Site outage!

Hello!

It’s been a little while since I’ve written anything, and I didn’t realise until recently that the blog was offline. That’s fixed! However it’s lost all its styling, so won’t look very MacID-y while I sort that back out.

I also appreciate it’s been a while since I’ve updated MacID. Lack of time is prevalent in my life at the moment. If we could extend the length of each day that would be great!

I’ve actually been working on TWO new apps to be part of the MacID family, but they’re slow progress due to my day job being quite full-on.

I will update when I have more information.

Peace!

What’s new in MacID v1.3.4

Hello!

MacID v1.3.4 has just been released with a plethora of tweaks and fixes.

As always, if you have a moment spare I’d really appreciate it if you could leave a short review for MacID in the iOS App Store, or update an existing rating if you’ve already left one before. Whenever an app gets updated it loses its rating in the search results 🙁

If you find that you get repeat notifications after installing the iOS app, unfortunately the only fix is to restart your device. It’s something related to background modes on iOS and seems to be an issue with iOS 9.

Here’s what’s new:

MacID for iOS

  • URL schemes can now handle multiple Macs per URL. Previously set up URL schemes will continue to work as normal.
  • Adds new “unlock” URL scheme. If you have Touch ID enabled in-app, launching this URL will ask for Touch ID and then unlock any Macs associated with that particular URL. If you have Touch ID disabled in-app then the Macs will unlock as soon as the URL is launched (if they’re connected).
  • When creating new home screen shortcuts, the Safari screen where you save to the home screen now uses your chosen colour scheme.
  • Home screen shortcut icons also now use your chosen colour scheme and have a cleaner design.
  • Adds even more beautiful colour schemes, which work on MacID for OS X and MacID for Apple Watch.
  • You can now long-touch on the Settings navigation bar at the top to jump back to the start. Handy because MacID is getting more customisable with deeper settings navigation.
  • Adds new power saving options so you can decide how MacID throttles the connection for Low Power Mode.
  • Adds new options for MacID for Pebble too, you can now choose if MacID for Pebble automatically launches for all unlock request, just Proximity Wake requests, or none at all.
  • Lifts the 4000 character limit on sending clipboard text between devices.
  • Fixes an issue where the Today widget wouldn’t update if a device disconnects while the widget is visible.
  • Fixes an issue where creating shortcut items could fail.
  • Fixes various little crashes through crash reports, if you’re one of the people who have this enabled in iOS privacy settings then thank you!
  • Fixes an issue where advertising Bluetooth could crash if the device name had particular characters in it.

MacID for Apple Watch

  • Brand new settings screen, tap the cog icon at the bottom of the main screen to access settings like choosing when MacID for Apple Watch plays haptics.
  • Adds new option for the MacID complication to show either the connected count, locked, or both.
  • You can now see the exact version of MacID for Apple Watch on the settings screen.
  • Updated notification design. Unfortunately there’s no way to modify this in code so I can’t make your chosen colour scheme work with this yet.
  • Unlock alerts now show no matter where you are in the app.
  • Much, much better support for switching between multiple Apple Watches paired to one iPhone.
  • Improves retrieving connected Macs when launching from a new install.
  • Leaving audio controls open for a connected Mac will properly update the currently playing track when you wake the screen.
  • Audio controls dismiss themselves if that Mac disconnects.
  • Removes “snooze” option from in-app unlock alerts that aren’t Proximity Wake alerts.
  • Fixes an issue where receiving any kind of MacID notification while the watch is active would show an unlock alert.
  • Fixes an issue where the complication could show the wrong number of Macs connected if the iOS app was restored in the background by iOS.
  • Fixes an issue where the complication wouldn’t update because the iOS was sending too much data in one go. Unfortunately there are still times when the system won’t let the complication update but it should be more reliable now.

