Archive for April 19, 2023

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Apple Card Savings Account Launches

Apple (Hacker News, MacRumors):

Starting today, Apple Card users can choose to grow their Daily Cash rewards with a Savings account from Goldman Sachs, which offers a high-yield APY of 4.15 percent — a rate that’s more than 10 times the national average. With no fees, no minimum deposits, and no minimum balance requirements, users can easily set up and manage their Savings account directly from Apple Card in Wallet.


Once a Savings account is set up, all future Daily Cash earned by the user will be automatically deposited into the account.

The 10x is compared with most physical banks. There are a dozen or more online banks that offer similar rates. Ally and Amex are currently at 3.75%. Goldman Sachs’s own Marcus product is at 3.9%, slightly lower than its Apple product. Synchrony offers the same 4.15%. CIT offers 4.5%, or 4.75% on a $5,000 balance. VIO is at 4.77%. So Apple’s offering is not amazing, but it’s very good. There are probably lots of people who have been getting terrible rates because they never shopped around, and now Apple is making it really easy for them to get something much better.

It’s still unclear whether this is a fully featured bank account. Can you use it to pay your Apple Card bill? There does not seem to be a Web site.

Dave Mark:

Unless you reject the arbitration provision, you automatically:

  • Give up the right to litigate claims,
  • Initiate or participate in a class action
  • Waive the right to be heard in court or have a jury trial.

From page 13. Worth knowing.

John Gruber:

Peers makes it sound like all a thief needs to empty your bank account is your phone. What the Journal story made clear is that thieves need both your phone and your device passcode. That’s a big difference.


And the new interest-paying savings accounts are just an alternative to having your Apple Card cash-back go to your Apple Cash account — which pays no interest. So if Peers has successfully spooked any Information readers from signing up for these savings accounts, all he’s succeeded in doing is keeping them from earning interest. There’s zero difference in security.

This is literally true, if you go by Apple’s current framing that this is a way to earn interest on your existing rewards balance. But presumably Apple and Goldman are thinking bigger and would like you to transfer in additional funds. Before, there was no reason to maintain a balance; now there is. Now it becomes relevant that your iPhone passcode is probably less secure and more frequently entered in public than your current banking password. Plus, the banking login may be protected by an additional factor or stored in a separate password manager with its own password.


It would have been nice if the prompt that was supposed to show up per the instructions to transfer existing Apple Cash balance actually did appear. It did not in my case.

Andrew Abernathy:

I mostly really like the Apple Card (credit card), but there are some issues. Like today when I looked at my transactions and noticed one this morning from Ace Hardware (including showing me the local store); got worried because I haven’t been there in months; had trouble figuring out how to report it; then when I did figure it out, I noticed on that screen an important bit of info: “shown on statement as” — with the name of my dentist’s office (where I actually was this morning).

Not the first time that some bit of automation on Apple’s or Goldman Sach’s side has misidentified a transaction. The other one I recall claimed (every month for a long time) that my Centurylink payment was actually from the US Navy or Marines, and showed me the location, which was an old (and closed) recruitment office.


Update (2023-06-02): Juli Clover:

Apple Card customers who have opted to create a high-yield Apple Savings account through Goldman Sachs have been experiencing issues attempting to withdraw their money, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

Multiple customers who transferred thousands of dollars to the Apple Savings account have had to wait weeks for money transfers in some cases, and some customers have also had money disappear.

Update (2023-08-09): Greg Pierce:

I like the idea of ease of use, but the interest rate isn’t keeping up with what I get elsewhere. They are at 4.15% and I’m currently getting 4.75% at Betterment. 🤷‍♂️

VIO is now a full point higher at 5.15%, and the others I mentioned have increased, too. All are now the same or higher than Apple.

TidBITS Downsizing and New Direction

Adam Engst (Mastodon):

33 years. That’s how long I’ve been publishing TidBITS, starting in April 1990. Last year was the closest I’ve come to shutting TidBITS down, but with changes that came late in the year, I’m more enthused about TidBITS than I have been in quite some time.


Plus, since we couldn’t predict when most news would break, I often found myself dropping whatever I was doing to edit Josh’s articles. Much as I liked working with him, I had come to dislike all the editing interruptions, particularly because we found ourselves publishing the same kind of articles over and over again. Outside of the details, news isn’t usually new—stories fall into categories, and after 30-plus years, I have written or edited most of them many times.


Although I initially thought I’d make more extensive changes—I’m still pondering starting a podcast—I’ve found spending more time in my own head simultaneously relaxing and invigorating. […] I’m actively excited to dive into topics that I think will make a real difference in the lives of many readers.


I was amused when he said he thought I should focus on writing one article per week on whatever I was doing rather than news of any sort. […] I can’t compete with all the tech reporters at the likes of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, nor do I have the loose-lipped industry sources that whisper secrets to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. But unlike me, they won’t delve into the murky details of the File Provider extension for cloud storage services or explain how to resolve nagging problems with a Level 2 clean install.

