity Photo, held during the early days of the pandemic. I had played with the beta of Affinity Publisher when it first came out in 2019, and while promising, it was too rough and didn’t compare sufficiently favorably with InDesign. For $25, I figured it was worth a shot to give the release version of Affinity Publisher a try, and I also decided to pick up Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo for another $50.

Between the pandemic and being busy with other things, I didn’t use the apps that much right away, and it wasn’t until I needed to do more print pieces in 2021 that I dove in. Even as I built new documents in Affinity Publisher and discovered that I could export my InDesign files to IDML and open them in Affinity Publisher, I kept subscribing to Creative Cloud, just in case. Did I mention that the relationship was dysfunctional? Finally, in April 2022, I went on a conversion spree, exporting all my InDesign documents to IDML even when I didn’t anticipate using them again. Affinity Designer could open all my Illustrator files with no further fiddling, so that was all set too. Then I canceled Creative Cloud. Phew!

I’m embarrassed that I haven’t written much about the Affinity suite before, partly because I can’t believe I kept subscribing to Creative Cloud for so long and partly because I feel like a bit of an imposter. I may know how to do document setup and page layout in InDesign and Affinity Publisher, but I’m a fluent user, not a graphic designer who does this for a living. Similarly, while I can monkey around in Illustrator and Affinity Designer, my skills are weak. As with Photoshop, I seldom even launch Affinity Photo, and whenever I need image manipulation features, I immediately resort to searching for tutorials. Most of the time, I still fail to accomplish whatever I’m trying to do, but that’s on me, not Affinity Photo or Photoshop.

Along with feeling generally inadequate to review the Affinity apps, I was also aware that they’re sufficiently deep and powerful that it would be impossible to predict whether my needs match yours. Multi-chapter books in Affinity Publisher with exports to PDF and EPUB? I have no idea how one would set them up—I don’t do that sort of production anymore. Database-driven publishing? Affinity Publisher can merge data into a document, and I did it once, but are there gotchas if that’s what you do every day? I don’t know. And I can’t even begin to guess how you might use Illustrator and Photoshop and if you could replicate those tasks in Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo.

So, apart from a little public therapy session, why am I writing about the Affinity apps now? Serif just released version 2 of all three apps, and while there’s no upgrade pricing, the company is having a V2 launch sale through 14 December 2022. The 40% discount drops the price of any one of the apps to $40.99 (the list price is now $69.99), and a new Universal License gets you all three apps for macOS, iPadOS, and Windows for $99.99. That’s a one-time charge and still costs less than 2 months of Creative Cloud. Serif also offers multi-user business licenses and educational licenses.

Although I’ve been happy with the current 1.x versions of the Affinity apps, I’ve just purchased the Universal License to get the V2 apps. Although I have no plans to write another book in the near future, Affinity Publisher 2 now lets you combine separate documents as chapters. Styles sync between chapters, page numbers count up properly, and you can build a unified table of contents and index using the individual files. Affinity Publisher 2 also supports footnotes, endnotes, and sidenotes.

All this is by way of saying that if you are paying Adobe monthly for apps that you don’t use sufficiently, like I was, I encourage you to give the Affinity V2 apps a try. For my purposes, they were entirely adequate replacements for InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop, and maybe they would be for you as well. For $99.99 or less, it’s worth giving the Affinity alternatives a try. I could have saved many hundreds of dollars by switching sooner.


