Saturday, November 27, 2021

Apple Mac App Store: "Unable to download item. Please try again later": The problem may be that you are not the purchaser.

I was logged into my admin account on my daughter's Big Sur Air and saw the usual nag to update Apps. When I tried though I got  "Unable to download item. Please try again later."

It never works to try again later. This is a typically useless Apple error message produced when something has gone wrong with their complex FairPlay DRM authentication. There are a range of fixes that Google shows but, even after I figured out the bug (a design fail of this sort is a bug) I couldn't find anything that explained the fix [1]. So here you go!

The problem happens on a multi-user Mac with multiple admins installing software using different Apple Store Apple IDs. It might also require that automatic updates are not enabled and it might require that Family Sharing is enabled.

Every admin gets notification of a pending update, but only the FairPlay determined DRM owner can actually successfully do the update. Other admins who try get the useless error message.

The fix on Big Sur's Mac App Store is to cast your gaze down to the bottom left corner of the App Store window. There you see a user name. Click on the user name and you'll see an "Account" screen. At the top of the "Account" screen is a "Purchased by" drop down with the user name of every family sharing member [1]. Switch between Accounts here to find who has the "update" for the problem app. Then update. Continue until all apps are updated.

It will be interesting to see if this is handled better in Monterey. I can imagine several potential fixes!

[1] As every Old will repeat ad nauseam, the Google web was much better 20 years ago.

Friday, November 19, 2021

How to mitigate SMS spam in iOS 15: filter unknown AND disable notifications for unknown senders

I do not understand why it took Apple so long to do basic management of text message (SMS) spam. I don't understand why the solution appeared over two releases. I don't get why the implementation is so obscure. And I don't get why I had to write this; even knowing the two necessary settings I can't find a good article on it. Apple's own documentation doesn't mention disabling notifications.

Anyway, as of iOS 15 you can finally turn off notifications for SMS sent from an unrecognized number. This is in addition to iOS 14 enabling sorting of unrecognized number SMS into a separate tab. (I think iOS 13 you could only filter iMessages, which is basically useless.)

First enable "Filter Unknown Senders". Unrecognized SMS messages go into a separate tab.

Second turn off notifications for unknown senders
You still get SMS spam but it doesn't interrupt you and it's hidden away.

Saturday, November 06, 2021

Using Apple Locator devices (AirTags) with an older iPhone

AirTags will work with older iPhones but things are a little different. 

The trick is that they work by Bluetooth with a range of about 20 to 30 feet. The last known location showing in Find My tells you roughly where they are. The next step is to try activating the sound feature. If you see that it's working you know the lost AirTag is within about 20 to 30 feet. If it doesn't work keep moving until you start to see it working. Now you can try to listen for the sound. It can be faint. It's also short-lived. You may have to keep tapping the sound icon. Eventually you'll find the missing AirTag.