Report: Apple may make it even easier to manage passwords on the iPhone and Mac

Yes, Apple’s long offered an easy way to save usernames and passwords as part of iCloud Keychain and even allowed syncing them across devices for easy sign-ins. However, Apple may soon devote an entire application across platforms to password management.

According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple will show off a new app called Passwords at WWDC 2024. The app will be a part of, and available on, “iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS 15.” Like iCloud Keychain, the dedicated app can “generate passwords and keep track of them.” 

Reportedly, on iOS or iPadOS, it will move out of Settings and into a dedicated app, while on the Mac, it will leave Safari Settings and turn into a dedicated app. As you might suspect, iCloud Keychain will still be the backbone of this experience.

a promotional image for WWDC 2024 featuring a dark Apple logo on a black background

A teaser image for Apple WWDC 2024. (Image credit: Apple)

The application will be a one-stop shop for password management across Apple devices and be divided into categories. It will support standard logins and passwords, saved Wi-Fi networks, and passkeys that utilize Touch ID or Face ID. Releasing a dedicated password management app will put Apple more directly in competition with third-party services like LastPass, Aura, and 1Password.

Like those, Apple’s Passwords solution will likely support the import of passwords, possibly encouraging folks to opt for the one built into the heart of the platforms.

The latest report also notes that passwords will work on Vision Pro – we’ll note the $ 3,500 Spatial Computer already supports iCloud Keychain for auto-filling – and on Windows computers. It’s unclear if that will be a formal application or a web experience for the latter. Either route, the application will offer the ability to autofill logins and passwords on these devices.

As someone who uses iCloud Keychain, I already appreciate that it works across platforms, and a dedicated application might make it easier to manage them. And if I am searching for a password, it'll be a bit easier to open an app and authenticate versus diving into settings. It will be neat to see if any new features are rolled out, potentially an ability to auto-update logins or passwords after a set amount of time. That's all speculative, though.

Apple will likely unveil the Passwords app alongside a trove of other news at its opening keynote for WWDC 2024. Much of the focus will likely be on integrating artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) announcements for all of Apple’s platforms – iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and visionOS.

We’ll know for sure on June 10, 2024, and you can see the other rumored announcements ahead of the World Wide Developers Conference here.

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A new Gmail feature could soon make it way easier to manage your subscriptions

Google is reportedly working on a new way to help users bring order to their messy Gmail accounts on mobile. Initially discovered by industry expert AssembleDebug, a “Manage Subscriptions” section will be added to the app’s sidebar menu, housing all of the newsletters and promotions you receive. Tapping the option takes you to a “Subscriptions'” page displaying all of the mailing lists you are currently subscribed to. Tech news site PiunikaWeb states the window shows you messages based on criteria you specify.

It’s unknown exactly what that criteria may entail, however AssembleDebug found strings of code for the feature, providing insight into how it could work. There seems to filters that let you highlight certain mailing lists according to how many messages they send out “per quarter.” You can single out groups sending “less than 10,” “between 10 to 20,” or more than 20 emails within a time period. Alongside the entries will be the logo of the mailing list with an unsubscribe button.

So, maybe every three months or so, you’ll be able to check out who mails out the most newsletters. At least, that’s the idea. Without an official word, it’s hard to say for sure although we may not have to wait for long to learn more.

Just around the corner

Several users over on Reddit claim to have run into Manage Subscription on their Gmail accounts on mobile. Multiple people state they encountered a blue window announcing the section, but when they went over to check it out, the page was totally blank. Nothing happened. Another poster said clicking on the message only took them to a screen with an endlessly loading page. 

PiunikaWeb theorizes that perhaps Google “accidentally enabled” the feature on their servers, but didn’t properly release the patch. It may be in this weird limbo where people can see the section, though it doesn’t do anything. We didn’t encounter it on our Gmail accounts. So it is possible its sudden appearance on a handful of account really was an accident. 

