Intego Mac Security Podcast

Apple’s Forthcoming AI Operating Systems – Intego Mac Podcast Episode 348

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We discuss Apple’s announcements made it Its Worldwide Developers Conference, Keynote, and what to expect when new operating systems are officially released in the fall.

  • Apple’s WWDC keynote video
  • Apple announces AI operating systems at WWDC24: macOS Sequoia, iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and more
  • Apple Intelligence: Why most users won’t get it

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    Transcript of Intego Mac Podcast episode 348

    Voice Over 0:00
    This is the Intego Mac Podcast—the voice of Mac security—for Thursday, June 13 2024. In this week’s Intego Mac podcast, we discuss Apple’s announcements made it Its Worldwide Developers Conference, Keynote, and what to expect when new operating systems are officially released in the fall. Now, here are the hosts of the Intego, Mac podcast. Veteran Mac journalist, Kirk McElhearn. And Intego’s. Chief Security Analyst, Josh Long.

    Kirk McElhearn 0:34
    Good morning, Josh, how are you today?

    Josh Long 0:36
    I’m doing well. How are you, Kirk?

    What are some of the more interesting features Apple announced at WWDC?

    Kirk McElhearn 0:37
    I’m kind of tired. This has been a busy week with all this new stuff that Apple announced on Monday and all the work that you and I have been doing, analyzing this and writing about it not quite yet testing the betas. But it’s a lot to ingest to process all the new stuff that Apple is doing. We’re going to talk about Apple’s presentation of its new AI operating systems. And because AI is really the theme of all these operating systems, we’re not going to discuss everything because well, to do that you watch the Apple event video and you go to the Apple website, you can see the whole thing. It was what almost two hours long, it was much longer than anything we’ve had, I believe it was an hour and a half to go over the basic stuff in the operating system. And then they came into the AI stuff Apple Intelligence for another half hour. We’ll talk about Apple Intelligence later, we wanted to just go through some of the cool, not cool, interesting features in the new operating systems on a scale of one to 10. How blown away are you Josh, by the new features?

    Josh Long 1:39
    Well, as far as the AI features, I think they hit the nail on the head, they did a really good job with all that.

    Kirk McElhearn 1:46
    Okay, but we’ll do AI later we’ll do that later. That’s a separate topic.

    Josh Long 1:49
    The other features not impressed like at all.

    Kirk McElhearn 1:53
    That’s interesting, because as the presentation was going on everything I saw, I thought, hey, good, either. It’s about time they do that with the home screen customization on the iPhone, or that’s a good idea for most of the things I didn’t see anything that seemed really superfluous.

    Josh Long 2:10
    Yeah. So what you’re talking about the home screen customization on iPhone, then this is something you can already do with the first developer beta. And it’s one of the few things that you can do with the developer betas, because they do not include any of the new AI functionality, which will be in beta when the operating systems launch in the fall. Apple’s making it pretty clear that this is not fully fleshed out. And I think they’re trying to sort of imply that, you know, we know that they’re just generative AI hallucinations. And there might be mistakes or other weird anomalies and stuff. So we’re just going to call it in beta when it actually launches with the operating system. So we don’t get any AI features. Right now, with the developer previews.

    Kirk McElhearn 2:53
    How many years was Gmail in beta?

    Josh Long 2:56
    I don’t know. But it was in beta for many, many years, something like 10 years, I think, yeah. And like everybody was just using that as their default to like email now and like, What the what, they’re just gonna cancel the beta on millions of people and you have leave them without email, like that would be crazy.

    Kirk McElhearn 3:13
    So I think calling something a beta removes a bit of responsibility from the company, that if there’s something wrong that they could say, well, we told you it was a beta. You shouldn’t expect it to work perfectly.

    Josh Long 3:24
    Yeah, that well, obviously, that’s what Apple’s going for here. Because again, like AI does hallucinate sometimes, and it does some weird things that make people uncomfortable sometimes. So I think Apple’s just calling it a beta just so they can maybe iron out some of those issues that people will inevitably probably discover as soon as the operating systems come out.

