How to set up Apple Pay on an iPhone 6 and why it’s such a big deal

A number of features arrive with iOS 8.1 today, among them Apple Pay, Apple’s new mobile payment system that launches first with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (owners of other recent models can hop on if they pick up an Apple Watch next year). At participating physical stores (you can see a growing list on Apple’s site), you can now pay for purchases by tapping the top of your phone to an NFC-enabled register and verifying with Touch ID. For online stores and in-app purchases, all you need is Touch ID.

To set it up, go to the new Settings > Passbook & Apple Pay section. It walks you through adding one or more credit cards and relevant payment information, and the whole thing was pretty simple for the two cards I added.

It’s worth noting that Apple Pay is not simply a proxy for your credit card number, it’s actually a wild new token-based payment system. In short, each time you make a purchase, your iPhone, bank, and store swap a secure “token” that is only good for that one single purchase, authorized with your Touch ID fingerprint.

If a Target- or Home-Depot-style malicious attack were to happen, and malicious hackers stole these tokens, they would be worthless for other purchases. Another perk of Apple Pay: the people accepting these payments—cash register clerks, your restaurant waiter, etc.—never have to see your name or credit card number if you don’t want them to. In fact, they don’t get a chance to walk off with your information at all.

Apple Pay could be a massive step forward for security and privacy in electronic and mobile payments.

Fastmail makes flag/starring messages actually useful

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Fastmail, a powerful yet polished email service, adds a unique perk to flagging/starring messages.

Instead of hoping that “pinned” messages stand out with an icon in the message list, you can re-sort the list so pinned messages sit at the top of all others, regardless of their age.

If your inbox and folders double as a task list, at least for some things, this is a great way to prevent those tasks from falling out of your inbox and off your radar.

iOS 8: Notifications are useful, interactive now

Notifications are no longer just notifications in iOS 8, many allow you to take action such as reply to a message or snooze an alarm.

You can take these actions by pulling down on notifications banners when they appear (see that little handle at the bottom?) and swiping left on an alert in Notification Center.

Third-party apps can do this as well, so keep an eye out for updates.

Yosemite: Quick tricks for calling any number with your Mac, FaceTime, and a paired iPhone

In the new OS X Yosemite, you can quickly start (and answer) phone calls using FaceTime on Mac. Your iPhone can be in your pocket or a bag across the room, as long as it’s within bluetooth range.

In my examples, I right-clicked a phone number I jotted down in Stickies. But you can also click the phone icon next to any number in Contacts. This should work in Safari pages and just about any other app as well.

If you’re looking to enable or disable this option, open the FaceTime app and go to preferences.

OS X’s hard drive icon tells you to handle with care, get grounded

Apple often sneaks animation and even entire speeches into its icons, and OS X Mavericks’ standard hard drive icon is the latest I’ve seen thanks to Joseph Schmitt. Zoomed view above, full icon below.

Bonus points here are that, setting aside the Mac’s general non-user-serviceability these days, this is just plain good advice.

OS X hard drive icon label zoomed

OS X hard drive icon label zoomed

OS X hard drive icon label

OS X hard drive icon label

How to copy a selection + page title + URL all at once with Clips on iOS

Clips is a clipboard, keyboard, and widget and one of my favorite new utilities for iOS 8. Put simply, it’s a way for you to copy multiple things to a scratchpad for pasting elsewhere. But my favorite feature is that it can copy more than what you have selected on a page, and you can customize what and how it copies.

Say you want to blog a quote from an article you’re reading in Safari on iPhone or iPad:

  • Select the quote on the page
  • Tap the Action menu in the toolbar, then Clips (like all extensions, make sure you enabled the Clips extension)
  • A Clips sheet appears with a preview of what will be copied and tools for copying other things from that page
  • Choose a template like Text + URL or [Title](URL) > Text
  • Clips updates the preview to show you exactly what will be copied
  • Tap a copy option down below—Copy and Add to Clips, Add to Clips, or simply Copy
  • Now switch to your blogging app and paste everything you copied in a single tap
  • Sit back and marvel at how clever you are

But Clips goes one better. In Settings > Copy Templates, you can create your own copy templates that fit your workflow (hello Markdown users). Maybe you usually paste a quote with the title of the article linked to the source just below. Clips’ template tools are perfect for this.

Anecdotally, I use my iPhone and iPad to post a lot of articles and quotes to my Tumblr. Now with Clips it’s just one tap to copy everything I need, then paste into a Tumblr Quote post, cut the Markdown-ified title + link, paste it into the source, and publish. What was usually about a four-step app dance is reduced to two, thanks to Clips. It’s fantastic.

One admitted catch is that this workflow is hit-and-miss in third-party apps. Tweetbot, for example, recently updated to support iOS 8 app extensions, but it doesn’t pass selected text from a webpage opened in-app to Clips (only the page title and URL get through). I don’t know if this is something third-party apps can update to support, but I sure would love it if they did.

Clips is awesome, and I think Clean Shaven Apps (makers of my favorite email app, Dispatch) is nuts for giving it away for free. Get it and buy the in-app purchase to unlock sync and support a great app shop.

How to use iTunes 12 to quickly copy iOS app icons [Updated]

Update

Unfortunately, as of iTunes 12.1.0.50, this feature no longer works. I don’t know if Apple saw it as a flaw and fixed it, or if it is something that is now broken. If it returns, I’ll update this here again.

iTunes 12 copy app icons

iTunes 12 copy app icons

I often need to quickly grab app icons, whether it’s for a post here or I’m doing work for AgileBits on the Apps ❤ 1Password page. While it would be great for developers and shops to make clean versions of their app icons more readily available, I found a quick way to snag them if you have the app downloaded in iTunes (large, rounded icons too. Not the square versions from App Store web pages or tools like this).

I believe this is new in iTunes 12, and though I don’t have older versions to check, Chris Ensor says it isn’t in 11.4. Here’s how:

  1. Click the Apps section (or press ⌘-7)
  2. Select the app you want
  3. Press ⌘-i
  4. In the info window that appears, click the app’s icon; a blue halo should surround it
  5. Press ⌘-c

The icon is now copied to your clipboard, and you just need a place to paste and save it. Apps like Acorn and Pixelmator are great choices, but you can also go with OS X’s own Preview.

In the first two, press ⌘-n to get a new file prompt based on the dimensions of the icon in your clipboard. Once the blank file opens, press ⌘-v to paste and you can save however you want from there (I recommend a transparent PNG, but you might need to use the Save for Web options and reduce dimensions to get a reasonable file size).

If you go with Preview, simply open the app and hit ⌘-n to create a new file and automatically paste the icon. Save how you like.