Mike Becky

Tag Archive for ‘1Password’

1Password Discontinues Share Sheet Extension

With the introduction of 1Password’s Safari extension, they’ve also discontinued their share sheet extension. This has managed to irritate quite a few users, including myself.

While the Safari extension is great, it doesn’t replace all of the functionality of the previous share sheet extension. Here are a handful of examples off the top of my head:

  • No way to auto-fill non-login data in third-party browsers or within a Safari View Controller, such as credit/debit card information.
  • Improperly designed login forms don’t work with the system-level auto-fill feature.
  • Applications that implemented a 1Password-based auto-fill system using the share sheet, often times using the 1Password logo, display nothing in the share sheet.
  • Users that still have iOS 14 installed don’t have access to the new Safari extension, leaving them out in the cold for a lot of auto-fill features, even in Safari.

It’s not great. And to make matters worse, there doesn’t seem to be a good reason for it’s retirement.

Dave Teare, writing about the decision in a comment on Reddit:

Now I can definitely see how you could want us to continue postponing the share sheet’s retirement. We’ve postponed it for a few years already so why not another year or two? We could have done that but maintaining three different features that all serve the same purpose (Password AutoFill, share sheet, and now the new Safari web extension) is a big ask. Something had to give and since the share sheet offers the least functionality that isn’t covered by the other two it was time to bid it adieu.

Okay, fair. But in the previous paragraph he wrote the following:

We did however stop maintaining it as it was becoming quite long in the tooth.

So if they had already stopped maintaining it, the claim that it would require additional work to maintain doesn’t really hold water. The sensible solution would have been to keep the share sheet extension in the app for some period of time alongside the Safari extension and then notifying users of its imminent retirement.

What irritates me the most is the lack of messaging. I had no idea the share sheet extension was even in consideration for retirement. One day I just updated the app and it was gone — it wasn’t even mentioned in the 7.8 release notes. At first, I thought there was some bug in iOS 15 causing the issue because I had updated around the same time it disappeared.

I’ll get used to launching the app and copy and pasting into Firefox, Safari View Controllers, and so on. But if I knew that this was going to be the case before it happened, it would have softened the blow a bit. The takeaway to all developers, if you’re going to be taking functionality away from users, at least let them know in advance.

Not Important Enough ➝

Jason Snell, writing on Six Colors:

What’s really causing all this consternation, I think, isn’t 1Password moving to Electron. Electron is a bit of a bogeyman. The root problem is this: 1Password, originally a Mac-forward software developer, has simply decided that the Mac isn’t important enough.

I know that those are harsh words, and that the people at AgileBits would argue with them. But in a blog post by Michael Fey, AgileBits’s VP of Engineering for Client Apps, the company laid out its entire development strategy. It’s a post meant to explain what the company is up to and tamp down a lot of angry hot takes (and probably should’ve been posted the moment it announced the Mac beta).

Fey’s post clearly spells out AgileBits’s priorities. Android and iOS apps are built with native platform frameworks in order to create the best app experience possible on mobile. For iOS, AgileBits decided to use Apple’s new SwiftUI framework rather than the venerable UIKit, in order to skate “to where the puck was going.” Their plan was to use SwiftUI on the Mac, too. In doing so, AgileBits was buying into the vision Apple has for SwiftUI as a tool to build interfaces across all of Apple’s platforms. Unfortunately, it seems that SwiftUI didn’t measure up on the Mac

It’s a shame that AgileBits is no longer going to be developing a native 1Password app for Mac. But given the state Apple’s relationship with developers and the rise of Electron usage, it sort of feels like moving to electron actually is “skating to where to puck is going”.

➝ Source: sixcolors.com

Back to Firefox

Firefox Web Browser

I’ve been using Chrome on my work laptop for the past few years. It’s what most of my colleagues use and a sizable portion of the customers I interact with use Chrome too. So I sort-of fell into it.

But I never really loved the idea of using Chrome as my default browser because I don’t like how much power and influence Google has over the web in general. Chrome perpetuates that. Ideally, I would be using something that was developed by anyone else.

Prior to joining Automattic, I was using Safari on macOS, but that’s not a viable option for my work laptop because of browser extension limitations. We have a browser extension that we develop internally that’s vital for my work and it can’t be built for Safari — it’s Chrome- and Firefox-only.

I was a die-hard Firefox user back during my Windows days in the mid-2000s. And truthfully, my heart has always been with Firefox. It’s neck-and-neck with Microsoft Edge for market share and is developed outside of the largest technology companies. It’s always been the underdog and I like rooting for the underdog.

