1Password Ditches Native Mac App for Web App, and People Aren’t Happy

Earlier this week, Canada’s AgileBits, the developers behind 1Password, launched early access to 1Password 8 for Mac.

1Password 8 features a complete redesign of the password management tool, and ditches a native Mac app for what is now a desktop web app, the same as it is on Windows — and Six Colors‘ Jason Snell isn’t too happy about that:

I get it. 1Password has to cover Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, and the web. The Mac is a small platform compared to Windows, and “desktop” is a small platform compared to “mobile.” If I were an engineering manager asking for resources for a bespoke Mac app, I would have a hard time justifying it, too.

While Snell goes on to justify AgileBits’ decision as a sound business strategy, he also notes that the developers aren’t entirely to blame.

AgileBits developed a bespoke iOS app for 1Password using Apple’s new SwiftUI framework, which is designed to build interfaces across all of Apple’s platforms. When the devs tried to port the iOS version over to Mac via SwiftUI, however, they found that it required a lot of duplicate work and simply isn’t as seamless an experience as Apple markets it to be.

Faced with challenge after challenge, the devs resorted to simply building a 1Password web app for Mac based on the Electron system of web technologies (also used by popular cross-platform apps like Slack, Skype, and Discord).

Electron apps are notorious for being sluggish and hogging system memory, but AgileBits says that its use of Rust, a robust programming language, to power everything except the User Interface should help combat these propensities.

Snell’s point of contention with AgileBits doesn’t become any less valid, though: a web app built on Electron will never be as responsive (or feel as comfortable) as a native Mac app, which 1Password users will no longer have come 1Password 8.

Once a small company, AgileBits and 1Password have grown exponentially over the years. Back in July, AgileBits raised $100 million in funding, which doubled the company’s valuation to $2 billion.

Mac users of 1Password have grown accustomed to the native Mac app, but to see it fall by the wayside in the next update definitely is disappointing.

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