Agenda 16.1 Agen Schmitz No comments

Agenda 16.1

Momenta has issued version 16.1 of its Agenda date-focused note-taking app with new features, improvements, and bug fixes. The release adds Get Note Summary and Get Selected Text app shortcuts; adds a Paste As menu item with options to paste text with or without formatting; converts tabular data pasted from Excel, Google Sheets, and Numbers into tables; maintains pasted lists and attributes from pasted HTML; improves behavior with emojis and multi-byte Unicode characters; enables the display of multiple full-width images next to each other when there’s sufficient space; resolves an issue where editing a tag could delete extra words or spaces; ensures that keyboard shortcuts for moving a note to the beginning or end work; and fixes a bug that caused sync to get stuck. (Free with $24.99 in-app premium feature purchase, free update, 69.6 MB, release notes, macOS 10.14+)

Mimestream 0.40.1 Agen Schmitz 1 comment

Mimestream 0.40.1

Mimestream released beta version 0.40 of its native macOS client for Gmail with calendar banner support for joining Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Skype events with a single click. The update also added the capability to show colors for system labels in quick-open and contextual menus, resolved a crash when adding a sender to contacts in macOS 13 Ventura, fixed a bug that prevented the dropping of zipped files on the dock icon from working, and addressed a problem that caused an incorrect calendar banner date for certain invitations. Mimestream followed this up with version 0.40.1, which re-enables the Labs Snooze feature, ensures the Go menu updates when accounts are disabled, and fixes a bug that prevented deleted duplicated mentions from removing the recipient. (Free during beta, 11.8 MB, release notes, macOS 11+)

Airfoil 5.11.3, Piezo 1.7.11, and Audio Hijack 4.0.6 Agen Schmitz No comments

Airfoil 5.11.3, Piezo 1.7.11, and Audio Hijack 4.0.6

Rogue Amoeba has added full compatibility with macOS 13 Ventura to Airfoil 5.11.3 (wireless audio broadcasting), Piezo 1.7.11 (simple audio recording), and Audio Hijack 4.0.6 (full-featured audio recording). The three apps also update the Audio Capture Engine to version 11.9.1 with several small bug fixes for improved performance and rename the Preferences window to Settings. Additionally, Airfoil and Audio Hijack receive a new Background Sound special source that enables you to adjust audio from the Background Sound feature in the Accessibility System Settings. Audio Hijack also ensures that audio device presets from older versions of Audio Hijack 3 are imported properly. If you’re a TidBITS member, you can purchase Piezo, Airfoil, and Audio Hijack at a 20% discount. (Airfoil, $35, 45.2 MB, release notes; Piezo, $25, 24.4 MB, release notes; Audio Hijack, $64, 35.7 MB, release notes; all three are free updates and require macOS 10.15+)

Default Folder X 5.7.2 Agen Schmitz No comments

Default Folder X 5.7.2

St. Clair Software has released Default Folder X 5.7.2, ensuring the drawer in the Finder works correctly with Stage Manager in macOS 13 Ventura. When Stage Manager has hidden the Finder’s windows, Default Folder X’s Finder-click feature now enables you to click them as if they aren’t hidden. The Open/Save dialog enhancement utility also improves the handling of file and folder alias names that contain a slash character, corrects display inconsistencies in Default Folder X > Settings > Shortcuts, and fixes a privacy permissions bug in 10.15 Catalina. ($34.95 new, TidBITS members save $10 on new copies and $5 on upgrades, in Setapp, 13.7 MB, release notes, macOS 10.13+)

BusyCal 2022.4.6 Agen Schmitz No comments

BusyCal 2022.4.6

BusyMac released BusyCal 2022.4.5 during Thanksgiving week with a few new features as well as improvements and bug fixes for the calendar app. BusyCal can now display up to 31 days in Week view (useful as an overview for project managers), shows five recently used calendars in the Calendar picker menus, adds a new print option that omits month names in the date cell, improves the Menu app to show both start and end times for events, improves syncing of colored events from CalDAV servers, updates the Todoist integration with the latest sync requirements, and fixes a bug where printing multiple months would occasionally filter out some events or tasks.