It’s been great seeing more writing from Engst, and I like this new focus.


The End of Computer Magazines in America

Harry McCracken (via Jason Snell):

I’m not writing this article because the dead-tree versions of Maximum PC and MacLife are no more. I’m writing it because they were the last two extant U.S. computer magazines that had managed to cling to life until now. With their abandonment of print, the computer magazine era has officially ended.


Then again, if you want to quibble, Maximum PC and MacLife may barely have counted as U.S. magazines at the end; their editorial operations migrated from the Bay Area to the UK at some point in recent years when I wasn’t paying attention. (Both were owned by Future, a large British publishing firm.)


But the web didn’t render printed computer magazines obsolete overnight. PCW had some of its fattest, happiest years as a business in the late 1990s. Even in 2008, when I left, the print magazine was a profit center, not an albatross.

Indeed, the entire computer magazine category spent years in Wile E. Coyote mode. We’d blithely walked off a cliff—it’s just that gravity hadn’t kicked in yet.


Pretending that the internet didn’t exist sounds like a preposterous strategy for keeping a print magazine alive, but it somehow worked. Maximum PC and MacLife survived—scrawny, but with a pulse—until 2023. Their final issues were 98-page weaklings that cost $9.99 apiece and seem to have a grand total of one page of paid advertising between them—plus an article sponsored by a mail-order computer dealer.

John Gruber:

As McCracken himself notes, it’s impossible to overstate the essential role computer magazines played before the web. I read Macworld and MacUser cover-to-cover every month.

Chris Adamson:

The hospital gift shop had a copy of the last issue of the last surviving print computer magazine in the US.


Price Increases for Developer Tools


We’re writing to let you know that we’re introducing a modest increase to the cost of license renewals from $99 to $120. The new price will come into effect the next time you renew your license, on or after 19 May 2023.


We don’t take decisions like these lightly but, like everyone else, our running costs are increasing. Doing this helps us remain sustainable and deliver more new features and improvements. Even with these increases, you’ll find our pricing is still favorable compared to our competitors.

Florian Albrecht (tweet):

Very soon, we will be announcing Kaleidoscope 4 with many exciting new features. But before we share details about the new version, we want to outline our subscription pricing and upgrade options for existing customers.

The new subscription price will be $14.99/month or $99/year ($8.25/month). All existing customers will get the first year for half the price.


We grew the company in order to work on features requests that require more engineering resources. And we have a roadmap that will make Kaleidoscope even more powerful.

Transitioning from paid upgrades to subscription will allow us to follow through on this roadmap.


Kaleidoscope 1.0, 2010: ~$36 ($49.67 in 2023 dollars)

Kaleidoscope 2.0, 2013: $69.99 ($90.38)

Kaleidoscope 3.0, 2021: $149.99 ($166.52)

Kaleidoscope 4.0, 2023: $99/yr

Feels like a big ask. OTOH, how do you sustain a business around such a niche tool?

It feels weird because, say, BBEdit is only $49.99 for a perpetual license and about 2 years of feature updates. It does way more than Kaleidoscope, and I spend more than 100x as much time in it. Or, put another way, Kaleidoscope is an expanded version of one of BBEdit’s features, for roughly 4x the price. Plus, there are free alternatives such as FileMerge. Yet that’s not a very useful way of looking at the situation. Kaleidoscope is really good at what it does. For some people the alternatives would suffice, but for others this may be a niche, but it’s a very important one. If a niche product can’t get a lot more customers, the only option seems to be to charge more than the more mass-market products. That can work for a product that when you need it you really need it. As a fan of Kaleidoscope but a light user of it—I do most of my diffing in Tower, BBEdit, and Word—I’m not yet sure which group I’m in.

The main choice, as I see it, is how much development to do. Perhaps one could charge less with fewer new features, built by fewer developers, who are maybe dividing their time among multiple apps. How many new features does the app need, anyway? It already does what I (think I) want; I mainly want it to keep working. But they have lots of ideas and are going in the opposite direction: charging more to support more development. They presumably have reason to expect that they can win over customers who already have perpetual licenses for Kaleidoscope 3.

Another developer tool is Hopper, which has gone from $19 to $45 per major update, to $45 and then $99 per year of updates. To me, it’s similar to Sketch and Kaleidoscope in that I don’t really need a lot of new features, and sometimes I go weeks between uses, but I wouldn’t want to be without it. Hopper is a bit different, though, in that it seems to require regular updates to keep working with Apple’s OS and compiler changes. Those are probably best thought of as new features. Whereas, with Sketch I would expect less breakage due to Apple. The main reason I keep upgrading it is that my designer saves files using the latest version, and then the app scares me into thinking that they won’t work properly if I’m using an older one.


Update (2023-04-22): See also: Twitter, Hacker News, Christian Tietze.