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Published: Mon, 19 Feb 2018 17:17:18 EST

Last Build Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2018 17:17:18 EST

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External Link: Watch iFixit Race to Tear Apart the iPhone X

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 10:51:10 EST

Every year, a team from iFixit races to Australia to get one of the first of the latest iPhones in order to tear it apart and document it. Motherboard joined the company on this year’s quest to get inside the iPhone X — it’s a fascinating look behind the scenes. iFixit is a boon to the Apple community since they do more than anyone to promote DIY device repair.

 

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External Link: Will iOS 12 Be the iPhone’s Snow Leopard?

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 15:33:10 EST

For years, Apple has stuck to a strict schedule of annual iOS releases that sport a sometimes dizzying array of new capabilities. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, whose sources have proven generally reliable, is reporting that Apple will be holding back some of the more ambitious features in iOS 12 to focus instead on polish and reliability. Under the new scheme, major features will be planned over a two-year period, with engineers having more leeway to delay features that need more work. That doesn’t mean iOS 12 will be devoid of new features. One of the most interesting, Gurman says, will enable developers to create apps that work on both macOS and iOS. That will likely have significant implications for Apple users.

 

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External Link: Your Smart Home Could Be Spying On You

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 15:32:13 EST

Gizmodo’s Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu teamed up to learn the extent to which home automation devices report back to their manufacturers and leak personal information. Hill filled her house with smart devices, including an Amazon Echo, lights, coffee maker, TV, and even a bed. Then she had Surya monitor how much data was sent out by the devices. The results may shock you. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the worst offender was the Amazon Echo, which contacted Amazon’s servers every few minutes, even when the “Alexa” wake word and the microphone were turned off.

 

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External Link: Malicious Cryptominer Distributed by MacUpdate Hack

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 15:31:30 EST

The MacUpdate site was hacked on 1 February 2018, and the attackers slipped malicious code into updates for Firefox, OnyX, and Deeper that would use CPU cycles on infected machines to mine cryptocurrency. Malwarebytes has instructions for removing the malware. Although MacUpdate removed the offending updates quickly, the moral of the story is that it’s always best to update an app from inside the app itself or via the developer’s Web site.

 

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External Link: Former Apple Employee Discusses What Changed Between Jobs and Cook

Mon, 05 Feb 2018 12:08:11 EST

On the rebooted Menu Bar podcast, which focuses on Apple and related subjects, former Apple employee Bob Burrough stopped by to discuss his experiences working on the original iPhone, including how he smuggled the first production models out of China. Burrough also talks about the transition from Steve Jobs to Tim Cook and the resulting changes in company culture. Burrough says that under Jobs, employees were allowed to call out faults anywhere they saw them, regardless of whether or not it was in their wheelhouse, but under Cook, Apple employees are encouraged to stay in their own lanes.

 

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External Link: The Legend of Snow Leopard

Wed, 31 Jan 2018 14:49:28 EST

In the view of many long-time Mac users, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard was the pinnacle of Apple’s desktop software, with every update since a step backward in one way or another. 9to5Mac’s Michael Steeber looks into this phenomenon and its origins. Along with the timing and pricing issues Steeber mentions, an argument could be made that Snow Leopard was the last version of OS X before Apple started to add iOS elements in 10.7 Lion. Plus, Snow Leopard was the final version of OS X to support Rosetta, and thus the last version that could run PowerPC applications. Despite all this, it’s worth remembering that Snow Leopard hasn’t seen a security update in years.

 

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External Link: Strava Fitness Network Reveals Secret Military Sites

Tue, 30 Jan 2018 13:22:59 EST

How’s this for an unintended consequence? The Strava fitness app, which brands itself as the “social network for athletes,” lets users map their workouts, which has led to a potentially deadly security breach. U.S. troops stationed abroad are using Strava to share their workouts, and a heat map released by the company reveals the locations of military bases and travel routes — some known, others not. The company responded by pointing out the app’s privacy settings, but this is likely a problem the military will have to solve with smarter policy.

 

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External Link: Comparing the HomePod’s Sound Quality to Its Competition

Mon, 29 Jan 2018 08:38:08 EST

It will be a while before we see in-depth analyses of the HomePod’s audio capabilities, but iMore’s Serenity Caldwell was impressed by its sound quality in her first impressions of Apple’s new smart speaker. She compared it to the Amazon Echo, Google Home Max, and the Sonos One, and “came away from that test both impressed and shocked by the engineering Apple has put into making this tiny 7-inch speaker a musical powerhouse in your living room.” On the downside, she notes that the HomePod currently lacks stereo pairing, multi-room audio, multi-user support, and native support for services other than Apple Music.