They develop their own browser engine too. Even though I appreciate consistency in the rendering of HTML and CSS, I don’t like that practically every web browser is built on WebKit or Blink. I want a viable alternative. And a viable alternative developed by someone outside of The Big Five.

My setup is pretty customized with browser extensions, bookmarks, and whatnot. And just about my entire workday is in a web browser, so making the switch is pretty serious business. I need everything to be reliable and just work.

There were some quirks to start, but after some customizations, add-ons, settings changes, and hacks, I’m falling in love with Firefox all over again.

I’m using the MacOS – Safari (Big Sur) – Light theme, which gives the browser a delightfully light feel without sacrificing too much contrast in the tabs bar. Aside from the Automattic-developed internal tool, I also use the following browser extensions:

  • 1Password: My current password manager of choice, which recently added support for Touch ID.
  • Firefox Multi-Account Containers: This helps keep browsing of selected domains separate from the rest. I currently have containers for Facebook and Amazon, but plan to add one for Google as well.
  • Load Progress Bar: Displays a progress bar along the top of the webpage when loading. I have it configured with a blue bar for normal windows and a purple one for private windows.
  • RSSPreview: I wish every browser on the market offered RSS feed previews, but unfortunately that isn’t the case.
  • Stylus: Allows me to add custom stylesheets for specific websites. At the moment it’s only used to make some adjustments to internal Automattic tools and communication channels.
  • Tampermonkey: Let’s you run custom scripts for specific websites. Only currently used to customize the functionality of internal Automattic tools.
  • Translate Web Pages: Chrome had this feature built-in, but on Firefox it requires an extension. I’ve tried a handful and this seems like the best one.
  • Wallabagger: I recently switched to Wallabag, a read later service with a self-hosted option. This extension lets me quickly save links to it.

Firefox also offers some more obscure settings through the Configuration Editor, accessible with about:config in the address bar. I feel like I’ve made a handful of adjustments there, but the only one that jumps out to me as crucial is setting browser.urlbar.trimURLs to false. This prevents Firefox from hiding the protocol portion of the URL in the address bar.

But the customization doesn’t stop there, Firefox offers even more options through a custom stylesheet file named userChrome.css that you can add to a specific location within your profile folder.

I’m not too fond of the new design of tabs in Firefox, which was introduced in version 89. But userChrome.org has a tool that can generate a CSS snippet to add to userChrome.css and customize the look of tabs. I set mine to no tab corner rounding, connect the tabs to the toolbar, use compact height, and using a vertical bar.

Another annoyance was the lack of visual distinction between private browsing windows and regular browsing windows. But I was able to find a userChrome.css snippet on Reddit that changes the background color of the tab bar to purple in private browsing windows. I use private windows frequently for work-related tasks and this helps ensure I won’t get my windows mixed up.

And lastly, I added the following in userChrome.css to hide the action buttons that appear on the right-hand side of the browser address bar:

/* Hide page actions buttons in URL bar */
#page-action-buttons { display: none !important;}

I don’t find those buttons to be particularly useful. And the ones built-in to Firefox and added through my collection of extensions were accessible in other ways. I would rather just have the clean URL bar.

I’m so happy to be using a browser that offers a deep level of customizability again. And one that’s developed by a company that shares my enthusiasm for a free and open web. It’s far more important than most of us realize and I hope there’s a lot more effort aiming in that direction in the future. From more than just Mozilla.

1Password Teases Safari Web Extension Already Working on iPadOS 15 ➝

I’d really like to continue using Firefox on iOS, even though the experience is far from perfect. But the existence of browser extensions in Safari is just too darn appealing. I’ll probably switch back to Safari once I’m running iOS/iPadOS 15.

In an ideal world, though, Apple would offer a level playing field to third-party developers, letting them offer extensions too.

➝ Source: macrumors.com

macOS Menu Bar Apps

As I mentioned in my recent MacBook Air review, I’ve spent a lot more time on macOS over the past handful of months. I still use my iPad Air 2 as my primary machine for personal use, but I do just about all of my work as a Happiness Engineer on macOS.

Since I’ve already shared my thoughts about the new hardware, I wanted to speak a bit about the software I’ve been using. I won’t be covering everything today, instead focusing on the Menu Bar apps that I have installed — whether they’re a crucial part of my workflow or something I’m currently testing.