MacID for OS X

  • You can now enable Tap to Unlock to work when Terminal is active, but note that there is no was for MacID to know if Terminal is asking for a password. This means tapping your tap pattern will always type your password into a Terminal window if it’s active.
  • You can also now ask MacID to notify you when the Mac App Store requires your password. This also enables Tap to Unlock for the Mac App Store. This feature requires that your OS X account password and Mac App Store password are the same.
  • The two new options above can be found in the new Advanced menu under More
  • Increases the size of the Lock Screen menu item.
  • Improves reconnection times a little.
  • Includes support for the new MacID colours which you can choose in MacID for iOS.
  • Improves elevated auth requests/admin requests by only notifying you if the system is actually asking for a password. Sometimes the system is just asking for your approval but not asking for a password, MacID can now tell the difference.
  • Adds an option to make any paired device the primary device.
  • Improves Tap to Unlock responsiveness when waking from deep sleep.
  • Adds option to stop searching for devices when it’s in the “Looking for…” stage.
  • Lifts the 4000 character limit for sending clipboard text.
  • Fixes an issue where a device disconnecting and reconnecting during password setup could cause the setup window to close.
  • Bluetooth scanning now ‘pauses’ between each connection attempt to help alleviate cfprefsd CPU issues.
  • Fixes an issue where an unlock request would get sent if an iOS device connects while the screensaver is running but the lock screen isn’t visible.
  • Fixes an issue where Proximity Wake would continually press the return key.
  • Fixes an issue where elevated auth requests would get sent even if the account isn’t an admin account.
  • Fixes an issue where selecting some Auto-lock options would cause “Limit to battery power” to become enabled.
  • Fixes an issue where MacID would MacID wouldn’t stop scanning after searching for new devices.
  • MacID now forces itself to activate when showing alerts so it’s better for VoiceOver users.
  • Fixes an issue where the lock screen icon may not always appear.
  • Prevents a Spotify-related crash.
  • Prevents an issue where “lock on disconnect” may fail.
  • Fixes an issue where forgetting a primary device wouldn’t automatically assign a new primary device.
  • Fixes an issue where choosing “Reconnect” wouldn’t show that it’s “Looking” even though it was searching for the device.
  • Fixes an issue where choosing “Uninstall” would re-save known devices just before uninstalling.
  • Fixes an issue where the Auto-lock menu wouldn’t properly disable items if Proximity Wake was set to a conflicting option.

What happens if Apple release their own version of MacID?

Yesterday, MacRumors posted an article that suggests Apple are going to be incorporating a similar idea to MacID baked into iOS and OS X. Since then I’ve had a few people message me and let me know their support and concerns (and some taunts…).

Firstly, let me put it to rest that if Apple do this, I won’t be shelving MacID. At least not while it’s still worth my time. Remember that MacID does more than just unlocking your Mac, it has the highest ratings out of all unlocking apps and a strong base of users.

It’s unlikely that Apple’s implementation will have any of these features:

  • Tap to Unlock (which in v1.3.4 will also work with Terminal and the Mac App Store)
  • Proximity based locking, waking and unlocking
  • Custom proximity triggers
  • Remotely share clipboards and start screensavers
  • Touch ID for administrator password requests
  • Multiple iOS devices per Mac, and multiple Macs per iOS device (this is possible, but unlikely)
  • Limiting features based on whether you’re connected to a power source or not
  • Audio controls
  • Full (and super fast) Apple Watch app
  • Pebble watch support
  • Custom URL schemes
  • Home screen shortcuts
  • iOS 8 and 9 support
  • Support for devices that don’t have Touch ID (effectively turning them into keys)
  • Constant supply of updates and new tweaks and features (MacID’s been updated 8 times since launching, which is an update about every 2 months)

The reason MacID exists is because I was bored of waiting for Apple to implement it themselves, so I can’t get angry that they finally have. Am I concerned? A little, I won’t lie, but this is software development this sort of stuff is what happens, especially to independent devs!

Although MacRumors are respectable and quite often right, it’s also worthwhile noting that they aren’t always right and they don’t cite any sources in their article.

