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#1711: Apple Intelligence examined, Apple ID to become Apple Account, block SMS text spam, Apple Pay Later discontinued

This week’s feature article examines Apple Intelligence, the collection of AI-based features the company unveiled at WWDC and plans to roll out slowly throughout the next year. We also look at Apple’s quiet announcement that it will be renaming Apple ID to Apple Account, a minor change that will nevertheless drive tech writers to distraction. David Shayer rejoins TidBITS to share his eventual solution to an out-of-control SMS text spam problem: Nomorobo. Finally, we briefly acknowledge Apple’s discontinuation of the Apple Pay Later service. Notable Mac app releases this week include 1Password 8.10.34, Arc 1.47, BusyCal 2024.2.5, Little Snitch 6.0.1, and Zoom Workplace 6.1.

Adam Engst 32 comments

Apple ID to Be Renamed to Apple Account, Disrupting Independent Documentation

Apple buried this note at the end of a press release touting new features coming to Apple services later this year:

With the releases of iOS 18, iPadOS 18, macOS Sequoia, and watchOS 11, Apple ID is renamed to Apple Account for a consistent sign-in experience across Apple services and devices, and relies on a user’s existing credentials.

Apple Account versus Apple ID feels like a distinction without a difference for most people, and I’m unaware of inconsistent usage on Apple’s part at the moment. The main awkwardness that remains is iCloud, which one might expect to have its own credentials but instead relies on your Apple ID.

Those who already understand what an Apple ID is probably won’t be confused by the change—the words are sufficiently similar. (Apparently, it’s not uncommon for consultants to work with people who have no idea what to enter when prompted for an Apple ID password, and changing the name to Apple Account won’t help that. Having separate passwords for Mac logins and Apple IDs also throws people.)

Take Control publisher Joe Kissell pointed out in a conversation that Apple ID and Apple Account aren’t precisely parallel, since an Apple ID was primarily an identifier—it’s an email address—whereas an Apple Account would have both a username and a password.

The real problem comes when tech writers document features across multiple versions of Apple’s operating systems. We’ll probably use both terms for a while before slowly standardizing on the new term. Blame Apple if you see awkward sentences like “Continuity features require that you be logged into the same Apple Account (Apple ID in pre-2024 operating systems).” Or maybe writers will compress further to “Continuity features require that you be logged into the same Apple Account/ID.”

Annoyingly, Apple’s own documentation efforts won’t suffer as much because the company publishes different versions of the same support article for each operating system version (see “Apple Launches Documentation Site for Manuals, Specs, and Downloads,” 25 March 2024).

David Shayer 31 comments

Block SMS Text Spam with Nomorobo

Have you been getting more SMS spam? If not, count yourself lucky, because my SMS spam load has gone through the roof recently. Apple’s built-in option to filter unknown senders did what it promised but forced me to sort through all the texts from unknown senders for legitimate messages. I tried several SMS spam filters, none of which caught much of anything. Eventually, I settled on the longstanding call-protection service Nomorobo, which reined in the problem.

Nomorobo splash screen

Spam Keeps Evolving

Years ago, email spam was a huge problem. There was an escalating war between spammers and spam filters. Eventually, spam filter technology won. Although email spam is still a thing, the vast majority of it is automatically filtered away. The main reason I use Gmail is its exemplary spam filtering. Those whose email provider isn’t as good as Gmail can eliminate most spam with C-Command Software’s venerable SpamSieve.

Then phone spam appeared. I received so many calls from telemarketers trying to sell me car warranties that I stopped answering calls from numbers I didn’t recognize. Just as it seemed hopeless, Apple added the Silence Unknown Callers option (Settings > Phone > Silence Unknown Callers). Now calls from anyone not in my Contacts go straight to voicemail. Most spammers no longer leave voicemail; presumably, it’s ineffective for whatever scam they’re running. When a real person leaves me a voicemail, like my dentist confirming an appointment, I add that number to Contacts so they ring through the next time.

