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Published: Wed, 22 Nov 2017 14:44:24 EST

Last Build Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2017 14:44:24 EST

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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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External Link: Jony Ive on the iPhone X and Apple’s New Campus

Fri, 10 Nov 2017 09:47:00 EST

In an interview with Wallpaper, Apple Chief Design Officer Jony Ive discusses some of the design decisions behind Apple’s new campus and how multi-touch has fundamentally changed hardware design. Along those lines, he said something interesting about the iPhone X: “What I think is remarkable about the iPhone X is that its functionality is so determined by software. And because of the fluid nature of software, this product is going to change and evolve. In 12 months’ time, this object will be able to do things that it can’t now.” So by next year, what do you think the iPhone X will be able to do that it can’t do now?

 

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External Link: iOS 11 Calculator Lags Cause Errors

Thu, 09 Nov 2017 07:49:37 EST

If you type 1+2+3= in iOS 11’s Calculator app quickly, you may get 24 instead of 6. The problem is a delay in recognizing taps on all the operation buttons. Thus, in the example above, the second + is ignored, so you’ve instead typed 1+23=. If you type 1+2+3= slowly, making sure that the operator button activates on each tap, Calculator works correctly. We hope Apple fixes this embarrassing bug in the next update to iOS 11. In the meantime, Siri works well for simple calculations, and for those who need a serious calculator, PCalc is the gold standard.

 

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External Link: Me, Myself, and A⍰

Tue, 07 Nov 2017 10:49:03 EST

A bizarre bug is afflicting some iOS 11.1 users: the letter “i” is being autocorrected to the letter “A” followed by a question mark in a box: A⍰. Until Apple can fix the bug in the next update to iOS, the company recommends using iOS’s text replacement feature (Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement) to substitute an uppercase “I” whenever you type a lowercase “i.” How did this get past the beta phase?

 

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External Link: How a Doctor Diagnosed His Own Cancer with an iPhone

Mon, 30 Oct 2017 11:21:21 EDT

An upcoming iPhone-enabled device by Butterfly Network could have a considerable impact in healthcare. The $1,999 Butterfly IQ, an ultrasound machine the size of an electric shaver, costs a fraction the price of traditional ultrasound machines, and one doctor has already used it to catch his own cancer. Vascular surgeon John Martin, chief medical officer for Butterfly Network, was testing the device when he spotted a mass that turned out to be a squamous-cell cancer on his throat. The Butterfly IQ could eventually be used by first responders and even patients in their own homes, and by next year, the company believes, “its software will let users automatically calculate how much blood a heart is pumping, or detect problems like aortic aneurisms.”

 

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External Link: Even iPhone X Repairs Are Expensive

Mon, 30 Oct 2017 11:02:51 EDT

If you think the $999 sticker price of the base model iPhone X is high, wait till you see how much repairs cost! If you don’t have AppleCare+, a screen replacement will run you $279; by comparison, an iPhone 8 screen replacement is just $169. All other out-of-warranty repairs will cost $549. These prices might encourage you to get AppleCare+, which is likely not a bad idea given how much new hardware is in the iPhone X, but it’s not cheap either at $199, as compared to $129 for the iPhone 8 or $149 for the iPhone 8 Plus. If you have AppleCare+, the first two iPhone X screen repairs cost only $29 each.

 

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External Link: Amazon Wants to Let Strangers Into Your House

Wed, 25 Oct 2017 10:11:04 EDT

Amazon has announced a home automation bundle called Amazon Key that combines a smart lock with the new Amazon Cloud Cam. The sales pitch is that this hardware will enable Amazon delivery people to unlock your front door so they can leave packages inside your house — you can watch the process on the webcam. Of course, Amazon recommends disabling your home security system on days you expect a delivery and doesn’t recommend using the service if you have a pet. What could go wrong? (How long do you have?) File this one under “Not just no, but hell no!”

 

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External Link: Tim Cook Calls the Mac mini “Important”

Mon, 23 Oct 2017 12:24:42 EDT

It has been three years since Apple last updated the Mac mini, and that revision was in many ways a downgrade from its predecessor. Despite that dubious history, Apple CEO Tim Cook told a MacRumors reader via email that Apple plans for the Mac mini to be an “important part of the company’s product lineup in the future.” Given that Apple has ignored the Mac mini for so long, we’re taking Cook’s claim with the proverbial grain of salt, but we’d love to see Apple put a new spin on the idea of a miniature Mac.

 

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External Link: Use This Terminal Command Before Selling a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

Mon, 23 Oct 2017 09:03:19 EDT

Before you sell or give away a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (which has a Touch ID sensor), Apple recommends that you boot the Mac into macOS Recovery and execute this Terminal command: xartutil --erase-all. We’re not entirely sure what it does, and Apple doesn’t offer any explanations, but we suspect it acts to clear the Secure Enclave that stores your fingerprint data. Regardless, it would be wise to follow Apple’s advice.