What it does show is the update could be almost ready for a launch. It may just need a bit more time in the oven. Manage Subscription will be a welcome inclusion to all of the other recent Gmail updates like the more prominent unsubscribe button, if and when it does roll out. Speaking from personal experience, it’ll be extremely helpful in organizing the chaos known as the Primary tab.

While we have you, check out TechRadar's list of the best Android phones for 2024.

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Chrome’s new Declutter tool may soon help manage your 100 plus open tabs

Recent evidence suggests Chrome on Android may receive a new Tab Declutter tool to help people manage so many open tabs. Hints of this feature were discovered in lines of code on Google’s Chromium platform by 9To5Google. It’s unknown exactly how Tab Declutter will work, although there is enough information to paint a picture.

According to the report, tabs that have been unused for a long period of time “will automatically” be put away in an archive. You can then go over to the archive editor, look at what’s there, and decide for yourself whether you want to delete a tab or restore it. 

Not only could Tab Declutter help people manage a messy browser, but it might also boost Chrome’s performance. All those open tabs can eat away at a device's RAM, slowing things down to a crawl.

This isn’t the first time Google has worked on improving tab management for its browser. Back in January, the company implemented an organizer tool harnessing the power of AI to instantly group tabs together based on a certain topic.  

These efforts even go as far back as 2020, when the tech giant began developing a feature that would recommend closing certain tabs if they’ve been left alone for an extended period of time. It was similar to the new Declutter tool, though much less aggressive, since it wouldn’t archive anything. Ultimately, nothing came of it, however it seems Google is looking back at this old idea.  

Speculating on all the open tabs

As 9To5Google points out, this has the potential to “become one of the most annoying features” the company has ever made. Imagine Chrome disappearing tabs you wanted to look at without letting you know. It could get frustrating pretty fast. 

Additionally, would it be possible to set a time limit for when an unused page is allowed to be put away? Will there be an exception list telling Chrome to leave certain websites alone? We'll have the answer if and when this feature eventually goes live.

We have no word on when Tab Declutter will launch. It’s unknown if Chrome on iOS is scheduled to receive a similar upgrade as the Chromium edition. It's possible Android devices will get first dibs, then iPhones, or the iPhone may be left out in some regions that don't get a Chromium-based browser. 

9To5Google speculates the update will launch in early May as part of Chrome 125. This seems a little early if it’s still in the middle of development. Late summer to early autumn is more plausible, but we could be totally wrong. We’ll just have to wait.

Until we get more news, check out TechRadar's roundup of the best Chromebooks for 2024.

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Microsoft wants to make it easier to manage your apps in Windows 11

Windows 11 is getting a new System Components hub in order to manage system-related apps and other elements in one place, or at least this is in testing right now.

Windows Latest spotted the incoming change in preview which is set to be part of the Windows 11 23H2 update, and may also eventually be brought to those who remain on 22H2.

The System Components hub is located in Settings (in the System menu, unsurprisingly). It provides easy access to all system apps (default applications installed with Windows 11, like Calculator, Photos or Notepad for example), plus it also lists the likes of extensions and codecs that are system-related.

For example, the installed codecs needed to play certain video formats are listed under System Components.

Note that working with everyday (non-system) apps continues as normal (in the Apps & Features panel). What the new hub provides is a way to access anything system-related to see those pieces of the puzzle easily (and related extensions and so forth, as mentioned).

Analysis: A drive to provide more clarity with apps

In other words, this is an extra addition to Windows 11’s interface, rather than replacing anything in Settings to do with app management.

It’s also worth noting that in the pursuit of greater clarity for default apps and system components in Windows 11, they will be clearly labeled as such in the Start menu (and Microsoft Store).

That’s another change currently in test builds, so any system app will have a ‘system component’ slapped next to it, to make it crystal clear which entries in the Start menu are system-related.

All this is just in testing, and there’s never any guarantee that what’s in preview will make the cut for release – but this seems a good bet to get through to the finished version of Windows 11. Especially as the 23H2 update is expected to begin rolling out soon (though it won’t have much in the way of major changes, seeing as the recent Moment 4 update brought much of the big stuff in, such as the Copilot AI most notably).