The company subsequently issued version 2022.4.6 to fix a bug that caused the menu alarm extension to quit unexpectedly, resolve a display glitch in the Info Panel when showing a countdown, and no longer display recently used calendars when there are less than 15 calendars in total. ($49.99 new from BusyMac or the Mac App Store, free update, in Setapp, 56.6 MB, release notes, macOS 10.13+)

Carbon Copy Cloner 6.1.4 Agen Schmitz No comments

Carbon Copy Cloner 6.1.4

Bombich Software has issued Carbon Copy Cloner 6.1.4, preserving the space savings of pure “cloned” files when copying from an APFS volume to another APFS volume. The drive cloning and backup utility also preserves the Date Added attribute on files and folders on supported filesystems, no longer raises concerns about dropped cloud-only placeholder files, improves the handling of errors when free space is depleted on the destination volume, reworks the Command+R keyboard shortcut to also work for starting a task group, fixes an edge case in macOS 13 Ventura that would cause the Legacy Bootable Copy method to fail, and resolves an issue with preflight mounting and ownership enabling on Remote Mac destination volumes in Ventura. ($39.99 new, free update, 22.7 MB, release notes, macOS 10.15+)


Adam Engst 11 comments

1Password Previews Prospective Passkey Plans

From 1Password:

Imagine being able to get things done online without passwords getting in the way. Passkeys unlock a new, simpler approach to signing in that works wherever you do – across any device, anywhere in the world. Passkeys are coming to 1Password in early 2023, but we’re excited to share an early look with you today.

For those pining for passkeys—the promised proxy for passwords—1Password has published a page profiling plans for our passwordless future. The preview presents a peek at how you’ll be in a position to use passkeys in 1Password to create and log in to accounts, propped up with a pretend PassParcel demo that requires the 1Password Chrome extension. 1Password pledges to proceed past particular platforms with support for multiple devices, multiple platforms, cross-platform sync, passkey sharing, and data portability. Potentially persuasive, but the proof will be in the pudding once more publishers put passkeys into practice.

PassParcel demo


Adam Engst 2 comments

Oceanic+ App Turns the Apple Watch Ultra into a Dive Computer

From the Apple Newsroom:

Today, the Oceanic+ app comes to Apple Watch Ultra, turning Apple’s most rugged watch into a fully capable, easy-to-use dive computer. Designed by Huish Outdoors in collaboration with Apple, Oceanic+ enables recreational scuba divers to take the watch they wear every day to previously unreachable depths — up to 40 meters, or 130 feet, to be exact — with the all-new depth gauge and water temperature sensors on Apple Watch Ultra.

The Oceanic+ app on Apple Watch Ultra and the companion app for iPhone provide all of the key features of an advanced dive computer, robust dive planning, and a comprehensive post-dive experience.

The Oceanic+ app is free, but for decompression tracking, tissue loading, the location planner, and an unlimited logbook capacity, it’s $9.99 per month, $79.99 per year, or $129 per year for Family Sharing. Prudence would suggest testing the Oceanic+ app and Apple Watch Ultra against your current dive computer before switching. If you try Apple’s solution, please report back on how it stacks up. (We’ll stick to snorkeling, followed by fruity rum drinks on the beach.)

Adam Engst 20 comments

Eufy Home Security Cameras Caught Uploading Footage to the Cloud

Writing in the context of home security cameras from Anker’s Eufy brand, Sean Hollister of The Verge notes:

Eufy’s commitment to privacy is remarkable: it promises your data will be stored locally, that it “never leaves the safety of your home,” that its footage only gets transmitted with “end-to-end” military-grade encryption, and that it will only send that footage “straight to your phone.”

So you can imagine our surprise to learn you can stream video from a Eufy camera, from the other side of the country, with no encryption at all.

Anker’s denial that its security cameras make their footage available via the Internet in unencrypted form is just the start of this twisted tale of security ineptitude. In “Wyze Labs Discontinues First-Generation Security Camera” (1 February 2022), Josh Centers briefly recommended the Eufy Security Solo camera because it’s HomeKit-compatible—we can hope that HomeKit prevents such unauthorized access. I’d be hesitant to use any Eufy device that records personal information until Anker fixes the problems and independent security researchers confirm that data isn’t being exposed.