Silence Unknown Callers

The latest spam frontier is SMS text spam. I used to receive a few spam texts, but now I may get a dozen a day. I get texts that an Amazon package I never ordered can’t be delivered unless I click “amazon.scam.com/pkg/8675309” and sign in with my Amazon password. I get texts from “Jenny” asking, “Do you want some fun tonight?” But mostly I get texts from politicians asking for money. Somehow I’ve ended up on the lists for both US political parties. As the US election season heats up, the political spam is only getting worse.

Simple Solutions That Didn’t Work

First, I figured I’d try Apple’s built-in filtering. I turned on Settings > Messages > Filter Unknown Senders. That gives Messages a Filters link at the top left of the screen; tapping it reveals a list of filters that separate messages into Known Senders and Unknown Senders. Texts from numbers not in my Contacts appear in Unknown Senders, which sounds positive but proves relatively ineffective. The problem is that I still have to look through the Unknown Senders list for DoorDash orders, Uber confirmations, and two-factor authentication codes from numerous sites. Worse, some political spam texts appeared in Known Senders even though I don’t have contacts for them.

Filter Unknown Senders and effect on Messages

Next, I tried blocking the phone numbers from which the spam texts originate. But each message comes from a unique number, presumably spoofed in many cases, which is easy to do. (I never tried replying to the actual scams.) I quickly accumulated hundreds of blocked numbers on my iPhone, but there was no reduction in spam texts.

For a while, I was religious about deleting spam texts and tapping Delete and Report Junk, but that doesn’t seem to do anything. After months of reporting junk, I didn’t notice any reduction in spam. I gather that reporting SMS text messages like this sends them to your carrier (you can also forward the messages to 7726), which can use the information to block similar spam texts. If the carriers actually do this, it’s ineffective. With messages sent via iMessage, reporting them sends the information to Apple. I don’t know anyone in the appropriate group at Apple, but other contacts in the company say they believe Apple uses the reports to help detect and revoke spammer accounts with enough reports.

Block caller and Report Junk texts

Some texts claim you can opt out by replying STOP, but I was reluctant to try this in many cases because it would confirm to a scammer that my number was live, possibly leading to even more text spam. Replying with STOP does work with political spam, but only with that particular candidate, so fighting political text spam becomes a game of Whac-A-Mole. Silence one candidate, and another pops up. (They’re not even local!)

SMS Spam Filtering Apps

Surely there’s an app for that. Next, I decided to try text spam filters. There are a bunch in the App Store that use Apple’s official SMS and MMS Message Filtering API. Most of these filter apps require a subscription.

You install all these products similarly because they use Apple’s API. Once you’ve downloaded one of these apps, go to Settings > Messages > Unknown & Spam, turn on Filter Unknown Senders, and select your SMS filtering app.

Enabling Nomorobo

When you install a filtering app, the list of filters in Messages on your iPhone expands to include Transactions, Promotions, and Junk. If you have an iPad, Messages shows the same categories, and the messages are synced to them via iCloud Messages, which can sometimes stall for a few hours. The macOS version of Messages displays only the Known Senders and Unknown Senders lists in its View menu; messages filtered to the other groups are unavailable.

Nomorobo changes to Messages on iPhone but not on Mac

My testing was rather unscientific since I was primarily interested in solving my immediate problem. I used each spam filter on my own iPhone. Yes, that’s a sample size of one, but they were all working in the same environment. Nor did I try every SMS filter in the App Store. Finally, most of these products block spam voice calls as well as spam texts, but I only tested the spam text feature—Silence Unknown Callers works well enough for me.