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5 ways POS systems help you manage staff

Long gone are the days when POS systems were only used for making sales. Today’s cloud POS systems are management tools that can be used to do everything from managing your inventory and suppliers to tracking the activity of employees – whether it’s hours worked or sales made. 

Today, POS systems can even manage employee schedules and streamline HR and training, putting all of your essential business data and reports when and where you need them.

If they're used effectively, POS systems save time and money and have the potential to improve the entire staff management system. Let's take a look at the most common ways your POS system can help manage staff.

1. POS systems offer easier time tracking

POS systems can help accurately track when employees are working. Naturally, this is a critical part of properly managing your employees. That's why outdated clocking in and out systems can be a slow, frustrating and time-consuming experience for employees themselves.

Some POS systems offer an efficient and quick time tracking solution, for both you and your employees. In a lot of cases, POS software enables employees to use a secure PIN when clocking in or out and can even create personal profiles for workers. 

This lets both them and you see how many hours they’ve worked in a day, week, or month, thereby minimizing time fraud. Seeing as it’s estimated that time theft costs U.S. employers more than $ 400 billion per year in lost productivity, this is crucial. 

Employees on their mobile phones POS systems

POS systems can track employee working hours to the minute (Image credit: Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels)

For businesses that involve tipping, there are systems that won’t let an employee clock out without declaring their tips and/or performing a till count, which can aid in cash management purposes. 

While different POS time clocks will come with different capabilities, it’s a feature that can greatly benefit your business, as this is an efficient way to streamline and consolidate multiple records into a single system. 

For example, some time clocks can also integrate with payroll and this automation can simplify calculations of who is owed what when they work different roles – such as a hostess versus a waiter in a restaurant setting. And, finally, a POS with a good timekeeping system can also simplify payroll when employees work overtime at a different rate of pay.

2. Streamlined scheduling 

One of the most tedious parts of managing employees is making out the schedule – that is, if you’re still doing it on paper or a whiteboard. With a modern POS system, you can not only track employee hours, but you can make on-the-fly updates and changes in the system in a way that completely streamlines the process. 

And, while it’s convenient to set up the times your employees are scheduled to work for the next week, most POS systems also allow managers to accept or reject time off requests and shift trades. Some even have integrations that let you set up a task list and goals for your staff. Better still, because it’s cloud-based software, you can access it from anywhere at any time, meaning you can quickly and easily make last-minute changes.

It’s also important to determine how many people you’ll need on the clock at any given time and, with the right data at your fingertips, this task becomes much easier. Most modern POS solutions provide data and reports on your peak sales and busiest hours and you can use that information to figure out how many employees to bring on at any given time.

3. Improved customer skills and interaction 

One of the biggest benefits of today’s modern POS systems is the introduction of mobile capabilities. Instead of having to wait in line at the checkout, a mobile POS system paves the way for mobile checkout, which also gives employees more opportunities to interact with the customers. Employees can answer inventory questions for a customer and even complete a transaction, thus streamlining the retail experience.

mPOS transaction values are “predicted to exceed $ 1.9 trillion by 2024, up from $ 850 billion in 2019”

Juniper Research

If you don’t currently offer mobile POS in your store, you’re going to soon be in the minority. Retailers are quickly realizing how it improves employee efficiency and effectiveness, which improves the bottom line.

Indeed, mPOS transaction values are “predicted to exceed $ 1.9 trillion by 2024, up from $ 850 billion in 2019,” and according to one survey, “90% of respondents agree or strongly agree that mPOS is cost effective,” with 72% of retailers surveyed accepting mobile payments, compared to 51% in 2017.

4. Detailed employee activity reporting 

POS data can reveal critical insights about your business – both the good and the bad. While you would like to be able to trust your staff 100% of the time, the fact of the matter is that employee theft costs U.S. businesses $ 50 billion annually. The first line of defence in preventing this expensive incident is a POS system with comprehensive case management reporting. 