Aside from the standard Wi-Fi, Sound, Battery, Time, Siri, Spotlight, Time Machine, and Bluetooth icons, I have the following applications in my Menu Bar:

  • Alfred: I’m basically incapable of functioning on a Mac without this app installed. I think Merlin Mann is to blame for that. All of his coverage of Quicksilver after I first purchased a MacBook in 2006 has ingrained into my brain that ctrl+space is my go-to keyboard shortcut when I want to do, basically, anything on my Mac. I use it for launching applications, opening files, and searching the web. I have nearly two dozen custom web searches setup that allow me to quickly access Automattic’s internal tools and documentation while I work. It allows me to be productive and efficient in a way that no other application has.
  • Droplr: I share a lot of screenshots and GIFs during my time working with WordPress.com users and Droplr is the best app I’ve found for sharing these files. I usually use macOS’ built-in keyboard shortcuts for taking the screenshots, then I can drop them on to Droplr’s icon in the Menu Bar to share them. The app uploads the file, opens it in my web browser, and automatically adds a URL I can share to my clipboard. If I need to markup or annotate a file, I can do so with its built-in tools and the app even has the ability to record a GIF of a specific portion of my screen, which I can use for illustrating more complicated, multi-step tasks.
  • TextExpander: While, I’ve only just scratched the surface of the efficiency and productivity gains that this application allows for, this is another essential application for me. Since I do a lot of typing throughout the day, I use TextExpander to automatically expand small bits of text into larger snippets that I find myself typing frequently. I only have about three snippets that I use regularly, but I plan to grow that list over time as each one becomes fully integrated into my workflows — there’s no sense in adding a bunch of snippets only to realize that you don’t remember or use most of them.
  • Hocus Focus: This application automatically hides other app windows after they’ve been inactive for a period of time. It helps keep my screen clear of clutter and allows me to focus on the task at hand. I’ve only used the app for a few weeks, but I like it quite a bit so far. I have non-active apps set to hide after two minutes and only disable the feature when I’m on video chats with other members of my team.
  • Bartender: A simple little application that let’s me hide the majority of my Menu Bar apps behind an ellipses icon. This is especially useful when I’m working on my Air’s 13-inch display, since it keeps my menu bar icons from overtaking my screen. I have it setup to hide everything except the applications and system status indicators that I use most — Droplr, Wi-Fi, Sound, and Time.
  • Moom: This is an app that I’m still testing at the moment. It allows you to reorganize, resize, and reposition your application windows with the ability to save these as presets that can trigger with a keyboard shortcut or when you connect or disconnect an external display. Since I often switch throughout the day between my external LG UltraFine 5K display and the MacBook Air’s built-in display, I suspect this will become an essential app for me once I have the time to configure it for all my apps.
  • Backblaze: I started using Backblaze as one of my backup solutions a few months ago. I still use Time Machine with an external drive, but since I use my MacBook Air portably a lot, I don’t have it connected most of the time. Backblaze helps to fill in those gaps for me by continuously backing up my machine, as long as I have an internet connection.
  • 1Password: This is my favorite password manager by far and I use it on all of my devices. It’s thoughtfully designed, incredibly powerful, easy to use, and let’s me share passwords with my wife through our family account. If you aren’t using a password manager, I highly recommend giving this one a try.
  • Turbo Boost Switcher Pro: This little utility app allows me to enable and/or disable Turbo Boost on my MacBook Air, primarily as a way to increase battery life. This is another application that I haven’t spent much time actually testing, but I expect it will be invaluable when I’m traveling.

I have to say, I’ve had a lot of fun finding and testing applications for the Mac over the last handful of months. Although I never exactly “abandoned” the platform entirely, I certainly haven’t paid as much attention to the new software and tools that have been released over the last couple of years. So if there are better options to fill the roles of the apps listed above or you have a recommendation for an app I might be interested, don’t hesitate to reach out on Twitter. I’m always on the look out for the latest and greatest software.

How to Use 1Password as a Digital Will ➝

This is a great suggestion from the folks at The Sweet Setup. I’ve actually had this idea bouncing around in my head recently and I’m glad to see someone has done the legwork to figure out the best way to do this.

Apple to Deploy 1Password to Employees ➝

Jonathan Geller, reporting for BGR:

According to our source, after many months of planning, Apple plans to deploy 1Password internally to all 123,000 employees. This includes not just employees in Cupertino, but extends all the way to retail, too. Furthermore, the company is said to have carved out a deal that includes family plans, giving up to 5 family members of each employee a free license for 1Password. With more and more emphasis on security in general, and especially at Apple, there are a number of reasons this deal makes sense. We’re told that 100 Apple employees will start using 1Password through this initiative starting this week, with the full 123,000+ users expected to be activated within the next one to two months.