I don’t mind paying for an SMS spam filtering app, but cost was still a factor. The winning app also had to work automatically and not make unnecessary requests for data, both of which turned out to be issues. Here are the apps I tried:

  • AT&T Active Armor: Each of the major US cellular carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon) has a free spam filter in the App Store. AT&T’s app is called AT&T Active Armor, Verizon has Verizon Call Shield iPhone, and T-Mobile offers T-Mobile Scam Shield. Verizon’s and T-Mobile’s apps only catch spam voice calls, not texts. Since I use AT&T, I tested AT&T Active Armor. It caught only 5% of my spam texts.
  • Nomorobo: Telephone Science Corporation, the company behind Nomorobo, is a decade old. Originally, the Nomorobo service blocked spam calls to landlines before expanding to protect cellular numbers from calls and then texts. After a 14-day free trial, Nomorobo costs $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year. The Nomorobo app identified 82% of my spam texts, placing them in the Junk list in Messages. That was far better than any of the other apps. It had no false positives—good texts identified as spam—but neither did the other apps.
  • Robokiller: The Robokiller app offers a 7-day free trial, after which it costs between $4.99 and $7.99 per week or $39.99 to $149.99 per year, depending on which plan you buy. Robokiller would not activate without full access to my contacts, which I refused to give. There didn’t seem to be any way around this, so I didn’t go further with Robokiller.
  • SMS Spam Block: Although the SMS Spam Block app is free, it is also fully manual and hasn’t been updated in six years. You must set up a block list of disallowed words that filter out a message and an allow list that lets a message pass. I didn’t test SMS Spam Block because I was looking for an automated solution.
  • TextKiller: A separate app by the company behind RoboKiller, TextKiller also claims to block 99% of unwanted text messages. After a 7-day free trial, it costs $5.99 per month or $79.99 per year (which seems too high), between Nomorobo and Robokiller. The first time I tried TextKiller, the installation failed with an error message that seemed to indicate the company’s server was down. When I tried again a few days later, it installed successfully. During testing, TetxtKiller turned off the setting to filter texts for no obvious reason, so I turned it back on. TextKiller filtered only 6% of my spam texts.

You can see why I stopped when I found Nomorobo, which was the cheapest and most effective of the commercial apps. AT&T Active Armor is free but ineffective. SMS Spam Block is also free but would have required me to maintain lists manually and hasn’t been updated in six years. Robokiller triggered my alarm bells by refusing to activate without access to my contacts and was extremely expensive. TextKiller didn’t instill confidence with its installation error and caught almost none of my spam.

If other text spam filtering apps have worked well for you, please share the details in the comments. But I’ll be subscribing to Nomorobo. $20 per year is a small price to pay for eliminating a dozen text message interruptions per day.

 

Adam Engst 24 comments

Examining Apple Intelligence

Whoever at Apple came up with the term “Apple Intelligence” must be pleased with themselves. It’s a clever way of creating a distinction between what Apple is doing with AI and the generative AI chatbots and artbots most people think of as AI.

(I wouldn’t be surprised if there were internal discussions about how “AI” might come to mean “Apple Intelligence,” but that’s no more going to happen than when Apple thought it could capture the word “email” with the “eMail” feature of the eWorld online service. True story: when my late friend Cary Lu was writing a book about eWorld in the mid-1990s, Apple told him that was the hope.)

It’s worth emphasizing that Apple Intelligence will be rolling out slowly “over the course of the next year.” Don’t expect to see everything discussed below in September with the initial releases of iOS 18 and macOS 15 Sequoia, and we could be well into 2025 before some of the more compelling enhancements to Siri arrive. Patience, grasshopper.

Apple Intelligence Versus AI

What differentiates Apple Intelligence from AI? Apple calls Apple Intelligence a “personal intelligence system,” and indeed, most of the features the company unveiled during its WWDC keynote revolve around your personal data. Apple’s insight—which fits neatly with the company’s focus on privacy and empowering the individual—is that many AI systems suffer because all they know about you is what you tell them in your prompts. Generative AI chatbots and artbots are trained on a massive corpus of material, and they return results that are statistically probable. But as individuals, we are anything but statistically probable. We are our data: our email, our messages, our photos, our schedules, our contacts.

