Improvements Coming to iCloud Mail on The Web

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Apple Mail looks to be receiving some interesting new updates across Apple’s OS’s this Autumn, with new features like disposable email addresses, the ability to block various tracking methods and even custom domains. This seems like a nice little feature boost, so much so it had me doubting why anyone in the Apple ecosystem would opt for Fastmail over Apple Mail anymore.

One area currently lacking, as stated by Matt Birchler is the poor webapp experience on iCloud.com.

I’ve regularly kept an eye on the beta version of iCloud.com, so this reminded me to check it out again and see if the team at Apple were actually looking to improve the iCloud mail web experience. I was surprised to see, they are at least looking into it. If you navigate to the Email part of iCloud.com you will see a small, but noticable difference.

This is the old / current version of iCloud.com mail:

This current version is slow, ugly, and fairly unresponsive. Here’s what it looks like on the Beta site:

new_iCloud

This new look, whilst not vastly different is a lot closer to the macOS version of the Apple Mail client. From my brief experimentation, it also feels substantially faster. It’s far cleaner, and more consistent with the App experience as well.

The way you interact with the emails themselves are also grealty improved. Currently, if you want to reply to an email it will open a new pop-up window. Now, if you press reply you get a nice drop-down, as seen below:

When you reply, there’s a nice pop-over reply window, as you can see in my reply to some spam below:

All in all, whilst these are not huge changes, they go quite a way to making the web experience on iCloud Mail far better than it was before. At least, it’s now a usable experience.

I’ve spoken a lot about where I’m going to keep my email recently. I’m keen to move away from Gmail, and have been experimenting with Hey and Fastmail, but I’ve come to realise iCloud Mail gives me all I need for my fairly basic Email needs. Privacy, essentially unlimited storage, and a good email address (or a selection of addresses with an @mac and @me address). The fact that Apple are clearly have at least some kind of focus on their mail offering is reassuring and I’m feeling even better about my decision now.


The Issue With iMessage Backups

Spencer Dailey, on accessing iMessage backups:

Many iPhone owners have iMessages from years ago that they can’t access. For example, my wife and I simply want to read the first few messages that we exchanged in 2017, but we can’t. A friend of mine recently had to prove she had a relationship with someone for US immigration services, and she was able to quickly download an easily searchable file containing all messages without using a 3rd-party tool in her efforts to do so. But she doesn’t use iMessage, she uses another chat app.

At last check I had about 40GB of iMessage backups in my family iCloud storage. I’d never thought about actually accessing any of this data and finding old messages. I’ve searched my iMessage archive before, but have never thought about the issues I’d have trying to actually just view a chronological history of this stored data.

The fact I’ve never had a need to do it is, obviously, why it’s never come to mind but it has to be a crappy situation for those that do actually need it. I can imagine a common use-case for trying this in the first place is after a loved one passes away, which is not a time you’re going to want to be messing around with phones crashing and the like when you may just want to read some comforting words. Hopefully this is something Apple will address in the future.

One thing I thought may be a, slightly convoluted, option was to go to privacy.apple.com, first implemented to appease GDPR rules, and request an extract of your iMessage data. This, however, isn’t possible, as iMessages are not available as part of this export. I will assume that it’s because of encryption. There is an option, apparently, to view the archive database on a Mac, but that’s not going to be viable to many.

Long story short, I suppose, try not to retain anything too important to you in your iMessage backup, because it may be a painful experience to ever see it again!

I have a challenge for you. Think about someone you love or care about very much and write them an email, or letter. Something they can keep. Don’t be remembered by a set of iMessages stuck in an iCloud backup prison limbo.


Apple Made a Gaming Console And You Missed It

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For years now, people have questioned why Apple hasn’t gone all in on gaming, and created a games console. Games are a big part of the Apple App Store, yet the games don’t have a console to thrive on.

The thing is, Apple do have a gaming console. They have a load of them in fact, but no ones seemed to notice. Much as Apple has tried to ask ‘What’s a computer?’, people need to ask ‘What is a console?’


MacBook vs. iPad

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Almost every post I write at the moment seems to be prefaced with the statement ‘I’m an iPad Guy’ and it’s true. I love iPads, and my current 2018 12.9” iPad Pro has been my favourite Apple product I’ve ever owned. When Apple announced the amazing looking M1 iPad Pro a few weeks ago I instantly fell in love and knew I needed it … and then a few hours passed and my certainly started to wane a bit. I was debating with myself about ordering it a week later, but I went for ir despite my misgivings. Despite getting an order in quickly, it seemed that I wouldn’t be getting it until a week after launch, which gave me yet more time to possibly regret the rash decision. No one should be spending £1,200 on a luxury item you aren’t sure you really need or want.


What's In My Dock - macOS Edition

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I’ve been an iPad guy for a long time now, but I recently picked up an M1 Mac Mini because, shiny, and I’ve got to say I’ve been really impressed by it. It boots in seconds, and really flies, at least for the light work I do on it.

Chris Wilson recently shared a fun post featuring his favourite iPhone Apps of 2021. I’ve been enjoying using my Mac Mini so much that, when I saw this, I immediately thought about posting about that, rather than my beloved iPad1. I don’t think I’ve been using the Mac thoroughly enough to realy highight my favourites, or recommendations, so I thought I’d post a slighty different take by talking a little about the Mac apps I’ve grown fond enough of to put into my coverted dock space. By looking at a few of these apps, you will get a better feeling of what I use my Mac Mini for. I’ll likely follow up with an iOS / iPadOS version, thus specifically calling this out as a macOS Edition. So, without further ado, here is my current macOS dock.

macOS dock (Apologies, it doesn’t seem to come out in the highest of resolutions)