[EDIT 2] Apple are asking me to change the name. MacID 2 will not longer be called MacID, and will be called Unlox. You can read more about it on the Unlox blog
[EDIT] A few people have asked how they can beta test macID 2. If you’re running iOS 11.2 and macOS High Sierra, simply add your details to this form and I will add you with the next batch: https://goo.gl/forms/5HXqoQfdf0B1IZgB3
Now that macID 2 is finally in the hands of beta testers, I thought I would take the time to speak a little about what’s changed, as well as some of the decisions I’ve made.
What’s the deal with macID 2?
Firstly, you might notice that “macID” now starts with a lowercase ‘M’. Small change, but this fits in nicer with the Apple ecosystem and I think it looks great. Autocorrect is having a hard time adjusting to this change after me typing “MacID” for over two years though!
macID 2 is a complete re-write of the iOS, watchOS and macOS apps. Usually, I would advise against re-writing an app completely and instead opting to modularise and re-write parts of the app as you go. However, after running MacID 1 in the iPhone X simulator I quickly realised that some of the choices I’d made for laying out the UI were going to mean a huge change to the underlying code. If I’m going to make that much of a change, I may as well re-write it.
It also gives me the opportunity to write the whole app in Swift – which I am much faster at writing because I do it all day as my day job too – plus it means the app is way less likely to crash. I also hugely enjoy writing Swift now, and Objective-C feels archaic!
A complete re-write means I can use more modern ways of laying out the UI using something called auto-layout, which makes it significantly easier to support iPhone X. It also means that I can refine and simplify both apps to make macID 2 a more intuitive and easy-to-use experience.
I can use this opportunity to write the code in a way that is easier to maintain and build on top of; something that I’ve only learnt how to do really well since launching MacID 1.
Speaking of making things easier to maintain, I’ve taken the difficult decision to only support English in macID 2. This might seem like a lazy thing to do, but I have significantly less free time nowadays compared to when I first launched MacID 1, so finding the time to work on updates has become much harder. Anything I can do to make it quicker for me to update the app will mean more support in the future.
The core changes in macID 2
There are four main points of focus in macID 2:
- The connection: one of the most painful parts of MacID 1 was getting the connection solid. MacID came out when Yosemite was the latest version of macOS, and over the years ended up having multiple workarounds for various Bluetooth bugs. Starting fresh means I can get rid of these awful workarounds, and focus on making the connection work great for the latest version of macOS.
- The design: MacID 1 has always been a pretty app but it’s really starting to show its age now, especially alongside iOS 11 and iPhone X. macID 2 adopts a more native feel while still staying true to its gradient-full beauty which gives macID its unique and recognisable look.
- Ease of use: As MacID 1 became more and more popular, it became more and more complicated and difficult to use. The main macID menu was a bit of a mess and the iOS app started to get unintuitive to use. macID 2 starts afresh, restructuring the most useful features into a more refined and simple interface. I’ve had to guess what features to redevelop first because I have no analytics in the app. Because macID has access to your password, your trust and privacy is incredibly important to me so I have always opted for never having analytics. This is a trade-off for that privacy, so if macID 2 doesn’t have a feature you use, let me know and I’ll add it back in if I can!
- Face ID: Along with a redesign and support for the iPhone X screen, I really wanted to make sure that macID properly supported Face ID. I’ve been taking special considerations for Face ID support; for example, making sure that if you have macID open while your Mac requests your admin password, Face ID doesn’t automatically scan your face and enter your password without you approving it first.
Will macID 2 be a free upgrade for existing customers?
Yes. macID 2 will be in the App Store as a separate app to MacID 1 (just like how Tweetbot 3 and 4 were separate apps), and I’m planning to do some sort of upgrade bundle for people who already own MacID 1. I’m not quite sure how it works with bundles in the App Store, so if I can’t make it completely free, I’ll make it as cheap as possible. It may not be a free upgrade forever, so make sure you download it as soon as it’s available!
Why is macID 2 a separate app?
I have been deciding on whether to just have macID 2 overwrite the existing app in the App Store or to allow them to exist side-by-side for a while. I finally settled on having a separate app for the simple reason that it’s not fair to remove support for older macOS and iOS versions without giving some sort of grace period for people to update.
High Sierra is relatively new, and not everyone has moved over, or even can move over. For example, my laptop at work still runs Sierra, and probably will for a while, so I’ll need to keep using MacID 1 for the time being there.
On top of that, there was a really, really nasty Bluetooth bug in iOS 11 that didn’t get fixed until iOS 11.2, which means I can’t support iOS versions earlier than iOS 11.2 if I want to use the latest version of Xcode and Swift. It’s just not fair to expect everyone to update to 11.2 so soon, so both apps will exist at the same time for a while.
The future of macID
All of this work is happening to breathe fresh life into macID, but also to enable me to be able to update macID quicker and better going forwards. As I mentioned above, I have significantly less free time than I did when I first released macID, and I want to do everything I can to make macID live on far into the future. I absolutely love macID – and everyone who uses it – and I want to keep improving it for everyone.
I want to take this time to once again say thank you to everyone who has ever helped macID be successful in some way. Whether that’s just downloading the app, telling your friends, leaving a rating in the App Store, publishing a blog post or helping me test beta versions. It means a lot to me that despite all the Bluetooth issues, people still use macID, and it’s this that keeps me motivated. Just the other day I was so eager to get a new beta build out to everyone, I walked home from work with my MacBook tethered to my phone while uploading a build!
So sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.