I’ll be at WWDC this year so I’ll be the first to hear about it, and if worst comes to the worst and MacID’s downloads completely stop, it will free up time to work on whatever new awesome stuff announced and make another killer app.

Whatever happens, thanks for all the support over the last year and I’ll keep doing what I do!

Why MacID might say your Mac is locked when its not

If you set your Mac to require a password for anything other than “immediately” in System Preferences > Security & Privacy > “Require password after sleep or screensaver begins”, then unfortunately the system will always report to MacID that your screen is locked regardless as soon as your display sleeps or the screensaver starts.

Unfortunately there’s nothing that can be done my end, although as ever I’ve submitted a bug report to Apple so hopefully this will get resolved quickly.

For now, if this is causing an issue for you I would suggest changing the option to just require a password “immediately” or disable it altogether and just use MacID to lock your screen.

MacID for OS X reconnection procedure

As MacID becomes more popular, more and more people in offices are using it.

This is awesome, but in an environment like this it really shows up an issue where MacID has to “ping” everything nearby to reconnect to your device.

I really wish I didn’t have to do this, but there are a couple of issues with Bluetooth on OS X that mean I have to.

  1. The APIs are meant to allow apps to search only for devices that have a specific service. Unfortunately this just doesn’t work, I’ve spoken to other devs and they’ve had the same issue.
  2. Apps are also meant to be able to save a device’s identifier to reconnect to it at a later date. This works, until iOS changes its identifier, which happens randomly. I suspect this is something to do with protecting users’ privacy, but it makes reconnecting difficult.

As you can imagine, both of these issues present a problem. The only solution to which is to scan for everything and then try and figure out which is the right device.

Every new version of OS X I check if this has been fixed so I can at least search for just devices that are advertising the right services but unfortunately that hasn’t happened yet.

High cfprefsd CPU usage when using MacID

Update 5: Apple have replied to my bug report informing me that it’s a duplicate of another bug (#24570370). When that bug gets marked as fixed I will be able to see it and update you accordingly, but until it does we’ve done all we can do at this point.

Update 4: Thank you to everyone who’s provided a Bluetooth diagnostic report, I’ve now forwarded them on to Apple with bug report #26194733. 

Update 3: Clearing the OS X Bluetooth cache should help, even if not permanently. To clear the cache, click the MacID menu > More > Reset Bluetooth. It shouldn’t affect any paired keyboards or mice but will clear the cache.

Update 2: Other apps that use Bluetooth APIs on OS X are experiencing the same issue. Hopefully Apple will have a fix for this in the near future. Other people have been filing bugs with Apple too.

Update 1: A user has been kind enough to email to let me know that after reinstalling El Capitan, it has fixed the issue for them. Not an ideal solution by any means, but does help prove the theory Apple can fix it.

There are a few people reporting that while using MacID, the system is reporting high CPU usage for the `cfprefsd` process. I’ve never been able to reproduce this issue so it’s been hard for me to diagnose, but thanks to some helpful people I’ve been told it seems to happen when MacID is searching for your device to connect to.

Unfortunately this means that this is an issue internally where the system is accessing the Bluetooth plist file, and there’s not much I can do about that. If I stop MacID from scanning, then of course MacID would never connect to your device and it would be useless.

Thankfully this doesn’t happen to everyone, but if you are affected the more information you can provide about when it happens will help me narrow the issue down and file a decent bug report with Apple. What would be even more helpful is if you can send me a Bluetooth diagnostics report, along with your model of Mac and the version of OS X you’re using.

Here’s how to start a Bluetooth diagnostics report:

  • When the issue has happened, hold alt/option and click the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar
  • From the menu that appears choose “Create Diagnostics Report on the Desktop…”
  • After a moment a zip file will appear on your desktop, forward that file to the feedback email address and I’ll add it to the bug report with Apple

Any help you can provide will go a long way to getting this issue fixed. I can’t file a bug report with Apple until I can either reproduce the issue or forward on a report from someone who has. Thanks!