The problem with Apple’s homegrown tools—notably Siri—focusing on personal context is that people will ask questions that can’t be answered with local information. When Siri determines it can’t respond well to a query requiring global knowledge, it will offer to pass the question off to ChatGPT, which is also available within Apple’s systemwide writing tools. ChatGPT integration is free, but ChatGPT Pro subscribers can connect their accounts—I’m uncertain why this would be a help at the moment. Apple said it plans to support other AI chatbots in the future, such as Google’s Gemini. Among the chatbots I’ve tested, I’ve had the least success with Gemini and the most with ChatGPT and Claude.

Apple Intelligence Privacy

It’s reasonable to worry about how these features will impact your privacy. Apple repeatedly emphasized the pains it has taken with Apple Intelligence to ensure user privacy. The AI-driven features can take one of three paths:

  • On-device: Much of what Apple Intelligence does will be handled entirely locally, never leaving your device in any way. That’s why the system requirements for Apple Intelligence are so steep—an iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15 Pro Max with an A17 Pro chip, or iPads and Macs with an M-series chip. Apple Intelligence’s processing and memory requirements are such that lesser chips aren’t sufficient.
  • Private Cloud Compute: Some Apple Intelligence tasks—the company hasn’t said which—exceed the capabilities of even Apple’s latest chips. For such tasks, Apple has built a server system called Private Cloud Compute that relies on custom Apple silicon and a hardened operating system designed for privacy. Private Cloud Compute receives only the data necessary to complete the task and discards everything after completion. Could Private Cloud Compute eventually be used for Siri requests made from HomePods, Apple TVs, and older devices, or will Apple use the system requirements for Apple Intelligence to encourage upgrades?
  • ChatGPT: Apple can’t make the same privacy promises with ChatGPT as it can for on-device and Private Cloud Compute processing, but it said that our devices’ IP addresses will be obscured and OpenAI won’t store requests. OpenAI does use content from individual accounts (not business offerings) to train its models, although you can opt out of that. It’s unclear if or how you can opt out of OpenAI training on content submitted through the Apple Intelligence integration.

Apple Intelligence Features

Apple Intelligence is an umbrella term for three classes of features surrounding language, images, and actions. Language-related features include system-wide writing tools, categorization and prioritization of email messages and notifications, and transcription of recordings, phone calls, and voice memos, along with Siri’s improved understanding of natural language. Image-focused features include Genmoji, the image-generation tool Image Playground, and advanced editing capabilities in Photos. What Apple calls “actions” mostly seem to involve enhancements to Siri that enable it to perform specific tasks, even across multiple apps.

Language Tools

The most prominent of the Apple Intelligence language capabilities may be Apple’s new systemwide Writing Tools, which will be available in both Apple and third-party apps. They’ll help you proofread, rewrite, and summarize your text along the lines of what Grammarly does today.

I’ve relied on Grammarly for years for proofreading. It catches typos, doubled words, and extra spaces, and its newer AI-powered features sometimes make helpful suggestions for recasting awkward sentences. I’m slightly annoyed that Grammarly’s proofreading tools are so helpful, but it’s challenging to edit your own text to a professional level, and Grammarly can identify errors much faster than I can. Don’t assume that tools like Apple Intelligence’s proofreading capabilities for helping with grammar, word choice, and sentence structure are necessarily a crutch. They may be for some people, but even people who care about their writing can still benefit from some suggestions while ignoring unhelpful ones. (For instance, Grammarly is allergic to the words “own,” “actually,” and “both,” but when I use them, I do so intentionally.)

It’s easier to question Apple Intelligence’s rewriting and composition capabilities (the latter of which rely on ChatGPT), but you’ll notice that most of those doing so are professional writers who don’t need them. Recall my point from “How to Identify Good Uses for Generative AI Chatbots and Artbots” (27 May 2024) that AI is useful primarily when your skills and knowledge wouldn’t already make you better than a C+ student. I do like how Apple provides three tones: friendly, professional, and concise. Less experienced writers often have trouble maintaining a consistent tone, and untold misunderstandings and hurt feelings could be avoided if people took tone advice.

Nonetheless, I’m somewhat dubious about Mail’s Smart Reply feature. Although its Q&A design answers another of my criteria for good uses of generative AI (that you must be willing to work with an assistant), it’s not clear that it would be enough faster to justify using, especially if you had to edit what it wrote to sound like something you would have sent.