    Kirk McElhearn 3:45
    Okay, I did say we’ll talk about the AI stuff later. I want to go through some of the other features. Isn’t the customizable home screen exciting now androids had this since Android. Whatever candy they used to have for Android, that you could move icons around, you can change the size of widgets, it’s really, and I’ve never liked the fact that if I move an icon from my home screen, from the top of the home screen, and I want to move it down everything else realigns like gravity is pulling it up. And it’s annoying. Why did it take them so long to do something this basic?

    Josh Long 4:17
    I don’t know. But yeah, and it’s fine. Like I on my test device, I did start to play with the icon arrangement. But this is not something that for me personally, that I feel like oh, well, like I’m so glad that Apple finally included this feature. I know there are a lot of people who either switched from Android and found that really annoying that you couldn’t do things like this. But basically, if it’s not clear what we’re talking about, icons will now snap to grid and wherever you decide to place them on your home screen so you no longer have to have rows and rows and it fills all the rows and they snap to the top up, that’s what we’re talking about. Now you can place the icons wherever you want, anywhere on your home screen. And, yeah, a lot of people are really excited about that, to me, I’m pretty indifferent about it.

    Kirk McElhearn 5:12
    What about control center? No, I actually use Control Center a lot on my phone, I use to access my smart home controls, I use it to set focus modes, I use it to control music, playback, etc, you’ll be able to have multiple pages of Control Center, which I think is a good idea. Now, multiple pages like that is what happens when there are too many features, that you can’t fit them on the front page without scrolling and scrolling. And it does represent a kind of, I don’t want to say a failure of the interface, but a fact that here’s an element of interface, it’s normally hidden. That’s getting a lot of weight thrown onto it.

    Josh Long 5:50
    Yeah, that’s a good point. I think one of the other reasons why Apple is having this multi screen control center now is because they’re opening up to third party developers. So if you want extra widgets, now, a developer can release an app that includes a control center widget, which, you know, that’s okay, I guess I don’t mind that. Because it’s going to be optional, I believe, I don’t think that there’s going to be any apps probably that force a widget on you that you can just remove. So I think that’s okay. Um, I don’t know I played with it a little bit, you can resize some of the widgets already have the built in widgets in the control center, which I guess is okay. Like I could maybe see there being some scenarios where maybe you only want a couple of widgets in your control center. And you just want them to be nice and big, so you can easily tap on them.

    Kirk McElhearn 6:45
    Yeah, the thing for me is I have a number of smart home scenes for weights and things like that. And rather than tapping the home button and still having the little unrecyclable widgets, I would like to make some of them bigger, the ones that I’m using often because sometimes you don’t press the button just ideally. But it does bother me that we’re getting a whole bunch of controls in an area like that. Now, a lot of these things in control center are things that you can’t do with Siri. So you could if you could use Siri which I do a lot for my smart home stuff, you know, turn on lights and turn off lights, then you don’t need it. But there are a lot of other things that you can’t do with Siri. By the way, do you know the Siri command to turn on the flashlight on your phone?

    Josh Long 7:26
    Do I know the command? No, I don’t know what what do you say to Siri to turn on the flashlight?

    Kirk McElhearn 7:31
    You say “Lumos!” The Harry Potter thing. Yeah, he gets the wand lit up you say who most and there’s there’s a command to turn it off. I forget what it is because I don’t remember what Harry Potter—

    Josh Long 7:41
    You surely you can turn it on without using the Harry Potter command?

    Kirk McElhearn 7:44
    You can but “lumos” is quicker. Instead of saying hey Siri, turn on flashlight. You can just say Hey, Siri, lumos okay. Okay,

    Josh Long 7:50
    I know. That’s unimpressed. That’s, that’s actually kind of amusing.

    Kirk McElhearn 7:54
    But it is one of the big changes. In fact, this is probably the biggest interface change. We were talking before the show about how these are mostly cosmetic changes to iOS, the control center, the home screen, etc, the new layout for settings, things like that. But one of the biggest changes is the Photos app. And it’s not just cosmetic the way it’s displaying. But it’s it’s developed a new, I wonder what did they say machine learning algorithm because until that 30 minute segment of Apple Intelligence, they didn’t use the term artificial intelligence. But they mentioned all sorts of euphemism for artificial intelligence for other features, talking about machine learning in the Photos app that will arrange your photos and categories and collections, and will be the people and your pet and your trips and recent days and things like that. Now, it’s not clear that this is an ideal arrangement for everyone. I don’t know if you’ve looked at it. I haven’t installed the iOS beta yet. But it will take some getting used to because the Photos app has not really changed that much in several years.