Make Apple Watch interactive notifications more reliable by waiting a moment before tapping a button

One of the best things about having an Apple Watch is the convenience of being able to action notifications directly from your wrist without having to get your phone out.

Many apps take full advantage of this convenience, like Tweetbot and Spark, and MacID is no exception. With Tweetbot you can “like” a mention, and with Spark you can mark an email as read. With MacID, you can unlock your Mac and snooze Proximity Wake requests (with more snooze options showing on the Watch than on iOS).

There’s one major difference between the other apps and MacID’s notifications on watchOS, which is that it’s really noticeable when MacID’s notifications don’t work. When you like a mention, you just tap it and assume it’s been liked. When you mark a mail as read, you do it and forget about it. But when you tap “unlock” for MacID, if it doesn’t unlock, it’s immediately apparent it hasn’t worked.

In actual fact, all watchOS notifications suffer from this. This has been a long-running issue since watchOS 2.0, and one that is yet to be fixed by Apple. As developers, there’s not a great deal we can do. The problem is that when you tap on a notification button on your Watch, sometimes the iOS app doesn’t get informed by watchOS; which means that the app doesn’t do anything.

There does seem to be one thing you can do, as the title of this post says, and that’s to wait just a moment longer after the notification appears on-screen on your Watch. Although this is frustrating, it does seem to work much more reliably. Give it a go, and let me know how you get on by tweeting @MacIDHelp.

MacID for OS X Extension – Set Slack Away

Here’s a small AppleScript extension which will set you as away on Slack when your Mac sleeps (if Slack is running):

on slackIsRunning()
  set isRunning to false
  tell application "System Events"
    set isRunning to (name of processes) contains "Slack"
  end tell
  return isRunning
end slackIsRunning

on setAsAway()
  activate application "Slack"
  tell application "System Events"
    tell process "Slack"
      keystroke "/away "
      keystroke {return}
    end tell
  end tell
end setAsAway

if slackIsRunning() then
  setAsAway()
end if

It works best if you drop it into MacID’s “onSleep” directory rather than “onLock”. It’s also worth noting that typing /away  in Slack while you’re away will set you as active, so if you’re already set as away this script will do the opposite!

For more information about extending MacID with AppleScript check this post out.

MacID v1.3.2

Hello! Along with the announcement of MacID for Pebble, I’m pleased to announce MacID v.1.3.2 has just passed review with Apple.

There’s a lot of changes in v1.3.2, I’ve worked long and hard to improve on some stuff you can see and stuff you can’t see. I’ve completely re-worked MacID’s innards, which has not only significantly reduced crashes but also paved the way to make it much easier for me to add new features and fixes in the future.

If you want to be awesome, please review or update your review in the iOS App Store for MacID, unfortunately whenever a new version is released all the old reviews get pushed off the search results ?

Here’s a run down of what’s new in v1.3.2. It’s not a short list!