Apple Intelligence’s summarization tools are spread throughout the system, and some feel like Apple is throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. Summaries seem to be associated with at least these features:

  • Text you’re writing: This seems most useful when you need a summary for a blog or social media post.
  • Notifications: If you get so many notifications that you need a summary, you may be better served by taming notifications from overly chatty apps.
  • Web pages saved in Safari Reader: Given that Reader is mainly used for pages that are too long to read immediately, summaries (along with tables of contents) could be helpful.
  • Long messages in Mail: Most email messages aren’t long enough to justify a summary, but summarization could be a boon for quickly parsing long email conversations.
  • Busy group threads in Messages: It’s hard to imagine a sufficiently involved text group thread that wouldn’t be easier (and safer) to read in its entirety, but perhaps I’m not the target audience.
  • Message list summaries in Mail: Replacing the first few lines of message text shown in the message list with a summary seems like an unalloyed win.
  • Transcripts of recordings from Notes and Phone: Given the loose nature of recorded text, transcript summaries may be particularly useful for quickly understanding a talk or call.

The final language tools evaluate the content of notifications and email messages to prioritize which to show you first. I can’t quite imagine how that will work for notifications, but prioritizing email messages should prove popular. Also, a Reduce Interruptions Focus will show you only notifications that need immediate attention. That may seem like a nice in-between option between allowing everything and turning on Do Not Disturb, but it will make the Focus feature even more unpredictable (see “Apple’s New Focus Feature May Be Overkill,” 20 January 2022, and “Notifications Unexpectedly Silenced? Blame Focus,” 17 February 2023).

Image Tools

Apple Intelligence’s image tools span the gamut. The Image Playground app (the features of which will also be available in some apps) will let you create original images from text prompts, much like other AI artbots. Apple said we’ll be able to choose from three styles: Sketch, Illustration, and Paint. That ensures that no one will be using Image Playground to make photorealistic deepfakes. I’m also confident that Apple will put significant boundaries on what Image Playground can produce—I can’t imagine it generating NSFW images, images of celebrities, or anything with trademarks, for starters.

Genmoji, which are AI-generated custom emoji-style graphics, may be more interesting for those who find emoji amusing but have trouble going beyond a few smileys. Often, when I think about using an emoji as an emotive emphasis to something I’ve written in Messages or Slack, the image I desire doesn’t exist. How else will I get a sunglasses-wearing penguin on a surfboard to express my enthusiasm for a suggested outing? Some worry that Genmoji will lack the shared meaning of the limited set of emoji we have now, but most of those shared meanings exist only among subsets of the population as it is, so it’s hard to get upset about this.

The Image Wand feature of Notes, which turns rough finger or Apple Pencil sketches into more polished drawings, has taken some flak online partly because Apple’s demo shows a perfectly passable sketch being “improved.” The criticism here would seem to fall under the same category as professional writers complaining about writing tools—it’s easy to carp if you have illustration skills. As someone who couldn’t draw his way out of a paper bag (or even draw the bag itself), I’m intrigued to see if Image Wand can make sense of anything I sketch. Nonetheless, I don’t see myself using it purely because I rarely sketch anything. I’d far rather write a thousand words.

The three remaining image-related features of Apple Intelligence are in Photos:

  • Descriptive searches: Photos has allowed us to search for objects—cat, beach, airplane—for some years, thanks to capabilities Apple previously described as “machine learning.” With Apple Intelligence, we’ll be able to search for photos using natural language: “Tonya running in a race” or “sunsets over our pond.” Once we become accustomed to the feature, I believe many of us will use it heavily.
  • Clean up background objects: Generative AI will also give Photos the capability to remove background objects from photos. (The generative part involves filling in the background seamlessly.) Those who spend a lot of time on their photos but don’t already rely on a more capable editor like Photoshop will undoubtedly appreciate the option.
  • Custom memory movies: We’ve already hit the “infinite photo” inflection point where it’s difficult to make sense of our burgeoning photo libraries. When you have tens or hundreds of thousands of images, extracting a set that’s representative of something is daunting. Generating custom memory movies with a text prompt could be compelling. I’d like to see Apple open this feature so the movies could be created and viewed on the Apple TV.