 

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External Link: What the iPod’s Creator Is Up To

Mon, 23 Oct 2017 08:40:41 EDT

Tony Fadell designed the iPod at Apple and then created the Nest thermostat that was eventually purchased by Google. Now with his new venture, Future Shape, Fadell is going after the concept of Silicon Valley as a tech hub by funding startups from Paris, France. Fadell has taken his fair share of criticism over the years for being overbearing and opinionated (shades of Steve Jobs), but he is also one of the most successful Apple alums and is worth keeping an eye on.

 

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External Link: Apple Has Already Patched the WPA2 KRACK Weakness in OS Betas

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 14:26:28 EDT

Security professionals are fretting over the just-disclosed KRACK flaw, which renders all WPA2-protected Wi-Fi networks vulnerable to attack. Fortunately, MacRumors is reporting that Apple told iMore’s Rene Ritchie that it has already plugged the vulnerability in the next betas of macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Once Apple releases the current betas, likely in the next few days, those fixes will protect the data sent and received on devices running those operating systems, even if the Wi-Fi router itself remains vulnerable. The real concern with KRACK will come with older devices for which patches don’t become available.

 

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External Link: Apple Offering Free MacBook Pro Battery Repairs, If You’re Willing to Wait

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 12:00:28 EDT

If you own a mid-2012 or early-2013 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display that qualifies for battery service (check via  > About This Mac > System Report > Hardware > Power > Health Information), you can get it for free from Apple if you don’t need it right away. Apple has told Genius Bar employees and Apple Authorized Service Providers to offer a free battery repair if the customer is willing to wait until at least 15 November 2017. If you need a new battery sooner, you’ll have to pay standard out-of-warranty battery repair rates: $199 in the United States, £199 in the United Kingdom, $289 in Australia, and $259 in Canada.

 

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External Link: iFixit CEO Explains Why Repairs Are Good for Business

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 11:41:18 EDT

iFixit has spent years compiling repair guides for all of Apple’s products, including the new iPhone 8, which iFixit flew to Australia to obtain in order to publish a guide before most of the rest of the world had woken up. iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens sat down with Adam Minter of Bloomberg for an interview in which he extolled the virtues of repair, including the creation of blue-collar jobs, sales of replacement parts, and reducing overload on the vendor. Wiens points out that Apple has 500 repair shops to service 1 billion iPhones. His best line in the article comes in response to Apple claiming it designs for durability, not repairability: “It seems a little bit detached from reality to say that we design products not to break that have glass on both sides and come out of your pocket 10 times per day.”

 

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External Link: Early Facebook Employees Feeling Regret

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 11:32:02 EDT

Facebook is bigger than ever, but some former employees are despairing about its impact on the world. “Most of the early employees I know are totally overwhelmed by what this thing has become,” an early ex-Facebook employee told Vanity Fair’s Nick Bilton. Speaking of Facebook’s potential impact on the 2016 election, one employee told Bilton, “I lay awake at night thinking about all the things we built in the early days and what we could have done to avoid the product being used this way.” Those close to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg are afraid he’s losing touch with reality, becoming a “modern-day Howard Hughes.”

 

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External Link: Tech Pioneers Fear a Smartphone Dystopia

Wed, 11 Oct 2017 12:22:40 EDT

The Guardian has published a compelling article about how some technologists who helped usher in the age of smartphones and social media are concerned that technology addiction is making us distracted, dumber, and easier to manipulate. Justin Rosenstein created Facebook’s Like button and helped build Google’s Gchat, but he now takes extreme measures to limit his online activity, even having an assistant manage his phone. “If we only care about profit maximisation, we will go rapidly into dystopia,” Rosenstein said. The article profiles other tech pioneers who share similar sentiments, including Loren Brichter, the Apple alum who came up with “pull to refresh” for Tweetie in 2009. But if wealthy tech workers struggle to pull away from the lure of technology, even with their awareness of the corporate motivations behind addictive technologies, what hope does the average user have?

 

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External Link: Yahoo: All 3 Billion Accounts Affected by 2013 Hack

Wed, 04 Oct 2017 13:41:36 EDT

Remember how Yahoo was hacked back in 2013? And how, in December 2016, the company said that 1 billion accounts had been compromised? Well, that turns out to have been an understatement. Yahoo is now admitting that every single one of the company’s 3 billion accounts was hacked. Word on the street is that the best response isn’t to delete your account, since it will eventually be recycled and could potentially be used against you. Instead, it’s better to change your password to something unique and enable two-factor authentication (which Yahoo calls Account Key). And if you ever used your Yahoo password on other Web sites, be sure to give them new, unique passwords too!