MacID for iOS

  • Adds support for MacID for Pebble. Visit macid.co/pebble to download MacID for Pebble for free.
  • Adds a pressure sensitive Settings button. Try it out if you have a 6S or 6S Plus!
  • Adds support for Background App Refresh.
  • When Touch ID is disabled in MacID for iOS, opening MacID from a lock screen notification will unlock your Mac straight away without requiring your fingerprint again.
  • If MacID for iOS is in the foreground on two devices when you wake a Mac connected to both, unlocking from one will make the Touch ID prompt automatically disappear on the other (iOS 9 only).
  • If Low Power Mode is enabled, MacID will automatically throttle Bluetooth connections to save power. This will result in slower reaction times but decreased power usage.
  • Adds support for snoozing Proximity Wake for different durations (30 minutes, 1 hour, 6 hours or 1 day).
  • Adds support for only showing “snooze” in the interactive notification when the Mac wakes from Proximity Wake.
  • Minor changes to the Widget to make it fit in better with the Notification Center theme.
  • MacID for iOS now uses the same fancy full-screen diagonal gradients like MacID for OS X.
  • New animation when changing the colour scheme. (also works on MacID for OS X if you have a window open!)
  • Adds an option to completely hide the Widget if no Macs are connected.
  • Adds new options to customise which sounds play for which notifications.
  • Adds option to “unlock all” or “lock all” from home screen 3D Touch shortcuts.
  • Removes some background tasks if no Apple Watch is paired to improve battery usage.
  • Fixes an issue where the Settings “ripple” effect wouldn’t work properly when choosing “Create shortcuts” from a long-touch menu.
  • Removes “swipe to activate buttons” on connected devices to stop accidental disconnections/removals.
  • Clears up unnecessary logging.
  • Fixes the Widget showing the wrong name on German devices.
  • Fixes many background crashes.
  • Fixes an issue where the currently playing song wouldn’t show if a Mac disconnects and reconnects.
  • Significantly improved data send queue system to make it more reliable.
  • URL schemes can now use “macid://” instead of “macid:///”, previously set up URL schemes will continue to work.
  • Fixes an issue where launching the app from a notification wouldn’t ask for authentication if interactive notifications are disabled in settings.
  • Fixes the “welcome” window not being shown for new users.
  • Fixes an issue where the user account image wouldn’t automatically be sent when connecting a new Mac.

MacID for Apple Watch

  • Adds support for snoozing Proximity Wake.
  • Adds support for showing when your iOS battery is charging, low or using Low Power Mode in the MacID Glance.
  • The MacID for Apple Watch Glance is back! And with a fresh new look.
  • Fixes an issue where “Unlock all” wouldn’t honour if unlocking from MacID for Apple Watch is disabled in settings.

MacID for OS X

  • Adds the ability to set keyboard shortcuts for locking and sending clipboard.
  • MacID can now even display the currently playing song if MacID for OS X is launched mid-song.
  • Adds German localization.
  • Updates Sparkle to use the latest version.
  • Completely re-written data send logic to improve communication between devices and prevent crashes.
  • Completely re-written window management to make it quicker for me to add new features in the future.
  • Adds support for using the colour scheme chosen in your primary iOS device. Changing the colour on iOS animates the colour change in any MacID for OS X windows open. Really swish!
  • MacID windows now use the lovely diagonal gradient, just like MacID for iOS the MacID website.
  • Adds support for getting more reliable device name information (rather than it sometimes just showing “iPhone”)
  • Stops the Dock icon briefly appearing and disappearing on app launch.
  • Prevents an issue where the MacID menu items would be greyed out on app launch.
  • Adds support for only showing the snooze button on iOS notifications when the notification is sent due to Proximity Wake.
  • Prevents the auto-lock warning notification not dismissing even if you use the keyboard or mouse.
  • If the password is missing from the keychain, MacID will display the “Save Password” window on launch.
  • Adds the ability to relaunch MacID from the More menu. Useful for quickly fixing Bluetooth connection issues.
  • The Lock Screen menu item now has a nicer, tidier looking icon.
  • RSSI information now shows above the primary iOS device to make it clearer which device MacID is getting the information from.
  • Device menus now show more reliable states, and the primary iOS device now states that it’s primary.
  • Adds the ability to add more than two devices if you so wish, however two is still recommended due to OS X not handling multiple connections particularly well.
  • New progress indicator when sending/receiving large amounts of clipboard text.
  • Fixes a glitchy looking activity indicator window.
  • Windows are now “floating” windows. This means that if you accidentally click away from a MacID window you won’t have to bring up Mission Control to get back to it.
  • If you’re using a Dock icon instead of the Menu Bar icon, the Dock icon will show a “!” if there’s an issue like Bluetooth being turned off or unavailable.
  • MacID now determines that a user is active if the keyboard or mouse has been used in the last 3 seconds, previously it was 5. Doesn’t sound like much, but some people can get away from their Mac sooner than 5 seconds and auto-lock won’t trigger.
  • Brings back the “auto-move” option if MacID is launched anywhere other than the Applications folder. Useful for people who don’t use automatic updates and prefer to use the website.
  • If you have automatic updates disabled, choosing “check for update” will now take you to the website’s update page (like before automatic updates were implemented).
  • MacID lock-screen UI now displays properly if the screen is locked when dismissing a screensaver.
  • MacID also now properly hides it’s lock screen UI if you press escape on the screensaver’s lock screen. Previously it would get stuck on the screen.
  • Adds the ability to change your Tap to Unlock tap pattern without having to first disable Tap to Unlock.
  • Auto-lock menu now shows is an app or process is stopping the screen from sleeping (which disables auto-lock). Unfortunately the Caffeine app uses some way of keeping the screen awake that MacID can’t detect.
  • Fixes an issue where “taps” would get stuck on the screen.
  • Snoozing Proximity Wake from the iOS app will press the escape key so the screen shuts off straight away.
  • Prevents an issue where snooze time remaining could show a long negative number.
  • Proximity Wake now imposes a 5 second delay after screen sleep to stop it triggering as people are walking away.