Actions, or Siri Gets a Brain

For many people, giving Siri an AI-driven brain may be the main appeal of Apple Intelligence. Although Siri was initially impressive for its time, and Apple regularly expanded Siri’s capabilities and knowledge, it seems to have been degrading over the past few years, a la Flowers for Algernon.

Most importantly, the new AI-driven Siri will have a richer language understanding and be able to maintain context within a conversation so each command won’t have to stand on its own. It should also be much more forgiving of the verbal stumbles we all experience at times.

Apple is making a big deal of Siri being aware of your personal context and on-screen content. That should enable it to find your content across Mail or Messages, extract information directly from Notes, and take action using content you can see on the screen. Its capabilities will span multiple apps, enabling you to ask Siri to enhance a photo and then attach it to a Mail message. I’m unsure how successful these features will be. Siri can do a lot right now, but because you have to know precisely what it can do and phrase the command exactly right, almost no one takes full advantage of Siri’s capabilities. It won’t take many failures—“I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”—before people give up on Siri again.

Because Siri will work locally on your devices, its knowledge base must be limited. In a clever move, Apple will be giving Siri knowledge about its products, so you can ask for help using your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. I’m looking forward to trying this because it can be tricky, even for people like me, to remember what any given setting does and where Apple has hidden it. (Real-world example: Why do some iPhone users see emerald rather than lime green for green-bubble friends in Messages? Because of turning on Settings > Accessibility > Display & Text Size > Increase Contrast.)

As I noted before, when a Siri query needs access to global knowledge, it will offer to send the question to ChatGPT. While that may work well for many queries, we’ll see if Apple implements it so we can maintain fluid conversations. The main problem is that ChatGPT’s knowledge is time-limited. A more satisfying approach might work along the lines of Perplexity, which performs a search and builds a response based on the summary of what it found. I could even imagine Apple moving in that direction more generally as a way of weaning itself from search-engine reliance on Google, though that would also mean giving up the billions in revenue it gets from Google.

How Smart Will Apple Intelligence Be?

There’s no question that Apple was pushed into creating Apple Intelligence. Many of its features would have worked their way into the company’s apps and operating systems over time, but the hype—some deserved, some not—surrounding AI from other tech giants forced Apple’s hand. Remember, ChatGPT only came out in late 2022, and it was months before anyone could have predicted how AI would have taken the online world by storm. Apple hasn’t had much time.

That may account for why Apple Intelligence feels like a grab bag, especially in bolted-on bits like the ChatGPT integration. Some features, such as Image Playground and Smart Reply, feel as though Apple is checking boxes to compete with existing tools. Others will be compelling, such as descriptive searches in Photos. All many people need from AI is for Siri to become less hard of understanding.

Although Apple may be behind the curve in making these features available, the company seems to have approached the architectural questions seriously. On-device processing is important for both performance and privacy reasons, and Private Cloud Compute could set a new standard for what people demand from server-based AI tools.

As far as I can tell, Apple Intelligence won’t be treading on anyone’s lawn. If you don’t want to use it, just ignore it, like all the other features that aren’t relevant to how you prefer to use technology. But I have talked with people who find Apple Intelligence some of the more exciting work Apple has done on the software side in years. Apple’s hardware has hit astonishing levels of performance, but the software hasn’t given most people new capabilities that are possible only because of that processing power.

We live in interesting times, and they may become more interesting in the next six to twelve months.