 

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External Link: Apple in 2017: The Six Colors Report Card

Mon, 29 Jan 2018 07:51:32 EST

For the third year in a row, Jason Snell of Six Colors has issued his report card on Apple’s performance, once again polling 50 “writers, editors, developers, podcasters, and other people who spend an awful lot of time thinking about Apple.” This year, the group includes TidBITS staffers and contributors Adam Engst, Tonya Engst, Josh Centers, Michael Cohen, Jeff Carlson, Glenn Fleishman, Joe Kissell, Kirk McElhearn, and Rich Mogull. Overall, the group expressed more positive opinions about how Apple did in 2017 than in 2016, but there were dips in software quality, hardware quality, and handling of social issues.

 

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External Link: Mysterious DNS Hijacking Malware Targets Mac Users

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 16:16:54 EST

A new piece of Mac malware is making the rounds. OSX/MaMi hijacks macOS’s DNS settings to intercept traffic by routing it through malicious servers. Additional capabilities, which didn’t seem to be active in the version that researcher Patrick Wardle analyzed, including taking screenshots, generating simulated mouse events, persisting as a launch item, downloading and uploading files, and executing commands. The motive, author, and how OSX/MaMi is spread are currently unknown, and when the Hacker News article was published, antivirus apps weren’t able to detect it. To see if you’re infected, check your DNS settings in System Preferences > Network, and look for the DNS servers 82.163.143.135 and 82.163.142.137. But unless you did something to bypass macOS’s Gatekeeper security, you likely have nothing to worry about since the malware’s executable isn’t signed by Apple.

 

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External Link: Messages App Plagued by Another Crashing Link Bug

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 15:31:39 EST

Twitter user Abraham Masri has discovered a Web link that, when opened in the Messages app on iOS or macOS, causes freezing, crashing, battery issues, and other nasty behavior. This isn’t the first time that a rogue link or piece of text has broken one of Apple’s apps. Apple will likely release a fix soon.

 

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External Link: Apple Planning More iOS Parental Controls

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 14:00:55 EST

Responding to concerns from two large shareholders (who hold approximately $2 billion in Apple stock) over the effect mobile devices have on the mental health of children, Apple has announced that it’s planning better parental control features in future versions of iOS. Apple already offers better parental controls than most platforms, and the company said in a statement, “Apple has always looked out for kids, and we work hard to create powerful products that inspire, entertain, and educate children while also helping parents protect them online.” That may not be sufficient for the investors, who also want Apple to create an expert advisory committee, partner with outside researchers, help educate parents about Apple’s tools, and assign a high-level executive to monitor the issue and publish annual progress reports.

 

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External Link: Mickey Mouse’s Debut Film Could Become Public Domain in 2024

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 13:59:55 EST

Before the 1970s, U.S. copyright terms lasted for only 56 years, but over time Congress has extended that to 95 years — the last extension being in 1998. Those extensions have been pushed primarily by Hollywood, with the joke being that Disney will do whatever it takes to keep “Steamboat Willie” — the first film featuring its signature Mickey Mouse character — from falling into the public domain. According to an article in Ars Technica, it appears that Hollywood is now giving up on further extensions due to greater public awareness of copyright issues. So on 1 January 2019, every work of art published in 1923 will fall into the public domain, something that has been delayed for over 40 years. And unless something changes, “Steamboat Willie” will move into the public domain in 2024, though Disney would still own the trademark to Mickey Mouse.

 

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External Link: Chase Freedom Offers 5% Cash Back for Apple Pay Usage

Thu, 04 Jan 2018 11:29:11 EST

Those with a Chase Freedom credit card can earn 5% cash back on up to $1500 in combined purchases during the first three months of 2018 when you use your card with Apple Pay (along with competing mobile wallets Chase Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay). You’ll have to activate the cash-back bonus on Chase’s Web site.

 

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External Link: Apple Relents on Templated Apps and Drops Developer Fee for Nonprofits

Thu, 21 Dec 2017 16:44:52 EST

We reported previously that Apple had started banning apps built using templates or app generators — tools relied on by small businesses and organizations that couldn’t afford their own developers. After significant criticism, Apple has now revised its rules with a compromise: templated apps are kosher, as long as they are issued by the provider of the app’s content, rather than the company that makes the app generator. That will require such organizations to pay for the $99-per-year Apple Developer Program. Separately, Apple said it would start waiving the developer fee for nonprofits and government agencies in early 2018.