 

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External Link: Take a Trip Down Memory Lane with Eudora

Wed, 04 Oct 2017 08:58:31 EDT

On the site Tedium, which promises to surface "stories that maybe fell through the cracks of time," editor Ernie Smith writes about Eudora, the much-missed email app of yesteryear. There's nothing new here, of course, since Qualcomm officially discontinued Eudora over a decade ago, but it's still nice to see acknowledgment of how popular and important Eudora was in this "here today, gone tomorrow" Internet era. Our article about converting email away from Eudora is quoted, and Steve Dorner himself even makes a cameo appearance in the comments.

 

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External Link: Philips Adds HomeKit Support to Hue Accessories

Tue, 03 Oct 2017 17:36:17 EDT

In iOS 11, Apple allows device manufacturers to retroactively add HomeKit support to existing home automation devices that rely natively on other standards. Philips is taking advantage of that change and has added HomeKit support to the Hue Smart Tap Switch, Hue Smart Dimmer Switch, and Hue Smart Motion Sensor. HomeKit support does require a second-generation Hue Smart Bridge, but all three of those devices need the Hue Smart Bridge to operate anyway. In theory, you should be able to use these Hue switches and sensors to trigger any other HomeKit device.

 

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External Link: Twitter’s Apple Watch App Disappears

Sun, 01 Oct 2017 06:32:00 EDT

With a recent update to Twitter’s iOS app, the company seems to have eliminated its associated Apple Watch app. In a statement, Twitter said that it is “focusing on supporting more robust, media-rich notifications” and is “committed to providing the very best Twitter experience on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and Apple Watch.” The company never acknowledged removing the Apple Watch app or suggested that it might return. Twitter is the latest major tech company to abandon its Apple Watch app, following Amazon, eBay, and Google. Perhaps the lesson here is that users see many Apple Watch apps as largely gratuitous. Just because you can build it doesn’t mean you should.

 

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External Link: Hey FCC, iPhones No Longer Have FM Chips

Fri, 29 Sep 2017 10:37:35 EDT

Ajit Pai, chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, has called on Apple to activate hidden FM chips in iPhones to aid in hurricane relief efforts. The only problem, as Daring Fireball’s John Gruber points out, is that newer iPhones don’t have such chips. FM chips did exist incidentally in older iPhones, but they weren’t wired up in such a way to work at all. Pai may be well-intentioned (or else he’s trying to distract attention from how the FCC has responded to the recent hurricanes), but his crusade against Apple is ultimately a quixotic quest he could have avoided with a little research.

 

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External Link: Apple Documents Face ID Security Details

Thu, 28 Sep 2017 11:55:02 EDT

Apple has released a white paper explaining some of the finer details of Face ID, the facial recognition system coming with the iPhone X. Much like Touch ID, Face ID stores only a partial version of your biometric data on the device, so even if an attacker extracted the data, they couldn’t reconstruct your face. Also, Face ID occasionally adds photos from successful logins to its model so it can continue to recognize you as your face changes over time. Unfortunately, Face ID may not be adequate to foil evil twins (we’re not kidding!).

 

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External Link: Twitter Doubling Character Limit to 280

Thu, 28 Sep 2017 07:07:09 EDT

Say it isn’t so! Twitter has announced that it is doubling the character limit for tweets from 140 to 280, nominally to allow those who write in languages like English, French, and Spanish to express as much information as those who write in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Twitter is rolling the feature out slowly, and so far the accounts with the new 280-character limit are being as obnoxious as possible about it. But what else would you expect?

 

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External Link: Siri Goes Back to Google

Wed, 27 Sep 2017 15:06:39 EDT

Siri originally used Google for search results, but starting with iOS 7, Apple switched to Microsoft’s Bing search engine in an attempt to reduce its dependence on Google. However, Bing’s results have never been as good as Google’s, leading many people to avoid searching with Siri. We were chuffed to see that, soon after the release of iOS 11, Apple quietly switched Siri and the Mac’s Spotlight back to Google for searches other than image searches, which still use Bing. So far, it seems like an improvement.

 

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External Link: Nutty Hack of the Week: Pair an Apple Watch Series 3 with Android

Wed, 27 Sep 2017 07:21:47 EDT

In the Stupid Apple Tricks department, iMore’s Serenity Caldwell has discovered that it is possible to pair a cellular-capable Apple Watch Series 3 with an Android phone, although she admits that it’s a terrible idea. The process involves tricking the Apple Watch by inserting the SIM from an Android phone into an iPhone, pairing the Apple Watch, and then moving the SIM back to the Android phone. It works, but your Apple Watch will lose many features and have awful battery life. In other words: don’t try this at home.

 

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External Link: Apple’s AirPower Charging Mat Won’t Work with Older Apple Watches

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 09:03:46 EDT

Here’s some disappointing news from MacRumors about Apple’s promised AirPower charging mat, which Apple says will wirelessly charge the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, Apple Watch Series 3, and AirPods in a special charging case. Since the Apple Watch has always used inductive charging, there was hope that older models would also work with the AirPower mat. That turns out not to be true: the AirPower mat will support only the Apple Watch Series 3. Older models will have to stick with their existing chargers.

 

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