It’s been more than three years since 1Password released its last major update for Mac. That’s not to say the company has been idle. Far from it, in fact, but macOS users haven’t had a significant refresh to look forward to until now. Following early access previews on Linux and Windows, you can now try 1Password 8, the latest version of the company’s desktop app, on Mac. The update brings with it a host of improvements to the password manager.
One of the first things you’ll notice is how categories have moved from the sidebar to a dropdown menu you can access from below the search bar. 1Password co-founder David Teare told Engadget that’s a decision the company made to highlight different accounts and vaults without forcing users to access a separate mode.
A goal the developer set out for itself when it started work on 1Password 8 was to make the app better at highlighting all the ways you can share different vaults and login credentials between family members and co-workers. You’ll see that approach reflected throughout the app, starting with when you first open it.
The lock screen now includes icons that display what accounts you will open. Moreover, once you’re in the main interface, you’ll see more contextual information throughout. For example, when you’re about to move a login, a pop-up window will appear to tell you who will gain access to that information as a result.
With the emphasis on sharing, 1Password is doubling down on paid memberships. While the writing has been on the wall for a while, 1Password 8 won't allow you to sync your accounts and vaults over Dropbox, iCloud or any other services aside from 1Password. According to Teare, the company decided to discontinue support for third-party syncing for a handful of reasons. “It’s hard to do sharing using a platform for syncing that doesn’t have a concept of other users,” he said.
One of the other goals 1Password set for itself with this new app was to keep things familiar. However, there are areas where the company experimented. It’s most apparent in the new Watchtower view. That section of the software will still warn you if you have weak, reused and compromised passwords, but will do so using a new dashboard view that’s similar to how competitors like Dashlane and LastPass present the information in their products. Teare said 1Password debated making Watchtower the first screen you see after opening 1Password 8 but ultimately decided that was “too big of a jump for one release.” However, he noted the updated Watchtower represents a new direction for 1Password, one where the company has the capabilities to allow its designers to tweak things more freely.
In a way, that’s the unifying theme of 1Password 8. It’s a significant milestone for 1Password not because of the new features involved but due to the work the company did behind the scenes to put systems in place for future releases. “With 1Password 8, we really wanted to tie everything together,” Teare said. Previously, the company had separate teams working on its different apps, with little in the way of shared code and resources between them. To help them work together, 1Password built a common code base using Rust, a programming language Teare said allowed the company to create a more cohesive experience across its apps while still catering to what makes each operating system different.
The way 1Password 8 works in conjunction with Safari is one example of that. You’ll now see the browser extension open inline with the username and password field on a website. If you have the app configured to handle two-factor authentication requests for you, it will also automatically fill that field once you get to it.
Once it's done testing the app, 1Password expects to release 1Password 8 for Mac and Windows later this year. According to Teare, the company also plans to bring the improved experience to Android, iPhone and iPad users "in the near future."