 

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External Link: Credit Card Signatures Going Away in 2018

Mon, 18 Dec 2017 09:02:50 EST

According to the Verge, credit card companies Discover, Mastercard, and American Express have announced plans to stop requiring signatures for purchases in April 2018, which will make Apple Pay even easier. (American Express is eliminating the need for signatures worldwide, whereas the other two are changing policies only in the United States for now.) Signatures are theoretically a fraud-prevention requirement, since they can be compared to the signature on the back of a credit card and verified later. However, cashiers almost never check them, there’s no signature to compare against with contactless payment systems, lots of people sign illegibly, and many transactions are online anyway. Visa has not announced a similar change.

 

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External Link: FCC Votes to Abolish Net Neutrality

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 17:42:20 EST

It should come as no surprise that Ajit Pai’s FCC has voted to eliminate Obama-era net neutrality rules that prevented Internet service providers from blocking, throttling, or prioritizing Internet traffic, among much else. At Ars Technica, Jon Brodkin outlines what happened, how we got here, and what comes next. Given the overwhelming and bipartisan support for net neutrality from most Americans, the FCC’s move will likely draw challenges both in the courts and in Congress.

 

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External Link: Former Exec: Facebook Is Ripping the Social Fabric of Society

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 08:15:02 EST

Chamath Palihapitiya is the latest former Facebook executive to call the company out, saying at a recent Stanford appearance: “I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” and expressing “tremendous guilt” for his participation. Palihapitiya certainly doesn't mince words: “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works… No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem — this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.” Palihapitiya, who rose to the position of vice president for user growth at Facebook, appears to have struck a nerve, since the company made the rare move of defending itself, saying “When Chamath was at Facebook we were focused on building new social media experiences and growing Facebook around the world. Facebook was a very different company back then and as we have grown we have realised how our responsibilities have grown too.” It's interesting that Facebook doesn’t deny Palihapitiya’s criticisms!

 

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External Link: Apple Buys the Shazam Audio-identification App

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 13:57:47 EST

Apple has confirmed that it is purchasing the popular Shazam app, which identifies songs, TV shows, movies, and ads by their audio signatures. Apple reportedly paid about $400 million for the company and said that it has “exciting plans in store” for Shazam. You can already ask Siri “What’s playing?” to identify audio with Shazam, so it’s unclear what additional integration Apple has in mind.

 

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External Link: Ai.Type Keyboard for iOS and Android Leaks User Data

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 10:16:02 EST

The third-party keyboard company Ai.Type has inadvertently leaked data from over 31 million iOS and Android users, including names, phone numbers, and information associated with social media profiles. Unfortunately, because many third-party keyboards need full access to your data, it’s not particularly surprising that one of them would have been hacked or, as in this case, accidentally revealed user information. If you use Ai.Type, you might want to delete it now, and if you rely instead on other third-party keyboards to which you’ve granted full access, consider the potential problems if they were to leak data as well.

 

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External Link: Apple’s Ban on App Templates Is Hurting Small Businesses

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 08:58:26 EST

In June 2017, Apple updated its App Store rules to prohibit templated or generated apps, a move that seemed to be aimed at reducing spam apps. Now Apple is warning app template makers who serve small businesses — restaurants, fitness studios, and more — that it will start rejecting their apps on 1 January 2018. App templates and generators are used by small businesses who lack the resources to develop their own apps from scratch. Unfortunately, some of these app makers are already having to shut their doors due to Apple’s change in rule enforcement. Apple’s move has drawn the attention of Representative Ted Lieu (D, CA), who has asked the company to reconsider.

 

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External Link: HomeKit Vulnerability Discovered, Already Patched

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 05:35:36 EST

Zac Hall of 9to5Mac discovered a vulnerability in HomeKit, Apple’s home automation framework, that could allow unauthorized control of accessories like smart locks and garage door openers. The good news is that Apple has already closed the security hole on the server side, so your devices are no longer vulnerable. Unfortunately, Apple’s server-side fix also prevents you from giving remote access to shared users. A future update to iOS should eliminate the vulnerability and restore full functionality.