    Josh Long 8:54
    Yeah, I haven’t played with it too much yet. But that is something that I think will be kind of interesting. And there’s a lot of like new built in categories that are just part of the app by default, which is kind of nice, I think it’ll be a nice improvement. I’m not using this on my main device right now. So it’s just on my test device that I’ve got the beta, the first developer beta installed. So there’s a lot of stuff that we don’t have yet. And I’m sure a lot of stuff that’s going to get tweaked quite a bit before the final release in September.

    Kirk McElhearn 9:27
    There’s an interesting feature that uses machine learning. It’s called clean up. And the example that they showed was a photo of a group of people on a beach and two people behind kind of photo bombing one on the left one on the right, and you tap the cleanup button, it removes them. Now, this is I want to say this has gotten to be commonplace in photo editing tools. In fact, Adobe Lightroom released something like this just a few weeks ago, and in Lightroom you actually draw around the items you want to get replaced. I think it’s called generative replace on Lightroom here, it doesn’t look like you have that option, it looks like photos is just determining what the subject is and just getting rid of the other things. Now maybe this will extend further and let you tap or draw around items to be able to remove them the same way you can retouch items in the photo app. But it’s definitely I want to say at a minimum, because androids had this for a while they call it magic eraser. Pretty much any serious photo app can do this sort of thing.

    Josh Long 10:26
    Now, if I remember correctly, I think they also show that you can draw a circle with your finger around the objects that you want to remove. Okay, but that might require you to have a newer phone model that actually what I’m curious about is whether this magic eraser type feature will work on older phone models…

    Kirk McElhearn 10:44
    …which we’ll get into in the second part of the podcast, another AI Image tool, and they didn’t call it AI when he talked about his image playground. And this was kind of interesting, because there are countless online image tools. And let’s face it, Josh, you use some of them on the Intego Max security blog you use, I think being right to get some of the artwork. And Apple is creating a tool that lets you use three different styles, animation, illustration, and sketch. None of the images look realistic, which to me says Apple doesn’t want anyone getting anywhere near creating deep fakes of anything. And these images look cartoony, they look, they don’t look like the kind of serious image that you’d put in a business report, for example. And it looks like they’re meant to just be images for kids in school or images that you’ll drop into messages. They showed some examples of what was it, you want an image of your friend. And of course, the iPhone knows who the friend is because they’re in the contacts, and the Photos Library and they have photos and something about tomatoes on a rooftop party or something. And I saw someone wasn’t on Twitter message on it said the first person who sends me an image like that by messages, I will block.

    Josh Long 11:55
    Yeah, they showed a couple of examples of like, you know, you want to wish somebody happy birthday. And you can just tap and have it generate like a picture of them as a cartoon character with a birthday cake and a birthday hat on or something like that. And slang, okay. And there was no the other one they showed was like super yours supermom. And then they tap on a thing and it generates an image of their mom with a cape on. It’ll be amusing for about five minutes, and then everyone will forget about it.

    Kirk McElhearn 12:25
    So related to that is Genmoji where you can create an emoji for anything, you create a prompt of what you want, and it creates an emoji and technically, they shouldn’t call it emoji because emojis are Unicode standards, and can be read on other devices. What this is, is a sticker technically, right?

    Josh Long 12:42
    Yeah. Well, and that’s why I guess they’re calling it Genmoji. Because it’s generative emoji. I’m not super impressed with this feature. And it’s okay. Right. I mean, it’s, it’s, you know, like, I can see the use cases for it. I think, what really bugs me about the way they presented it was that it appears from the screenshots that Apple’s put out, its with its press release, and stuff, and from what it looks like in the keynote, that you’re going to have these Gen emojis all mixed in on your emoji keyboard with other actual real emojis. And they’re not going to really work well cross platform, you’re not going to be able to send somebody who is an Android user, a Genmoji. In line with text, like it’s not going to work that way, because it’s going to have to render an image on the Android users side. The same thing with like, when I’m typing posts for social media, I use my emoji keyboard for that. And I like to be able to only see the emojis that are actual emojis showing up in my emoji keyboard. And so the whole idea of having things that are not actually emojis mixed in that really bothers me and I hope there’s a way to just turn that off.