Phew. Not bad for a x.x.2 update eh? ? The next major release of MacID will be v2, which I’ve already started work on! There are a few apps similar to MacID on the App Store, but few receive as many updates and as much time as MacID does. I use it every day, and because of that I get to see what’s good and what needs changing.

Thanks to everyone who’s supported MacID!

Introducing MacID for Pebble

I’m really pleased to announce that, along-side the release of MacID v1.3.2, MacID for Pebble is now available (for free)!

Here’s a direct link to open the Pebble App Store on your iOS device:  pebble://appstore/5669d5063d27474c94000055

Requirements

MacID for Pebble requires that you’re running MacID for iOS v1.3.2 or newer and that your Pebble is running firmware 3.x or newer (even if it’s Original Pebble).

If you need advice on installing firmware 3.x on your original Pebble, there’s some information here.

Using MacID for Pebble

After installing MacID for Pebble, launch MacID for iOS and enable “Allow unlocking from Pebble” in the settings.

When you launch MacID for Pebble a list of your connected Macs will appear just like on MacID for iOS and MacID for Apple Watch. Scroll using the up and down buttons to choose a connected Mac, and use the select (middle) button to lock or unlock.

That’s not all! Just like MacID for Apple Watch you can control audio. Long-press on the select button to show the audio control screen. You’ll see the current song playing and track controls. Long-press again on the select button and you’ll swap to volume controls!

Unfortunately, notifications aren’t interactive on Pebble (due to restrictions placed by Apple ?), so if your Mac wakes while you have MacID for Pebble open a notification will get in the way. Thankfully there’s a way to improve this. You can disable notifications for MacID on your Pebble, and if your Mac wakes while MacID for Pebble is open you’ll get an in-app notification which you can action. From that in-app notification you can unlock or snooze Proximity Wake.

To disable notifications just for MacID on your Pebble, go into iOS settings and set MacID’s notifications to not show in Notification Centre.

Something to remember

While Pebble do all they can to make it easier for 3rd parties to create apps for Pebble, they can only do what Apple allow them. This creates some limitations, one of which is the lack of interactive notifications on Pebble. Another limitation to keep in mind, is that every iOS app on your phone has to share a single communication session with your Pebble watch. In practice, this can mean that MacID loses it’s control over the session because another app is using it, and the only way to get the session back is to restart the iOS app.

This sucks, and hopefully you won’t have to do this often, but it’s something that is unavoidable.

MacID for Pebble doesn’t have to go through the same review process for updates as MacID for iOS and MacID for Apple Watch, so I can add improvements to it whenever I get time. Let me know what you think using the feedback options in MacID for iOS or MacID for OS X! Enjoy!