 

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External Link: iPhone X Reveals the Pros and Cons of Gestures

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 13:02:41 EST

The most radical interface change on the iPhone X is the disappearance of the familiar Home button, which frees up a lot of space for a larger display. But the loss of the Home button means that Apple had to replace its functions with a variety of new gestures. Raluca Budiu of the Nielsen Norman Group explores the interface challenges that gestures face, including discoverability, memorability, and swipe ambiguity. Although Budiu identifies some areas where Apple’s approach with the iPhone X stumbles, she praises the Home line as a reminder of the iPhone X’s new gestural needs. If you have or are getting an iPhone X, it’s worth reading this piece to understand how it changes the iPhone user experience.

 

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External Link: Marco Arment: How Apple Could Fix the MacBook Pro

Mon, 27 Nov 2017 08:18:46 EST

Developer Marco Arment has some ideas for how Apple could restore the current MacBook Pro to the glory of the 2015 model. If nothing else, Arment suggests that Apple return to scissor key switches, since the butterfly switches in the current keyboards are disliked by many, unreliable, and expensive to repair. He also proposes removing the Touch Bar, a return to “inverted-T” arrow keys, more ports to reduce dongle dependency, better and more affordable first-party USB-C hubs, and chargers that bring back the charging LED and cable management arms. We agree with Arment, though it’s impossible to know if Apple is open to hearing and responding to such criticisms from the community.

 

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External Link: Why the HomePod Faces an Uphill Battle

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 14:43:18 EST

Apple has officially delayed the HomePod until next year, and many reports indicate that, unlike the standalone Amazon Echo, it will depend on a connected iPhone for most of its smarts. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has gathered the inside story: the HomePod has been in development for over five years, was originally conceived of as a modern iPod Hi-Fi, and its designers were blindsided by the Amazon Echo. But despite the Echo’s success, Apple focused on sound quality and not voice assistant capabilities, which may prove problematic in the market. Regardless, the HomePod will have a hard time competing on audio quality alone, since you can buy several Amazon Echoes for the price of one HomePod.

 

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External Link: Apple Delays the HomePod Until 2018

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 06:43:25 EST

Apple originally promised to ship the HomePod smart speaker in December 2017, but the company has now delayed it until early 2018, saying it needed “a little more time before it’s ready.” Although missing the holiday shopping season may give a leg up to competing products from Amazon and Google, it’s better for Apple to delay the HomePod than ship a half-baked product.

 

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External Link: How Facebook Knows More about Your Personal Network than You Do

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 06:31:24 EST

Facebook does a lot of creepy things, like recommending that someone befriend their father’s mistress or connecting a couple with their anonymous sperm donor from years before. But how does Facebook tease out such obscure connections? Gizmodo investigated and traced Facebook’s behavior back to what’s known as “shadow contact information” — a secret database that Facebook keeps to track everyone you might know. It collects much of this information from other users who share their address books with Facebook, so if two otherwise unrelated people both have your phone number, the company can then connect them. Alas, there’s nothing you can do about this.

 

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External Link: Inventor of the Web Concerned for Its Future

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 14:11:31 EST

Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web as an “open platform that allows anyone to share information, access opportunities and collaborate across geographical boundaries,” but he’s less optimistic about its future than he used to be. “We have to grit our teeth and hang on to the fence and not take it for granted that the Web will lead us to wonderful things,” he said. In particular, Berners-Lee criticizes Web advertising for its role in creating clickbait and spreading propaganda. “The system is failing. The way ad revenue works with clickbait is not fulfilling the goal of helping humanity promote truth and democracy.”

 

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External Link: Apple Defends Its Tax Practices

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 07:23:07 EST

Apple is once again in the news for shuffling its cash hoard among various countries to minimize its tax burden. The company has released a sprawling statement defending its practices, stating that it not only follows all applicable laws, but is in fact the largest taxpayer in the world. However, Apple continues to call for international tax reform and simplification to help it repatriate its overseas funds. The reality is that many large businesses play legal shell games to minimize liabilities — fiscal and otherwise — and corporations squirreling away cash in low-tax countries is a side effect of globalism that’s difficult to prevent.

 

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External Link: Past Facebook President Calls Out Social Media

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 11:45:17 EST

As Facebook’s first president, Sean Parker was instrumental in the company’s eventual success. But now the billionaire tech pioneer has had a change of heart, confessing at an Axios event that “The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’” He added, “I don’t know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying, because [of] the unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or two billion people… God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.” Quick — tweet this link! Or not.

 

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