    Kirk McElhearn 13:53
    Okay, we’re gonna take a break. When we come back, we’ll talk about the AI stuff plus a few other new features in Apple’s forthcoming operating systems.

    Voice Over 14:01
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    Kirk McElhearn 15:16
    Okay, we talk about security and privacy. And I think one of the biggest features here is something we’ve asked for for a while, and it’s a dedicated passwords app. It’s going to be available on iPhone, iPad Mac and Vision Pro, by the way, they released Vision Pro os 2.0. But we don’t really care about that, do we?

    Josh Long 15:33
    Well, I mean, we don’t have Vision Pro. So. So we’re not really

    Kirk McElhearn 15:38
    Yeah, but even it’s not a platform that is made any breakthrough yet. It’s being released in the UK. And I may do what you did is go to an Apple store and get a demo to see how it works. I highly recommend it sometime in July, it’s being released.

    Josh Long 15:50
    Right? There’s, I think, eight countries, they said that it’s launching in next, which is great. I really think this is an amazing device, I really do. I’m just not spending 3500 plus for this device. It’s not something that I feel like I get that much value out of it, or would get that much value out of it. But the experience is truly amazing, the immersive videos. Like, there’s nothing like it. And so if I had all kinds of money to spend on fun toys, I would absolutely buy this thing.

    Kirk McElhearn 16:19
    Okay, so the new Password app, we’ve been asking for this for a while. It’s finally if you look back in, okay, the new passwords app, we’ve been talking about the need for this for a while, if you look back in the history of keychain, you had Keychain Access, which was a really boring looking app, and then it moved into the settings, well, the System Preferences, and then the settings app now, and splitting it out into its own app, I think is good for two reasons. One, because it makes it easier to access the passwords instead of trying to remember where it is in settings and to, it’ll give more visibility to the idea of a password manager to most people who don’t use one. And if they see a Password app, they’ll look at it. And they’ll think that oh, passwords are important. And this can make it easier.

    Josh Long 17:03
    I really, really like this. It’s a long time coming. But I’m glad to see this is finally broken out. And it’s no longer something buried somewhere in the Settings app that’s hard to find. So it’s great. I’ve already started playing with it. It’s not too much different from the existing functionality that we had in settings. But it’s nice to see this broken out into its own app.

    Kirk McElhearn 17:23
    Okay, there’s one thing I want to mention briefly, which I guess it’s a short walk, it’s called Math Notes, you’ll be able to on an iPad, you’ll be able to use the Apple pencil to write math expressions. And on the Mac or on the iPhone, you’ll be able to use the keyboard and show walking an app called solver. So you LV er, and there’s a couple of other apps that do this as well. The idea is that you write math in natural language and on the MacOS Sequoia preview page, they show that someone who’s writing words equals value, right, so passes and kayaks and snacks and gear equals, and then is doing a line below passes plus chi x plus snacks. So basically, you create a variable by typing a word, equal sign and a value. And then you can just add those variables up. I mean, that’s pretty cool. That’s like, you don’t need spreadsheets for most math that you do if you can do this sort of thing.

    Josh Long 18:17
    Yeah, actually, this is this is kind of cool. And this is one of the features that is included with Apple Intelligence, I believe. So this is not something that you’ll get separately on certain older models that aren’t getting Apple Intelligence.

    Kirk McElhearn 18:31
    Well, let’s get to Apple Intelligence. I’m not sure that this is specific to Apple Intelligence, because the Apple Intelligence feature suite, because it’s an entire suite of tools. It includes image playground, it includes some writing tools, which we haven’t talked about yet. If you’ve used any sort of generative AI tool, you’ll see that they all have writing tools like proofreading and rewriting and summarizing, and creating lists and notes and tables of contents. And this is, I want to say this is a table stakes feature that all the AI tools are doing, but Apple is going an awful lot further. The biggest thing that Apple is doing, in my opinion, is the fact that they know so much about you that the AI isn’t a great that Apple’s name starts with an A so they can talk Apple Intelligence instead of artificial intelligence. The AI is contextual. So if you’re asking a question about and this all goes through Siri, by the way, most of this AI stuff is Siri based. So if you’re asking a question about what can I eat at the restaurant where I’ve planned to meet my mother for dinner next week, right? It’ll know who your mother is. It’ll know the restaurant if it’s in your calendar appointment, and it can find the information. And it can get a whole bunch of what was the word that they used where they showed that sort of graph with the semantic values of the apps all around, they had a term for it. I don’t remember what it was. But basically, it’s leveraging the fact that you have so much data about yourself and your activities in your devices that Apple can get a hold of, to to answer queries in a way that something like ChatGPT wouldn’t, because it doesn’t know about you.