Watchlist

1Password 8.10.34 Agen Schmitz No comments

1Password 8.10.34

AgileBits has issued 1Password 8.10.34, enabling you to generate recovery codes for family accounts directly in the app. The password manager displays tailored device enrollment instructions depending on the last device you used for SSO authentication, fixes an issue with 1Password file import that caused duplicate alerts to appear if you tried to import without permission to create vaults, fixes a bug that caused credit card numbers that included letters to display inconsistently, addresses a problem with importing shared folders from LastPass, and fixes a bug that caused the app icon to remain in the Dock after restarting. ($35.88 annual subscription from 1PasswordTidBITS members setting up new accounts receive 6 months free, free update, 4.8 MB installer download, release notes, macOS 10.15+)

Arc 1.47 Agen Schmitz No comments

Arc 1.47

The Browser Company has released Arc 1.47, introducing Live Calendars for those who use Google Calendar and have it pinned in Favorites. This new feature in the desktop version lets you view your upcoming meetings at a glance (complete with a countdown timer) and includes a Join button for videoconferences that automatically appears in the Sidebar. The release also phases out the Command Bar’s Shift+Enter icons that indicated the shortcut for the Instant Links feature (for navigating directly to the top search hit) and improves favicon caching for synced tabs. If you have a tab open in the Arc Search iOS app, your Mac will now suggest opening that URL in your default Web browser via Handoff. (Free, 387 MB, release notes, macOS 12.1+)

BusyCal 2024.2.5 Agen Schmitz No comments

BusyCal 2024.2.5

BusyMac has released BusyCal 2024.2.5 with added support for syncing tags and their assigned colors over iCloud (colored tag support for iOS coming soon). The calendar app now provides enhanced detection of death years when displaying birthdays from Apple’s Contacts, enhances the menu bar option “Switch to upcoming event” with additional minutes, improves detection of remotely modified events when syncing subscribed WebDAV calendars, resolves an issue where downloaded graphics from Icon Finder would not save to disk properly in macOS 11 Big Sur and earlier, and fixes a bug that caused single word titles to appear with ellipses in the alarm window. ($49.99 new from BusyMac or the Mac App Store, free update, in Setapp, 68.2 MB, release notes, macOS 10.15+)

Little Snitch 6.0.1 Agen Schmitz No comments

Little Snitch 6.0.1

Objective Development has released Little Snitch 6.0.1, a maintenance update following its recent major upgrade. The network traffic management utility now enables you to turn off DNS encryption completely in specific profiles, adds precedence to IP address-based blocklists over all DNS/name-based rules, adds an option to choose if local network traffic should be included in status menu traffic rates and graphs, improves searching for rules via the search field, enhances feedback when a blocklist update fails, fixes textual search for internationalized domain names in blocklists, resolves an issue that prevents the summary statistics in the inspector of Network Monitor from updating, and adds missing German localizations. ($59 new, $39 upgrade from previous licenses, free update, 36.1 MB, release notes, macOS 14+)

Zoom Workplace 6.1 Agen Schmitz 1 comment

Zoom Workplace 6.1

Zoom has updated its Zoom Workplace videoconferencing app to version 6.1 with improvements and bug fixes. The release adds support for keyboard shortcuts for in-meeting reactions for improved accessibility (bring up clapping hands with Command-Option-4); changes the labeling of recording options from Local Recordings to Computer Recordings; improves message editing capabilities for adding images, files, and text; enhances sharing of multiple content items and types during meetings; makes it easier to adjust video appearance and backgrounds; improves custom emoji sorting; resolves an issue that prevented some users from editing or deleting contacts; and fixes a bug that caused incorrect colors when sharing PowerPoint slides. (Free, 123.3 MB, release notes, macOS 10.13+)

ExtraBITS

Adam Engst 4 comments

Apple to Discontinue Apple Pay Later

At 9to5Mac, Chance Miller writes:

Apple has announced that it is no longer offering Apple Pay Later, the “buy now, pay later” service that launched in the United States last year. The change goes into effect starting today, Apple says. Existing users with open Apple Pay Later loans will still be able to manage them via the Wallet app.

Good riddance. Installment loan offerings will still be available from debit and credit cards, but it felt off-brand for Apple to promote a feature often associated with irresponsible spending (see “Apple Unveils Apple Pay Later,” 29 March 2023).