This is a big deal for sure, but let’s not put the cart before the horse when it comes to acquisitions. There’s quite a bit of information within this report regarding Apple deploying 1Password to employees, but there isn’t much evidence to say with certainty that an acquisition is in the works.

Here’s the relevant paragraph:

AgileBits’ annual revenue is said to be around the $5 million to $10 million range, and our source told us the company would most likely sell for two to three times revenue. Could Apple just be kicking the tires before diving in? Possibly, but it would seem unlikely at this point. Either this deal is the actual acquisition, structured in a way that provides additional annual revenue for a set number of years, or there’s something else going on. Jeff Shiner, the CEO of AgileBits, was overheard talking about the “Apple acquisition” in the glass conference room in the company’s Toronto office recently, but we have no firm details on what the context was or any specifics of the potential deal. We have reached out to both Apple and AgileBits for comment.

This might be the beginnings of an acquisition, but given the evidence presented, the claim is a bit weak. I think it would be wise for BGR to add “may be” to their headline.

However, if this is the beginnings of an acquisition and it goes half as well as their purchase of Workflow, it’s going to be great for users of Apple products.

Update: AgileBits has denied rumors that an acquisition is in the works through their 1Password Twitter account:

Rumours of my acquisition are completely false. My humans and I are happily independent and plan to remain so.

On Subscription Pricing

Michael Tsai:

My hunch is that, for an app under ongoing development, many people would be fine paying a subscription that averages out to about the same amount they had previously been paying per year (initial purchase plus occasional upgrades). […]

But that doesn’t seem to be what’s been happening. Instead, we’ve seen subscriptions combined with price increases, customers balking, and insinuations that people just don’t want to pay for anything anymore. With more than one variable changing at once, I don’t think we can conclude that people hate subscriptions.

I’ve spent a lot of money on software during the App Store era, it’s not uncommon for me to spend ten or twenty dollars on random apps that I don’t even use a few weeks later. I’m not one to hesitate if an application seems like it will be useful to me. But I’ve been uneasy about subscription pricing since the day it was made available for non-media apps.

I understand that the current state of software economics is a bit broken and that the race to the bottom has made it incredibly difficult for indie app developers to make a living. But it seems like every single application that transitions to a subscription model is pricing their software much higher than what I would be willing to pay.

1Password is the perfect example of this. I rely on 1Password to keep my login credentials secure and in-sync across all of my devices. My password vault lives in iCloud and I don’t need any of their premium subscription features. But I would still be willing to pay for a subscription to 1Password to help support the developers and on the off-chance that I find one of their premium features to be useful. I’m not willing to pay $36 each year for it, though.

Maybe 1Password is just giving too much away for free right now and, as a result, the app’s perceived value is lower than it should be. Or maybe any transition to a new business model would make me feel uncomfortable, regardless of what the new model is. But the thought of paying $36 every single year for an application that, to my eyes, is feature complete seems ludicrous to me.

If the 1Password subscription was half the price, though, I’d pay for it in a heart beat. Granted, everyone’s threshold is different, but I think developers are pricing their subscriptions too high. I can’t exactly blame them, this is mostly uncharted territory and it may take some experimentation before the market finds comfortable price points. From what I’ve seen so far, though, prices need to come down before customers are willing to jump in.

Nick Heer points out that there’s an additional wrinkle in this new model that developers need to keep in mind when they’re pricing their subscriptions:

But I think one thing a lot of developers might forget is that their subscription is not the only one a user has to make a decision on: as more apps adopt this model, users have to make more decisions about which software they can really afford.

Assuming the prices are fair, the first few subscriptions are much easier to sign up for than the fourth and fifth. Subscription pricing just doesn’t scale well. If I had to pay a monthly fee for all of the apps I use regularly, I’d go bankrupt.

Maybe the solution to this whole mess is a multi-tiered pricing model similar to what Plex has done with it’s Plex Pass. They offer three pricing options for customers — $5 each month, $40 each year, or you can purchase a lifetime pass for $150 (currently discounted to $120). This gives each customer the option to pay what they feel comfortable with and, if it’s priced right, the majority of customers will choose the option that’s most lucrative for the developer. If I was developing an app with subscription pricing, this is what I’d want to be doing.