    Josh Long 20:05
    The important thing about all of this stuff is that Apple really emphasized this is all designed to preserve your privacy, we’re keeping as much on device as possible, which is why you need a new enough device to be able to use this functionality. Just to briefly mention it’s the ace 17, chip, or M1, or later. So if you have an iPad that’s got an M series chip, you’ll be able to use all of the Apple Intelligence features.

    Kirk McElhearn 20:36
    So wait, if it’s an M1, or a way to That means any Mac that’s been sold since about 2020 will work for this, right? Correct. So my iMac that’s three years old, my Mac mini that’s two years old, there will work with this. But the A17, which devices have the A17?

    Josh Long 20:53
    Well, there’s only two of them. And those are the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, that’s it, not the iPhone 15, the regular plain old iPhone 15, which by the way, Apple is still going to be selling until about September when the new models come out. And not the iPhone SE Gen three, which Apple is probably still going to be selling after the new 16 models come out.

    Kirk McElhearn 21:15
    So wait, my iPhone 14 Pro Max, and I paid 1000 pounds for less than two years ago won’t be able to run these new features? That’s correct. Yeah, this is a rhetorical question. Because we’ve been discussing this for a while, it’s actually quite stunning that we can’t think of another feature another marquee feature in an Apple operating system that was so limited in devices. One example would be Siri, when it came out on the iPhone. For us, it couldn’t work on previous models, it had a certain chip, and that’s understandable. But this is a cross platform feature. This is iPhone, iPad, Mac, it’s not Apple TV is on Apple Watch. By the way, that’s interesting to point out. But this is a multi platform feature. And on one platform, it’s like everything that’s been sold in the last four years. And on another platform, it’s one or two phones from last year only.

    Josh Long 22:08
    It’s also not vision OS 2. Interestingly, even though it does have the Apple Vision Pro does have an M2 chip, not sure if that was just like an energy conservation thing, because they will don’t want to ruin the battery life of Vision Probe, the thing that really bothers me, I’m the kind of person who upgrades my phone typically every four years, it just happens to work out that way. It’s not like I’m trying to wait four years. But that’s usually at the point where I’m like, Okay, I can’t wait any longer, I really need a new iPhone. This is the first time that it’s been only by the time that these operating systems ship, it’ll only be two years all it’s just barely finished paying off my iPhone 14 Pro and my wife’s pro max. And then I’m going to feel like, what’s even the point, I mean, obviously, I need to upgrade to get the security improvements that are going to be coming out in each like point release of iOS 18. But beyond that, like I don’t really care about any of the other features that are not AI features. And I feel like I’m going to use all the AI features. And so I kind of feel like Apple’s forcing me to upgrade my hardware. Now, to be fair to Apple on this. It’s also very common on the Android side of things. It happens all the time. Like, especially with AI features that have been released over the last couple of years, you have to have the latest and greatest model in order to get all the new fancy AI features. So from that perspective, I kind of understand, you know, Apple could be theoretically saying, Well, you have to have iPhone 16 Or later to get these features. But instead they’re also offering them to Pro and Pro Max from last year. So I mean, it could be worse, I guess. But at the same time, I feel like with the number of neural cores that they’ve been putting in all these iPhones for all these years that we’ve gotten very little use out of, for them to say, Oh yeah, just kidding. Like, we know we stuck those in there, but they’re actually kind of worthless, and you’re not gonna get any AI features. That’s kind of mind blowing to me.

