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Apps Apple Sherlocked with iOS 18 and macOS Sequoia

Apple’s new Passwords app is just one of many new tools that “Sherlock” existing apps

Another year, another set of Apple updates — and another set of popular app developers who could lose their livelihoods. Here’s what Apple Sherlocked at WWDC 2024.

Long before Spotlight, Apple developed a search tool it called Sherlock. An enterprising developer, though, then released an app called Watson that enhanced Sherlock — for a while.

When Apple next updated Sherlock, that release incorporated everything that Watson did, so Watson was now out of business. You can argue whether Apple stole Watson’s ideas, or you can point out that these enhancements were a logical next step that Apple would have taken anyway.

What’s not arguable is that this practice became known as Sherlocking. Very many times since, Apple has Sherlocked other popular apps.

In 2023, it did it to the Day One app with its Journal, and its mental health features encroached on many an existing mindfulness one.

In 2024, the list is longer than usual and it starts with one whose impact is going to be felt heaviest by the Grammarly app.


It’s quite rare for there to be one market leader so very clearly as there is with Grammarly. As it has always been, Grammarly is a machine learning-powered tool to fix your grammar, and spelling.

It’s pretty good, but it’s not perfect. It’s also effectively not free, as what you got for that wasn’t worth the zero cost.

Maybe Grammarly is better, but Writing Tools should be good and will be free on every Mac

Maybe Grammarly is better, but Writing Tools should be good and will be free on every Mac

Grammarly has been steadily adding AI-based features in order to stay up to date. But if there was one most practical demo in the WWDC keynote, it was to do with text, edits, and rewrite suggestions.

Right from within iOS 18, the AI features will read documents for us and summarize the contents. Apple stresses that this will also be used to check tenses, spelling, and composition.

And, if you don’t like what you wrote, Apple Intelligence will be able to rewrite the tone for you.

All worthwhile, all built-in to Apple’s operating systems, and all for free — assuming you have a device that supports Apple Intelligence.

Password managers

It’s not as if they can’t have seen it coming, but that doesn’t mean third-party password manager firms have to like what Apple has done.

“At LastPass, we believe independence matters. Independence means that people have the freedom to access whatever application or website they want through any mobile device, any OS and any browser,” Karim Toubba, CEO, LastPass told AppleInsider. “Tying people down to one vendor’s operating system limits their options and the freedom to choose how they live their digital lives.”

“LastPass is committed to providing our customers and partners with a password and identity solution that supports a vast array of devices and operating systems based on their choices — not someone else’s,” continued Toubba.

It will take a lot to move existing 1Password users to Apple Passwords, but new ones will need persuading to pay for what they can now get for free

It will take a lot to move existing 1Password users to Apple Passwords, but new ones will need persuading to pay for what they can now get for free

Popular manager 1Password is similarly affected, but may not be concerned since it has expanded across platforms to become as much a corporate Windows tool as an individual Mac one. The firm’s dependence on the Mac might be gauged by how in 2021 it stopped work on a native Mac update and instead introduced a ported version via Electron.

Window managers

If you’ve not used a window manager, you don’t know what you’re missing — and you’re going to find out thanks to Apple and its new tiled window feature. This is another side of Sherlocking, where perhaps overly optimistic developers feel that Apple is at least drawing attention to a class of apps.

Certainly Moom, Mosaic, BetterSnapTool, and general purpose apps like Keyboard Maestro do more and in some cases much more than Apple’s new rival. They always will, so the question is whether people will seek them out when their needs outgrow what Apple offers.


It was expected that Apple would finally launch a calculator for the iPad and that automatically made many users see it as a rival to the very long-standing PCalc. However, when it was finally revealed, Apple’s calculator also took on tools like Soulver.

A smartphone displaying a calculator app is placed on a laptop keyboard.

PCalc has been a favorite on all Apple devices for decades, but now Apple’s Calculator is much improved — and finally on the iPad

Soulver is an app that calculates results based not on spreadsheet cells or a user directly tapping in precisely the calculation they want. Instead, they can write out equations and Soulver solves them — just as Apple can now do.

Calendars and task managers

This one is less about Apple taking on a specific app, more about it competing with one particularly convenient feature of popular apps. Just as with Fantastical, BusyCal and really any third-party calendar app, Apple’s own Calendar now integrates with Reminders.

There’s an argument to be made that appointments and tasks are different things, but as of iOS 18 and macOS Sequoia, Reminders tasks can be see in the Calendar.

AI and ChatGPT

Apple is offering, or will be offering, use of the latest ChatGPT model, GPT 4.0, and doing so for free. That will immediately mean fewer people subscribing to the paid version.

Craig Federighi did say that ChatGPT subscribers would get extra features for their staying on site. But he didn’t distinguish what those are, and as yet it’s not possible to tell what impact Apple will have because its AI features lik this are not in the first developer beta.

What happens to Sherlocked developers

Ultimately, it’s probably not going to be possible to determine just how much impact Apple will make with this year’s round of Sherlocking. Hopefully developers have other revenue streams, but perhaps it is also true that having Apple put a spotlight on your business is a good thing.

All hope is not lost. Developers often respond to getting sherlocked by working to distinguish their offerings from Apple’s.

Typically that means offering more features or going beyond the basics that Apple usually offers. So despite Reminders being both excellent and free, for example, there remains a strong market for more powerful task managers such as Todoist Pro, Things 3, and OmniFocus.