More than just inputting a start and an end cash count, modern POS systems can provide comprehensive reports for till count before and after shift changes and carefully document cash-ins and cash-outs, among other things involving security. 

On the flip side, POS systems with detailed employee reports are also the easiest way to track performance so you can identify – and reward – top employees. And, as many businesses know, employee rewards and recognition can truly pay off both for employers and their staff.  A recent study found that 63% of employees who are recognized are very unlikely to look for a new job, and 40% of employed Americans would put additional energy into their work if they were recognized more often.

It's also possible to run reports to find out who your top and poorest performing employees are, which employees process the most sales, who is working overtime and so on. You can then use all of this information, both to make strategic scheduling decisions, reward high performers and provide extra training to boost productivity for employees who aren’t performing as well. 

5. Smoother employee training  

best pos

Invest the time and ensure that staff are fully trained on your POS system (Image credit: Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash)

Last, but certainly not least is employee training. You can have the greatest employee in the world filled with high morale and ambition, but without proper POS training, they won’t be able to reach their full potential. When introducing a POS system into your store, it’s crucial that you properly train them on how the system works – and how it benefits them and will make their job that much easier.

The majority of cloud-based POS software is specifically designed to be as easy to use as possible. However, every system is different and will require a specific set of skills that may take some time to acquire. That’s why, when selecting a POS system, it’s important to think about the onboarding process for both new and current employees. 

For example, how difficult will it be to train employees on this system? Does the interface include a training mode built right into it? Are you provided with comprehensive training materials? Will the vendor offer on-site training and support?

The more time you invest in training your staff to use a new POS, the greater the likelihood that the transition will be smooth and you’ll reap all the beneficial rewards. 

Your POS system and employee management  

From training employees to use the POS system itself to using the POS system to manage your employees, it’s safe to say that this technology is the backbone of your business. 

Along with tracking inventory and suppliers, it helps you manage your staffing levels, employee hours and overall sales performance. What's more, by optimizing your employee management, you’re better able to streamline your business – boosting not only the customer experience, but also your bottom line. 

Further reading

If you're looking for more information about POS systems and the benefits they bring, then check out our expert guides to understanding the cost of a POS system, how to choose the best POS system for your business.

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Soon you can manage your Office and Xbox accounts within Windows 11

Microsoft is making further improvements to Windows 11 with a better way to manage your Office and Xbox subscriptions within the Settings app if a Windows Insider build is to be believed.

A Windows Insider build can allow a user to sign up to a release of Windows that’s under development, which could showcase new apps, new features, or different ways to access parts of the user interface.

This change has been in the ‘Dev Channel’ of Windows Insider since late last year and has recently moved up to the ‘Release Channel’ build, numbered 22000.466. This most likely means that we could be seeing this arrive to all Windows 11 users sooner than Sun Valley 2, the next big update to the operating system.

Analysis: It’s about time

We’ve been pleased to see Microsoft constantly look at aspects of Windows and how it could make the operating system easier on the eye, or just easier to use. While this is a small change, it’s going to make a big difference to those who manage Office subscriptions for their family or small business, or your personal Xbox Game Pass subscription.

Going to 'Settings > Accounts > Your Microsoft Account' in the Windows 11 Release Channel will show your active subscriptions, payment history, and rewards, mirroring what you would normally see on the web.

Microsoft Account in Settings, in Windows 11

(Image credit: Microsoft)

It’s another aspect of Microsoft focusing on the usability of Windows. In the past, such as Windows 8 and Windows Phone, form seemed to matter more than function, and once you got past the main feature that the company was showcasing, you’d be greeted with apps or message boxes that felt as though they had time traveled from Windows 95.

But with other improvements such as a new Task Manager coming, the return of Windows Media Player, and a better Microsoft Store, it looks as though Windows 11 is already shaping up to be a release that’s focusing on the future, not the past.

Regardless, we may see further improvements to how we use the apps and settings that we’ve been used to for years. And if that means few clicks and less confusion for more users, then it will benefit everyone.

Via MSPowerUser

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