    Kirk McElhearn 24:17
    Okay, we don’t know if it’s the neural engine, we have an article on the Intego Max security blog where I speculate, is it RAM? So the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max have eight gigabytes of RAM and the 15 and the 14 Pro, they only have six? Is it the neural engine and the number of teraflops per second. It’s pretty similar and it doesn’t look like that’s the dividing line. Is it the GPU, the iPhone 15 Pro models have a much faster GPU. When I looked back at the M1 processor on the Mac, which has a faster GPU obviously, because it’s a bigger display, it needs a faster GPU. That could be the dividing line or some combination of the three, but it does seem to me for Apple to have a marquee feature that hardly anyone can use, because remember, this is only available in US English at first. Now, if you’re an English speaker in a different country, you can change the US English, but only to iPhone models. And when you consider how many devices there are around the world of people who won’t be able to use this, Could it really be that cynical that Apple is just limiting this artificially to get people to upgrade? That would be a bit surprising, but you never know.

    Josh Long 25:30
    Well, I feel like Apple should at least be giving us some features, right? Like, for example, Genmoji. Like I really have a hard time imagining that I couldn’t create a Genmoji on my 14 Pro like, Are you kidding me? Like that doesn’t take any kind of processing power. So I think that’s kind of nuts. That’s just my opinion. By the way, there’s a couple of things related to Apple Intelligence. Apple Intelligence is all woven throughout this new Siri, which again, this is all launching in the fall, we don’t have this yet. On the current developer betas, you’ll be able to ask Siri much more intelligent questions like the ones you were talking about where you can have it interact with information in your contacts and your calendar and other things like that. But if you have a question that Apple Intelligence, either on device or in Apple’s private cloud compute, they call it their own private data center. If Apple stuff if Apple’s own intelligence cannot answer a query for you, Apple has a new partnership, they’re starting out with just a partnership with open AI, which is the company that makes ChatGPT And you’re gonna get the latest GPT model GPT? Four, oh, that’s the one that we’ve been talking about where it sounds like Scarlett Johansson and giggles for you and stuff, all those weird things? Well, that is going to be an option. So it’ll prompt you and say, I think that ChatGPT could answer this question for you, would you like to send this query to ChatGPT, and give you the ability to send that query to ChatGPT, for additional information, that’s, that’s actually kind of cool. It’s nice to have that built into the operating system. Now, it does try to preserve your privacy, because as long as you’re not signed into your ChatGPT account on your device, and you are not sending anything that’s personally identifiable as part of that query, then Apple is basically anonymizing that query, even though it’s going to ChatGPT. They’re hiding your IP address. So there’s a lot of really good additional functionality that’s going to be enabled by Siri, knowing when to send something to ChatGPT. And prompt you do you want to do that?

    Kirk McElhearn 27:45
    And it doesn’t look like there is a don’t ask me again, option. In what we saw on the presentation, you had to approve sending to ChatGPT each time. And I think the decision that the device is making is can I handle this device? Can Apple handle this device? Or does it need more real world knowledge that ChatGPT has, and that’s when it would opt to send it off to them to open IO service.

    Josh Long 28:10
    Right. And this is something where Apple is really trying to focus on personal experiences with its AI technology. And they’re perfectly fine with having other LLM large language models integrate with this. They did say that at launch, we’re getting ChatGPT. But they’re opening this up to other models as well. So maybe at some point, we’ll get Google’s thing or x ai or whatever. There’s there’s all kinds of other companies that might want to integrate with Apple’s operating system. And they’ll have the opportunity to partner with Apple on that.

    Kirk McElhearn 28:44
    Can you think of any other time in the recent past where Apple partnered with a company in such a visible manner that when the dialog comes up, it shows the open AI will go and then it’s clearly Apple and open AI and this is not just like Google being the default search engine. This is a branded search within Apple’s operating system. This is a big change for Apple since they realized they couldn’t do it on their own.

    Josh Long 29:09
    Yeah, this actually is pretty a pretty interesting thing that Apple is partnering with a company in such a public and obvious way.

    Kirk McElhearn 29:16
    Okay, that’s enough for this week. Until next week, Josh, stay secure.

    Josh Long 29:19
    All right, stay secure.

    Voice Over 29:22
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    About Kirk McElhearn

    Kirk McElhearn writes about Apple products and more on his blog Kirkville. He is co-host of the Intego Mac Podcast, as well as several other podcasts, and is a regular contributor to The Mac Security Blog, TidBITS, and several other websites and publications. Kirk has written more than two dozen books, including Take Control books about Apple's media apps, Scrivener, and LaunchBar. Follow him on Twitter at @mcelhearn. View all posts by Kirk McElhearn →